Because it bears repeating...

As follows is the meat of a post I made today over at RunningAHEAD.com:
As part of my process of being mentally prepared for my first marathon in five days *chokes* I have been going over the wisdom of my fellow running friends.

The one mantra that is sticking at the front of my mind comes from my friend Rick. You may remember that Rick ran his first marathon this past Spring under the worst possible weather conditions--all that was missing was oppressive heat. He also ran the entire race and most of his training with a broken friggin' leg--talk about HTFUing!

Rick wrote to me a while back when I was dealing with my own ongoing knee issues and contemplating dropping out of my race training. 3 simple words keep playing in my head: "forward is forward." No matter how badly I want to stop on Sunday, I will play this phrase...over and over if necessary. Even if it means literally crawling on hands-and-knees, crawling is still forward. Stopping will not get me to the finish, no matter how appealing it seems in those last miles.

Today's 3 miler was really enjoyable.  I have slept much better in recent nights and my body is definitely starting to recover from the beating it took in the later weeks of marathon training.  My plan originally called for 3 EASY miles, but after 2 miles of fighting to stay slower than 10:30 pace I gave in and decided to let my legs and lungs be my guide.  So my 3 miler fell in at an average 10:06 minute/mile pace.  It felt great.  Kind of like taking a car out on the highway after too many short, slow runs around town.  It's good to stretch the legs and "see what this baby can do."  My lap paces were (as recorded by my Garmin and uploaded to Motion Based):
(mi )
M Spd

That last mile was run at roughly my half-marathon PR pace from a year ago.  I'd like to run my marathon somewhere in the 10-10:30 minute/mile pace.

I have TWO more runs left before the race...tomorrow an EASY (and this time I will really work at it--I want to stay slower than 11 minute/mile) 4, as well as another easy run...TWO piddly miles on Sat. before we drive to Milwaukee (yeah...it would make more sense to get those 2 in once we get to Milwaukee, since I'll have spent 5-6 hours sitting in the car, but I don't want one more thing to have to do once we get there--plus it would mean taking a second shower for the day before catching an early "breakfast" supper.  I can walk fast each direction to the race expo a few blocks from our hotel...that should accomplish much of the leg loosening that I'll need).

With nearly no running between now and race day I'll probably waste a lot of time (and distract myself from obsessions...like "OMG, what if I totally blow up on race day?!") playing with our new Wii and some of the less strenuous activities included in the Wii Fit kit.  DH bought the Wii over the weekend, then had a co-worker pick up the Fit package at a Wal-Mart an hour away...they had it in stock and for a good price (hey, we got a bargain without having to step foot in WM--bonus!).  Oh, did I mention that DH is totally addicted!  But DS and I can kick his ass at Wii Bowling...muwahahahaha! :)


I am NOT getting sick!!!

If I yell it loud enough will any malevolent bugs/bacteria get the hint and get out of Dodge?  Yeah, I didn't think so.

Maybe it's not anything...probably just seasonal allergies kicking in.  One of my running gal pals who lives 10 minutes away is also dealing with BAD allergies, so I'm going to assume the best until proven otherwise.  Thank [insert deity of choice _____ ] for Allegra, Flonase, Advair, and Albuterol.  Right now I just have a raspy throat that's a bit raw.  DH had this sort of thing over a week ago.  Could a virus really hang around that long?  His malady only lasted a couple of days, so if I were to have come down with something like that I could deal with it.  It shouldn't have any effect on race day...now a mere SIX days away! *swoons*

Current forecast for race day... 50º/67º, 10% chance precip.  Still pretty much holding steady, but this is the Great Lakes region...that could (and probably will) change drastically.  I'm still prepared for the potential of either blizzard or oppressive heatwave.


Garbage IN = Garbage OUT!

Ok...now that I'm a mere ONE week away from the big race day I need to take a firmer stance on eating HEALTHY...rather than the garbage that has constituted my diet in recent weeks.  I know I'm not alone in the too-tired-to-eat-anything-that-requires-any-effort thing.  Several of my fellow Fall marathoners-in-training on RunningAhead.com have said that they've been so tired of late that they find themselves ingesting calories from any source that is quick and easy--instead of wisely eating the foods that will best fuel their training and race efforts...it's a wicked catch-22 scenario.

Specifically...I have eaten more chocolate (and I'm not even a chocoholic) in the past month than during the rest of 2008 combined.  I've also eaten far more pre-packaged garbage containing high levels of trans-fats, sodium, and high fructose corn syrup than I normally would.

But that has to stop...TODAY.  My reduced mileage of the past week (25 miles total, down from 40 the previous week) finally has me feeling more rested and has allowed me to sleep much better the past 3 nights, as well.  I'm still tired, but no longer feel zombie-fied.  This week will have me running 4 days and a mere 17 miles.  So I have no excuse for not ingesting healthy, whole foods that take a bit more effort.

