Sunday, May 13, 2012

Race Recap - Flying Pig 2012

To say that I was anxious going into this race would be the understatement of the year. I set a lofty goal for myself, and the thought that 18 weeks of hard training could all be shot to hell because of the weather had me on the verge of tears all week long. I wanted those 10 seconds back. I wanted them BAD. I resigned myself to the fact that I would need to change my race strategy to account for the heat and humidity, but I knew that I wouldn't be happy with anything more than 3:59:59. I was an absolute wreck. Poor husband had probably had his fill of my moping and whining and self-deprecation - if I learned anything this training cycle, it's that I'm absolutely miserable during the taper period. I get pissy and restless and dream up all kinds of phantom injuries. This time around I had a stress fracture and a busted knee. And a blister, that was NOT imaginary, from my last long run leading up to race weekend. I spent the whole week freaking out about the blister and anything else I could think of to freak out about. I was a miserable person to be around. Sorry to everyone who had to suffer alongside me in real life.

Charlie and I at the Expo. I felt like the clock was teasing me - ha ha, you won't get sub-4, ha ha ha ha ha - I told you, I was losing my shiz.

On race morning I was up and out the door by 4:30, after a night full of tossing and turning. I had adopted a Lance Armstrong quote for the weekend, which is funny, because I don't really care for him. I tried to use it as a sleep mantra - "Pain is Temporary, Quitting is Forever." It didn't work. Well, it didn't work to sleep, anyway, but it must have had some psychological effect, because when the porta-potties had been visited and the bra had been stuffed with sport beans and salt, I went over and stood next to the 3:50 pace group in my assigned Pig Pen. I may have been able to get away with taking some giant steps back and wimping out, had I not run into my Somewhat Likeable Friend. I had been spotted! We chatted and she gave me a pseudo-pep talk, which is fitting, because it was her and her blog that inspired me to take up the hobby, to begin with. So there I stayed, next to the guy with the 3:50 balloons. The ceremonies went on, we sang the national anthem, and then - we were off! Well, kind of. It took a good 90 seconds to actually make it over the start line. But, we were off, and the miles began to tick by. Over the bridge and into Kentucky, west from Newport to Covington, another bridge, more downtown streets, and a third bridge back to Cincinnati.

Short trip to the west side, then back east down 7th, through a canyon of screaming, cheering spectators. It was absolutely amazing how many people were out to cheer us along. After that it was time to climb the hills - the long, steep incline up Gilbert and the stair-step hills through Eden Park, home of the famous inspirational phone booth.

Once the hills were behind us things really started to pick up - the segments through O'Bryonville and Hyde Park went by in the blink of an eye. I felt strong and full of energy. My beans and salt tablets were working exactly as I expected. No random bouts of nausea to derail me this year. The sun started to beat down as we left Hyde Park and Fairfax to enter the charming village of Mariemont, where the residents were waiting to spray us down with hoses. It was heavenly! Then it was on to the dreaded Columbia Parkway section of the course. It was so hot out there on the road with no shade trees. Turning off of the parkway was such a relief. We exited onto Eastern Ave and continued to run at a steady 8:46/mile pace down Eastern and finally onto Riverside. That's when I started to falter. Mile 23 was rough - the pacers were great, super encouraging, reminding us to take it just one mile at a time. Up until that point I had felt invincible, but the wheels were starting to fall off. I plodded on until somewhere in Mile 24, when I took a walk break through a water stop. Thankfully, I was able to start running again pretty much right away. The pace group was a little ahead of me, but the leader kept turning around to shout encouragement at me. The crowd lining the street was pretty awesome, too - this was when I started talking to myself - yes, out loud - telling myself to keep running, one foot in front of the other, you're almost there - and they just kept cheering me on.

Halfway into Mile 25, my legs just didn't want to go anymore, so I slowed to a walk/jog until I crested the final "WTF hill." I was ok with slow progress up that godforsaken hill, because I knew that I had plenty of time to reach my goal. Hell, I could have crawled that last .7 miles and still have made it in. That's about when I spotted the husband and the kid in the crowd. I couldn't possibly walk/jog past them, so I picked it up again. Husband managed to snap a single somewhat-ok picture of me - this is just past the point where I thought I was going to die. That chick in the tutu became my motivation - MUST BEAT THE TUTU! (and I did)

I crossed the finish line in 3:50:28. I collected my recovery snacks and water, had a brief celebration with Auntie Ann, and then continued on in search of the bag buses and my flip flops. After I got my stuff I collapsed on the grass. I *may* have cried in relief of actually meeting my goal. I was exhilarated.

