Indian Summer

Thank you, Mother Nature. You kinda scared us there for a few days. Earlier this week we saw snow and below-freezing temperatures, but yesterday was beautiful (though a bit windy) and today we are supposed to get up to around 60º...perfect for the trick-or-treaters in the Nordic North. Some years we've had to put a layer of sweats on Dane underneath his costume, but this year he should be OK in just a single layer as long as he's moving around plenty (which...he always is).

So we have put Winter off for at least a few more days. Awesome. Today I plan to go run in my half-length tights. I would wear a skirt, but my legs are already taking on that Winter pallor and 60 with 13mph breezes is still kinda chilly to have fully bare legs. I've also acclimated back to wearing long pants and jeans, so now having everything below my butt uncovered feels kinda nekkid. Plus there's the "raw bratwurst" look to my legs...amazing how fast my Summer color reverts back to pudgy, pasty sausage-looking flesh. Yech.

Tomorrow I plan to do another trail run in the park with a local running buddy. Last week we did 3 miles, I think this week we will plan on 4. Such a nice change from running on paved roads and paths. No risk of being hit by a car, no stress about pace, just running for pure effort. Great vantage point to view the remaining colorful leaves.

Still feeling pretty beat up post-marathon...I can't believe how long it's taking me to feel back to strong, again. I'm sure the lingering sinus/respiratory garbage is not helping matters. It's been almost 4 weeks since race day and I don't feel as strong now as I had expected. Hopefully that 1 month mark will be magical.



Phew.  Today was my first double-digit long run since my marathon.  As awful as my runs have been since the race I was not sure that I would make it, but it went OK.  Mostly my lungs were still in rough shape from the cold/allergy garbage I've been fighting for 2 weeks.  My legs are still feeling pretty stiff and heavy, too.

Today wasn't a particularly nice day for my return to "long" runs.  It was cold, windy, dreary...with a few of those weird snow "pellets" in the air...the stuff that looks like little balls of styrofoam.  My butt and hooha got a bit cold wearing thermal tights commando, too.  I have got to find a pair of warmer tights (NB makes a new "windblocker" tight, but it's $75--ow) and/or start wearing an additional layer to keep my nether regions warmer.  I have given up on wearing undies, since I have yet to find a style that doesn't have seams that leave bloody welts on my behind.

I am so not ready for Winter running... :(


He shoots, he scores!

Last night I took Dane to his first hockey game while his dad worked a stand at the arena (the JDRF group he is affiliated with is able to operate stands for 10% of the profits during a variety of events at the arena).  Our tickets were free, as Dane received a voucher for 2 tickets when he participated in his kids' bike race back in Sept.

The Grand Rapids Griffins won--6 to 3.  Dane was positively enthralled for the entire 2.5 hour game (including 2 18 minute breaks between periods).  It was cool.  Now he wants to go to a hockey game for his 8th birthday in Feb.  We're thinking that would be a lot of fun.  Let him pick a friend to take out for dinner, then the 7pm game.  We'd likely go see the more local IHL team, the Muskegon Lumberjacks, though.  MUCH cheaper for tickets and much closer to home, too.  Just as much excitement.

Today my new tattoo appears to be just barely starting the flaky peeling process.  Yuck.  In a day or two it should start to itch.  Double yuck.  But by this time next week it should be looking pretty awesome, which is nice.  If it's warm enough on the day of my trail race I think I will have to wear a pair of 3/4 length tights to show it off. :D

Got in a 5 miler today...it pretty much sucked.  My lungs are still shot from that cold/allergy crap.  It's really wearing on me.  My legs are still not anywhere near recovered from the marathon, either.  Sheesh.  Tomorrow I *hope* to do 10 miles, but I'm kinda dreading it.  10 miles used to be a relatively easy run, but right now it seems daunting.  Good runs have been few and far between in the past 3 weeks.


I got inked!

Yesterday I went and got tattoo #3.  My bestest friend came with and got her first one to mark her first marathon.  She had initially planned to get it on her foot, but the artist and I talked her out of that location and having it placed on the outside of her left ankle, instead.  What's the point of getting a pretty tattoo with 26.2 in the design if no one sees it?  Plus foot tattoos tend to fade fast and are more prone to healing issues--especially for a person who is on their feet a lot.  Eryn is co-owner of a restaurant, so between that and running she tends to be on her feet pretty much any time that she's not sleeping.

