Monday, October 31, 2011

26.2 Ooh-rah!

I did it!  I am officially a marathoner.  In some ways, and this might be a sad statement on my own self-esteem, I finally feel like a real runner. Not that all those other races, from 5ks to 1/2s didn't matter. They did. But in comparison to my running friends and mentors, something was missing. Until now. I've conquered a marathon and it won't be my last.

A full report will come in a few days, I want to see what pictures I can score from family, friends, and the race website. For now, my facebook profile picture is my beautiful medal. I'm sitting at work right now, wearing both the medal and my new finisher's jacket.  The soreness really isn't that bad, I just feel more tired than anything else. If I hadn't just changed jobs I certainly would have taken today off to rest. Getting up to walk around and popping a fair amount of Aleve, along with rehydrating is my game plan for the day. Then early to bed!  I hope to get out and run again Saturday, I've got races in November and December to stay in shape for. No rest for the wicked!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Marathon Eve

Well, here we are. Twelve hours from now I'll be shivering at the Runners Village. Add on a few more hours and it will be official. I will be a marathoner. I started this crazy journey back in February when I sat at a computer, constantly refreshing the registration page until the stroke of noon. When I finally got through there was no hesitation before clicking "submit registration." I probably clicked it without thinking at all, so there was no change of chickening out. And as soon as "CONGRATULATIONS, YOU'RE IN" appeared on my monitor, I yelped out loud at my desk, printed the screen, and proceeded to start freaking out. Since that day, I've had that sentence taped to both my refrigerator at home and my monitor at work. This race, for 9 months now, has never been far from my mind.

Training started in June, although I'd be running on and off since early April.  My first long run was a mere 8 miles and it was a struggle.  I remember, so many times, asking myself how was I ever going to do this?  I would try a short 4 after work and every step was agony. It felt like I had blocks tied to my legs and I didn't understand what was happening. I'd never been a fast runner but running had never come so hard to me before. It was like I'd never done it before in my life. I didn't think that phase was ever going to end and I thought my negative mindset was going to spell the end of this race before it even started.

Things turned a corner, thank goodness, after my first 16 miler.  It was the longest I'd ever run before and it felt great! I have a picture from that morning, post-run, all smiles and two thumbs up. On longer runs since I've tried to go back to that moment and how it felt to be so happy and proud. Telling myself "girl, you've got this." That and a few other mantras are in my back pocket for tomorrow.  The last few weeks of training haven't been ideal. As I'm sure has been the case for many a runner, the training caught up with me and that plus nerves and a taper have tested my mental game. I don't really have a goal for tomorrow aside from finishing. Yes, I do have a good, better, and best time in my head. But I'm not pushing it and I'm not running with a pace group. I'm just going to do my thing and see what happens.

After all the hard work this is supposed to be the celebration. What I've heard most, more than "no crying," was "have fun." Savor the experience. The music. The crowds. The Marines. Take it all in. I'm not going to stress about looking for family and friends on the course. I know they'll find me. Speaking of, this seems like a good time for acknowledgments. Friends and family, you've gone above and beyond. You've tolerated every blog update, every complaint, every worry. You supported me when I didn't support myself. THANK YOU. To the CAR crew, I was a late arrival and you welcomed me with open arms. You made every track workout bearable with your words of encouragement and essential advice. My fellow bloggers and followers, whom I am proud to call friends, you have been amazing. I can't tell you how much it has meant to have my words read and feel heard. I've learned so much and been so inspired by you. I'll be carrying you with me tomorrow, trust me.

Lastly, to my DSG family. I didn't think I was going to make it. Honestly. I saw a DNS or a DNF in my future. Now? I see nothing but the words MARATHONER and it is because of you. Whether it was laughter, tears, or comfortable silence you made the miles memorable and bearable. Sometimes even enjoyable. Duyen, I know you won't ever read this, but you're amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better running partner with whom to spend my Saturday mornings. Tuan, there are no words. You were all laughs and smiles and self-deprecating jokes. When the going got tough and there was crying, I was surprised to find there was another side to you. A friend and fierce competitor.  I've saved every email I've gotten from you. Every word of advice and every crack about being a cat lady. Without a doubt, I wouldn't be toeing the line tomorrow if it wasn't for your leadership. Thank you doesn't seem like enough.

