Friday, November 27, 2009

Philly-tastic Recap

Happy Day-after-thanksgiving everyone!

I decided/finally got around to getting my pictures uploaded from the marathon because I know you've been on pins and needles awaiting a recap.....

Anyway, my weekend began Friday by flying out to Philadelphia.  Although I had planned on going alone, my dad decided last minute to come so we flew out together.  This ended up making the weekend so much better/more fun and gave us some "bonding time."  After getting our car, we drove into Philly, checked into our hotel and went for a walk to dinner at the "Marathon Diner"- how appropriate!  We crashed soon after and slept for a glorious 10 hours.

Saturday morning, we jogged down to the Museum of Natural History and took some "Rocky" pics running up the steps- I'll spare you those.  After a sketchy oatmeal breakfast from Au Bon Pain, it was off to the expo!  The pic above is of me holding up six fingers in honor of marathon #6.  We actually had alot of fun at the expo and sightseeing and eating two shady baked potatoes from lunch at a food court.  The rest of the afternoon was spent in preparation and reading, before a customary frozen yogurt dinner and bed.

Morning came.

Banana x2 = breakfast of champions
As well as my lucky shirt that I wore with my sweet new arm warmers.

I seemed to be obsessed with the awkward thumb's up out of nervousness.

Pop and I at the start.  Super-bright jacket = sweet.

And the running began!  The first few miles were great and flew by although I could feel it not lasting.  The bottom of my foot and my knee were hurting, which I hoped would go away- no such luck.  Infact, the bottom of my foot has since bruised after the race which I didn't even know could happen.  Anyway, I was cruising hitting 7:15-7:30 miles, and feeling great.

Me, at the 10K point- yay!

However, the good times were short lived.  By 10 miles, both my foot and my knee were greatly hindering my pace which dropped significantly.  I felt my recent swine flu catching up with me and felt overall tired.  Mentally it was difficult at the halfway point to see a sign that said "Finish -->" (for the half marathoners) and another that said "14 mile <---" which I followed.  I saw my pop again at 15 miles and was seriously doubting if I could finish at that point.  I said a few choice words to him as he tried to run along side of me, mainly because I could see how slow we were going and it was frustrating.  My legs felt fresh, but the injuries were not allowing me to pick up the pace and my garmin delivered disappointing news everytime I looked at it.  With 10 miles to go, the marathon had turned into an exercise in survival.  I counted down each mile and felt mad that I couldn't enjoy the course and the experience more.  Finally, the last 2 miles came.  There was a good deal of crowd support and people using my name (from my bib) which really helped.  The finish was finally there and I crossed it in a somewhat disappointing 3:41.  I knew (and so did you if you read my long last post) that I was not likely going to PR.  However, I was hoping to better my corral for Boston and come closer to a PR.  But it was not to be and there honestly was no more I could have done that day.  I can't let myself as a runner be defined by one less-than-ideal performance.

Post-race, "boo"- me giving my pop the thumb's down sign.

Back at the hotel atleast-it-is-over thumb's up!

Post race breakfast was delicious, and time with my dad was great.  Really, it was a nice weekend overall- even when I had to work at 6am the morning after.  I am currently taking it easy this week and re-evaluating my goals for the next year or so.  December will be pretty chill for me in terms of training, but I plan on getting all the pieces in place to hit it hard starting in January for Boston.  Philly was a great experience, a good way to cap off my running year, and makes me want to work harder and smarter for the future.

More on my training plans to come......

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Doubts and realizations

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile.  Mostly for myself I guess, to get it out there and on 'paper' what I am thinking.  Here's the deal:

When I embarked on my high milage summer training program on June 1st of this year, I had one goal in mind: a fall marathon PR, ie: sub 3:18.  I had just ran Boston on April 20th, followed very soon after by the Bayshore marathon on May 23rd.  I never expected a PR in Boston, and although Bayshore is a fast course, it was too soon with too little break post-Boston to PR.  I ran both marathons in 3:33 and some change.  After talking it over with a running friend/mentor of mine, I embarked on my summer program, working my butt off with double-workouts, speedwork, races, and long runs while working a 40+ hour a week summer job on my feet.  But honestly, I loved every minute of it. 

Finally, I decided upon the Philly Marathon on November 22nd, because honestly I was shut out of alot of marathons for not committing soon enough and I wanted a chance to get my feet on the ground teaching and in the working world.  I planned my fall racing and pictured myself so at my peak and ready to run on November 22nd.  Everything seemed so set and ready...back in August.

Here's where the realization comes in:

I can not do everything.

This past year has been my most intense and rewarding running year thus far.  (this is the part where I start massively trying to reassure myself that all is not lost!) I started training for Boston on December 1st, 2008 so Philly will mark almost a full year of training.  I have never taken more than 3 days in a row off after a marathon.  I trained in the dead of winter, 5am runs at 5am before my student teaching, swimming afterschool, long runs in the snow.  I completed my first Boston Marathon, then helped my friend complete her first marathon at Bayshore (atleast I'd like to think I helped!).  I have ran 6 half marathons, with a PR of 1:30:05, several 15Ks, a 10 mile race, and many 10 and 5Ks.  I completed my first Ultra Marathon, a 50K that I decided to run only an hour before the race started, winning the overall female title.  This summer, I hit 80 miles per week and took only a rest day per month.  In most local races, I place in the top three females.  I'm not saying this to brag or to 'toot-my-own-horn.'  I am saying this, because these are truths, the facts of the last year.  And with that said, I am accepting this: I probably will not PR at Philly.  And despite my competitive nature and my original goal so many months ago, I am OK with that.  I am OK because I have done so much with my running this year that this race is really a victory lap.  I am OK because I now know that it is difficult (read: impossible) to peak for a late-fall marathon while racing 1/2 marathons every weekend, taking little time off, and oh yeah, throwing in a 50K too!  Yeah, I could have blown off all the other racing and really put my heart 100% into being perfectly primed for Philly.  But, I would have missed out on what I love about the sport- the comraderie, racing, and winning.  Maybe there will be a time and a place when I take on the "one-peak race" mentality.  But, it wasn't this year, it wasn't this time.

Knowing all of this, I am ready to go to Philly with my "best foot forward."  Not necessarily as an amazing PR effort, but as a culmination of all that I have done in my running this year- a way to celebrate all of the milestones that I have hit and obsticles that I have pushed through in order to accomplish my running goals.  In running and in life, if it were only about the destination, we would never leave our front door.  Here's to the journey- and loving every step!