This is pretty much the story of my life these days. Between my mother getting upset with me running half-marathons and marathons, (angrily, she says, “Just stick to the 13.1 ones!”) and friends and family not quite understanding why any human being would put themselves through such torture and punishment for a “stupid medal”. Or, “I can’t even run half a block, and you’re running, what? 26 point, what?” Whatever your goals in life are, don’t let anyone steal away your desire to complete them, for no goal is too big or impossible to aim for. If it makes you happy, and God knows I love the way running makes me feel, then do it. Don’t run with just your legs, run with your heart.
A week late, I know. And it’s a long post, so sorry!
Funny to think that exactly a week ago the weather was pleasant and in the low 60’s and today it is in the 30’s. Surely we were blessed with good running weather 🙂
Trained for this marathon for 16+ weeks and this is my celebratory run. 26.2 miles in my city, in my home, in my backyard.
Saturday, my friend Allison and I went to the Philadelphia Marathon Expo down at the convention center, quickly grabbed my bib, walked around and didn’t buy a darn thing, mainly because no one had Honey Stingers…
Had reservations for Maggiano’s on 12th and Filbert and carboed until I couldn’t eat anymore. They have the best bread and I seriously could have eaten like 5 loaves!
That night, I was so anxious that I couldn’t sleep. Set every single alarm on: 3:00, 3:15, 3:30…but I was up by 11:00 PM after having gone to sleep less than three hours prior. It wasn’t merely a standard pre-race anxiety, it was my first marathon and my mind wanted to race too.
Drove to the train station where the airport line runs since the first train runs at 4 AM. Seems everyone else did the same too.
Arrived at the Ben Franklin Parkway around 5:30 AM and good thing I brought my coat because it was really windy and cold at the start. Port-o-potty lines were long, and we waited in line approximately 45 minutes!
Attempted to chow down on a toasted bagel with peanut butter and a banana but I was still feeling anxious. I did the best I could.
Gun went off at 7:00 AM (first race that has ever started right on time!) and I crossed the start line at 7:32. With the Philadelphia Museum of Art behind us, we started to run down the Parkway, east on Arch through Chinatown, down towards Penn’s Landing to South Philly, back a bit north to running west through South Street where I saw some friends, through Chestnut Street and onto University City/West Philly towards the Drexel campus. That was Hill #1. I didn’t train on hills (huge mistake) but I ran it up until we reached 30th Street Station. The views were spectacular! While I ran with my iPhone, I tried not to take pics, after all, I live here anyway.
At times I forgot where I was…I kept worrying about keeping pace, hindering my ability to fully enjoy the experience. Looking at my watch, the numbers written on my arm, keeping close eye on the Clif pacer, and so on…that made me so sad.
Ran past the oldest zoo in America, the Philadelphia Zoo and back towards (MLK Drive) West River Drive and towards Eakins Oval, where the half marathoners would steer right to the finish line and marathon runners would run left for another 13.1 miles. At the half mark I saw my sister, she hugged me and handed me some pretzels and I was on my way. I was already 30 minutes past half marathon goal but I wasn’t worried. I ran my first half conservatively, saving all my energy for the latter half.
The next miles would have you running on Kelly Drive, with the Schuylkill River on your left and the torture of watching the runners in their last trek on the right. It’s an out-and-back course and that’s what I dislike about it, honestly. You’re on mile 17 and they’re on 24 running right beside you, just going opposite directions. That was quite a mental battle for me.
Mile 18 was rather strange…right before the 30K mark, you veer off to your left to run through the Falls Bridge (which is gorgeous, btw!) then make a u-turn and run right back. Saw my co-worker who’s a badass runner, she’s an elite runner, who was out cheering with her infant son. She gave me some words of wisdom and it was very nice to see someone during the latter half of the course. Got my second wind and off towards Manayunk.
Dear Manayunk, I spent most of my twenties partying on Main Street and I never realized how hilly those roads are. We didn’t run through the actual hills of Manayunk, oh dear God, no. But anyway, Main Street is far from flat. Run down Main until the bridge (where it ends and there’s a road that puts you on I-76) and that’s mile 20. Make another U-turn and back towards Center City.