My bag is packed, my bib pinned to my shirt. Dinner has been eaten and one calming beer is about to be had. There is nothing left for me to do but sleep and show up. I don't think I'll get a wink of sleep but that is okay. I know there are thousands of others out there tonight going through exactly the same thing. And I'll see all their smiling, crying, laughing, nervous faces tomorrow. Whether I'll be planning for the next one or cursing the first one, I'll be a marathoner by this time tomorrow.  Say what you will about the running boom and surging popularity of marathons. Yeah, maybe everyone has done it. Maybe it isn't such a big deal anymore? I doubt it. At least, it still is to me. And that is all that matters. I've got this. MCM, I'm coming for you. Get ready.

Friday, October 28, 2011

MCM race expo aka SWAG!

I was able to telecommute today, thank you very much new job!  Aside from the home office dress code being awesome, telecommuting also gave me the chance to hit up the marathon race expo for my packet and some great goodies!  Once I had my bib and race shirt in hand, it was time to hit up the giant Brooks Running section for some finisher's gear.  Now, I know, I haven't finished yet.  But I didn't want to miss out on something awesome to commemorate the occasion. You name it, it was there and had the MCM logo on it. Price tag be damned, I settled on a wind and water resistant jacket with reflective flair, the MCM logo on the back, and the name and date on the front.  Go on, be jealous!
After sampling an endless array of energy bars, I discovered that Nuun had a booth and immediately checked them out.  They had giant coolers full of all their great flavors, ready to be sampled. I was really happy to see that I could try the grape because I couldn't find it in a store and buying a four pack online without a taste test wasn't ideal. Turns out the grape, among many other flavors, was delicious! And they were selling tubes at a discount, so I bought 2.  That earned a free Nuun water bottle that they let me fill up from the coolers and off I went, hydrated and ready for more swag scores!

I scored free Sport Beans samples from Jelly Belly, a reusable shopping bag from Disney, and a little pouch for gels to attach to my fuel belt. All my favorite companies had booths, including Zensah, Saucony, and Nathan. If I hadn't already dropped some cash on the killer jacket I probably would have ended up with a new fuel belt, they were all 20% off.  I'm glad I went this morning, as it was getting crowded by 11:30 a.m when I left and I'm sure tomorrow will be even crazier with all the out-of-towners. I also got a bunch of info on different races for 2012, including what sounds like a great trail race in the Berkshires over Memorial Day weekend. The race shirt is nice, bright red with logo and date embroidered on the front and a huge MCM symbol and lettering on the back.
Most important, that precious bib number.  I'll be putting together my bag tonight and tomorrow, as I get everything assembled.  I'm feeling a bit scatterbrained right now, so this might take a while.  For the seasoned veterans, please tell me what not to forget! The weather is going to be chilly, which I am a littler nervous about.  I don't have any throwaways, something I might have to head out and find tomorrow. Doing a load of laundry tonight and getting all my race day gear clean. My family arrives tomorrow and they are in charge of keeping me occupied without going crazy or actually expending any effort.  Good luck, suckers. I hope to post once more before the big day, in the mean time please leave me any advice you've got!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A social runner

There are only 5 more days until MCM. Holy crap. I'm honestly feeling a little bit numb about it right now.  A bit burnt out from taking on so much at the same time. Part of me just wants it to be over already and the other part is hoping that I'm not too tired to enjoy the whole experience. I need to let my time goal go. I need to stop worrying about the pain in my leg. I need to stop fretting about whether I really did give 100% to my training these past 22 weeks. Those are all things over which I have no control.  What I can do is stretch, eat well, hydrate, and rest. I can control those conditions and they are key to my performance too. In the next few days I'll be preparing my bag for race day, and I would really appreciate hearing from the marathoners out there what I need to remember to bring with me. At this point, I'm clueless. The weather looks like it is going to be fairly chilly but at least they aren't calling for rain. Huzzah. 
In my taper-induced delirium I might have just applied to do the following. There isn't an option for you guys to vote on the winner, alas. Otherwise this would be the place where I beg and plead for your votes and spam your blogs with desperation. I just wanted to share what seemed like a cool idea and maybe hear in the comments why you think I would be a good choice to be one of the two Social Runners selected.  I did have to include a link to my blog with the entry form, so it stands to reason that they will be stopping by to check me out. Leave me some love, please please please!

