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!

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:

RnR Las Vegas Half Marathon RR

After Las Vegas, I didn't want to write an RR because there was not much to say but that it sucked, I couldn't breathe, and I said fuck this shit out loud and stopped.  The pictures tell the tale.  But anyway, let me write it down a bit for consistency purposes.  Short Version: It sucked.

After Chicago, I decided to give the RnR Las Vegas Marathon I had on the calendar a chance.  I had already ran Las Vegas in 2012, had an anaphylactic asthma attack at Mile 9 and went on to run/walk to finish (I don't recall ever DNFing a race before then but knowing now what I knew then, I should've done that).  Time was not my worse, but it was something like 5:14-5:32 (I don't recall; that's how miserable it was that I got amnesia).  So, I wanted to run it again since hubby wanted to do the HM and I wanted revenge on the course.  I mean, what could go run in 20mph winds and dust, which I'm lethally allergic to?  Seriously, I thought it would go better after 4 years of allergy shots and stronger lungs.  But I digress.

We arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday, picked our car and went to meet Katrina (fellow RWOL member), her husband and cute baby, for lunch.  We had a great time (I had met Katrina in 2012 but never got to take a picture to prove of such FE, so we resolved that issue immediately):

My only regret was that we couldn't spend more time with them as we had a show to go to.  Since the race on Sunday night, we had all the time to relax, drink, eat, and watch something.  Woke up on Sunday feeling good, except for some coughing due to the dust in the area.  Weather was gorgeous and I seriously think the race would've gone better for me had it been in the morning, since the winds were at 4mph and feels like 53F.

We walked a bit and went to some of the hotels, rode the NY NY roller coaster, and ended up having lunch but for the life of me I don't recall where.  Went back to the hotel to chill out and waited until 3pm to leave.  We had to take the little train to the MGM (we stayed at the Bally's this time around), then walked from the MGM to the start, which was approximately 1 mile.  The train or however it's called was a nightmare.  Every single one that came by was full and we needed to push to allow 3-5 people to enter.  We managed to enter on the third trip.    We made it to the starting area, all while listening to Kid Rock who was having a free show there for the race between 3pm and 4pm.  Temps were still good (low 60s feeling like high 50s, but the wind was already bad).

The corrals, as Lurch explained, were a nightmare.  That is not typical of the RnR races I have done (6 so far).  My corral was 19, and hubby's was 29 or something like that.  When we get to mine, there were people from the 43rd and 33rd corrals.  So, we decided to move forward, as I knew I was not with my 19th corral.  I ended up in Corral 11 with people from the 20th corral.  Hubby stayed a bit behind but close by.  We took our pics, I ate my donuts, and we were off.  The wind was high by then but I didn't notice before starting because I was covered by a mass of people.

Starting pic (Call it the before) - I still have not bought the pics but I will as they were actually pretty good:

As soon as I started, I started having issues.  The wind was super strong from the side and I soon saw someone falling due to his foot touching either someone else's or his own while trying to run.  I had to use my head buff over my face immediately.  I felt so miserable, I immediately had regretting doing this race.  I remember the split was somewhere in the 10:30s, which was easy pace, but it felt like I was swimming against a bad surf and drowning.

Miles 2-3.1 didn't fare better. I started getting into my GMP but it still felt like I couldn't breathe.  All I wanted was to get past the New York New York hotel to be able to get some relief from this cyclone, LOL.  When I finally did, I started having some good miles and paces between the 5K and the 10K.  My HR went back to normal and I was able to enjoy it a bit.  It even drizzled and I thought, hmmm, maybe this will not go bad.

Then, I passed Mile 7.  We headed into some suburbs and I think the wind was back in force; if not, it was the dust.  I couldn't even breathe by then.  I felt like a truck had run over me and my eyes were swollen from the dust that fell into them.  Mile 8 was slower than mile 7.  Mile 9 was slower than Mile 8.  I can see the writing on the wall and all I could think of was: I have 17 more miles of this shit and the wind is worse outside the city where we run the last 13.  Do I want to go through this again?  A bit farther than I had my anaphylactic attack last time, I said fuck this shit out loud, stopped, and went to the side of the road.  Picked up my phone and called my husband who I assumed was around Mile 6.  He was actually at Mile 8.50 so I told him, OK, I'll wait for you here at Mile 9.50.  Pick me up and I'll see if I can run/walk with you to the finish line.  I seriously doubt I could but I was 4 miles away from our hotel and no way to get back so I thought that would be a good choice.  At this point, I didn't care if I had a medal, a finish time, nothing.  I didn't know the RD had given marathoners the choice of finishing the HM due to the wind and I didn't know there were reports of gusts in the 50mph range.  Ugh. No wonder.

So, I waited for 15 minutes until hubby caught up with me.  Medical passed me by (they have some runners that are part of the medics that run back and forth certain miles and make sure everybody is OK, I like that about RnR).  Told him I was fine, that the coughing was better and I guess he believed me because off he went.  After finding my husband, I started run/walking with him but he was way ahead of me most of time (told him to continue and don't mind me).  I felt a bit better by Mile 10 where we passed the marathon turn and I had to assure the staff, again, that I knew I was taking the HM route.

When we got back to the strip, the wind was horrible.  To the point, my husband was walking more than running.  I had my face covered still.  It was bad everywhere.  Saw two more people falling due to the wind, all the mile markers were on the floor, and everybody was running like the Hunchback from Las Vegas.  I just looked like I went to war with the wind and lost:

Especially besides that woman who is apparently having a great time.  LOL.

Hubby was on route to a PR but since it was so bad in the last 3 miles, he missed it.  Still, he ran 2:37, his best time in more than a year.  And I have to spoil it by saying, he PRd yesterday, and broke 2:30 again, which was his dream (he always thought his 2:29 was a fluke or a short course, or whatever).

I ended up very dejected after this race.  I still cannot breathe well which might have affected me yesterday, but I ended up seriously down.  I spent most of the week falling asleep everywhere.  Even though I kept my runs and everything, I felt tired.  You know, like this:

And I had only run 9 miles!  Sigh.

They did give me a medal and an official HM time.  Good!

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.