Monday, June 27, 2011

I need a new goal

I could run along this beach.  That would be alright.
I think I have the post-marathon blues.

I'm trying to talk the husband into a destination marathon (Big Sur? London? Paris?) and while he's interested in the travel aspect, I think he thinks I'm a little bit crazy for wanting to throw a really long run into the middle of what could be just a nice vacation.

He has a point.  Do I really want to run 26.2 and then wander around, on foot, sight-seeing for several days??  Maybe not.

Actually, my ideal vacation is to spend a week or so being sloth-like on a beach while food and drink are brought to me at regular intervals.  I like to throw in a beachfront massage from time to time as well.  I usually manage to hit the fitness center a couple mornings or run along the beach depending on the geography.  That helps combat the vacation weight gain AND helps me feel like I'm not a complete loser for doing absolutely nothing for an entire week.

So really, all I need to do is find a race in a tropical setting.  Start the week with the marathon, and then once I complete it, vacation per usual can commence.  Maybe we'll extend the vacation to 10 days so we don't lose any precious beach time.

Ooooo, me likey.

Anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

virtual pr

I ran my first ever virtual 5k today, and isn't it just my luck that I got a PR??  Adam at hosted the race. His blog is definitely worth following.

The weather was awesome, 60's, cloudy, had the slightest bit of rain sprinkling on me as I ran... it just felt really great to be out there today!

I had Garmin Electra on solely for documentation purposes.  I decided I was just going to run at whatever pace felt good and not care if I had 12 minute miles.  Remember folks, I'm still in marathon recovery mode.

Color me surprised when I was done and looked at my results! As far as I know, I've never run a sub-30 5k before.  I had a pretty sweet run - negative splits even!  Not sure where it all came from since I'm usually so frickin' slow, but I'll take it.  Yeah, I realize my "fast" is other runners' horrifyingly slow pace.  I can live with that!

Who'da thunk?
Here are my splits:

Avg Pace

Anywhoo, it was a fun way to do a run.  Virtual cowbell, virtual spectators, I even raised my arms in victory and cheered as I crossed the virtual finish line.  I guess that makes me an actual dork in a virtual race, or maybe just a runner prone to hallucinations.

Whichever, I can live with that, too!

grandma's recap, the final installment

My favorite is the teriyaki flavored kind.
So what was the first thing I did immediately post-race?

I high-fived the Jack Links Sasquatch.

You know, Bigfoot. Yeti. Wildman. Hairyman.

Or whatever you like to call him.

The one thing I remember about him is that he had reallllyyyy long fingernails.

Some seriously weird shit happens in marathons.

Got my medal and my t-shirt (which is snug as hell, by the way... apparently, they ran small.  I should have listened to the shirt lady and ordered a large. Dammit.)

Had the photo op with Lisa 30k, we said our goodbyes and then I was off in search of food, AJ and the husband.

See AJ over my right shoulder?  I looked for her for about
5 minutes after this picture was taken.  Doh!
At this point I realized how F-ING cold it was.  And windy. Where the hell were the damn metallic blankies???  I wanted one.  NOW.  Turns out, they ran out of them.  Seriously??? After seeing numerous banners along the course saying we were all at risk of hypothermia??  Not cool.  I overheard another runner say there were blankets in the massage tent so I went there and got one.  Ahhhhh, it was warm!!

Still no AJ.  Did I mention she kicked my ass?  Beat me by over a minute.  I still love her though.

Then I heard the husband call my name.  He and SS had tracked me down!!  Hugs and kisses all around, and a couple of pictures, took one more turn around the finish area to look for AJ, then went back to the husband and SS and AJ was there.

Best post-race burger and beer EVER.
We chatted for a little while longer and then parted ways - AJ and I on a quest to find the free beer (which we quickly lost interest in) and the bus back to our hotel; and the husband and SS hitting the road for the long drive home.

It was on our way to the busses that we saw Misty on her way to finishing her first marathon.  She is so inspiring!!

Back at the hotel, we showered and then went downstairs to the hotel restaurant for the best cheeseburger in all the land.

Soooo yummy!!!

Then back to our room where we both fell asleep and didn't wake up until 8:10.  That wouldn't have been a problem except that we were supposed to meet a bunch of folks from at 8:00.  Whoops!!  Quick splash of water to the face and off I went, medal around my neck, ready to meet new friends, including Bobbi, who has a hilarious blog, and is super fun to hang with!
AJ captured the momentous moment.