Eryn's tattoo is beautiful and I think she may have the body art bug, now! *evil grin*  As soon as hers is well-healed I will have to get her to take a pic and send it to me.  I'll also post photos of mine once it is complete and healed, so the "unveiling" will be probably sometime in late Nov.

My tattoo is incomplete at the moment.  My artist (Chrissy at Area 51 Tattoos in Muskegon, MI--she did my "tramp stamp" mother's knot a few years back, too) underestimated the time it would take to do my tattoo, given how many lines there are.  It's not a big tattoo, but it's quite detailed and has a lot of black, which takes a good deal longer than colored areas.  So yesterday she was able to finish the outlines and black areas and I will return the middle of next month for the colored flame areas.

As much as I don't look forward to a second round of healing (going through the pain, weeping skin, peeling, itching, etc.), it's worth it to have a perfect tattoo in the end, and Chrissy does such gorgeous work with such amazing attention to detail.  Plus I was starting to get to that point where the constant discomfort was starting to grate on me--not just the pain of the tattoo, but also my upper body from laying on my stomach with my head on my hands.  My armpits hurt today...weird.

Today my tattoo is not very uncomfortable, but continues to "weep."  I don't recall either of my previous ones doing that, but they were also both on my back and this one is on my lower calf.  I read a few discussions online of similar experiences from other tattooees, so there must just be some difference in how the skin on the legs heals from abrasions.  

The tattoo also looks a little bit like that puffy paint one can use to write on t-shirts, but it has settled-down as the day goes on.  I can already envision how completely amazing this artwork is going to look once the color is added...it already looks like the flames are just licking at the bottom of my left calf muscle, which is kind of appropriate--I have experienced almost that very sensation during some particularly brutal races.

Speaking of brutal...today my friend, Heather, and I did our first trail run in preparation for our first trail race in 3 weeks.  We had an absolute BLAST!!!  We only went 3 miles, but it felt good.  We didn't really pay any attention to pace, though it was hilarious when I'd look down at my Garmin and holler "hey, we're doing a 20 minute mile!"  
(mi )
M Spd
Man, some of those hills in the park are tough.  Steep, narrow, sandy, slippery, wet, littered with slimy roots...awesome.

I really can't wait for that trail relay next June.  Things are really coming together for that and I think the 6 of us are going to have a fantastic time.  In addition to Heather and I, our team will include Eryn, our buddy Mike "Q" and a local running friend and her hubby.  None of us are "fast," but we're all pretty strong, consistent runners.  We won't win, but I'll bet we're not dead last, either.  This all assumes that our team (Team HTFU) gets a spot.  Teams from previous years get first dibs on one of the 50 team spots, so we would go on the new team waiting list.  An previous teams that don't re-up get bumped for any new teams.  Last I heard there was already one new team on the waiting list, so we're not getting organized too early, by any means.  It's a really popular race and it's full pretty much the day registration opens on 4/1.


Oct.: the sado-masochistic month

2.5 weeks ago I brutalized my body by forcing it to endure 26.2 miles in a single morning, tomorrow I go to have tattoo #3 permanently inked on my body.  The tattoo is a MUCH less painful procedure...and faster, too.

By this time tomorrow I will have that sassy-lookin' kitty etched on my lower left calf.  I can't wait!  My last tattoo (I think that was done about 3 years ago) was a mother's knot on my lower back with my son's name and birth date below it.  

My first tattoo was a small purple dolphin and yin-yang symbol on my right shoulder-blade.  That one I had done when I was 19...and really starting to assert my own adult independence.  So each time I've been inked it's marked some significant event or period in my life.  After the marathon I'm not sure what's left.  I have tentative plans to add a pawprint for each subsequent race, eventually building a sort of chain of pawprints around my ankle.

My best friend will also be having a tattoo applied to mark the race we completed.  This will be her first and she plans to have it applied to her left foot, with the # end of things just below the base of her big toe.  I think it's going to look fabulous, though I hear that the foot is about the most painful spot for a tattoo, so I think she may be in for a surprise.

