Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 Empire State Marathon Race Report

Wow. My first marathon. As mentioned in my previous post, I went into this very undertrained. My max week of milage was about the milage of someone's long run alone. My sole goal was just to finish, although in my words to my coach when discussing the race plan, "I'll be annoyed if I don't break my IMLP time (5:25)." Really though, I didn't have high expectations going into this one - it was more of a "I'm not ready to have my season end in late August." (Just like the Vermont Half was a good part "I'm not ready to have my season end in late July."

Anyway, things did not get off to a good start. There was nowhere to eat the night before except Denny's or the hotel restaurant. I chose the hotel restaurant because it seemed to have more lighter fare to choose from. This ended up being a gross mistake. Not only was it horribly overpriced, I spent the entire night in the bathroom. Yes. All those carbs were going straight though. I was seriously worried that I would have to visit every portapotty on the course. This in addition to having a nasty upper respiratory cold.

So, we get up at 6, which is pushing it since the race starts at 7:30. WHY they felt the need to start a late-October marathon in upstate New York that early is beyond me. If anything, you want to wait for it to WARM UP that time of year.  Point being, all I have time to down is half a bagel. Fine for shorter races - didn't work here.  In the future, I will definitely be leaving more time so I can eat a heavier breakfast.

So we get to the race site, I pick up my packet, use the porta-potty, and basically try to keep from freezing my butt off.

Shivering in the cold.

Changed into my "disposable" hoodie.

Almost go time.
 They finally start rounding us up for the start. Who gives the opening speech but Katherine Switzer herself? Amazing! I was so disappointed that I couldn't see her from where I was standing. The downside of being 4'10". I meant to try to find her after the race, but as you'll find out, I got a wee bit distracted.

So they have someone sing the national anthem, and we're off.

The start. I'm really NOT at the very back, I swear.
Mile 1: Right away I realize two issues: 1.) I really really need to pee despite using the porta-potty right before the race and 2.) I'm hungry. Also, my quads don't feel super-fresh or ready to go.  On a positive note, I don't have my usual race-day tachycardia so am actually able to stick to my HR plan.

Mile 2:  I feel silly stopping so soon, but it's the first porta-potty and my teeth were floating. I try to get in and out of there as quickly as I can. (Yes, I know. I'm wearing tri shorts and should have just peed myself. I'm not THAT hardcore. Yet.)

Mile 3: Take my first 1/2 gel, still feeling really good although the hellacious headwind is not fun. I try to tuck in behind people the best I can.  At least this part of the course is pancake flat.

Mile 4:  I get passed by...a guy dribbling a basketball? Really? Still on flats with a howling headwind. Someone hands me a gel that dropped out of my race belt. Hmmm....that's never happened before. I just throw it in my top.

Mile 5: The first runner from the half-marathon (which started half an hour later) flies by. The guy next to me goes, "Holy SHIT!" I look over to him and say, "My thoughts EXACTLY." I'm really looking all over for Dr. Z at this point because I desperately want to dump the hoodie and am really hoping I don't have to throw it away.

Mile 6: Dr. Z finally catches up with me on his bike and I toss him my hoodie. I take the second half of my first gel right on schedule.

Miles 7-13:  The hills start. Holy crap. Luckily I'm still staying on plan, although I do let me heart rate climb a bit while jogging up the hills. Still taking gels on schedule. Very happy that my GI system is staying happy considering last night's poopfest. At one point I realize I've lost ANOTHER gel so I yank all the remaining ones out of my belt and throw them in my top.
Dr. Z couldn't resist a butt shot. You're welcome.

 I hit the halfway mat in 2:11.  These first 13 miles really did go by quickly and easily, even once the hilly section started. Every time I saw an aid station I was like, "I just ran another mile already?"

Halfway Mark
Miles 13-18: This is where is stops being easy and fun. I'm not about to blow up, but I'm really starting to work. The 13.1 mile mat is at the bottom of a hill so gnarly I have to sidestep vomit at the top of it, but I keep running - no walking here.

Full-on Hurt Face

At one point we have this stupid, really short out-and-back that's been added on. It's stupid because the course is already about a tenth of a mile long. Luckily the GI is STILL happy and I'm taking my gels on schedule. This is still all hills and my quads are really starting to hurt towards the last few miles.

After ten miles of hills - yeah, NO KIDDING. Dr. Z thought this was hysterical.

Miles 19-22:  We're finally back on the flat section, this time with a tailwind. Unfortunately at this point my quads are so fried it doesn't help much. I find people to run with to keep me going, but lose them and have to find new people after every aid station - the downside of having a plan to walk the aid stations. (I know, I could have started running through them at this point, but I really did like how the walk breaks broke up the miles.)  It is at this point I finally pass the Dribbler back.

How can he still be smiling at mile 20? Asshole.
Mile 23: This is where shit gets real. I'm not tired, my GI system feels just fine, but my legs HURT. On FIRE hurting. At mile 23.5 at 2:55 into race time, I walk for the first time (not including aid stations). I tell myself I can walk until I hit 3 hours, although I'm seriously not sure I can start running again. I almost start crying. Luckily someone else goes by me and I get moving again.

Miles 24-25: At this point, I tell myself that I can settle into my Ironman Shuffle and will still break 4:30, which keeps me going. I take my last gel, right on schedule. Just never had an upset tummy.

Mile 26: At this point I've turned into the parking lot of the stadium where the race started. My true 26.2 time is 4:25 and change - wish I had hit "Lap" on my Garmin to get the split. I'm completely tunnel-visioned at this point, but make it through at 4:27:30 GUN time, with a 26.38 mile course.
I'm in the background, coming down the finish line.

