Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giving Thanks

I am finally able to sit down and write. What a busy week we had! My husband's brother, his wife and their 4 kids came to visit us for Thanksgiving. They arrived last Tuesday and stayed until Friday afternoon.  We haven't seen them for a long time, and we had a great visit.  Wednesday was spent shopping for the Thanksgiving meal, and cooking as much as we could ahead of time.  We were able to prepare the desserts and some of the side dishes that evening, so that Thursday we could focus on the main meal.  I did prepare these pumpkin ravioli ahead of time, which was a labor of love, but so worth it the next day for all of us who weren't opting for turkey the next day.  We had 2 vegetarians in our group, as well as my husband and I who only eat fish.  My husband was able to modify the stuffing recipe so that it was meatless, and we had plenty of side dishes to satisfy everyone.
My 9 yr old and husband post-race
Home-made race bibs
  Thursday morning we decided to make our own Turkey Trot.  The local YMCA was hosting a run, but the cost was pretty steep: $23 for adults (over age 16) to run, and $16 for kids.  We had 7 kids and 4 adults, so we opted to make our own race, just for fun.  My 11 yr old son offered to make the race bibs, and I think they turned out great. We headed to a local park that my husband and I regularly run at and after a quick impromptu national anthem, we were off.  My daughter was the only one who didn't run.  She got a fun ride in the stroller, while the rest of us ran/walked the route.  The fastest runner was my 13 yr old nephew who was able to finish in approx. 21 minutes.  He was followed closely by my 9 yr old son, who ran the distance in approx. 22:15. Pretty good for a 4th grader!! My husband kept up with these 2 so that they would know when to turn, and to be the time-keeper.  My brother in law was ahead of me the whole race, so I followed him.  I finished in approx. 25:30.  I felt good, tried not to push the pace, since it had only been 11 days since the marathon.  Everyone put in a great effort, and regardless of the pictures I took post-race, I think everyone had a fun time. Once we finished the run, we returned home to finish preparations for the Thanksgiving meal.  We all had a very nice day, and were very satisfied with all the yummy dishes.

The ladies
The boys

 On Friday, we headed to Hershey Chocolate World, did a quick tour, and then sent the kids to Create Your Own Chocolate Bar.  So much fun!!

Some help with the "re-lighting" candles!
 Saturday was my daughter's 4th birthday.  She had some yummy waffles prepared by Daddy, then was ready to open up her gifts.  This was a Disney Princess birthday! Afterwards we went to Nutcracker program at our local library, then out for dinner to Red Robin, which was her choice. We enjoyed cake for dessert that she had picked out at the grocery store, and her birthday was complete. 
Well, until Monday when she celebrated her birthday at her preschool. I made these piggy cupcakes at her request to share with her friends.
Then her birthday was complete!
 So, after the busy week of much to celebrate and give thanks, I can sit down and enjoy the first snow of the season!
So now, questions: Have you ever done your own Turkey Trot? Are you enjoying any snow where you live today?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Harrisburg Marathon Race Report

 I'm not excited to write this race report, since things didn't go as well as I wanted, but it must be written.  As I sit here with aching quads and a post-marathon hazy feeling, I am going to try and summarize some of what transpired. The good, the bad, and the ugly.....
 The good first. My best friend Michele arrived on Saturday evening with her husband and 2 daughters. I haven't seen her since we ran the Nike Women's Marathon in S.F. in Nov. 2011.  We have kept in touch via phone, texts and emails since then.  When she offered to come and visit for this weekend to support my marathon, I was thrilled.  She and her husband would bring our kids to the marathon to cheer us on, and then we could celebrate afterwards. 
  After a spaghetti dinner Saturday night,  we all got to bed early. I turned off my light at 10pm after preparing everything for the morning.  I slept well until 3 am, then started to toss and turn a bit.  I got up at 5:30, and had my breakfast of bagel with peanut butter and honey, orange juice and coffee.  My husband was up as well, he had a warm bath and ate a bagel.  We were out the door at 6:30.  We arrived in Harrisburg at 7am, for a 8:30 start.  I was calm and ready. I drank gatorade, sips of water and a Luna Bar while staying warm in our car. After a last minute potty break, my husband and I headed for the start at 8:25.  We lined up behind the 4 hr pace group (9:10 pace). We were very disappointed that they had no announcer, and no national anthem before the marathon.  On Veteran's Day of all days! Anyway, the next thing we new, we heard a beeping noise, and the marathon had started. It was very anticlimactic, nobody really knew we had started for sure until people started moving forward. This was a very unusual start for a marathon.  Chris and I have run 11 marathons between us, and this was the first time there was no announcer to start the marathon.

