Sunday, May 18

Flying Pig Marathon - 2013...26.2 miles of awesome!

I just realized I never posted this from last year... So here is a throw back race report to a great marathon last year.  I didn't reread it so no promises on if it makes sense!

If you aren't a runner and aren't interested in all the details I'll give you the short of it so you can move on. It was a great event with wonderful support and a great course. I had a fantastic day running even when I didn't think I was we'll prepared. I surprised myself with my endurance and finished in 4:22:48 which was 8 minutes faster then my A goal and was almost a 40 min PR from my first marathon. I had a wonderful weekend and this race was everything I hoped it would be when I decided I wanted to run it years ago. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun race with a smaller feel then the mega races. 

4:22:49 - I flew!

Ever since I did the Flying Pig half marathon 3 years ago, I decided that I wanted to do the full race if I ever did a full. Well this year I decided I would come back to Cincinnati and give it a fly. It's nice to visit family and catch up for the weekend. We went to the expo (which is huge) and enjoyed buying fun stuff. I was never really sure that I was going to have a good race though. I hadn't trained great, even though I had some great races earlier in the season, and my eating for race weekend wasn't ideal.
Pig tattoo
Prepping for the finish
Red Coyote goes pink

Race morning we got up and drive 45 minutes into Cincinnati. The worst part of traveling to a race and not staying at the start is driving and parking. I did get lost with the closed roads once and had a small panic attack, but got myself back on track and got parked. Walked about 1/2 mile to the start line, found baggage check and the porta John. As I walked to the start line I saw another OK runner with a red coyote shirt on, and someone in my corral recognized our race team name. It was pretty cool. A different atmosphere at the start with songs and excitement, but as the race started they played Sweet Caroline for Boston. It was awesome. Took about 7 minutes to get to the start. And when I started running I discovered I made the ultimate runners flaw- doing something for the first time on race day. I added an extra pouch to my Spibelt and it was bouncing like crazy. Immediately had to stop and move my phone around to remove some of the extra weight. It still bounced but I was able to ignore it. 
Prerace photo
Beautiful sunrise

First few miles were very congested and hard to run through. I figured the slow 10:40 pace I was running would be typical for most of the day so I settled in. We ran over a bridge into Kentucky for a few miles then back into Ohio around mile 4. I looked down and first discovered that I had run an extra quarter mile in the first 4 miles, then I noticed that I had really picked up the pace and was pulling off 10 minute splits. Mile 5 ran through a downtown street and it was packed with people cheering. It was so an uplift and exciting. First 5 splits were 10:46, 9:56, 9:52, 9:53, 9:40. 
Mile 11ish
Mile 6 starts a 2 mile climb through Cincinnati. The first time I ran it I remember think that there was no way that I could train for something like that in Oklahoma. Well I remembered that this time and I trained on a treadmill once a week. It worked,hills were like speed bumps. Didnt slow me down!  About this time I realize I am catching up to the 4:30 pace balloons. I looked down at my watch to discover I had cut my average pace down to 10:00. What??? I hung with the pace group for a few minutes thinking that I would need to slow down soon, but it was quickly obvious that they were running below my level for the day, so I jetted off. Definitely figuring that when I started walking they would catch back up. When we came to the split for the half marathon we also started going downhill.  Downhill is an oxymoron because every time I went down there was another steep jump up 5 steps later. I was feeling great though so I kept rolling figuring I should hold onto this as long as possible. Splits to the half were 9:46, 10:06, 10:02, 9:32, 9:33, 9:50, 9:42, 9:40. I am really shocked looking at this how many miles I ran sub 10, and well below 10. My half time was 2:11:25. 

At the half point I thought that I was doing great but knew that was were I hit the wall in my first half. Luckily there were so many more spectators and runners to keep me going. I went right last that fear and kept running. I took gels every 5 miles religiously, and I was really thirst for some reason so usually took a little bit of water almost every mile. It seemed like we were going out on the course forever,but around 16 we finally turned back towards the city.

