Oh, the difference a day makes...

After Milwaukee (my first full marathon, last Oct.) I took 2 full rest days off before getting back on the road for my first post-race recovery run. This time around I took 3 full days off. Wow, what a profound difference in recovery experiences! Though I will also chalk this up to better training and higher mileage for Bayshore. I spent the first half of Milwaukee babying a bum right knee and had to reduce my mileage, as a result. This time around my body was better prepared for the effort (even though my race time wouldn't suggest such--but that was my own damned fault for going out too fast and crashing-and-burning 2/3 of the way in).

For a solid 4+ weeks after Milwaukee my runs pretty much stunk. They were stiff, painful, slow, miserable...yuck. I have now logged 3 recovery runs since Bayshore and they all have been good runs...last night's run downright rocked! My trail run 2 days ago was a little rough, but still not bad. Mostly my legs just felt stiff and my energy level was on the low side. But I could have a run like that totally at random, too.

The worst part about that run was really the damned mosquitos. Wow, I have never ever seen them this bad. But there are a LOT of standing water marshy areas in and around the state park in which my friend and I ran. Mosquitos were literally swarming...like flies! We couldn't stop to stretch for even a couple of seconds...they were all around us like a cloud of high-pitched grayness.

Back to Bayshore...next year's date is already up - May 29...so a week later than this year (Memorial Day weekend must be a week later, too). I plan to register the day that registration opens in Dec. I think nearly all of the RunningAHEAD.com peeps who were there this year are planning to return, as well. One of the guys is even talking about renting a cottage for a week, so we will have a place to land after the race...for beer and food and fun without having to sit in a crowded restaurant that doesn't lend itself well to a large group.

I also plan to have a finish photo that displays a faster time and a much slimmer body...

The photo is courtesy of my friend, Rick. Still haven't seen any official race photos online, yet. I sure do look like I'm stronger and faster in that photo than my time would suggest, heh. The photo also does not show my right foot cramping severely. I thought I was going to take a nose-dive about 50 meters from the timing pad...that would have been a pretty classic sort of Kirsten move...

Less than 2 weeks 'til the big trail relay. I won't likely be able to do that race next year, as it will only be 2 weeks after Bayshore -- but I will be able to do the Riverbank Run 25k again, as that will be 3 weeks prior to Bayshore in '10 (this year it was only 2 weeks before...too close to race day to be considering any sort of 15.5 mile race efforts). My best friend and I are already talking about running that race, then adding the remaining 4.5 miles as easy ones before and after the race...and counting that as our last long 20 miler before tapering in preparation for Bayshore '10. It will be kind of nice to combine a big race and a long marathon training run in one. I like that sort of multi-tasking.


Good News & Less Good News

Good News: I had my first post-marathon recovery run yesterday. I had been mentally preparing for this workout with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Anticipation...because I was feeling some serious running withdrawals. And dread...because my first run after Milwaukee was miserable. But after Milwaukee I only took 2 full rest days. This time I took 3. Wow, what a difference that made--vive la difference! My legs were stiff, but not too sore. Only my quads really complained a little. I expected to walk/run for a few miles, but I was able to run 3.5 without needing any walk breaks.

I'm sure having been better trained for Bayshore didn't hurt matters any. Even though the race experience was not all that different from my first marathon, that was more the result of my own bullheadedness. I KNEW going out at the pace I did for the first half was a bad idea while I was doing it...well, maybe I didn't know it for the first 10 miles, but after that I was pretty certain I would pay. Next time around I won't make that mistake, even if it means swallowing my pride and letting a lot of people pass me in the early miles. Some of those people who pass me will probably succumb to starting in an overly aggressive manner. I will likely pass them in the last half as others passed me at Bayshore.

Less Good News: Yesterday my hubby informed me that my very favorite race (Old Boys' Brewhouse Oktoberfest Half-Marathon) added a marathon. He was perusing the website to see the course map (I'm guessing he has plans to bike along as I run) and saw the new race distance addition on the site.

I had just said in the past week "man, I wish OBB would add a marathon distance...that would be the perfect race." D'oh! And, of course, I am already registered for the Grand Rapids Marathon a month later.

