St. Louis Rock ~n~ Roll Marathon Recap Oct 27, 2013 ~ Anything Is Possible

I’m happy to report I completed my first marathon, 26.2 is in the bag:)  It was a wonderful, fun experience.

0400 AM  ~  Got up ready to go.  Surprisingly I slept the night before with no problem.  I was calm and I was glad none of my cats decided to “play” during the night.  Maybe I should chalk it up to inexperience but I didn’t have a case of the jitters.  Ate a banana drank a glass of water and a cup of coffee.  Checked the temperature and it’s 31 degrees.  Not happy about that, but at least it wasn’t raining or windy out.  If you’ve been to the Midwest, you know what I’m talking about.  Put on my gear and I was out the door.

0515  ~  met Kathi at the train station.  There were a lot of other runners already waiting (this was kind of neat) so the excitement was high on the train.  By the time we arrived in St. Louis the train was already packed with runners.

Getting started

Kathi and I on the train.

0600  ~  Arrived in St. Louis and made our way to the venue.  I was beginning to worry a little because it was cold.  I’m not a stranger to running in the cold, but I was really hoping it would be warmer for this first run.  Again, oh well and suck it up.  The first thing Kathi and I do is roll on over to the porta potties.  That’s right, no line you’re going to go even if you don’t think you have to go.  It’s one of those things before you run, I don’t have to go now but maybe later I will, so you try.  After that we strolled over to the gear check.  I was still wearing my pants at this point realizing that I would have to shed them at the gear check.  After about 5 minutes of banter between Kathi and me, “Are you going to take your pants off? Yes, are you?  Yes, right now?  Yes, are you…right now?”  Crap we have to take our pants off…it’s cold:(  We finally take our pants off and check the rest of the gear.

cold morning

No estoy pantalones!

0630  ~  we make it on over to the Soldiers Memorial for a picture with one of the local running groups the Road Warriors.  They are a great group of people that enjoy running and offering support to other runners.  Always a pleasure to be around.

Road Warrior Photo

Where’s Laurel and Kathi:)

0635  ~  We decide that we want to go to the bathroom… again.  Directly in front of us is a string of portas that are heavily backed up…no pun intended.  I was starting to get nervous and I didn’t even have to go.  Then out of the corner of my eye I see another string to our far right and no lines.  I point and we literally start running to these portas.  It appeared that others were catching on as well, STEP IT UP.  The jog became a little faster.  Whew I’m in the front of the line baby! It was dark and difficult to see which ones were occupied and which ones were free.  Then there was the occasional battle cry, “don’t use this one…it’s out of paper!”  The tsk, tsk of another runner, “that is not how I want to start my day” and all the affirmations of yes, yes.  Finished there and bolted to my corral.

0650  ~  Arrive at my corral, 10, and begin the wait game.  This really was a very interesting aspect of the race.  You’re pumped and ready-to-go but waiting for the race to start.  The sun was just beginning to rise and you could see that beautiful sunrise of bright orange and yellow mixed with a splattering of clouds against a struggling dark blue background.  It was electric.  I started my Garmin at least three times before I actually got going.  Since I was in corral 10, 1 – 9 went first.  This was new for me as I’ve never participated in a race this size.  So you would move up as each corral left the gate.

0710  ~  I was off.  I started strong and felt good.  In past races I usually dislike the start.  You’re always trying to dart around to find that nice hole that you can run your own pace.  It was really difficult to do this with so many people so I didn’t even try.  I went a nice normal pace and just really enjoyed the run.  I also wanted to make sure I didn’t start off to fast and had energy for the end.

I’m not going to mark time anymore because honestly after the first two  miles there was no point in me watching the clock.  I had a long way to go.  Instead I focused on the mile markers and how I felt.

Around mile 2 my hands were starting to get hot.  I grappled with throwing away my gloves so soon, but decided to do it anyway.  I should have waited a couple more miles because my hands were cold, but there you have it.  Throw-away gloves were a very good idea.

