Monday, April 14, 2014

Vernonia Marathon Race Recap

This is kinda rambly and all over the place- but I wanted to type this up when it was fresh. Sorry it's a long one.

Vernonia has been on my to-do list for while. It is so beautiful but far enough away that I just never have the time to drive out there for a training run. I signed up for the marathon as soon as it opened last fall because I wanted an April marathon this year and with Eugene moving to July - that ruled that one for me. With the ages of my girls (3,6) I just find it easier training for a marathon through the winter/spring since the girls are in school during the week when I run, and I have a super supportive husband that allows me to be gone Saturday mornings.

The training cycle went really well - I followed my modified version of Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 (I did less miles during the week than the plan called for, but always made sure the week at least totaled or exceed the weekends mileage). Had a few aches here and there, but made it through without any serious body breakdowns. Many thanks to Acceleration Chiropractic for helping hold my body together.

Marathon week I caught a cold from my girls. I was nervous and took Zicam and Elderberry and Vitamin C religiously. By race morning, I was ok to run, but not 100%. I was also nervous as the weather report was calling for a gorgeous day with a high of 72. I had not yet run a single warmer training run.

You drive to Banks Middle School, pick up your bib and shirt and then a bus takes you out to Vernonia. There was a warm place to hang out prior to the race and ample bathrooms. I headed to the start line at 9:25, only to find out that they were going to be starting late to wait for the buses that hadn't made it yet. There were no bathrooms close to the start, and I began to realize I should have gone one last time. 20 some minutes later the race begins.

The race begins on the road and through Vernonia and around the lake - the first bathrooms were quickly swarmed, so I opted to wait. It was so fun getting to see the speedsters come through on the return from the lake loop. I was running at a faster clip than originally planned, but I knew it wasn't unrealistic based on my paces and training, and since it felt 'easy' I decided to keep at it. I hit the bathroom at mile 4/5 and felt a million times better. Once on the trail, I was so happy with this as my choice of marathon. It was stunning. I was greeted by a cheering section of sweet friends at mile 9 that made the drive out to support me (with kids) and I almost started to cry.
Cheering section at mile 9

Feeling good here at mile 9

From miles 9-13 its a slow steady climb- and I did start to feel it. It was getting hot. Many of the aid stations had run out of water. They only had Coke. There is a steep drop with switchbacks into the finish line for the half and I jogged it slow. Then there is a serious hill. Thankfully, my friend that gave me a ride that morning was there cheering and ran me up the hill after his fast half marathon finish. I could tell right away my legs didn't like that steep drop. 14.5 is where the wheels fell off. I realized one of my eyes had gone blurry (this is something that has happened a few times, post long runs that I thought had to do with dehydration or low blood sugar). But what was more concerning was the searing pain coming from my right IT band. The entire training cycle my IT band had not been the issue. I had this come on suddenly during the Runaway Pumpkin and was able to push through and keep running. This pain was worse. I tried to run, and the mind numbing pain stopped me. I walked and even that hurt. I went for the Tylenol I had stuck in my backpack hoping that could get me through. I stopped and did some quad and IT stretches. I tried again. No dice. Serious doubt started to come over me. Would I even be able to finish today? Would I need to call it in? How long would this take if I just walked the rest? I tried again and was able to run for a while.. this began a long cycle of walking and then trying to run for as long as I could and then walking again. It was a pain roller coaster as the pain would ease up and then get more intense. I can't tell you when, I did get to a point where I decided I will finish. I knew that my goals were out the window, but they were replaced by the ultimate goal- just to finish. This race didn't end up looking like I had planned, but I was thankful for all the (mostly) happy miles I had run until this day. So my marathon was going to be a struggle - that's so much of life and the greater lesson I wanted to share with my girls was pushing through and finishing - even when it sucks and it's hard. I thought of my dear friend Cody that endured months upon months of back pain and took strength from her, and knowing that she was lifting me up in prayer. At the end of the day, it wasn't going to matter how long this took (well, except for to my family that was waiting…) all that mattered (to me) was finishing. I know I have a better marathon time in me. But today wasn't going to be that day.