A small part of me thinks I could handle 2 marathons that close together...actually, it's a not-so-small part--I'd probably do a marathon this coming weekend if there were one close-by (and qualify myself for Marathon Maniac status--I am SO gonna do this someday...'cause I am just that out of my friggin' gourd!). BUT...I haven't managed to fit a half-marathon into my schedule in almost 2 years and I REALLY want to see what I can do with that distance with the consistent, higher mileage training I have done in recent months. I have yet to get under 2 hours in the half, though I know it's a given. My PR is just over 2:04...and that was on far less training than I currently have. And if I can drop 10#s before then it should be that much easier.

On the bright side, I am 99% certain that I will do the OBB Oktoberfest Marathon NEXT year. I had been thinking about returning to Milwaukee or heading to Detroit or Columbus (all $$ options with travel), but a marathon in Spring Lake will be perfect...we live just over a half hour from the race site. And it's a cheap race--the full is cheaper than the GR half. Plus it ends at a brewery...hello!!!


Is it tomorrow, yet?

I have not run since the marathon...over 3 days ago. I am going kinda nuts. I had semi-planned to run today, but it was raining and nasty and I knew I'd be doing a combo run/walk for recovery, as I am still quite stiff and sore. I rather enjoy running in the rain, but I don't really like walking in the rain...so I will get my first post-race run in tomorrow, instead. I can't wait!
And I think taking a full 3 days of rest after racing may help me recover a bit more comfortably than I did after Milwaukee. I think I tried to do too much, too soon after that race. I only took 2 days off after that one and I remember how awful that first recovery "run" was. Miserable. I think that extra day off is going to make for a noticeably less uncomfortable first recovery run.

I am still smiling as I relive some fun moments from this past weekend. And this photo really reminds me what a fantastic experience it was...not so much the race itself (that was sucky in many ways), but the time spent with friends and having such massive support as I struggled those last yards leading up to the finish line:
Those people standing, clapping, cheering...those are my friends. I could hear their screams of "Go Zoomy!!!" as I limped my way across the final timing pad. A couple of those guys finished HOURS ahead of me and qualified to run Boston, yet they waited in the sun to see me finish. I'm not sure *I* would have waited to see me finish.

We're almost all planning to return to run Bayshore again next year (I think a couple are somewhat on the fence...but they can probably be peer-pressured into registering again, too). I'm not sure I can wait a whole year for such a fantastic experience. I plan to register the day registration opens.


Bayshore 2 days later = BaySORE

Man, new things hurt today. Like my shoulders...I couldn't figure out why my shoulders are were sore 2 days after the race, when they weren't sore yesterday. Then DH pointed out that I have been using my arms to get myself on and off chairs and the toilet, since my quads are on strike.
In addition to the quads and shoulder soreness I also have some angry, stiff calves. Tomorrow I hope to do 2-3 REALLY easy walk/run miles to help me recover and loosen-up.

I found the splits for each half after I posted my race report. 1st half my pace was 10:17 (I had planned to run no faster than 10:30 for the first 10-13 miles). 2nd half it was 11:40. Ow. What I should have done was stuck to 10:30-10:45 for the entire race. This is likely what I will do for #3 in Grand Rapids in Oct. I may even set my Garmin to yell at me if I go faster than this pace, at least until the last few miles...though I don't foresee negative splitting at any time in the near future.

Today I decided to bail on a Memorial Day gathering an hour away...the thought of sitting in the car for an hour each way sounds unpleasant. Especially since I would be driving (hubby had an organized bike ride this AM and early PM). My legs don't think working a clutch sounds like a fun time.

Instead I have been going through race day photos. Some are fairly flattering--like this one taken by my 8 year old son (the same kid who was desperate to pee in the above photo), but others are downright horrendous and really illustrate the fact that I am still carrying 15-20#s more than I should be (I could lose 25-30 and still not be underweight). Weight that is slowing me down and making for race photos that cause me a good deal of embarrassment. Seriously, how does someone log a few 50 mile weeks and GAIN weight (and it's not muscle, folks...my fat pants are snug).

It's really time to invest in a full-length mirror. Most of the time I can only see the bottoms of my legs in a wall mirror we have leaning against the wall on the floor of our bedroom or from the shoulders-up in the bathroom mirror. I am not often able to see my arms, butt, and thighs until I am in a fitting room, and then it's too easy to blame horrid lighting for my figure issues. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt...

