Sunday, March 29, 2009

easing back into running

Friday was my first day back running, and I would've been an absolute fool not to.  It was 60, our Latin class only ran 2 hours instead of 3, it was Friday, and it was just too nice to study.  So, I ran for 3 miles around Brookland, and then walked one mile.  I was going slower than normal, but my legs weren't screaming in pain, which I was happy about.  It was fairly relaxing, because it didn't matter how far I went, just that I did it.
Then on Saturday, I ran to Seth's house in Takoma Park.  I wrote out the directions on my arm (very classy), and the 5 mile run took about 50 minutes.  I enjoyed running through a more residential area, and there were a couple of hills to tackle (I feel as if I'm going to include Maryland a lot more when I begin formal training again.  Once, I got to Seth's house, we just hung out for a while, and then went out to lunch at Trinity.  And of course, a proper Trinity Deli lunch should not be complete without a black and white cookie (so good).
It is nice to just be able to run without a real structure, especially since schoolwork will be picking up very soon.  For the next few months (probably until June), I'll just run when I can, as far as I can.  I don't think I'll be doing 15 mile runs for a while, that's for sure.  I just need to do maintenance work.  I am running in the DC Cherry Blossom 10 miler a week from today.  Originally, I was very hesitant about my ability to run a race so soon after the marathon.  However, since I was able to comfortably do 5 miles yesterday, I think I'll be in okay shape.  I'm not planning on a very fast race, but I do want the experience of doing it.  There are 12,000 runners scheduled to participate, so it will be my largest race so far.  I'm very excited to see the Cherry Blossoms; they've just started to bloom.
Just about ready to head out for another short run.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

rehabilitating my body

While it might seem like a week's worth of bedrest is the suitable response post-marathon, that's not actually how it's supposed to be done.  I took off 48 hours, as told, with the exception of some light stretching.  But, you are supposed to do some light work, in order to rehabilitate your muscles and to prevent stiffening up.  So, for the past few days, I've been doing some light walking on the treadmill.  On Monday night, even walking a mile at a 20:00 pace felt hard.  But, I've been getting better.  I no longer waddle like a pregnant woman, nor do I groan turning over in bed.
I'm going to try to run a little (like a mile or 2) tomorrow - it's supposed to be in the 60s.  I very much miss running, and am anxious to get back.  But, however much I do decide to do, it won't be a lot, and I'll go at a slow pace.
Yesterday, I bumped into a friend of mine from Latin last semester, Annie, in the library.  She said I looked tan (I must've gotten some color on Saturday), and I told her that I had just run a marathon.  Apparently, she's run a few marathons as well (including NYC and Boston, which means she's very good at it).  She got so excited, and was just like "Isn't it the greatest feeling?  I just wanted to grab all of the spectators and say 'Come on, you gotta try this!'"  
That was how I felt on Saturday, and it was so nice to hear someone vocalize what I had been thinking, and knew how I felt.  
On a side note, Brightroom photography posted their professional photos of the race.  While they took a few of me around mile 22 that are just awful (that's when I felt my worst), they snapped this one at mile 17 that I do happen to like, just because I really did feel as happy/triumphant as I look in it (it's very a la Rocky).
 And sadly, I must return to my latin, because it is back to normal as far as school is concerned.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pictures from the Race

These are the pictures from my parents' camera...more to come soon from Wes's camera. You'll want to click on each image if you want a better close-up.

This one is a nice shoutout to my blog: my parents made it.

And that is the starting line at 7AM.

This is me waving to my parents after crossing the starting line (I have the blue shirt).

Running toward the Capitol.

And here I am at mile 15.

Here I am sprinting toward the finish line with someone named Eric Gros-Dubois

Me with my parents

And me with my dearest friends from grad school (Seth, Mary, and Wes)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Great Adventure

Here is the full story of my experience at the National SunTrust Marathon, which turned out to be one of the best days ever:

