Sunday, April 13, 2014

Broke the Curse

I finally did it. I made it to a race I paid for.

For the past two years, I've signed up for several races and on race day? A no show. I really didn't want to miss this one - the inaugural Rock and Roll marathon in Raleigh. And I just couldn't be sure if I'd show up until a few days before, when I was pretty sure I was ready.

"Ready" is a stretch. When my friends and I signed up, almost as soon as sign up for the race opened a year or so ago, we had visions of major training; being in tip-top shape by this point. My estimated time to finish was 1:50, a PR.

Fast forward to the last month before the race and, while I had been training, I started too late (January?). My long runs, starting at 8 miles, were crap. My legs just couldn't handle the long miles. While I ran two 10 mile long runs, I had not done more than that; I'd never made it to a 13.1 mile run. And these runs had a lot of walking involved. I think it was around the 9 mile training run that I decided to update my estimated finish time to 2:15.

Race day - April 13th. I'm feeling pretty good. Excited. Tim drops me off, which is great. Because this place is crowded - the race is sold out with 12,000 participants. That doesn't include everyone else helping with the race, including spectators.

Corral 13 - Looking ahead
I find my corral, #13. I can't find my friend Melisa. I think she decided to start in a faster corral. She could do it; she can push through pain.

I recognize my friends Joel and Erick and meet Erick's beautiful daughter. I notice a person from my work right next to me. I don't know her name; just someone I see at the gym. We chat a bit - she tells me she overslept and decided not to do the race. But at the last minute, she asked her husband to drop her off. She got there at 6:41. Race start time was 7AM. It was delayed but she didn't know that when she scooted over...

Corral 13 - Behind me
It took nearly 30 minutes for our corral to cross the start line. It felt great. I was going to keep a conservative pace. I wanted to run the entire race, or at least see if I could do it. Despite having walk breaks in my long runs, I've run a long time through those runs with minimal walk breaks. I thought that I could try to keep a slow pace and just run the entire 13.1.

The start of the run went great. So many spectators with wonderful signs. I loved it immediately. I usually don't like big races - too many people - so I don't get to see many people on the sidelines. This was really nice to see people cheering everyone on. And they *literally* were. One sign said "I'm so proud of all you strangers!" I couldn't stop thinking about that one. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I would have really loved to see that sign within the last half of the 13.1 miles.

Band on the Bridge
I took pictures while I ran. I took several shots, hoping at least one wouldn't be blurry because I WAS running as I took pictures. Unfortuantely, at some point, I pushed something that made the rest of my pictures black and white and I did not have the brain power, nor the coordination, to figure out how to bring back color...so I was like "fuck it - black and white it is".

In these first few miles, I was sensing a lot of uphills. I knew there would be more, as I had run part of the race course with my friend Melisa a few weeks back. But I was feeling GREAT. The hills were not bothering me.

Running through the neighborhoods was great.
People were out with their kids, in their PAJAMAS, drinking coffee, cheering us on. Again, so nice. I thought about how nice it would be to live off the route so that you could do that. At one point, I passed a couple dressed in wedding garb. I think the woman's sign said "You caught us!" I can't remember. It just made me smile.

Lots of things were making me smile. And still, at this point, miles 3, 4, 5, I'm taking in each of those hills and seeing people around me walking. Wow. There are a lot of hills. I wondered what out of towers thought of this course. And I wondered what marathoners were thinking, having to start like this and having 20+ miles to go? Is Boston this hilly?

The bands were great. To be honest, I didn't feel like they were close enough. Were they really at every mile? I don't know. There was music, which helped, and the bands did help, when they were there. Counting helped. When does counting not help? It's my saving grace.

After passing mile 5, we are running up Peace Street. One of my miserable 8 mile runs, I ran the first four feeling spectacular, and as soon as I turned around for the final four, it was like an abrupt feeling of "yuck". Just like that. I thought: I made it to five, let's make it to six and I'm almost halfway there. If it all goes to shit then...well, I can manage.

Peace Street Holy Hell Hill
Well, it was shortly after passing mile 5, running up the rolling hills of Peace Street, where my legs were like "what the fuck? these hills?! seriously?" So I decide at the next water stop, I'll take a little break, fuck the 'no walk' plan. I have to give my legs a break. I have seven more miles to go. I go up yet another hill. And then down, and then? ANOTHER GOD DAMN HILL that was quite steep. I was done. My legs were like 'uh, no'. So the first walk came at the hill to Glenwood on Peace Street.

I started back to my run at the top of this hill but I think I walked again at the next hill. And when I got to the water stop, I didn't stop running because I wanted to cross the 10K line in a decent time. But once I crossed it (because it was hill to run to it), I walked UP that hill.

