Tuesday, October 13, 2015

2015 Chicago Marathon RR

On Sunday, I ran the Chicago Marathon.  I have started this race three times and finished the last two years.  Since the first time I ran it, I had to DNF due to a ruptured ovarian cyst that ended up with my surgery, and the second time, my asthma didn't let me run as well as I wanted it, we can all call this race my nemesis.  I was expecting nothing less from this race.

My coach prepared a training plan of 10 weeks that mimicked the Paris Marathon training we did, which was very successful for me (after all, times post surgery have been in the 4:40s and I ran Paris 2 seconds off my 4:34:09 PR with an asthma attack, a migraine and high blood pressure, so the plan looks to be a miracle provider).  Between these two races, I ran the San Diego Marathon as an easy run with my new blood pressure meds (never taken any before) and ran 4:4X and had a great time.  This time, I was on a second blood pressure med that tends to make me overheat.  I trained 95% on the treadmill since, as I mentioned on my previous RR for the Montreal HM, my heat indexes at 6am were 96F and my highs were in the 102-106F range forever and ever with a dewpoint of 80.  I am glad we are just hitting 90F lately, sheesh.

Anyway, training went great but I never felt mentally there.  I hit my MP runs with success yet I guess I never believed I was as fast as when I trained for Paris.  But, overall, the log is clear, this is the fastest I have been in years, if not ever.  With the two new medications for the blood pressure, I didn't know what to expect.  If Montreal was any indication, I sure would have a tough time again.

The temps for Chicago kept getting worse every time I refreshed the forecast.  Initially, we had 50-67F, then 55-70F, then 57-79F for the day, full sun, and winds of 18mph.  So, my mental unreadiness caught a break and I felt it was best to not try to PR in this race and let the PR happen just by the fact that my easy runs are as fast as my current PR.  I talked to my coach and we both felt confident I could hit MP +10% (or 9:50-10:10) during the race even with this weather.  I felt confident I could do that since most of my LRs were at MP +10% or MP and I have done plenty of miles at that pace to know how it feels.  With that, I felt that a 4:22-4:25 was possible.  Still a PR, but not the PR I know deep down I can do on a perfect non asthma/perfect weather day (which never happens, BTW).

Since Montreal, I've been having a lot of stomach issues.  I am just going to say I am glad to be running on the TM with easy access to the bathroom.  I went from normal eating to vegetarian, and even that, which helped cured my stomach woes years ago, is not helping.  I am going to start eliminating complete food groups in an attempt of finding food that won't make my stomach want to kill me.  My reflux is at an all time high.

We arrived to Chicago at 9:30am on Saturday morning, had breakfast at our favorite Cuban place (ironic, isn't it?) and headed to the expo.  This time, not sure if it was me, the expo was very disorganized.  Everything was not where it had been in years before.  Very hard to navigate, IMO.  There were not enough shuttle buses this year so it took us until 4pm (from 11:30am) to head to, be at, and head back from the expo.  I am very surprised because this race is very well organized and pleasant to run.  We paid for one of those hop on hop off tours after lunch, and then headed straight to dinner at Carmine's on Rush Street.  We had a nice beer, pasta, and by 10:30pm I was asleep (an early record).  Woke up at 5am instead of 6:30am.  My corral started at 8am and I was staying across the street so I had all the time in the world to sleep...if I could!  But no.  By 5:30am I was up with stomach issues, yay me.  Got dressed as slow as I could and headed out of the room at 7am instead of 7:15am to meet a friend of mine.  Met RV Downing after that to head to our corral (Corral F), tried to eat my donuts and my Mtn Dew, but it was a day where my stomach said nothing, please.  By the time the corrals were closed, I told RV Downing, fuck, I need to use the potties.  Good luck with that.


With RVD at the start:

People kept saying later, ooh, there was good weather for the race.  Eh, no.  Only if you started in the first wave at 7:30am and finished in around less than 4 hours, I would say.  Our wave and corral started at 8am and it was already close to 60F.  By the time I got to the halfway point, it was 70F.  By the time I finished the race, it was close to 80F.  And whoever tells me (again) this is good weather to race a marathon, I'm going to slap someone.

Miles 1-6
Since all GPSs go crazy during the first 5-6 miles of the race, as we run in downtown towards the North, I used the best alternative I have, my trusty HR.  I know what HR I am supposed to have for MP + 10% and I hit that from the get go.  You can see my splits being very consistent even after the HM point.  I had no idea what I was running except whenever I stepped onto the 5K, 10K, 15K mats and I could sum it up myself, but otherwise, I used the lap button to keep accuracy.  I took a gel at Mile 4.5 and it went down OK.

Splits: 10:13, 9:59, 9:55, 9:47, 9:53, 9:53. (5K Split: 31:10, 10:02mm; 10K Split: 1:01:54, 9:54mm).

Miles 7-13.1
So far, I felt fine.  The first half of the race had a lot of shade, there was a nice breeze but nothing like the 18mph we experienced later.  We headed back South to downtown and the GPS went crazy again, and by Mile 10, my HR was a bit higher than my usual (but still within my usual range) so a couple of the miles were done by feel and one of them was too slow cause I apparently felt too easy, ha.  I took a gel at Mile 9 and it went down OK.  Kept drinking water at every water station, albeit a little sip.  I do remember passing by a clock atop a building around the halfway point and it already had 70F.  It had warmed up 12F since I started.  The sun was now all we had until the end.  Sun and wind.

