Friday, October 23, 2009

Lets ban slow people from running!

Earlier today, a friend of mine from RE forwarded me the link to this article in the NY Times discussing "plodders" doing marathons:

Ironically, she sent it to me about an hour after Dan sent me this article about the woman who was proud to be DFL at last week's KC Marathon:

Both ends of the spectrum there! First off, I am a slow runner. I think we have established that by now. When I first started running, I was sort of embarassed about it. And it was for exactly the elitist attitude that is displayed in the first article. But I quickly got over it. Because I enjoy doing it, and it makes me feel good, and I'm proud of myself for getting out there and doing it instead of sitting at home on my ass watching 90210 reruns every Saturday morning. Not that I havent thought many a time that I would rather do that!

Yes, I would like to get faster. But "faster" for me is not the same as "faster" for you, or for anybody else. For me, it means being able to run a sub-30 5K and a sub-5 hour marathon. Those are MY goals. There are always going to be people, like those quoted in the NYT article, who will think that those time goals are totally lame and that I'm not a REAL runner. Well, pardon my French, but they can fuck off. The thing is, no matter how good you are at something, somebody will always be better. And VERY few people are born with such natural talent that they just start off being an amazing athlete. Everybody has to work at it. And just because some of us have to work really hard to get under 5 hours in a marathon doesne make our efforts any less valid than people who have to work really hard to get under 3 hours in a marathon. So, whatever.

Thankfull, I have encountered very few people who are so enamored with themselves that they look down on anybody else's pace or ability. And really, if you have to look down your nose at what other people are doing, doesnt that sort of take the joy out of what YOU are doing? I think it must. So tomorrow morning I'll go out and run 6 or 8 miles at a nice 11:40 pace and go home feeling good about what I just did, and then sit on my ass and watch football. Sounds like a perfect Saturday to me!

Speaking of which, I have to be pace group leader tomorrow morning because Kristi is out of town....and we're going to Ponaks tonight. I learned early on that mexican food on Friday night + Saturday morning run = bad idea, but here I go. We were invited out, and I cant turn down Ponaks! That's sacrelig. Or maybe I just like to punish myself.

I'm actually looking forward to running, I havent run since Chicago and I'm ready to get back out. Well, I did go to the gym a couple of times this week (which felt great) and one of those times I got on the treadmill after I lifted with the intention of jogging for 20 minutes. That turned into a 10 minute jog because my legs were toast. Woooo boy, were my legs tired. I dont know if it was still from the marathon, or from lifting again for the first time in a couple of months. Probably a combo of both. But, it was a good week, and I'm excited to get back to running and get back in the gym.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Go faster

I was just catching up on some blogs, and a paragraph in Liz Fefofsky's blog stuck out at me:

The best long course athletes come from short course backgrounds. Speed & technique before endurance. Why? It is much easier to make the neuromuscular changes required for good biomechanics/form when you are working on shorter distances. The more you can hold form over longer distances, the more efficient you will be, the faster you can go. Want to stay at the same slow speed? Shuffle a marathon year after year.

Hmm. Uh, yeah, that would be me, shuffling a marathon year after year. And I wonder why I'm not really getting faster. I don't mind putting in long runs. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. But I hate, HATE doing speed work. I also have convinced myself that it is a waste of money to do any races shorter than a half marathon. Sigh. For a reasonably intelligent person I can be pretty dense sometimes.

So. What am I gonna do about it? Well for one thing, I really do need to be doing some shorter races. 10Ks would be good. Also, and I know I have been saying it for-ev-er, but I need to get back to some strength training. In looking at pictures of myself at races several years ago back when I WAS doing strength training, I had much better form. Here I am at my first ever tri back in 2004.

Look, I'm actually striding out! Suffice it to say, I do not look like that in any pictures from more recent races, and I know it's because I'm weaker. Weak body = poor form = slow times.

