Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Shamrock Marathon DNF Race Report

I have been super swamped at work, so I have had no time to write new race reports or blog posts.  But here it goes. :)

We had planned on running Shamrock to get Virginia for my husband in his quest for more states.  I had heard this race is very flat (it is) and that it has great weather (doubtful), so I signed up for the full and planned on at least racing it at a good effort.

As the time got near, the weather had turned to rainy and windy.  When we arrived to Virginia Beach on Friday night, the rain had not started but as we woke up on Sunday, the wind and the rain were there to stay.  We were staying in front of the start for the marathon and we could see the finish line for the 8K that morning falling down from the wind.  The wind was brutal, indeed.  I was already worrying about my lungs but thought the rain might calm the wind a bit.  It didn't.

We spent the day before the race shopping, eating, and just enjoying the area.  There was not much to do outdoors since the winds were brutal.  That night, we wanted to walk around and find a good restaurant but the wind was so bad we went back to the room and ordered a pizza.  Before going to bed, as I was preparing my outfit (undecided as to whether to wear a LS or a short sleeve, a skirt, or capris), my husband decided to not start his race if it was raining hard.  The winds were expected to be in the 30s and they didn't disappoint.  I was undecided as to whether to even start with that forecast, but thought I needed the miles anyway and, rather than hop on the TM at the hotel, might as well try to run and see how the winds felt.

The morning of the race, we woke up and hubby decided to DNS.  The rain was bad during the start of the HM and I heard it rained for half of it.  I don't blame him.  It was cold, rainy, and super windy.  I wouldn't have done it.  But, I prepared myself to start, ate my usual pre-marathon breakfast of Krispy Kreme donuts and a Mountain Dew, and headed downstairs to meet a friend, Meghan.  We took a picture together and this was the only picture taken of me during the race (and it was before the race!).  Meghan had also decided to DNS and with us being in the lobby of my hotel, I was still debating.  But I had decided to start the race and run the first 12 miles of the race, which would bring me back to my hotel.  At that time, I would decide if continuing was worth it.  I didn't care for the rain, I don't mind running in it, but the wind was another story.  My lungs cannot take it and I didn't want to screw my asthma too bad.


I went to the start line and the rain had stopped (thankfully).  It was 47F feels like 38F and the winds were in the 20s (allegedly because they felt worse).  I had a throwaway shirt from one of my husband's races but I took it off before the start.  I had my tech tube in case I needed to breathe and a light LS from the Misfit Runners FB group to protect me from the wind.  I might have been a bit overdressed for anything but the wind, but I felt OK in it.

We were off! The first 5 miles were with the wind to our back, so the first 5 miles felt nice and easy and I took them nice and easy.  But as soon as we turned back, the wind hit me in the face.  Although at that point, the wind was not too bad where we were, I started slowing down from all the running towards the wind.  I was fine...until Mile 9 where we went straight to the shore and there was no harbor from the wind.  I put my techtube up hoping it would diminish the effects on my lungs, but for the life of me I couldn't move.  It felt like I was running in pace without making much ground.  I think my paces here dropped into the 11s and then the 12s.  As we got out of the shore and back on the street, we headed towards my hotel.  It was Mile 11 and I had already made my decision to stop at the hotel and DNF.  I couldn't run anything faster than 12mm with the 30mph gusts hitting me in the face and the rain had started.  That I could've finished?  Probably.  But who wants to run in this shit, really.  I passed by the hotel and stopped.  I got to my room and my husband said Told you so.  LOL.

Although I am sad I did not finish this race because it is a fun race notwithstanding the weather, I was so glad not to be out there for 3+ more hours in the brutal weather.  But at least I got to meet friends and had a good time.  Maybe one year I'll go back there.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

About 2016 So Far and How your Mind Can Ruin Your Love for Marathons

The year 2015 was a great year for me as a runner, considering I ran the most mileage I have ever done in a year and my paces lowered consistently.  I just did not hit any of my goal races and had some medical issues to take care of during most of it (high blood pressure, asthma, etc.)


When 2016 started and with it, my plan to run another slew of marathons to earn new states on my quest, I was hopeful that 2015 and the speed therein would help me at least feel like a better runner in 2016.  And the year started well.  I ran the Dopey Challenge with my BFF Mary, and we had a ton of fun.  My next race was the Miami Half Marathon but when I saw that the temps were PR conducive (40F at the start and mostly in the 40s for the remainder of the day), I switched to the full and thought: this is my chance, I can do this!  Except I was sick and did not know it and spent the next three weeks with either a fever, or a chest congestion/cough from hell.  I was almost at 100% when the A1A Ft. Lauderdale Marathon came around and I set to run that one, if at an easier pace, only to quit at Mile 19 instead.  As I mentioned in my last race report, this played with my mind badly.  I knew I could've finished the A1A Marathon; I just didn't want to.  Part of me thought I couldn't deal with the slower pace that came with the high winds and my cough, but part of me thought I was still sick.  Or was it me?