Splits: 9:52, 9:55, 10:01, 10:05, 10:01, 10:01, 10:13, HM Split: 2:11 (take that, Montreal).  This is just where I wanted to be at this point.  (15K Split: 1:32:53, 9:58mm; 20K Split: 2:04:08, 10:04mm; HM Split: 2:11:05, 10:12mm)

Miles 14-20
Now it's warm and sunny.  Did I mention there was no cloud in the sky?  I start having stomach issues and my foot had been bunching the sock since Mile 2 but I waited until after Mile 15 or something to fix it.  I had to fix it 4 more times (that's at least 4 minutes wasted).  At this point, I can only keep running and fixing it.  After years and many socks, shoes, etc., my arthritis is not going to let me run in peace.  But I waited so long to fix it, I now have a hot spot on the ball of my feet that is starting to hurt.  Awesome.  The weather continued to warm up and I am sure we were close to the mid 70s by Mile 20.  I am still running my normal effort for MP +10% albeit a few seconds slower due to my stomach.  Still taking water at every water station and now throwing some over my head.  So far, I have not seen any photographers but one, so I will probably look like an idiot in the pictures when they come out.  This is where I lost my PR.  Somewhere around Mile 18, I bet.  You can tell from the splits.  I took a gel after the HM mark and that one did not set well.  Still tried the one at Mile 18 and I think that did me in.

Splits: 10:03, 10:00, 10:13, 10:28 (this is the one I ran by effort, ha), 11:27 (fixed my sock/toe), 10:47, 11:48 (fixed my sock). 25K Split: 2:35:38, 10:08mm; 30K Split: 3:09:10, 10:48.

Miles 21-26.2
And then, I threw up.  The end.  My stomach was bad at this point so the going was slow after that.  I didn't walk anything, except one water station somewhere after I threw up where I tried to get some Gatorade in me (it worked) and more water on me.  But, apart from that I never walked but used LTH's mantra: you can slow down but you cannot walk.  I just had to stop a lot, to fix the sock, to almost throw up again, etc.  The sun was brutal at this point and there was no relief from it.  I kept seeing the Willis Tower on the horizon but it never looked like I was getting closer to the finish any time soon.  Sigh.

Splits: 12:43 (vomiting), 11:18 (ran), 12:37 (walked the water station and drank the G, fixed the sock), 11:34 (ran), 11:31 (ran), 12:17 (fixed the sock), 10:46 (0.22 to the finish).

I was not going to stop that last time to fix my sock/toe, but the foot hurt like crazy.  A cop immediately came to me to make sure I was OK and I had to fix the sock under his piercing eyes because apparently he didn't believe I was fine.  At Mile 24 I passed a beer station and I said fuck it, I already threw up, what's the worse that can happen?  It was delicious.

I crossed the finish line in 4:39:22.  I would've been ecstatic last year to run this time, yet I ran 4:46:XX.  I was not happy with my time but I was happy to have come 5 minutes off my PR (my PR was run in a race that was 42F and flatter than Chicago) and with a 7 minute course PR when last year it was 50F and a nice weather day.  In fact, this is my second fastest marathon since the surgery.  I know I am faster than this and one day the weather and the asthma will align to give me that perfect PR.  But for now, I have fun.

I will do Chicago again.  Many times, I suspect.  I love the race.  I don't think I longer fear it like I did last year.  I passed Mile 7 when my cyst ruptured and waved at it.  I passed Mile 11 where my husband picked me up in tears and I waved at it.  I might not ever PR in Chicago, but I am sure gaining ground there.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

RnR Montreal HM

I was thinking of not writing a report at all, but I really think I should talk about this "race" to get it out of my system.  Although this was not a goal race and I was not racing, the plan was to test my GMP outside since I have been stuck indoors since April.  So, the plan said 5 easy, 8 @ MP.  I had done this workout before the Paris Marathon at the A1A Ft. Lauderdale HM and it went well that time, finishing in 2:10 something.  This time, I was running faster than then and my GMP was faster, so I was curious to see what I ended up with, maybe a 2:08-2:09?  Something to tell me I was on the right track.

As you know, I have been training for the Chicago Marathon and since our weather has been like this since April, with July, August and September looking like this morning, noon, and night:

There was no way in hell I was going to do MP runs outside, so I stayed on the TM.  Every day.  So, this would be the first time I would run outside since basically April.  Although last time I did this workout I had a cutback week, this time my coach had assigned me a normal week with 56mpw, a 16 miler on the weekend prior (with quality miles) and another 16 miler on Wednesday (with more quality miles).  My legs were trashed, to say the least.

We left Miami on Friday with a husband that had been throwing up since 3am, even in flight.  Due to problems with the parking at the airport, we almost missed the flight (even though we arrived 2 hours prior to it) and my husband was this close to quitting and driving back home.  By mid Friday he felt much better.  We arrived in Montreal late afternoon, drove to the hotel, and enjoyed the area.  Went to the expo on Saturday morning, spent the afternoon in Montreal's Old Town, tried to connect with Cyberic (we ran late and by the time I contacted him again it was too late for him to meet, my fault) and enjoyed great food and people.  Happylily had left Montreal on Friday afternoon due to her race being in Ottawa, but she was very nice and sent a delivery of Canadian bagels to the hotel.  I still have two frozen here to eat this weekend.  Thank you, Lily!