Miles 15-20 are pretty much downhill… which is awesome if you aren't in pain. When I could make myself run I was running a 10:30-10:45 pace. I was annoyed I couldn't just 'let it go' and run the way I wanted. But then I kept telling myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other. There was a woman a head of me that was my carrot - she was running and walking too (I eventually took her at mile 25.5 and beat her!!). My goal was to never entirely lose her. I saw my family around mile 15 and it gave me a happy burst - and then again at 19 when I was really struggling. My husband told me to keep going. Don't stop. So I did. I prayed so much. The night before the race, I listed out names of CDH Angels and Survivors that I would think of for each mile. To remember and honor and be inspired by these lives. I prayed for their families.

Once I hit mile 20 and the flat path, I knew I was going to finish. Worst case, I could walk 6 miles. I got to see my family 2 more times during that section and from miles 22-25 I was able to run/walk and pass some people which was motivating. Mile 25 brought me a big surprise. My runner friend Michael was there and was going to run me in. He knew based on what I said my time goal was that I must be struggling. I have to say runners are some of the most amazing folks. The support and encouragement they give to one another is pretty incredible. I don't think I would have run that entire mile if it weren't for him. He talked me in- pointing out potential road hazards along the way. I got to the school and had to do one lap around the track. I wanted to walk more than anything in this world. My knee was on fire - but I couldn't walk now - with just .3 left, I knew I must needed to dig deep and push through the pain.

For the final .2 I listed Meg. She is the mama runner that was killed a few months ago training for Boston. Her story affected me deeply. I had said before the race that I would carry her in my heart during this run - and I did. I thought of her many times when I wanted to quit. I imagined her with me telling me I could do this- I could finish. That last lap was for her. I wouldn't let up - because this was her .2.
My Garmin time is 2 min less than official due to auto pause and me stopping. 

I not only finished, I finished strong with my head held high.
My new favorite race photo ever! Thanks hubby!

My time was slower than my first, but honestly I am shocked for as much as I walked that second half that I came in only 7 minutes slower than Vancouver. There is a bathroom stop in there, and actually stopping at a couple aid stations to dump water on my head. I stopped multiple times to stretch out my quads. I am even more proud of this marathon. Because I struggled. Because I wanted to give up. Because I didn't.

It's been said marathon's are much like life - you plan and plan, but ultimately you are not in control of what happens that day. There are pieces you can control (your training, diet, sleep, etc) but the weather, what your body does that day.. so many elements are out of your control. It's how you deal with that- that tells the bigger story. If I had run my 4:48 marathon, I would be singing it from the rooftops and would feel pretty happy.. but that would fade and be replaced by the need to beat that number. I didn't make my goal - and I'm disappointed things didn't go the way I wanted, but I am so proud of myself. I finished my second marathon. This, from the girl who used to say, "I'll never run a marathon."

-Beautiful course, good amount of aid stations some with Gu, candy and other goodies.
-Awesome volunteers- communicated information very well
-Did I mention the course was spectacular?
-I liked the hoody Leslie Jordan cotton blend race shirt. It's different and not another technical tee I won't wear.

-20 min late start with no potties close to start (still wishing I had gone in the bushes).
-ran out of water at several aid stations on a hot day, only had Coke
-ran out of food by the time I finished :-(
-no medical at end, no ice.. Thankfully a sweet Banks Middle School Volunteer ran and got me some from inside the school.
-little lonely. It's a small race and I went quite a while without seeing another runner.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A belated update...

I have been a bad blogger..... I finally wrote a blog update - but this one went to Run Oregon - for my first ever Run Oregon published blog spot!!!

Just finished Silver Falls Half today... 2 weeks post Nike. The hills were not exagerated. Muddy trails - check. Puddles and creeks to hop over - check. Stairs? Check. Both directions. But quite possibly the most beautiful 13.1 I have completed. My knees were achy and angry by the end since I didn't quite do many trail runs prior to today (like maybe 2?) - but we had fun. Stopped and took photos at each and every waterfall. Walked all the water stations and several of the hills - though uphill didn't hurt me as much as downhill did. I highly recommend Silver Falls.. and any one who runs the full marathon there is a total badass topped with badass sauce....and badass sprinkles.