So, in order to hold myself accountable I am setting some rules to follow over the next week:
  1. No fast food
  2. No "adult" beverages after Weds.
  3. No pre-packaged, nutrient-lacking "food"
  4. No candy
  5. A MINIMUM of 4 servings of fruits/veggies per day
  6. No ingesting more calories than my greatly reduced activity levels warrant
  7. "Carb-loading" does not = bingeing on junk-food
Right now my primary source of taper stress isn't lack of sleep, as it was a few days ago.  It is currently the return of my right knee issues.  After several weeks of my knee behaving and being mostly noise and pain-free I figured it would be a thing of the past and maybe a non-issue on race day.  But now I'm concerned that my knee will start complaining within the first 10k and will prove a constant source of pain and limitation during the race.  An already long race could easily be made even longer and more uncomfortable if this is the case.  I really hope that this week of paltry mileage and increased rest helps heal the knee enough to have it not be too bothersome until the last half of the race.  I think I could deal with it better if I were able to at least get through that first 13 or so without the mental stress that it causes--on top of the pain.

Extended weather forecast for race day looks mostly good - 51°/68°, 0% chance of precip.  Not bad, though I'm wishing the predicted high were about 10º lower.  Still will beat weather in the 80s or high humidity...or rain/wind/snow.  If the start is in the 50s I shouldn't even need gloves or arm warmers (though I will still have them in my drop bag--just in case), which is kind of nice.

Have an 8 miler planned for today--my last run of over an hour until race day.  Whatever will I do with myself with all this extra time and energy?


Super Ginormous Thanks!!!

To everyone who has donated to my Girls On The Run fundraising efforts, I am so enormously appreciative!  I am currently sitting right around $860, so $140 to hit my goal of $1k raised...I'm gonna do it (I still have until the end of next month to gather donations)!  Third try's the charm, apparently.  It doesn't hurt that I have fabulously generous friends and family, either. ;)

Today is a quiet day.  I'm not going to run (not even the piddly 3 miler I had planned)...or do anything else fitness-related.  I'm gonna embrace being a slug for a day!  I have 25 thank-you notes to get done and ready to mail, and I also need to help DS work on painting his 7 ugly brown cowbells for race day...I gotta have more cowbell, baby! :D

I hit 25 miles for the week.  In the last day or two I've been able to sleep more soundly and I feel less "edgy" and like my heart is racing.  I really think I had gotten to the point of over training.  This coming Winter I want to try to maintain 30-35 miles/week.  During the past Winter I think I was doing 25-30 miles most weeks.  

If I can keep up with even 30 miles every week, then training for the Riverbank Run 25k in May won't be as much of a shock to my system and will leave me stronger to get a healthy, uninjured start training for a Fall marathon (assuming that I actually want to do another one next year--or ever).  The more miles I can maintain year-round, the easier it will be to launch into a slightly more ambitious marathon training plan the next time around.

Speaking of the marathon...now that it's less than 10 days 'til I toe-the-line I can start obsessing about the weather.  Right now the prediction is for a high temp. in the low-60s with full sun and only 20% chance of rain.  I'm sure this will change at least a half-dozen times before the start of the race, but for now that sounds like a pretty excellent forecast! :D


What am I missing...?

Look over in the right-hand column, scroll down to the last section.  I am putting together a packing list of must-haves for my marathon trip to Milwaukee.  Anyone have any suggestions for anything to use before/during/after race...things missing, things I'll regret not having...?

'Cause she cares enough to send the very best...

Ha...a friend from my favorite running log/support site posted this for all the marathoners preparing to run their first race in the next few weeks.

Funny stuff...that is something I worry about, though I'm generally pretty adept at "cleaning house" pre-run and it's rare that I ever require a "#2 Tempo Run" (™JeffGoBlue).  Coffee at breakfast--it's not just for waking a person up, anymore... ;)  I should probably still carry some baby wipes in a baggie with me--just in case I need to duck off course in an emergency where there are no port-a-johns...

The wall...it could happen anytime after the 20 miler marker (or maybe never...it's not a given) if I run most of the race within my abilities and get gels into me early enough to have the extra calories late in the race (but not so much that it's too much for my stomach to handle--that's the trick).  If I push too hard...well, then it could come earlier.  I need to pace myself based upon feel and my Garmin Forerunner (I'm planning to start slower than my expected overall pace, then gradually pick up the pace)...not my best friend.  If I do that I'll blow up much earlier.  She has a tendency to go out fast and fizzle with positive splits.  Not a huge deal in a shorter run, but during a marathon it could quickly turn the entire last half into nothing short of a death march.

As for pace...right now I am thinking I'll start the first 10k of the race slow...probably 10:30 pace or thereabouts (a full minute slower than my half-marathon PR pace from a year ago).  Then gradually pick up the pace every 5-6 miles or so.  A lot will depend upon how well rested I am, temperature, mood.  This first time around I really have no goals.  Pace predictors generally put me at around a 4:20 finish, so I'd be happy to finish under 4:30.  Mostly I just want to finish before they sweep the course. :p


1 2 3 4, Let me hear you scream if you want some more!

Ooh, such a wicked little earworm.  The video is...uh...interesting, but what a catchy track for running.  The most popular version on iTunes is over 6 minutes long...great on my iPod.  That's 6 minutes that I might actually crack something faster than a snail's pace...

Today's run went OK.  Everything kind of hurts and it was too warm for comfort (80º).  My knee is still pretty cranky, so I likely will skip Saturday's 3 miler.  It's not like it's going to make a whit of difference in the grand scheme and it may make things worse to run 4 days back-to-back, even if they are all easy, shorter days.  Better safe than sorry at this point in training.

Follow Me!

 ---> Look over there --->


Today is t-minus 10 days until the race...and I think "Taper Madness" may be really starting to rear its ugly head.  I can't remember the last night that I fell asleep without the assistance of Ambien...though I was needing it long before any sort of taper issues would have started.  I'm just a chronic insomniac and the relatively intense training of the past month was enough cause for sleep issues on its own.