By the time I got to the hotel on Saturday night, I was the one sick.  I had stomach issues for most of the night, and I woke up with the fear of not being able to run without stopping to use the bathroom.  I had two Imodiums (which I never take but it's a staple of my husband's pre-race ritual, had some water, and tried to eat something.  I wasn't having it.  I just felt blah, not sick.

We got to the start line with time in advance so we went to the bridge near the start, hoping to meet Cyberic.  Every tall skinny guy in blue we saw was suspect.  Until he came by us and said hi.  Here is a picture of the two of us.  My 5'7" felt like 4' tall:

He was as nice as he is online and it was a pleasure to finally meet him.

Off to the race!

We parted ways and I entered Corral 12.  I started exactly at 9am.  Too late for me but the weather here is nothing like back home.  It was windy and mid 50s, I think.  This race is not as flat as the course elevation pointed out.  And it's nothing like Miami where is nice and flat with 0ft elevation either way.   This had some nice rollers, two hills, and the rest was flattish but never flat, IMO,  I am sure Cyberic will find it flat as a pancake, though, ha.

The sun came out after my Mile 5 and that's when things started feeling bad for me.  I started running easy miles.  Except my HR said I was racing a 10K.  I was not racing by HR but I sure did not want my HR to be off either.

Here are the splits of my easy miles.  I felt fine during them, enjoying the sites, but never felt right.

1Interval1 mi10:2910:2910:2986136 
2Interval1 mi10:1020:3910:10145156 
3Interval1 mi10:0430:4310:04153160 
4Interval1 mi9:5940:429:59156161 
5Interval1 mi9:5650:389:56157164

After this, I took my first gel and started my MP run.  Or so I thought:

6Interval1 mi9:1559:539:15162169 
7Interval1 mi9:341:09:279:34164171 
8Interval1 mi9:161:18:439:16162166 
9Interval1 mi9:501:28:339:50161166

Completely off on a stable pace and with a HR creeping into the 170s. This is not going to end well.  And it ended between Mile 9 and 10.  With me puking by the side of a bridge.  Awesome.

After I puked, I decided to just give up.  Seriously.  I hate running HMs but this one was taking the cake.  I just decided to not even try to hit MP for the next 4 miles.  In fact, if I could've quit and get to the finish line other than running, I would have.

10Interval1 mi10:411:39:1410:41153164 
11Interval1 mi11:371:50:5111:37147156 
12Interval1 mi10:102:01:0110:10154161 
13Interval1 mi11:102:12:1111:10154162 
14Interval0.29 mi2:422:15:059:19161170

Mile 10 included the puking incident, Mile 11 the first hill.  Somewhere between 12 and 13 there was a larger hill that I just basically walked.  I know the splits do not look as bad as I thought they did but at that time I felt like I was just walking the rest of the way.  Looks like I recovered enough to run 9:19mm to the finish so yay me.  I suck.

Finished in 2:15:05.  And I felt like a loser.  On my birthday.

Anyway, after a few days of introspection and a 10 miler with 5 X 1 mile @ 8:34mm on Wednesday, I realized I was sick.  I actually came to Miami with 4lbs less than when I left.  There was definitely something going on with me on that day.  But, part of me feels like I've wasted all these weeks for nothing.  That I am slower than when I ran Paris even though all my workouts have been faster.  That the TM is lying.

Anyway, I feel better now and have been hammering this week well.  But with two weeks until Chicago, I'll remember this as I head to the start.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

RnR San Diego Marathon RR

On Sunday, I ran the RnR San Diego Marathon.  This was to be my backup marathon if Paris failed to give me the results I wanted but a lot happened between Paris and this race to made me change my mind.  I ran it for fun but still running a strong race, finishing in 4:46:32 on a hilly course.  Very happy with that.

Long version:

So, as you know, I ran the Paris Marathon after a great training cycle, hoping for a huge PR.  In the end, I ran it with what ended up being high BP (my readings were at the 158/90 to 165-95 ratio), a migraine from the BP, and an asthma attack.  So, coming in at 2 seconds from my PR was really good.  Yet, I was disappointed.  Once again, the asthma stroke after months of not even being an issue.  But, marathons are like that because, well, MARATHON.

Anyway, I used the week post marathon to recover, running low miles and getting back on the horse soon thereafter.  My training for the 5 weeks after Paris went really well, except that (1) I had to run all my LRs but one on the TM, (2) ran all my MP runs on the TM, and (3) got sick for 3 of the 5 weeks.  I am still congested from the cold from hell I got 4 weeks ago and that was a factor in my decision (last minute) of not racing on Sunday.  I ran a 70 mile week, and two or three weeks in the 50-60 ratio.  I felt fine going in.  However, I had no mental mojo to race it.

Remember the high BP?  Well, I started BP meds one week after Paris and I feel so much better.  Damn parents and their hereditary diseases.  Anyway, this was to be my first marathon with these meds so I also did not want to risk the chance of another big issue like in Paris, so this played with my mind.

We arrived in LA on Friday at 11pm.  We drove to San Diego on Saturday and I really liked this trip because it gave me time to relax, find a KK and buy some Mtn Dew. :-)  It also gave me time to unwind from the stress of work and to relax before the race, since we usually travel the day before the race.  We stayed in front of the convention center where the expo was being held and right across from Petco Park, where the Padres were playing the night before the race.

We woke up at 4:30am, and immediately I had stomach issues.  I had a couple of more issues before the start but it never bothered me during the race.  We were lined up for the humongous line for the buses by 5:15am and I seriously thought I would not make it before 6:15am, my start.  The rules are very strict in that if you are not there by the time of the start, you are forced into the HM which is a whole different course.  But we made it by 5:45am, after which I spent the rest of the time in the potty lines or inside the potties.  I went into my corral while they were singing the National Anthem.