And I know I've been saying this one for a while now too, but I really need to drop 10 lbs or so. It's not even an question any more, if I am going to get a faster marathon time, I NEED to do it. It was all so much easier when I was single and spent 2 hours a day at the gym and basically ate nothing but chicken and rice and green beans! Because here's the thing, cooking for just yourself is boring. So it was just easier to have a pretty basic, clean diet. But I do love to cook, and in the last 3 years that I've been married, I've been doing a lot of it. I try to make pretty healthy foods, but it ain't chicken and rice and green beans. I think my biggest problem is portion control, I don't exactly need to eat as much as Dan eats.

So! Here is my plan.

  • I am not going to do a spring or summer marathon next year. I wont have the time to work on speed if I have to start ramping up my mileage right away after the first of the year.

  • I will do a fall marathon, and really, I'd love to do Chicago again.

  • I will do a spring half marathon, maybe Olathe again, and PR there.

  • I will also do at least 2 5ks and 2 10ks by the end of the spring session of RE. Right now I couldnt even tell you what my PRs for those distances are, as I cant remember the last time I've run one.

  • I will sign up for the spring RE speed sessions.

  • And by God, I will lose 10 lbs!

It's fun to just have to worry about going far. But, I think it will be even more fun to go far, faster!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chuck Norris never ran the Chicago Marathon

I did not make 5 hours. It wasn’t for lack of trying, it just wasn’t in the cards. Which is kind of a bummer. But then I realize that I DID PR by 8 minutes, which is certainly nothing to be bummed about. Actually, it’s really kind of hard to be bummed about much of anything when you think “hey, I just finished a marathon!” I really hate people that get so competitive with themselves or other people that if they don’t meet a goal, they act like the whole experience was a waste of time. Because it’s never a waste of time.

So anyway, we rolled in to Chi-town Friday evening. We were staying with some friends up in Glencoe, which was really convenient and nice not having to pay for a hotel downtown. Friday night was pretty low key for me, Dan and his friend Heath on the other hand were up until 3 playing Golden Tee and doing shots of Patron. I was woken up around 5:30 by Dan sleepwalking, throwing a pillow at me and trying to find the bathroom, and he was still drunk when I got up at 8:30. I’ll cut him some slack though since Friday WAS his birthday. I’d need to drown my sorrows in Patron too if I were turning 39. Haha! Almost 40 :)

Saturday we watched the KU game and then drove downtown to packet pickup. I have never seen such a huge setup for a race expo before, it was crazy! We caught the tail end of it though, so I didn’t have to stand in line or fight any crowds, which was nice. Saturday night was another low key night, just dinner in and then early bed time for me.

The thing I had the most trouble with in getting ready for this race was deciding what to wear. It was COLD. Not chilly, as in its 50 degrees out, cold as in its 30 degrees and people are wearing winter coats. Luckily I brought a pretty wide assortment of clothing options. What I ended up going with was a short sleeve shirt, and 3 long sleeved layers on top of it. Then I wore some old pants over my running shorts, along with a head band and gloves. I had planned to wear my pants right up until I crossed the start line, but ended up taking them off before I even got into the starting corral because my top layers were keeping me warm enough.

Once I made my way into the starting corral, I positioned myself behind the 11:00 min/mile sign. I talked to a guy from Lawrence who was wearing a Turkey Trot shirt from a few years ago, as well as a whole bunch of other people standing around. We were so far back, we couldn’t even see the starting line. When the gun went off, it was like a clothes hamper had exploded. People started throwing shirts and jackets and pants everywhere! Dan was standing along the side somewhere, and a pair of pants in my size actually landed on him, so he stuffed them in his backpack for me. Ha! It took a while for us to start moving, and once we did it was lots of “walk a few steps, stop, walk a few steps, stop”. I had expected that with a race this big, so it was fine. There was so much clothing on the ground though, and NICE stuff. Adidas and Nike technical jackets, pants, etc. Looking at my results, it took me about 17 minutes to reach the start line, which really isn’t bad at all.

