Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Paris Marathon RR

Short:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Paces:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


And that on my face is sunburn!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


And took some pics of hubby coming in:


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

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

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Goofy Challenge RR

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

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

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

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

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

Selfie at the Castle:


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


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

Sunday (Walt Disney World Marathon)

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Space Coast Marathon RR: A Huge Course PR, a Huge Side Stitch, and a great fun was had! (Long)

Today, I ran the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa, Florida.  We are doing this race five years in a row to get some humongous medal at the end.  It is also a small but fun race that has a great 7 hour time limit for the full, free food, and free all you can drink beer (which only my husband enjoys because by the time I am done, I am DONE!)

At the beginning of this year, I wanted this race to be my goal race for the year.  Then, I got into Chicago and thought I could use Chicago as a gauge and then treat this one as the goal for the year to see how fast I was then after surgery and the whole shitload of asthma I had for most of the year.  Unfortunately, there were several events that prevented me from reaching that goal (although I did attempt it nonetheless).

First, as you all know (or at least the Dailies knew), I had to DNF the New York City Marathon due to an asthma attack at Mile 8.  The 40mph gusts of wind, the debris, and the horrid weather that day turned my allergy to dust and basically air to levels I had not experienced since my anaphylactic attack at the RnR Las Vegas Marathon 2012.  After New York, I tried to get back into running but I couldn't breathe.  I was having trouble even running 1-2 miles before my HR would shoot up and I would be hyperventilating.  The feeling did not go away while at home or at work.  So something else was going on.  We were by November 15 when I found the answer: I had a bookcase at work that had mold.  Maybe it was a placebo effect but when that shit was removed from my office, I was able to breathe again.  I even started to run well and more than I had before then.  I even ran 47 miles last week.  But by then it was too late to prepare for Space Coast.

Second, two weeks ago, on my LR (what was supposed to be a 15-16 miler), I fell hard.  On the road.  Near construction.  In the dark.  During rush hour.  I bet someone is still laughing.  I hit my knee hard and this is how it looked:


Fortunately, although it hurt like a motherfucker, it did not give me problems while running.  But I had to cut the only LR I had planned before the race to only 9.60 miles.  I knew I had enough endurance from my Chicago training, but I was starting to get worried.

Then, last Wednesday I set out to run to Pilates and came back from Pilates, running a total of 15 miles that day, with the last 5 at MP + 10%.  It gave me hope that I could at least finish.  And then, I fell again this Wednesday.   Same leg!  There was a electric or communications cable hanging down from a pole and I managed to stick one foot in the middle of the circle and fell.  At least I rolled into grass.  So, it was not my fault...this time!

With that said, and with 7lbs less than what I weighed at Chicago (most of the loss in the last 10 days), I set out to Cocoa to run the race.  I was planning on wearing an R2D2 outfit and just run it slowly.  But, on Friday, against all indications that I should race it, I picked a racing outfit (you know which one, the one you would wear if you want to run fast).  So, I was racing it in some shape or other.

I did not carboload for this race.  The only carboload I did was yesterday: Pancakes and OJ for breakfast, G and a banana, a huge mofongo for lunch, and a chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries for dinner.  That's it!  Oh, and the two donuts I had for breakfast on race day with my favorite soda, which Jerry still has in his home from trying to give me one during Chicago. 

One thing we were trying for me was 50mg of Prednisone the night before the race.  That's a big dose but one pill every 1-2 months should be OK.  It was supposed to help with my asthma.  But I woke up coughing and did not notice a difference.  Yet, like the doctor says, if you had not taken it, you would've.  Except for the awful stomach pain I had, it worked fine!  Stay tuned for the massive weight gain tomorrow.

The HM started at 6am and hubby was running it, so I dropped him off at the starting line and said goodbye so I could use the toilet before I die.  The marathon started at 6:30am, and on time.  It was 60F and 57DP, or what we call in Miami, severe Winter weather.  I was wearing this:


For some reason, there were people wearing LSs, black ones...in Florida.    I worried about them.