As we started to go back I could feel a little exhaustion coming in, but I told myself that I wasn't allowed to be in pain until atleast mile 20 so I dug deep and kept going.  At mile 18 we swung onto the highway for about 2 miles, interesting. Then we went back onto the city streets, which was pretty ghetto. Not much for spectators and I was starting to feel it but I just kept running, there were only 6 miles left, not much at all right?  Splits to mile 20 were 9:43, 9:52, 9:59, 9:49, 9:53, 9:55, 9:56. Can definitely see that after mile 15 I was starting to get a little tired but still had steady splits. 

Mile 21ish - still feeling great

Saw my mom again at mile 21 which was really uplifting, there was also a huge group of cheers there which really lifted me for about a mile. Then I implemented the gummy chew every mike technique to bring me to the finish. I was really starting to drag and I kept congratulating myself for being able to stay sub 10 minute pace for 20 miles, 21, 22, 24... Holy cow I'm might stay sub 10 for the entire race!  I got the the one mile to go and even though I was hurting I really had it in me to pick up the pace and push to the finish. Seeing the finish line and hearing the crowd was incredible energizing as well. Splits mile 20-25 were 10:07, 9:56, 10:15, 10:13, 10:21.  I hit 26.2 in 4:20:05, and I finished the race (26.4) in 4:22:48. Seeing that I was shooting for the stars with a 4:30 I was flabbergasted that I pulled this off. I had no clue that I had this in me.  My second half split was 2:11:25. Yes you are seeing that right, according to the timing chip I ran two perfect splits. I really can't believe that!

Love seeing that sub 10:00 average
Everything about the race weekend, race related, was perfect conditions for a great race. The weather was around 57* at the start with heavy cloud cover. The first few miles were a little muggy, but occasional showered quickly made it pleasant and great running weather. The crowds were fantastic along the course with high spirited cheers and excitement from bands and posters. The water stops were set approximately every mile which was great for hydrating when I needed to but not having to worry when the next stop would come. The course was fantastic with great scenic views of the areas and just the right amount of terrain variety to keep my legs from becoming numb. Even the hills were welcomed as they helped to stretch out my calves and reactivate my mind. I had a fabulous time at this event and it was everything I hoped it would be when I said years ago that I wanted to do it. 
Happy as a pig
Post race pic
I am sure that I under achieved on my first marathon, who doesn't. When I selected 4:30 as my target goal for this race I really thought it was a pipe dream, so I was afraid to push myself too hard and crash along the way. IF I ever do another marathon I think I will have a better view of what I can achieve. I never really hit a wall this time, my mental prep and during race psychology worked great to keep me from giving up and my hydration and fuel kept me from bonking. I think I could have pushed my legs harder from 22-25 but I was afraid to because I didn't want to stop running when I was so close to completing the entire thing running.  Maybe one day I will try again- I mean how will I ever qualify to run Boston if I never run another marathon???

Week 3 - My wagon has a broken axial

Week 3 - Well this week had a lot that went into it.  There were definitely some trials and tribulations as well as some revelations and changes.  I made some decisions about how I am treating this trial and what I hope to get out of it.

First the broken axial.  My week started with a trip to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch on Tuesday.  While most of my outings have been easy to eat healthy and resist temptation, this one wasn't so much.  The meal I ordered was pretty much online, salmon, asparagus, and sweet potato fries (Only option I could find for a side).  Unfortunately the two people I went with decided on potstickers and crab cakes for appetizers.  I had some of both.  I don't think either were too far off line - the wrapper of the potsticker, and some potential breadcrumbs in the crab cake.  Dessert is where the wheels locked up.  They ordered this decadent chocolate cake - it looked awesome and I couldn't resist so I had a few bites.  I only ate about 3 small bites, enough to taste how delicious it was and fill the craving. Then I put the fork down.  I payed for it all the rest of the day.  My stomach felt sick from the sweetness.  Atleast I know precisely what a slip will do!  On top of this I went to Dallas this weekend to see Dave Matthews.  I am proud of how well I did eating.  At lunch I had fajitas - discovering a delicious cilantro, olive oil, and garlic dip.  I did have 3 chips at lunch to try the salsa - the fried grease just sat on the roof of my mouth - yuck! Never tasted that before!!  And today at breakfast I ha a few fried potatoes and a tiny little piece of chipotle cheddar cheeses.  The cheese wasn't that amazing and neither were the potatoes.  A few failures - but in all I don't think it was that terrible.