After I got going, it was just one huge mass of humanity. I normally really hate crowds, and it was definitely crowded, but not so bad that you had no room to move or people were constantly bumping into you. So it was actually really enjoyable. Almost right away we went through an underpass that was over a block long, so my Garmin lost reception for a couple minutes and threw off my readings for the rest of the race. Oh well.

The first several miles were all through the streets of downtown, and they were just PACKED with spectators. It was so cool, I’ve never experienced anything like it. This whole way, people were still shedding clothes left and right. After about the first mile or two, I started getting warm and decided to take off my top 2 layers. Let me tell you, the homeless people in Chicago cleaned up on Sunday. There were so many clothes being tossed aside, I guarantee they all are being put to good use.
The first few miles ticked by so fast, but I was making sure to stay on my target pace and not speed up with all of the adrenaline. It was hard to do, because it was all so exciting! Another funny thing while we were in the middle of downtown, I have never seen so many guys pulling off and taking a piss on the side of the course! Every alley we passed was lined with guys peeing on the side of buildings. Oh, to have it so easy.

I hit the 5K point in 36 minutes, which was just about right for my target pace. I was feeling great, the weather was perfect for running, there were tons of spectators, and I was trying to just soak it all in. I hit the 10K point at 1:12, which again was just about right for me. We headed north through Lincoln Park, then turned west for a couple of blocks before heading back south. Now, I love Chicago, but I don’t know too much about the specific neighborhoods though. But this was most definitely the gay neighborhood because there were tons of tranny and cross-dressing cheering sections. Ha! I loved it! You don’t get that everywhere!

I was still chugging along, feeling great. Hit 15K at 1:47 and 20K at 2:22. Right around that 20K mark Dan spotted me and yelled my name, and I managed to see him for a second as I ran by. I think I was in the middle of eating a pouch of sport beans at the moment. We turned west right before we hit the halfway point, and I about died when I heard what song was playing as I came up on it. They had some huge speakers set up right by the 13.1 mile clock, and they were playing….the Nebraska tunnel walk song! I know Nebraska isn’t the only team that uses it, but talk about motivational!

The part of the course where we headed west was probably the most boring and had the fewest spectators, but the streets were still lined with people. They just weren’t necessarily 10 deep like they were when we were downtown. Whenever we made a turn and headed back towards downtown, I kept my eye on the Sears Tower (I know it’s not technically called that anymore) to try and judge how far out we were. Right about here is when it started feeling like I had a LONG way left to go. Up until this point I had been doing really well with only walking through the aid stations long enough to drink, but I was starting to take longer walk breaks. I was still feeling OK, but my knees and hips were getting really tight.

I hit 30K at 3:40, and according to the text update that Courtney got, I was still on pace to finish in 5:10. That’s when things went downhill. And looking at the course map now, I can almost pinpoint exactly where things started getting really painful.

A few weeks ago, I had been talking with some people during a Saturday run about how marathons are so hard because they are mentally tough, and they don’t really HURT, they are just uncomfortable, but that you start thinking that it WILL hurt and that’s when things get bad. I had been telling myself the whole race that that was the case, it wasn’t going to hurt, it might be uncomfortable, but it was nothing that was going to kill me. Well let me tell you right now, that is just a lie that runners tell themselves in order to get to the starting line of another marathon. Because that shit HURTS! I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and I was hurting. Bad.

My knee was getting really painful, but almost the worst part was my groin muscles were getting really tight, which was making my whole torso hurt. My abs still hurt today. I was trying to stay positive, but I was definitely at that “IhaterunningandIamneverdoingthisfuckingshiteveragain!” point. So, the last 8 miles or so I spent a lot of time walking and being pissed at myself for thinking a marathon was a good idea. But everyone else around me was obviously in the same boat, so that did help some. I wanted to stop and lay down more than I’ve ever wanted anything, but every aid station had a “runner drop out” tent and I’ll be damned if I was going to use one of them. So, slowly and painfully I just kept going. I obviously wasn’t going to make 5 hours, but I really didn’t care.
FINALLY we turned back north and we had less than 3 miles left at that point. 3 miles really isn’t a lot, but it sure feels like it when you are at mile 23. Around mile 25 I saw something that actually did make me laugh out loud. A guy was standing on the side of the road, cigarette in one hand, the other hand holding out 2 cans of Miller High Life. Ha! I doubt that anybody took him up on it, but it was pretty funny at the time. If I hadn’t been hating life so much right about then, I might have grabbed one just for the comic factor of crossing the finish line with a can of High Life.