Mile 21 and we’re in front of the movie theater right by Ridge Avenue and I’m starting to cramp up, badly. I’d already lost sight of the pacers…they were a mile ahead! Grabbed some water at 21.5, ran/walked a bit more and by mile 22, I was walking. Stopped on the side of the road and stretched but the ball of my right foot felt like it was on fire and my left ankle was hurting. I was getting so many text messages from my running friends encouraging me to keep going.
I thought to myself, “What would make me feel worse tomorrow? Stop at Mile 22 and call it a DNF, or walk the remaining 4 miles and earn what I deserve?”
I chose the latter.
I limped my way to the finish line. Saw my sister at the 25.5 mile and she got on the course and walked with me until mile 26. The Philadelphia Police Officers were cheering on, encouraging me to sprint the last 0.2 to the finish line. Funny thing is that you literally can not see the finish line until you’re at 26.1 and I forgot about the pain and ran until the end, high-fiving Mayor Michael Nutter, crossing so far off my goal time. And I started to cry when I got my space blanket and my medal. I was relieved, delighted but I was angry. I didn’t feel accomplished. So many people had left and I felt like the last person there.
I had support from everyone, except my Mom, and it took her a week exactly to explain her behavior. She never, not once, asked me how I felt, if I needed anything, nothing. She wanted no part in this. She even went out of town to Virginia for the weekend so she’d have an excuse not to go. Anyway, last night she said to me that I should reconsider running marathons. Angry with me that I have all these races scheduled for next year. Her response, “I’m afraid something is going to happen to you.” While I can understand as a parent, I simply told her to just support me. You may not understand why I run, just be there as a parent, when I need you.
Here’s a few pics:
Looking half dead after the marathon:
Front of the medal:
Back of the medal:
I ended up going to the sports doctor and getting my left foot examined. Thankfully, it isn’t a stress fracture but possibly peroneal tendonitis. Only cardio allowed is swimming for at least 2-3 weeks. Can’t wait to get back into running. I’ve got a half in 8 weeks!
These past two weeks have been insanely busy juggling work and life, and while I have missed some of the weekly training runs, I had to accommodate my schedule to fit in the long runs.
I truly dislike knowing the fact that while I tried my best to follow a training program as perfectly and as strictly as I could, it just hasn’t been possible. I leave for work at 6 AM and return home after 8:30 PM and most of my runs have been on the treadmill (with the exception of long runs, which were outside, thank goodness!) I hope that it is enough to carry me through and help me to finish strong.
My last long run was last Saturday, a 20-miler that went well until I “hit the wall” at mile 14. My sister surprisingly showed up at the park carrying bananas, pretzels, water and Gatorade, and I caught my second wind, finishing in just under 4 hours.
Here we are, 18 days before the marathon. I’ve got a 14-16 mile training run this week, then tapering begins. I’m so nervous and keep having dreams about everything that could possibly go wrong – it’s simply a fear of the unknown, although deep down I know I’m trusting my training. I’m debating running without my Garmin, too.
Any marathoners have any advice/tips for a new marathon runner?
My long run was supposed to be on Sunday, but I was so tired from working 12.5 hours on Saturday that I decided to skip it. I decided to do some kettle bell exercises, which may have been a bad idea…
Ate a sandwich for breakfast and some coffee and headed to my new favorite place to go running. Each loop is 4 miles, which is great in case I need to get to my car. Sadly, I’m injury-prone.
Took an organic honey stinger, grabbed my Nathan handheld water bottle and headed out on my 16-mile run.
First 4 miles went great! The weather was cool (low 60’s) and very little humidity. Average pace 9:50/mile.
Back at my car after the first loop, stretched my legs, grabbed some Nuun and was back on my way.
Felt my pace slow down considerably. My legs were feeling heavy. Average pace 10:50/mile – so much for negative splits!!!
Mile 8, and half way done. Bathroom stop, fuel, go. On my third loop for miles 8-12 and kept my pace. May have seen a certain someone drive by, although I’m unsure because I refused to look, someone that I used to know…made sure I ran fast and looked good. 🙂 Average pace for that one mile: 8:25, for the whole loop, 11:04. I’m slowing down again.
Miles 12-16: the kettle bell exercises may have done me no good – my hamstrings hurt so bad!!! Mile 14: I could not deal with the pain, so I walked most of 14. I decided to start running again since once you start walking your body just feels worse. I made it to 16!