Around mile 4 I was hot and ready to shed the throw-away headband and take my long sleeve off.  Chucked the headband, danced around to take the top off, dropped my iPod and cracked the screen and Walla finally felt a little better.

Mile 4

Here I am at mile 4. My shirt is secured. Thanks to Karen Conley for supporting me and taking this picture.

Everything was easy breezy at this point.  The run was fun and I felt pretty good.  I made sure I drank plenty of water not passing up too many of the water stations.  Everyone is different when it comes to water, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t get dehydrated.  I tend not to drink as much when it’s cold, so I forced myself to take little sips.

Around mile 9 or 10, I forget, they offered the first GU gel.  Let me personally testify, chocolate and GU, uh no.  I picked up the small packet, ripped it open and began to eat it.  Nasty, is not the proper word.  Let’s just say, licking the asphalt, might have been better.  Dang!  That was bad.  Maybe they meant to do that.  Here, little girl I’ve got something yummy for you.  So yes, I did need water with that treat!

My first mental hurdle was at mile 12 when they started peeling the half marathoners away from the full marathoners.  I admit I looked at them in envy.  Wow, they’re almost finished and me I’m going to run this…again.  It’s easy to get sucked into that mindset, but I made that left turn and kept fighting for every mile.

At mile 17 I looked across the street and saw mile 24 with the lead runner heading toward the finish line.  That’s a mental mountain.  Look forward and keep going.  There were a couple of points on the route that intersected.  You might be at mile 18 and to your right you could see mile 21.  It’s tough.

My right hamstring started acting up at mile 18.  There was a lot of pain.  I had to focus and slow down a bit.  When I had to slow down I did, when I could pick it back up I did.  Mental, mental and more mental.  I kept fighting for every mile.

Another GU gel was offered at mile 19.  Oh no you don’t!  I’m not falling for that again.  This gel was mandarin orange.  Oh…really…sure it is.  I took it anyway.  Yes, it tasted like man….CRAP!  It did give me a boost.  The things we must endure for a boost.

Miles 20 – 23 were tough.  The pain in my leg would come and go and I had to adjust the pace the best I could.  As Ron the pace guy neared me with his bright shiny placard with 4:45 in big black writing, I was determined that he shall not pass!  So, I pulled it together and moved forward to mile 24.

My good friend Karen was able to make it to the 24 mile marker and take a photo.  Let it be known, if you are going to do something ~ go big or stay at home.  Folks, this may be one of the best photo bombs yet.  There is no measurement for the level of awesomeness for this quality of photo bomb.  I will say this, we’re both smiling at mile 24, therefore brother, and you’re alright with me.

Photo Bomb

Mile 24

 

Photo bomb1

Just because one isn’t enough.

Mile 24 became mile 25 and you know the rest of the story.  I finished with a time of 4:41.  I’m happy, empowered and ready to do it again.  A special thank you to my husband Dave who has supported me through all my training and my friend Lorene who was at the finish line.  A hearty thank you to everyone who offered well wishes and encouragement.  Happy miles to you.  With hard work, determination and the right attitude…

Anything is possible…..

FinishedKathi and Me

….even drinking Michelob Ultra Light afterwards.  (If you follow this blog you understand!:)

After Beer

 

 

 

Pre-Marathon Expo

Let’s see if I can get this post out with proper spelling, etc unlike the night before.  I guess that’s what happens when you are blogging at 930 PM trying to get words out and thinking one thing while typing another.  Sigh.

When I went to pick up my bib yesterday there was a Running Health Expo as well, different companies selling all sorts of running gear as a precursor to the race.  I’ve never been to one so it was pretty neat, at least for women.  Sorry guys, I know they were selling stuff for you too, but let’s be honest, this was all about women.  Shirts, skirts, socks, running bras, onesies for babies and the almighty headband.