Before the start, they mentioned the 92 year old runner that was trying to beat the world record for oldest female marathoner and I am glad to hear she did.  I did not hear any mention of Meb but since he was racing the HM and the HM did not start until 6:50am, I assumed he was mentioned there.  I started around 4 minutes after the start.  Temperature was 61-70F during the race, cloudy for most of the race.  Good because the course had no shade.

Miles 1-5:  As usual, I started slowly and decided to just keep my HR at 155 for the flats (there were hardly any), 150 for the downhills (there were a lot), and no more than 160 for the uphills (which were more than all the others combined).  However, my HR was abnormally up.  Between the stomach issues and my chest congestion, it was not a surprise.  But I usually just adjust it upward; this time I just didn't think it was appropriate.  I wanted a strong race, not a risky asthmatic marathon, so I refrained.

Since the first few miles were "downhill" (more on that later), I did not want to wreck my quads, especially since I have zero uphills and downhills where I live (my routes define the word flat by being 0ft elevation).  By then, I had decided not to race it and just to run somewhere between easy pace and MP, as I knew the second half was a doozy and had a 1.5 mile uphill that could kill any chances of you ever seeing your quads again.  For the first 13 miles, I achieved my goal. Miles 2-3 had some downhills so that's why I look like I am achieving GMP but not really.  Paces: 10:19, 10:03, 9:53, 9:38, 9:54.

Miles 6-13.1: At this point, the paces are feeling very easy to me, but I slow down on purpose.  I was very conservative during the first half of the race and I am not sorry. I really didn't feel ready to push it.  This was the moment I could've kept my paces at below 10 (I have trained for a faster GMP and it felt fine), but for some reason, I didn't want to. The course was a constant slew of rolling hills at this point.  Paces: 9:59, 9:53, 10:30, 10:22, 10:20, 10:29, 10:16, 10:28.  I crossed the 13.1 mat in 2:16ish, but apparently, my shoe tag did not record.  Meh.

Miles 14 - 20: At this point, I put the HR goals out the window and just ran each mile until the HILL as nice and somewhat uncomfortable as I could.  Usually, by Mile 14, I am struggling to quit, walk, do something, other than run, so I usually put my best songs during this period.  But I didn't need to.  I was having fun, running a marathon just for the heck of it, high fiving kids, men, women, just enjoying the moment.  I crossed Mile 20 and headed to the big HILL knowing I would have to walk then at some point but just doing my best at that point.  I did have to fix my socks every 3-4 miles which irked me but it had to be done, as usual.  There is nothing I can do with an unmoving toe at this point. Rolling hills and more hills but still running them all the way.  Paces: 10:24, 10:38, 10:30, 10:41, 10:52, 11:41 (sock fixing), 10:51.

Miles 21-23: Behold, the HILL.  We were on the highway and they were not kidding when they said it was going to be long.  Around 1.5 miles long.  When they said this was not a PR course, they meant it.  I started running the hill but after 0.50 mile I was not making much time anyway, so I ran/walk until I reached the crest.  I was probably as fast as I was just running but at least I tired myself less.  There were people walking left and right.  It felt like it had no ending.  Paces: 11:37, 13:57 (LOL, but it included a top to fix my sock, so), 11:16.

Miles 24-26.2: At this point, I am still running strong and, although my best songs are coming out of my ears, I don't feel tired nor wishing it to be over.  I am not even looking at my watch so I have no idea where my HR is at but it's above 160 at this point. No asthma issues at this point.  Although the course is supposedly downhill until the end, I didn't see it.  It was rolling hills and uphills with a downhill last 0.50 mile to finish.  Someone had a sense of humor, ha. Paces: 13:13 (sock fixing), 1109, 11:37, 11:01.  I finished with hardly anyone around me and my husband took this picture:

Not sure what focus he was using because this resolution sucks, but I think he was zooming?

Here is me with at the finish.  Not sure if you can tell but I am soaking wet:

Overall, I am happy I ran this the way I did.  I didn't give it my all and it is my fastest hilly race ever, so I cannot complain.  I really didn't want to push it on Sunday and I'm happy I did not.  Still dealing with chest congestion and getting used to the new meds, so this was a success in my book.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Paris Marathon RR


On Sunday, I ran the Paris Marathon with a time of 4:34:11, two seconds off my PR.  I am not angry at my time, but I am disappointed that once again, my asthma has killed my chances of having a good race.  The time is really not important to me and a minute or so PR would have left me more frustrated, as I know I am much faster than this.  But when you basically run the last half of the race at easy pace and almost PR after an asthma attack, there are some good things to take away from this exercise, right?

Two years ago, I registered for the Paris Marathon, only to have my husband switch jobs and canceling our vacation because he was unable to take the time off.  So, this race has been on my sights for a while.  The race is always held on the first weekend of April, unless that week is Easter week, in which case it moves to the second weekend. Unfortunately, I managed to register the year where Easter fell on race day so I ran a week later with much warmer weather (the weather last week was gorgeous).  In fact, I am glad it was rainy and cloudy on Saturday; otherwise, race day weather would've been worse.