Sunday morning, we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel, hit Dunn Bros. for some coffee then headed back home.

But not until after I put a sticker on my car.

Normally, I don't do bumper stickers, but I thought I would make an exception, just this once.
Extreme close up. 

What a great experience - from start to finish - and I don't mean just the marathon.  All of it: the training, the day to day slogging, the anxiety, the aches and pains, the support, the challenge, the race itself...... I'm sad I can't have that "first marathon" experience again.

But...... the husband has expressed an interest in running a marathon..... so I might be able to live vicariously through him as he makes that journey!

It will also give me a chance to support him the way he supported me.

A little treat for sippin'.  The husband is so sweet!

Speaking of the husband and his support - you know of my love of tequila, right?  And my failed search for 1942 in Duluth - you remember that too? Well, the husband had a little treat waiting for me when I got home.  He even embellished the box to reflect my accomplishment.

He's the best!!

One last note:
You also know of my love of Oreo Cookies, right?  No??  Well, I love Oreos.  LOVE them.  In an almost unhealthy way.  I gave them up during training because I couldn't be trusted to have them in the house and not eat several (or an entire package) at a time.  I sometimes have portion control issues.  Anywhoo..... well, it turns out there was a huge post-race Oreo station with every kind of Oreo in creation AND I MISSED IT.  <insert effenheimer outburst here>

Next year, Oreo, you are mine.  Next year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

grandma's recap ad nauseum, part 2

Sorry it's taken so long to get this thing going again.  Dang work gets in the way of blogging.

Anywhoo - back to my Grandma's saga..... where was I again?

Oh yeah - Race Day!!

By the way, this is an INCREDIBLY LONG POST.  Sorry!!

We woke up to rain.  POURING rain.

I had brought throw-away clothes just in case the weather sucked.  I brought clothes for sunny weather. I brought clothes for cold weather.  Remember when I said I had my selections narrowed down?  That was sort of true. I just had lots of selections.

In the end, I decided on my capris, a blue tank, my thriller jacket, and a hat.  I decided against the iFitness belt (big mistake) because the jacket has so many pockets.  I gave AJ my throwaway top to wear.  And we topped off our ensembles with heavy duty garbage bags.  I was SO glad I brought them along!

A quick breakfast in the hotel lobby - oatmeal (instant - blech, and I added too much water - double blech) and a banana..... I also bought coffee but forgot to grab it before we headed out the door to catch the bus.  5 blocks away.  In the rain.  Whahhh.

The bus was packed - AJ and I got the last two seats! Then the long ride to the start.....

The rain pretty much stopped by the time we made it to the start and really, the weather ended up being just about perfect for running.  We had a nice tailwind that ever so gently pushed us along, it was cloudy and stayed in the 50's.  Well, not entirely cloudy.  There was watery sun, not a lot, but enough to sunburn this fair-haired lass.  Not too bad, though!

In all honesty, the run is kind of a blur.  The miles just flowed and I totally enjoyed myself.
One of several pre-race photos where
my eyes are shut. It's my only talent.
So here is what I DO remember:

Running into Lisa from my 30k race - we met while running with the same pace group.  I saw her before the race and then periodically throughout the race. More about this later.

Lots of pre-race posing with AJ for the photographers.  My eyes are shut in EVERY one of them.

Miles 1-8

Around mile 2 or so I was in a pack of women and there were a couple of older women spectators - "Great job, girls!  You're looking good but you have a lonnnngggg way to go - lots of miles ahead of you!"  We all got a good laugh about that.  As my family members would say, "Are ya German?" (In addition to my Irish blood, I have A LOT of German blood coursing through my veins - so I know of whence I speak - we can be a negative lot.)  In their defense, maybe they heard that runners don't want to hear things like, "you're almost there!" when they really aren't, so they were trying to be supportive and realistic at the same time.  Or maybe they just like to be buzzkills.

Saw Lisa 30k around mile 3 and chatted with her a bit.  This was also about the same time I met Cara/Kara who recognized my thriller jacket. That was so fun!