More later.

I'm off to ice now.....

Monday, July 8, 2013

VUM 2013 Race Report

You would have thought I would have had no problem writing this blog post.. but post marathon I just embraced the rest and extra time with my family.. oh ya, and catching up on work and Ladybug Run stuff. So here goes...and hold tight, it's a long one!

Be careful to what you will say never to. I could have sworn less than a year a go I said I would NEVER run a marathon. I just 'couldn't' do it. That distance was too big for me, and that this injury prone runner would never be able to finish.

Never underestimate yourselves...

I got to the race pretty early thanks to Stephanie Backman, who so generously agreed to pick me up so I didn't have to drive myself and then drive home since my family was coming up to cheer me on and would be able to drive me back..We were able to park 3 blocks from the start line and wandered around for a bit. I hit the port a potty, and then hung out by the fountain for a few pre race photos.

I described myself as nervously excited, and excitedly nervous. I did my pre-race dynamic stretches, ran into a few friends, and then walked over to line up at the start.

I was surprised when we opened the race in prayer. I have not seen any of the larger races do this and it just made me so happy. I was in the third wave (10min+) and within 5 minutes we were off.. my marathon was starting...

I didn't know what this race would hold.. My knee had been so weird during the taper I didn't know if I would be able to run this race pain free... but I knew, I was determined I would finish, no matter what.

I began the race with the 4:45 pace group, but after the first 3 miles and trying to hold to a 10:45ish pace, I decided that was not in the cards for me today. Not on 3 hours of sleep and full of my first marathon doubt. I slowed my pace to a 11 min mile as planned.

The first few miles take you through parts of Vancouver I had never seen before. It was very pretty - though lonely if you need a lot of cheering. You get to see the faster folks on their return which is fun (and inspiring). By mile 8 I decided I would dedicate miles to things/people which was a nice distracting game. I expected to see my family somewhere between 10-13 miles and had my friend Marianne meeting me at mile 15, so I just needed to get through the first half is what I kept telling myself.

Around mile 9 I started talking with a lady who had flown out from NY to cross Washington off her 50 states list - we ran together for about 2 miles but then she pulled ahead of me for a little bit, but then I took her at the overpass/hill coming back into Vancouver and I never saw her again.. I am thankful for the distraction she provided for a while when I was struggling a little for no reason, except for the mental part.

I was beyond happy to see my cheering/support crew at mile 15..
Don't know how I look so happy...

Marianne jumped into the race and was so happy and offered to be chatty or quiet, so I opted for chatty on her part and told her not to expect much from me. We ran through Fort Vancouver - sort of a reverse Girlfriends Half Marathon route.. I was starting to fade, now I know it was because I wasn't eating enough. And I was running a marathon. It's not easy. By Mile 18 I really wanted to see my family, but they were having a hard time navigating the streets of Vancouver.. Marianne was texting and let me know my wish was going to be granted soon. She was also the most awesome race photographer, always running ahead or behind to capture the memories.

Just past Mile 19 I saw the happiest sight.. My girls and my husband.. Rowan ran right over to me and ran a little bit with me. 
Probably one of my favorites.. ever. 

This is me going in for a hug from my hubby. Gotta love the facial expression.

Mile 20 is where Marianne tagged out and Melanie jumped in. I was struggling mentally. Miles 20-23 had some walking breaks, but I always tried to keep them to 30 seconds or under 1 minute. Honestly, these last 6 miles are sort of a blur now. I know I needed food, and didn't have anything on me. We started running with another girl who was coming off 2 weeks of rest from an IT Band injury.. She was a young mama runner and we told her to run with us.. At Mile 23 there was GU with the water and I said out loud, well I guess I will try this and hope for the best (GU and me don't get along) and she asks me if I want some of her Shot Blocks. I ask her if she is sure and I can say that those 3 blocks SAVED me. Mile 24 I picked up the pace again, and managed to run 24-26.2 strong.. we even kicked it up and managed a 9:30 pace for the last .26 to the finish line. I was able to share some Biofreeze with her to help her along, and it felt so nice supporting another mother runner to the finish. 