Are You a Social Runner? Apply Today!
The Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run is looking for two runners from anywhere in the United States to be our first “Credit Union Cherry Blossom Social Runners.” These individuals will be telling the world all about their experiences with the race on Facebook and Twitter. Interested? A link to the application form appears below. The selected participants will be announced at the Fall Kickoff at the Westin DC City Center Hotel, in Washington, DC November 18 at 7:00 P.M.
What our selected runners get (for free):
  • Outfitted head to toe with free New Balance running gear
  • Free entry into the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run (no waiting for the lottery)
  • Free enrollment in Potomac River Running Training Program or Virtual Training Program
  • Free race upgrade t-shirt
  • Free Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run finisher’s medal
  • Free Room at the Westin DC City Center Hotel race weekend for Friday and Saturday nights
Our two selected “Social Runners” must agree to the following:
  • Participate in the November Fall Kickoff (method of participation depends on your location)
  • Make a contribution in an amount of your choosing to Children’s Miracle Network
  • Agree to participate in either the Virtual Training or In-Person PRR Training (fee waived)
  • Attend Children’s Miracle Network/Children’s National Medical Center press conference on Friday of race weekend
  • Appear at the Health and Fitness Expo
  • Attend Saturday Night Sponsor-VIP-Elite Athlete Dinner
  • Run the Race
  • And, most importantly Tweet, Blog and Facebook with abandon your experiences in the months leading up to the race.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tapering and other nonsense

I'll start right off by saying that that will be no advice about tapering in this post. None. So consider yourself warned.  If you wanted some tapering and carbo-loading advice, pick up the latest issue of Runners World, it has some great info.

Once last week's 22 was in the bag, my taper officially began. Thus far, I am pretty displeased. Mostly because the extent of my running is limited by circumstances beyond my control, also known as the leg pain that won't die.  After resting for a couple of days after the 22 I headed out for what I hoped would be a gentle 5.  What it turned out to be was a limp-inducing, curse-filled run/walk 3. My body is just run down. I didn't run again during the week until yesterday, long run Saturday.  The set mileage was 14 but after talking to my coach he suggested I keep it to 10. A simple out and back route, I was able to run 5 to the water stop, refuel, stretch, rest, and then run the final 5 back to my car.  It wasn't too bad, actually. Most of the problems I experienced were preventable, aka I wasn't hydrated enough before I started and I didn't leave enough time in the morning to stretch and foam-roll before hitting the road.

I am definitely feeling it today, but some Aleve and a compression sock are helping.  I planned to rest today and try a short 3 tomorrow after work. It hasn't been a lazy Sunday by any means, on my feet all day doing laundry and other domestic goddess duties. This weekend has gone by so fast.  I knew it would, and I even made a to-do list to make sure I made the most of the time. The good news is that the list got done, the bad news is that nothing fun was on it.  Running, errands, the library, cleaning, reading for work, etc.  Ah, work.  That which is paying me so much more money and yet already sucking my life force. It has been two weeks in the new job and while I'm definitely learning a lot it is too soon to say whether I'll really be happy doing it. I haven't really gotten a chance to do my "job" yet because of all this training and reading. That should be changing pretty soon, as I went from zero to three clients on Friday afternoon alone. I'm excited to have clients but really nervous that I won't be able to deliver on my responsibilities. Confidence fail. I don't like not knowing how to do things and I don't like not being good at something new right away.