So, on Friday night, I managed to fall asleep by 10:15, which was good because I needed to get up at 4 on Saturday. I got up, did some yoga, drank tea and some other fluids (I actually don't eat solid food before I run because it just sits in my stomach). I took the metro in to RFK stadium, where the race started and ended. The metro ride was somewhat bizarre, because the only people on the train at 6AM were runners - it was like we were in another world.
I arrived at the site, and it was still pitch-black outside, with the exception of the spotlights set up. I checked my bag, took off my warm ups, and headed to the starting line. Although months ago, I registered at the 9:16-10:00 per mile pace, I positioned myself in the 8:30-9:15 per mile corral, in the hopes that I would run with other people trying to run the marathon in 4 hours.
It was about 30 out when the gun went off at 7AM, but I warmed up within a few miles. I was able to see my parents at the starting line, which was great. The first few miles went by quickly, although when I ran my first mile in 9:30 (21 seconds off my pace), I picked things up, nervous that I wouldn't meet my goal. My ideal goal was to break 4 hours (and I had secondary goals of 4:10 and 4:15). For the first 6-7 miles, I ran alongside of a nice guy named Rich, who was also trying to break 4 hours. However, at mile 7, my right sock rolled under my ankle, and I had to pull over to fix it. I was so concerned about the time I lost fixing my sock, that I picked up the pace again. The majority of the hills were between miles 3 and 9, and it felt great to knock them out. The crowds were great; everyone was cheering, playing music (including the Rocky theme), and just being very supportive. I saw my parents at mile 11, and I was so happy to see them. Around that point, I think I misread my pace band, and thought I was 4 minutes off of my pace. However, when I got to the halfway point (13.1) in under 2 hours, I then realized, not only had I made a mistake in reading my pace band, but that I could truly break 4 hours with some room to spare. Also, I know I was halfway done, which was good. Then I was also able to see my mom and dad again at mile 15, which was great. The next few miles flew by, especially mile 17, which went downhill (weee). At mile 18, I realized I only had 8 miles to go, which did not seem that bad. I knew that my friends from grad school (Wes, Seth, and Mary - the 3 I talk about the most) were going to be standing at mile 20. I told them to come around 10AM, but thankfully they got there early, since I was running at a pace faster than I imagined. I saw them first, and yelled out, and they were so surprised to see me, it was hilarious. I was so happy to see them. Then at mile 21, things started to seem a bit ugly. 5 miles left, but I just started to feel icky. It's not even that my legs were hurting, it was that I had been drinking powerade and eating GU (it's an energy gel that gives quick calories and a carb/sugar boost), and just had a sickening sweet taste in my mouth. Mile 22 was an "out and back" mile, which meant I ran half a mile, then turned and ran back on the other side of the road. It felt like I was going nowhere. Then I had 4, then 3. At 3 (23), I told myself there was only a 5k left, and that I would be done with it soon. Then 2 miles left, but 2 hills to climb. Those 2 hills wouldn't have been so bad had they been earlier, but they seemed terrible then. Then the mile sign said 25, so just 1.2 to go. That felt long. Finally, I passed the sign that said 26, so all I had was a 200 yard dash. I dug in, found the last bit of energy I had stored, and sprinted to the finish. They announced my name as I went through the finish line, which was pretty cool, and I saw my friends and parents as I was finishing. The time that showed up as I crossed the finish line was 3:55:47, but I knew it was actually less than that, since it took me a few minutes to even cross the starting line. I then got my medal, and was immediately surrounded by Mom, Dad, Mary, Seth, and Wes. It was amazing, lots of hugging, etc.. I was insanely happy (I'm sure the adrenaline played a role in that). Once I slowed down, I started to feel sore, so I walked around, stretched, and even got a free massage on location, which was great. Later in the day (following a good shower and nap), I went out for a steak dinner with my parents and friends - so good. It was just great for my parents to meet my new friends, and everyone just had a great time.

When I got back from my celebration dinner, they finally posted the official results of the race.
743 overall (out of 2094)
29/120 in my age division (F 18-24)
10k split 55:00
1st 10k pace 8:51
Half marathon: 1:52:16
Half marathon pace: 8:34
20 miles: 2:54:25
Pace: 8:44
Overall Pace: 8:52
Finish: 3:52:18

I did not expect to finish in that time - I was shocked. In the weeks leading up to the race, I was filled with a lot of doubt about my goal, and in the end, I beat myself (or in the words of Wes, I bangaranged myself).
Urban dictionary interruption:
bangarang: The ultimate in excellence. Better than cool, rad or awesome. Saved for very special occasions. Word first used in the movie "Hook". Anyways...