After I met up with the fam, I celebrated with a berry weiss beer. Super tasty. It was a good day.

In the end, this was, hands down, the smartest training cycle I've ever done, and it resulted in the smartest race I've ever run. I followed the plan set out in the FIRST training plan (Run Less, Run Faster), but not the advanced mileage version. I missed one run in the middle, thanks to a business trip, and one run toward the end, when I was making sure that I didn't have an injured hip. Other than that, I did my speedwork religiously and didn't skimp on the mileage during my tempo runs. I pushed myself to approach The Wall on my long runs and developed a smart fuel/hydration/electrolyte replenishment strategy. I did the whole pre-race increased carb thing, but did it smartly, watching my carb/fat/protein percentages and being careful about where the carbs came from. And on race day, that all paid off, and then some.

I was still standing at the end of it :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Reality Check

A friend of mine posted this article - How to Miss a Childhood - on FB, and I've been giving it a lot of thought. Technology is such a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes it easier for us to be productive. On the other hand, it makes it easier for us to be productive, at the expense of staying "in the moment" and enjoying meaningful interactions with the people around us. I'm not trying to be all high-and-mighty, here. I'm just as guilty as everyone else - I spend more time messing around on the interwebs than I really need to. I read my Nook out on the lawn while C plays with the neighbor kids. Sometimes I don't pay quite as much attention as I should while he's painting or building legos or creating worlds for his dinosaurs (not to the point where something unsafe could happen, just in terms of not being as "in the moment" and interactive as I could be). And I'm a gigantor hypocrite, because I've complained and felt slighted by others doing exactly the same thing. For example, we were out to lunch with another couple when husband's phone rang. I was absolutely mortified when he actually answered it. In the restaurant. At the table. You just don't do that! Ignore it, or take it outside if it's important, but for the love of god, you don't answer the phone at the table. A perfect example of technology allowing us to be too productive and too connected. There have also been instances when I've been out with a friend who is constantly on her phone - texting other people, reading her facebook wall, sending facebook messages - while we're sitting at a table together, barely talking. Awkward.... So the thought that I might be inadvertently making my own child feel the same way - ignored, neglected, second fiddle - by being distracted by the technology I carry around in my pocket - is sobering. I can't promise that I'll ever be the perfect model parent and completely ignore the smartphone at home. These habits are hard to break, even though they're so relatively new. But I can promise myself that I will try to be better, and that I will make a conscious effort to be more aware of the little moments, the daily opportunities we have to make memories and enjoy life together - because those will be gone all too soon.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lipstick on my Piggies

I don't like feet. I don't have a really good reason, they've just never been my favorite body part. They're clammy and weird-looking and usually unattractive. One of the not-so-pleasant side effects of running long distances is the punishment that 4 hours of pounding pavement gives your feet. I hear horror stories all the time about discolored toes and missing toenails. Thankfully, I've been able to avoid the grossest of the foot issues, getting off lightly with a few callouses and rough spots. Until now. I'm 99% sure that I'm about to be down one toenail thanks to yesterday's superb finish. I think it's an even trade. I keep my toes camouflaged with dark polish, but I think it's a losing battle. Oh well. Full recap still to come. Not in three parts this time.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sweet Redemption

I finished the hottest Pig on record - 90% humidity at the start, near 80* by finish. The 10 seconds from Air Force have been hanging over my head since last September, and all I wanted was to break 4 hours. I was nervous because of the weather, but as it turns out, it was a lot of stress for nothing, because I have a new marathon PR.

I finished in 3:50:29. To paraphrase my friend Cynthia, I didn't just beat those 10 seconds, I made them my bitch ;)

Full recap soon.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's Starch:30!

Three days to go until Pig, which means it's time to get my carb on. Hooray fur rice and potatoes!

Normally I'd be celebrating the fact that my recommended diet includes 500ish grams of the whitest carbs possible, but I took the week off from weight training and i'm starting to feel a little doughy. That plus the water weight just makes me feel all kinds of icky.  I'm hopeful that it's mostly in my head. It better be, I ordered a new bathing suit (first one in years!) and it should be arriving any day. I'm going to force myself to wait a full week post-pig before I try it on.


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