My legs were killing me. But I felt better after the water and the walk so I kept on moving. I was determined to get to the finish faster than walking would do, even if I had blown my 2:15 time. Whatever. 2:30 will work. 2:45 will work. Just let me finish.

It's around this time that, not only do I stop taking pictures, I stop looking at spectators. I had to dig down to just get myself to the finish. Take each mile and just go. Count them down. They're getting smaller. Then mile 7 comes. Nearly the entire mile 7 to 8 was just UP. I walked most of it. This was CRAZY.

Pointing to the walking (winning) marathoner
At mile 11, which was mile 24 for marathoners, the race folks were asking us to move to the left to let the lead runner have room. I wanted to get a picture of him, which was a great distraction for running up the hill that I was on. When he finally appeared, I had made it up the hill and turned to take a picture when I heard the race folks in the lead truck say "Wait. He's walking again." I looked, and yes, that poor guy was walking up that hill. And they said "AGAIN". Well, that is telling. Marathoners in the lead do not walk. This course is hilly. I cheered him on and screamed "It's HILLY!!" There would be more hills ahead of him, I would find out later.

I'm sure he's not happy that I caught this photo in his most humble minute but, hey, it proves a point about the hilliness of the course. It *is* beautiful though. I just needed to train better.

My pattern at the water stops was to get gatorade AND water. At this point, I didn't care what it would do to my stomach, being that this wasn't anything I did in training. In fact, I did no water during training. Yeah. That was stupid. I couldn't find my Nathan belt and never bought another one. And once I reached my 10 mile runs, I was like: well, they'll have water on the course, no need to buy one now.

It actually affected me well, the gatorade-water-walk pattern. I felt re-invigorated after that and would start running, feeling great...as great as worn out legs could feel. That would last until half of that mile and I'd feel tired again. But when I reached 12? I was like I GOT THIS! I'm going to finish this race!!

And I did. I ran that last mile like there was no tomorrow. Well, more like this sign I saw: "You run like dogs pulling (squirrels)." I don't even know if I was running that fast. But I was running - that's what I'm going to say.

I didn't have much in my legs to put in that last OOMPH to race to the finish. I just tried to stay upright and cross it. I did and almost instantly, I felt great again. I could walk OK. I searched for water and gatorade. The gatorade was warm :( but it didn't matter since I could get it opened. I found a banana and that was the best damn banana I've ever had.

I texted Tim to meet me at the Mickey D's by the auditorium. He got me and I asked for help for my gatorade. Apparently they have a foil cover. 'WHY DID THEY DO THAT TO ME?" I pleaded. He said "They didn't do that to you. They do this to every gatorade."

My finish time was 2:27:56. Yes. I would have love to done better. This is the very opposite of a PR...it's a WR - Worst Record. But I'm not bothered (maybe a teensy bit but truly, it's just teeny). I enjoyed the run despite having to fight through nearly 7 miles. But that's what makes me proud. I loved the spectators. I thought the race was set up wonderfully. And if I do it again, I have to train better. My finish time is all due to me and not training well. But I trained well enough to run 13.1 miles and THAT makes me happy.






Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Six Years by Harlan Coben

This was my first Harlan Coben novel. I had seen many reviews 'raving' about it and, my dad, step-dad and husband are fans of his, so I own nearly every book he's written...except THIS one. I decided to give this one a try after my goodreads book club had it on its list. I missed the start of it but, for the book club, it doesn't really matter.

The book is about a guy who goes to the wedding of 'the love of his life'. They had just broken up and suddenly, she is marrying someone else. Her last words to him is to leave her and her new husband alone. Do not ever contact them. It's over.

So he does.

Six years later, he sees an obituary for the man who married the woman of his dreams. When he attends the funeral, he notices that the widow is not the woman of his dreams, but someone else entirely. And so begins the 'investigation' as to who this woman is, where is Natalie (the woman of his dreams), and why was Todd murdered (he was).

Overall, the story was OK. I wasn't drawn in and anticipating the next moves, like "what the hell is going on???" I didn't get moved in that way. BUT I was pleasantly surprised at Coben's writing style, which was quite enjoyable and very much a style that I've read in other off-the-beaten path novels...not what I would have assumed a national, best-selling, put a book or two out every year kind of author would do. I mean no disrespect...it's just a perception, a stereotype I have. And believe me you, I am NO BOOK SNOB. I will read anything and everything and usually end up having to count on one hand the # of "books you should've read by now" or "books you have to read before you die" lists. But I see so many of his books on the shelves that I just had a pre-conceived notion that he couldn't be witty, light-hearted, and smart (in the way I think of it...not literal).