The first part of the Expo was the “Brooks” store.  I happened to migrate over to the shoes where the salesman asked me would I like to try on a pair.  Yes.  As
I was trying on the holy grail of moderate stability shoes, the young man said
oh so cavalierly “you know if you spend $150.00 you’ll be a VIP”.  I looked at him quizzically.  “You know, Very Important Potty”.  At that moment the clouds parted, light shone down and a choir of angels descended.  What does that mean, I asked.
“You don’t have to wait, you get to use the special potties”. You mean I can potty like a rock star?  Yes, oh my yes.  I began to have visions of Charmin served up on silver trays as I walked into my USDA Grade A porta potty.  Hmmm.  He continued to look at me with a twinkle in his eye.  You’re good, I said.  Again he batted those baby
blues.  Alas, I had to let him down gently, I’m afraid I’m not in the market for new shoes at the moment, so I sulked my way over to the sports bras.

So many choices and so many colors.  There is no discussion here, yes…I’ll take that one.  Sigh, yes I’ll need a small.  Walking…walking…STOP! Oh my LAWD what do we have here?  After leaving the spectacular land of sports bras I found myself in headband heaven.  All women runners are aware of the headband craze.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard “That’s so cute”!  My goodness.  They have us hook, line and sinker.  Do I need another headband, no.  Did I buy another headband, of course.  Walking…walking…ooooh compression leg sleeves.  The woman at the kiosk asks, “should I measure you”?  Yes.  I’ll take those.   Walking…walking.  Hmmm, I’ve lost my friend Kathi, oooh Jamba Juice.  Yes.  Finally found Kathi and we took our photos.

Laurel and Kathi Laurel and Kathi Arch0001

Believe it or not, I got out of there fairly cheaply.  It was a lot of fun and I came home with some good stuff.  So this is what it looks like for tomorrow.  Throw-away gloves, body glide, temporary inspirational tattoos, compression socks, new rockin’ headband and my give away ~ give away.  I have a courage bracelet that I plan to wear on the run.  When I finish the race I plan to pass it on to someone else.  Think of it as a good luck charm.

Expo Visit

Passion Post #3 ~ Disappointment Breeds Victory

I truly believe that disappointment and failure breeds the passion for victory and success.  That feeling of wanting something so badly, only in the end not to obtain or achieve your goal is a hard lesson.  I’ve experienced that disappointment through sports, education and life. Some of those life experiences worse than others.  One things for sure, I’ve always had this tenacity to come back and fight harder.

Circa late 1970s and I’m in Middle School in Victoria, TX.  I’m in the 6th grade and interested in trying out for the girls basketball team.  I love basketball and I wanted to be on the team, so badly.  The day comes to try out and let’s just say…hmmm I had a lot of work to do.  All in all I thought I did fairly well and when try outs were over we were told that the team postings would be listed on the locker room wall by the end of the week.

Friday was finally here and there was a buzz of excitement in the air.  If you’ve ever tried out for any sport, you are well aware of the jitters that go along with waiting to find out if you made the team.  I make my way down the cream-colored, fluorescent lighted hallway.  I see the two lists on the wall.  One is for the “A” team and the other the “B” team ~ the A team being the more skilled.  I move to the front of the crowd, I can already see disappointment in some girls faces and joy in others.  Some girls are running away crying and others laughing wildly.  You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach, the twisting of nervousness and the lump that forms in your throat waiting for good or bad news, I had it.  I look at the A list and my name is not there.  Okay, I understand that one.  I step to the right to look at the B list…and my name isn’t there either.  Disappointment ~ that split second of reality that occurs when the realization failure is taking place.  That point between anger, sadness and bewilderment.  I was disappointed.  I turned to my friend Stacy, who also didn’t make the team, and said let’s try out for something else.

I was already plotting my comeback.  I wouldn’t be denied.  No way ~ no how.  So, we had to settle for tennis that year.  No offense to all the tennis players, tennis is great.  Really.  Ok, it wasn’t great for me, but it kept me busy.

