Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cleveland Marathon: Part II

Time for the wrap up.

Passing the 1/2 way point we picked up a new pacer. Her name was Liz and she was super skinny and on "fresh legs" which made me extremely green with envy. She was given some balloons to carry for a mile or so to identify the 3:40 group, which would help me keep them in sight a little bit longer than I would have later in the race. I saw e-speed and solar one last time yelling at me that I looked great. Thanks ladies.

As soon as we hit Chester the weather broke and the sun came out. I wiped my wet sunglasses and slid them on. I once read squinting causes tension in the shoulders and wastes energy and I have been trying to break that bad habit of staring at the ground when I run as that leads to poor form. My feet were a tad soaked but manageable as some guy had run through a puddle and splashed the back of my legs in the first half. I was a little mad, but he probably was feeling worse than me. Mile 14 went by at 8:30, mile 15 8:32, hmmm we were gaining a few seconds every mile and this part is downhill. I was getting a little tight in my hip flexors at this point and I could feel the nagging cramps in my cavs had become a dull ache. Now, I was worried. If this had been a 30k I would have said to hell with it and hammered it all the way in as hard as I could, but this was a marathon and I knew I would be in trouble before it was over.

Now, the best thing to do when your legs are getting cramped due to lack of oxygen in them is run faster right? WRONG. Pacer pulls us through mile 16 in 7:47!! WTF!!! I am gonna be in trouble really soon here. I made an executive decision to slow down right there and let the pace group move ahead without me. I knew some of my friends were up ahead, so I just focused on getting to them at the water stop, hoping that would keep me motivated. My cramps had now spread to my toes, but thankfully my racing flats do not allow for sloppy feet and I maintained my foot strike on my forefoot where I am supposed to. I had been eating shot bloks, but took a power gel with caffeine and lots of sodium in hopes my cramps were relatd to dehydration and electrolyte loss, but I knew deep in my heart it wasn't. Mile 17 with the slow down 8:22. Still 2 seconds too fast but way better. I passed a guy I knew who had been shooting for 3:30. He was walking with a limp. I told him not to give up. He said he would keep going and thanked me and yelled back some words of encouragement to me.

Finally hit my favorite water station as TZ and MN were yelling and cheering for me while also handing out water and gatorade to runners. I was so happy to see them. I wanted to hug them, but knew I would need every second, so I thanked them and pushed ahead. However, as soon as I passed them it was like the wind had left my sails. I began cramping in my quads and my hamstrings. My feet felt like someone was smacking them with a 2 x 4 every step as my racing flats are super light weight, but have NO cushioning. I knew that was the risk with racing in them, but after a strategical discussion with the Walrus we had decided bruised feet would be worth it to maintain good running form and with the downpour earlier they would accumulate less water. Mile 18 8:44...Boston had begun to slip away.

I thought about saying to hell with it right then and there, but I knew so many of my friends and family had come down to cheer for me. I told myself I would push until my body quit. I wasn't going down without a fight. My back tightened and cramped at that point and I took a gel and stopped for 5-10 seconds to bend over and stretch my lower back and hamstrings. Mile 19 9:11 first one of the day :(

I continued to make my way down MLK trying to keep the pacer in sight and get to the Walrus at mile 20. I kept telling myself "hold on, he will be there to pace you in, you can do this." Mile 20 8:47 I was back in the game. He was there just as he promised ready to run me through the headwind down Marginal. The headmaster and his fiancee were also there as a surprise to cheer for me...thanks!!! Renewed with motivation we hit the toughest part of the course and YEP there was a headwind. I had trouble tucking in at first because the walrus was too fast. I had to tell him to slow down a few times, which I knew he was not happy about. He kept reminding me the pace group was up I didn't know that. Mile 21 8:52...the wind was blowing.

I tried to just focus on the backs of his cavs and trudge through like a zombie, but no dice. I started wishing I wasn't 5 miles away. I had about 41:00 to get in and on any other day it would have been easy. I would have been stoked, but today I wished I had 51:00 as there was nothing easy about it. Mile 22 9:41. I had lost my focus. My cramps were everywhere. The walrus gave me a gel at the next aid station and grabbed water and gatorade. He refused to let me give up. Mile 23 9:26 a little better.