As far as actual runs have gone, I have already run more this week than last, though I skipped out on today's planned 6 miler to get stuff done around the house.  Plus my lungs still don't feel up to snuff and my planned 8 on Tues. was cut back to 7.5, as my body was really whining, so I figured it's better to still take things kind of easy.  Next week I hope to get back to a more standard 30-35 mile training week with 5 days of running.  This week will be 4 runs.  Still hard to believe that 8 miles used to be an easy run.  Now anything in the double-digits sounds daunting.  Everyone says that marathon recovery is serious business, but I had NO idea.  I can't get over how rough it's been getting back into my running groove.

I also didn't want to push myself too much this week, as Saturday I'm planning to get out for my first real trail run.  Eryn (best friend) and Heather will be joining me...we'll probably only do 3-4 miles in a state park nearby.  This is assuming that Eryn can run comfortably with a fresh tattoo on her foot.  It may involve some creative bandaging.

Tomorrow I will plan to do the 6 I would have done today, instead of 4.5.  Then off to the tattoo parlor for my 1pm appt. :D


Welcome to the club, MARATHONER!!!

Next to childbirth and one's wedding day, the completion of one's first marathon may be the most memorable and emotionally-charged day in life.  I propose that witnessing a friend complete their own first marathon must follow next in line in the progression of tear-jerker moments.

Today I had the unique pleasure of watching my friend, Mike/PowerOfQ, complete his own first 26.2, a mere 2 weeks after I crossed the finish of my first marathon distance event.  

As Mike hugged and kissed his family members (not a dry eye in the house, folks) shortly after running across the timing pad, I felt that same raw emotion return from my own moments across the finish line in Milwaukee.

It was such a unique perspective to watch Mike's wife, Rebecca, watching him as we tracked him down on various spots on the course.  It gave me a little glimpse of what DH must have been going through watching me run, though the 2 times he saw me on the course prior to the finish line I was comfortable, chipper, and happy with the world and with my race.  Rebecca and I saw Mike really laboring towards the end and I know she felt sympathy (and relief every time we spotted Mike still upright and moving forward with strong form) for him while I felt complete empathy, having been in his proverbial running shoes so very recently.

Somehow I have never managed to attend a running race as a spectator, before.  As a marathoner it's nearly impossible to see and hear one's fans during those later miles of the race...all one's energy is absorbed by the body's need to keep moving towards the finish line.  Eventually tunnel-vision seems to take over, or at least this was my limited experience.  It's like peripheral vision and sense of hearing are dulled.

Today Mike joined a relatively exclusive club of those of us who can call ourselves "marathoners."  It's a title that is respected by those who have BTDT, as well as those who think we're nuts (but in many cases are just a teensy bit jealous of the determination it takes to train for and run the distance in the course of a few hours).  Like everyone else who has done the "10k after the 20 mile warm-up" before him, he earned the bragging rights that go with the accomplishment--even if he never again chooses to run the marathon (though I don't think that will be the case).

To everyone else who ran their first marathon this weekend (especially you runners at Grand Rapids and Detroit--GO MI peeps!), HUGE, richly-deserved kudos go out to you!  I hope you are as proud of yourself as your family, friends, and fellow runners are of you.  Enjoy your pain...it's proof positive of a job well done and a temporary side effect of hard work.  And be kind to yourself in the next few weeks...2 weeks out and I'm still fighting the remnants of a cold and finding that there are still some achey muscles to remind me that the marathon is not yet done with me.

Now you have a shiny new PR...and I hope we'll meet up at a future 'thon! :D


A little something for my running buddies


I'm having a hard time identifying with that piece, unfortunately.  I am still battling sinus/lung gunk, so haven't run in 3 days...not running today, most likely, and tomorrow will be too busy cheering at the Grand Rapids Marathon.

Actually, I may not be cheering so much (thanks to laryngitis...I sound more raspy than Rachel Ray--more like Marge Simpson's chain-smoking sisters) as clanging the cowbell and holding up several different uber-snarky signs (I will take pics and post them after race day, so as not to ruin the surprise for my friends running...muwahahahaha!). ;)

The day after my nice 6 miler in the pouring rain my sinus issues worked their way into my chest, where they spent the following 2 days.  Today my chest is feeling better, but now stuff is back in my sinuses--likely allergies, rather than anything viral, but it still sucks.