I enjoyed his Jake Fisher character immensely, and some of the others. The storyline, as I said, was just OK. That part, I think, was just a bit too mainstream for me, especially the ending. Maybe I've read to many fantasy and sci-fi novels, that I want something a little more titillating.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Silver Linings and Delusions

The past week has been an OK week, with regards to keeping active. The week of the "snowpocalypse", which was the week before last, I didn't do jack crap. Not a single workout.

The Sunday after the snow, I got ready to go on my run. The hardest part is just getting started but if I try not to think about it and just robotically put my running clothes on, then I'm almost there.

As I waited for my iPhone to charge, I heard the familiar sound that I had received a text message. I checked and it was my buddy Nancy, asking me if I was planning to run. How serendipitous. Whilst I didn't think I would make good company, seeing that I had not ran in a week's time, she decided I would do just fine.

We did an unbelievable six miles at Shelley Lake. And it went by fairly quickly. The pace was still a bit quick for my comfort but it was doable with a partner. I drove home feeling like a queen.

The rest of the week went well: I played my first wallyball (freeplay) game in nearly a year. Most of my friends know that *that* game is my favorite. I've missed it and, feeling out of the game, I found I fell right back into the groove. The following day was recreational volleyball and, again, another day of fun and a good workout.

I got both my runs in - Tuesday with my other friend Melisa (one "S") and Thursday was a solo run before the volleyball game.

Today I was scheduled for a 5K today (thank you Melissa - I'm using her training plan) . Since I am apparently suffering from race fright, I did this one on my own.

Murder Path
I decided I would walk to Lake Lynn and just start the race pace there. I took the murder path and a picture of it. What you can't see, although the picnic table is a close sign, civilization in the name of apartments are on either side of the trees. Of course, they can be seen in the winter. I am always prepared to scream bloody murder so that someone in those apartments will hear me. Whether they actually come and save me is a different story.

Once I got to the lake, I stretched a bit and was on my way. I tried not to start out too fast, thinking about how I can tend to do that in a race...but I did want to have a quicker pace than my normal 11+ minute miles that I do on the long runs.

As I ran their first mile, I was thinking: wow, I should slow down. I must be doing close to 10 mn/miles, or even sub. Once I got to the one mile mark, my RunKeeper app said I was doing 10:56. WHAT? That shit HURTS. I'm breathing fast, my thighs hurt. How can it be just a hair under 11 mn/miles?

Well, that must be because I went slow in the beginning. I've picked up the pace now...the second mile will definitely drop. Mile two: 10:54 mn/mile. OK. This is ridiculous. I was really booking then. WOW. I'm glad I didn't REALLY run a 5K. I was expecting to do 10 mn/miles today.

I know I quickened my pace even more when I felt like I was getting close to my 3.1. I'm thinking: geez - if I'm tired this quickly, how the hell am I going to manage 10 MORE of these miles?

I end with a 10:45 average pace overall. And I was beat. Sweatin' all over the place. I just started walking to cool down and get my heart rate down. Once I found a good spot, I stretched the shit out of my thighs, calves, feet, and hips. That felt good. But I was half a mile away from home...so that was going to be a long walk back.

My overall miles - temp 41:
First: 10:57
Second: 10:47
Third: 10:34

So, at least negative splits. Last week, I ran six miles at 10:54 average, with two walk breaks...but today felt HARD.

Fortunately, I changed my estimated finish time for the race from 1:50 (what the fuck was I thinking?) to 2:15. I told Melisa that I was pretty sure she was signed up for the same 1:50 pace. She didn't believe me until she re-read her emails. Ironically, her original estimated time WAS 2:15...and as she said, she changed it to be like $Bill and I.

My playlist, including the walk to and from the park:
Teeth - Cage the Elephant
Absinthe with Faust - Cradle of Filth
Addicted to Love - Alex & Sierra
Afterlife - Arcade Fire
All I Want for Christmas Is You - Alex & Sierra  *need to remove this one
All You Do Is Talk - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC)
Am I Only - BRMC
Angel with the Scabbed Wings - Marilyn Manson (MM)
Antichrist Superstar - MM
Awful Sound (of Eurydice) - Arcade Fire
Bad Girls - M.I.A.
Beat the Devil's Tattoo - BRMC
The Beautiful People - MM
Berlin - BRMC
Best Song Ever - Alex & Sierra
Bitin' the Bullet - Grouplove
Black Magic - Magic Wands
Black Mud - The Black Keys
Black Skinhead vs. Elephant - Kanye-Tame Impala mash-up

Oh one funny thing: I bought new running pants yesterday. There's a tag that says: hidden key pocket. I couldn't find it. I even had Tim look for it before I ran. No can find. It's that hidden. I finally saw it after I took them britches off.