We started off and immediately noticed my HR was super high.  At least 20bpms than normal.  It was either the Prednisone or the Mtn Dew; not sure, but more experimentation will reveal the answer.  So, I race by HR and this was concerning, mostly because I did not know if the HR I was running at was reasonable since it was at least 5-10bpms than my normal marathon pace HR.  But, the first miles went on a good pace and I felt fine, so I assumed I was OK or at least underperforming, which was good.

And then, I noticed, I had LEFT MY SUNGLASSES AT THE HOTEL.  On a sunny race with at least 13 miles looking at the fucking sun.  I was pleased, not.

Miles 1-6ish.
This route takes us out of Downtown Cocoa North before starting a loop back for the second quarter of the race, with a lot of rolling hills but otherwise OK (mostly uphill, though).  The pace was OK for me but I was still coughing a bit (the pill must have started working 10 hours after I took it instead of 8).  The sun was barely rising and we were running against the sun.  By Mile 4 (my usual for asthma warmup), I found my groove.  Paces: 11:00, 10:59, 10:42, 10:31, 10:26, 10:31.  I had a Gu at Mile 4.

Miles 7-13.1.
This route loops back to Downtown the same way we came, so I was looking at the faster people before and now I was looking at the slower people.  Pretty fun.  The 4:45 Galloway pacer started behind me but passed me at Mile 2.  By the end of Mile 9, I had passed them not to see them again until Mile 26.  Grrrr.  By then, the sun was out and I realized two things: (1) Wouldn't it be nice if I had my sunglasses, don't you think?; and (2) Boy, am I glad I am wearing this little, which in fact is too much.  Hot and humid! Paces: 10:32, 10:23, 10:28, 10:44 (da fuk?), 10:26, 10:35, 10:32.  I remember crossing the 13.1 mat at 2:21, so a bit faster than I expected by then, but still well within the park. Gu at Miles 8 and 12.

This is me around that time (waiting for all pictures to come out and purchase them):


Miles 13.1 - 20.
This route loops to the HM course which is a 6.5ish loop South.  All while looking at the sun.  And then I realized two things: Yeah, those two.  I saw my husband heading to his finish and we gave each other a high five.  I was now looking at the slower end of the HMers and the winner of the marathon coming down.  Feeling great at this point.  Paces: 10:33, 10:39, 10:42, 10:42, 10:45, 10:59, 11:36.  Yeah, you noticed.  I slowed down.  Mile 19 was because I stopped to pick another gel from the pack and I started feeling weird.  Mile 20 because I had the BIGGEST SIDE STITCH EVER.  Painful as fuck.  I had to slow down and walk a bit while using a wet towel they gave me then to see if I could shake off that shit.  It did not leave me at all until the finish.  It still hurts now.  GU at Miles 16 and 20.

Miles 20-26.50.
I felt fine otherwise, I was running 95% of these miles, but I was in severe pain.  The side stitch would not alleviate while running so when it felt like I would throw up from the pain, I would walk a bit (30 seconds) but it was as painful to walk.  So, I slowed down.  I knew the 4:45 Galloway pacer would pass me eventually because I saw my 4:43 time fall to 4:45, then 4:47, so it was only a matter of time.  Frustrating, because I was not tired, I was not in need of carbs or anything.  I was just in pain.  Paces: 12:34, 11:35 (ran the whole mile), 11:58 (ran the whole mile), 12:26 (paid for the last two miles and I had to fix my sock), 12:37, 12:51 (fixed the sock again), 10:30 (for 0.50).  I headed to the finishing chute and saw my husband, so I smiled and pretend I was not in pain.  I ran the last 0.70 miles without stopping but I was in pain.  All of my finishing pictures probably have me holding my side because it hurt.

I came in at 4:53:23, 10 minutes slower in the second half, but a very strong second fast marathon post surgery.  This is a 17 minute course PR (I finished last year in 5:10ish).  I think I can break my Chicago time and work back to my PR times soon.  I felt ready to do it even with my lack of running lately (and no speedwork since Chicago).  I was actually surprised I was able to pull a time like this today.