Can I say that I'm REALLY dreading Monday's weigh-in?  Not running + eating crap (and too much of it) ≠ weight loss. :(

I'm really looking forward to getting past this cold/allergy/sinus stuff and being able to run well again.  My body is otherwise feeling pretty well recovered from the marathon, so I'm hoping that I can log 25 miles next week and maybe closer to 35 the following--assuming that my respiratory stuff is mostly cleared-up.

On a cheerier note, a funny photo from the past week...I literally laugh out loud every time I look at that! 




Yesterday I finally got around to the post-marathon massage that many of my running buddies had been recommending to me.  Oh, man, what a difference it made!  Next time around I will book a massage within the first 2-5 days of recovery, not wait until over a week out.

I made an appt. on Monday with a massage therapist about 45 minutes away who works out of her home.  An online friend of mine is in school to be a massage therapist and recommended this woman.  She charges a mere $35 for a one hour massage.  Well worth the price, considering it's about the same as what I'd pay for only a half-hour session in most spas, salons, or chiropractic practies.

The massage itself was very nice...more of a relaxation massage than anything.  I kind of wished she'd have been a bit more aggressive and spent more time on my legs, but my back and neck muscles really appreciated that extra attention, so it was still very beneficial.  Perhaps next time I'd look into a deep tissue massage.

After she was done she told me that I was pretty stiff in the neck and shoulders and that the soles of my feet were very hard--but that this is normal with most runners.  I wasn't too surprised about either.  My neck is notoriously tight and I often wake with spasms.  I have a hard time turning my head far to the right, which makes checking my blind spot or looking over my right shoulder before crossing a street kinda tough.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening I felt like crap and couldn't get enough fluids to drink--this is pretty standard after a good massage.  A lot of the stuff that contributes to sore muscles gets pushed out as bodily waste.  I got up at least twice during the night to pee--I rarely ever have to get up during the night like that.

But my legs felt fabulous today.  I got in a 6 mile run that finally feels "good," again.  I was starting to wonder if I'd ever feel back to normal, again.  I had wanted to do maybe 7 miles and felt up to it, but at 2.5 miles it was sprinkling and by 3 miles the sky opened up.  So when I stopped my Garmin at 6.23 I was soaked and cold.  Today went so well that I think I may do 8 on Friday and maybe even a few miles on Sat. with Dane along on his bike.  Next week I hope to work up to 25 miles and 5 runs.  Right now I'm taking things pretty easy, especially since I'm dealing with my usual Fall allergy/sinus/cold issues on top of recovering from the race.



Mom on the Run (BTW, good luck in GR on Sun.  I will be holding a big HTFU sign for all my friends running and DS will be along with me clanging a cowbell) tagged me and my assignment is to share 6 random things about myself, as well as a few of my favorite blogs:
1. Mimi Smartypants
Runners' Lounge
Travels with Doofus (author is DH's former co-worker)
Frazzled But Loving It
Running Into The Sun

Hmmm 6 facts...random ones:

1. I have officially been with my hubby for more than half of my life.  I am going on 36 and we met when I was 17.5.

2. In high school I'm not sure I ever ran more than 3 miles in a day, even though I was on the track team (I was a sprinter) through all of junior high and HS.  Nowadays 3 miles is my warm-up (well, it was before the marathon.  For the past week+ I have had a rough time running at all...feelin' kinda beat-up.

3. I have 2 tattoos and am planning on #3 (on my lower left calf area) by the end of the month.  That's it right there... --->
My best friend will be accompanying me and getting her first tattoo--also to commemorate our first marathon.

4. I suck at Math, but in large part because I had crappy teachers in high school.  When I finally had a decent instructor in a remedial college course I was actually OK at Algebra.  I still can't do Geometry to save my life, however.

5. My dream job would be professional actress...stage, screen, commercial--don't care.  I'd just love to be paid to do it.  There is a production company planning to develop in our area (thanks to the incentives the state of MI has put out to the industry to locate here).  I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that this will eventually mean open auditions for paid acting jobs of any sort.

6. I drive stick and prefer it.  If someone gave me a car with an automatic transmission I'd trade it in towards one with manual.  Might lose some money up front, but it's less hassle in the long run (my first car was an automatic and after dropping over $2k to replace the transmission I'm not eager to repeat that ever again) and better for Winter driving.  Plus it's a helluvalot more fun! :D


1 Week Later

It's already been a full week since I completed my very first marathon. I'm still pretty wiped-out and hardly running, BUT that's as much due to a cold/allergy thing that is dogging me. I had planned to do 4-5 miles today, but at 6:30 this morning had to get up to take some ibuprofen for my raw throat and awful sinus pain. I used my neti pot for the first time in months, too.

