If the part of last week’s post talking about the marathon upcoming was disjointed and weird, it was because I wrote and edited it over a few days and my brain kept changing. Here’s where my head was at:
Monday: hamstring’s a little tight but whatevs. Run 3 fast outside and feel ok.
Tuesday: hamstring’s stil hurting and tighter. Decide to work quads on the bike. Hurt hip. Fuck.
Wednesday: hamstring is like a rock and hip hurtiing. Bag the 3 miler I was going to do that day and just rested. Brain starts reeling about how stupid I was for thinking 70.3 training did anything for me for marathoning, that if I was going to get through this race, I was going to go in either woefully unprepared if I rested like I needed to or in some form of injury.
Thursday: a little better in the AM. Run 2 miles and it starts tightening up so I walk the last mile and save my legs for the race.
Thursday night: getting to be a huge headcase and threw a tantrum and got drunk and went to bed at 2:30 when I had to get up at 7:30 for work. Pretty much my subconscious pulling the “well, if I’m going to go into the day fucked, I might as well go in righteously fucked. Pretty teenage of you, subconscious.
Friday morning: exhausted and a little pissed at myself… but hip and hammy feel a little better. Drive to Dallas takes 5 hours (and we all know that 5 hours in a car is GREAT for hurty legs), getting in at 10:30, sleep at 11:30 for a 5am wakeup. Fuck fuck fuck. I never do well with bad sleep 2 days in a row. This is going to be a disaster.
Even though I channeled the brat on Thursday night, I did ice and stretch and foam roll and biofreeze and shocky like a champ. Even though I just wanted to run right through it because it didn’t hurt while running and see what happened with it, I can’t do that so close to the marathon. If the option is undertrained or injured, I’ll take undertrained every time. If I have to baby myself to get in a few key runs (read: long ones), so be it.
Something magical happened Friday night. The 6 hours of sleep was amazing sleep. Like, magical, healing, deep sleep. I woke up not completely exhausted and *cue magical trumpets and angels* my hip/hammy didn’t feel too bad. Then the bad news – my worst (well, worst, non-tragic, non-DNS) race fear realized – woke up crampy and bloaty. Yes, it was the start of that happy time. Argh. Never has happened on race morning before. So, it was either risk painkillers and upset tummy or deal with cramps. Being that one was a sure thing (cramp misery) and one was a gamble (tummy issues), I went with the gamble and ate an extra cookie so there was more in there and hoped for the best.
My goal was to get in 5 miles before the race. Being that I slept in and we took a little longer than expected to get ready, I only got in 2.3 before I had to line up (32 minutes, that included about .75 of walking and I forgot to stop the timer a few times when wasn’t moving) but the legs were holding up pretty good, so I was encouraged. I snuck in with 2:25 pace group and Zliten was back with the 2:35… which was about 10 feet away. So he just came up and hung out with me and we took off together. The 2:25 pace was faster than I had been running, so it was a shock to the system but I tried to keep up. The pacer was going a little faster than I wanted to go, so I let them get a little ahead. I didn’t want to blow up or injure anything.
The early miles were difficult for me. My strategy was use Frank Sinatra for the first half of the race to keep it mellow, then switch to pop for a pick-me-up. Well, it was clear by mile 4 I needed that pick me up. I was letting Zliten get ahead of me and if it was anyone else I would have just let him go, but I couldn’t let him beat me. Every time he went ahead, I sucked it up and caught up.
Then, all of a sudden, I just sort of went from hating life to loving the course and the day. There were alpacas to make llama faces at, longhorns to moo at, and it felt like running the bike course at Lake Pf. Suddenly around mile 7, I realized I was halfway, and things just seemed… better. Peppier music was helping, and soon I had crossed into double digits for the day and my body seemed to be holding up. I concentrated on using my big ass quad muscles and using proper run form, and certain stretches did challenge my aging shoes and tender parts, but I was keeping it together.
Around mile 9, we had someone ask us if we were running or run/walking, and we said running. She asked if she could run with us and we were like, “the more the merrier”, so she stuck with us. Zliten likes to run and talk, and so did she, so it works (because I like to listen and nod, pretty much, I’m not a talky runner). Mile 9, 10, and 11 ticked down, and we took turns pulling each other, and I kept counting down the miles to go on my garmin. When we hit 12, I started speeding us up, and she asked to know at .5 to go to so she could speed up again, and once we hit it I kicked and kept accelerating, ending in the 8s when I crossed the finish line. I felt great! We hit about 2:25 exactly, which is a 2 minute PR for Zliten!