This leads to my next portion - how I feel about the diet.  I finished the book on Friday - "It Starts with Food".  Now that I know the whole premise behind the diet I feel that I can combine it with what I want.  I wanted something that changed my eating patterns, broke me of overeating and cravings, and helped me get away from all the sweets I ate.  The "diet" (for lack of better term) looks to detox your system and help you figure out what foods cause you distress, as well as my other desires.  While there are questions I have about food issues in my body - I personally don't feel like I need to do an extreme detox to figure out what they are.  From eating clean and getting rid of the processed foods in my life and the sugars and such - whenever I have any I know where the problems are.  I can feel it in my body and the reactions (like with the cake).  I will continue to eat the Whole 30 lifestyle through the 30 days, I think I need too, and I am also going to try and keep this way of eating in my life as much as possible.  I really do feel great - I just miss alcohol and some occasional other types of foods!

So final revelations and changes.  For the first time this week I've had two runs where I don't start feeling like I'm on a carb depletion.  Usually my quads just ache and I can't get them moving - but Saturday and Sunday I did 3 miles and each felt so much better!  I am interested to see if this trend continues - maybe my body is finally learning to burn the fat, or I am learning what to eat before runs (no carbs or fruit that give my muscles that taste energy).  I also feel that my body is tightening up and the fat is starting drift away  -I'm happy for that!  I am also down another 1.5 pounds which makes for a total of about 9 pounds from my heaviest this spring.  So we will see what the next week brings and how I feel.

One bad thing - this weekend has totally made me crave food!  I crave everything today and I'm starving.  Hopefully it is just do to a sporadic eating schedule.

Monday, May 12

Week 2 - Whole 30 life

So at the end of week 2 starting week 3.  This was definitely a harder week.  The "fun" of a new diet has worn off and now it is just work to make the different meals and stay on track.  And can we say that eating healthy is sooooo expensive! I'm dropping atleast $40 at the grocery every week!  I had several temptations this week that I think I did fairly good at overcoming.  Definitely was not perfect, but I also know that the life that I live won't allow for perfect.  I have to go out to often for work and I am discovering things I thought were perfect for the diet in fact have additives that aren't on the diet.  So I am sticking to it and trying my hardest, but accepting what I can't fix.

So my biggest temptation of the week was Mother's Day dinner at my favorite pizza place.  At day 13, I knew it was pivotal to stick to my guns and not give in.  It was really tough and as I sat there struggling before we ordered I wondered if I would be able to do it.  I ordered and ate my cobb salad.  Ate a piece of crust from a slice of pizza and one fried mushroom (2 with out the fried batter, because that makes it healthy!).  I failed a little but in the scheme of things I think it was a giant win for me.

As far as body affects, I didn't see any positive gains this week.  My weight stayed the same and I didn't feel like my body felt cleaner or more healthy then before.  I have noticed that I am getting better at stopping when I am full.  I believe what the book is saying that we over eat because the taste shuts down our ability to think logically.  This is a big plus for me because my biggest weight problem comes from over eating.  I am hoping this coming week shows a lot of progress.  It seems like most people see significant changes in week 3.

My next concern is how I will approach eating post 30 days.  I want to stay on this healthy trend (not as strict) and try to eat Paleo maybe 80% of the time.  The problem is my friends are totally put out by my healthy eating, they are planning all this unhealthy eating excursions for as soon as I am done.  They don't seem to understand the idea of a life style change.  Thankfully it is getting easier to find the healthy items on the menu and resist the temptation...for now.

Thursday, May 8

Marathon Race Report - OKC Memorial Marthon

As Ashley pointed out - I never did a marathon RR, so here we go!
Marathon #3, OKC Memorial Marathon - all 26.2 miles of it.  Swore I would never do this one, and I swear I will never do it again!