As much as it's driving me nuts to not be out running--especially with this GORGEOUS weather--I'm glad the illness gunk held off until now. I was hyper-paranoid all during taper that I'd get hit with a bug and be incapacitated on race day.

I have yet another reason to keep my mileage nice and steady all Winter long (planning to maintain 30-35 miles/week, most weeks...hopefully we have a bit less snowfall this year). Some friends and I are going to try to get a team together for the North Country Trail Relay in June. Each of us would be responsible for roughly 13 miles of the full course, assuming we each took on the same cumulative legs (6 runners/team, 15 legs of varying lengths and difficulty levels). DH's uncle-in-law is race director, which is kind of cool. It doesn't guarantee our team a spot, though--first dibs go to teams from the previous year, then new teams are first come, first served. There is already 1 new team on the waiting list, so our team needs to get it's proverbial shit together ASAP.

And what kind of team organizer would I be if I hadn't given thought to "uniforms"?  We already have a team name and a rough draft of a logo for custom shirts we'd have made (most likely with 8.5 x 5" logo on the back, names on the front):

The logo color scheme was inspired when I was looking at runningskirts.com's camo running skirts for the girls (can't get any guys to go in on it, heh.  They don't know what they're missing in terms of comfort).  So even if we're not fast, we'll blend into the trees and we can be slow and stealthy!


*sings* Walk Like a Zombie...

Man, I am TIRED! I have managed 2 short, EASY runs since the marathon, but the first included a couple of short walk breaks and yesterday's 2.7 miler had originally been planned as a 5 miler, but my body's just not ready for it. I'm wiped-out and my legs felt sort of filled with lead. Plus it's the peak of Fall allergy season and I'm battling that, so the combo's kind of rough. I have felt all week like I'm on the verge of a cold that never sets-in.

I noticed again the formation of a couple of spots of black mold on our bedroom ceiling last night, too (we had a few very rainy days last week), so that could potentially be a factor. I sprayed it with bleach solution before crawling into bed and it faded fast. We'll hopefully be having our roof redone by the end of the month, but how to handle the ceiling drywall removal...not sure. I'm guessing I'm going to need to stay out of the room for a few weeks (we already plan to move our bed into a tiny storage room upstairs) and DH will need to wear a respirator. It could be worth having a professional crew come in to do that, too. That may well be something our homeowner insurance will cover--some companies do, because of the serious health ramifications.

Last night was really fun. A local running friend of mine and I went out for "girls' night out" dinner. We had my race accomplishment to celebrate and she just found a part-time job. I pigged out on a half-rack of ribs and the most awesome creme brulée with strawberries (and a glass of Bell's Oberon beer, of course). It was nice, but by 9pm we were both yawning. We also went and hung out at a fellow running friend's ice cream shop until closing.

Today I have accomplished nothing. I need to at least go around and collect the dirty dishes that have found their way all over the house and maybe put some laundry away (as well as finish unpacking from LAST weekend). Meh...whatevs.


After the Marathon

Just did my first little recovery "run." Wow...thought my quads were feeling pretty good prior to heading out--joke's on me!

But more than physical pain I definitely am feeling the post-race blues. It was hard heading alone out the door to just another run on one of my boring old routes. No spectators calling my name and urging me on (AND pronouncing my name correctly 90% of the time, even), no cowbells, no clapping, no sounds of other runners' footsteps, breathing, talking. My iPod is a poor substitute.

I was born and raised in Wisconsin and if there is anything I can say about Cheeseheads, it's that by and large they are some of the kindest, "funnest" people I have ever spent time around.  This weekend's race was kind of like a really long run with a few thousand friends.  I did not encounter a single rude or oblivious runner during the entire event--not even at the start when it's quite common to find oneself having to dodge other runners who overestimate their pace ability before completing even the first mile.

This getting back to life without a marathon looming over my head is really not all it's cracked-up to be. :(


Next on the agenda:

Distances Completed: 5k, 10k, 15k, half-marathon, 25k, marathon.  Next up: trail race.