Finish: This is where it gets ugly. I cross the finish line and my legs just give out.

Legs give out.

Trying to get up.

I try to get back up, and the race announcer has me sit in his chair by the finish line. Unfortunately, at this point I start having an asthma attack, and brilliance her has forgotten her inhaler back in Lake Placid.

The EMTs come over and I spend the next half hour in medical on the nebulizer. I really did feel better after about ten minutes on it, but they always make you do a full treatment. I must have had my lungs listened to about ten times.

Once I finish up, they release me and I am one very sore but very happy girl. I thought Coach was nuts putting 4:30 as my time in TrainingPeaks, but I smashed that goal on a hilly course with a headwind so bad it pushed the truck around the entire way home. Oh yeah, and with almost NO training.

I have GOT to do another marathon with proper training someday. I really think I have a sub-4 in me. And now for nine weeks of well-earned rest. What a way to end the season!

Net Time: 4:27:01
Women's 35-29 AG: 23/41
Women: 106/228
Overall: 323/542

Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 Season Reflections

2012 Booty

Since my race report is going to be delayed thanks to Dr. Z taking his camera home with him this morning, I shall instead entertain you by doing some rambling navel-gazing about my 2012 season. I've inserted random pics from the year to make it a little less boring.

Night before the HITS Hunter Mountain Oly

First off, I never really had an off-season after 2011 thanks to doing the Cowtown Half Marathon in February.  However, I was still trying to get my run back from my IT band injury in 2010, so was happy to spend the winter running my brains out. It meant less time trapped on the trainer at least.

It was awesome - I finally met my lovely coach face-to-face, and I had a tough but good race. I didn't PR like I hoped, but I came damn close for a hillfest of a course that was .15 miles long by several people's Garmins.

Me before my first sprint tri, three weeks after deciding to get into triathlon and do IMLP 2012 in three years. I had no idea where this journey would take me.

After that, it was time to get back into swimming and biking. Life became All About Ironman. It was crazy. My training got up to 18-20 hours a week towards the end, which aside from being physically grueling  was a time-management nightmare with a full-time job. It was amazing though - my coach had more faith in me than I did and the brutal training regime taught me that I was far stronger than I ever realized. It was the most insane 4 months of my life.

Dede Greisbauer and I at the IMLP mini-camp
My life just revolved around Ironman - it had to. Even the one race I did during that time - the HITS Hunter Mountain Oly - was just a run-through for IMLP.

The morning of Ironman, I felt ready. Calm. It was crazy. I got FIVE HOURS OF SLEEP THE NIGHT BEFORE. I had just developed a lot more confidence in myself as an athlete. It was helped even more when I set a HIM PR at the Vermont Journey Half only five weeks later on almost no training.

The run of the Vermont Journey Half

Or so I thought.

When I went into the marathon yesterday I doubts. A lot of them. I have a lot of faith in my running, but my volume was abysmal. Thanks to my IT band flaring up a few weeks ago, my long run was FIFTEEN MILES. And yet, despite all that, I ran faster than I thought possible. On a day so windy the truck was getting blown all across the road on the way back. Clearly I still have issues believing in myself as an athlete.

So where does this all leave me? I'm not sure. It's easy to identify the "hard" skills that need work - I'm painfully obviously in need of more swim lessons and many nasty sessions in the saddle leaving me curled up in the fetal position in a pool of my own vomit next to the trainer. I need to keep my run volume decent through the off-season since I can't build up milage quickly. That's the easy stuff.

The Kinvaras I ate up this season.
I think even more important than all that is to have faith in my abilities. Training IS important, but I've also learned that I am good at executing on race day and I have to learn to have more confidence in myself that I can pull it out when it matters, because I can.

So next year's key word is going to be "Believe." Because I can do this. And I will do it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week in Training - Final Pre-Marathon Taper

(....Yes, I've set this to publish while I'm running my marathon.)

Swimming: Only one swim this week - should be more next week as part of recovery. It did go pretty well though. No PRs like last week, but I also wasn't going all-out. Now that I'm back in the pool where I can measure my speed (feel free to buy me a Garmin 910XT), I am amazed to see that I am consistently swimming a moderate pace of 2:10-2:15/100.  I'm hoping to get that down to 2:00/100 with the help of some off-season swim lessons.

Biking: Nil. As in "none." Just like last week, Coach wanted me to stay away from the bike just to make sure my IT band didn't act up.

Runs:  Just some short, easy runs at marathon pace. The first one did not go well - legs STILL felt like crap, but they've loosed up nicely and I actually felt downright antsy during yesterday's shakeout. Also, the race itself is a run, duh. More on that Monday.

So all in all, a very low-volume taper week that has me raring to go (okay, except for this cold I can't shake) for the last race of the year.

Back on Monday with a race report, I swear!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blog Lost, Blog Refound

Wow....I know I need to kind of "reboot" here and get this blog back off the ground. The wheels kind of fell off with blogging this season. It's not that I don't like blogging; I'm constantly thinking of fun entries with pictures that I want to write up. It's more about finding the time.

IMLP training got INSANE at the end - I was logging 18-20 hours a week and that doesn't include laundry, bike maintenance, changing clothes, etc., etc. After taper started, I thought I'd have more time, but then work exploded. I've literally been doing two people's worth of work since July.

Luckily that all ended yesterday. I FINALLY handed off my old account to another person, and tomorrow's marathon is the last race before I shut it down for two months and take some much-needed R&R.

So...let's get this show back on the road!