The job has also eaten into my running and studying time, but I'm hoping that will change soon.  In reality, it won't, but I only need to tough it out two more weeks.  Once the marathon is over I'll have one less thing on my plate.  My classwork is definitely paying the price, and I don't plan on having the same satisfactory results as my summer class. Work/life balance indeed. If things progress as I am hoping with work (settling in and being awesome) I don't think I'll take another class in January. It will be good for the wallet and my sanity.  Plus I need to focus on what still needs to be done to get officially admitted into the program. Hello again, GRE. I also know running will still be a large part of my life, I'm already signed up for two half-marathons in early 2012. Go big or go home, right? I'll wrap this up for now, and hope that I'll be able to post during the week some time.  I haven't tried to access Blogger from my new job yet, in the event that it violates their internet usage policy or something. Ya never know with these corporate types.

I miss reading all your blogs, I hope I can catch up soon. I know some of you have completed your first marathon or nailed a PR in the past few weeks.  I'm super proud and inspired, even if I haven't stopped by to say so in person. I also miss your comments, and I'm feeling a little wounded that my absence appears to have gone unnoticed. Self-absorbed, much? I'm going to wrap up the night with a hot bath, some red wine, and the Sunday night football game.  Take care of yourselves!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Absentee blogger

Hey everyone!  It has been a while since I last posted and I am sincerely sorry. A combination of general apathy, malaise and a crazy schedule have kept me from updating. I know I've missed tons of your own posts as well. Aside from knowing that I am long overdue to update this, I don't have the energy to say too much.  I'm on the couch in my jammies right now, down with a cold. I did get my butt out of bed this morning and muscled through my 22 miler, but it was an ugly one.  I am proud that I didn't walk, but boy I came close a few times. Last week's 14 miler wasn't much better, and between those two long runs I only ran 1 other time in the last 8 days. Awful, really awful. This is definitely not the ideal time for me to be falling down on my training.  MCM is 21 days away now, so damn close.  Honestly, I am so ready for this to be over.  I'm tired and overwhelmed. I hope my excitement for the day itself doesn't ebb, because I think I'd really miss out. I haven't sacrificed the last 18 weeks of my life to check out now. 

The new job is incredibly intense. I can't think of a better way to described it.  I feel like I have been thrown right into the fire and I have no clue what I am doing.  The firm has all these "onboarding" new employee training modules that I have to complete in addition to specific reading and training modules that my particular program requires me to complete. This first week was mostly spent in a program-wide training called a "No Fly" with all the staff from across the US here in DC, in a conference room, getting updates on all kinds of topics related to IDAS and the Global Grants Program.  Being new, a lot of it went over my head.  I followed along as best I could and took a lot of notes. The upside to the whole week was the opportunity to meet everyone in my program who would otherwise be across the US in their home offices. Everyone seems really nice and I'm looking forward to working with them. We did some fun team building stuff at the end of the week as well, out at a farm in western VA. This next week should be easier, I hope. At the very least I should have some time to knock out more of these required modules so I can move on to real work. My PML (boss) wants to get me a few clients as soon as she can, and that both excites and terrifies me. 

School.  Yeah, it isn't going well.  Between training and the job transition my class has really suffered. I was already having a hard time getting interested in it and now I'm almost completely apathetic. I have a paper due next week and my rough draft was graded very poorly. I went to the library today after my run to find some articles for my critique but I didn't last long. Their research database was down so I was severely limited in what I could look up.  I'll probably have to go back tomorrow and hope that the system is back up. I meant to stay longer and write a bit but I was feeling pretty awful so I just left. Back here at home I'm waiting for the cold medicine to kick in. There are cookies in the oven (no, not from scratch) even though I won't be able to taste them. Considering it is already after 3 I think I'll be foregoing my nap today and just go to bed early. I'll be chasing a glass of wine with some Nyquil at about 7 pm and that should do it. Tomorrow is another day. If I can get a few articles read before I pass out tonight I might be able to get some writing done tomorrow. Once Monday comes it will be back to business. I can't do school work at the office like I used to and my nights this week are full of running and band practice, so this weekend is my chance to knock the paper out. Fingers crossed for me, please.

All in all, I'm pretty overwhelmed. Not at a breaking point or anything, but I could definitely use any positive energy and motivation that you have to share. I miss your comments and I'm sorry it took me this long to post anything. I hope your runs and races have been going well and I'll try my best to catch up on your activities.  I'll check in again soon, I promise.