With AJ around mile 8
The run was going smoothly, the day warmed up and about mile 4 or 5 I needed to tie the jacket around my waist, but because I had loaded the pockets with so much crap (HammerGel, ShotBloks, hotel room key, chapstick, TP, etc. etc. etc. - why oh why didn't I wear my iFitness belt??) in addition to tying it around my waist, I had to zip it partway up while it was around my waist to keep it from smacking me as I ran.  Another fashionable look.  I wore it like that aaallllllll the way to Duluth.  I'm certain the other runners WISHED they could look as cool and stylish as me.  I know it, I saw the all envious glances.

Huge surprise around mile 8 when the husband and SS showed up!!  I wasn't expecting to see them until I hit Duluth so that was an awesome treat!!  The husband managed to catch me at seven different points along the race.  He is the bomb!!!

Miles 9-17

Saw Lisa 30k again and chatted some more. Somewhere around mile 11 I left AJ at the porta-potty and kept up with my slow progress towards Duluth.  We figured she'd catch up with me pretty quickly.  But it was not to be - we wouldn't see each other again until the end of the race.  At mile 13 it was my turn to hit the porta-potty.  Because this was the starting point for the half marathon, there were about 100 porta-potties there - no lines!

*TMI WARNING - it gets a little messy here*
Enjoying an orange slice at mile 19 or 20. I walked
EVERY water stop from start to finish.  Lisa 30k is
next to me.
OhhhEmmmGEEEEE.  Despite having been consumed about an hour apart, the two packets of HammerGel must have hit my intestines at the same time.  Until I was in the PP I had NO IDEA there was a fight going on.  I mean,  I knew I needed to go, but holy moly.  This was bad.  I was stuck in the PP for about 8 (yes, EIGHT) minutes..... asking my body, "Are we done yet???  Can I hit the road now????"  Seriously - I was saying these things out loud.  I put Garmin Electra on hold while the revolt ran it's course <so to speak>.  I was not a happy camper.  FINALLY finished up and was able to get back on the road.  Thank goodness the bowels didn't have issues again for the rest of the race.  Whew!

Saw the husband and SS around mile 16 and SS says to me, "Where have you been?? AJ is WAAYYYY ahead of you!" The husband (no doubt seeing the panic in my eyes) said, "No, she's just a little ways ahead of the 5:00 pace group."  Off I went in pursuit of the pace group - and they were nowhere to be seen.  I finally got them around mile 17.

Miles 18-26.2

Caught up to Lisa 30k around mile 19 - we chatted again and she asked if I wanted to finish the race with her. I said sure, but that I was in hot pursuit of AJ and wanted to stay ahead of the 5 hour pace group.  She was IN! and we kept going.
My brother, mom & son.  My dad was close but
didn't make the photo.  ((((HUGS!!))))) 
A few spectator notes -

There was a house with about 50 troll dolls lined up along the curb in order of height. Remember troll dolls? Yeah, that was kind of weird. Super funny too!

Drunken college students offering beer, encouragement and free high fives.

I high-fived every little kid with their hand out. You just can't leave a little kid hangin'!

Here's a crazy thing - none of the hills registered with me.  Didn't notice 'em. Not at all.  All my hill training worked!  Even the famed lemon drop hill was a non-issue.  That was awesome!

Saw the husband again at mile 23 - he ran up to me, gave me a kiss and said, 'Your folks and your brother are right around the corner - I'm so proud of you!"  We rounded the corner and went up that last little hill and there they were - yelling for me and clapping.  What a wonderful sight!  My only regret of the race is that I didn't stop to hug them all.  I thought I'd see them at the finish but that didn't happen.  So I feel like I missed a great opportunity.

Getting close to the finish!
Lisa 30k and I kept going and at this point were saying things to each other like, "We're going to do this!!  Can you believe we're actually going to do this??  We're going to finish this thing!!"

More spectator notes - 

There were a few women of a certain age doing Zumba in a parking lot. That took guts. We cheered for them.

Belly dancers greeted us around mile 24 or so.  

There was also a huge piece of rhubarb walking around.  No shit.  I saw pictures of it so I know I wasn't hallucinating.

We started the winding path towards the finish line.  This was the only time we had to run into a headwind.  At the end of a marathon.  Man that was tough! I was really glad I knew the course was so winding at the end, it could have been a real head-messer if I wasn't prepared.