It's also time to stop using the excuse "I'm training for a marathon" when I overdo it on the food. The eating is causing me to lug more weight around as much as it's giving me fuel. I really felt the impact of just a few pounds after the above photo was taken (during a bottle hand-off around 15 miles or so in). The bottle only weighed about 20oz., but I was astounded by how heavy it felt compared to the empty one I exchanged it for. It was painful swapping that one into my hydration belt. A bottle weighing less than a tenth of what I would like to lose made me feel noticeably weighed-down. It caused me pause more than just about anything else...

I've read that a person can gain 3 seconds of speed for every pound they lose (assuming they don't change anything else in their training or go below their healthy weight range). I could potentially drop a full minute off of my pace. But it would certainly work out to be an even bigger advantage than that--if I could simply run faster in day-to-day training I could run more miles in the same amount of time...more miles = more speed, too. Perhaps I could run 55-60 miles/week in the same amount of training time. That, too, would increase my pace (and be easier on the joints). I gotta do this.


Oh noes...I did it again! (long...grab a beer or coffee)

Cut-and-pasted from RunningAHEAD.com...'cause I am just that lazy:

Marathon #2
Lesson #1: if one plans to run the first 10 miles or so at a particular conservative pace, one would be wise to actually run at that pace, rather than ~30 seconds faster than pace simply because they feel like a super hero, the weather is gorgeous, the scenery even moreso, and the company fabulous (Randy, thanks for being so entertaining for the first 15 miles or so, when I bailed).

For a good laugh, check out my mile splits to see when I blew-up. To those training for their first marathon or considering one in the future...use my race as an example of what NOT to do on race day.

10 miles in I was suspicious that I was likely going to regret going out so "fast." By the halfway mark I was about 75% certain that the second half was going to be slow and painful. By 15 miles there was no question...the last 10 miles were going to be payback for ignoring reason and letting my legs dictate things. Those same legs would betray me 2/3 of the way through the race.

Last Fall in Milwaukee I started finding that my legs were feeling uncomfortably tight by ~16 miles in...4 miles later they locked-up completely and I was forced to walk/run the rest of the race. This time the tightening started coming on a bit earlier, so I started walking to hopefully push the cramps back. This worked, as the cramping didn't come on in full force until somewhere around 23 or 24 miles in, but in the meantime I would run a little, walk a little, run a little, walk a little...each time stopping to walk as I felt my calves start tightening (and later a inner-thigh/groin muscle and my right foot).

The most frustrating thing about cramps this time around is that I really thought I was in the clear this go-round. I had no tightness in my legs while training for this race, even during my 2nd 20 miler...which ended up being at an average pace of about 15 seconds/mile faster than this race...but I also started that run much slower and picked up the pace gradually--what I SHOULD have done yesterday.

I also had no knee issues this time (during training or at any point during the race) and really felt strong after this 18 week training cycle. I had 2 50 mile weeks and based upon my comfortable training paces and overall mileage felt like a 4:30 would not be a stretch...and maybe I could pull a 4:20 off if I had a particularly magical day. But I wonder now if I even would have had a 4:30 in me had I started slow. I just don't have enough experience to know if the cramps were a given or if I could have had enough of a negative split to run a 4:30 on a race with 10:30+ miles for the first 10 or so.

After 2 semi-miserable marathons I find the negative split quite the elusive beast. For shorter distances I'm usually really good at pacing myself and either running perfectly even splits (I seem to recall one 25k race where my first and second half splits were only 1 or 2 seconds different...this was pre-Garmin, even), or negatively splitting a bit. But 26.2 is a whole 'nother thing and I think it may take me at least 3-4 tries to figure it out. I did end up with a 3 minute PR (4:47:34), but I barely held it together in that last mile.

Coming down to the last few yards was really a feat...my right foot spasm'd and I'm not altogether sure how I managed to not fall...I think having a few RA friends screaming their fool heads off for me (even the ones who finished hours earlier--you guys are AMAZING!) had something to do with it. And I am 100% positive that knowing they were all waiting for me at the finish was a big factor in that PR. I have never felt like I left so much on the course before...my usual strong finish was absent. I think were it not for my cheering section in the stands that I would have mentally given up and let the PR (albeit a weak one) slide.

As far as the actual race weekend...things went off quite smoothly. Made it up to Traverse City without the heavy traffic we had expected on Friday afternoon, though traffic IN TC was pretty heavy when we headed over to pick up my race packet. When we arrived at packet pick-up I called Rick (rvelich) to find out where he was. He and Tammy were also on the way to pick up their race packets, so we told them to meet us at the doors to the HS.

