Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lessons Learned from the Marathon

When I worked as a beginning engineer, I had a manager who would sit with me after every meeting I chaired to give me a "lessons learned" session on what worked and what didn't and how I can improve.  He was a great boss.  Too bad I got laid off.  Whatev!

Now I have a coach to do the same thing with my running.  Last week after a few days of sulking and then getting pissed, we broke the marathon down into things that worked and things that didn't.

My training was spot-on for a PR and/or Boston Marathon qualifying.  My fitness was not the issue.

This was my 17th marathon and I've been using the same nutrition throughout.  Although my stomach hated me during the race, I don't believe my nutrition was the issue either.  I could have helped my stomach problems earlier in the race by eating some Tums.  I had them in my bag.  I should have asked Dave for them.  This one was my fault.  Next time, I'll carry them with me.

One thing that did affect me during the race was the heat.  Sure, it wasn't that warm, but the starting temperature was 60 and the ending temperature was over 70.  I'm not sure I've done one run this whole training cycle in the 70s, except for inside on the treadmill.  You can sure use fans and hydrate a lot to help that when training indoors.  If the temperature had been in the 40s or 50s, I would have been golden.  Spring marathons are a mystery.  You train through terrible conditions (at least, if you live in the midwest like I do) and then you might get lucky with a beautiful 50 degree day or it might be 85 and hotter than hell.  I got unlucky.  My friend Star is an amazing ultrarunner who is currently training for Badwater.  I know she does a lot of sauna training and whatnot.  Coach and I have developed a plan for the next one that includes some heat adaptation.

Obviously, my head got in the way too.  Ever since Ironman Louisville, my head has been kind of a mess when it comes to racing.  I used to enter races confident or at least oblivious to the pressure at hand.  The one thing I love about running is it allows me to turn off my brain and just be.  I don't hear anything; I don't see anything; I just breathe and move my feet.  But recently, I've had a hard time turning off the chatter.  When things started happening, when things got bad, I just thought about how horrible I was feeling, and would I be sick, and were they going to have to pull me off the course, and how much of a disappointment I was, and how this was a waste of time, and how much time I've put into this and not spending time with my son, and on and on and on.  Aside from physically removing my brain, obviously not an option, I'm not sure how to get back to the confident, carefree runner that I was.

But, we have come up with a plan.  For my PR/BQ attempt, I need a bigger race - one with spectators and lots of runners and undulations to the course.  I need to feel the energy and move with the crowd.  I need others to call out for me and push me.  I want to go out with a pace group and see what I can do. 

Yes, there is another marathon on the schedule in a few weeks.  For now, I'd like to keep the details to myself (to my Maine friends who think I might be coming to join their party, unfortunately, no).  I basically took the whole week off after the marathon (I was on vacation) but did do one very, very short run when I got home.  It felt great.  I mean, good grief, I walked a TON of that marathon.  This week we are going to take it day-to-day to see how I'm feeling and how much more running my body can handle.  The heat adaptation with start two weeks out from the race. 

I want to try again.  I deserve the race I trained for!  I'm pissed that everyone else I know had great spring marathons and mine sucked.  I want to be added to that list! 

See you at the starting line...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Athens Marathon 2015

Well shit.

The Athens Marathon was not the PR party or Boston qualifier I had hoped or trained for. Unfortunately, I did not win the weather lottery and it took its toll.

PS - I would have loved the weather they had for the Boston Marathon.

Let's start from the beginning. Although nervous I felt like I was doing well the morning of the race. I was able to eat breakfast, got to the race site easily and calmly, and I took some port-a-John stops and snacked on some gummies. I lined up and felt relaxed. I turned on my iPod and it was Taylor Swift's "Fearless", my power word of the day. It was going to be a good day.

Seriously, look how much leaner and fitter I look than my last marathon.

The plan was to start out easy, take the first hour to warm up, and start to build pace. The first mile was mostly downhill until you got to the trail and then the rest of the race was flatflatflat. My pace felt easy. I felt relaxed. Everything was going to be great. After mile 4 I noticed how warm it was getting. My pace was around an 8:16 average but it wasn't feeling easy. Although I was carrying water I used the water stops (few and far between as they were) to dump water on myself. I saw Dave before the half marathon turn around and let him know that it was just going "okay."

 This is my look of "I don't know how this is going to happen."

And then my stomach started bothering me. I started panicking. I was dry heaving and freaking out. I was hot, my pace wasn't falling, and I just felt horrible. I told myself that it would pass, that I always felt low in the first part of the race. Unfortunately, it wasn't passing and the voices in my head were starting to talk. Near the halfway point I decided I was going to drop out. This was ridiculous. There was no way I could set a PR, no way I could qualify, and it was going to suck for quite a bit longer. Dave, being the voice of reason said no and made me continue on. 

The next couple of miles were not slow but I was already doing some walking. It was too early to be doing any walking. The next time I saw Dave I was toast. Done. Finished. DO NOT WANT TO RUN ANYMORE!  I was at mile 16ish and there was still a long way to go. I stopped and tried to reason with him. He was having none of it. The medical staff calmed me down, gave me a bag of ice (awesome) and somehow, I started moving again. The ice was a godsend. It stuffed it down my sports bra and sucked on some. I, obviously  needed to cool down. wasn't 'that' hot. But it was in the 70s and that's way hotter than anything I have trained in this winter. 