On to the finish chute!  We decided to just go for it.
Heel striking my way to the finish.
Getting closer.....

We were laughing and had HUGE smiles on our faces as we went faster and faster towards the finish.  I'm amazed I had as much left in me as I did.  We raced to the finish and raised our hands and cheered as we crossed the finish line.

Still closer......
Wowing the spectators with my wingspan
as I cross the finish line!!

It was without a doubt one of the most amazing and fun experiences I've ever had!

Ok, two regrets.  Why didn't I take off my
stupid jacket before getting my picture
taken?  Argh!!!  
I think I may have freaked poor Lisa 30k out a little bit. I was SOOOO excited to have finished!! She was ready to give me a high five after we crossed the finish line. A high five?? Hell no - this was hug worthy!!  So I gave her a huge hug and we got our medals and our flowers then I said, "Let's get our picture taken!!"  And she just looked at me kind of surprised-like and said, "ok."  So we got our picture taken together.  I hope she was able to go back and get another one by herself.  I feel bad that I made her take it with me since we really didn't know each other.  But damn, I was so excited!  And it sort of felt like we had just done battle side by side and won.  What can I say? I was feelin' the connection!

She was a good sport.

If you are still reading, let me say again, I'm sorry this is so long!
Let me also say, thanks for reading.  It was such a great day and it's really fun to relive it as I write.

I'll do a third post for the post-race festivities.  If you'd rather I just send you some sharp sticks to poke into your eyes to reduce the misery, drop me a line and I'll get right on that.  

One last note: I ran the first 13.1 miles in 2:32:26 and the second 13.1 miles in 2:24:01.  That means I was about 8 minutes faster in the second half!  I like that!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

grandma's recap ad nauseum, part 1

A little bling for the town
Ok, here goes!  I'm going to break this into a couple of posts because I just know you want ALL the details of my FIRST EVER marathon week-end.  Self-indulgent? Moi??  Yeah, ok, I know. Allow me to apologize in advance.

Picked AJ up at her hotel in St. Paul and we started the trek to Duluth.  Since we had both been hydrating so well we had to make a few stops along the way.  It's only a couple of hours in the car but holy crap, we were like toddlers in the midst of potty training we had to stop so many times.

The traffic became really nasty as we got closer to Duluth - soooo glad we hit the road as early as we did.

Such dorks.  We couldn't pass up this photo-op at the Expo.
Nothing says "marathon" like a stagecoach.
The expo was something of a clusterf--k,  although we did get a parking spot right outside the door to the DECC - front row, baby!  We grabbed our packets right away and then wandered around for a bit.  We both got a Grandma's Marathon tumbler and shot glass for future use; I stopped by the Injinji booth and got two pair of striped toe socks.  Cute!  The crowds were getting thicker by the minute and things started feeling a little claustrophobic; we were both getting hungry and crabby so we headed to our hotel.  Once we got all checked in we began obsessing about the weather and what we should wear. When AJ left Washington, the weather was predicted to be sunny and in the 70's so she only had short sleeve shirts and shorts with her. The latest weather report was predicting rain and highs in the 40's.  Oh, and maybe some thunderstorms thrown in for good measure, just to make it a little more interesting!
Mommy Juice

AJ decided she needed a long sleeve shirt for the race and I wanted to get some special sauce (read: Don Julio 1942 Tequila) for a little post-race tasty treat.  So we googled "liquor store" and "running store" and found options within walking distance AND close to where we were going to have dinner.  Winners!

The euphoria was short-lived, however.  No 1942 to be found at any of the liquor stores, so we had to settle for Anejo (yes, still tasty, but not "like buttah") and no long sleeve shirts at all at the running store - they were all at the race expo. WTF?? Why wouldn't they keep at least SOME of the inventory in-store?? Anywhoo.... Not winners.

Carb whore heaven!  The nearly empty plate held proscuitto
and gorgonzola crostini with fig jam.  Unbelievably tasty!
By this point we were both starving.  We had reservations for 7:00 at Va Bene Cafe but we were so hungry we changed them to 5:30 and then just ended up walking to the restaurant at 5:00 and getting seated.  I was ready to chew my arm off - I needed FOOD!  Side note: While I've heard the Michelina's pasta feed (which is held in the convention center) is supposed to be good, just the term "pasta feed" is enough to turn me off.  Not happening. AJ and I just couldn't do it.  Va Bene Cafe was a superb choice.  The restaurant is super cute, overlooks Lake Superior and the food is amazing.  Food wasn't served on paper plates and we weren't eating in what looked like a hockey arena. Winners again!

