Monday, November 30, 2009

The results are in!

My official finishing time for the 2009 Seattle Marathon is 4:13:10. Slightly above my goal time, but taking the extremely hilly course into consideration, this is a time that I am definitely proud of! Actually, I'm mostly just proud that I am able of crossing the finish line of a 26.2 mile race. Something I'd thought I would never be capable of doing.

Let's back up to the day before the race. Mid-day Saturday afternoon, I started to feel a stomach ache coming on. I was assuming that it was just nerves and I'll get over it. However, as the day went on, the stomach ache kept getting worse and worse. I was following pre-race protocol and not eating or drinking anything out of the ordinary, so I had no clue what was causing it. When the stomach pains didn't subside by the evening, I decided that I had to try to do something about it or the race wasn't going to happen. So, I took a few doses of Pepto-Bismal, started to feel a little better, and went to sleep. Then, at 1:00am, the stomach pains had made their return in full force! I opted not to take any more Pepto because it clearly wasn't helping, so I just waited a few hours and went back to sleep again.
Thankfully, the next morning (race day), I woke up feeling great. No more tummy ache! Must have just been a freak thing, probably caused by nervousness. I ate my traditional pre-race meal - oatmeal with raisins, walnuts and a Powerbar. I also made sure to drink plenty of water. After breakfast, I immediately checked the forecast, and to my great relief, it was going to be a perfect day for a race. No rain and not too cold. This is amazing for the end of November in Seattle. Actually, miraculous if you ask me.

I arrived at the race a little early and watched the walkers and half-marathoners take off to the sound of hundred of cowbells, some techno beats, and the Star Spangled Banner. Quite the combo. Once they all had started their races, it was time for the marathon runners to line-up (more cowbell, more techno, more Star Spangled Banner). I chose to run with the 8:35 pace group (3:45 finish time) because that is about the pace that I comfortably train at.
The bull-horn sounded and off we went on our 26.2 journey to the finish line in Memorial Stadium. The pacer was great; he kept us right at 8:35, which felt great and attainable for 26.2 miles.
The beginning of the course was fairly flat, with only a few slow inclines. I had no problem keeping up with my pacing group. In fact, at one point, I felt like I was going too slow, but I knew that it was only adrenaline that would soon where off, so I kept my steady pace.
We made our way across the I-90 bridge and through Seward Park where we got to the half-way point. I was still feeling good and keeping up with the pacers. The scenery was fantastic, so I did my best to just put myself on cruise-control and enjoy my surroundings.
Everything was going fabulous...until we hit the 20 mile marker. My body suddenly decided that it was time to stop. It was actually a little scary; I didn't stop voluntarily, my body just stopped itself. This has never happened before. I got extremely nervous. I made it all the way to mile 20 and I did not want to be carried across the finish line by the medics.
Before I went into a complete panic, I did some rational thinking. My muscles actually weren't too sore or locking up - in fact, my legs could've probably kept going and left my body behind. Instead, I was feeling the symptoms of either hyponatremia or dehydration. I was starting to feel a little dizzy and nauseous. Not good. I ruled out hyponatremia because I wasn't over doing it on the water. It must have been dehydration, even though I'd stopped at just about every water station on the course.
I am a very determined person and I do not quit unless I feel like I am in serious medical danger. I didn't feel like I was blacking out or passing out, so I just walked for a bit, regained composure, and started running again at about a 9:30 pace - much slower, but it'll still get me there and that's all that matters. I also made sure to continue to re-hydrate and eat GU gels for energy wherever available.
The last six(ish) miles were all up hill - big Seattle hills - and were pretty rough, but I trudged right along, slow and steady. I was listening to body, slowing down when I needed to, and got myself to the finish line where I was greeted with hundreds of cheering fans. I did it!