So I was talked into this race by the race team leader. They were starting a training group for people to join and needed coaches.  I agreed and found out later that it was for the full, not the half!!!  Well here we go.  16 weeks of fun group runs and training, how hard can the 26.2 be, I mean I was doing the 20 mile training runs anyways!

The training was brutal.  If you live in America and lived through the winter you will know that this was a terrible winter for training.  We never did a long run in temps warmer then 45*, it snowed twice and there was one serious ice day.  We did speed training, into 30+mph winds and hill repeats in 80 degrees.  It was an adventure and we felt we had trained for it all.

Race day - it was suppose to storm overnight and clear up at gun time with projected highs of 85* plus.  Well the storms moved in late and we were storm delayed for 2 hours!  It was brutal, sitting in a parking garage on the ground waiting for the all clear.  All the breakfast I had eaten, water I had drank, all for not.  Everyone was off for fueling and restroom breaks.  Now instead of the race starting at 6:30am, it was starting at 8:30am.  Remember that I said the temperature was suppose to reach 85*...

The first 8 miles I ran with a good friend that was running the half.  We jumped in and out of heavy traffic and slowly picked up the pace, ending around a 10 min pace.  It was humid but still a lot of cloud cover so it didn't feel too bad.  Once my friend turned off I set out to finish the race alone.  At mile 9 I saw my family and was feeling pretty good.  Mile 11 the hours of sitting in the parking garage caught up with the gatorade and I had to take a break.  Around mile 12 the sun came out.  The temperature jumped drastically and quickly.  I could immediately feel it in my running and in my body.

I was wishing I had someone to run with and the mental started taking over and I thought if I just did some run walking another friend behind me would catch up (I passed these people at 5, you do the math of how long it is going to take them to catch up).  So I started some simple run walking, just walking the water stops.  I hit the half mark in about 2:12, which I thought was a great pace, a little slower then my last marathon but not bad.  After this we got to the worst part of the course, and the reason I swore never to run it - running around the windy side of the lake.  This is when things feel apart.  I changed to a 4:1 ratio run walk and finally acknowledge the fact that friends wouldn't catch up since there was a mile switch back and never saw any of them as I ran by.

At mile 17 I saw my family again, put on a pair of capris because the shorts I was wearing were riding up in the humidity.  I really started to feel the heat and I was feeling very discouraged.  Everyone around me was run walking and looked dejected.  It was really hard to keep a positive attitude.  I caught the 4:45 pace group at this point (I started behind the 5:30 pacer because of the messy start) and since he didn't have anyone left he reverted to just helping people stay motivated and run.  Everyone was fading fast and we all were just trying to help each other.  With 10 miles left, lots of heat, and little shade - I switched back and forth between a 4:1, 3:2, and walk as much as I want.  It was brutal and I just wanted to finish so bad but I couldn't make my legs go anymore.  Not to mention that the wind was blowing 20mph from the south - we were running 10 miles straight south...

Finally at mile 24 I got a break from the wind and ran about a mile, sucked up the pain and ran walk through 25, and finally saw the finish line.  Friends cheering gave me a huge burst of energy and I was able to sprint (at an 8 min pace) to the finish line.  I finished with 41 seconds to spare...for being under 5 hours that is.  It was the second worse day in my life...for the worst day of my life refer to the blog on marathon #1.  I am pretty sure I poisoned myself with powerade and water during the race trying to stay hydrated. I was incredibly sick the rest of the day, and I am also pretty sure I had second degree burns on my shoulders and back.

So I survived, I don't know that I have many full marathons left.  I am already signed up for the Dopey Challenge, and I would still love to do NYC - but I think I will probably stick to the half marathon as my choice for running distance.

First caveman run

Last Sunday I did my first long run caveman style (eating the no carb way).  This run came one week after the marathon so my quads were still a little tired from the race.  During the week my runs at Crossfit had been slow and pained so I didn't have high hopes for the greatest run.  Thankfully the plan had been to run super slow with a group so I wasn't worried about running out of steam, but I was worried about how bad my legs would hurt.