Yep, in my ever expanding quest to do increasingly stupid things to my body I have set my sights on a trail run on Nov. 15 that is rumored to be pretty challenging, but also really fun (I actually had considered doing it 2 years ago, but didn't really feel ready, then last year I think they didn't hold the event).  

It's been roughly measured at 5.2 miles through a park about 30 minutes away.  It's called "Run with the Cougar," because a few years back there were several sightings of a cougar/puma/mountain lion in the park (a few have been spotted in parts of MI, though they're about as rare as bears this far south and east in the US).

I'm trying to talk a few local friends into doing it with me.  It would be really fun to race with some local running buddies, especially as this would be my first off-road running event.

Today I am on day 2 of marathon recovery.  Feeling pretty good.  Tired, but part of that is still due to not sleeping well.  I am exhausted, but last night kept replaying the race in my head...mostly dwelling on the fun parts, reliving the great moments before and after the race with Eryn and our new running pal, Jeff.  I'm still on a bit of a post-marathon high.  Then this AM I had a hard time sleeping-in since every time I tried to move my legs protested.  Today I am MUCH less sore and think I'm going to really put a major dent in my sleep deprivation overnight.  At least this is the plan. ;)


*drumroll* The Race Report

My race report from runningAHEAD.com:

Oh...where to begin. Man, I am so mentally and physically exhausted that I think this is going to be more of a summary and bunch of random, probably mostly incoherent thoughts than a race report.

Everyone says the first marathon is a learning experience, more than a race. The NUMBER ONE thing I learned...wow, running out of electrolytes is a real bitch. It doesn't matter how well-paced, comfortable, and utterly blissful the previous miles are once one's salt/potassium levels dip low. Cramps are gonna happen. Stopping and walking only makes the inevitable muscle seizures less likely to make one fall hard.

During my 2 20 mile training runs I experienced some calf tightening around the 17-18 mile mark, but chalked it up to running in the heat. I had considered bringing some electrolyte capsules (I have a bottle of Endurolytes that I really haven't experimented with) along in my bottle belt, but the pocket on it's pretty small and between my inhaler and gels there wasn't really space for anything extra. And I figured "nothing new on race day" probably applied to any sort of supplements, too.

Heh. In hindsight I think that would have been one place where trying something new would have been worth a go.

So...to go back to race day...I slept surprisingly well the night before the race (Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, for those not keeping score). I think I had come to that point of peaceful acceptance. Both of my 20 mile runs had gone well and I knew that thousands of people before me had finished their first marathons on less training and still lived to write race reports, so I knew finishing was not an issue, barring any serious injury. Weather reports looked pretty good, too, so I wasn't too worried about that, either.

Race morning I showered, ate a half banana (I don't really like bananas...they tend to make me wanna hurl...too bad, since that's one good source of potassium), a Clif bar, and coffee. I normally do eggs, bacon, and a bagel for breakfast, but staying in a hotel room with no fridge or microwave limit the ability to eat that sort of thing. Next time I will buy a package of that pre-cooked bacon if need be. Sodium is a GOOD thing.

Shortly after 6AM Eryn and I met Jeff (jscovill...oh, and I have to say that Jeff might just be the nicest runner I have ever met--and that really says a lot. Runners are definitely a nice lot, by and large) down in the hotel lobby to take a shuttle bus to the start (point-to-point race).

Oh, ha...and none of us really realized that when Google maps said our hotel was like a half mile from the start that they didn't include a warning about the big f*cking cliff between the hotel and the finish and a lot of traversing down a path to get to the shuttle busses. Ha! So the 3 of us first couldn't find the path down in the dark, then we said "screw it" and tentatively made our way down a steep path of loose dirt...just the sort of thing that would take lesser runners out with an ankle or neck injury.

We got on the bus...oh, man...26 miles is a really long bus ride. Shit. Finally we arrive at the high school where the race is starting about an hour before the gun. Got our potty breaks in, stretched, lubed--oh, not Jeff. What kind of seeded runners just show up at the start with no apparent nerves, no warm-up, no stretching? Dude, I have never before met such a relaxed runner, much less a guy who can go out and place THIRD! I think he let Eryn and I take on all of his nerves. I was happy to make the sacrifice, too.

Eryn and I said our goodbyes to Jeff and wished him the best as he headed to the front of the pack. We settled in midway between the 4.5 and 5 hour finishers (figuring it would help pace us slow early on, good plan--there was no weaving to avoid slower runners and everyone really seemed to line up according to actual ability--wow!). The national anthem was sung and then a moment of silence was taken for a long-time race organizer who was killed last year by a motorist.