The whole experience was quite surreal. You don't realize how far 26.2 miles is until you're on foot in a race. My best advice to first time marathoners (that I should have taken myself) is too not have any time goal in mind. You're goal should only be to get across the finish line safely. I can't stress the enough. Once you've proved to yourself that your mind and body are capable of running such an incredible distance, then, maybe you can start setting modest time goals. Running 26.2 is an amazing feat! Ask the person next to you if they can do it and they'll probably say, "yeah right, that's crazy." And it is crazy! No doubt about it. Remember, finishing is a victory. I read a spectator's sign as I was running the course and it said, "you are your own champion." A little cheesy, but a great message. I am happy with my time....forget the stupid time goal...I finished the Seattle Marathon!!

Later that day, I was naturally feeling sore and still a bit nauseous. (Warning: too much information about to come). I went to bathroom and noticed that my urine was dark orange. A classic sign of dehydration. I'm assuming that this is what happened to me at mile 20. My body simply didn't have enough fluids to continue at the pace that I was going. Like I said, I made sure to drink plenty of water before the race and stopped at nearly every water station throughout the race, so at first, I didn't understand how I got so dehydrated. Then, I found the culprit! Pepto-Bismal. Right on the front of the bottle: "May cause dehydration." I was so focused on getting rid of the stomach ache, that I didn't even bother to read the side effects of the medicine. Big mistake, but at least I know for next time! I drank plenty of water throughout the rest of the day, and what-do-you-know, the nausea was gone. Lesson learned - if you absolutely have to take some type of medication before a big race, READ THE LABEL!

Anyhow, my next marathon will be Eugene Oregon on May 2nd. A few of you have mentioned that you will also be doing this race. Let me know if you'll be there! Maybe we can train together.

This concludes my blog for my Seattle Marathon journey. Thanks all for reading and sending my encouraging comments.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Week Twenty-Five: Wish me luck!

Only 3 more days until the Seattle Marathon!!

I can't believe it's here already!

I can't believe I'm about to run 26.2 miles!

My main focus this week is relaxing. Relaxing my muscles and relaxing my mind. Staying focused and staying positive. No matter what my finishing time is, I have to keep reminding myself, I'm running 26.2 miles! That's an accomplish in itself.

This will probably be my last post before the race, so wish me luck. Of course, I'll be sure to post the results as soon as I get them. Stay tuned.

Here is a "good luck" card that my co-workers made for me:

Week Twenty-Five

11/22 - Rest

11/23 - Run 5 easy miles

11/24 - Run 4 easy miles

11/25 - Rest

11/26 - Run 5 easy miles

11/27 - Run 3 very easy miles
11/28 - REST!!!

11/29 - Seattle Marathon - 26.2 miles

Monday, November 23, 2009

Week Twenty-Four: Reflections

During my 24 weeks of training:

-Total miles ran:
approx. 740 (probably more miles than I drove my car)

-Most miles ran in one week:

-Miles I was able to run before I started training: 5 - maybe

-Most challenging run: 13 miles through Discovery Park, Seattle - monster hills & stairs!!

-Number of races:
9 (soon to be 10!)
Beat The Bridge 8k
Komen For The Cure 5k
Fremont 5k
Fred Hutchinson Shore Run 5k
Run of the Mill 5k
SeaFair Torchlight Run 8k
Lake Union 10k
Paws in the Park 5k
Leavenworth Half-Marathon

-Number of running shoes used: 3
1 pair of Asics GT-2150s
2 pairs of Nike Zoom Vomero's +4

-Money spent on running gear: approx. $850

-Average amount of calories eaten per week during peak training: approx. 17500

-Average amount of calories expended (through running) per week during peak training: approx. 6000

-Weight lost: 7.5lbs (total weight loss this year: 14lbs)

-Greatest training moment: Finishing my first 20 mile run in 3 hours

-Greatest accomplishment: Placing 11th in my age group at the Leavenworth Half-Marathon. AND I beat my PR by 20 minutes!