After the A1A, I felt like I did not love marathons any more.  Wait, what?  I don't like running anything else!  And without my races, I feel that I would not run as much as I do because I would have nothing else to make me go outside (or the Treadmill) except my gorgeous INKnBURN clothes.  I hate half marathons and would not race them often, if at all, and I despise short races because I cannot race them without ending in the hospital, so if I didn't love marathons anymore, I asked myself, did I love running at all anymore?


So, I am very glad to have finished the RnR New Orleans Marathon almost two weeks ago.  I was a bit disappointed in the pace but I didn't set myself to race that day.  I think I was even more nervous about that race than my first marathon (which I ran an hour slower than I ran in NOLA now).  Based on my latest asthma follow up, there was nothing to fear: the cough was gone and my asthma is at an all time high (see below), so it was my mind. I did not enjoyed the second half of the race when my stomach issues arose and the temperature seemed to be from Miami than NOLA in Winter.  And I think I was able to tell my mind to shut up, but we will see about that in two weeks when I run my next.  Unfortunately, while I planned to mirror 2015 in terms of mileage, I have been slacking big time on my mileage this year and my pace bunny is laughing at me at this time.


Oh, and after the A1A Marathon, I had my asthma follow up appointment. I still felt meh concerning the three week cold from hell and I was seriously expecting my breathing to be at an all time low (my normal readings have been between 51% and 61% in the last three years).  But for some reason, even after the Prednisone treatment had been gone from my body, and for the first time since I was diagnosed with asthma, my breathing was at 75%.  Wait, say wut?  This explains why I felt stronger and faster last year.  Having a tiny bit more of lungs working does make a difference, LOL.


So, although I am not as hopeful as I was when I started 2016, I am happy at least with something.  Breathing is kind of important, don't you think? :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

RnR New Orleans Marathon

On Sunday, I ran the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon.  After two DNFs due to illness and maybe a mental block, all I wanted was to finish this one.  To say I was nervous is an understatement.  I was.  Once you have to DNF from a race, it either makes it easier to make that decision afterwards, or it plays with your mind for a while.  Not sure which one I had, but I really felt unsure I would be able to complete the distance but needed to because otherwise, my mind would win for the rest of the year.

This was to be my 32nd marathon an ultra (say what?) and my 8th state, not counting Puerto Rico, so I was looking forward to adding another state in my 50 in 50 quest.


We arrived in New Orleans on Thursday afternoon, since it was our first trip to NOLA and we wanted to experience the city, the atmosphere, the culture.  I was a bit worried about the food, since I am allergic to shellfish, and wondered if I could find something nice to eat and be able to experience the culture and food without eating shellfish, but I had almost no problems with that (had a bit of cross contamination, but nothing major). One thing I found is that NOLA had worse allergens than Miami, at least at this time of year.  My allergies were acting up from the start and they are still giving me a bit of an issue today.


The city was very nice.  A bit smaller than I expected, but also much cleaner, safer, quieter, than I expected.  We walked to Bourbon Street and walked it from beginning to end, and that was a bit of a disappointment.  I always assumed the locals would still be around the area, and the music scene would be there as well, but they were not.  Serves me right for assuming, ha.  We also met my friend, and fellow admin of the For the Love of INKnBURN FB group, Michele, and her husband.  It was nice to meet her in person and getting to know her a little better.  Picture!



Obviously, we were both decked in INB, as normal fans are. :)

After saying goodbye to Michele, Richard and I walked to Café Du Monde, to get some beignets from there before walking back to the Hard Rock Café on Bourbon Street for dinner.  We love eating at every Hard Rock Café we can find around the world and New Orleans was no exception.  We shared some nachos and a sangria pitcher.  Our vacation started well, IMO.

On Friday, we headed to the expo, which was not far from the hotel (in fact, everything is within walking distance there, love it).  We had breakfast at the Harrah's Buffet and, except for the bit of cross contamination I got with my omelet (oh, that shellfish), it was delicious.  And they had beignets there too.  Win.

We met a friend of mine from the MRT Turtles FB group (it's not about time, but about attitude!) and it was a pleasure to finally meet Allison.  She is as lovely as the internet has shown. :)  More pics.


Since we usually do the expos last minute on the last day, it was a rare experience for me to see an empty expo full of a couple of runners and nothing else.  We then headed to lunch and later to explore a bit more of the city by using the Hop On, Hop Off buses.  We had dinner and tried to sleep a bit better than the night before.  It was unsuccessful.