Eryn and I hugged, got excited, and the gun fired. A minute or so later we crossed the start and we were off.

Race start was gorgeous...temps in the upper 40s, I think. No need for a jacket or long sleeves at the start, so it was nice to not have to shed anything more than the little stretchy gloves I wore.

The first half was utterly incredible. Eryn and I mostly stuck together with a very chatty and fun group of runners (typical cheeseheads, 'eh?!). I still felt great at the half and Eryn was just a bit ahead of me. Most of the races we've run in the last 2 years have involved a bit of leapfrogging, often with Eryn pulling ahead for the middle parts of a race and me catching up by the finish. Based upon my half split of just under 2:17 I didn't feel it was a stretch to finish ~4:30, as I was feeling super strong and full of "zoomy" energy.

During the next few miles I continued in this comfortable pace and felt like I could continue as fast, if not faster, pretty much indefinitely. What a great feeling. I continued to get in with small groups of friendly runners, lots of chatter about our running histories, comments on my skirt, my garish blue shoes, and my Girls On The Run singlet.

I saw DH and DS not long after the halfway point and then again around 15 miles. I felt fantastic. I hadn't had much to drink of my Gatorade (it was so cold that I wasn't overheating or feeling the need to drink much), but I swapped DH for a full bottle, figuring that would be plenty until the finish.

It was maybe a mile after this that I started to feel that annoying tightness in my calves that I'd felt during my 2 longest runs and towards the end of my Spring 25k race. Amazingly my stupid right knee really didn't give me any problems. Around mile 4 it kind of "whispered" at me, but I told it to STFU and never heard a peep from it the rest of the race. Yeah, OK, in hindsight the knee issues would have been preferable to what awaited me.

After my calves started flaking-out it was kind of downhill. I was able to maintain pace, but the sort of spastic sensations were increasing. I made it to mile 20 and it was only a half mile after that my first severe "charley horse" set in. After the 20 mile mark I started seeing a lot of runners who had hit the wall. I didn't hit any wall at any point, but at 20.5 the wall HIT ME!

My right calf and right groin muscle simultaneously locked-up on me. I. Had. To. STOP. There was no slowing down. It was stop or collapse. My entire right leg felt like someone had grabbed it, kicked it, and stuck both halves in a vise. FUCK. From that point on I understood the term "death march." The entire rest of the race was a walk - run - stop to stretch. People I had passed easily 5 miles earlier passed me like I was standing still. My right leg continued to seize up on me any time I tried to pick up speed and my left leg was on my shit list, as well.

When the legs started hinting at things to come I started pushing the Gatorade and eventually started grabbing the Gatorade Endurance (which has a lot more electrolytes than regular Gatorade or even the Gatorade Tiger that I had brought). By the time the first cramp took hold I was regretting not taking the Gatorade Endurance from the very first aid station. Oh, yeah...and not bringing those Endurolyte capsules on top...and maybe some salt packets.

At the halfway mark I thought my goal of 4:30 would be pretty much in the bag unless something unforeseeable happened. At 21 miles I thought 4:40 would be doable. At 23 miles 4:45 seemed like a shot in the dark...after that I just wanted to finish under 5.

I used to wonder why I would see people walking only a mile from the finish of a race...ha, now the joke's on me!

I think I managed to run the entire last 1.5 miles...at the very finish I had a kick and I knew that I could do a 50k with the energy I had, but my legs were done at 20.5. There is nothing more frustrating than strong lungs (so I finally got my asthma issues under control, only to have them hand the immobilizing baton to my legs), energy to spare, and unwilling muscles. I talked to a few other runners in later miles who were in similar straits. An older guy who was also cramping badly and a gorgeous 40 year old woman who reminded me of Pam and who was suffering with ITBS and stretching and walking on the same schedule as I. I ended up crossing the finish line just ahead of her and couldn't find her later to congratulate. Seeing her struggle really helped keep me going.

But I crossed. I am not happy with my time, but there is only one thing that will remedy that--another marathon. Either Grand Rapids or Milwaukee, again, next year. And next year I have the benefit of knowing that I sweat out a LOT of electrolytes, even when it's not particularly hot. That heavy white crust I form ain't sugar-coating...I'm more a salty wench than a sugar doughnut.

