marine corps marathon

Right, so I’ve got this marathon I have to run on Sunday : )

Actually, I’m pretty relieved it’s still going to happen! I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.

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With the government shutdown, a lot of things were uncertain…including this event. Apparently, we were on a need to know basis and the Marines had decided that we didn’t need to know how close it probably came to being cancelled. With such short notice, if any of the course had to be altered there would have been no way to get a new one re-certified in time.

Fortunately, (for many reasons besides this race) this is no longer a concern and race day is almost here!! I have all of the usual pre-race jitters like: weather (which looks to be a non-issue!!), getting sick (bah!), taking the right metro train on race day, getting to my corral on time. You know, all of the things outside of your control that could go wrong. However, I know that once I arrive in the right spot, at the right time and feeling healthy (pleasepleaseplease) I’ll finally be able to relax and enjoy the experience.

Because after running over 400 miles during the last 16 weeks…26.2 more seems like just a drop in the bucket!!!

mcm training

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a day in the orchard

I’m officially two weeks out from the Marine Corps Marathon!! Last week’s 21-miler did NOT go well at all…a late start and an unseasonably HIGH temperature did not offer up ideal running conditions, but today’s 12 mile run more than made up for it!! Next weekend only eight miles and then I’m finally in the home-stretch.

After this morning’s run, I rushed home, took a quick shower and then was off with the family for some apple picking. Again, a little on the warm-side for this time of year, but there was no denying that we had a gorgeous day for a stroll through the orchard.

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Time to do some baking!!!

signs of fall

I know it must be October because the leaves are changing…

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These damn things have been in the house for less than 24 hours and already my teeth hurt

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The Marine Corps Marathon sent me an eCard yesterday…along with my bib number.

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Oh. My. Already?????!!

it’s insane

Yesterday I decided that it was finally time for me to give Insanity a try. I’ve had it for a while, but I didn’t want to start anything new during marathon training. At this point, I’m feeling 100% after the New Jersey Marathon and I still have just about a month before Marine Corps Marathon training begins, so I figured now (while I’m easing back on running a bit) would be a good time to check it out!

So, before the girls woke-up yesterday, I headed down into the home gym and got started. I opted to skip the Fit Test. If there is ever a Fit Test, I always skip it. I’m all grown-up now and I frown upon tests. Instead, I jumped right into Plyometric Cardio Circuit.

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As the name suggests…there was many, much jumping going on. It was reminiscent of my experience with P90X2’s Plyocide last year. Towards the end, it was challenging to keep up with, my heart was pumping, but it was so very repetitive. The same moves over and over again. At least on the treadmill I can turn up the music and zone out. With Insanity you have to be totally present, which left me staring at the clock counting down the seconds until we did something different.

Then, randomly, they started doing yoga right in the middle. I don’t particularly like cramming 10 minutes of yoga in the middle of a high-intensity cardio workout. I skipped it. I already have my own yoga practice going on, so I don’t want to rush through it and end up wasting valuable cardio time.

Towards the end I was still going, but I was definitely feeling fatigued. It was a short workout out (especially since more than 10 minutes was dedicated to stretching), but it definitely required a whole lotta’ energy!!

Then this morning arrived. 24 hours later. Did I mention that I wasn’t sore AT ALL the day after my marathon??? 26.2 miles…no soreness. 30-ish minutes of Insanity and I can barely walk! I somehow managed to get a 4 mile run in this morning, but I have no idea how I got the food shopping done today as well. On my way home I actually let out a small whimper when I thought about all of the bags I would soon have to walk into the house.

Insanity definitely woke-up some of the lesser used muscles in my legs!! That right there earns it another shot. I’m not going to follow the calendar, I still run at least three days a week and I have no desire to double-up Insanity workouts on running days. As it is, a few times a week I double-up running with yoga…but I think that’s more of a complimentary pairing rather than an overboard fitness obsession!!

Tomorrow I’ll be giving Cardio Power & Resistance a try…which I’m not entirely sure is such a wise decision considering I have an eight mile run scheduled for Saturday morning?! Wish me luck!!

the marathon

On May 5th in Long Branch, New Jersey (with a gorgeous ocean view) I officially became a MARATHONER!!

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Was there ever any doubt?!?! Alight, maybe a little…but in the end I was able to catch-up on my long runs, complete my training and achieve my goal of finishing the New Jersey Marathon!!