The day before, I went for my higher carb day, having mashed potatoes at lunch and sneaking a molasses muffin mini at dinner.  This was nothing compared to a normal night before carb intake, but I was more worried about what I would eat for breakfast!  I ended up eating some grapes and pistachios.  I also couldn't use normal gatorade or gu, so I hoped that it wouldn't get to hot and I packed craisins to snack on.

The run wasn't too bad, but it also wasn't the best test of endurance since it was slow and we stopped ever 3 miles or so for an extended period of time.  In the end I didn't feel like I was hindered, but I am not sure that is a true test.

On Tuesday I went out for a 3 mile weekday run.  This was a better test of no-carb running.  The first mile was pretty tough.  I felt lethargic and keeping a pace under 10:30 felt impossible.  I felt tired and my legs just wouldn't move.  I kept pushing and trying to hold pace steady hoping it would get better.  After a mile or so, my legs warmed up and my head cleared and the run got better.  By the last mile I was averaging 10 minute pace, slower then normal but it felt a little better. 

I think as I continue to run on this no-carb set up I will get use to how my muscles work without traditional carbs, but I don't think I would ever take on serious marathon training without my carbs!

Friday, May 2

Whole30 Week 1

So after years of fighting with my weight again (since I broke my foot prior to the 2012 marathon) I've decided to try a completely different attempt at eating to see if I can shed some pounds.  I've been training for a marathon and doing cross fit 3x a week - I haven't gained weight since Christmas, but I definitely have not lost any of the pounds I put on at my holiday vacation.
So while I usually ignore the paleo eating challenges at my cross fit gym I decided to partake in the Whole30 and Summer Fit series we are doing.  They gym did 6 weeks, but due to the marathon and not wanting to screw up my eating before hand I opted only to do the final 4 weeks.
So here I am at the end of week 1 and I figured I should write down how I'm feeling and what not so that I can look back at the end of this and see how I am doing.
To start I was exhausted from the marathon - physically spent because of a really tough and hot day.  I felt sick from the race on sunday and extremely dehydrated.  I tried to enjoy a fun last meal but didn't so much.  I started the diet first thing Monday morning.  Because of all of this, I can't tell if I am tired from the lack of sleep I've had finishing up school the week and from the marathon or if I am tired from the change in eating and lack of carbs.  It's been a tough week to start a carb free, dairy free, sweet free, and soda free diet.  I've had a challenge everyday this week and I have successfully gotten through each of them!  It's been tough but I feel committed to stick this out and see if I can do something about the sticking weight.  
Things I have noticed this week: I drank a lot of weekend over the weekend and I am finally washing that all out.  This makes me feel less bloated.  I am also feeling less bloated in general which makes me think that maybe not filling myself full of carbs is keeping me from being bloated - a problem I always seem to have.  I've also noticed that I am not feeling the need to eat that much at lunch and dinner, I am fine with my first plate full most of the time.  Fruit also tastes pretty sweet, especially the grapes I have been eating.  I have been really tired and haven't drank coffee since black is gross, hoping some sleep this weekend helps that.  Outside of that and tired quads from the race I feel no really effects yet.

This weeks menu
Monday: 2 hard boiled eggs, apple; salad; zoodles, meat sauce, meatballs
Tuesday: sausage and sweet potato hash; chicken salad on lettuce; chicken salad on lettuce
Wednesday: sausage and sweet potato hash; chicken, asparagus, spinach, salad; chicken, zucchini, butternut squash
Thursday: egg salad, apple; fajitia meat; cottage pie
Friday: egg salad, grapes; cottage pie; salad

Starting weight (4/19/14): 159

Saturday, August 3

Well here we are, approximately at the end of week 1.  As always when you change your eating style - week 1 is by far the worst.  Especially when you are coming off vacation where you over indulged.  This week I struggled with sweets, soda, and carbs on occasion.  I went to the grocery Monday night and got stuff to make healthier dinners all week which really helped.  Will need to make sure I continue this on Sundays from now on.  I did have a few days that I went out - which is really hard to eat a low carb style of meal, so I did the best I could and made sure that other meals that day were healthier.  I did have a cupcake - but that was definitely the worst of the sweets.  I would give myself a B for effort and a solid C+ for eating this week.