Back at my car, I downed some water and stretched for a bit, then drove to get my chocolate milk at the Wawa.
Once home, took a shower (I don’t have a tub, so I can’t take ice baths), then put on my compression socks, ordered dinner and watched movies on FiOS all night. Today I’m at work, limping but otherwise good.
16 is the longest run I’ve ever done. Once I ran 14, it was all mental. I started to walk a bit at mile 15 and a guy got up from his picnic table and encouraged me to run for 0.25 mile. Funny thing is, he’s a fellow RN! Very cool.
Plan for this week:
Monday: 16 miles – done.
Tuesday – rest.
Wednesday – 4 mile easy run ( indoors because I’m working).
Thursday – upper body/core workouts.
Friday – 8 mile run.
Saturday – Yoga
Sunday – 12 mile run.
It’s do hard fitting in runs/workouts with my schedule but I’m determined to do it.
Sunday afternoon, I headed out for what was supposed to be a 15-mile long training run. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect – 65 degrees with a 40% humidity and sunny. I set out to not do what I did during my last half marathon – I was dehydrated and well under-prepared for my last race and paid for it dearly (update to come). Stopped by my closest REI and stocked up on fuel. Since the GU gels made me sick twice before, I decided not to use them. That was until I saw the salted caramel GU and since it is the hype around the running world, guess what I did? I picked it up! Stubborn, hard-headed child I am…
Drove to a park, not too far, which offered some pretty stellar views – Philadelphia skyline, running around the river watching people rowing and sailing, all in all, a beautiful, perfect setting. Each loop around was approximately 3.85 miles, which was great because if I needed to get back to my car for whatever reason, it would be within reach.
Warmed up with a speed walk for about 5 minutes, then started to run. I’m following a Jeff Galloway/Hal Higdon marathon training plan hybrid (customized to work for me and accommodate my races in it) and using my Gymboss, I started running 4:1 intervals. The Galloway program suggests running your long runs at 1-2 minutes slower than marathon pace and running at 11:15 mm was still too fast. I always set out to run fast at the start, completely ignoring what I preach regarding negative splits: First mile: 9:07; Second, 10:15; Third, 10:45 and so on.
I ran in my gorgeous peacock bordeaux sparkle skirt and received multiple compliments and thumbs up from none other than guys!
Mile 7 and I was slowing down a lot! Didn’t help that I got lost and started to panic a little. Got back on the loop and stopped by my car every time I made one whole loop. Stopped for nuun, for water, for fuel. Every time that I stopped, it made my legs hurt more. I took longer breaks than I wanted to, and it just made things worse. I wish that I would have continued with the 4 to 1 run/walk intervals as planned. Once you start with the walk breaks, it makes it harder to get back into running, at least that’s what happens to me.
I ran 13 out of 15 miles this Sunday. It ended up being a total of 14.2 miles. While walking back to my car, head down in disappointment, I noticed a church group sitting in the middle of the park, facing the water, and it seemed they were having their service. As I got closer, I saw a gentleman get up from the back row, reach into a cooler and hand me a bottle of water. It was such a nice gesture and one that I’m deeply thankful for.
I’m still trying to figure out what I did wrong. Both Friday and Saturday I carb loaded well, made sure to hydrate well, I’m not really sure what happened. Maybe it’s just a fluke, maybe it’s just one of those days when you just have a bad run. I can’t let this get me down, I have to continue with my training and not give up so easily.
I have a 16 mile run this Sunday. The whole point of these long runs is that you get to experiment with different things and get to learn what your body likes and what it doesn’t like so when race day comes you’re not trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
My legs were in so much pain Sunday night, that I was pretty sure, almost 90% sure that I was going to call out of work on Monday. Monday morning I woke up fine, my legs were hurting a little bit but not too much. What was hurting me the most were my back and my neck, which leads me to believe that I actually don’t have good running form. I spoke with one of my coworkers yesterday who ran Boston twice, or maybe more than twice, and she said that maybe I should try transitioning into minimal shoes as they can help with your posture. She said to slowly transition, running maybe 1 mile at a time until I get accustomed.