I had one more mile to get the hell out of this headwind, but I had to again stop and stretch...aaaarrrrggghhhh!!! This was my worst mile. I stretched for a good 20 seconds. I was almost to the Rock Hall when I heard people screaming my name. It was Twizzle and Bambi!! YAY! I was ecstatic to see them, but the damage had been done mile 24 10:49.

I was on countdown...2.2 miles to go and I will have made it. I knew Boston would have to wait until next time. I ran up the big hill for the 2nd time that day and asked the walrus if he thought my family would love me any less for missing. He laughed and said I was being ridiculous and of course not. Ridiculous, isn't running 26+ miles through, rain and a headwind for fun seen as ridiculous by most people or just a marathon in general? We actually started talking a lot more at this point as I was having a harder and harder time moving. He was super proud of me. Last year he had pretty much laughed in my face when I said I wanted to run Boston some day. Now, he just expects it. We ran into one of our friends who races for Spin who had done the 10k and totally kicked ass finishing 19th OA and winning his AG...Way to Go BS! He told me to get moving and haul it in. I frowned I was hauling mile 25 10:23.

One more mile to glory. I was still thinking how happy I was the finish was just around the corner. I had given it everything I had. I had pushed my body farther than it had wanted to go and it hadn't quit on me. Just before rounding the corner the 3:50 pacer passed by. Oh no, I didn't want that to happen and apparently neither did the walrus. He frantically started looking at his watch and me. It was okay. I had made up time on the clock. I knew I could make it, but he didn't. He looked like he was going to run over and steal the pacers balloons and race back the other way. I told him I would just give him my shoe and he could run it in. He started laughing and aksing me if I was gonna pick up the pace anytime soon. "Nah," I lied. "I just wanted to finish." We rounded the last corner onto St. Clair and there was my family one last time screaming for me like a bunch of lunatics. I waved and smiled shouting I missed, but doing my Tiger Woods fist anyway. My mom, dad and sister-in-law were all crying and waving. We hit E.13th and I said to the walrus..."Let's Go!!" I picked it up for the last stretch smiling from ear to ear as I had done it. I had finished my 2nd marathon. I crossed the finish in 3:49:31. My last mile was 9:54 and .2 was 1:42.

I was elated. I never thought I would ever break the 8 minute barrier in a 5k, let alone run a sub-4hr marathon or be able to chase Boston, but I did and I have. I was lovin' life. It had entered my mind that I might not qualify, but it had NEVER that I wouldn't finish or break 4 hours. I had improved my time by 59 minutes and some change. I had unofficially PR'd in the 10K, 1/2 marathon & 30K. The walrus hugged me, sweaty, stinky, nasty me at the finsih. He even gave me a big smooch. I can't wait to see what I get from him when I break 3:40!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cleveland Marathon '08: Part I

My day had come. I was going to take my first shot at Boston.

I awoke around 5:00am after a restless night of tossing and turning (nerves), noticed it was raining and hoped as usual that it would STOP!

The walrus drove me down to the race and we parked in our usual lot right at the start. I managed to get in 2 bathroom trips, body glide my feet, find my family and line up with the 3:40 pace group in less than 40 mins.

We stood in the coral for what seemed like forever. It was so crowded. I usually start near the back so this was just weird, but today I was going for Boston and the pacer was part of the plan.

Like many of my running friends I like to start a race a little faster than I ought to, so the pacer was there to keep me in check (at least for the first 1/2).

The race started a little after 7:00am and I was ready. I crossed the starting mats and hit my watch. I saw Twizzle a few hundreds yards down and she yelled "Go Beth." (thanks running buddy). Mile 1 went by so fast....and ....I felt pretty good. 8:13. A bit fast, but 11 seconds in the bank. I saw trisaratops in my group and was elated to hear she was going for her goal time!

Mile 2 8:07 saw the best, most obnoxious cheerleaders of the entire race at this time, there were only 2 but you would have thought there were 20!! Thanks e-speed and solar squirrel.

Mile 3 8:53 my frickin' shoe came untied, aarrgghhh, of course today :)
I lost the pace group as it took me about 20-30 seconds or so. I could see them up ahead, but I didn't want to sprint up to them, so I picked up the pace and slowly worked my way back up. Unfortunately, this was on the shoreway and there was a headwind. It was weird there was my pace group and no man's land and then more runners. I was in no man's land trying to get back up with the group...blah. I could see trisaratop's hat and she is a really smart runner. She was tucked right in there behind the pacers.