Now my insomnia is of the "OMG, if I don't get enough sleep I'm going to have a positively horrible race" variety (which, of course...stresses me out and prevents sleep...vicious-cycle) .  It doesn't help matters that my right knee (which has been mostly trouble-free for close to a month) started giving me fits again during Monday's 12-miler.  I'd think the pain were all in my head were it not for the fact that it's accompanied by the standard snapping/clicking/popping business...good for a bowl of Rice Krispies with milk, not so good for a major joint.  I'm hoping that my remaining 10 easy days remedy this enough for me to get most of the way through my marathon without too much issue.

The 10 day weather forecasts are not yet showing race day (not that it would matter...this is the Upper Midwest and we can't predict weather the DAY OF), but it looks like things are trending on the mildish side.  I'm guessing it will be a warm enough finish (low 60s) for me to be wearing my skirt "outfit," rather than the knee-length tights and long-sleeve shirt I have in the event of a colder weather race.  A start in the low-50s would be pretty nice...I wouldn't even mess with arm warmers or gloves in that event.  If it looks like it will be closer to mid-60s (or warmer) I would probably even ditch the short-sleeve top I searched for to match my skirt trim, instead wearing just the lightweight Girls On The Run singlet/tank (which I will otherwise be wearing on top of either the long or short-sleeved top).

Speaking of GOTR, my fundraising efforts are going pretty well.  I am about 80% to my $1k goal...if you haven't already donated, please consider giving something--anything--to this worthy cause.  Running is such a great endeavor for adolescent girls, on so many levels.


Well, duh! *slaps head*

For the last few weeks I have had my "typical" chronic insomnia issues even more than usual (thank the deities for Ambien!)...it's taking me progressively longer to fall asleep (even though I am DEAD tired), then I have a hard time sleeping-in when I have the opportunity and often feel like my body and mind are racing...that whole "running on fumes" sensation.  It's kind of a vicious cycle.

I've also felt pretty unmotivated to get my workouts in for the last 2 weeks or so, even though the weather has been outstanding for running.  I blamed the lax attitude on the exhaustion, but it probably goes a lot deeper than that.

Yesterday my right knee pained me more than it has in months...hello, overtraining!  Pfitz says:
The symptoms of overtraining vary between runners. Frequently reported symptoms include: trouble sleeping, frequent colds, increased resting heart rate, weight loss, impaired racing and training times, slow recovery from training, and a loss of enthusiasm for running (and most other things). You may have any combination of these symptoms, as well as others.
Under normal training loads, running has small, short-term effects on immune function, but overtraining can lead to general immune system suppression, resulting in increased susceptibility to infections, and decreased ability to fight off infections. In female athletes, overtraining may also be associated with amenorrhea.
Although the causes of overtraining are not well understood, many cases of overtraining are believed to be due to overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. This stimulation is a result of all the stresses in your life, including training, sleep deprivation, nutritional deficits, job stress, family stress, etc. Chronic sympathetic stimulation leads to increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline and the feeling that your mind and body are stuck on-leaving you unable to fully relax or to perform at your best.

I think I'm lucky I haven't gotten sick, especially since DH had a mild cold last week and I am so prone to sinus issues--especially during allergy seasons (like right now).

That nutritional deficits thing is funny, though...what, candy and fast food aren't nutritious?!  According to whom...? ;)

And why can't I get amenorrhea--that would rock!  I've also read that overtraining can lead to weight loss...sure, the two POSITIVE symptoms seem to be missing from my laundry list of effects. :p

Seriously, though, taper could not have come at a better time.  I hope that my short-and-easy workouts for the rest of this week and all of next week really go a long way towards leaving me rested and refreshed, instead of feeling like I've been on the losing end of a few rounds in the ring.  Part of me thinks that cutting my 3 miler this Sat. might be a good thing, too (especially since I have a feeling I'll be too apt to turn it into a "5k race").  It won't make a huge difference on my overall mileage for the week, but it WILL keep me from having 4 back-to-back workouts and will allow my body an extra full rest day.  I'll play it by ear as that date approaches.  The last thing I need now is to get sick in the last week before the race.


I gotta say goodbye

...to double-digit runs for a while.

Today was my final "long" run until race day.  Next week's longest run is an 8 miler, which is really more of a mid-length run and has been pretty much for the last 2 years.  Ever since my first half-marathon I have considered only runs of 10 miles or more "long."

The timing is probably good.  My right knee was bothering me a little more today than it has been in weeks.  Coming off of a 40 mile week I guess I can't be too surprised.  Hopefully the remainder of taper does just what it's designed to--allow my body to rest, recover, heal...so that on race day I should be fit and strong, with tons of energy and feelin' a little antsy, even.

Last night I had a somewhat unexpected and very welcome phone call.  My brother was phoning to tell me that he and his girlfriend are not only planning to come watch my race, but to also stay at the same hotel where we will be, in addition to my folks and best friend (who is also running the race with me--her first marathon, as well).  AND my brother's girlfriend will be bringing some of her home-brewed beer.  That woman is a KEEPER! :D

Today I ordered some cheap cowbells (found 'em on Amazon.com for $1.50/ea.)...ugly, brown painted.  I'm going to find some paints or paint markers or something that DS can use to have fun decorating them.  I got enough for everyone in my family to have one for clanging on race day--Eryn's hubby, too.