-Greatest discovery: & Seattle running meet-up groups

-Biggest setback:
Getting sick during my most crucial week of training

-Biggest relief: Getting sick turned out not to be setback at all

-Goal: Finish the marathon in under 4 hours

-Miracle: Qualify for Boston

-Next marathon (yes, I'm already planning a second): Eugene Oregon Marathon

-Lesson learned: If you want something bad enough, you can have it - all you need is motivation, passion, and a true belief in yourself and your abilities. Never, never, doubt yourself.

-Quotes to live by:

"Do what you have always done, get what you have always gotten." - Kel Beaudoin

"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today." - James Dean

Only one more week until the marathon!!

Week Twenty-Four (tapering my miles so that my muscles are fully recovered for the marathon)
11/16 - Rest day
11/17 - Run 5 miles
11/18 - Run 4 miles
11/19 - Rest day
11/20 - Run 6 miles
11/21 - Run 5 miles
11/22 - Long run - 12 miles

Total miles for the week: 32

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Week Twenty-Three: Back in action!

I'm back in action folks!! Last week, when I had that awful head cold, all I did for six days straight, was lay on the couch. The workout DVD and light running that I had planned in my schedule, didn't happen. I just couldn't take the risk of getting sicker. Therefore, the only times that I got up was to take Peppercorn on walks. While walking her, I would almost always see runners cruise on by. I felt like they were taunting me - "haha I'm running and you're not!" (kidding - I didn't actually think that.) In all honesty, every time that I saw somebody run by, it almost brought me to tears. I knew that's what I should have been doing if it weren't for that blasted cold. I wanted to run so bad, but I knew that I had to rest (thank you all for reminding me of that). I am definitely not a person who cries over everything little thing, so this really made me realized that I have a true passion for running. Anything that causes that intense of an emotional response must be something that I really love.
By Monday, the cold had completely passed through my system and I woke up feeling great. That night, I did a 7 mile run on a monster hilly course in the Magnuson area of Seattle (many thanks to Mike & Jen for making that happen). It felt so good to be back on my feet! In fact, the first few strides that I took, I had to hold the tears back; that's how happy I was to be running again. This run was the true deciding factor that I had officially made a full recovery. If I would have run that course when I was even remotely sick, I would have felt completely miserable the next day. Instead, I got up on Tuesday morning, felt as energized as ever, and proceeded to go on a 4 mile easy run that night. Then, on Wednesday, I did intervals with the meet-up group. This time we did 5 x 1 mile at about a 7:40 pace. I was able to keep up with my group just fine, which means I'm finally beginning to build more strength and speed. Speed is where I'm seriously lacking, but I am starting to improve each week thanks to these meet-ups.
Here's my predicament (I always seem to have a predicament): I'm still having trouble deciding how far I should go for my long run this Saturday. Last week, I was supposed to run 22 miles, but that obviously didn't happen. Even though many other experienced runners have said that I'll be fine without that run, I'm still nervous that I've lost a week of crucial mileage. So, how far should I go on Saturday without over-doing it? I have a major problem with over-doing it. I'm the over-doing it queen! Luckily, I have enough sense to I know that I definitely can't do 22 miles two weeks before the marathon. I would wear myself out and possibly become injured. So maybe I'll shoot for 15ish and hope hope hope that I've put in enough mileage to finish the marathon in under 4 hours. That's my goal.

Well, that's enough babbling for one day.

Only 2 more week until the marathon!!

Week Twenty-Three
11/9 - 7 mile hill run
11/10 - 4 easy miles
11/11 - Intervals - 7 miles
Warm-up: 2 easy miles
Intervals: 5 x 1 mile @ 7:40 pace
11/12 - Run 5 miles
11/13 - Rest
11/14 - Mystery distance ??? (update: I ran 18 miles)
11/15 - Rest

Total miles for the week: 37

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week Twenty-Two: No marathon for you: You have swine flu!