By Saturday morning, I had noticed that my allergies were bad and I had my first nose bleed of the weekend.  Fortunately, the dewpoint was so low, my breathing was good.  We explored the WWII Museum, which I think it's a must if visiting NOLA, and we met my friend Melissa from the Smoking Hot Mammals FB group after the museum.  I have known her for close to 7 years but never met her in person.  It was a very nice day!


We finished Saturday with a trip to the Aquarium, including Melissa.  Like I said, a great day!

Race Day is here!  I woke up after another sleepless night with a migraine and stomach issues.  Ugh.  I thought the stomach issues would stop or delay until after the marathon, but as you can see later, they did not.  I took an Immodium, together with my normal meds before the race, had some calories in the form of a non-Krispy Kreme donut (sniff, we didn't find any for this trip and I should have bought my own) and sip a bit of my Mountain Dew, but didn't feel like I wanted to eat/drink anything else.  We headed to the corrals closer to 7am and stood near my corral, Corral # 10.  Took some pictures and met a couple of ladies from the INB group, who I had been looking forward to meeting and they did not disappoint.



Of course I was decked in INB, doh.  The arm warmers, I knew, were coming off at some point, since it was 45F then but predicted to go up to 70F, too hot for marathoning, IMO, but what can you do.  This was a just finish race, not a goal race.  But I wore my favorite Bandit camisole to get a bit of badassness rubbed off on me since my mind was telling me to quit already.  My head hurt here.


And here are the two lovely ladies from the INB group, and they are now joining me as INB Ambassadors:




The race started at 7:33am, almost on time.  My corral started around 12 minutes later, said goodbye to my husband and started.  I found the GPS did not do well near the CBD (Central Business District) because my first mile was a full 0.10 before the actual marker.  I also found the roads full of holes, so the going was rough.  I almost trip and fell twice, oy.  I was trying an easyish pace at the start and felt fine, albeit a bit warm.  The arm warmers went off by Mile 1 and even then, I felt it was too warm already.  The temps went up to 68F before I finished the first half, 70+ by the time I finished the full.  The race, especially the second half, has no shade.  I am sunburned, ha.


At Mile 5.53, my Garmin froze.  Gah!  It didn't come back up until Mile 24, and by then it was too late.  After that, I had no idea of what my pace was like, but I knew that I had done the 5.53 in 56 minutes and change, so not bad.  After the halfway point, I pulled my phone out and (while running), quickly texted hubby that I had no Garmin and to please text me the splits when they happened.  Apparently, I ran the HM in 2:15 something, which was good, but a bit faster than I wanted at that point, with half of the race still ongoing.  I think by Mile 20, the pace was somewhere close to 10:40, so I slowed down a lot (details below).


Miles 14-16 went well.  I was looking at the mile markers and making a quick math and most splits had been between 10:08-10:20, so around where I wanted at that point.  I had taken gels at Miles 4.5, 9, 13.50(ish since no Garmin), but after Mile 16, my stomach cramps got worse so it was time to find a potta potty.  I think I stopped at one somewhere before my Mile 18 gel, so 17ish.  And again at Mile 19, and then later at Mile 23.  It was frustrating!


The rest of the race went by roughly.  The sun was relentless and it was already 70F or even more.  I was dehydrated from the migraine and, even though I was taking two cups at every water station, one for drinking and one for going over my head, I felt thirsty.  I kept my gels going when they were supposed to and my energy was fine; I just lost a bit of time stopping for the bathroom and walking.  Cause at some point, the sun killed me and I walked.  Still, I was having a good time.  I high-fived kids, took some beer from one of the stations (by that time, the stomach had settled), and headed to the finish.  After 13 miles of relentless sun, a cloud passed by and I finished in the shade.  I wish that cloud had been with us all race long.  I finished in 4:52:23, 18 minutes from my PR but far from being a PW.  I was happy with that.


My husband had already finished his race, showered, checked out of the hotel and driven to the finish to pick me up.  I found the line for the finisher's jacket (which is lovely but I forgot to take a picture of it), and met my husband.  We headed straight to lunch, the airport, and home.


It was a nice race and I am glad I battled the DNF demon and prevailed.  I also better get used to the slowing times until my goal race, as adding marathons every month will take their toll as the time goes by.  Next one is in less than three weeks!










 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2016 Miami Marathon (Ahem, HM)

I have done the Miami Marathon & HM for numerous years and never had a great experience.  It is always hot, it always has me puking or suffering, or something, and my PB for the full is 4:52 (HM PM there is 2:18).  So, it's a tough race for me.  So, I am not sure why I signed up for the HM last year during the blitz because hey, running it again would be crazy.