Other than the minerals issue, I did EVERYTHING right. I have NO blisters, NO chafing...everything from the waist-up feels great, as do my feet. I was a little nervous about being a plodder in a lightweight trainer, but my feet were fabulously happy the entire way.

And I have spent the last 24 hours eating every form of salt in sight. I think I finally recovered those lost minerals in the form of pizza with bacon and sausage, cheezy popcorn, Gatorade, bacon on a big-ass Culver's cheeseburger, fried cheesecurds, beef shish-kabob pita...and beer. Oh, wait...that doesn't have sodium. Oops. Actually, I didn't drink nearly as much beer as I had hoped. My brother's GF gave me a bottle of her homebrew, but I decided to wait until I feel more rested to enjoy it.

Speaking of my brother's GF--that was the most fantastic thing about running in Milwaukee...having my family at my first marathon. And Milwaukee has some fantastic crowd support. People with cowbells just about everywhere. And the guy at mile 3 standing in the yard of his farmhouse playing polka music and the accordian along with music piped through a big-ass stereo system--as we passed he was singing "In Heaven There Is No Beer." It was definitely a highlight of the race.

Ok, so that's it...long, rambling, disjointed...I need a beer.

Field Placement: 1543 / 1952 (79%)
Age group: 35 – 39
Group Placement: 98 / 127 (77.2%)
Gender Placement: 571 / 791 (72.2%)

ETA my pace/elevation profile from my Garmin (forgot to shut it off at the end for probably 3-4 minutes after finishing):

I'm not including the split for the last .2 mile...ugh, 'cause I forgot to stop my Garmin. :p

(mi )
M Spd


Fah-reak-ing OUT!


Ok, deep breaths...DEEP breaths...phew. 2 days...less than 2 days. In 48 hours from now I will hopefully have crossed the finish line.

Now I can really start obsessing about the weather, too. Right now it looks like it will be ~51º at race start with nice 8mph winds and mostly cloudy skies. Hourly forecast for Milwaukee currently goes to 10am, so by midpoint of the race it will likely be about 5 degrees warmer. I could not have ordered better weather.

I'm mostly packed...have to do a bit more laundry and get DS packed, too (I have much of his stuff laid-out, just need to throw it in the bag).

Tomorrow AM I will get up and do an easy TWO miler (I can't recall the last time I only ran 2 miles...sheesh) before showering and heading to Milwaukee. It is gonna be COLD...I mean, relatively speaking. Only in the upper 30s. I think I will wear full-length tights and long sleeves. That's gonna feel weird.

Hopefully we will hit Milwaukee around 2pm local time. That way we can mill around at the expo for an hour before check-in time at the hotel, which is anytime after 3pm. Hopefully can touch base with a couple of RA people (one is running, the other pacing a friend for part of the race).

Anyone interested in stalking me on race day, my bib # is 638 and results will be posted online.  Right now I am anticipating finishing somewhere between 4:20 - 4:40.  We shall see how well my prediction pans out.


Oh, yeah...this is TOTALLY me!!!

Heh, a friend of mine on RunningAhead.com posted that for me.  It is SPOT ON! ;)

Today is t-minus 3 days until race day.  I am starting to pack race day essentials, trying to motivate myself to get one last abs workout in, needing to get a couple of errands run in town, and just generally trying to avoid giving myself a coronary.  Heh.

Yesterday I had a nice little 4 mile run.  My legs are definitely starting to feel STRONG.  I'm hoping the knee is good-to-go on Sunday, too.

The past week of sleeping in (thanks, boys) is really helping me feel less edgy.  I'm no longer feeling that frantic "overtraining" thing (which is worse than this "taper madness"--tapering is a breeze compared to how awful that was), now I'm just getting pre-race jitters and moodiness.  Time to get this show on the road. 

I have a confession to make...I had candy last night.  I had to stop at Rite Aid and those bastards have little 1.6oz. boxes of Jelly Belly jelly beans right at the counter.  So I grabbed one.  But they have fruit juice in them...so they aren't completely lacking in "nutrients," right...?

Other than that minor misstep my diet is pretty good...making sure I get extra fruits/veggies, minimally processed meats, healthy carbs, fluids, caffeine...ha!