Sunday, September 26, 2010

1st 20mi Training Run of 3--Check!

Got a late start today.  The plan was to get to Paso Robles Airport to Mission San Miguel to run a fairly flat 20 miler so that Heidi and I can hit our pace. Weather has been a factor this week.  Today was very hot indeed. At 7:30 a.m. it was already 54 degrees and climbed between 8-10 degrees every hour.  By the time we were done running, my car read 87 degrees.  When you're running, you can easily add another 10 degrees to account for body heat, so 97 degrees is too hot for my liking.

A shot from our halfway point in San Miguel. 

We learned a lot today.  First we should have prepared for enough water.  I had my Nathan backpack/vest on me but I only had 40 oz. of water. I was running late and didn't think to fill it up. I had room for 70 oz. That's more than a gallon.  I ran out at mile 17.  Heidi planned to surprise me and planted 8 oz. of water bottles for each of us.  That was a godsend but, was not enough, we found out. Damage was already done and we were both already dehydrated.  At mile 18, we drank it all and planned to just walk jog the rest back to the car.   At the 18.5 mile point, I had to make a decision.  Do we really want to sacrifice doing this last mile and risk injury, cramps, and  put all our training in one basket and throw it all away?  This is one training run, we have 5 weeks left.  We'll have another shot next week since we have our second 20 miler then.  I was not sure how Heidi  would take it, I told her I am calling it at 19 and do the cool down for the last mile.  Afterall, we have done a good job today considering the heat element, we were supposed to be at 9:52 pace and at 19 miles, we were at 9:45 pace--way ahead of schedule. To my surprise, Heidi and I were on the same page. 

The second important lesson learned today is never be afraid to make the necessary adjustments to a workout.  Hitting the mileage is not as important if you're going to risk injury or heat exhaustion.  I know sometimes we push ourselves too hard to get to the next level. It is a fine line that we must teeter. Always err on the side of caution--That's Heidi's favorite saying. She's right; We are way too close to New York to make silly mistakes.  I am happy that we finished today in one piece.  Onward!
Along our training route, Heidi can't help it, she has to stop and say helo to her friend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Preparation for NY Ing Marathon

By Heidi's coaxing, in November I threw in my hat for a spot for NY.  After five months of waiting, on April 7, 2010, the announcement came and miraculously my number came up.  What are the odds that I would get in my first try? I didn't expect it, but the marathon gods beamed down on me. The chances were 1 in 9.

I remember that day so vividly. Heidi has talked about her NY experience many times over which finally stirred excitement in me.  I've always said, someday I will do it.  Never in a million years did I think it would be 2010.  That morning, we anticipated the announcement at 12 noon, Eastern time. At 9 am, we logged on to the site.  The first 10 lucky names flashed over the ticker tape over and over.  I figured, they didn't have their act together, I'd give them another hour.  Maybe by then they'd post it alphabetically.  An hour passed, the same darn names flashed across my monitor.  I called my husband to check my home email, maybe my bank's security wall is not letting me get the full info.  He saw the same names I've read.   Heidi couldn't view it from her work either so she got her husband to log on using her sign on.  Then that's when the lightbulb lit.  I should have checked my log on, instead of the website. I was so nervous, I couldn't remember my password. But it came to me eventually after I calmed down. Nervously, I searched the site for good news or the bad news. At first, I was confused, because it said "accepted". I didn't know whether that meant "accepted" to be in the lottery pool for consideration or actually "accepted" to run in the marathon.  It was not until I scrolled down further when I read the sentence "Spread the news to your friends in...Twitter and FaceBook."  Then I knew, I was in.

The revelation was bittersweet.  I was dissappointed to find out that Heidi didn't get in.  My first thought, if she didn't go, I would have to defer my entry to 2011.  I can't imagine running this course on my own.  It's too big. And frankly, I am a little hesitant about traveling 3,000 miles across the country on my own.   Taking the whole family would proved to be too costly, especially in this economy.  I wished they could go with me.  (That just means, I'll have to try again.)

That night, Heidi decided that she would raise $2,620 for charity just like she did in 2008. That's another sure way to get in. That was all I needed to hear to make this happen.  'Proud to announce that Heidi has met her goal well before the Oct 8 deadline to raise funds. 

Fast forward to September, I've gotten my bus assignment for NY.  I was assigned to the 7:15 Staten Island Ferry Station.  If I am not mistaken,  I'll be on a boat to get to the start at the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  (I hope those ferries are safe, because I can't swim.)  Now I just have to wait for my official Runner's Handbook due out in October.  It contains everything from what the bib number color coding means, map of the five burroughs of NY, instructions on where and what, schedule at the Expo, etc.  Actually the bib number is a lot trickier to read.  It is not as simple as having the the runner's number in it.  It contains your wave assignment, your corral system, and your start villages.  It's complicated but they've got this down.

I heard that the Expo at the Jarvis Center is quite breathtaking.  I can see how easily we get carried away in the excitement and end up unnecessarily expending more energy by walking through the halls. We'll have to remember to save our feet.

Since our marathon start won't be until 10 a.m., we'll have 2-3 hours to kill beforehand.  Why do we have to be there so early, you ask?  Imagine 44,000 runners trying to get to the start all at the same time. Top that off with 2 million spectators on both sides of the road, 5-6 people deep along the course route.  It is a logistical nightmare. But then again, NY has been hosting this marathon since 1970. They've had a lot of practice.  Waiting 3 hours is a small price to pay.  Well, as long as they have bagels and coffee at the start I'm game.