And since I was feeling so great, I knew that it was the day I had to do my 20. I only had 4.6 miles to go. I got my medal, towel, and some water and a random juice type beverage for some calories, gulped it down, stashed my finisher stuff with Zliten, and got going. I counted a few tenths of a mile of walking to get going again, and then I took off. It was a little rough to get going since I stopped long enough to get stiff, but I’ve never felt so fresh and energetic in the 15-16 mile range! It was… amazing! I kept thinking I was going to hit a wall and it never came. I ran each mile right around 12:15s, slow and easy. I kept thinking I’d walk at the top of the next mile each mile and then got there and didn’t want to stop.
I ran 3 loops around a short trail in the apartment complex next to the race, and at 3.7 I headed back. At 4.2 I would be able to collect Zliten, walk the .4 miles back to the hotel, and end at 20. At 4.1, I started to head in and then said “fuck this, I feel strong, I want to finish my first 20 running”, so I looped around and soon it clicked over to 4.6. Holy crap. 20 miles in the bank, and I did them faster than either attempt I’ve done at 18 (3:55). I was on cloud fucking 9.
All the worry from this week, all the uncertainty about how I trained and the choices I made last week, washed away. Training for a half ironman may not be a traditional, or even all that smart way to get your body ready for a marathon, but it did wonders for my mind. I am mentally stronger and much more patient with myself and can field the ups and downs of a multi hour effort like a champ. Sometimes a cursing, spitting champ, but definitely not giving up on myself like I was last winter. My body may have excelled better with different training, but the half iron training did wonders for my mind. If I could finish 20 feeling this strong less than 2 weeks out from my half ironman, I’m ready for the marathon. Now it’s just time to keep skating the edge of as many miles as I can f0r two more weeks while keeping my body healthy and uninjured, and then taper.
Still TBD whether this was a good idea, but I feel a lot more confident that I didn’t make a huge mistake. In one morning, in the span of about 5 hours, I went from feeling despair and uncertainty about the condition of my body and what it could do, to a feeling of strength, and power, and confidence.
When I came back, I found Zliten and gave him a huge sweaty hug and told him that I finished my 20 running and felt really good. Then I found Libby and gave her a sweaty hug and told her I just finished my first 20 and said ‘bye and thanked her for putting on a great race. Feel bad I didn’t get to talk more but we were both busy with our respective days. We walked back to the hotel, showered and packed, and then got our prize – In N Out. However, I had taken another round of ibuprofen before the cramps had a chance to hit, and they hit my empty tummy like a rock. It was actually challenging to get my double double down, but I did it and half my fries and two sprites. My tummy held it down and as it digested I felt better, so noting that I need to just make sure to keep the calories flowing if I’m going to do painkillers.
Just a note: I loved this race. I sort of want to run it next year and try to PR. It had enough hills to keep you honest and change what muscles were being blasted, but not enough to kill you, and it was gorgeous the whole way! The volunteers were awesome and they had pace groups for every 5 mins for about 1000 people, and the medal rocks.
Sunday was for rest, and here’s the rest of my week.
Monday: 4 miles
Tuesday: 6 miles before work, 2 miles at lunch with the new work running group
Wednesday: 45 mins on the bike trainer + weights
Thursday: 4 mile run + weights
Friday: off (company launch party)
Saturday: off (recovering from)
Sunday: ~18 miles. Something in the upper teens, certainly. Probably best not to do a second 20 two weeks in a row, I gather.
I’m going to keep my goals the same this week:
-Eat good. I ate better. Veggies are part of my life again, though we need to see each other a little more regularly.
-Run with a goal of staying healthy. Stretch, roll, shock, ice, and bag any workouts that feel like they may push me over the edge.
-Sleep like a champ. Sunday was a 13 hour of sleep day, I’m pretty impressed with my slothiness!
Question of the week – what’s your favorite post race or post run food?
Bonus: silly video of me running via Zliten