I decided to make this my goal race for the Spring, especially after the Space Coast Marathon and Chicago, both the faster marathons I had run in close to 2 years and a huge improvement from before and after my surgery.  So, I quit most of my marathons after Disney, canceled my 50 miler race, and concentrated on this race.  I ran Disney much faster than I expected, even after running a HM the day before, so I knew I had a good chance to improve and maybe PR.  If you had asked me in January whether I would be running the paces I am running now and had a chance at a huge PR, I would have called you crazy.

Training went perfectly.  I improved in leaps and bounds.  Even while training for the DNF 2013 Chicago Marathon, my paces were not this fast.  My current PR pace is my GA pace now and I was able to run tempo paces without asthma issues.  The weather in Miami from January to early March cooperated with that.  We finally had some Winter weather in the mid 60s and 70s, and low humidity.  My asthma was nonexistent and my breathing capacity jumped from 450 to 500 (peak flow meter numbers, not sure what this means as a percentage).  Based upon my workouts and the HM I ran with 5 easy and 8 at MP that felt like a walk in the park, we had an idea of where I would be if I run a marathon.  Remember, the heart rate does not lie.  And then, taper started.

The first thing that happened during taper was that my chest got congested.  The weather here turned to shit and my asthma woke up after that.  I twisted my foot on the Monday before the race and it was hurting on and off especially after the flight in (however, it was not even an issue during the race).  However, and I think the most crucial thing that happened was on the Tuesday of the race.  Someone at the office thought that painting the samples for the renovation on that day would be a great idea, even if I was at the office at the time.  I had asked to be told whenever the renovation was ongoing so that I could make arrangements to either work from home, work from Broward, or take the day off.  But someone thought painting samples would not be a big deal.  I don't blame them; I never thought painting samples in the walls would hurt my lungs like it did.  My congestion went ballistic.  I never got a clear chest after Tuesday.  But, meh, I have been here before and ran Chicago, Space Coast and Disney congested, it wouldn't be worse, right?  RIGHT?  So, I went to Paris knowing this might not be the goal race I wanted but still optimistic.  After all, I had my Krispy Kreme and Mtn Dew, what else would I need?

Since my husband didn't have too much time available, we flew on Thursday night, arriving into Paris on Friday at noonish, and left Monday afternoon.  We have been to Paris once before, so we made the best of it with the time we had.  We missed a couple of things we wanted to do but I suspect this will not be our last trip there (not if I can help it, LOL).  I asked hubby to find a hotel near the race, or at least a train ride away.  We found one in the 7th Arrondissement, near the Eiffel Tower, my favorite monument.  In fact, we had the chance to get a hotel room with a view of La Tour, and we took that chance.  This is the view from my room:

The fact that the hotel was really affordable was a plus.  It was also a very nice boutique hotel with only 5 rooms per floor and 6 floors.

Once we were in Paris, we headed to the Expo, to pick up my packet and look around the expo.  I had heard the expo was bigger than Boston and, although I have not gone to the Boston expo, this was really the biggest marathon expo I have been at, including NY, Miami, and Berlin (the biggest ones I have seen).  I picked my number and found myself on the athlete's wall, probably the second time my name was up there but the first time I was there to see it:

After the Expo, we walked around the city, got an early dinner at a nearby restaurant (the are where we stayed had at least 15 restaurants in a half mile radius) and went to bed early.  We were exhausted, especially since the seats we chose for the flight were by the galley (the plane map didn't show that). We never slept a wink since there was always something going on in that area all night.

Saturday was very cloudy, windy, and rainy.  It had the perfect marathon weather if the race was on that day, except the wind.  I knew the clouds and rain would help on Sunday, because the forecasts varied all week from a high of 70F to a high of 68F.  The low depended on Saturday's weather.  We continued visiting sights and enjoyed the city.  Visited my favorite place (The Eiffel Tower) and had lunch in one of the restaurants there (not the big expensive Jules Verne but one located on the second level).  That was a neat experience.  Since my corral start at 9:30am and I had to be there at 9am, I went to bed at 11-12am (my usual) and tried to sleep.  I went to bed with a migraine and because of that, I woke up very dehydrated.

Race Day:
I tried to hydrate as much as I could without issue, but there is so much you can do with only 3 hours until race day and not wanting to stop for the restrooms along the way.  We arrived at the Arc de Triomphe a bit before 9am, visited the restrooms, and headed to the corrals.  The race has 54,000 athletes, yet it is very well organized.  But our corral was full and it took me almost 20 minutes to make it into it.  My corral started after 9:40am.  The bandanna was for the tunnel; I am glad I brought it since I needed it.

From the get go, I felt bad.  I knew it all week but I didn't want to accept the fact that this was not going to be a good day.  So, after my first mile felt off, I switched to my long trusted HR view and kept it there, trying to keep my HR in check.  The first 9 miles were towards the sun. There was no shade and no respite from it.  It was sunny as hell, but there was no wind (thankfully).  I was never clustered between runners (except for a few areas with only 1-2 lanes of traffic for athletes) and I didn't have to pass a lot of runners throughout the race.  I love the fact that the race provides 33cl water bottles at every 5K point, which are easily carried throughout the race and provide sufficient fluids, unless you are very dehydrated like me (more info on this later).

The first water station was a nightmare (at the 5K point).  The street goes from 4 lanes to two and there was a cluster of people trying to get a bottle of water.  It took me around 30 seconds to get one and start my trek out of the cluster.  That was the story for all water stations.  The first half of the race went without incident, except I was getting slower and slower and I knew something was going to happen eventually.  I just wanted to postpone it to the later part of the race.