For twenty-one weeks, I'd managed to dodge the bullet with every illness that's come through my household and office. Runners tend to have a higher immune system than most sedentary folks, so I think that running may have played a big part in me avoiding any sicknesses lingering the halls.
However, on Monday, after an eight mile run, I started to feel a little scratch in the back of my throat. This was the same exact scratch that I felt last year when I caught a severe cold that turned into bronchitis. I hoped that I could just drink some water, take some extra vitamin C, and it would be gone the next day, but that's not exactly how things panned out.
By Tuesday, I had flow-blown sore throat, headache, and stuffy nose. No denying it, I was sick. As the day went on, my symptoms became worse. My headache had turned to a migraine and my sore throat was drastically limiting my speaking, breathing, and swallowing abilities. Usually I'm not one to go to the doctor, I'll just let an illness run it's course, but with H1N1 going around like wildfire, I thought it would probably be a good idea to pay the ol' doc a visit - just to be safe!
So, I show up at the doctor's office, give them an overview of my symptoms, and they immediately make me wear a face mask. Great, now I really can't breathe and everyone in the waiting room is staring at me. I could easily tell what they all were thinking: "she has the swine flu, must stay as far away as possible." Luckily, I only had to sit there for a few minutes before the doctor called me back. I sat down on the papered doctor's table and proceeded to explain my symptoms. Before I could even get into too much detail, the doctor interrupted me and asked, "have you gotten your swine flu shot?" I responded with, "no, it hasn't been available to me yet." She quickly reached for a face mask, put it on, and said, "it is highly likely that you have H1N1 - you have all of the beginning signs." In my head, I was thinking, "so far, I've only told her that I have a sore throat and headache. Is that really enough to determine that I have swine flu??*" However, she seemed very confident in her decision and even got a second opinion from another doctor. Then, even worse news came. She told me that it would not be a good idea to run the Seattle Marathon because H1N1 usually takes three weeks to fully clear your system. Any rigorous exercise might make the virus worse. Then she said ever-so cheerfully, "well you can try for the half." The half?! THE HALF?! I have not been training for 21 weeks to run the half-marathon; I AM running the full, swine flu or no swine flu. I am going to run this marathon or die trying. How could I possibly put all of this hype and training down the drain?? This cannot be happening.
I went home in complete disbelief; I refused to except that I might have the swine flu, especially with such a short doctor's visit in which they gave me no real tests for the flu. The only thing that I could do at this point was to wait it out and see if my symptoms got worse or better. Swine flu is a progressive virus; each day you have it, you begin to feel worse. It commonly starts with a sore throat and headache, and soon turns into body aches, chills, and fever.
When I woke up on Wednesday morning, my sore throat and headache had almost completely gone away, but I still had a bit of a running nose. This was a good sign. I did not wake up feeling any worse, I was actually starting to feel better. Then, by Thursday, the sore throat and headache were completely gone, I was just down to a tolerable runny nose. This clearly wasn't getting progressively worse, so I am going to play doctor and say that this isn't H1N1, just a bad head cold.
On Thursday, I felt almost good enough to go for a light run, but I refrained because I knew that I still needed more rest. I didn't want to have another bronchitis incident. That would be a marathon show-stopper for sure. So, I forced myself to lay down all day for another day.
I must say, all of this resting is making me kind of anxious because I am missing what was supposed to be my last hard week of training before the race. I can't help it, but feel like I'm losing ground! However, I need to keep reminding myself that I have been diligently training for 21 weeks straight. One week lost will not affect my performance. In fact, the rest will probably do me good. Hopefully, by next week, I'll be back on track!

*I strongly believe that doctors are over-diagnosing people with the swine flu without properly testing them. If your doctor tells you that you may have swine flu without giving you a flu test, I highly recommend getting a second opinion.

Only 3 more weeks until the marathon!

Week Twenty-Two (non)Training
11/2 - Run 8 miles
11/3 - Thought I had swine flu - rest
11/4 - Turned out to be a cold - more rest
11/5 - Didn't want it to turn into bronchitis - even more rest
11/6 - Light workout DVD just to get the muscle moving again
11/7 - Very light run - maybe
11/8 - 6 mile run, if I feel completely rid of my symptoms

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Week Twenty-One: Run Forest, Run!