That winter I practiced my basketball skills every day.  I’m not kidding, every day.  I wanted to be on the team and I was willing to do what it took to make the team.  I dribbled here, there and everywhere.  I improved.  When it came time to try out in 7th grade I made the B team.  Again, I wanted to be better and again I practiced.  I let my passion for the sport lead me.  By 8th grade I was on the A team, starting point guard.  It wasn’t easy, but through hard work and not giving up I achieved my goal.

I picked up my race bib for my first marathon today, the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon.  This moment took me back to that time in middle school.  The marathon is a goal I want to achieve.  There were moments when I thought I would never get to this point.  Through hard work and perseverance I will run in my first marathon at age 45.  My passion has brought me to this place.  The marathon is only the vehicle for this passion.  As you know, it’s the journey.Laurel

Mentally marathon-ready

Good tips for marathon preparation.

Run and Jump

Never mind your legs; how’s your head? Sometimes it seems that the marathon is just as hard on the mind as on the body.

Training is fine because you can focus on the job in hand. But then the taper comes – and suddenly your mind is struck by weapons-grade maranoia, full of doubts, worries and the irrational urge to throw in one extra 20-mile long run ‘just to be sure’.

That’s even before the race itself, when your grey matter has to stop your body from charging off in mile one, and then has to kick-start your body when it falters at mile 20, the dreaded Wall.

Mental preparation is just as important as physical fitness on marathon day. There’ll be super-fit, well-trained athletes who go mad at the start or crack at mile 20, just as competitors of more modest ambitions will overcome the psychological challenge and…

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Mileage Recap 13 – 19 Oct/Marathon training

Last weeks run began the slow decline leading up to the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon this Sunday.  I wouldn’t say I’m nervous yet, maybe more agitated.  I’m trying to focus on nutrition, sleep and those little pains that crop up.  My right hamstring is hurting, I think I’m getting shin splints in the left leg and the left knee hurts a little.  Can you say ~ overuse.  Not bad, but none-the-less they have caused me some issues on my long runs.  I am using the foam roller, stretching, icing and trying to keep all things in check.  So nervous no, but agitated yes.

My short runs during the week were fairly uneventful.  My long run on Saturday was eight miles.  I started out sure-footed and into a mile of it my right hamstring started acting up.  Not bad, but the pain makes my right leg feel heavy.  I found myself having to concentrate more on my form.  It was a little easier because I had just taken my first Gu Energy Gel.  I was trying to gauge if I really felt that kick of energy.  I think I did!

MarathonI don’t care what flavor you want to call it.  You can call it “Best thing since slice bread”.  It’s still an energy gel.  It tastes like an energy gel.  Ice cream…it ain’t!

I also ran with compression socks for the first time.  Pink compression socks!  Every so often I would look down at my calves and sigh.  I love you pink socks…eh hem sorry, but it did take my mind of the pain a bit.

compression socksI LOVE THESE ~ they really helped and felt great.  LOVE THEM.

Around mile four I actually caught myself yawning.  Thank goodness for the skunk on the side of the road.  It was a close call.  If the stink hadn’t been so bad I might have stopped for a nap and thank goodness it still stunk on the way back too.  Really.  I’m really glad.

skunk

The week unfolded as follows:

Sun ~ rest

Mon ~ 3.33 miles

Tues ~ 1:15 yoga and 3 miles on the elliptical

Wed ~ 1.83 miles (walked)

Thurs ~ Rest

Fri ~ Rest

Sat ~ 8 miles

Total for the week = 16.16.  Pain and all…grateful that 10,442.42 remains.

Final week marathon tips

Good advice before the marathon.

Run and Jump

There’s only a week to go to the 2013 Dublin Marathon. Those of us who have run marathons before will already know how we’ll manage the next seven days – while still feeling excited and slightly apprehensive, of course. (You never take a marathon for granted, no matter how experienced you are.)