Miles 1-5: 9:51, 9:32, 9:29, 9:38, 9:46 (water station)
Miles 6-10: 9:34, 9:42 (uphill), 9:36, 9:55 (uphill), 10:16 (water station)
Miles 11-13: 9:44, 9:55, 9:56 (2:08 for the HM point)

At this point, the rolling hills are gone, or so I hoped, but I still had the tunnel which could hurt my asthma.  I was so worried about the tunnel all throughout the race, I missed the signs of an asthma attack at Mile 14.  My HR went up at least 10bpms and there it was.  Cough, cough....  After I stopped for a bit to breathe, I continued on but slowed down the pace.  The tunnel was somewhere between Miles 16 and 17 but thankfully, the pollution and smog in there was not as bad as I expected.  Besides, the damage was done; the asthma attack was there.  Right then and there, I decided to just phone it in.  I knew I was going to finish around my PR and at that point, after an asthma attack, there is no point in pushing.  It became a game of survival, one foot in front of the other, don't you dare have another attack, type of thing.  Even running at easy pace felt hard after the attack (and my HR was still high), so I made the right call.

Miles 14-16: 10:07, 10:03, 10:20

Around Mile 16, I got a side stitch, just like I did during Space Coast.  It lasted until the end of the race.  Whether my prednisone had something to do with it, I am not sure, but I have only taken Prednisone twice for a race and both races have had bad side stitches, so coincidence or not?  I didn't walk as did during Space Coast but I had to slow down during those miles where the side stitch was worse (or when the breathing got worse).

Miles 17-20: 11:09 (water station), 10:29, 10:51, 11:01
Miles 21-23: 10:35, 11:29, 11:38 (water station)
Miles 24-26.2: 11:35, 11:11, 11:49 (water station), 10:05

The course changed a bit so we didn't run under the Eiffel Tower like some pics of the event show, but running towards the Arch at the end of the race was awesome!  All the sights throughout the race were neat as well.

That if I had not stopped at the last water station, I would've PRd?  Yes.  Do I care?  No.  I don't want a few seconds PR, especially in a race I did this poorly.  I know I am way faster than what I ran on Sunday.  I am not even sore!  So, really, I want my PR to come on race much like my current PR, on a perfect day with no asthma, when I feel invincible.

After the race we continued walking around Paris (I walked all day and my legs were fine), and enjoyed some recovery drinks to feel better:

And that on my face is sunburn!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A1A Ft. Lauderdale Half Marathon RR: Powered by KK Donuts, Mtn Dew, and Migraine Pills

Yesterday, I ran the A1A Ft. Lauderdale Half Marathon as a training run in preparation for the Paris Marathon in April.  I am on Week 5 of training and it has been going really well, mostly because of the rare "Winter" down here, making my asthma nonexistent and capable of doing faster workouts than in prior cycles.  So, this race came at the right moment to be able to gauge where I am going.  I was not to race it, but needed to do 5 miles easy and the last 8 at MP (by heart rate).

I had a cutback week this week, but work and life had me shuffling every run all week.  I didn't run any of my runs on the days I was supposed to (except for the race) and, on top of that, I woke up on Saturday with a horrible migraine that didn't leave until I fell asleep on Saturday night and made me miss my 5 miler then.  Suffice it to say, that I was afraid to wake up on Sunday at 4am to get ready for the race with a migraine.  Fortunately, it was over by then.

Hubby was also running this race as his 12th in 12 months to get another moon on the Half Fanatics.  He was not looking to PR and, although his miles have gone up, his pace has gone down as he builds back from the illness we both got in November/December that made him miss a bunch of his training.  Overall, he did well, finished feeling great, and with no issues.

Temps were going to be awesome, 48F at the start, 50F at my finish, no wind (which is rare for this race).  So, instead of me fighting with 20mph as I did on my PR marathon race (this same course), it was 6mph and calm.  You couldn't ask for better weather to race.  Except I was not going to race.

We got there at 5am and I ate my KK glazed donut and drank my Mtn Dew.  The last 4 races have shown that eating these two things makes me run better so why not keep doing what works?  We finally found parking, got to the potties and were ready to go.  I decided to wear that bolero thingy (I think it's called a sharmer), together with my Phoenix INKnBURN camisole, and to wrap the sharmer around my waist once it was too warm for me to wear it (I took it off by Mile 0.50 but I was glad to have it for the start).  My husband felt a bit cold so he wore a long sleeve (I think he is getting a cold because that's not his usual self).

As soon as I turned on my TomTom, I noticed that my HR was at least 20bpms higher than normal (while resting).  Those migraine pills sure pack a lot of caffeine!  So again, just like during Space Coast, I had to make the decision of whether to run slower taking into consideration the stupid high HR or just assume the HR was 10bpms higher and run at 10-15+bpms than I had planned.  After the first few easy miles had me running at MP heart rate, I decided to assume that was my "normal" easy HR for that day and went with it.

I know this course by heart, having run this race every year but last year (due to surgery the day before), so I knew the first 5 miles would take us from downtown Ft. Lauderdale (and the federal court I practice at) to Las Olas Boulevard, hitting the sunrise at the beach on the A1A by Mile 3 and into a park with a nice path at Mile 4.  By mile 5 I was ready to push to my MP "heartrate" but Miles 4-6 are a bit crowded due to the narrow path.  I still had no problem accelerating and from this point on, only 1-2 people passed me throughout the race.  I passed everybody I had in front of me until the finish.  I took a gel at Mile 4.50.