Mile 4 7:57 was working my way back up

Mile 5 7:47 apparently thought I was trying to catch the 3:30 pacer (Idiot)...slow down

Mile 6 8:30 Finally where i need to be..sheesh. 6 miles of goofing around and only 20 to go.

**me and trisaratops get monster PR's for 10k at this point.

Mile 7 8:16 on cruise control just happy to be in the groove finally. I had a few minor aches and pains that just come with the marathon. I was in check and running strong.

Mile 8 8:34 I think our pacer realized we were about 1 minute up so he was slowing us down.

Mile 9 8:39, yep definately slowing us. Fine by me. I knew I would need all the energy I could get later and the bridge was just ahead.

Mile 10 8:48, that was the bridge...

Mile 11 8:22, close enough for government work. I began thinking trisaratops is still here running strong in the 3:40...she is so close to the finish. Yesssss! I was excited for her. I knew she would get it.

Mile 12 8:10, had to say bye to trisaratops as her race was ending and the hard part for me lay ahead. I was looking for my sign too, but I couldn't see it. I had missed my family. My heart dropped. and then I saw it my sign and my family, screaming and jumping around like little kids. My dad trying to whip out the camera and get a picture, my mom waving shot bloks and my sister-in-law with my sign. I never had a sign before. It was touching. I couldn't get emotional though, so I smiled and waved. I was on my way.

Mile 13/half marathon 8:22 and .1 1:21...hit it in 1:50:06. Yeah, I am right on although in on the Cleveland Marathon website I am at 1:56:xx at the half. I think it is wrong.

I had run the 1/2 I had wanted. I was a little achy and felt tight at this point, but figured as it was okay. I had run like this before. I had trained appropriately, rested, and dropped weight. I had felt a bit yucky in the past week, but figured it was taper madness. I had taken my iron pills regularly and I was okay or so I thought....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

4 days, and less than 11 hours

Finally, at long last it is once again...


It feels like I haven't raced in forever, when in fact it has only been about 30 days. Since then though, I have worked a 1/2 marathon, a duathlon and (2) 5k's. So just about every weekend I was still getting some kind of race fix. You know how second hand smoke works right? So maybe I got some 2nd hand running :)

I look at my counter and see it say less than 4 days and 11 hours until I find out what I am made of. I had in the past followed a training schedule, but this year I had my own plan of attack. I didn't want to force myself to run for 16, 18 weeks or whatever the books said so I began my plan as soon as January 1st.

I had already run a little less than 20 mpw for a month or so as per doctor's orders. I started running 20-25 mpw through most of January getting in 4-5 runs a week with lots of cross-training, specifically cycling. When February hit I averaged 4-5 days again with about 25-30 mpw still continuing to cross-train. I even got to throw in 2 races.

March was the beginning of the monster mileage though. I backed off for a week and then started my long runs. I count anything over 13 miles as a long run, although most books say 10. I hit 17 miler and a 14 miler all in the same week and followed it up with a hard 30K + 3 miles warm-up and cool-down the following weekend. My legs were hammered. I was worried. I began wondering if I had pushed too hard and would need more than a week to recover and get my mileage back up for more long runs.

April came and I spent the next week running (3) recovery runs, (1) hard workout and a 13 miler that without Twizzle I would have not made it through. I heard the nagging voice in my head telling me to back-off and keep your eye on the prize and with that I bailed and cut my mileage down to 19.30 miles for a week. I did one hard 7 miler at North Chagrin, a 3.2 mile run at sub-12 minute/mile pace with my boyfriend's 8-year old son, a super muddy fun run with my training buddy, Bails and one 5k race. It was a short but memorable week. I enjoyed all the downtime and not having to run hard or worry about anything but having fun. It was worth it as the road ahead was gonna get bumpy.