When I finally made it to the “1 mile left” sign, I was determined to run the rest of the way in. It was more of a limp/shuffle, but I like to tell myself that it looked better than walking. Finish lines are always sort of anti-climactic for me, but it sure did feel good to cross it! The finish chute was so long, I didn’t think I’d ever make it out of there. First they had people there to give you a foil blanket, which was good because as soon as I stopped moving I was cold. It was still about 40 degrees, afterall. Then they had people handing out medals. Then were the people to cut your chip off. Then were the tables with Gatorade, then water, then bananas. All they had were bananas! Not that I felt like eating anyway, but come on, give me something besides a freaking banana. Then they had free beer, which I DID take. Yum! Too bad that holding my beer meant I couldn’t keep my blanket around me, and it was too cold for that, so I just had to drink as much as I could and then ditch it. I wanted to sit down so bad, but they made everyone keep moving through the finish area. I swear, finally about a mile later I was out of it and was able to get to the runner reunite area to find Dan.

After I found him, one of the first things I said was “I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking, but I am not doing KC!” Ha! Um, yeah, so about that. I would still like to run KC this weekend. But my body is laughing at me saying “you dumbass, that is the stupidest idea you have ever had, there is no way you are running 2 marathons in 7 days”. I know enough to listen to my body or else I’ll just tear myself up, so I will be sitting it out. I know a lot of people running it though, so I’ll just go cheer.

So once I got some warm clothes on and sat down for a bit, we went and met up with our friends Tyler and Amy who had moved up to Chicago last year. Tyler ran it too, and finished in 4:10. We walked around a bit looking for a place to eat, and we were GOING to go to Chipotle, but for some reason that my brain cannot comprehend, the Chipotles in downtown Chicago are closed on Sundays! WTF?! Come on now, it’s not like downtown KC that it completely deserted on the weekends. But I guess they lose enough business to not make it worth it. But they could have cleaned up this weekend with all of the marathoners! What goes better after a marathon than an 1100 calorie burrito!? NOTHING! So anyway, we found some food, and then Dan and I headed up back to our friends’ house in Glencoe.

My finish time ended up being 5:36, which yes, is a little disappointing, especially considering I was pretty close to my goal pace up through the 30K point. But like I said, it’s hard to be disappointed at all when you finished the damn thing, regardless of the time. I absolutely LOVED this race, and will most definitely be running it again. I could even make this a yearly thing. So maybe I’ll be back for 2010!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I would never wish for the heat they've had for Chicago the last 2 years, but come on now. Below freezing?!?!?! People! I know it has been a mild summer, but I am not ready to run in 30 degree temps yet. Oh well, I have run in much worse. The trick will just be staying warm before the race starts. I typically warm up pretty fast, so I guess I'll just have to wear lots of layers that I dont mind tossing. Thanks to our own personal Runners Edge meterologist (aka Brett Anthony), we've got a pretty good forecast for the race:

Time Temperature Wind Precipitation
7:30am 30 degrees, mostly clear West 10-15 mph None
10:00am 36 degrees, sunny West 10-15 mph None
Noon 41 degress, sunny West 13-18 mph None
1:30pm 43 degrees, sunny West 13-18 mph None

I'm shooting for 5 hours, so factor in a good 30 minutes for me to actually make it to the starting line once the gun goes off, I should finish around 1. Lets split the difference and say it will be 42 degrees. Awesome. Dan had better bundle up. Or find a bar that's open early. I have a feeling he'll be doing the latter.