Here is a pic Erin (a fellow BFer) took of us after our finish.


Year # 2 is completed!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Michelob Ultra 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale RR

Today, I paced hubby at the Michelob Ultra 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale.  This was not the race we were supposed to do this weekend.  We had paid and had all our reservations made for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon in Orlando, FL, late last night.  We woke up and got ready and started up the Turnpike.  Suddenly, due to work, we were unable to make it down to Orlando.  As we headed back home thinking of all the cancellations I needed to make (hotel, friends we were meeting, etc.), I told him, since you are missing the race, you won't make the 12 HMs in 12 months unless we sign you up for another race.  Then, I realized one of our local half marathons was today.  Bingo!  I registered us at the store, picked the packets up, and went back home.  Although we were a bit sad we couldn't make it to Disney after all the expense, part of me was glad we did not.  The race had 90% of showers all throughout (it rained a lot) with high chance for thunderstorms and the race started at 10pm. We were exhausted from our Chicago and NY trips so part of us was glad.  So, we prepared for a race today, ate our food and slept in our bed.  Win!

We woke up at 4:30am to get to Ft. Lauderdale for a 6:30am start.  We got there at 5:45am and headed to the start line and potties.  As soon as we left the house and I tried to drink a Boost, my stomach said da fuck and sent me the signal that I would not be allowed to eat anything else.  I had cramps all through 7am where miraculously, they went away until the end of the race.  I also had nausea throughout but since I was not running at my pace, I was able to stand it.  It was one of those days....

We started promptly and headed outside of downtown to a nice section of Las Olas with wonderful mansions.  Since the Orlando rain had gotten here, the skies were cloudy and there was no sun.  It started raining at around Mile 6-7.  We were making great time until we reached one of the overpasses/bridges.  There was a big ass yacht coming and the bridge closed for 2-3 minutes.  At the time the bridge closed, we were trying to catch up to the 2:45 pacer (we started with the 3 hour pacer but left them behind at around Mile 3).  Since the 2:45 pacer crossed the bridge, this turned into an impossibility.

After Mile 7, we headed North on A1A and started seeing the 1:45-2:30 finishers running by us on their way to the finish.  I saw a lot of my local running group friends and one of my friends took our picture:


We are very soaked at this point, but fortunately, the rain kept the weather at around 75F so a cool day for us.  We could not complain.  We turned around and then we were seeing all the runners behind us.  We tried to catch up to the 2:45 pacer but she passed us 4-5 minutes ago so we just tried to make him to push without hitting a wall (he always slows down at Mile 10).  This time, he ran pretty even splits, with the exception of the first and second miles (slower) and the bridge mile.  He actually ran a negative split (he learned from the best).  This is probably his best paced HM, even though it's far off his PR (but doing 1 every two weeks is obviously taking a toll on the times).  We finished in 2:51 something when I was trying to bring him in at 2:48 but, considering the bridge closing, I think he did great.  At least we did not get stopped by the train, which the faster runners had.  The bridge was much faster.

After the race, we picked our medals and our free beer.  It was still raining pretty strongly so we headed to the shuttles.  And waited, and waited.  I have done this race four times and never had issues with the shuttles but I guess the traffic was bad and they had issues.  I said, the car is 3 miles away.  Want to try a long run?  He has never run more than 13.1.  We ended up doing 15.33.  Not a bad day.

Even at hubby's pace, I had to use albuterol twice during the race.  My lungs hate me lately.  Hubby noticed I was using albuterol every 2 hours (the effects go away in 1.5 hours for me while running) and he indicated that for races, I am probably going to have to use it more often (as long as the lungs are this closed off).  So, off I have more instructions for my next marathon.  Sigh.  I just hope I can stop having so many issues.  I am still congested from NY and I did not even run fast there!

Anyway, our next is Space Coast.  My next marathon.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Chicago Marathon Race Report: Redemption Is Here!