If next Monday’s race is your first marathon then you’re in uncharted waters. How should you prepare? How much should you run this week? Do you really need to eat your body weight in pasta the night before the marathon?

Different runners have different rituals and techniques for the pre-race week, all developed through experience and advice.

So, with that derrière-covering caveat made clear, here’s what I’ll be doing this week.

Sleep: Getting plenty of sleep should be your top priority this week, so that you recharge your batteries after months of training. Your goal is to…

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Mileage Recap 7 – 12 Oct

Another week of training down!  I’m beginning to taper for the St. Louis Rock and Roll Marathon on 27 Oct.  I’ve read a lot about different people’s experience on tapering.  The common denominator seems to be the restlessness and anticipation before the race, i.e. sitting still and going on shorter runs to give your body a break.  I’m going to go out on a limb here….I LOVE TAPER TIME!

Taper Week

Courtesy of tubefilter.com

                

Yeah, that’s right ~ I love me some taper….

I’ve been working hard and have a lot of mileage under my belt, so I welcome a little bit of lower intensity to focus on my body, eating properly and easing my mind about the race.  The runs this week were normal and fairly uneventful.  Had the pleasure of running with my friend Kathi this Saturday for the long run.  Kathi is fast, but I enjoy the push.

The weather here in the Midwest is very unpredictable.  Wanted to get out of the house at 7 am and received an update on my phone that lightning was within 5 nautical miles of the base.  I look out the window and everything looks great.  Eh, I’m going.

It’s a cool morning, slightly overcast and an easy run of 9 miles ahead of us.  Kathi is so polite; she can tell when I need to slow down.  She just finished a marathon the week before (her fourth) and was giving me some good advice.  If you are running your first race, doesn’t matter the length, it’s always good to get advice from someone who has completed that length of a race.  They will give you the true ups and downs of what’s going on and how they felt during the run and what to expect.  Granted each race is a little different, but you get the picture.  Nothing beats experience.

Out running on our main road the road kill is in full force.  Sigh….running side-by-side I find myself dodging this and that.  I’m beginning to think I’m running an obstacle race this morning.  What is that?  Kathi, “It’s weird how it gets so flat“.  I’m just bracing for the stink!  Me, “Is that seven or eight now?”  We get to our turn around point and we see the weather off in the distance.  Around mile 5.5 it starts pouring.  You know when you’re with a good running buddy when you both start laughing.  I love running in the rain.  There’s something so freeing.  It’s beyond the fact that you are getting soaked.  You remember when you were young and it was raining outside?  Your parents would yell at you to get into the house.  You’re going to catch a cold!  And you would run around in defiance!  Hey, at least I did.  Well, let me tell you, that feeling you had at five feels the same at forty-five.  The way the drops hit your face.  It was cool and warm at the same time.  Lean your head back and watch those big drops fall down.  We laughed all the way home.  Being rained on…look at it as a blessing and character building and we Army folk like to say ~ good training!

Last week’s workout:

Mon ~ 4.7 miles

Tues ~ 1:15 yoga

Wed ~ 8 miles

Thurs ~ 5 miles

Fri ~ rest

Sat ~ 9.01

Sun ~ rest

Total miles for the week = 26.71 with 10,458.58 (rainy possibly) miles remaining.  Happy miles to you!

Mileage Recap 1 ~ 6 Oct

It’s true…

Michael Jordan QuoteI won’t lie, marathon training is getting ha**…challenging:)

I’m tired this week.  Not super tired, but I can feel this marathon training starting to take a bit of a toll.  It’s challenging.  I woke up with every intention of running the long run on Saturday like I always do, but I was just too tired and sore from cross training on Thursday.  I was up all night Friday.  I just couldn’t seem to get to sleep.  I will admit, I was worried about the long run.  How will my body react?  Am I eating the best I can (uh, no)?  What if I pass out on the side of the road?  Hey, some other runner can write about stuff they see on the side of the road and include me~ lol.  By the way I did see Marlboro Silver Pack, nail clippers and road kill.