Waiting for the Inevitable

Everyone experiences taper madness, right?  Today is T-minus 14 days 'til my first marathon.  I am surprisingly non-stressed...so far.  This week will probably provide my first taste of taper crazies.  I have "only" 28 miles on my schedule.  My lowest mileage week since about mid-May, with the exception of a week that I took mostly off in July to deal with the knee thing.
In the next 13 days I have a few goals...catch up on sleep, eat better (garbage in = garbage out), avoid catching any sort of viruses, not injure myself (gonna be some LEGO, Matchbox/Hotwheels cars and other assorted small toys finding their way into the trash, methinks), not kill my spouse or offspring....

On second thought, maybe I have entered the early phases of taper madness... :p

In gear-whorin' news...release date for the update of my favorite shoe is 2/1--just in time for my birthday.  Hopefully I can get through the Winter with my current stock.

A friend of mine wear-tested the upcoming New Balance 904 and says it's the best-fitting shoe she has ever worn.  I really hope the fit is closer to the 902 than the 903...the 902 is my marathon shoe.  

I must say that I'm not at all fond of the upcoming version of the shoe being primarily white.  White shoes look stupid new and after 100 miles end up looking filthy.  At least the 902/903 could still look great at any mileage, since the bright colors camouflaged the dirt.

The same friend just found out that she will be receiving her second pair for wear-testing--the New Balance 904 TRAIL!!!  I am REALLY geeked about this (and the fact that it's so garish--I loves me some flashy, fugly shoes!).  After I've recovered from my marathon I really want to start doing some trail running, since now I have several local gals that I can run with.  Previous to the development of the little local running group I was apprehensive of trail running, since the idea of being alone in the "wilderness" left too many risks...creepy dudes, wild dogs...my natural lack of grace that could leave me incapacitated and out of cell phone range.  We have turkey buzzards in this area.  I have horrific visions of them circling lower and lower, just waiting to start picking at my carcass. *shudders*

Unfortunately the 904 Trail will not be released until April 1 (sheesh, is it a joke?!), so I wouldn't be able to make use of the shoe for any Fall or Winter runs (unless I am miraculously chosen to wear-test, too...which would be nice, seeing as how I have worn the last 2 road versions of the shoe).  I may try to find a pair of trail shoes for Winter, but most models on the market either appear to be a trail version of a racing flat or a stiff, clunky, higher-stability shoe.  The trail version of the 904 will really fill a missing place in the trail shoe line-up (at least for weirdos like me with wide, hard-to-fit feet).

I would be able to have a pair on my feet if I end up on a team for the North Country Trail Relay in June, which is something I'm hoping we can put together.  I think teams can be up to 6 people, so between the gals I run with locally and maybe another friend or two from other parts of the state we can come up with a group.

In another gear-related story, the shirt that I had purchased for my marathon (to match my girly skirt "outfit") was not a good fit.  In both the med. and large the shirt was too short (mommies who have had c-sections don't like our bellies blurping-out while we run...at least this one doesn't).  The decorative banding around the arms was sure to cause massive chafing, too (BTDT...anything with too much of a seam in some spots is guaranteed trouble).  The color was a perfect match, however, so I went back to Sierra Trading Post to look at other options from Hind in the same color.  I ended up with the top at right.

The seams are much simpler and flatter, the shirt is a bit longer, and just generally a comfier fit.  I did like that funky triangle cut-out on the original top, but not worth the troubles it would likely give rise to.

The shirt is very sheer...meshy, a bit see-through, but will be perfect under my Girls On The Run tank on race day.

Speaking of GOTR.  There's still a month to donate to my cause.  Including off-line donations I am about 3/4 of the way to my $1k goal, so dig deep, peeps!

In news completely unrelated to running: 
As of 10pm last night we are again a 2-car family.  For about the last year my old "boysenberry blue" Ford Escort sat unused and unloved in the driveway (a year ago we inherited a nice Mazda 626 sedan from my ILs, so the Escort was no longer "needed").  A week or so ago an online friend posted looking for a cheap car.  I offered "Grimace" to her, but she doesn't know how to drive stick (pity...ability to drive manual is such a useful skill, IMO--it makes a person a better driver in almost every case).  Shortly after I posted another woman sent me a private message asking if we still had the car.  I messaged her back saying that we did and it was hers for the taking.  Yesterday she and her family made the 3+ hour drive to retrieve the car.

I was a little apprehensive...that's a long way for them to travel for a car that had a completely dead battery and brakes that had seized-up after a year of non-use.  But she and her DH both work full-time and are full-time college students (she's working on a PhD and her hubby his Master's) with 5 kids.  I believe they are sharing a single car, so having a second source of transportation is really a necessity with their busy schedules.

Her husband and step-son worked on the car for a few hours, put a new battery on it, and got the beast running, again.  The Escort was a little puttery, but still ran fairly smoothly just in the few minutes he buzzed around back and forth in the driveway.  I hope the little car is as reliable and inexpensive to operate for them as it was for us for so many years.  There are things we know are no longer functional, like the A/C, but the engine still sounds good and there are so few things that can go wrong with such a simple car.  I can't wait to hear how they like the car after giving it a good washing.  After a year of sitting under a tree it is so covered in random debris and the pretty dark periwinkle paint has lost its luster.  Nothing a good bath and coat of wax won't cure. :)


Naughty New Balance!