Short Version:

Yesterday, I ran the Chicago Marathon with a time of 4:46:49, my fastest in close to two years (and you know I have run lots of marathons in two years) and my fourth fastest marathon ever.  Considering how this year has gone with my surgery, recovery, rebuilding, and my asthma, I am very happy with this result.

Long Ass Version:

As most of you know, this race was a race I needed to do since I had to DNFd last year at Mile 11 due to a ruptured cyst, which ended up with a total hysterectomy in February of this year.  Last year, I was much faster (and skinnier) and I was training very well on high mileage and amazing paces.  But it was not meant to be.  It was all over before the two hour mark back then.  I did 5-6 marathons between Chicago and the end of 2013, but all were painful and slow, dealing with my issue in the best way I could.  The last marathon I ran was Disney in January and, after that, I DNFd two races and felt just ready to have my surgery.  All those marathons were above 5 hours with my fastest being 5:10 then.  As a gauge, my PR is from February 2012 and it is 4:34:09.

Recovery went well and I was able to get my miles back on track quickly after my surgery.  I ran the Surfer's Path Marathon in May, 2014, and came in at 5:16 which was not bad for it being three months post surgery but disappointing to me.  Then, I trained for the San Francisco Marathon only to crashed and get sick from overwork (handling my job plus two committees at work and maybe a tad of overtraining.  I was very tired of running at the end of July and I had no mojo whatsoever.

So, as soon as registration for Chicago opened, I was in.  Except it was a lottery this time around.    I entered the lottery and crossed my fingers, and I was very happy to have gotten in.  My husband sighed and just said OK.

I talked to my coach before I ran San Francisco and we agreed on a 10-11 week training plan for Chicago.  I told him I knew a PR this year would be next to impossible (not sure if I still think this is impossible) since my paces are way below what I was running last year and I felt like shit, so that I only wanted to improve from SF to Chicago and do the best he could to get me there.  I also asked for less miles this time with no more than 50s for my peak (he gave me 60).  I really felt at my wit's end in July.

But as usual, my coach works wonders and this time was no different.  Since my asthma has been really bad due to the Pollen Vortex, he gave me no short and fast speedwork and nothing faster than HMP.  I seriously doubt I could even hit the HMP and I did not disappoint having a very bad workout on that day.  I have been barely able to breathe this year and my breathing capacity (with medication) has lowered down to 45% in April and 52% now.  I also trained through one of the hottest and most humid years Miami has had, with temperatures above 90s and heat indexes in the 100s for months.  Most of my LRs had to be divided between outside at 5am and on the TM by 8am because the heat index would be 102F by 8am and 78 dewpoint or even more.  It's a miracle I was able to hit all my workouts except one short 5 miler before the 13.1 Boston.

But my coach did not give me an easy plan either.  I had MP miles every week, sometimes two in less than 4 days in between.  I ran the 13.1 Boston as an MP workout and ran 8 at MP and last 3 fast there, only to run 12 with 8 at MP on that following Thursday.  I ran one 18 miler and two 20 milers, not enough compared to what he has had for me before but remember, this was an 10-11 week plan and I was coming off a bad period of running.  But I could feel it working.  My running by HR coupled with his plan was working.  My breathing capacity went up to 52%, I was getting faster, and I was running through our heat and humidity without issue.  Except the HMP workout, which went horribly as I could not breathe even while running at an adjusted pace, I hit everything better than expected.  Those of you who wondered why I did not raced the 13.1 Boston, this is why.  My asthma will not let me run at HMP or faster; in fact, it's an attack waiting to happen.  It's not worth it.

So, with my MP workouts pointing to a PR, I was confident I could hit a sub-5 for the first time in 1 year and 8 months but I did not want to include sub-5 within my goals as I felt that was too soft at this point.  So, after consulting with him and others who will remain nameless but that are part of our wonderful community here in RA. (LRB, Lily, etc.) , I tentatively thought 4:45 was a soft goal easily achievable, 4:35-4:39 as my next goal, and a PR as a far goal that was there just in case the stars aligned.  I felt confident with this race.