My #1 goal was to finish, #2 was revised after my foot injury to finish around the 5-hour mark. I finished at 5:20. I lost about 7-8 minutes on two port-a-john breaks (was very thirsty and drank a ton of water, TMI? super quick the first stop, but a line for the second), so I’d say that’s pretty close to the time I was expecting. Definitely not the fastest marathoner out there, but a finisher nonetheless!!

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I woke-up early on the morning of the marathon…ate a big carb-y breakfast in my hotel room and then did 20 minutes of yoga before packing up and heading out. The traffic getting there was insane. It was only about a 10-minute drive from the hotel, but it took over an hour. I sat in my car watching the half-marathoners sprint down the highway trying to make it to the start line in time (their race started about an hour before the full). Fortunately, I left with plenty of time to spare. I parked, got my gear together, waited in the warm car for a bit, then headed over. It was absolutely FREEZING and WINDY. I was extremely thankful that I brought a ‘toss away’ hooded jacket. I absolutely would have been miserable without it.

In what seemed like no time we were off!! I would say that within an hour of starting the clouds cleared, the sun started shining and the wind died down. It turned out to be supreme running weather. It was total perfection.

Being a former Jersey Girl, maybe I’m biased, but Jersey spectators have to be some of the very best! They were literally tailgating in their front yards. Eating, drinking, holding up signs, playing lawn games and many of the homes had Springsteen blasting from their radios. They were loud, enthusiastic and very encouraging.

I saw a few signs that said “Welcome New Jersey Marathoners”…and it was really nice to see. These people were stuck at home pretty much all day long…they had crazy runners filling their streets, energy gel packets and sweatshirts being tossed everywhere, but yet they still cheered us on and made us feel welcome.

To be honest, it was a very uneventful race. Absolutely nothing went wrong. I felt great, I had everything I needed, the weather was perfect. It was like the planets aligned and I was handed this excellent first marathon experience!

However, I did start out a little too fast (as always). In fact, for a while it was looking like I was going to hit a 13.1 PR!! In the end I hit it right in around my usual time, but then things slowed down considerably around the 18-20 mile mark. From there I did a walk/run mix. Sometimes I’d end up next to someone taking a break too and we’d chat for a bit.

It’s so strange to say it, but marathon running (for me) is far more relaxing and enjoyable than the shorter distances?! I was able to take in so much more of the experience since I wasn’t being driven by a time goal. Of course, it was hard at times, but surprisingly enjoyable as well.

With about .3 miles to go I spotted the finish line.

Wow.

That was something.

For one split second I got a little choked-up. Most training plans are about 4-5 months long, but in actuality it took a year of my life to build up to that exact moment. All the doubt, all the worry, the early morning runs, the lost sleep, the sacrificed wine!! Well, it all kind of hit me at once. It felt like such a HUGE accomplishment just making it to the START line, so being that close to the finish was without a doubt one of the top five moments of my life.

As soon as I snapped out of it, I sprinted the rest of the way. As I passed another runner she yelled to me “you’re making it look so easy?!”. It was my last burst of energy, the sudden euphoria that made me feel like I had plenty of gas left in the tank!!

For about an hour afterwards I was sore. I felt fine during the 2-hour car ride home, but when I finally stood up I was stiff as a board! A hot shower, a big dinner and a few hours later I felt completely fine. By the next morning I was 100%. No soreness at all. Which is a good thing considering how much I had to get done that day!!

The only reason I can come up with for not being sore the day after a marathon is because I ran it, but didn’t RACE it. I pushed, but not outside of my capability. It gave me a slower finish time, but there is GREAT satisfaction in running a marathon and not feeling even the slightest bit of fatigue the next day!

By 48 hours afterwards I felt like running but gave myself an extra day or so of rest just in case. I eased back in with a three-miler on Thursday and yesterday I did a nice, slow 7.5 mile run.

I have about a month before I start training for the Marine Corps Marathon, so I plan to keep up my long runs, but not push too hard. I’m sure my legs will appreciate the break!!

And there you have it…my first marathon complete. I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend you lace-up and run one yourself ; )

bring on the taper

Wow. I am officially less than a week away from my first marathon!!?!

I can’t say that my training went exactly as I had hoped. My foot injury back in January put a big kink into things. As a result, I lost a full month of training.  Eventually, there was a slow attempt at easing back into running and then a focus primarily on increasing my distance…but not wanting to push my pace out of concern for a ‘too much, too fast’ injury.  Oh, and just to liven things up a sudden change in the shape of my feet required me to ditch my running shoes about a month ago and invest in a new pair. For the first time in my life I’m officially wearing a wide-width shoe?!