How can I not love NB when they put out ads like this?:

Hi-larious! The rest of the LOVE/hate ad campaign is on YouTube. Brilliant stuff. I love that dry wit with a little bit of adult humor thrown in.

Tomorrow's 4 miler ends my last "high mileage" week of marathon training. I am wiped-out...but not as much from running as I am from not sleeping well. I'm pretty on edge over "homeowner issues." With all of our recent rains (compliments of hurricane Ike) we discovered that our roof (that we already knew would need replacement in the not-too-distant future) needs immediate replacement. And, in addition to leaking, we developed some black "toxic" mold growing on our bedroom ceiling.

Now, black mold is nothing to mess with. It has been known to prove fatal to infants and cause serious lung issues in children and adults, as well as potential neurological problems. I already have moderate persistant asthma and am on a inhaled combo steroid/bronchodilator medication, in addition to using an inhaler and 2 prescription asthma meds (one steroid nasal spray and an oral med). So I'm about the last person who wants to have this stuff growing in her bedroom...especially so close to competing in a sporting event that is perhaps more aerobic than any other athletic activity.

2 nights ago I had a helluva time falling asleep.  I was afraid to take deep breaths for fear of inhaling mold spores, which isn't real conducive to sleep.  Yesterday AM I sprayed bleach solution on the affected areas and they almost instantly faded from black to brown and then even to yellow.  Gently blotted the spots with old towels and threw them right in the wash with plenty of soap and Oxyclean.

Aside from the lack of sleep my runs have gone surprisingly well.  2 days ago I did an old 40 minute yoga workout on my cross-training day and yesterday's run felt REALLY loose.  I definitely need to do at least one day of that each week until my race.  I'm thinking I need to incorporate a day or two of yoga into every week.  Runners are notoriously stiff.

Tomorrow I round out my 40 mile week with a 4 mile race-pace workout.  I'm actually looking forward to it.  I think I will be finishing today with a well-deserved beer or two. :)


Phew, I made it!

As recent as a month ago I was not sure that I'd see this day.  

Today I started my 16th week of training for my first marathon (well, technically yesterday, but since Sundays are a rest day I don't really count it as anything).  5 weeks ago today was my first run in the Superfeet insoles (I have worn the "berry" and "green" ones and think the greens will be the better fit for race day).  With the insertion of the new insoles in my shoes I began to gain some footing (ha, running humor) in my battle against my stupid right knee.  It's still not perfectly healed, but it's no longer a source of misery on my longest runs...more of just a relatively minor annoyance.

Today I ran my 2nd 20 mile run...and with that run behind me I can now commence nearly 3 weeks of "tapering."  This week will still be a 40 mile week, which isn't really low mileage, per se, but still not my peak in training (that was 2 weeks ago).  Next week will be 28 miles...haven't seen mileage that low since the middle of July when I took almost a week off to help the knee (which it didn't).  The week after that--the week before race day--I have 17 miles on the schedule...17...which would be about like a single long run, nowadays.  

I have a feeling that taper madness is gonna hit me that week...hard.  Or probably more like by the middle of next week.  3 and 4 mile runs...wow.  I'm going to have a very difficult time keeping the pace EASY during those runs.  I think not eating my body weight every day is going to be a challenge, too.  I've become very accustomed to eating...a LOT and not gaining.  Not losing, but now's not really an optimum time to try to lose weight, either.  The stress of the knee issues and fueling myself for my mileage (candy and beer is fuel, right...shut up!) doesn't lend well to adding the extra challenge of a calorie deficit.

Heh, speaking of beer...I am celebrating my entrance to taper mode with a nice bottle of ale-y goodness right this minute. :D

Top 10 reasons why...

I should get my butt out the door and do my run:

1. It's the last long run before taper.
2. I've already done a 20 miler and it didn't kill me.  Odds are this one won't kill me, either.
3. It's perfect running weather (mid-50s, breezy, semi-overcast).
4. If I don't do it today the odds are that I will catch some awful virus and my window for getting this run out of the way will have passed...and I will be running my marathon with my sole 20 miler almost 5 weeks before the race and won't be in optimum fitness.
5. I have 2 bottles of Oberon in the fridge that I can only have AFTER my run is completed.
6. My butt is big and sitting here procrastinating does nothing to change that.
7. It's not raining.
8. Eryn already did her 20 miler and is "enjoying" taper...
9. I want to be home before dark.
10. All my running buddies are telling me to HTFU!


Blog Facelift

And it was no small task...I suck at CSS and advanced HTML...pretty much had to keep tweaking and previewing until things worked-out. Still not sure why the poll text within the graph is that pale gray...I don't think it was that color before I started messing and I didn't change that section of the code, either...no sign of any hex code that would make for pale gray in the HTML, either...weird. Perhaps it will correct itself when I update the poll sometime in the next week.

So I have accomplished pretty much nothing else all day...and I think I won't likely be getting my abs workout in, which I normally would do on my Sunday "rest" day. Not feelin' particularly guilty about it, either (especially since my last abs workout this past weds. was a more challenging one). Tomorrow is my 2nd and final 20 mile training run before I start tapering in preparation for the big race THREE weeks from TODAY...ack! I'm sort of doing my best to do nothing and make sure that I've got as much in the tank as possible for tomorrow. I think once that run is out of the way that I will likely feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I am SO ready to scale things back a bit and get myself rested and strong for race day.