For a while after I saw Dave I was able to get my head back in the game. I was running pretty well and holding some sort of a pace. Although there weren't many people on the course (gosh this race was small), I was starting to pick off people. At mile 19ish I saw Dave again and he said I looked like I had perked up a little. He gave me some Coke to settle my stomach and ran with me for a few minutes. The next time I would see him would be the finish. 

Those last couple of miles were long. There were points where I did not see anyone in front of me or behind me. I tried using tricks like counting my steps or finding landmarks to focus on but all I could focus on was the pain - my stomach, my feet, my legs, my head. I turned off my watch. Just move forward, Meredith. 

The finish seemed to take forever to get to. It was incredibly windy and there was nothing to block the wind. I swear I would have been faster walking faster than the doing whatever shuffle I was mustering. There was one last water stop at mile 26 and I yelled to the volunteer "Jesus Christ where is the finish?!?!"  I apologized to him for the language. I apologize to you. 

Finally, there was a left turn onto a patch of grass (stupid), down a homemade ramp (even dumber), and then onto the track for the finish.

 That look pretty much says it all.

4:02. Ugh!!  Pathetic, pitiful, disappointing, but mostly sadness. I worked too hard for this result. I had great training. I sacrificed so much time.  I gave up drinking. I ate better. I recovered like a boss. Whatever.  I really cried. I cried a lot. I cried most of the day, actually. I was so disappointed. 

But then there was this...

Only one woman went under 3:30. I was the 10th place female and second in my age group (my award was a travel mug). The conditions got to everyone. You've got to work with what you're given and this was the best I could do that day. Disappointing, but there will be other races.

One of the ugliest marathon medals ever.

Seriously, a travel mug?  I think I would have preferred a cheap trophy instead.

Tomorrow, more on what I learned about this marathon and thoughts on my next attempt. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Today is my 37th birthday.  It feels so weird to be 37.  I don't feel 37.  I don't think I look like what 37 looks like.  I remember when my parents were this age.  All very weird.


We had a little celebration tonight at home with my parents, Dave, Anderson, and me.  Dinner was spaghetti and garlic bread.  I mean, of course, I'm tapering!  There was also chocolate cake, which Anderson loved.  Me too.  Then I got a few presents.  My parents got me some construction/garden gloves.  These will come in very handy at this house.  They also got me a VISA gift card that I plan to save for something special.  (Not that I've figured out what that something special is yet.)  Anderson drew me a picture which he said is a picture of cake.  The kid loves cake.  Dave got me a new bikini (oh yeah, have I mentioned that a few hours after my marathon on Sunday we're hopping on a plane to the beach for a week?), some new Lululemon running shorts, and signed us up for a glass blowing class in a few weeks.  How cool is that? 

I think the start of 37 was great and I can't wait to see how the year unfolds.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Marathon Outfit

The weather is looking not so great for Sunday (rain - more on that later in the week), but temperatures are going to be great for a PR attempt.  And here's what I'll be looking fab in...

Shorts, tank, compression calf sleeves, my socks which I call my "Buckeye socks", and my super fast Kinvaras.  The sunglasses will be if the weather is nice (not likely) or I'll wear my lucky Boston 2006 hat. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Foto Friday (on a Tuesday)

(I have other posts planned for later in the week so I'll show some pictures of the kiddo earlier.)

We're starting him on the path toward triathlon early.  He's been in swim lessons for a year and a half, loves to run races, and now this...

And then look at this cuteness.  He said he was watching the clouds.  I just love him.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week in Review

The taper started this week.  I caught a cold.  I lost my mind.  I missed some workouts.  Whatever.  I'm trained and ready.  Nothing I do now will change the results next week.

Swimming - 3000 yards
I had three swims on the schedule this week, but I only did one.  I lost motivation to get over to the Y and do the swims.  Plus I was sick and yuck and I didn't want to take the little one to childcare only for him to catch his millionth cold this spring. 

Biking - 24.28 miles
I did two indoor bike rides this week - one shorter, one longer.  Neither of them were especially hard.  Mostly they focused on cadence.  Oh how I wish all bike rides were like taper bike rides.  That'll change in a few weeks.

Running - 24.29 miles
Monday was the long run where I hit the intervals but felt terrible.  I also tried a track workout that was disastrous.  Finally, the week ended with a fun, strong run with friends

Strength - 0 hours
There were no strength workouts this week.  Yahoo!!!

One more week!!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Running Friends - Good for the Soul

The last time I ran with friends was at the end of December when Amanda came home for the holidays and joined us.  I have done 100% of my training since that time by myself.  I don't mind training alone, it builds character, but sometimes I miss my friends.  For my last weekend run I got a babysitter and headed up to Highbanks to see my friends and enjoy a group run.

It was so good for the soul.  Having a cold this week and being in the taper, I was feeling quite blue about my race next week.  But six miles with my friends was a great pick-me-up.  Plus it was a fast pace and I was able to hang quite easily (and it didn't hurt that they told me I looked as fit as they've ever seen me).  This run was a turning point in this taper and I'm now very excited for the marathon.

I love having a coach.  It takes the thinking out of training and keeps me accountable to my training plan and goals.  But every once in a while it's nice to share a run with my friends and enjoy a lovely Saturday out on the trails. 

Do you run with a group or a friend?
How much training do you do solo?