But, I did.  And I was considering switching to the full depending on the weather.  And the weather went from yucky, to OK, to PR weather.  So, I asked to be switched to the full and started my taper the week of.

I was looking forward to running in the 40s instead of the 80s.  As you know, my marathons in 2015 were all warm and I know I am faster than those results showed, but I never had the chance to run in perfect weather until now.

Since the days have been very windy, I chose on a camisole and a skirt, with my bolero and gloves for the start.  The windchill was 39F when I got to the start line and very windy, too windy for my lungs.  That should have been a foreboding of you're not going to have a good race. Oh, well.

I was assigned to Corral G this time and for the first time ever, I was in the Corral early enough to cross the entrance like a normal person instead of jumping the fence.  I chatted with a couple of Marathon Maniacs and Double Agents and we chatted about some races I am planning on doing in the future.  It was cold but doable.  We started around 25 minutes from the first corral.

As soon as I started, I got hot, so I shook my bolero and gloves and ran the rest of the race in my camisole and skirt.  Never felt cold at all, which has taught me not to bring these many clothes because then I have to carry it the rest of the way.

Mile 1 was going up the McArthur Causeway, so I took the mile easy, ending up with a 10:27mm, not bad, easy pace.  Miles 2-7 went really well.  Ran then by HR but also looking at the pace, and it came out as GMP, so so far, so good.  Go, me! Paces: 9:36, 9:30, 9:40 (uphill), 9:45, 9:45, 9:48.  Not bad, still within my paces.  These miles took us up and down the McArthur Causeway and entering at the Southermost spot in South Beach, all the way through 16th street, after which we would take a North turn and back South before heading back to the McArthur Causeway.  Even though this first half was harder than before (they changed the course), running through the bridge twice is not as boring as the other route, so good.

Mile 8 took us back to South Beach to head onto the McArthur Causeway.  I felt a bit tired but I was not worried about the 10:02 pace of it.  And then, I didn't feel as good anymore.

The wind gusts were brutal by then, and I started having deja vu moments from Las Vegas.  I felt better than Las Vegas but my lungs were taking a beating and Miles 9-11, up and down the bridge, became a shuffling and jogging that I still do not understand.  Paces: 10:16, 10:31, 10:47.

At this point, I cannot breathe well.  All I can think of is to get back to my car and leave.  But wait, I'm running the full.  How can I run another HM feeling like shit?  I made a promise to myself that if Mile 12 was as bad as Mile 11, I would just turn with the HMers and finish.  At this point I did not care if I get a medal or a finish time.  There was no other way to get back to the car!

Mile 12 and 13 didn't get any better.  When the turn for the full came, I just couldn't do it.  Couldn't turn there and continue running.  I didn't walk at all, but I could barely put my feet in front of the other, even though the paces were still at easy pace (nothing bad).  Paces: 10:37, 10:45.

The funny thing was that the wind had died down a bit when I turned to the finish line and I ran that last 0.26 in 9:07 pace.  But I had nothing left to give.

I was in a daze by then, and I remember seeing Ed, a friend of mine, telling me congrats, and all I could tell him was: I was supposed to run the full and continued walking without realizing it was Ed until further down the road.  I went back home and napped for 3 hours.

As of Monday, I have a fever.  I have been home since Monday afternoon and I have some sort of virus.  Of course, now I feel bad for having such bad luck on this race, once more.  It was the perfect day to run a marathon and do well.  But it was not my day.  My lungs are better today but the virus remains.

Apparently, Marathonfoto.com did not get any pictures of me from the race (so far).  This is all I have to prove I was there (and a finish time, thanks to the RD):


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dopey Challenge RR: Four Races Powered by Alcohol, Krispy Kreme Donuts & Mtn Dew

When Mary and I ran the Disney HM while we were both doing the Goofy Challenge around 3 years ago (Half Marathon on Saturday and Marathon on Sunday), we had such a great time and formed such a strong bond that we have become great friends.  During the race and afterwards, we started the idea of planning to do the Dopey Challenge, which consists of a 5K on Thursday, a 10K on Friday, and the Goofy (HM and full), to complete 48.6 miles.  This is the end result of what started that day in January.

First, we needed to wait until both could do it.  There is no use one doing it without the other, especially since I wouldn't do it by myself and Mary had to plan for the right time to come down from the Midwest.  Second, we needed to plan outfits.  There is no doing Disney for fun unless you have outfits.  Third, we needed a plan.  From how we would run the races, to how we would plan the week (food, drinks, parks, etc.).  Knowing my husband would not want to spend the whole week in Orlando and rather drive on Friday to run his Half Marathon, we decided to share a room the whole week.  This took around two years of planning until finally we arrived to Orlando on Tuesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, we had planned a Monorail Crawl, meaning we would hop on the Monorail and hit the Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary Resorts and hit the bars/lounges there for a drink.  We did just that.  Lots of fun...and alcohol.  We also had dinner with one of my friends from a wonderful group of ladies at the Wilderness Lodge's Artist Point.  Overall, the first night was a success!