Weather for tomorrow's run looks fantastic...partly cloudy, upper 50s, refreshing breeze. Beats this weekend's wet, humid remnants of Hurricane Ike.


What I really need...

...is to go back to bed. Darn DH and his friday night bottle of wine. Split it while watching "No Country For Old Men." Didn't sleep well...cats and kid up too early. 2 big mugs of coffee later I feel semi-human. Taper cannot come soon enough.

2 days until I run my last 20 mile training run, then the business of taper can begin. I now understand why taper is typically 2-3 weeks. My body is definitely still recovering from my first 20 miler almost 2 weeks ago. I'd probably be in better shape recovery-wise if I'd been sleeping better...and I'm sure that the sleep issues are in part due to the hard training. Kind of a catch-22 scenario.

Today my schedule calls for a 5 mile "race pace" run. I'll get the 5 in, but whether it's at pace will depend entirely upon how I feel. I'm not going to push it this close to my last 20 miler. Right now I simply need to do everything possible to avoid injury or illness. Actually, part of me hopes I catch a cold after the 20...get it out of the way. I live in constant paranoia that I will become sick a day or two before the race. There are no words to describe how much that would suck. But I've already had one DNS this year due to illness (10 miler back in April...had a horrible lung infection/flu), so hopefully the Fates will look kindly upon me this time.

Now that the race is so near I'm considering doing a little facelift on my blog, too. My current theme is sort of a marathoner-in-the-making and barring any tragedy it'll happen. So now I'm thinking something more along the lines of HTFUing mom may be appropriate.... ;)


Subtract 1 hour from sleep deficit

This morning I got up with my alarm (apparently my old PDA does still work...and I really did just sleep through the alarm earlier in the week), picked-out Dane's clothes, made his lunch, got him downstairs, made him breakfast...and crawled back into bed. I got an additional hour of sleep (avec 3 cats) before the phone rang.

The call was from my best friend, who is registered to run the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon with me. She had just returned from the doctor's office. She's been battling chronic back problems that have returned with a vengeance in recent weeks...just in time for the marathon.

I'm so frustrated for her...it never fails, when training is going well for her I am having issues. Now that my knee problems seem to be mostly a thing of the past her back issues have made an untimely return. The doc was happy to write a script for pain meds and provide a referral to a pain clinic, but she wants a cure for the problem, not merely treatment for pain symptoms.

The last time she had issues it was with her legs and the cure was a heavy duty motion control running shoe. She's topped-out on the aid a shoe can give her, so I hope that maybe something like custom orthotics in addition to the control from the shoes might be the key.

It's just such a huge frustration for her. Training for the race has been enough of a challenge to fit in with work (she and another friend opened a restaurant back in May and it's far more than a full-time job) and family obligations. Her weekly mileage wasn't nearly as high as she had planned upon at the outset of training, but her long runs were going well and she felt strong. Then seemingly out of nowhere her back blew all out of whack. She's BTDT with the back thing, before--being thrown from the backs of a few horses over the years has not helped matters.

So the two of us will probably be quite a sight WHEN we make it to the starting line. Hopefully we will both be more rested by then, and hopefully her back issues are literally straightened-out in the next 3 weeks.

The only thing that I find reassuring about all of this is the knowledge that there are a couple thousand other runners in much the same boat. I'm seeing a whole lotta people training for Fall marathons who are about at wit's end. Many of us have marathons within the next month, so many have just started their tapers and are dealing with "taper madness," the rest of us are in the last week or two of hard training before taper and are stretched to the limit of what our bodies and, more importantly, our psyches can handle. At this point we're trying to optimistically look ahead to race day without getting bogged-down in the pile of training runs still to be completed.

18 weeks is a LONG time to train for anything. 26.2...respect the distance. It's no joke, that's for certain.


The Toilet

...that's where you'll find my motivation.

Today's training schedule features an easy cross-training day. I had planned to do a 15-minute abs workout and then ~10 easy miles on my clunky mountain bike, but I don't wanna. I just don't feel like leaving the house, even though it is gorgeous out. It's a little cool and windy, which on a bike could feel pretty cold...I don't feel like putting tights over my cycling shorts and wearing long sleeves. Plus I know my butt (and other areas) will inevitably start complaining just a mile or two into the ride...pain, numbmness...meh.

So here I sit...procrastinating. Gotta eat lunch, then I will make myself do the abs work ('cause I know how much the lower belly and back can hurt in the later miles of a run/race and I need every bit of strength I can muster for those last 6.2 miles on race day). I'll do my 15 minute legs strengthening work, too. Always good to work those quad muscles a bit more to keep the knee behaving.

But what I really want to do is take a nap. I am beat after 14.5 weeks of this training. I was pretty sure that my alarm on my old PDA wasn't working the last 2 mornings (DH has been in the shower already when my PDA goes off, so he can't attest to whether or not it's been functioning properly), but I set a test alarm just a bit ago and it worked fine. I think I slept through my alarms, which is NOT typical. I'm usually a very light sleeper and never sleep through anything, but my body seems to have talked my brain into ignoring the obnoxious beeping.

Is it taper time, yet?


I think I need help...

Does anyone know if there's a 12-step program or the like for runners with a fashion problem?  This is why I ask...