I'm curious to feel what it's like to wait at the start.  So I YouTubed the 2009 marathon start.  All the people screaming and high-fiving each other was infectious.  I felt their excitement as if I was standing there with them.  Then I heard Sinatra's signature song New York blaring in the background...."Start spreading the news...I'm leaving today..."( My heart just skipped and I started tearing up.  If watching this video right now has this effect on me, I can't imagine
how I will feel that day.

November will more likely be cold.  It was suggested to bring warm throw-aways to keep warm.  At the start, runners strip to their running garbs and toss the clothes to the side.  All the clothes are then donated to local salvation army. 

I can't wait to see NY. They said that this is the best way to tour the city. I have a bad habit of looking down on my feet when fatigue hits.  I will have to remember to look up.  I'm afraid of tripping and slipping on banana peels and sticky GU gel packets.  When Heidi ran it in 2008 and she mentioned the sea of flattened Gatorade cups strewn on the ground.  With all those runners, I can imagine how it would be challenge to keep the roads swept up in time.  In smaller races, volunteers can clean up almost immediately.   But that would be a tall order for NY.  One eye on the ground, one eye up. :-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

7 weeks to New York City Marathon

But who is counting? I can't wait.  To stave off my excitement, I've been watching YouTube videos of the 2009 marathon.  It seems counterproductive, however.  I just get more and more excited wishing I can fast forward time to Nov 7th.  But it will be here before I know it.  Today marks Week #9 of the 16 weeks of training program for NY.  It is hard to believe that we're more than halfway through the Runner's World Program.  We ran 18 miles from Paso Robles Airport to San Miguel and turned around. Ran it with my fellow New Yorker Class of 2010, Heidi.  It is so much easier to complete the long runs with company. Time goes by quickly.  We motivate each other in ways we don't normally give a second thought to.  That's always a plus.

We've never ran through the sleepy town of San Miguel before. It is a small quaint town, we often pass through it when driving by I-101 going north. It was quiet, this overcast morning with a few people out and about.  The course had a few rolling hills.  Noticed the roads were newly fixed with brand spanking new asphalt. It was a treat to run in it. It was a good day, we managed to stick to a 9:51 pace.  First time ever for an 18 miler for me. We were done in 2:57!  Heidi is a believer, I was skeptical, at first. I didn't share that with her.  I have to learn to believe in this training program.  So far it's been great. Today, I am a believer.  For New York I will have to write the words "BELIEVE" on my forearm, so that when I do get tired, all I have to do is read it. This will be my New York mantra. Wooo hooo!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My First Marathon-Los Angeles 2002

I trained for my first marathon because I wanted to lose the baby weight.  I couldn't shake off the last ten pounds that I gained from my pregnancy.  Elena, my daughter was just a little over 2 yrs old then. 

Looking back to my first marathon, and how I've trained, I was fortunate I didn't get hurt anymore than I did. I trained myself using the Hal Higdon Novice Training program( I found it online it seemed pretty easy to follow: one long run, three days of midweek runs, one cross training day, and 2 days of rest. I liked it because it was simple, you just run the prescribed number of miles during the day and you're through. For the most part I stuck to the plan.  I missed an occasional run during the week for one reason or another such as, oh yes, having a toddler.  Missing a  run or two didn't hurt my performance.  Since my goal was to finish, it was enough for me that it didn't have the speedwork or trackwork that other programs called for. I would lose interest when looking at other programs, it would say, for example say "run 3x1200 using your 10K pace."  10K pace? What's that? How do I know what my pace was?  The Higdon Program's simplicity was enough to help me cross that finish line.

Following the miles was the easiest part.  Rest, hydration, stretching, nutrition, marathon tips were all foreign concepts for me in the beginning.  I was clueless.  I knew nothing about pacing. When it came time for the long runs, I carried my yellow Sony Walkman--that was the most important thing at the time.  Water belt? I had none.  I trained my body to deal with no water and it was surprising that I didn't cramp up.  During the actual marathon, this would prove to be a mistake. I drank water in every possible aid station there was.  The result, I stopped at every porta potty I saw.  My body did not know how to react to the water I was giving it. It was a shock to my body so it tried to get rid of it.

During the training, I did not eat right. I never carried any gels, or food during my long runs. At the 20th mile mark, I hit the wall with a bang.  As if that was not enough, I also thought I was cured of my foot ailments.  I don't know what made me do this, but I took off my orthotics before the race and it hurt me during the final miles.  Both my knees hurt so badly that I had to walk for the last six miles. Sharp shooting pain shot up my legs every time I took a step. It's a wonder how I ever finished.

The Los Angeles marathon course was a blurr.  I remember the start of the race and being in the midst of the huge crowd of runners and feeling insignificant.  Standing amongst runners I was scared and started to second guess my training. Did I train well enough? Maybe I shouldn't have missed any runs. I remember asking, "What am I doing here?"  But as soon as that gun popped, it was all game.  All of my insecurities and fears subsided, I just ran.  I didn't know anything about pacing, I knew I ran too fast too soon because I remember feeling anaerobic only into the third mile! I had to slow down considerably to get my breathing under control.   Pretty much the whole way, it was a struggle to the finish.  When I did get to the finish, it was anti-climatic.  There were no tears of joy. It was nothing like I had imagined.  Many times in training runs, I would visualized myself crossing the finish with hands in the air and bending down to kiss the ground in ecstasy. As I gimped over to the finish chute, an aide wrapped me in a space blanket and hung my finisher's medal around my neck.  My legs were sore. I felt blisters on the soles of my feet. I was exhausted, hungry and depleted, but relieved that it was finally over in 5 hours, 17 minutes and 11 seconds.  My head spun around to my next areas of concern.  How was I going to get home? Where was I?  I need a phone booth.  How in the world will my family find me?