I now have two 20-milers under my belt. I finished both runs in 3 hours 10 minutes, which is exactly the pace that I expected to be at. Since the Seattle Marathon course is a "rolling course," meaning that their are several inclines and hills throughout the course, I ran both 20-milers on the hilliest courses that I could handle. Actually, it's hard to find a non-hilly course in Seattle, so I kind of had no choice. I'm hoping that the marathon course will be less the hilly than the courses that I am running now, but if it's not, at least I'll be prepared.

I have been told by a few people too not push myself so hard, but honestly, I do not feel like I am exceeding my limits. I am a naturally competitive person and I do have a tendency to test my limits, but I know when enough is enough. I take the fact of becoming injured very seriously. This is my first marathon and I'd hate to blow it before I even make it to the starting line.
My final long-run before the race will be 22 miles. A few friends/seasoned runners have told me that 22 is too much. They say that most first time marathoners peak at 18-20 miles during training. I don't doubt this, but 22 miles doesn't seems like too much to me. I know that I can handle it. Running both 20-milers almost felt natural to me. I reminded myself of Forest Gump; I just kept running! I maintained a steady/comfortable pace throughout the runs, drank water and ate energy gels when necessary, and re-fueled with the proper recovery foods and drinks afterwards. The following days, I wasn't even that sore. I actually felt really good; really in-shape and powerful. At no point did I ever feel any unnatural discomfort. So what's an extra two miles? I can do it!

Last night, I did intervals with the running group. Another amazing work-out! This was my third interval run with the group and I can honestly say that I am already starting to feel stronger. I ran a mile in 7:04!! That's a major PR (personal record) for me. Woohoo! I didn't know that my legs were capable for moving that fast. It wasn't over yet. After the mile, we did intervals of 5 x 200s; this is essentially sprinting for 200 meters, followed by slow jogging of 200 meters and repeat 5 times. I was running the 200s in about 44 seconds, another record-breaking pace for me. I never thought that I could be a fast runner. I always tell people that I can run for miles on end, but I am not fast. This was because I wasn't training myself to be fast and I had nobody pushing me to be fast. The combination of interval training and running with other people has really helped build my speed and stamina. Everybody in this group is so encouraging and they really help to push you to the point where you need to be. There's no way I would have gone out and ran a 7:04 mile by myself and then proceed to run sprints after that. If you want to improve your running, this is the way to do.

Only 4 more weeks until the marathon!!

Week Twenty-One
10/26 - Rest day
10/27 - Run 7 miles
10/28 - Intervals - about 5.75 miles
-Warm-up easy 3 miles
-1 mile run @ 7:04 pace
-5 x 200s
-Cooldown - .5 mile
10/29 - Rest day
10/30 - Run 7 miles
10/31 - Long run - 15 miles
11/1 - Rest day

Total miles for the week: 34.75

Friday, October 23, 2009

Week Twenty: Week Twenty

Week twenty, wow, two zero, 20. I can't believe that I've been training for that long. Whew! Unfortunately, I had absolutely no time to blog this week. Between working and running, my week has been jam-packed. Too bad I am unable to write in my sleep - I'm sure you'd get some pretty interesting stuff. Anyway, stress has really started to take a toll on me, so I have to concentrate on getting it under control. Stressed out runners are more likely to become injured. I think I need to hit up the spa this weekend....after I run 20 miles.

If some kind of time-slowing miracle happens, I will come back and write more. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I always have more to say, especially about running.

Only five more weeks until the marathon!!

Week Twenty
10/19 - Rest day
10/20 - Run 4 miles
10/21 - Intervals - about 6 miles
Warm-up 2 miles
8 x 600 @ 7:00 minute mile pace
Cool down - .75 mile
10/22 - Easy 2.5 miles
10/23 -Tempo run - 10 miles
Warmup 1 mile
Run 8 miles @ marathon pace
Cooldown 1 mile
10/24 - Easy 4 miles
10/25 - Long Run - 20 miles

Total miles for the week: 46.5