It was amazing to finish strong. To finish feeling pretty good, all things considered. I think I even said I would do another one, minutes after finishing. That is not something I said immediately after childbirth. I think it took a year before I didn't want to smack someone for asking when I was going to have another. It is funny to say, but it wasn't that bad. I am so happy I did it. So happy to have finished not needing to be carried across the finish. Finley and all the other CDH babies were a huge motivator. There were times when it was hard, and I just had to think about how Finley struggled and it made me push harder. I ran for her. I ran for all the babies that didn't and don't make it home. I ran because I could. I ran today for everyone that can't. I am humbled and forever appreciative of this body that not only carried 2 babies but also ran a marathon. I am thankful. I know God gave me the strength I needed. 

Another funny story- my IPOD died around mile 19. I was telling Melanie I really needed to hear Matt Redman's 10,000 reasons so she downloaded it for me and played it like 3 or 4 times. Now I can't hear this song on the radio without making me cry. I always loved that song, but now it will forever by burned into memory as the song that got me through my marathon.

I also can't say enough about how thankful and appreciative I am to my support crew; Marianne, Melanie and Stacy. The fact that they came out on Father's Day to support me, cheer me on, run with me, navigate around Vancouver - I am just so blessed with amazing friends.

On the race itself; beautiful course, excellent water station coverage, (seriously, like every mile at the end!),  there are parts where there are not a lot of people cheering a long the course, so if that is something that matters to you.. it didn't to me. I brought my posse. Post race food- nothing exciting. They did have Jamba which is always appealing to me - but otherwise it was pretty much bagels, carbs and maybe some fruit. They did have Muscle Milk chocolate milk stuff, but I am not a fan. I think this is a well organized event and would recommend it highly.

On the goals; I finished. One goal accomplished. Just a hair over 5 hours at 5:01 and some change. I am happy with that. Let's see what I can do at Vernonia in April... maybe 4:45? 

Meb Keflezighi, U.S. Oympic marathoner:
"Like the marathon, life can sometimes be difficult, challenging and present obstacles, however if you believe in your dreams and never ever give up, things will turn out for the best."

Splits (GPS Interval)
TypeDistance Split settingsDurationTotal DurationPaceAvg HRMax HRNotes
1Interval1 mi11:03.8311:03.8311:04171179
2Interval1 mi10:48.6421:52.4710:49174180
3Interval1 mi10:52.1632:44.6310:53177179
4Interval1 mi10:59.0243:43.6511:00177179
5Interval1 mi11:04.4954:48.1411:05177179
6Interval1 mi11:05.521:05:53.6611:06176179
7Interval1 mi11:07.131:17:00.7911:08176178
8Interval1 mi11:03.851:28:04.6411:04175178
9Interval1 mi11:11.491:39:16.1311:12175177
10Interval1 mi11:08.581:50:24.7111:09176178
11Interval1 mi11:13.852:01:38.5611:14176178
12Interval1 mi11:30.012:13:08.5711:31173176
13Interval1 mi11:22.142:24:30.7111:23172176
14Interval1 mi11:20.712:35:51.4211:21177182
15Interval1 mi11:19.572:47:10.9911:20178181
16Interval1 mi11:37.792:58:48.7811:38174178
17Interval1 mi11:25.343:10:14.1211:26171176
18Interval1 mi11:23.653:21:37.7711:24169173
19Interval1 mi11:57.143:33:34.9111:58170176
20Interval1 mi12:19.193:45:54.1012:20173179
21Interval1 mi11:40.353:57:34.4511:41167172
22Interval1 mi11:53.474:09:27.9211:54169173
23Interval1 mi13:04.324:22:32.2413:05164170
24Interval1 mi12:13.454:34:45.6912:14165170
25Interval1 mi11:44.664:46:30.3511:45170174
26Interval1 mi11:28.424:57:58.7711:29173176
27Interval0.23 mi2:21.335:00:20.1010:15177181

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Less than 8 weeks...