As we were waiting for Rick and Tammy I suddenly recognized Q's wife, so the bunch of us (including Rick's younger DD and a friend) got our race packs and chatted a bit. I had already met Q at a couple of races and Q had already met Rick and Tammy...so it really felt like a reunion of old friends. The whole weekend felt this way.

Race morning I woke about a half hour before my alarm was set, so I got up, showered, dressed, had some coffee and a biscuit/egg/bacon/cheese sandwich thing, and DH, DS and I headed over to the lot that Cory recommended we park in (BTW, that worked perfectly).

As we pulled in I saw the entire RA crew already assembled. I'm not sure Derek had the car off before I was out the door and hugging friends. I was especially thrilled to see Mississippi had safely arrived...Michelle, I really wish you could have stayed last night, too. I hope you made it back to PA safely.

After a bit of introductions and chatting (and some photo ops...gotta work on getting some photos online on Tues.) we started to make our way to the port-a-johns and the start. Speaking of that...I was a little surprised that Bayshore had no pace markers for line-up, but there really ended up being no issues in the first mile getting around people, so that wasn't a problem. It's really not a big race and people seemed to know what they were doing at the start. I have run other small races that haven't been that well handled by runners, even with pace signs.

Between intros and the port-a-johns I had lost Kevin and Randy, who were both shooting for about the same goal time. Maybe a half mile in they found me and we ran together as a group for a mile or so, but Kevin was chomping at the bit to go faster, so Randy and I stayed back and let him go. 10 miles or so later I did the same, as Randy was still running strong and I was regretting taking leave of my senses. Randy ended up nearly catching up to Kevin by the finish, so he's already got this pacing thing nailed...damned fine job for a first marathon, IMO! He's already far ahead of me on that one (literally and figuratively speaking).

My 10+ miles without a companion were pretty long and lonesome. Thankfully Bayshore is a stunningly gorgeous course, since it was lacking in crowd support and most of the runners around me had iPods. I leap-frogged for much of these miles with another woman who was in the same predicament as I. I ended up outrunning her at the finish, as well as a few other ailing runners who had been with me on and off at the end. Perhaps they didn't have their own personal cheerleaders (and the incentive of beer after finishing).

After finishing we headed back to our respective hotels, cleaned-up (and, I must say...this group cleans up WELL! ), and met back at the Mackinaw Brewing Co. for a late lunch/early supper. We sat around and ate, drank, and chatted for a couple of hours, then a little while longer on the street, then we all exhaustedly left after more hugs and goodbyes.

This morning I saw Rick Velich and crew, again, and it was the cap-off to a really wonderful weekend...a few hours of miserable racing aside. 2 of our guys BQ'd (YAY Mishka and jhallum!!! You guys rocked that race and looked awesome when we met you on your way back to the finish line...so strong and smiling still).

I WILL be back to that race next year...only then I hope my bestie (backroadrunner) is able to run the whole race with me, instead of just a short stretch right before the cramps hit. I was thrilled to see her and her dog late in the race...they helped me take my mind off of my leg troubles for a little ways. Having Eryn and my guys there for support meant a lot. I found myself looking for my hubby's flashing red LED lights at every spectator spot. My 8 year old logged ~8 cumulative miles of his own without complaint, as the promised shuttle busses seemed nowhere to be found and spectators had to hike-in the the course from a remote lot.

Now I can "enjoy" a brutal trail relay in 3 weeks, a 15k 2 weeks after that, then training for Grand Rapids Marathon in Oct. begins. I'm hoping the 3rd time really IS the charm.

If you made it all the way to the end...might I suggest War & Peace as your next reading assignment?


T-minus 3 days...tweaking the heck out!

Baaaaahhhh... *hyperventilates*

...so far I had been doing REALLY well during this taper...no injuries, sleeping well, feeling great, not moody, not freaking-out, dancing around the house, giggling at random, enjoying time to do stuff other than run run run, etc. Today it is really hitting me that the race is in less than THREE days!!! Plus this not running crap...yet I am still eating like I'm running 50 miles--and not good stuff. 2 boxes of GS cookies showed-up the other day and I polished off most of them single-handedly in less than 48 hours... Pbbbbb... Gah, I hate cellulite and how it looks in race photos. And I vowed I would weigh less for marathon #2...right now my weight is within a half pound of my weight for marathon #1...WTF?!

