Monday, May 30, 2011

Post Marathon Recovery

Although it has been only a week since the marathon, it seems like much more time has gone by. The bottoms of my feet were pretty sore for a couple of days, so I didn't do any running until last Thursday. I decided to run at whatever pace felt comfortable and ignore my Garmin. When I reached the turnaround point at 1.5 miles I checked the GPS and noticed that I had forgotten to reset it after the race. I cleared it and ran home at about the same pace speeding up the last quarter mile. It turned out that the Garmin had kept Thusday's run seperate from Saturday's race. When I checked my average pace I saw that it was my fastest 3 mile run. Wow! I really tried to keep my pace slowed down a bit on Friday's 4 mile run. I know that it can take a while for my legs to heal.

My First Trail Run
Jon and Erin invited me to run with them at Buffalo River State Park on Sunday in order to get the feel for next Saturday's 10K trail race. It would be my first time running on trails. The day started with Lynette and I joining Jon and Erin at Applebee's for a pancake feed raising funds for the local men's roller derby league Rock City Riot. I know. You're thinking roller derby? Is that still around? Oh yes my friends. In fact Fargo has four women's teams that have been quite active for several years. I guess last year the guys decided to join the fun and started their own league. I went to both the men's and women's websites, and now I really want to see a match.

We were the first ones at Applebee's, and soon we were munching down some tasty pancakes and sausages. The guys from the team were doing the serving. They wore their jerseys and the names on the back were classic roller derby. One red headed guy was named Angus Beef. There was a Biff Quick, and my favorite, Egor Toboneya. I love being around people who live outside "the box."

After breakfast Lynette left for her sister Loni's house to see the grand-nephews (and other family members). Jon, Erin, and I left for the park. We started running from the parking lot near the swimming hole and followed the 10K route. I'm glad Jon had a copy of the course. He kept us from taking any wrong turns. The course starts on some wooded trails, but most of the run is on trails winding through the prairie. There were some wildflowers just starting to bloom along the trails. We saw some Bluebirds flitting around and had a Bobolink follow us for a bit. It was much more enjoyable than running in town.

Running on trails sure seemed less punishing on the joints, but the softer surface seemed to make it harder to keep a good pace. Some of the energy used to push off is absorbed by the ground. The first couple of miles were hard, but after that I got in the groove and the miles went by really well. We got back to the parking area having run just under six miles. Erin's ankle was hurting, so she decided to stop there. Jon and I started another shorter loop. After about a mile I split off and went back to the parking area. My total distance ended up being 7 1/4 miles. Jon took the long way back and ran just under 7 3/4 miles. It was a really enjoyable day. Jon and Erin are so much fun to be with. Thanks again for asking me to go along.

I think this week is going to be another recovery week with a few shorter runs. I'll save myself for the race on Saturday. I'd like to run some shorter races (5K or 10K) this summer. There are tons of them to choose from. I figure I can try and work on improving my speed and check my progress at these races.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My First Marathon Finish

I once saw a comedian who was pretending to be a movie critic. He said of the movie, "I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me." That pretty well sums up my first marathon experience. I knew it was going to be a difficult endeavor, and it certainly met my expectations and then some. In fact, I think anyone who finishes one of these things deserves a medal (ha, I crack myself up). All-in-all it was a very positive experience (notice I didn't use words like fun or pleasant?). Here is the breakdown. I'll apologize here for what might be a fairly long post.

Lynette customized my shirt with a "slow moving Norwegian" sign

While I slept very well on Friday night, Lynette didn't sleep a wink. She changed her plans of going to the start with me and instead went to get some sleep so that she would be ready to cheer for me along the course. I got to the Fargodome early and sat around visiting with Rick, Kristy. Jon, Erin, and some of their friends and family. Rick and Kristy had parked their motor home there as a place to hang out. Thanks for the hospitality!!! When I got there Rick was out running the half-marathon route as a warm up for the big race. He got back in time to change into dry running clothes and eat a bagel. Then we were all off to the starting line.