WEDNESDAY!
We went to the expo on Wednesday, as it was opening, quickly getting our packets and buying some merchandise. We were pretty efficient and by 10am we were on our way to the Animal Kingdom!  Riding Everest for the first time was a blast.  And as you can see below, it was not for the last time.  After Animal Kingdom, we headed to Epcot, where we drank around the world.  Here I am representing Britain and France in one shot:


We had dinner in Germany and headed to bed before we regretted the drinking around the world thing.

Disney's 5K Race
So, we woke up at 3:30am for this race and that's the latest race of the week.  It was hard, but we did it!  We were dressed as Stormtroopers in INKnBURN.  We were debating whether to wear this at all and for what race, since the long sleeves would be too hot for the forecasted weather, but it was low 50s when we started and cloudy, so we didn't have that many issues with it.  Here we are with my friend Mike, also sporting INB.  We had a blast.  Time for the 5K, including character stops, was around 49 minutes and finished in the dark.  ONE DOWN!


After the 5K, we headed to a breakfast with my group of friends and headed to Hollywood Studios where we met Darth Vader.  That was fun.  Or was it?

We slept early and headed to our second day!

Disney's 10K Race
Contrary to yesterday, today, it was rainy and cool, I think around 58F.  Waking up at 3am was not easy either.  We had the Lion King outfits but we were worried that our makeup would be ruin, plus running in wet tutus would not be fun.  Fortunately, they had a warming tent were we hid while Mary did our makeup (she was wise not to let me try to put on hers, LOL).  It all worked out well, but the rain was consistent from start to finish.  Time was 1:19, or something around there, including character picture stops.


My group of girls and a very tall man (and friend)....


Character stop!  I wish I had worn a Simba mane, but after the race had my hair all up on end, I'm glad I didn't.  This is one of my favorite pictures from the race:


After the race, we headed to a nap (much needed), then a late breakfast at the Wilderness Lodge again.  We joined my husband at the expo later that day, had a late lunch, and went straight to bed, forgetting that dinner should have been consumed at some point.

Disney's Half Marathon

The three of us woke up at 3am again to get ready and leave for the HM.  Today, the roads were crowded and the buses took longer.  I think we only had time to hit the potta potties and then head to the starting corral.  We said goodbye to my husband who was in H since I used one of his 2:42 POTs to get him a corral, and his PR happened too late for submission.  Oh, well.  He had a blast and ran a 2:38 with one character and Epcot spot.  He was not dressed as anything, but as an INKnBURN fan.


As you can tell, we were dressed as pirates, and we were looking forward to take a picture with Jack Sparrow, as he has always been in both the HM and the full as a character stop.  Except this year.   Time was 2:52, including character stops.  This is a PB best for Mary and Damaris running Disney together for fun.  By 16 minutes!  Weather was awesome, mid 60s and cloudy.  No real dewpoint to talk about.  Not PR worthy, but lots of fun worthy.

After the race, we met with my husband, had breakfast and hubby went back to Miami, while Mary and I tried to relax and nap as much as we could.  We had a late dinner reservation and had some drinks at some of our spots from the Monorail Crawl, while also meeting my group of girls for a drink as well.  We went to bed at 11pm after packing and getting ready for checkout...at 3AM!


Disney's Marathon
Here it is!  Day 4.  I have done the Goofy three times and I've never felt so tired as how I felt that morning.  These 3am wakeup calls really take a tall on you!  I think the ligament I tore 20 years ago was saying WTF a lot.  But overall, we felt fine.  The forecast had improved but the start was at around 67-68F with 68 dewpoint and the dewpoint went as up to 70DP until the cold front arriving into Orlando came in and the ending dewpoint was 59.  I have to say I felt bad from the beginning.  My breathing was bad and I actually choked on a candy I took at some point, worrying Mary.  It was not until the halfway point that I could breathe better but then I was exhausted.  I tried to keep up with Mary's pace and I felt sorry she had to slow down for me in some sections, but we had a blast.

The first HM included several character stops at the Magic Kingdom.  We had a new course this year since they took out the NASCAR track where we used to run, but they did a second section of MK and I liked that better.

One of our best pictures together, behind Cinderella's Castle.


We headed to Animal Kingdom but had to pass the wonderful Water treatment plant facility and the villains section.  And there was JACK SPARROW!  Unfortunately, I damaged the picture. Either that or Jack and me didn't care about it?