"Normal" people buy shoes to match their outfits...I buy outfits to match my shoes. Somebody slap me. :p
So originally I had planned to wear a white compression top with the skirt, but found yesterday that even though the C9 tops I bought fit nice by themselves, as soon as I snap a hydration belt around my waist the damned things ride up, the same as all other compression tops I've worn.

Now, on race day I won't need the belt to carry a water bottle, per se, but I will need it to carry gels and my inhaler.  My skirt can hold 2 gels, but not the inhaler, and I will likely have 3-4 gels, anyhow.  So, the belt is a necessity.

Last night I realized that I'd have to search for a new top and thought I'd look online before scouring TJ Maxx and the clearance racks at Dick's.  Didn't really find anything at my usual online running store favorites (at least not for under $30-40).  So I thought I'd see what Sierra Trading Post (.com) had to offer.  I often find good deals there on great stuff like my beloved Smartwool socks.

That's when I found that awesome Hind shirt...and it looks like that funky pea/tea green will be a perfect match for the green in my skirt--plus the bright blue.  No way can my family miss me on the course during the race in that ensemble...especially with my garish yellow LiveStrong hat! :D

Yeah...I'm gonna look like a noob, but given that the marathon will be my first race at the distance (as well as my first time running the full 26.2 in a single run), I AM a noob! ;)


"I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike...

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like..." 
Queen "Bicycle Race"

Heh, I suppose I should next break into the course of "Fat Bottom Girls"... ;)

Yesterday Dane participated in his very first bicycle "race" in Grand Rapids.  As part of the Priority Health Cycling Classic they offered a kids' race.  Dane pedaled his little legs off for just shy of a mile (a full loop of the course).

Note how Dane is a blur in the photo at right...and his "concentration tongue" (whenever he is putting a lot of effort into something he tends to stick his tongue out.  Kind of funny that he was doing this towards the finish of his race, too).

It was really amazing to see the variety of bikes kids rode...everything from el-cheapo budget bikes like the one Dane has nearly worn-out over the last few years (and outgrown) to high end Specialized and Trek/Gary Fisher models.  I even saw a few kids with clipless pedals--definitely tikes who have become serious about the sport from a pretty young age.

After the kids' race we semi-watched the women's Cat 1 race and then about an hour of the Cat 1 men's race.  Man, they are FAST!  They create a serious blast of air as they fly by.  Derek got some neat little video segments with our point-n-shoot camera that I will post once he has them uploaded to YouTube.

We eventually found a Subway and had a quickie supper before heading to the Wealthy Theatre for "Jake's Music Fest," Jake has type 1 diabetes and this was the 4th year that his family has put on this event to help raise money for their JDRF cycling trek.

At the concert festival I had the great pleasure of meeting Andy Holtgreive, lead singer of Domestic Problems.  I have been a DP fan for probably close to 15 years, ever since I first heard their "Scattered Pieces" album.  The last time we were able to see the entire band perform live was while I was 5 months preggers with Dane.  I can clearly remember him "dancing" around in my belly for pretty much the entire performance, which I took as a certain sign that he was enjoying himself.

Nowadays DP is pretty far-flung across the US, but they still reunite for performances from time-to-time, so I really hope we can manage to catch the entire band at some point in the coming year.  I think Dane would really get a charge out of seeing them perform, too, though last night it was pretty beyond his bedtime by the time we left the theatre...and his meds had worn off hours prior.  So by the time Andy played he was becoming increasingly belligerent, disruptive, and wild.  Overtired kids with ADHD are a pretty lethal combo.

Andy played about 4 songs between larger acts last night, but included my request for "Untitled," which had me pretty tickled.  That song still does not fail to give me chills, especially when hearing a live performance.  Andy also talked about his kids and his personal connection with juvenile diabetes via his best friend's child.  It really added an extra level of emotion to his singing.

In addition to getting to see Andy sing the other highlight of the evening was the group The 5-Leaf Clovers.  The Band is comprised of a dad and his 4 pre-adolescent kids.  Amazing talent.  The eldest son played guitar, second son played fiddle, youngest son played drum, daughter sang and Irish step danced, and the dad played banjo.  Awesome talent and traditional Irish folk music.

Today marks 4 weeks until my race.  By this time I should hopefully be across the finish line.  Kinda scary to think about it....

Oh, and another cool thing from yesterday...registration for Dane's race was free.  First 200 registrants were given a "surprise" gift.  We didn't know what the gift was in advance and I figured that we probably were well after the first 200, as it was only a week or so ago that I registered Dane.  So imagine my surprise last night when we were going through his race packet and I found a voucher for two FREE GR Griffins hockey game tickets with the # 140 on it.  The game the voucher is for is on the last Sun. afternoon in Oct.  So that will be a fun family activity for a weekend after my race and Derek's Death Valley bike trip has passed. :D


1 Month

It's Sept. 5, which means it's 1 month until the calendar says Oct. 5...the same day I hopefully accomplish that insane task that just 2 years ago I said I'd never do--run a marathon. In one month it will be just after 7:30AM CST and I will be on my way to the start line of the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon...to run hard for somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 hours.

This knowledge should freak me the heck out...but it really doesn't. I'm sure that will change as we pack up the car to drive to Milwaukee the day before the race (more likely the minute I start my taper, heh), but for now I'm feeling more relief and anticipation. Relief because I know that my training taper is less than 2 weeks away (and my knee is behaving pretty well) and anticipation because all signs point to my making it across the finish line in one piece (thanks again to the healing right knee...and my first 20 miler that went much better than expected).