The theme for this year's race was Fargo Rocks so what better way to start than with the national anthem played on an electric guitar. Now the race was on. The weather forecast had called for rain and potential thunderstorms for the day, but it just stayed overcast with maybe a couple of very light sprinkles. The humidity climbed as the day progressed, and this would have a big impact later on.

I ran with Erin, Kristy, Chris, and Maria for the first several miles. Pretty soon Kristy pulled ahead of us. She has such a smooth running style I forget that this is also her first marathon. Erin and I began to pull away from Chris and Maria. It was a good sign that everyone was running their own pace. We cruised through the miles enjoying the crowds of cheering spectators. In keeping with the Rockin' theme, there were DJ"s or live bands all along the course. There was everything from high school marching bands to heavy metal bands to square dancers. It was a riot! They really helped keep the spirits up.

Kristy (in blue) and Erin (in yellow) meeting up along the course.

Erin and I kept plugging away at a nice pace. She saw some friends and family at various points along the way. Lynette, her sister Lisa, and Aunt Judy were waiting at about mile twelve. What a morale booster! I knew that I would see them again soon. The turn around for the course was just ahead. The next time I saw them I ran over and gave Lynette a quick kiss. As I stepped away she yelled "Happy Birthday!" A young woman running behind me asked who's birthday it was. I told her it was mine and before I knew it everyone around me was singing "Happy Birthday" to me. Of course only Lynette, Lisa, Judy, and Erin knew my name so when it came to that part of the song I think they just sang "marathon runner" in place of my name. It was really great!

When Erin and I got to about mile seventeen or eighteen I felt myself starting to overheat. I looked at my heart rate monitor and noticed that my pulse was pretty fast for as slow as we were running. I decided to walk for a bit to slow it down. Erin stayed at the pace we had been running and kept it up all the way to the finish line. She really ran smart and had a fantastic race. I continued to take some walk breaks and got a little second wind around mile twenty. By mile twenty two the wheels had pretty much fallen off. All I could think about was cooling off. Just as I rounded the corner of Broadway heading north I spotted a woman holding a garden hose and she was spraying people with cold water. I don't know who she was, but I couldn't thank her enough. I stood under the spray for about a minute. I was completely soaked and refreshed. Sadly, that didn't last long.

I finished the last four miles sort of hobbling along. At last the Fargodome was in sight. My pace quickened (from a snail's pace to that of a speedy turtle). I crossed the finish line! Lynette and Lisa cheered me on as I crossed the finish line, and Jon and Erin, with their medals worn proudly around their necks greeted me with hugs and congratulations. We grabbed some food and some more blue Powerade (uck! I don't care if I ever drink that stuff again!) while we waited for Chris and Maria to come in. They appeared on the Jumbotron and Jon, Erin, and I met them at the finish line. All of us Back-of-the-Packers had finished the race!

From left to right: Chris, Maria, Me, Erin, Jon, Kristy, Rick

We went back to the motor home for some group pictures. Lynette and I headed home. I had an ice bath and compression socks waiting for me. While my finishing time was about a half hour slower than what I would have liked, I'm so happy to have finished. Up until yesterday, my black belt test was the most mentally challenging and physically grueling thing I had done. This marathon forced me to push through so much physical discomfort and self doubt. It showed me the depths of my constitution. I will always be grateful for being able to experience this.

Finally, I want to again say thanks to everyone for all of the support and encouragement. It has meant a lot to have so many people rooting for me.

Next week I am thinking of comparing all of the things I did right and all of the mistakes I made as I trained for the marathon. Have a fantastic week everyone!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Birthday Run

So. Last fall I tossed around the idea of running 26.2 miles on my 47th birthday which falls on May 21. By Thanksgiving I had decided to do it and started telling people my plan. I knew running that far would be a challenge, but I figured birthday runs are supposed to be challenging. Now, I don't know who started spreading the word, but apparently there are now over 20,000 people who want to join me on my birthday run. Say whaaaat? Look. I get embarrassed when we go out to eat and the server finds out it's my birthday. Before I know it I have a plastic pirate hat on my head and the wait staff sings "Happy Birthday" like a sea shanty with all kind of "matey's" and "arrrr's" thrown in for color. I don't need it!