Less than 8 weeks until my first Marathon.

And I only really just started believing I can finish about 11 days ago.

Between training for the Marathon, being a mom to my 2 girls, work, the non-profit and planning Ladybug Run I am not left with a lot of time for blogging... but since this is a memory I'd like to preserve and I am always on the computer and NEVER journal anymore - this is the best I am going to do.

I have the Eugene Half marathon this weekend. I am excited to be running in the town I grew up in. My first 'race' there. Though I am not going into this weekend with any real expectations except;

2. Don't get injured.

Hmm... that looks about right. That's it. If I PR, that would be icing on the cake - and I'd even be thrilled with a 5 second PR. But my end game is the marathon in a few weeks - so this is truly just a training run at a faster pace than I am planning on running the marathon.

Even my Marathon goals are pretty realistic.

1. Finish it. Just cross the finish line.
2. Anything under 5 hours would be lovely.

The sun is shining... I tried to run today, but my knee decided it was going to be a cross training day, and I also got into my acupuncturist for a 'tune-up.'

Can't wait to post pictures from the race- I will definitely be running with my camera and enjoying this race!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Getting Back on the Wagon

Wow.. Forgive my LONG absence from the world of blogging. I think because I left this off my list of goals for 2013, I let it slide. But, I am getting back on the wagon. Let's get caught up with some random updates...

I began 2013 with a horrible cold that took me out of running for a whole week. When I came back, I began my marathon training plan. I decided I would make a plan by combining things I liked from the Train like a Mother, Hal Higdon, and a couple of others  - starting from the mileage I was already doing. The problem with this, is even with only increasing my mileage 10% each week, I wasn't backing off every fourth week. Sooo, after my 15 mile run on Feb 16th (yes, what the heck was I thinking since my marathon is not until JUNE.) I experienced some knee pain that started in the middle of the night. I googled it the next morning and was pretty sure my pes anserine was inflamed  I iced probably 5-6x right away. Took a week off, got acupuncture a few times, Chiro, and a Massage and cross trained and slowly began running again last week. I was able to run 8.5 on Saturday.. but by Monday I was still a little sore. I am having to foam roll and do dynamic stretches before each run and am doing my exercises each evening. I am nervous about Shamrock 15K next weekend. I am nervous about the Marathon already.. it suddenly seems close. I hate injuries. Or pre-injuries..

New plan is that I am going to follow Hal Higdon Novice 2 plan. I think I was being too aggressive. I just want to finish my first marathon without getting injured BEFORE actual race day. Plus I have LOTS of races after June that I want to be able to run.

Registration is open for We are busy getting everything planned to make this next years race even better than last year.. Some pretty awesome prizes are rolling in...

2013 Goals!!

  • Complete a Marathon (VancouverUSA) in under 5 hours.
  • Complete the Shamrock 15K (last year I was DNF due to knee pain)
  • Run Hood to Coast
  • Beat 2012 times for 5K, 10K and Half 
  • Complete Napa to Sonoma Half
  • Nike Women's Half in SF in October
  • Foam Roll 5-6 days a week
  • 400+ registrants for Ladybug Run 
  • Do Strength work at least 2x a week
On that note..better close so I can get my Kettlebell workout done...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

HM #6 Holiday Half Race Report

My thoughts were all over the place this morning, of my sixth half marathon. I didn't have any expectations for this race, other than I wanted to have fun and finish. If I PR'd that would be gravy, or icing, or whatever metaphor is less cheesy. I didn't even look up my times from the last half marathon to make sure I paced this right, I just sort of decided I would try to keep the first half around 10 min/miles and the second half a little faster.