Marlboro Silver

When you need Ultra Light – yeah!

It’s challenging and I’m scared.  Admitting you’re scared to do something you’ve never done isn’t a sign of weakness.  It’s an affirmation of treading into the unknown, trying something new, or stepping outside your comfort zone.  The results will be good or bad.  So, I got myself together and moved my long run to Sunday.  I was supposed to run the 5K Graffiti Run today, but I sacrificed that for marathon training.  Yes I know, why did I sign up for that race ~ eh, don’t ask that question, poor planning.

I started out around 7:30 a.m. this morning.  The funny thing about the long runs is you want to get started early as possible, because you don’t want to waste the whole day!  I felt really good until I got about 7 miles down the road and I had to…go to the bathroom.  Sigh.  When I run to Mascoutah there is a little man-made lake to the right. People go there and fish or feed the ducks.  There is also a Porta-Potty in the parking lot.  It’s been there for ever ~ not the same one mind you.

Porta Potty

It looks just like this one!

It is also very clean.  Ok, as clean as a porta can be.  I shuffled right on over and took care of business ~ then back on the road.

It was a beautiful morning to run.  Clear, about 55 degrees and only a little windy, perfect running weather. Pace was respectable and breathing wasn’t a problem.  Plenty of water, had a pit stop for a banana, some gels, and part of a Cliff Bar along the way.  I’ve noticed on these longer runs I need a little something extra besides water.  I get hungry.  So, a little bit of energy is good for me.

My feet started hurting around mile 10.  I made a concerted effort to mentally move that pain.  Focused on my hips a bit more and was able to get past the discomfort.  Around mile 15 the foot pain was back and I really felt I was shuffling.  The rest of the body felt great but the legs were heavy.

The will to train must be greater than the will to win.  It was a challenge.  Instead of focusing on the pain I took in the scene around me.  The wind is rustling through the trees and golden leaves are slowly floating down in front of me.  There are bursts of cool air mixed with warm letting me know Fall is here.  The soy beans in the field to the left are slowly transitioning from green to dried brown and soon will be harvested.  Then I start to think about my Aunt who passed away last Saturday.  She was in pain but the drugs made her “comfortable”.  I felt a little guilty about my foot pain.

Challenge accepted ~ 16 miles completed for the long run and 10,485.29 remaining.  Happy miles to you.

Workout recap starting Oct 1

Tues ~ rest

Wed ~ 8 miles

Thur ~ 4.67 miles and cross training (kettle bells, pull-ups, weighted wall ball, and burpees

Fri and Sat ~ rest

Sun ~ 16 mile long run

Passion Post #2

When I was younger I wasn’t a very fast kid.  It always seemed I was trying to catch up to my friends when we were running around and playing.  I would try hard ~ really hard:) I was competitive.  Not in a bad way, I just wanted to win and love the challenge winning brings.  There is excitement in those small victories.

As I had pointed out in a previous post I was born with my hips dislocated and was in a body cast for a while to set things straight.  It took a little while to get things going, so-to-speak.  In fifth grade I lived in Victoria, TX.  It’s funny the moments in life you remember.  I had a childhood friend, and she was always faster than me. She was speedy.  Every day in P.E. she would beat me.  Every day.  The P.E. teacher would line us up on the parking lot pavement.  Usually  about five rows of kids to race about 50 yards or so.  I hated it.  You remember those days, don’t you?  Try to line yourself up with someone you could beat, move to the back of the line, heart pounding as you step up to the line waiting for your turn.  3…2…1  GO!  Tear out of there like your parents were chasing you with the belt.  You remember don’t you:)

I would avoid my friend like the plague.  Then with that gleam in her eye, she would change her spot in line, so we could be together.   Sigh.  Another day racing, another day beaten.  This went on for quite a while, but I kept trying and trying.  Determined I would prevail.  Then one day…with perseverance…

I beat her and I was changed.  It was possible.

May your passion drive you to your own successes.