I’ll let you know how I make out 🙂
Love and pixie dust,
First of all, my apologies for this very late post. I got back from California very late on Tuesday, rested a bit on Wednesday and was back to work Thursday and the entire weekend. I was drained!
Saturday night, my running friends and I gathered at Naples Restaurant in Downtown Disney for our carb-loading pre-race dinner. Dinner was nothing special to be honest, but having dinner with everyone who shares the same passion for Disney and running is just priceless.
I got back to the hotel and rested, watched a little TV and set every single alarm clock there was in that room, as I’m always afraid I’ll sleep right through. Needless to say, despite setting up alarms, I woke up almost every hour. I hate when I do that!
Met my running buddy at the hotel lobby at 4:15 and we headed for the corrals. It was a good mile walk and the corrals were jam-packed!!! I was in Corral D, and luckily I got there early enough, because the corrals were filled to capacity, D runners were being moved to E. We were told by a runDisney volunteer to hop over the fence, but even then it just felt claustrophobic.
It was little after 6:00 AM when we crossed the start line. The group paired up in two’s and I headed out with Miss Vanellope for our 13.1 mile run.
First photo stop: Disney California Adventure Park. (Also when I realized I forgot to turn on my Garmin!)
In Disneyland, since the parks are right next to each other, your first 4 miles are through the parks and then you’re out on the road. Very different from Disney World but didn’t make it boring though.
Running through DCA’s Cars Land.
I love when you turn the corner and there it is, in all its glory, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
Once we exited the parks, we were on the road. The sun was coming up and it was quickly getting really hot and bright out. It seemed that every turn we made was East, which didn’t help at all. The spectators were phenomenal as usual. There were dancers doing a traditional Mexican dance around mile 5 and alongside the road were gorgeous classic cars, I mean, gorgeous! Cheerleaders were performing, yelling our names as we ran across.
The sun was beaming and I started to feel sick. I felt horrible pain on my right side, along with feeling nauseous and having stomach cramps. I felt like I hydrated well during the previous days but Anaheim was hot; when I arrived Thursday, the temp was 101. Awful, just awful.
Around mile 7, there were tents set up by spectators and they were giving out pretzels, candy, oranges and they had huge buckets of cold water, which they were dipping in sponges and wringing them over the runners who wanted to cool off. What a blessing those people were!!!
I nibbed on a few pretzels and an orange slice and tried to run, but every time I would start running my stomach would feel worse. At this point, we’re doing 1:1 run/walk intervals. I couldn’t take the pain anymore.
Mile 8 and we’re running through the back of the Honda Center . We ran through sand as we ran through the back parking lot of the center and into the Santa Ana River Trail, which had a killer hill I’m sure I yelled at.
Once we got through, we were right at mile 9 and into Angel Stadium. I was in pain and pushing through.
I was feeling sick still and so I told Vanellope and Amanda that if they didn’t mind I’d be running ahead since I wanted to get it over with and get back to the hotel.
Once I finished, I was given the Disneyland Half medal, then proceeded to a tent where I received my 2013 Coast to Coast medal. Let me tell you that the C2C medal is so worth it. It’s gorgeous and it’s so heavy, and of course, there’s nothing like running in both coasts, through both castles in one year.
I’m skipping Wine and Dine this year since I’ll be home running the Philadelphia Marathon, but most likely will run it next fall (it’s an anniversary year too, so perhaps a new medal?) 🙂
I grabbed my medals, took some pictures and sat on the hot asphalt for a while, ingesting it all in: the pain, the pleasure, the relief of being done and the satisfaction that my body and my mind got me through.
I spent the rest of the night in my hotel room, sick and sitting in an ice bath for a while. If there are any lessons to be learned is this: Follow a proven training plan, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!, never try anything new on race day (Not shoes, not fuel, not outfit, not anything!), but most of all, just go and have fun. Disney races are meant to be fun. While you want to go out and set a personal record or personal best, running through Disney is meant to be a fun and exciting experience. Running through castles, taking pictures with the characters, running in costumes, whether that be a villain or princess or anything that you want to run as, just enjoy it. All I can say is that during this race I learned so much – what I need to do and what I shouldn’t do. Best of all, I had a great time running with my friends and finishing.
Love and Pixie Dust,