Yesterday I received the next larger size of the half-length Nike tights I had ordered in the event of a cooler weather race. They fit better than the original pair I had ordered...but had a small area of defective unstitched seam, so back they go. I really hope they will exchange them fast--I'd like to get in at least one longish run before race day, just to make sure that there are no fit/function issues. I ordered them directly from Nike...and they are none too fast with their shipping, unfortunately.

The tights are really nice...they have a small zip pocket along the lumbar area.  I won't buy any running bottoms that don't have some sort of secure pocket generous enough to hold my inhaler and cell phone.  The length is perfect, too.  Great for runs when it's a bit too warm for 3/4 tights, but too cool for a skirt.

Along with the tights I purchased the coordinating long-sleeve top...it's a soft blue and the most amazing material.  It feels like those stretchy Barely There panties.  Super light and silky nylon microfiber.  I kind of hope it's a bit cool for race day, since the top and tights feel almost like PJs, they are so comfy.  And I STILL can't get that damned silicone stain out of my new RunningSkirts.com skirt.  Gah, makes me so mad.  I dropped a note to the company to ask for removal suggestions and they had none--no one has ever had staining issues.  Just figures that I'd run into that issue the very first time I wear the danged skirt.  Bah.  Now I have a $48 piece of running apparel that looks peed-on.  So I'd really rather wear something that isn't going to make me look incontinent on race pics--since I will probably order an official race photo for the first time! :p

Yesterday I had a really nice 5 mile run in the rain with my local friend, Joni.  2 days prior we had the warmest day of '08, but yesterday was a good 30º cooler.  It had been so long since I'd run on a cool, rainy day (and with a jacket on).  It was pretty invigorating and we had a fantastic time bombing through some pretty deep puddles.  By the time I got home I was pruney and had squishy shoes.  It was fabulous!


Dig deep, peeps!

If you have a mother, wife, sister, daughter or female friend who has benefitted from running, then you will understand what a significant and positive organization Girls On The Run (.org) is.  Because I have personally found running to be a positive influence in my life I am fundraising as a "Team Tiara" member for the 3rd time in 2 years. 

The first time I took part in fundraising for GOTR was while I trained for my first half-marathon almost 2 years ago.  The following Spring I was a fundraiser as I worked towards my first Riverbank Run 25.  And long before I registered for my upcoming marathon in Milwaukee I intended to again raise money for GOTR.  But as my knee issues continued I was no longer certain that I would make it as far as the starting line, so I held-off signing-up to raise money.

After my successful, no-worse-for-wear 20 miler on Monday it occurred to me that it was not too late to jump in and do as much to raise money for the cause as I could, so here I am...asking that my friends and family consider supporting a fabulous charity.  We have a great chapter right here in Muskegon county, including a group right in my small community.  About a year ago this past Spring I was out on a late afternoon training run and encountered a group of local GOTR participants out on their own training run.  I was thrilled to tell them about my own efforts to help support their fitness goals.  They were mostly just really impressed with my pink iPod. :D

So...if you are so inclined, please donate to my GOTR/Team Tiara campaign.  I will be collecting donations through the month of October, so give early and give often!  If donating via snail mail is more your style, contact me by e-mail for my mailing address: harumph at gmail.com.  All checks should be made out to Girls On The Run International).



Phew...I did it.  I ran my first 20 miler today...and it didn't kill me (but it was enough to make me want nothing more than to sit and stare at a wall for the rest of the holiday, instead of making the annual trek to spend the day with friends in Grand Rapids -- sorry, guys!).  Actually, it was better than my 18 miler 2 weeks ago.  My knee still bothered me, but it tends to sort of kick-in and never get worse...just sorta maintains a general level of annoyance that I can kind of ignore, especially once the rest of me starts to feel uncomfortable, kind of like pinching oneself to help distract from pain elsewhere in the body.

I was up at 6am to allow myself time for coffee and breakfast (fried egg and a banana) with plans to be on the road by 8, but my body had other ideas.  Let's just say that the coffee was still working its magic and leave it at that. ;)

I ran a mile and already had to pee, so I made a quick stop at the public toilet on the trail, then off I went for about 13.5 miles before I stopped again to pee (back at the same toilet), refill my water bottle, and stretch a bit for the last 5.5 miles.

Not once did I feel that miserable "OMG, I can't take another step" feeling, which was nice.  I got away early enough to not have to run with much heat and to take advantage of more morning shade and there was a nice breeze, too.  During the last 2 miles I did have some twinges of cramping starting in my right calf, so I need to probably bring some Endurolytes or S-Caps capsules for extra electrolytes, in addition to the minimal amount found in Gatorade and gels (of which I had 3...one was a kind I've never tried that DH got from a cycling buddy.  It was nasty.  WAY too sweet and artificial tasting.  Had I taken that towards the end I probably woulda hurled it.  I MUCH prefer my Carb Boom gels...a little more tart than sweet, so they don't upset my stomach).

I'm feeling pretty good about this marathon thing.  One more 20 mile long run in 2 weeks, then nearly 3 weeks of taper before race day.  So my knee should be in even better shape by then.  I've been using the Superfeet insoles for 3 weeks and feel a ton better (especially on the long runs), so I figure that another 5 weeks, including several weeks of reduced taper mileage should really have me in good shape on race day...I hope.