Current State of Body:  Well Mother Nature wasn't helping with the bloating this week so that continued through yesterday or so.  Feeling better now.  I did feel better about myself when I didn't overeat and feel miserable though - most meals I felt just full enough which lasted me just fine to the next meal.  My stomach area feels about the same, slightly less bloated - but my upper legs still feel like bricks.  I know this is from muscle gain in my legs, but I would like to even this out some!

What I've Been Eating: Touched on this some in the bad side - but on the good side I've been concentrating on a meat, veggie, and either a second veggie or small serving of carbs for my dinner all week.  Lunches I have been doing my best.  If I end up eating carbs, I will cut out the carb at dinner.  Or I will make sure it is a healthy carb like beans or corn chips as opposed to white flour tortillas or white rice (I ate them all though!)  Tried to get some avocado or olive oil or nuts in meals as well for healthy fats.

Poundage:  So I didn't weigh myself after vacation because come on that is depressing, but at this mornings weigh in, I was down 3# from pre-vacation weight so I was happy to see that!

Monday, July 29

Cleaning up my act

So I have fallen off the food bandwagon in a serious type of way lately.  I have stepped up my strength training and was in a great running swing, but the pounds weren't coming off.  Pretty sure I was out eating my workouts as well as sabotaging myself with sweets and unnecessary things.  So now that I am in post-vacation depression, I see it as a "New Year's Day" type of experiment to clean myself up.

Since I am doing Crossfit, and their idea is to do a more Paleo style of diet, I figured I would try it out in a limited version.  I will not be giving up all grain and bean carbs - nope, no way, won't do it!  I do admit that I need to pull back some however so my goal is to try to limit my carb intake to a more manageable amount and maybe even try to do some days where grain/ bean carbs don't exist.  From many of the blogs and information I have read from nutrionalists, calorie counting is not as beneficial as it seems.  Too many times low calorie foods can be filled with useless crap while I higher calorie option provides the body more nutrients and satisfies it for longer.  This could be translated that eating baked lays at 110 calories is "better" the broccoli roasted with olive oil at 140 calories.  However the baked lays provide no nutritional benefit while the broccoli and olive oil provide a large amount.  In short - stop counting calories and start looking at what you eat instead.

My workouts will consist of Crossfit 3x a week as well as ramping up a running schedule to correspond - probably 3x a week as well.  Hopefully the lack of carbs will not affect my running since I am going from a very low 2 month total. 

Current State of Body:
(In this section I am going to describe how I am feeling every few days as I go through the process, that way I can look back and see if there is progress)
Let's just down to it: bloated and disgusting!!!!  I have splurged and eaten everything in site the last week without care - lots of sugars and carbs, and I can feel it all.  I also have the "attention deficiency" that I have read about when you have too much sugar in your blood stream.  Basically if right before a meal you mind is crazy and wandering (it would be impossible to sit down and concentrate on a mind puzzle) then you are ingesting too many carbs and not enough protein and usable nutrients.  I am sure yesterdays sugar high and McDs dinner is contributing to this.  Let's also say I went straight to the fat pants this morning, I didn't even want to kid myself.

What I've Been Eating:
(Talk about the foods I have been eating and how closely I have stayed to Paleo)
Today - being 2 meals in, I have done good.  Breakfast was scrambled eggs and nuts, lunch was veggies and tuna fish.  I know it will go down hill from here however since it is someones birthday.  Last birthday for a long stretch however, so I am putting this in the adapting phase!!! (I know pathetic).  I figure this first week I will continue to eat carbs at dinner just to help my body adjust to the lessened carb load.

That's a wrap.  Hopefully my news will get better each week - if not I am ditching this plan, because I really do like carbs!!!! It pains me to give them up. 

Wednesday, November 21

Route 66 Marathon! First (ultra)marathon

The experience of running a marathon is definitely overwhelming.  It takes up so much more then race day - you are committed to running the marathon for 18+ weeks of your life, and it really does become part of your life.  A day later I sit here with a whole in my daily life because I am no longer training for the event and no longer have this race to look forward too.  It is understandable why we runners become addicted to these races - when you do something for so long it becomes ingrained in us.