Not only are all of these people running with me but the police are blocking off the roads along the route I am going to take. I've heard there will be bands playing all along my run with hundreds, if not thousands, of people cheering me on. Someone is even going to open the Fargodome to accommodate all of these people! What started out as a quiet run has gotten completely out of control!!!! Believe me, I'll find out who started this whole thing, and they will suffer a payback.

Okay. I know next weeks race is not all about me. It is a great coincidence that the marathon falls on my birthday. It promises to be a very memorable day. I am grateful for having the chance to run it with a great group of people. I know that we are all going to do very well. Our bodies have handled the miles of pounding week after week with no serious injuries. We are prepared to battle the 26.2 mile beast!

Best of luck to everyone running next weekend. I guess my next post will be a race recap. WOOO HOOO!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Two Weeks and Counting

It's hard to believe the marathon is only two weeks away. Now we start tapering back the mileage in order to let our bodies heal a bit before the race. I know my legs will appreciate it. Yesterday's long run was only twelve miles, and next weeks will be eight miles. Only twelve miles! Did I just say that? What's happened to me that I would think of it as only twelve miles. Last year at this time I couldn't run a 5K without walk breaks. Wow! I have to be careful about becoming too complacent as we start our tapering. Approaching any runs with a cocky attitude could spell disaster. In the words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

Although I missed a weekday run last week, the ones I completed were great. I pushed up my pace a bit and ran two of the fastest six milers I've had -- thanks in part to Iron Maiden blasting out of the ipod. After the marathon I really want to work on some more speed. Being able to consistently run a 10K in under an hour would be pretty cool.

Our training group left from the Fargodome for this weeks training run. Kristy wasn't able to make it, but the rest of our bunch of back-of-the-packers (Rick, Jon, Erin, Chris, Maria, Shirley, and I) were all feeling great and ready to run. Eric from the running store joined us as well. The route followed a lot of the actual marathon course from north Fargo, through the downtown area, and a little bit into south Fargo. We could see where some roads had been covered by clay dikes during the flood. These had just recently been cleared so they were a little muddy in spots. I'm sure by race day they will be clean.

Our pace was a little faster than our normal long runs. Otherwise the run was pretty uneventful. A lot of chitting, chatting, and laughing as usual. Erin and Eric started ramping up the pace with about a mile left. I tried to keep up but just didn't have enough gas in the tank. About a half mile from the finish, Jon blew by me, passed Erin and Eric and finished at a great pace. Although the run was shorter, my legs were incredibly sore last night. I didn't have the stiffness that I usually have after a long run, but I had a very difficult time sleeping due to achy muscles. The good news is that they feel much better today.

No one in our bunch, except for the trainers, has run a marathon. I think it's amazing that all five of us first timers will finish the training, and it looks like we should all do well in the race. I know that having a fantastic group of people to run with has made it possible for me to come this far. A favorite quote of Rick's is, "A burden shared is a burden halved and a joy shared is a joy doubled." The meaning of this quote has certainly resonated with me during this experience, and I hope to approach all things in life with this sentiment.

I went to the Fargo Running Company yesterday and had Lamont and Eric help me get fitted with a new pair of shoes. I've had some doubts about a previous assessment done by someone else regarding my gait and thought I would get another opinion. My feet are quite flat which usually means I might  tend to overpronate. It turns out that the original assessment of no overpronation was correct. I can wear a neutral shoe but one with some support because of my weight. I like Asics shoes for their roomy toe box. I wanted to try on a couple of different styles, but they didn't have the cheaper one in my size. Eric and Lamont agreed that the Asics Gel Nimbus 12 (see picture below) would offer the support and cushion I needed. Eric sold them to me for a great price. Thanks guys!

New kicks! Sweeeeeeet!

After the marathon I have some home improvement projects to finish, so taking time for them is a top priority. Even with these projects looming I have started thinking about other races to enter this year.I know I want to run the Fargo Mini-marathon which is a half marathon held in October. I won't be running any more marathon distances this summer, but would maybe like to try a 25K or some more half marathons. Maybe a trail race or two? Hmmmm, so many choices. Time to start surfing the web for places to run.