Looking back over the last few months, I wish I could have gotten more than only three runs in per week. I also wish I was able to add in regular speedwork.  But you know what??? Even though those things didn’t happen I’ve got NO complaints! I am so very thankful to even be running at all right now!

Once I started back-up in February I decided that I would scrap a time-goal entirely. The course is open for 6 hours and 30 minutes…that’s my new goal, BUT…I would consider myself very lucky if I were to come in around the 5 hour mark. Not a very lofty goal, but my mindset has changed since my injury. It was either take it a little easy for this one, or back out…and there was no way I was going to back out just because I wouldn’t be able to rip-up the course with a (relatively) speedy finish time!!

Since things were going so well and physically I was feeling 100% I decided to go ahead and register for a local 8k. I was a little nervous at first, the idea of ‘racing’ two weeks before a marathon didn’t seem to align with my very conservative training plan! I ended up deciding to do it about an hour before the race! To be honest, I think it was Boston that influenced my final decision. It was the Saturday after and I just felt like I wanted to run…to be with a group, at a race and run without any concern for a PR.

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I’m so glad I showed up that morning!! It was a very challenging course…two MASSIVE hills, one was virtually a wall that I walked up while leaning forward with my hands on my thighs!! The other was a long, steep incline right up to the finish line.  Oooofah!!

I finished at 47 minutes…a 9:27 average pace. Five minutes longer than the Philly 8k back in November, but considering that I haven’t done any speedwork since December AND Philly was a totally FLAT course…well, I was pleasantly surprised!!

So, now I’m tapering. I know this because I am a paranoid wreck that I’ll get sick. Like right now…I suddenly have a sore throat, but is it a real sore throat or a taper sore throat??? If it’s a taper sore throat then I’m probably just thirsty : |

accidental marathoner

Running. Yes. Still doing that too. In addition to all of the cooking and yoga that’s been going on around here I’ve also been continuing on with my marathon training. I’d like to say it’s been uneventful, but I’m not so sure you can train to run 26.2 miles in your limited spare time and not hit a snafu or two along the way. Regardless, things are moving along. I completed my first ever 18 mile run last weekend! Yesterday was a scale back long run, so I dropped down to 13 miles and next weekend I’ll peak at 20 miles before I begin to taper. The end is near!!

Over the last few months I’ve noticed that the shape of my feet have changed. I suppose a year of consistent running can do that. I had to retire my current pair of running shoes almost 200 miles early (bah!!) and move on up to my first pair of ‘wide-width’ shoes. Another year or so of running and I fear that my clown feet will force me to quit and join the circus instead.

I took the new pair out for a half-marathon distance spin yesterday and they’re significantly more comfortable. Excellent.

Over the last month I’ve also been experimenting with fueling options. I’m big on GU. I’ve tried several energy gels over the last year and I find that GU is not only the better tasting of the bunch, but I also tolerate it the best. However, there’s only so many GU’s you can suck down during a run before you start wishing no such thing existed. It gets progressively harder to choke them down as the miles rack up. I absolutely cannot eat solid food while running, so I started looking into alternatives.

So far the only thing I’ve come up with is Carbo Gain.

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You mix a half a cup of powder with about 16 ounces of whatever you normally drink…whether it be your favorite sports drink or plain water (like me). It has very little taste to it, so it’s not in the least bit overwhelming. Basically it’s equivalent to one energy gel spread out over the course of your run. I’m now into uncharted territory distance-wise, but when I first started using it for anything over 9-10 miles I noticed that I was able to comfortably finish my run even though I was taking one less GU than usual. It’s a little sticky if you spill it, but it’s gluten, dairy and soy free which makes it a huge score for me!!!

I figure the more options I have the better since apparently I enjoy putting myself through the grueling efforts required for marathon training. This became evident when I very randomly, very spur-of-the-moment decided to register for the Marine Corps Marathon in October!?!?!?!?

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I have no idea how that happened?! Especially considering how horribly wrong the entire registration process went. SO many runners tried for the entire 2+ hours registration was open (before selling out) and never got through.

After I registered I told my husband “I think I just accidentally registered for another marathon?!” That’s exactly how unprepared I was for making this decision!!! But I have to say, now that I’m registered I’m totally psyched!! This was the other marathon I was considering when I signed up for the New Jersey Marathon…I never imagined I would be able to do both, so I’m really excited to not only run MCM, but also that I’ll be joining my best running ‘bud at the start line!!!