My original first marathon was suppose to be the Maui Oceanfront Marathon last January   When injury delayed this marathon, my goal became to run a marathon before the end of the year.  After the OU football schedule widdled down my selections I was left with Route 66 and the Dallas Marathon.  Since I'm an Oklahoman, I decided to stay in-state.  Backwards 18 weeks from the Sunday before Thanksgiving is known as hell in Oklahoma (otherwise known as late July/ early August).  I started my training in the hottest part of the year, including long runs that started at 5:30 am to beat the heat.  I used Hal Higdon Novice II plan - the mileage was good to get me back into 30 mpw that I was struggling to achieve on my own.  Like with my experiences on half marathons, if you want to have better times you need a plan that has more mpw built in.  Maxing at 36mpw just doesn't get you there.  But it worked for me.

We headed to Tulsa Saturday before the race, hit up the expo for my bib and some pictures of the experience.  I did an extended carb load plan - I started Friday night with pasta at Olive Garden.  Saturday while we were driving we stopped at IHOP for pumpkin pancakes, and Saturday night we went to Charleston's for steak, mashed potatoes and vegetables.  I had noticed in training that some of my best runs I ate steak the night before.  It seemed to work well for the marathon as well.  And the line for the restaurant was soooo much shorter!

Race morning I met up with my racing team friends to hang out pre-race and get a group picture.  Hit the port-o-john right before race time, slipped into the corral and waited for the gun.  The first mile I spent catching up to some friends that I felt would be running a good pace for me.  Once I caught them we feel into a nice rhythm.  I enjoyed their company and the fun they were having during the race.  It made me smile and kept the air light.  I kept a solid 10:15ish pace for the first half of the race.  I really had no problems except for a small side cramp around mile 10 that I had to breathe out.  I lost my running buds around mile 9, but I still had a large group of people around me from the half race so I was good.

Once we hit mile 13 and the half marathoner peeled off, it became real.  There were significantly less people on the course and there was little support along the side of the course.  There had been hills in the first 7 miles, it became flat till mile 14, then we started climbing again, and that's when I hit the wall.  I think it was a mix of the mental fact that I no longer had people to run with and that I still have almost half the race to go.  I started a run/ walk regimen where I walked up the hills and attempted to run as much of the down and flats as I could.  I don't know how successfully I accomplished this, but I felt I did a good job.  The highlights of miles 14-21 were seeing my friends twice and the Center of the Universe detour which made the race an "ultra"marathon.  That extra .3 miles played mind tricks with me the rest of the race because it added mileage to the Garmin, but I wouldn't take back doing it for anything!

Center of the Universe Detour (photos by Snaps by Erin)

Around the 20 mile mark, I came out of my fog and was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  With only a 10K left to race, I knew I could do it.  My mood started to improve, and while I still walked the uphills, I had more energy on my runs (this does not mean they were faster!).  I had two blisters, one on each foot, that became apparent around mile 24 and they were pretty painful for the end of the race.  My focus became just making it to the finish.  When I could finally hear the cheers of the finish line, I knew that I could make it.  We had climbed the last hill at that point so I just cruised as fast as I could.  There were almost tears as I crossed that line with a huge smile on my face.  It was definitely an amazing feeling to be a marathoner.  I didn't finish the race in the 4:30 that I had originally planned, but I was happy to cross the line in just over 5 hours (5:00:33 to be exact!).  As they always say, the first race is an instant PR!

Would I do another race?  The only reason I would say yes is because I don't think the first marathon really gives you a good view of what running a marathon is like.  I would like to give it ONE more chance knowing what to expect.  I already have the race picked out (Flying Pig - another super hilly course) I just have to let time slip a bit and make sure that I am ready to once again commit my life to this non-sense!

Expo Fun & Pre-Race jitters

Racing Team picture, Corral, Race buddies, Fun on the course, & Bling!