It was an absolutely wonderful day, and one of the best days of my life, actually. I am in a fair amount of pain from my hips down, but it is completely worth it. I am so glad I did it, and I don't think I could've done it without the support from my family and friends. It was an incredible adventure, and something I'm sure I'll do again in the future. Hopefully I'll have pictures to post soon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

final pre-marathon post

I'm going to bed soon. I've packed my bag for tomorrow morning, drank my Sleepytime Tea, carbo loaded, and done everything I was supposed to. Charlie and I went to the Expo to pick up our bibs, shirts, and the like. They had lots of cool stuff, but I just wanted to get home. My parents got in safe this afternoon, and we had dinner and ice cream (cold stone...and no guilt about the birthday cake remix).
I don't think I'll be able to get a full night's sleep - I'm just so excited. I woke up early this morning too - I felt like a kid waiting for Christmas!
I've received a lot of kind words this week from my friends and family; in the form of letters, cards, e-mails, and phone calls. I'm so grateful - it's all made a great difference. Evan told me today that I'm going to do a lot better than I think, and that did a lot for me. Just knowing I have that support from everyone will carry me a long way (hopefully the full 26.2 miles).
I'm going to bed tonight a runner, and when I go to bed tomorrow night, I'll be a (very exhausted) marathon runner. I cannot wait for tomorrow.
As Pam said in her card to me "This is a great adventure."
It really is...I cannot wait.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

less than 2 days...

I've decided that in fact, I am ready for Saturday. I have done everything to prepare; the running, the resting, the hydrating, the eating, reading up on everything.
I went out to a restaurant called "Levente's" in Dupont Circle last night. The history department brought in a speaker from Georgetown (who happened to graduate from HC in '81 - woo!), and I went out with the speaker and some of the faculty. Very good dinner (I had the Doner Kabab, which was lamb over white rice), and I had a lot of fun. It was a good way to relax and get off campus for a bit.
I wish I could just bypass the next 40 hours and get to the starting line. Nothing is really pressing; I have a class and meeting tonight, and a class tomorrow. Following class tomorrow, Charlie and I are going to go to the Expo and pick up our bibs, race chips, and all that jazz. My parents will come into town tomorrow night, and we'll go out for dinner (with carbs, but not too excess). I can't wait to see them!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

final run before Saturday

I just finished the final run that I'll do before Saturday's race. Two miles around the perimeter of CUA. I even got up the long hill on Taylor St. that's always been a challenge for me. I included that hill in all of my runs this week, just as proof that I can do it. I don't even think any of the hills in the marathon will be as bad as that one. It was about 40 out and foggy, and very quiet at 7AM. It'll be a different kind of energy on Saturday, that's for sure.
The run flew by fairly quickly - it was over within 20 minutes. Of course, I saw my friend Peter the Guard on my way out and back. I gave him his marathon mile dedication letter today, and he was so sweet. He said "I'll be thinking about you then, and I'll always be there for you and supporting you." I got all choked up - he is the nicest man!
And now I am done - no more running until Saturday morning. Just lots of rest (hopefully), water, stretching and mental preparation. And eating! Carbs, carbs, carbs...

Monday, March 16, 2009

my days are numbered

5 days, as a matter of fact.
I did a four miler this morning. It was very quiet in Brookland, and very peaceful. Normally, I don't have time to go running Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings because I have to prepare for Latin, so I generally go after class. However, since the run was so short, I was able to squeeze it in. I'm glad I was able to; it was over fairly quickly, and I was able to check it off my list for the day.
Following that, the majority of my day was devoted to Latin. Lame.
On the plus side, I got a call from Pam today, and I hadn't talked to her in a few weeks. It was great to catch up, and we both have big stuff going on this weekend, so we were able to talk about that.
I've been trying to be extra-conscientious this week about hydrating, so I've been carrying a water bottle around everywhere. Yes, now my body is clean and pure, but I've been making more bathroom trips than usual. I just need to make sure that I'm nice and hydrated on Saturday, but not to the point that I need to make a pit stop.
It's all about finding a happy medium! Or a laetus medius, if you will. And therein lies the proof that I've been working on Latin all day.

unable to sleep

For a few reasons, I wanted to get to bed early tonight.
Tomorrow is a school day.
Tomorrow I am doing my run at 7AM.
I wanted to get the schoolweek off to a good start, so I can be well-rested for Saturday.

I even finished my schoolwork, and hopped in bed at 11:30, optimistic about my ability to fall asleep. After all, I had a full day: reading, yoga, church, Latin, and so I felt like I would easily fall asleep.

Nope. Not yet. I hate when I try to go to bed early and can't fall asleep. Of course, when I am tired enough to go to bed, I can't because of the work that I need to do. Tonight is the opposite. Work is done, and here I am, wide-awake.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"You will beat the world!"