We headed to Animal Kingdom, where we cross the halfway point of the race, and we were very close to the time they open the park and the Everest roller coaster.  We pass by it and noticed there is already a line of runners and the employee says, they are testing already.  Jackpot!  We are going in!  Riding the Everest during the race was priceless:


After the halfway point, we headed outside of Animal Kingdom and met with my group of friends, who had snacks, sodas, water, and best of all, KK donuts!  We, of course, took as much as we could before continuing.  I have to thank Lisa and Jenny for manning the fort at AK and having us covered!


We also saw Kristin around that area with some of the Sparkle Skirt girls.


After that, our predicted finish was around 6:32, but Miles 14-19 are pretty boring, before we head to ESPN and the stadium, so we didn't really stop around here at all.  We made up A LOT of time with this whole section.  We ran inside the stadium and headed to the Army guy.  I don't have any pictures of the guy but he did yell at me to hightail it because I was Incredible. Smile

We headed into Hollywood Studios and started stopping for characters.  This part slowed us down a bit but we were having fun!  By the time we reached my friend at the Boardwalk, we were around 1.5 miles from the finish, if not less, and all I could think of was that Mary promised me a margarita in Mexico at Mile 25.5 and that I didn't have to run after that, so I pushed through.  I was tired!

Thanks, Christina and the rest of the ladies for having us covered at the Boardwalk with snacks and candy.


And there we were, Mexico!  We purchased our margaritas and walked to finish.  The runners were passing us by saying: why didn't I think of that?  LOL.  We ran at the finish (probably the last 0.20) but the 0.25 break between Mexico and that made us fly.


And yes, I crossed the finish line with margarita in hand.



I am buying all my pictures.  I have a lot, and they are all great.

We finished in 5:59:45, very happy to have broken 6 after all the stops, rides, and funnery.  This was a PB for fun.  I said I would only do one Dopey and done, but if Mary insists, I have to go back one day.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Looking Back at 2015

As we start a new year today, I wanted to look at my running 2015 year.  Lots of things, both good and bad, happened in 2015, but overall, it was one of my best running years.  I hope 2016 can be even better.

When 2015 started, I was dealing with some asthma issues, caused by a moldy cabinet in my office.  By the start of January, I was feeling much better but still dealing with some coughing from it.  I was not running much, though, partly because of that and partly because of laziness.  That is why I love to have a coach to push me and force me to run.  Because otherwise, I would just take too many rest days, ha.

In February, I became an INKnBURN ambassador.  As you know, INB is my favorite athletic apparel brand and have been a client for almost five years.  Being an ambassador for the brand is awesome, icing on the cake.  So this was my run-related non-racing highlight of the year. :)

By April, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure.  The migraines for months, the asthma issues when the breathing was OK, all pointed to this for the last months, but I did not want to accept it.  My mother has had high BP since age 18.  My dad has it too.  It was just a matter of time.  But for me, it was a failure. They don't exercise, they don't eat right, of course they have high BP.  But why me?  I do everything right.  Why do I have an illness that I equate to unhealthiness?  It took me a while to realize that some illnesses and conditions do not reflect on how healthy you are; that genes are sometimes stronger than exercise and nutrition.  So, I started my medication and immediately felt much better.  I should have done this way before.

My first races went well.  Even with the migraines and the high HR that those brought, I was performing better than I had before, almost as fast as before the asthma.  By the time the Paris Marathon arrived, I was faster than I was before the asthma.  My coach and I had trained for a 4:15 marathon.  I did everything correctly, all my MP runs went great, on pace, and even outside in good weather.  But no one could have predicted bad weather, an asthma attack, a migraine, and high BP the day of the race.  Matching my PR that day (4:34) was a disappointment then.  But looking at it now, I am very happy and encouraged that I was able to run that fast after an asthma attack and the BP.  That, in and of itself, was a triumph.

After Paris, I started my BP treatment and started feeling better.  However, as most runners know, most BP medications do affect performance a bit, so I became a bit slower during the months of May and June, while we played with the medications options.  I ran the RnR San Diego Marathon, a hillier race than Paris, with the sole intent of running it without any issues.  I ran a 4:46, I think, or around there, but had an awesome and I felt like I was back and ready to train.

The Summer down here was brutal in 2015, even worse than 2014 and 2013, combined.  We had purchased a great treadmill (TM) in 2014, and since April gave us the first days in the 100s heat indexes, which extended through November, I spent all my time on the TM. In fact, I am on the TM still today, because it is Summer in South Florida in January, 2016.