Photos throughout the day (Photos by Eric Bloemers and Heath Tate)

Tuesday, May 29

Patriot Half Marathon - Rockwall, TX

The final of my series of half marathons this spring ended in Rockwall, TX for the inaugural Patriot Half Marathon.  The race was on Memorial Day - it seemed like a good day to race, trip to Texas for the long weekend, a new smaller race, the heat of the end of May (dang forgot to think of that).   Anyways.  I just have to say I always wonder why more people don't try and do small 1/2 marathons in Oklahoma, we don't seem to have many and they are all crowded into one time of year - we need more and more spread out.  Guess I just don't realize how many road bumps and difficulties you have getting one off the ground.  The Rockwall Running Center did a great job pulling this off, but a few things I can think of - 15 water stops and 1 porta potty on the route (doesn't equal out in my mind, how about yours), no water or Gatorade at the finish line excepts for a small glass they hand you as your cross the finish line, the guy who forgot safety pins for same day packet pickup...

Race morning was beautiful.  We saw a beautiful sunrise as we drove from our hotel on the other side of the lake and by the time I got to packet pickup it was a nice 72* or so and great breeze.  Packet pickup was fairly uneventful excepts for worrying about not having safety pins before the race started (the one time I didn't have a group of them in the car!).  There was a very moving presentation of the National Anthem where veterans released balloons - all very well done and moving.  And then we were off!

The first 4 miles of the race was through some of the parks in Rockwall.  We got to see some nice little areas, housing editions, a nice lake.  There were some gentle rolling hills but nothing to terrible.  My legs felt great, my ankle was a little tight, but besides that everything felt great.  I tucked in-between the 2:00 and 2:10 pace group to keep myself on track.  I didn't have my Garmin on, but I had my phone logged onto RunKeeper in my pouch to keep my splits.  First 4 miles were 9:23, 9:18, 9:14, 9:33.

The next 3 miles we turned out to a small connection highway between towns.  We were headed North to the turn around point so the wind was at my back.  There were definitely some bigger hills out here, but I was still running good.  Took gel around 5.5, saw my friends around 6 and kept chugging along.  At this point I started thinking about how the first half of this race and the second half were going to separate people.  The second half would be reliving all the grueling hills on tired legs - I wasn't looking forward to it but I hoped I wouldn't fall victim.  Miles 5-7 were 9:47, 9:34, 9:40.

Mile 7 was the turn around and suddenly we were running into a pretty strong wind.  The first 1/2 mile of the back was flat and the wind wasn't that much of a factor, but then we came to the steepest hill of the course - it was a rough climb, but I still had control and pushed pass several other runners and was still very neutral between my two pace groups.  As I kept pushing through the hills the stamina in my legs started to fail.  Around 9 I had to start taking significant walk breaks and I started noticing some of the runners I had passed long ago passing me.  I turned around to see the horror of the 2:10 pace group a few feet behind me.  I started running again, but quickly gave in to the chase and stopped to let them pass.  I knew I didn't have the strength to out run them.  I tried to run with them, but I also didn't have the strength for that.  I kept wishing that we would turn off the highway (we were well pass the point where we initially entered) but we just kept running south.  And of all times not to have a Garmin, the mile markers were all sorts of messed up so the distance from marker 10 to 11 was actually 2 miles - that is detrimental at this point!  Miles 8-10 were 10:28, 10:25, 10:27.

The final 5K was just will to not stop.  I walked, I ran, I cursed running, I swore I would never run another race over 3 miles, I contemplated quitting, the same thing that always happens at mile 10.  I walked a good deal of these miles, which was good because I don't think I would have finished the race otherwise.  When I crossed the finish line (which I did have enough energy saved to "sprint" the final 100m) I could barely move my legs anymore.  Final splits were 10:58, 11:44, 12:01.  Overall time was 2:13:49 (exactly 1 minute slower then A2A)

It just sums up that I speedy half marathon cannot be run on 20 mpw in my world.  It just doesn't give the legs enough endurance and stamina in the end to sustain distance and speed.  Hopefully with longer runs over the fall I will feel back to normal.  It's been a tough spring to manage, but I've done some great things - walked a half with my best friend, paced the 2:30 at the OKC memorial, run races on back to back weekends, and added 5 medals to my collection in 4 months.  I'll take what I've been giving and see where the wind leads me in the future!