Since Melissa and I wanted to drive and park instead of taking the shuttle, we left early and got to the race by 7:15. First pit stop with no lines, and then to the staging area which was inside a parking garage shielded from the drizzle and maybe 5 degrees warmer than the outside. We easily found some of our other friends and tried to keep warm. The race started pretty much on time and I was happy to start running because it was quite chilly. The first 2 miles I ran alone until I came up MaryAlicia and a friend.. Ran with them for a while and then found Steve and Michelle from a running Facebook group I belong to, and the kind souls who gave us a ride to Runaway Pumpkin. Got to spend some time with them before picking up the pace.. Then I was solo again for a few miles before I ran into another running group friend, Courtney from Run Mama, Run. We ran together for several miles. Around mile 3 I saw two women running with a sign on their back that read, "running for the 20 children who will never know the joys of running..." or something close to that. The tears filled my eyes and I choked back a sob. I think all of us have been crying or filled with sadness since we learned of the tragedy in Connecticut. As a mother to a kindergartner myself, I keep hugging her and looking at her with the knowledge that there are 40 parents with broken hearts that will never get to do that again. That is unfathomable. Since our family was introduced into this world of birth defects, I have watched too many parents have to say good bye to their precious babies too soon. I hear of usually at least one, sometimes up to six babies lost each week to CDH and that is devastating. I have way too many friends with children that either are currently battling cancer or are survivors. It is scary enough being a parent with the reality that you could lose your child to disease, illness, or an accident. But on a normal day that you sent your child to Elementary School? Maybe fought over their pokeyness getting out the door as I do with mine most mornings. They said good bye, that they loved them... and that was it. That was the last time they saw their child before someone brutally murdered them. Children. Innocents.  I don't think anyone right now can wrap their heads around how someone could hurt these innocent children and adults. I know this sets the stage for discussion about gun control, or mental illness care - which both are valid.. but right now I can't get past the sick feeling in my stomach. This tragedy has not been far from my thoughts since it happened and I am thankful for those two runners who ran today in honor of those children, and to the many other runners who are have or are planning 26 mile runs.

**I wasn't sure about keeping that part in... I am sitting here wondering if it is appropriate - but I think it is where most of us are right now.. We are trying to go about our lives - but this horrible tragedy is ever present in our thoughts. Whether you are a parent or not, I think most humans have been profoundly gut wrenched by this unspeakable act.**

So then I tried to breathe again because it was hard breathing between the cold, and the rock of grief for children and adults I have never met, but I found my groove again. I was able to chat with Courtney for a while and we kept the pace between 9:50 and 10:00 min miles. I have a whole new appreciation for the out and back. I love seeing the fast runners came back towards us. I love seeing my speedy friends run past. I love being able to cheer for my friends. Around mile 8 Courtney and I parted. I started slowing down around mile 9.. I looked at my watch and was annoyed to see that what felt like the same pace was 15 seconds slower - so I had to begin the internal conversation. By mile 10, that evil voice in me started telling me it was ok to walk, I wasn't planning a PR today  - why did I need to push? But then competitive Liz said, Your knee isn't hurting today- you should be running faster - GO! It took everything in me to keep it between 9:50-10:00 and then once I hit mile 12 I was running on fumes. There was a lot of positive self talk that transpired to get me to that finish line. I finished at 2:10:59. A one min PR and I was able to run the entire race without any knee or hamstring pain. This was a hard run for the last 3-4 miles and I'm not sure if it is was the weather, or fueling issues, or xyz.. (there is always something)... but what I am learning is that it is the finishing these hard ones that gives me the 'fuel' for the next time. I am able to recall pushing through something more difficult as motivation to keep going.

So all in all a great event! There was warm (but burnt) soup awaiting us as we entered the garage. Eggnog, Beer, and several vendors sampling their products. A cover band playing top 40 hits. I even got 2 prizes - a Nuun water bottle for being in a costume, and a pair of socks for answering a trivia question about Foot Traffic correctly. The Oregon Lottery had a fun booth set up for photos... Other than the weather, which they had no control over, I have no complaints about this event. I had so much fun!

So now I take a two week Chiropractor prescribed break. The acupuncture treatments are really improving my high hamstring  tendinopathy (I finally figured out the name for my injury!)  but I need to make sure my body is even stronger and healed before embarking on training for that 26.2. I'm going to take the next 2 weeks easy and just enjoy precious moments with my beautiful children and my wonderful husband and just be grateful for each moment, each day we have together.

Merry Christmas!

With the deranged Easter Bunny...