The next weeks were going to be the key to Cleveland. I had planned on doing (2) more 20-milers and then tapering. I got them done in back to back weeks as my NCN schedule was interfering and so was the Hermes 10-miler. I ended up running the 20 milers on weekdays and pacing a friend at the 10-miler. **Let me tell you I had one of the nastiest frickin' hangovers of my life at that race!! and that was the 2nd day of the hangover!!!** Anyway, got in 2 weeks of ~40 miles of quality running. I was done no more high miles...or so I thought.

May 1st arrives. My roommate, Twizzle is running the BR100 in August and needs to run at night, so I just throw it out there that we should run from our house to my parent's one night. It is probably 15 biggie. Twizzle jumps at the idea and at midnight on May 1st we set-out for what turns out to be about 19 miles. We were both exhausted, but it was so different and I will never forget it. We ran by a pond with a water fountain that Twizzle swears she will jump in one day, learned that I am better at guessing distances to traffic lights at 2:15 in the morning than she is and people will honk at you for anything (weirdos). We finally get to my parents around 3:00am, shower and literally pass out. Needless to say I opted to take the next 3 days off.

That brings me to last week in which I ran EZ, trying not to run too fast. Most of my runs were focused on that 8:24 pace just trying to put the legs in automatic and make that my default speed. I also got a massage and it was super fantastic. It was my first one ever and it was 2 hours and the guy is great. I don't generally like being touched and especially not by strangers, but this guy was heaven sent. He was easy going and funny and I felt relaxed and rested when I left. Sunday however was a 10 miler that brought me out on pace until about mile 7 when the drowned rat syndrome sank in. I gained about 5lbs., of soggy shoes, shorts and underwear (which is so gross)and at times thought the rain was turning to frickin' snow. It was so hard. It hit me in the eye a few times and I thought goggles would be really helpful right NOW!! I also thought about how in one week's time I would be done with my marathon and have a qualifying time for Boston on my resume. I finished my run still faster than any of my 10-miler race times in past years. It just kills me my training runs are faster than my race times of the past...damn that anemia!

And here we are. with 4 days and less than 11 hours to Go time. I have seen the finish and the clock in my head so many times that I believe I am going to do this. It is "Do or Do Not" as Yoda says..."there is no try."

Joe Newton is the winningest high school cross-country coach ever and in one of his workouts the kids run 5x1 miles with 3:00 min recoveries and his mantra on the last repeat is "1 mile to Glory." I like that. Mine is "26.2 miles to Glory!!"

Friday, May 2, 2008

"Pacific Heights"

Anyone seen this movie????

Well, not only have I seen it, but I am living it.

I have one roommate who sees the glass 1/2 full (if not fuller), looks for the brighter side of things and sees the best in people.

On the other hand, I live with the DEVIL!!! She is a convicted felon who is making our lives a living "F#cking HELL!" She thinks everyone is out to get her and has no friends and lost custody of her children.

She has...
*thrown conditioner at my roommate
*stolen the television cord for our family room television, so only she can watch television
*slammed and banged every door and cupboard to disrupt us if we are home
*left every light in the house, which increased our electric bill
*and paid every rent and utility bill LATE!!!
*screamed at us for taking showers or utilizing the bathroom on "her bathroom time"
*called a girlfriend whose is dating a guy she has a fatal attraction for a "whore" and threatened to "take care of her" if she ever saw her via text
*had parties at our house with underage drinkers and illegal drugs
*proceeded to have LOUD sex with some random dude
*tell people on the phone how we are b#tches and c*nts(I hate that word)and how she absolutely hates living here (then get out, leave, be gone!!!)

I have lost my mind...
*contacted my landlord as to how to remove her - RESULT: Checking with lawyer, but if she doesn't go willingly, it doesn't look promising
*called the police for advisement regarding our safety and the illegal drugs and partying - RESULT: "Nothing, call if the party with drugs happens"
*turned off the direct tv box in her room and removed all access cards, so viewing TV is not possible (I of course will not make her pay for TV bill anymore and hopefully she will now pay rent on-time)
*debated whether we should tell our landlord to evict us and re-write the lease etc...

I do think without a doubt she will take a swing at me. I have never been in a fight with a girl before and find that I am really disappointed after all the years of finding amicable ways to resolve issues,that now at the age of 30 I must experience my first "Jerry Springer" episode. She is 37 and we believe her to really and truly be mentally unstable at this point. When she does hit me though, this will all be over FINALLY!!!

Anybody got any advice???