Training on the TM is very different than outside.  Mostly because the TM brings better weather than outside in Miami, unless it's Winter.  Which we have not seen in ages.  But I did some TM quality runs for Paris to compare with the outside and trained for San Diego on the TM and knew paces were pretty much the same as outside so I trained for the Chicago Marathon hard.  My coach gave me another round of training similar to the Paris Marathon to keep my speed and endurance as they were there.  I continued running well and even trained at a faster MP than for Paris.  I felt great, but was worried that it wouldn't be the same as outside.  My HR on the TM was fine, but every time I risked going outside in the 90s, my HR would rise even higher than any weather adjustment I could do.  That's medication for you, but one thing to keep in mind.

The Chicago Marathon had horrible weather, even worse than Paris.  By the time I finished, it was 80F.  I puked on the course, I could barely run the last 6 miles, I might have even been dizzy at some point and my right side hurt.  Finishing in 4:39, a 7 minute course PR, was great.  But I felt horrid while running.  Something was wrong.

I kept training and running for my next adventure, the RnR Las Vegas Marathon, the one I had an anaphylactic attack on the course due to wind and my dust allergy, the one I wanted to beat.  But when the race came up, 50mph wind gusts and all made me run the HM with my husband instead.  His training has been going well.  He now runs 9:1 intervals and almost PRd in Vegas.  But my breathing was bad after the race.  After years of allergy shots, I will not die in windy cities, but my asthma and allergies will make my life miserable.

After Las Vegas, the pain on my side was worse and I didn't feel great while running.  The coughing was bad so I thought it was that, but it ended up being a rib out of place.  Man, when that thing went back into place, the difference in breathing was wonderful.  Apparently, I had that even before Chicago, which explains the nausea and other issues.  The rib has moved out of place twice after that, so I have to be conscious of that and take care of it whenever it happens.

My last race was the Space Coast Marathon.  But since Florida is still stuck in Summer, I knew it would be impossible to run a PR time in this race, so I concentrated on having a great performance, better than Chicago and Paris.  By the time I finished SC, the temps were again in the 80s.  It was warmer than Chicago, overall, so running a 4:38 with a side stitch for 8 miles and the heat, was great.  Although I did not PR in 2015, the four marathons I ran were a good sign that I have improved and that I only need good weather to be able to do so.  But it was just not my year.

2015 was definitely better than 2014.  I ran 2500 miles for the year and had some great marathon performances.  I will continue to train in 2016, but the plan for 2016 is to add more states to the 50 marathons in 50 states quest.  Lots of races coming up, starting next week.  So, the PRs will be put on the side until after the Summer.  Stay tuned!


Monday, November 30, 2015

Space Coast Marathon RR

After Vegas, I started recovering for the Space Coast Marathon.  We have been doing this race every year to get our Big Bang Series, which means you have to run the race for the 5 years to get it.  Year 3 included the Milky Way Challenge Medal, which basically assures you are a candidate for the Big Bang Series and the Five Year Intergalactic Series medal, so long as you complete the next two.  I am doing the five marathons and hubby is doing the HMs.  This was his first HM.  The medals are based on each of the shuttles:


The race is in Cocoa Beach, FL, home of the Kennedy Space Center and the Atlantis.  The race has a nice course full of small rollers (Little Blue might say otherwise, but it is not Florida flat by any means ), but near the beach.  During the prior two years we have run it, the temps have been in the low 60s, cloudy, and not much of a problem.  We always look forward to this race as it has a great party, Yuengling, and awesome medals.

However, it appears it is still Summer in Florida.  We were in the mid 90s for heat indexes and 75 dewpoints until last Sunday. Then, we had a "cold" front of highs in the 80s and low dewpoints (65, ahem, that's low, right?)  So, the weather for Space Coast looked to be the warmest I have seen it but at least the dewpoints would be in the normal category.  The HM started in 65F and the marathon in 68F.  However, the high for the day was 78F and I managed to finish when it was 77F.  The course is shaded, somewhat, but the sun was brutal because there were no clouds.  Apart from the sun, we were lucky with the weather compared to what was forecasted before.

Since the weather was not ideal and I still felt blah after Vegas (I am still coughing on occasion and my throat seems to be a bit angry still), I planned on having a fun time, run it, and not expect a PR.  I told people I didn't have a goal but I always added: well, I want a course PR and I don't want to run above 4:40, and let me check what the 4:30 pacer is going to run, so I guess I did have some sort of plan in my mind, but did not want to accept it.  I know my PR is soft but I'm basically out of luck this year.  And I am OK with that.  I have not run these many marathons close to each other this fast ever, I think.

We arrived to Cocoa on Saturday afternoon, did the expo, met some of my friends from the INB Fan Group (admins, unite):


one of my JUGs GFs:



and went to eat at our favorite mofongo place in Orlando.  Did some shopping, went back to Cocoa, had some nice margaritas and dinner, and went to bed.  Therefore, of course, I only slept two hours....