*deep breath*

A couple of days ago I was too annoyed and pre-occupied to start tweaking. 3 weeks after the marathon I will be running a trail relay, for which I am also team captain. 4/6 team members are on runningAHEAD.com, so we've been communicating and hashing out details there. I can't seem to drag the other 2 teammates (husband and wife) over there.

So I e-mailed the other 2 team members some of the details we had worked out...a link to the assigned legs (which I'd sent via e-mail a while back, when we were first starting to talk about ways to organize the hand-offs), what color shirt we all planned to wear, tentative transportation plans for the day of, food/beverages to have in the team vehicle, etc.

She replies completely freaked-out...apparently she thought she and her hubby would only be responsible for UP TO 10 miles. It was quite obvious that neither had bothered to actually look at the race website prior to registering early in the year or in the interim (much less pay attention to the webpage I had created divvying up legs, even though I had e-mailed it to them months ago). The course is nearly 80 miles and each runner is required to run a MINIMUM of 10 combined miles per race rules. As it is we have one team member who has been sick for about the past month and suspects gall bladder issues...another team member has had her training continuously monkey-wrenched by illness, sick kids, job, kids' activities, etc.

Freaked-out team member also said that neither she nor her husband have light blue shirts and didn't want to buy them (they are attorneys, so they are in no way destitute)...so we're instead all going to wear white shirts.

Now it's looking like our fast guy and I will be responsible to take the lion's share of the miles, which is potentially going to wreck me only 3 weeks after my marathon. IF I captain a team next year I will definitely put it in writing in ALL CAPS what is expected of all team members...no ifs, ands, or buts. I won't be allowing anyone on the team who does not first read the race website and understand what is expected...no excuses less than a month prior to the race that team members didn't understand what their responsibility would be to their teammates.

Whew...I really need a beer right about now. Those post-race beers are gonna taste especially good after this week!


Taper Day: 13 -- Body Count: still 0

I am handling this way better than anticipated...but I still have a week left with the potential to climb to the highest point in town and open fire. Good thing I own no firearms, other than a Super Soaker squirt gun.

Still swine flu-free, too. Hell, my allergies are even completely manageable, thanks Zyrtec! I am afforded the ability to tweak-out over the weather, though. The 10 day forecast is up and thus far the forecast is looking very favorable...though this IS Michigan we're talking about--anything can happen without much notice and extended forecasts are little more than a crapshoot.

May 23

Few Showers
Few Showers



My biggest challenge at this stage in the game is not abusing how utterly fabulous my legs are feeling after 2 weeks of taper. Today's scheduled run was a mere 4 miler...lordy, that felt good. I had to rein it in. Purists can dog on the Garmin Forerunner all they want, but one of the most useful functions of that little device is having a wrist-mounted reality checker/coach to keep me from overdoing it. My perceived effort had me running about 30 seconds/mile faster than I really should be at this point. Gotta save the speed for race day, as much as it's mentally painful to do so.

Even though I have yet to complete marathon #2 I am looking ahead. Last night I pulled the trigger on Marathon #3. I registered for the Grand Rapids Marathon on Oct. 18. After today the price jumps $10, so I definitely wanted to get in before that increase...as it is it's not a cheap race (and for the money I think Milwaukee is nicer, at least in terms of the finish area and last few miles...but the travel and lodging cancel out any registration savings). My buddy who placed 3rd at Milwaukee is coming to MI to run this race, as well as a few other friends from other parts of the country. I am really looking forward to meeting up with more running friends.

Actually, seeing friends is probably what I am most excited about for next weekend's Bayshore festivities. There will be a bunch of us from RunningAHEAD.com up in Traverse City and we have plans to celebrate the evening after the race. I have met at least one of these runners a couple of times in real life, but the rest are friends who I feel like I know, but have yet to meet in-person.


Taper: Day 8 -- Body Count: 0

I'm surviving taper fairly well, but I still have almost 2 weeks to go and am already feeling a bit "edgy." Last time I really welcomed taper, since I'd dealt with some right knee issues for the bulk of training and it was a chance to let things heal before race day. THIS time around I have no substantial injury issues and finished the meat of training feeling strong. After a week of reduced mileage I am already thinking things could potentially get sorta ugly.