The first 5 miles were easy (or at least they felt that way), starting at 10:57 and ending at around 10:26mm.  Not my usual easy pace but this was 20F cooler than my normal runs so on par with the weather change.  Then, I did my first MP mile: 9:23 and couldn't believe it.  I have been running my MP runs faster than the last two marathons by at least 30 seconds but I have only hit this pace during my tempo runs not on MP runs.  But still, the miles felt as easy as MP does to me, so I kept going,  Mile 7: 9:27, Mile 8: 9:28.  Got to the turnaround and separation from the marathoners and I really felt sad I was not moving on with the marathoners (I was initially registered for the marathon but I am behaving for Paris so they switched me).  Mile 9: 9:28 (took a gel), Mile 10: 9:36 (not sure why I got slower but there was a bit of a headwind pickup and headwind from then to the finish).  Mile 11: 9:28, Mile 12: 9:29, Mile 13: 9:28, sprint to the finish: 8:51.  Had I raced this from the beginning, I would have been very close to my PR (or even passed it by a few seconds), but I behaved.  This is 6 minutes off my PR and I was not even pushing.  Good!

I finished and felt really good.  Waited for hubby to finish, got a few selfies with the awesome medal (my hair is up on end because the wind was high by then):

And took some pics of hubby coming in:

Overall, I felt really good with this workout.  My goal was to beat my other workout training HM, the 13.1 Boston, where I did 5 at MP and 3 fast and ended up running 2:17.  I really thought I could beat 2:15, but never in my life did I think I would finish with a 2:10 on a training run.  It's been a while since I have been able to run this fast without having an asthma attack.  I really don't want Spring to come and with it, my lung capacity to lower down dramatically, but maybe before that happens I can get my marathon PR back.  We'll see.

This is my last "race" before Paris.  All I have left is the PR Half Marathon and I am running with hubby, so only tempo runs and MP runs will tell whether I can finally run what my legs can run but my lungs cannot.  But this is very promising.

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Goofy Challenge RR

This weekend, I ran the Goofy Marathon and a Half Challenge for the third time, a weekend that consists of a half marathon on Saturday followed by a marathon on Sunday.

The original plans was for me to run the HM with hubby (he registered) and race the marathon solo.  However, up to Friday, those plans were kaput as hubby had been injured with some sort of thigh/knee tendonitis.  I was still debating whether to race the HM and jog the marathon, due to the weather being great on Saturday and hot on Sunday, but on Friday, after trying out a knee brace, my husband had zero pain and we decided to move forward with the race.

My training since the Space Coast Marathon has been nonexistent.  A week after Space Coast, my recovery was going well and was ready to increase my miles.  And I got sick.  Super sick, with fever for days, bedridden, and unable to run.  It was a miracle that my asthma didn't pick up on the chest congestion to make it worse.  I gave it to hubby so then he was sick for one more week, leaving us with barely any miles for 2.5 weeks.  On our first run back, hubby got injured, so he did not run through the race.  My highest miles for the week were 38 instead of the 50s which is where I pictured myself by then.  My longest run in a month was 12 miles.  Lovely.

Saturday (Walt Disney World Half Marathon)
We woke up at 3am and got on the 3:45am bus.  The feels like was 38F and it dipped down to 36F by the start.  I decided to wear a LS since I was run/walking with DH and it was the right call, since it was very windy and I felt chilly all the way through.

Hubby did pretty well, but his endurance was down for not running in the last 3 weeks so he got slower as the race went on.  We finished with personal worsts at 3:20, but we had tons of fun.

Selfie at the Castle:

I even managed to FE with Deb from the Penguins (we saw each other by the potties by accident, ha):

Overall, it was a good day.  We went to breakfast with dad and drove around half asleep the rest of the day.  It's a miracle I didn't fall asleep at the movies.  We used the hotel hot tub to treat my legs and fell asleep by 9:30pm.  I barely had any water and my dinner consisted of 4 pieces of chicken strips and some fries.  I do marathon prep really well, I see.

Sunday (Walt Disney World Marathon)

I woke up at 3am and got on the 3:30am bus to meet my fellow FB friends from several Disney groups.  Got to the athlete's village close to 4am.  Met with my friends and headed to the potties and the corrals by 5am.  By the time I got into my corral, it was almost full.  Again, I started at around 6am.  I was ready to race.

Temps were colder than expected (yay), but it was still going to get up to 70-75F by 10am, so I took a bolero to cover myself until I was warm and then I would wrap it around my waist and forget about it.  It worked pretty well (plus I got a lot of compliments because it was cute).

I have tons of great pictures, so I am buying them as soon as they are complete.

I had my usual breakfast of two Krispy Kreme donuts and a Mountain Dew.  It worked for Space Coast and I think I have found my perfect marathon breakfast.  I shall take these with me to Paris.

I started my usual warmup of 1-3 easy miles before achieving my target marathon HR of 155-160.  Mile 1 was pretty easy and, although I was freezing at the start, I warmed up pretty quickly (it was 52F, feels like 50F) and took off the gloves and the bolero.  It was windy but most of the runners around me covered me, so I felt pretty good with what I was wearing.  By Mile 2 I had reached my target HR and felt pretty good.

Miles 1-5.  Since it was cold, I was running great paces at my target HR and felt fine.  The first couple of miles were narrow so it gave me a chance not to overdo it.  I was surprised by the paces I saw, though, and I still believe that had I not run a HM the day before, I could've run those paces much longer (if not the whole way).  11:15, 10:14, 9:48, 9:47, 10:17.  I remember stepping over the Mile 5 mat, but it never registered.  My FB status from RunDisney were also wrong, putting me at gun time (30 minutes before I started) and my pace very slow so I am not sure what my friends were thinking, but my husband thought I had issues.  Ha.