This was to be my first marathon using the Altras Intuition 2s.  I used them for Vegas, but you know how that ended.  Hubby recommended I tried them due to the huge toe box.  We thought maybe it would fix my toe bunching the sock.  I have to report it did!  Hoping it stays that way.

The HM starts at 6am and the HM at 6:30am (due to the course tightness, the HM needs to start first).  We drove to the start at 5am and headed to the potties, met some people, forgot to text Little Blue to meet, and ate my donuts and Mtn Dew.   I dropped hubby at his start and started to wait.  I located the 4:30 pacers (one for Galloway and one for straight running) and stood behind them.

Off we went!  Immediately, the 4:30 pacer disappeared and the Galloway one was way ahead.  So much for that plan!  After Mile 1, I noticed my lap had not sounded and that's when I realized I had reset my TomTom to fix a glitch in the HR (I do it every 6-9 months) and you have to replan laps either by manual or by distance (or other options).  So, I had no laps and TomTom has no manual laps unless you tell it to.  So, all I have was HR and overall lap pace (for the whole race).  Good enough! I just basically ignored the pace and concentrated on looking at my HR every 1/2 mile or so to make sure I wasn't going past my racing HR for marathons.  I am still unable to see the 4:30 pacers even though I am going at around 10:20mm.

Since the first half is in the dark and with hardly any sun, my first half went really easy and nice.  I keep getting faster with every mile but I feel great.  My HR is on point, and I finally see the Galloway pacer.  The dance starts.  I pass them while they are walking and then I get sandwiched while they are running.  Rinse and repeat.  I passed them at Mile 5 only to be sandwiched between the 4:30 pacer and the Galloway one.  I finally passed them all at Mile 6.  Of course, they passed me back way later with much less people than how they started.  They were going to fast as I passed the HM mat in 2:13 and they started with me.

As I head to Mile 14, I keep looking at my husband (he usually waits for me to pass) but didn't see him.  Didn't see him in the next 2 miles (the HMers are finishing going down while we head up), so I knew he ran at least faster than 2:45.  The sun is finally up in the sky and it gets hot really fast.  By then it was probably 73F already.  Fortunately, the humidity was still in the low 60s.  They said there was a headwind and the winds were at around 20mph, but with the sudden heat, I did not feel it at all.  I was throwing water over my head since Mile 10.  My tank was completely soaked and my skirt started dropping water on my feet from sweat and water.  But I still was feeling fine.

By Mile 16, I noticed my overall pace is dropping at least second per mile.  Not bad, I thought, considering it feels hotter every mile and the sun is in front of me until Mile 20.  At Mile 18 I start feeling my old friend the side stitch rise up.  As you remember, this is the race I ran last year with a huge side stitch for 6 miles.  Well, this time I ran with it for 8 miles, but I start working around it faster this time around so it hurt less.  I walked for 30 seconds at Mile 19 to get the stitch to STFU and it worked, so I ran 1.5 miles more and do the same when the pain got too high.  By now I pass the 20 mile marker and mat and my pace has dropped from 10:08 to 10:13, I think or somewhere around there.  Not bad, but with this pain, I cannot keep it.

At Mile 21 I see this girl on the floor either passed out or getting there (I was coming up Mile 18).  A lady is asking her if she is OK and she mumbles so I slowed but didn't stop.  When I cross Mile 21, I had to stop to let the emergency vehicle pass and when I get to where it parked, they are working on the girl.  Hope she is OK.

Somewhere around here, both 4:30 pacers pass me.  I start the dance with the Galloway group but they soon prevail.  I see more people passing me, but I am also passing walkers (those that cannot even run a step). I can run but not for longer than 5 minutes before the side stitch gets worse, so I run until it hurts, walk for 30 seconds, rinse and repeat.  By Mile 25, my lap pace says 10:30mm.  Still good considering it's almost 78F and the sun is bad.  I head into the last 0.20 and see my husband who always waits for me there for a picture. I have yelled things like I need my inhaler now to fucking side stitch before, so this year is no better with me telling him: I need a fucking beer.

Here is the pic:


Can someone explained what am I doing here?



And now I know why I did not PRd.  I only ran with one leg?



I finished in 4:38:11.  This is a 15 minute course PR and 4 minutes off my Paris time and my PR.  My PR is from a race in the 40s.  This race was hot.  That I could've strategized better?  Yes.  That I could've run a better time?  Yes.  Am I disappointed?  Hell, no.  This is among the top 5 fastest marathons I have run but yet the hottest of those 5.  I am stoked I ran this fast!

Hubby got a new PR of 2:28:XX.  He is very happy and his coach (me!) is as well!

Here are the two medals I earned this year: