Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ready, Set, Go

As anyone who has ever spent months upons months preparing for one big day, a few miniscule moments of life, knows, when the countdown can be kept in hours, rather than days, mixed feelings abound.

From food choices to my social calendar, for the last five months everything has been organized around a training regime. It started out as a chore. A chore whose results I desired, but whose tasks I did not enjoy nor really mind. It was simply a part of my life to be tolerated, much like brushing my teeth. But over time, toleration turned into adoration.

The logical assumption is that running thirty plus miles a week has flooded my body with so many endorphins that it was just a hangover from the "runner's high." Perhaps that is part of the answer, but the real cause of this love affair with running is this blog. Finally putting pen to paper (ehh, fingers to computer) and expressing all the crazy thoughts that come to me when running, turned out to be the x-factor in this marathon training plan. Just as much as I have enjoyed conquering each mile, I have loved sharing my experience.

But all good things must come to an end, and the marathon is right around the corner. After the marathon, I will post once more to recap the marathon and then I will plan on signing off until next marathon training season. But before I head out to Philadelphia for the experience of a lifetime, I wanted to share (once more) my favorite blog posts and the story of my blogging/running experience. Read through them once more and then lace up your shoes, and do something that you always wanted to do but never thought you could do.

Here's my first real blog post: Waking Up and Working Out. It's by no means the best one, but it's my first and thus that makes it special.

I had written Central Park Jogger long before I actually typed it out. Central Park brings so many runners together and those runners put all of my excuses out of business. If they can do it, so can I.

Mid-summer I changed jobs, and this inspired a story about quitting a run. Quitters is one of the first times I tried to draw a parallel between life and running. It's right around this post that I finally found my blogging voice and started to love the blogging as much as the running.

Is it hot in here or what? represents my second foray into drawing a parallel between life and running. This time I tried to show how running through the second hottest summer in New York helped me reconnect with my sixteen year old self. Corny? Maybe, but then again the heat makes me do crazy things.

By the end of September, my love affair with marathon training was in full swing and this post was my attempt at trying to get others to drink the Kool-aid. For the love of the run might be my favorite.

October brought some pre-marathon anxiety and worry, but these were quickly resolved when I volunteered to help at NYRR's Grete's Great Gallop Half Marathon and then I shared my story in Plus One, Minus One Wall.

And now, I'm off to Philadelphia to run twenty-six point two miles.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Nine More Days Until My First Marathon!

Just nine more days until I run twenty-six point two miles! Of course, I'm scared and anxious. What if I didn't train enough? But as all those people who crossed the finish line in New York last week demonstrated, finishing the marathon is the ultimate accomplishment.

Just nine more days. Also, ten more days until I'm back home in Michigan!

Photo of the Liberty Bell by K. Ciappa for GPTMC
Photo of the Philadelphia Marathon by M. Kennedy for GPTMC

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Delayed Gratification

The first marathon is a scary event. That's why I'm trying to pad the experience with lots of good things as well. So that no matter how nervous I am or how bad the bonk is, that I will still be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

No more coffee. I quit coffee a few weeks ago, but have intermittently had a cup or two when extra tired or before a big run. I'm looking for that big burst in energy that a cup of coffee will provide after a two week caffiene detox.

Oldies but goodies. I frequently download new music before long runs. There is nothing like a new song to help me pick up the pace or run an extra mile. But now, I'm building up a collection of new songs to be listened to for the first time next Sunday. I'm already excited about this song.

I know it doesn't seem like much, but I love coffee and I'm missing it dearly. And the music, well I'm okay without new music, but man, oh man, am I excited to hear all my new songs. Hmmm, sounds like I'm trying to bribe myself a little?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How many plates of spaghetti?

I like to be able to quantify things. It gives me a sense of order in the world. The preparation for a marathon is the perfect numbers game. In order to make it twenty-six point two miles, training lasts eighteen weeks, and another fifteen weeks for the beginner. All training programs, should include one long run a week with a minimum-maximum distance of twenty miles.

When I found out that there is a calculator which calculates the carbohydrate caloric need to fuel a marathon at a specified pace, I was intrigued. The pre-race carbo loading has been a bit of an art this season. I started with the classic Italian pasta dinner before long runs, but as my mileage crept up, the overflowing plate of pasta went from fuel to a rock sitting in my stomach.

So then I decided that carbo-loading could be a two day event. I had read that Grete Waitz, the great NY Marathoner, never ate a big meal before a marathon, and I decided to try out her method. So two nights before the big run, I ate a big meal with some protein and little fat, and then I continued to eat carbohydrate heavy meals through lunchtime the next day. By carbohydrates, I don’t necessarily mean bread, pasta, and more bread. Vegetables and fruit have carbohydrates and so I mix those into my diet as well. The Friday night meal is just a big salad full of vegetables, croutons, and maybe a little cheese.

This combination has worked much more spectacularly than I anticipated, but sometimes it leaves me a little hungry mid-run. Hunger is preferable to feeling stuffed when running double-digit miles, but I would rather not feel it. So I plugged my stats into the endurance calculator and clicked “compute”.

What did that little magic calculator come up with? Well first of all, it told me my aggressive best marathon performance time – of 3:18! I’m still laughing over that one. Maybe in another lifetime. But it also said that I need to eat 1560 calories from carbohydrates to achieve my goal time of 5 hours. That’s almost a whole extra day of food. Now that’s a goal that I can wrap my mind around.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some Great Stories about the NY Marathon

This past Sunday's marathon filled me with equal parts fear and hope. But rather than go into all the things that I'm worried about, I thought I'd share some of the great stories that came out of this weekend.

Haile Gebrselassie comes to NY for the first time and then didn't finish. But no matter, this 37 year old runner from Ethopia is the greatest in the sport and holds the world record.

This is the highlights reel of the marathon. Did you know Al Roker ran? In just over 7 hours? Also, a lady who has run 10 marathons in this year alone, plus our favorite, the Chilean miner and his escorts.

Nothing inspired me more than the story of Shalane Flanagan making her marathon debut (hey, so am I in Philly!) and also coming in second place, the first time an American woman has finished that high in over two decades.


It's Quiet Time

Week two of taper is here and the marathon is only twelve days away. Now it's really time for me to rest and relax.

Despite all the positive health benefits that running has brought to my life, marathon training has been tough. I'm starting to suffer from IT Band Syndrome, and I am plagued with phantom pains and aches like never before. I'm not sure if its my body or the human body but at some point this marathon training has become just about all that my body can handle.

The effects of training are starting to bleed into other areas of my life. I'm so tired that I can't stay up late anymore and I can't fit into a few pairs of my high heels because my feet have either grown or they are swollen all the time now.

But as much as I know that I need this rest, it gets boring after a while. I mean how many movies can I really watch? So I have some things planned to break up the monotony, including a trip to the spa and a day of painting pottery. I'm also going to spend some time cooking and baking.

Only twelve more days....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's just 12 miles

My taper started last weekend, but this week's training, though significantly less than the week before, is still pretty intense by non-marathon training standards. But after today's twelve miler, my training takes a significant dive into nothingness and then finally culminating with the Philadelphia Marathon on November 21.

I will miss these long runs and all the crazy rituals that go with them. What's to miss about spending a Friday night in and a Saturday morning exercising for hours and hours? Oh plenty.

There is the friday morning bagel, the West Side Green Way, the Brooklyn Bridge, and new music just to start. And then there's the feeling that something real was accomplished.

Speaking of New Music, here's what I downloaded for my run today. Some of it is happy and some is a bit more melancholic - reflecting perfectly my feelings about the end of the long run.

What's My Name? (Featuring Drake) by Rihanna & Drake

Cry When You Get Older by Robyn

Gone Too Far by Dragonette

Back to the Crib (Featuring Chris Brown) by Juelz Santana

Nantes by Beirut

Furr by Blitzen Trapper

Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars

Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe by Okkervil River

Fake Empire by National

Take Me to the Riot by Stars

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

I'm basically screwed

As with many things in life, I've kept this qualifying for the NY Marathon to the 11th hour. There were plans, of course, to have qualified by now, but running a race every weekend - even if I don't even try to race them, is hard, and I missed two of them.

So now I'm staring down the last two months of 2010 and I have to run three more races with the New York Road Runners. Unfortunately for me, there are only 5 more races this year that I can run and I need to run three of them.

One starts in two hours but its pouring outside and I may have to sit in the rain for an hour because I need to pick up my bib by 7 a.m. and the race doesn't start until 8 a.m.

One is a 9.2 mile race one week before Christmas. I'm not sure I want to run 9 miles in twenty degree temperatures.

And one more is at midnight on New Years Eve. I have never been awake in my entire life at midnight and felt like a nice jog. So you can imagine how much this race is calling to me.

As you can see I have options AND excuses.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New York Marathon Madness

As you know, I'm planning on running New York in 2011, and so I'm using this year, the year that I'm not full of nervous and pent up energy, to revel in the NY Marathon fever.

Today, the last two miles of my run are on the last two miles of the marathon course. I tried to make the most of the run and visualize that I was running the last two miles of my marathon, but I was hopped up on a cup of coffee and it did not work at all. Oh well, I tried.

Also on my agenda this week is the marathon expo and a five mile race.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wings at My Feet - The Marathon Racing Shoe

Marathon Taper time is here and aside from all the relaxation and meditation that I'm supposed to engage in, it's also SHOPPING TIME!

Ok, so it's really not shopping time, but it's time for me to get together all the gear that I need for the marathon, and if I don't have something, I would of course need to buy it. So this really isn't the fun, glamorous shopping we do on 5th Avenue, unless of course the running store makes you giddy, but with all the running stores and specialty sports stores in New York City, it's definitely not boring.

All year, I've been running in a pair of light Brooks running shoes, and a few months ago at the running store, I was introduced to a light pair of racing shoes called Launch from Brooks. They are pretty flimsy and only last 100-200 miles (in marathon training speak that would be two to five weeks), so I didn't buy them, but now that I'm tapering, I'm going to start rotating those shoes with my current, sturdier pair.

I've been dreaming about these new shoes for the last two months, and tonight, I finally get to realize this dream. I know what you are thinking. New shoes that weight only six ounces less are not going to help me out. But in the big, bad world of marathons every little thing counts. And six ounces after twenty miles can feel like sixty pounds.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Songs on Repeat for the Month of October

October was a crazy busy month for me. I logged around 120 miles of running, had to finalize a 10Q, ran a half-marathon and had an out of town visitor in for a weekend. In short, I could barely find time to breathe this month. But since the running goes on, no matter what else is going on in my life, so does my collection of music grow. Here's what I've been enjoying this past month:

Unless It's Kicks by Okkervil River

Come With Me by ceo

None of Dem by Robyn & Royksopp

Victory (Featuring Nas & John Legend) by DJ Khaled

Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare by Matt & Kim

Alive (Nightmare) (Featuring Ratatat) by Kid Cudi

I Fall In Love Everyday by Fake Money

Dog Days Are Over (Breakage Remix) by Florence + the Machine

Everlasting Light by the Black Keyes

Vaporize by Broken Bells

Got That Tonic by Fake Money

(Ha Ha) Slow Down (Featuring Young Jeezy) by Fat Joe

And because my friend Jennifer was in town, I went to see "In The Heights" this month and she was kind enough to share the soundtrack with me. So I've been listening to the music from that awesome show. Here's a link to their Tony Awards performance of the song "96000."