I did have 2 crappy runs this week...runs that were painful and had me feeling stiff and exhausted for seemingly no apparent reason, but I'm starting to suspect that weather--ie cold fronts--could be to blame.

Ever since puberty (when I developed mild arthritis symptoms in my knees) I have been able to "predict" cold fronts with my knees. Like an old woman I would have stiff, aching knees in the 12-24 hours before a front would come through. I have noticed during this training cycle that I have had more than a few uncomfortable runs in the 24 hours before rain/thunderstorms come through. Then I miraculously have a fabulous run once the front has passed. Hmmm...seems like more than mere coincidence. This past week I had 2 such runs, both less than a day before thunderstorms.

My mild peroneal tendonitis symptoms have flared up at these times, too, only to be mysteriously absent the next day. 2 days ago knees and feet were quite angry during a 13 miler. Yesterday I ran 5 miles at race pace and felt great. Weird.

Today I am doing pretty much nothing. It's Mother's Day (hope all my other mom friends are having great days, too!) and I have accomplished 2 loads of laundry. That's probably about all I will do, which is just fine. I do need to go work on my ab muscles a bit later, but that's just a short 15 minute routine. Yesterday we went and saw Star Trek in the later afternoon, then to Red Lobster for dinner (ugh, I think the worst part of taper is figuring out how much/little I can eat without gaining. I already feel fat and bloated and last night's dinner and PB m&ms consumption did not help matters). That was the bulk of my Mom's Day celebration.

The movie was fantastic...just as good as critics and fans are claiming. LOVED Scotty (am a big Simon Pegg fan, anyhow)...and Captain Kirk is a hottie. I can't wait for sequels.



That's the Bayshore Marathon number to watch on May 23...yep, that's my bib #...woot!

Today I had a thoroughly marvelous time getting lost on a trail in the park. Not really lost...I mean, the park isn't ginormous and it's hemmed-in on all sides by road. But my sense of direction got off early-on and when I thought I was going North and East I was actually going more North/Northwest (one of these days I should see if my Garmin Forerunner 305 will show current bearing, not just distance and pace). I still managed exactly 5 miles...but it was a LOT more challenging than what I had planned. I had planned to enjoy an easy, relatively flat route...but instead I spent most of my run on the "Hearty Hiker" trail. Really not a wise choice during taper. I'm just thankful that I didn't end up going ass-over-cranium on a sandy downhill--especially running solo with only my cell phone (and likely poor reception out by the lake).
That suprised me, too. There really weren't many people out in the park. I only saw 2 people and their dog during my entire 5 mile trek. It was positively GORGEOUS out...probably around 70 with mostly sunny conditions while I was out. There are a few trails that lead to beach and channel, so my guess is some people had parked (plenty of cars in the lot where I left my car) and walked to the beach or channel for fishing.

My run was also made pleasant by a new pair of trail kicks. I already own a pair of Gore-Tex trail shoes, but they are HOT and HEAVY. I can't imagine wearing them for my upcoming trail relay in mid-june. They are currently slated for conversion to "screw shoes" come Winter.

So I picked up a pair of Mizuno Wave Ascend 4s. They are not a truly "technical" trail shoe, as they are lacking a protective rock plate...but we don't have rocks here. Just sand, pine needles, sand, mud, sand, leaves, sand, moss, sand, grass, sand, tree roots, sand, gravel...and sand. They are more of a lightweight hybrid and are designed to specifically be good on wet stuff. They also were reviewed by Running Times to be very accommodating for wider feet, even though they don't come in widths (I have resigned myself to the fact that I can no longer limit my purchases to wides, since so few shoes come in wides and NB's wides are no longer wide).

Fit is very nice...definitely a roomy forefoot. Function seems great, too. I ran on all of the above surfaces and never lost footing. I was astounded by how well they gripped on sandy dune slopes. Good in marshy muck, too. I ran a bit on the road...yeah, that was not comfortable. But my NB trail shoes are also not comfortable on the road. I don't know that there's such a thing as a shoe that can really do well on both dry roads and trails. I also love that they have those same bumpy laces that NB is starting to put on most of their higher-end shoes. I would not be surprised to see these on more shoes in the future.

It's not a particularly stable shoe...just a hair of pronation control, so I will likely be throwing a pair of Superfeet insoles in them. That should make them a pretty ideal shoe for my needs and for the upcoming trail relay.