So, with a week to go, I did my final long run - 11 miles, which translated to the Lincoln memorial and back. I did it at 7AM - same time as the race will be next week. The city was much more quiet than it was when I normally go. It was very peaceful, actually.
On my way back, I was waiting at an intersection and the runner next to me started talking to me. We ended up running together for a mile or so. He was very nice. His name is Tom, he's 62, and he said that he has run about 45,000 miles as an adult. He gave me some marathon advice, since he has done a few. The last piece of advice he said was (and this was my favorite), "No matter what time you finish the race, 4 hours, 5 hours, it doesn't matter, because you will beat the world! This is a big deal!"
And with that, we parted ways. What a nice guy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

10 days

10 days to go.
I did my Renaissance style presentation last night - now that's off to the list. I'm hoping to finish my conference paper tonight (that's what I'm working on now), then plugging away at Latin until Friday. Once I finish my Latin exam on Friday, I'm headed back to American to watch Holy Cross play American in the Patriot League Championship! I've never been to one of the championship games before, so I'm really looking forward to it. Plus, if HC wins, we get an automatic bid to go onto the "big dance," which would be pretty sweet. I think there's going to be a fairly large HC turnout, and the funny thing is, American is on Spring Break, so there won't even be a ton of their students present.
I ran 3 miles on the elliptical this morning. My hamstring is still bothering me a little, so I've been taking it very easy. Things have definitely improved since the weekend; I was definitely limping on Saturday and Sunday.
10 days.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Getting itchy

I'm starting to feel a bit restless. I've been cutting back, like I should, but I feel like I just want to go ahead and get to race day. This is what Runner's World says about this week: "Week 2 is a transitional period. You're halfway between the agony of your last 20-miler and the ecstasy of the marathon."
I agree. I still have a lot to do between now and then, and not even training-wise. I have a presentation to give tomorrow night on Rhetoric and Style in Renaissance humanism, a Latin exam on Friday, and a paper to write that I'm giving in 2 weeks at a conference in Maryland. I know that I need to just focus my attention on that stuff...but I just feel antsy. Gar!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Less than 2 weeks to go...

2 weeks?! Holy cow, it's really coming up. I did a 14.6 long run yesterday morning. It was about 42 outside, and I got to wear my new running shirt (blue with a netted white stripe in the back) and shorts. It was my first run outside since I've been sick: I ran about a 9:42 pace (still felt a bit stuffy), and I think I hit the hills pretty well. There were more hills in that run than there will be on race day.
This was the lowest mileage week I've had since last year. And while this is right on schedule, it felt very bizarre to cut back, and the next 2 weeks will be weird as well. It was good to at least put in some miles today, although I felt as if I was holding a bit.
I'm not sure, but I think I may have pulled a muscle in my right leg yesterday. Luckily, I don't need to run again until Tuesday, so hopefully that will help.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bib # 2168

So, I just found out my bib number for the marathon: 2168. Something about getting the number got me more excited about the race. Maybe because the number is a certainty - it's not one of the variables I'll be dealing with on the 21st.
I'm feeling a lot better, but I'm not not 100% back from my head/chest cold. While I had planned to cut down on running anyways this week (because I've started to taper), I had to slow things down ever more so because of the cold. Which is fine - I've been sleeping, drinking fluids, and resting in general instead. I'm sure my immune system was rundown from work and running, so I'm really not surprised that this all happened. So, now I've been given a chance to recuperate, and I've taken the opportunity to do so. I'm hoping that once I get this out of my system, I'll be super strong, healthy, and ready to go. Fingers crossed...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

the tapering has begun...with a cold

I left for my long run yesterday worried I had a cold (something that had entered my mind Friday night). But, I couldn't really let that stop me, so I went out and did it. But when I came back, I felt a bit hoarse and coughed a bit. But the cough didn't really leave (I was hoping it was just from my lungs being exposed to the cold weather for several hours), and it was still there this morning. Since it hadn't left by the afternoon, I realized I did in fact, have a cold.
Today began my taper. Tapering means reducing how many miles (and their intensity) I run in the 3 weeks leading up to the marathon. While it may seem counterintuitive, by cutting down on mileage (and focusing that time on resting and healthy living), runners are ready to go, and are at their peak shape.
Although I have a cold and sound like a man who has been smoking for 30 years, the good news is that I don't have to go running again until Tuesday. I did my recovery run today (2.6 miles, and that took a lot of effort), I'll cross-train tomorrow, and then 6-7 on Tuesday. By Tuesday, I should be almost done with the cold. Lots of rest, fluids, and Robitussin DM in the meanwhile...