The only issue I encounter was during taper.  Because my surgery could not get rid of all my endometriosis, I still have some that have remained painless.  Well, not anymore!  It was not the blinding pain of a ruptured cyst and it will not explode this time around but I am not painless and need to start another round of treatment which I started today.

Because of work, we could not leave Miami until Saturday morning and I was fearing the flight would be delayed and I would not be able to make it to the expo on time.  But we did, except for the little incident in flight I mentioned in the Dailies, where a dude just ran over my husband on the way to the toilet, hit an older man, vomited in front of the toilet and passed out, all while I was using the toilet.   That was, hmmm, fun.  Then, I feared we would be quarantined on the plane with Ebola concerns and I would miss the race. 

We got in on time, checked at our hotel, met with OtterGoRun (and coincidentally met never run and RVDowning at the lobby, you know chance encounters in a city that big are rare) and went to lunch with Otter and hubby, followed by the expo.  Picked my packet up and went to sign the #OWNCHICAGO sign at the expo.  I did not know I would get to see this again sometime during the race and seeing it during the worst of my asthma during the race kept me going:

I wrote Revenge on it.


This is the map of the course.  I stood up in the spot I called my husband to pick me up last year.  I thought it was appropriate:


And the FE picture with Otter:


We head back to the hotel and said goodbye to Otter, which gave us most of her day to spend with us and we appreciated and were glad to see her again.  Even my husband spoke to her, miracle!  We headed out to do some sightseeing:


Had a nap at the hotel and went to dinner.  We ended up eating at Morton's and I had steak and potatoes.  You read that right, steak and potatoes.  And a beer.  Gasp!

Since my corral was F in the second wave and I was staying across the street from the race, I put my alarm for 6:30am.  I slept poorly with my usual waking up 300 times during the night to make sure I could go back to bed and by 6am I was fully awake.  So, I got ready and tried eating something.  As you know, I like to run LRs and marathons on an empty stomach and the coughing that came up when I chewed up a nutritional bar showed me I should just leave it and run on an empty stomach.  That was the start of the asthma, I think.

They were expecting high 40s at the start but it was 51F according to weather.com so I left everything (gloves, arm warmers) behind, and opted for a short sleeve and a skirt.  Got outside and everybody appeared to be dressed for a freezer.  I was fine with what I was wearing.  Walked to the race start and walked to my corral as the wheelchair athletes were starting at 7:22am.  The corral was pretty empty and I moved as front as I could (my chip started 28 seconds from the start of Wave 2) and started talking to a girl that was running her first marathon.  She was very nice and appeared ready but she had a lot of questions.  Hope she ran well.

Wave 1 started and all corrals A through E were done in 15 minutes.  Our start time was 8am and they made us wait until then (I thought they would let us start behind E but I guess not).  We started and I had deja vu feelings and all and off we were off.

As you know, I trained by HR and was racing by HR.  My plan was to run the first mile easy and then pick up until I reach 155HR by Mile 3.  The GPSs get crazy during the race and it could have you doing a 6mm mile or a 15mm and no rhyme or reason to it.  The buildings or something wreck with the satellite reception.  A footpod last year was useless as my Garmin kept thinking it had satellites and kept screwing it up for me.  This year, I was running with this baby, the TomTom Cardio MultiSport, with the HR monitor on the wrist.  I ran the last two months with it and it's pretty accurate, both the HR and the distance (as compared to my 910X) and it's cool that I can get different color bands for each outfit (of course, that's important!):


I had planned to look for several people on the course: RobinCD marshaling, Jerryb at the aid station, and AmandainATL with her group sometime at Mile 17.  I can report that I saw none of them.  