I was thankful for a good run today. Yesterday's 8 miler was positively shiteous. After 3 miles I was just not finding a comfortable groove. I wasn't in pain, just wiped-out. Lungs weren't cooperative and legs were stiff. I promised myself that if I could run to the 4 mile point that I'd walk/run the rest of the way. When I hit 4 I saved that workout on my Garmin and started a new one. I ended up walking a mile and calling my best friend to rant about the misery of a bad run when one is 4 miles from home (she is also a runner--helped get me hooked--so I knew she would commiserate).

After a mile I saved that "run" and started a new workout...ran the remaining 3 miles and they felt fine. Just one of those "off" days that creep up from time to time. Most of my runs in the past month or two have been pretty pleasant and my 20 miler this past weekend averaged less than a minute off of my target marathon race pace without killing me and today's surprise challenging trail run was fun, so I'm not the least bit upset.


The countdown is on...

When will THIS hit?

Finished my last long run before taper today. Phew. Glad that's out of the way. Now I can concentrate on "enjoying" a more laid-back last 3 weeks with no runs longer than 13 miles. I'm sure in about 10 days I will be going nuts for a longer run and my legs will feel on fire, but for now a week of easier work sounds pretty nice.

Today's 20 miler was nice. I comfortably hit marathon pace for a few miles here and there. But the last 3 had me feeling pretty worn-out and my feet were pretty sore. Today's 20 was at 35 seconds/mile faster than my 20 2 weeks ago. That was a pretty nice self-confidence boost. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I started taking Zyrtec within that time. My allergies are much better controlled, as is my asthma. I was also really tired for that last run, as we had just returned from our super stressful Easter trip to my MIL's that included about a week of not sleeping well.

After my run I had my "ice" bath (our tap water from our well is so cold that I don't need ice) while sipping a protein shake (skim milk, half scoop vanilla whey powder, 1 pouch strawberry no-sugar-added Carnation Instant Breakfast). Then I had some leftover spaghetti and meat sauce from last night and now I am nomming on a pancake that hubby made. The Smithwick's beer in the fridge is callin' my name, as is my bed.


Swine something-or-other has struck!

Not Swine Flu...not the flu of any sort, really. More like "Marathon Peak Pig-Out" disease. What...that's not a real disorder? Well, it should be. I feel like a bottomless pit...or, as my mom said when we were kids, like I have a hollow leg to fill.

In the last few days I have eaten the following:
• combo #1 at Taco Bell (soft shell taco supreme, beef burrito supreme)
• 1 pint Ben & Jerry's Mission to Marzipan (yum!)
• half a box of Lemonades GS cookies (do they lace these with CRACK?!)
• 4 Caramel Delight cookies
• Panera bacon spinach soufflé (this is that little quiche thing with the croissant crust)

This is all in addition to more "normal" eating. I stepped on the scale and expected it to read at least 3#s heavier than it did. I was pleasantly surprised. But I know that after tomorrow this has got to stop. Tomorrow is my last 20 miler and then I'm on to taper. If I keep eating like I have in the last 3 days I WILL gain weight...which will slow me down on race day. I seem to recall gaining about 4#s during taper for Milwaukee. Granted, some weight gain is normal during taper, since the body grabs up water as it heals the muscles. But it's still weight I have to lug along on race day. They say a person can expect 3 seconds/mile for each pound...that's -3 seconds for each pound lost, but it goes both ways. So if I were to gain 4#s this taper I can expect to add an extra 5 minutes to my time. Yuck!

Speaking of Swine Flu...as if I need anything else to potentially tweak-out over. I'm not really any more nervous about this particular flu than I would be about your run-of-the-mill flu varieties...except for the fact that there is no vaccine yet and I shouldn't even have to think about the flu this late in the season. As an asthmatic I always get my flu shot and it's generally very effective. Last year was an exception. And I REALLY don't want to go through that again--but least of all within 3 weeks of a goal marathon. Crap, I have trained too long for this and training has really gone well. Plus I have my trail relay 3 weeks after that.

And even if I do survive unscathed...the way this thing has been built-up is pretty nutso. There's a lot of talk in the running community about races being cancelled. I don't think race directors have to refund money in the event of cancellation for weather or plague or whatever, either. *sigh*