Dinner dilemma: AJ (who was about to toe the line of her 9th marathon) was going to have wine with dinner. I was on the fence. Should I drink wine the night before my first marathon??  Would it undo all my training efforts and ruin my marathon experience?  Would I be jeopardizing my goal of being able to finish the race??

The Mattel version of Google
Remember - this was my FIRST marathon so I get a little leeway for being drama-queenesque here.  Plus, I'd pretty much given up the booze during training - made me kinda nervous to re-introduce ETOH back into the ecosystem at this crucial time.

But I also really like wine.

Oh, the inner struggle.

So I again went to the google and asked, "Drinking wine before marathon bad?" (Sometimes I treat Google like a Magic 8 Ball - I've found they have similar reliability results.) And up popped the little factoid that "Olympian Deena Kastor enjoys a glass of red the night before big races--including her bronze-medal run in Athens." What's good enough for Deena is good enough for me!  And since it's on the internet I know it's true.  The glass of Jam Jar red was a wonderful accompaniment to my angel hair pasta and crostini.  I have no regrets.
Super cute poster in the Fitger's building.

Fully stuffed - no room for dessert even, which for me is unheard of - we headed back to the hotel.  Early to bed with alarms set for 4:45.  Maybe it was the wine but we were both pretty relaxed and slept like babies all night.

Ok, I guess I slept a little better than AJ. Apparently I snored a bit a fair amount a lot.

Oops.  Sorry AJ.

Next post:  RACE DAY!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

one for the books

Ahh, bling!!
11:19 minute/mile pace
Just squeaked in under 5 hours.

What a fun day!!

This is just a partial recap of the day.  I'll write more later (most likely past the point of ad nauseum so consider yourselves warned).

The marathon experience was AWESOME!!  With the exception of Garmin Electra failing me ONCE AGAIN, and an exceptionally loooonnnngggg potty stop at mile 13 (damn HammerGels!), the day went unbelievably well.

Some quick shout outs -

To AJ - thanks for making my first marathon experience so damn much fun!  Sorry I snored so loud.  I promise I'll get a CPAP or something for the next time we share a hotel room.  

4:45 am Ready for the rain and 45 degree weather
with garbage bags and throw-away gloves. Jazz hands!
Oh, and I've given up trying to find pictures where my
eyes are completely open. It's just not in the cards.
To Cara (Kara??) who recognized my Thriller of a jacket and said hi.  You made me feel like a celebrity! :)  I hope you had a great race!!!  Let me know how it went!

To Misty - it was awesome to see you!!  You were looking strong heading for the finish!  Thanks for the hug!!

To my folks and my brother who drove up to Duluth to see me run by them at mile 23.5 - I love you all SO MUCH!!  Thank you for braving the cold and being there to cheer me on!

To SS - it was wonderful to see you at all those different spots along the race!

And to the husband - you never cease to amaze.  Thank you for dragging SS along for the ride, providing support and encouragement and taking all those pictures.  I don't know what I did to deserve you but I sure am happy it worked out so well in my favor! 

The pacing recap
That beyoch Garmin Electra decided she'd had enough of this marathon crap after 17 miles so she took a nap.  I didn't notice for a few miles - I thought I was looking at my pace then finally realized it was the time of day.  After much cursing and calling her names, I got her set up to pace my miles again.  Frickin' diva.

Here are the first 17 miles:

Avg Pace

I think mile 8 was when AJ and I got in line for the porta-potties but decided it was taking too long so we'd try later.  Oh, and I eventually put GE on hold during my long potty stop at mile 13.  There are some things that don't need to be recorded. Even I have (some) limits.

And here are the last 5:
Avg Pace

The last 0.21 miles includes my quest for food after crossing the finish line - in the excitement of finishing, I forgot to shut 'er off. Even so, didja notice that the overall pace of the last 5 is faster than the first 17? How crazy is that?!?!?

I still can't believe I ran a marathon.  Who knew it was possible??

I'll provide even more detail later.  Lots to talk about - other runners, spectators, the weather... you'll get to hear it all!!