As you can see from the splits below, I was pretty consistent with my HR.  I felt great during the first half, but it was windy.  I remember passing Mile 8 where my cyst broke and thought hmm, my insides hurt but nothing like that, KEEP GOING.  I saw a guy between miles 8 and 9 (news said it was at Mile 7 but I swear I had passed the 8th marker) unconscious and people administering CPR on him and I was like oh shit (the guy made it), I passed the Mile 11 marker where I called my husband and ended my PR attempt last year and limped to the El station to have my husband picked me up and I said KEEP GOING, I started coughing at Mile 14 but I said fuck you, asthma, KEEP GOING.  Then, by Mile 19 I was breathing like a fish out of water, my asthma was in full force.  You can see it on the splits that I had been getting slower for the last three miles and I knew that but I just thought I would be able to run through it.  I had a decision to make: I could attempt to run through it some more and risk an attack by Mile 23 and had to walk the rest or I start my asthma attack strategy now and salvage the race and finish strong.  I decided on the latter.  Based on what happened after I finished, it was the right decision.

So, I started walking the water stations and took 0:30 walking breaks whenever I coughed, then restarted running until I coughed again and repeat.  It ended up being only 1-2 walk breaks per mile, but most of the time not that many.  Oh, and I had to slow the pace while running to not raise the HR above 150 because anything above that would start giving me the coughing asthma back.

So, I pushed and I KEPT GOING.  I was having fun, I felt strong, I just couldn't run and breathe, damn it.  I high-fived kids, danced merengue where the Mexican Restaurants were, kept chugging on Gatorade and water, kept eating my gels on time, did everything right.  Here is me around Chinatown (I'll buy the pics when they are all available):





I swear I was running in both!  My mouth is open because I COULD NOT FUCKING BREATHE.

Anyway, pretty soon, I head to the finish line and I knew I was missing the 4:45 goal by a hair (especially since I weaved a lot and the GPS readings were off), so I pushed and I sprinted to the finish (if that picture above is from the chute, I swear I was running!).  Finished up and this woman put a medal around my neck.  I started crying, mostly because of what happened last year and because I had finished it this year, and she freaked out, ha.  Then, I turned around and I try to breathe and I couldn't.  The amount of air I was inhaling was cut by 90%, I exhaled and tried again, nope, still off.  I kept trying and trying and trying while I was having a fucking asthma attack.  I kept thinking that at least I am close to the medical tent in case I pass out and I am wearing my RoadID that says asthma patient.  It took me 10-20 seconds before I could breathe back to (my) normal.  Phew, good thing I did not have that during the race.  That was the worse one I've had ever.  Probably too much emotion at the finish or something?  Anyway, I kept walking, grabbed a banana, water and left for the hotel.  Tried to find hubby but I could not see him, so I went back, texted him, took and shower and got ready.  I felt fine afterwards, mostly because I was not running in the wind anymore.

I am posting the splits but please remember the splits are off (most of the time on the faster side).  I was not running sub-10mm miles at all:


The official splits from the race were the following.  I think they are by split (paces per split, not per the whole race).  As you can see, I was slowing down instead of getting faster.  When my asthma is not there, I usually run negative splits without issue, so when you see this, you know I'm not running my normal.

Splits

SplitTime Of DayTimeDiffmin/milemiles/h
05K08:32:23AM00:31:5631:5610:175.84
10K09:03:51AM01:03:2331:2710:085.93
15K09:35:36AM01:35:0931:4610:145.87
20K10:09:23AM02:08:5533:4610:535.52
HALF10:16:32AM02:16:0507:1010:315.71
25K10:43:14AM02:42:4726:4211:015.45
30K11:17:25AM03:16:5734:1011:005.46
35K11:54:48AM03:54:2037:2312:024.99
40K12:31:37PM04:31:0936:4911:515.06
Finish12:47:17PM04:46:4915:4011:305.22

I am happy with my time.  Like I said, it's my fastest in close to two years and my 4th fastest.  After SF, I seriously doubt I would ever run a sub-5, least of all being this close to my PR.  Had I not have any asthma issues yesterday, I think I would have run a 4:37 or thereabouts.  And I will run that or faster soon.  I am now sure of it.

Next: New York City Marathon

Thanks for reading (if you did not fall asleep!)

This is a nice finishing pic:


I mean, for me, not for the dude that looks like he is picking up his nose.