I ran through the water stations, taking PowerAde every other mile and water at every mile.  The first GU was at 4.50 miles.  My only stop was at around Mile 5 when I saw the famous Maniac Dave Mari and I stopped to take a picture with him (his camera).  I continued on as he cheered me on (he was in Corral C but he walked the race to take pictures of people and stuff).

Miles 6-10.  We finally entered to the Magic Kingdom (it took us from Mile 3 to 6 to finally get in from the entrance to the actual park) and the Cinderella Castle was gorgeous with its Winter lights (it was still dark).  Too bad I was not carrying my iPhone or I would've taken a picture of it.  I continued through the park and exited to head to our next adventure, the Speedway.  My second gel was at Mile 9.  10:19 (little cluster by the castle), 10:12, 10:14, 10:21 (a little cluster at the entrance and exit of the speedway), 10:27.

It is here that my feet start to hurt and I am sore ALL OVER.  I mean, I have done Goofy before and I have raced the marathon after running the HM but I was SORE.  I am sure it's my lack of long runs in the last month.  You can see me slowing down as the miles passed.  But I kept telling myself you can slow down, but you are not going to quit and walk, missy.

Miles 11-17.  Miles 15-20 are my nemesis. If I quit and walk or quit mentally during these miles, I am done for the race.  If I pushed through here, Miles 21-26 are a piece of cake.  Not sure why but it's always been like that for me. Sometimes I win, sometimes my mind wins.  We head from the Speedway out to Animal Kingdom, running through the wonderful water treatment plant.  The road is boring but my music, the course entertainment, is keeping me in the groove.  Soon enough, I think it's time to eat my third gel.  So, I ate it at 12.5, only to realize I ate it one mile too soon.  I keep slowing down feeling tired but running at the same 155HR (or as close as I can) but the pace keeps slowing bit by bit because I'm tired.  No biggie, but I better not quit.  I crossed the HM mat at 2:17 something.  Now comes the hard part, keeping myself from slowing too much through the end.

We exit Animal Kingdom and head to the Wide World of Sports. At this point, the sun is out and I feel too warm, but by Mile 17, I noticed that there are clouds and it might rain, so the temps cool down to where they were before we entered Animal Kingdom.  That is good news!  I feel that Miles 14 through 17 are at a slight inclined but nothing bad.  I decide to put my best music at Mile 14 to survive the 15-20 mile nemesis.  10:25, 10:36, 10:51, 10:37, 10:47, 11:07, 10:47.

Miles 18-21.  We entered WWOS at Mile 17.  At this point, I feel great.  I am still slowing down but feeling a bit pumped.  I take my next gel and think, OK, you picked an extra gel at Mile 11, eat it at 20 and eat your last GU at 23.  I also pick a banana there.  That way you won't run out of fuel and feel hungry. Then, I think next: OK, the stadium with it's dirt path will not hurt me because I have Prednisone. Wait, I forgot the Prednisone in Miami, bah!  How can I be so stupid.  Still, my breathing was fine.  I covered my mouth with the for a bit but feel good enough to wrap it around my hips again and smile at the many cameras at the stadium.  I made it out in one piece, but I had a horrible pebble in my shoe since Mile 10, so at Mile 20, in front of the mile marker and mat, I stopped for a minute to take it out, fix my sock that was bothering me, and head back out.  Something happened here with that 1 minute stop.  I felt wonderful.  So wonderful, I forgot to take my 20 mile GU.   We headed out of WWOS and hit the slight incline back to the "big hill" at Mile 21-22 with the army guy that last year posed with me:

Not sure how long is the hill, but it feels like it is around 1.5-2 miles.  10:53, 11:05, 11:11, 11:39 (shoe fixing).

Miles 22-26.55. I head up the incline and decide to eat my GU here and be done with fueling.  I felt great at this point but couldn't increase the pace for the life of me.  HR is now at my normal end of the marathon HR of 160-170.  I knew I would not stop now. It was only a question of how much I would slow down.  We head to Hollywood Studios and the best thing happened, it started drizzling!  Awesome!  The weather remained cool for the rest of my race.

We head out of Hollywood Studios into the path that goes through the Swan (or is it the Dolphin) resorts on our way to Epcot.  I just concentrated on my music (again, my best songs are for the last two miles) and putting one foot in front of the other and not to let my HR slip down (I was tired so it was easy to slow down if I wasn't careful).  We entered Epcot and you know you're almost there!  Except the Epcot ball is on the other side and although you have a mile to go it looks like it's far.  But I kept pushing.  This face says it all:

I head to the finish line and know I kicked Chicago's time in the butt. That's the only thing that kept me going the last two miles.  I fought with myself between, you can get a 4:45 if you only walk a bit.  With myself saying, a 4:44 is better.  Finished in 4:43:44.  And I almost had an asthma attack.  I had to stop several times before even getting my medal and I couldn't talk.  Wouldn't it be nice if I had taken my prednisone the night before?  Sigh.

Overall, I loved how I ran this race. It was one of my most strategic races and seriously, I couldn't have run any faster that day even if I wanted to.  But one thing is for sure, a 9 minute difference between this and my PR on tired legs?  I cannot wait for the Paris Marathon to see what I can do.