Our cheerleaders: our 2 sons with my friend's 2 daughters, and our daughter.
Anyway, we were off.  We cruised through the first miles, feeling great.  We skipped the first water stop at about 2 1/2 miles. It was about 40 degrees, and we had hydrated well before starting.  Just after mile 5 was another water stop, so we each took a Gu gel and water, walking through the stop.  We easily got back on pace, still following the 4 hr pace group closely.  Our splits for the first 6 miles were: 9:00, 8:49, 8:59, 9:01, 9:09 and 9:18(took Gu)  The course was nice and flat, other than a couple of inclines up bridges, overpasses. The scenery was nice, especially when we ran down a soft wooded path.  I was truly enjoying myself as my husband and I chatted.  Miles 7-13 continued to feel good, with splits of 9:01, 9:08, 9:06, 9:20 (took Gu), 8:54, 9:05, and 8:56.  We were on pace for a sub 4 marathon. I was feeling great!  I knew we were going to see our kids and friends somewhere around 15 miles, and I was getting excited for that.  Splits for mile 14 was 9:22, not sure why, I was still feeling good. I may have taken another Gu at this time. Mile 15 was 8:57.  We saw our friends and kids between 15 and 16, and that picked me up, but I was started to fade a bit.  I handed off my arm warmers and sunglasses to my friend, and really wanted to hang on to my pace. But there was something happening that I couldn't control.  My legs started slowing down, and as much as I was willing them to go faster, they wouldn't.  I started saying to myself "Your body can do this" over and over.  I knew that I had trained well, that I had nailed all my tempo run, the Yasso 800's, the marathon pace runs, this should have been no problem, right? Wrong.  Chris was encouraging me, telling me that if I just picked up the pace, we could still make my goal.  He told me if I could just "grind" it out to 20 miles, then we could pick up the pace in the last 10K and finish strong.  I remember thinking to myself I would be happy just to make it to 20 miles, let alone "pick up the pace". Are you kidding me?  I only said to him that I was going as fast as I could, and turned on my music on my iPhone.  Splits for miles 16-20 were 9:30, 9:31, 9:51,10:46, 10:32.  I was taking short walking breaks at this point, even when we weren't stopping for water and cytomax. And we were now in Wildwood Park, the hilly part of the course. These hills absolutely devastated me.  I have trained on hills for the last 2 and 1/2 years, while living in Northern California, and then doing hilly long runs here in Pennsylvania.  These hills should not have been a problem.  But my legs were not cooperating, and now my mind had totally given up.  I knew I would never make sub 4, would be very lucky to PR, and just wanted to finish.  Mile 20-21 was the worst, walking up the hills, feeling frustrated.  It was my slowest mile: 12:31.  After the hills, I tried to rally a bit, running very slowly, but running.  The next splits were 10:14, 11:04, 10:43. And then my battery on my Garmin decided to quit.  I was happy not to see the time anymore.  I just wanted it to be over.  My quads were cramping, and I had to stop and stretch them every 5 minutes.  I was just struggling to keep moving.  Finally we got to the Lower Riverfront, where we had run miles 8-10, my favorite part of the run. I was not enjoying the view as much, but I knew it was almost over.  I struggled up the last incline to the bridge leading to the Finish Line. I don't know how fast I was running then, but I did pass a couple of people which surprised me.  I heard my kids yelling down below, and I waved at them.  Chris and I crossed the finish line holding hands and smiling.  I was so glad to be done.  The race clock said 4:20 something.  I wasn't sure of my chip time.  It ended up being 4:19.34.  Not my sub 4 goal, not a PR, but not my worst time either.  My second best time. 
My friend captured this photo. I think my eyes are closed in relief to be done!
We walked through the finish chute, got our medals and water to drink.  It felt so good to stop running.  We met up with our support group, grabbed some food to eat for them and us and we were ready to head home.  I was disappointed with my time, but proud to finish at all.  It was a rough race for me, but I did what I could.  I have to say that I have great memories of the race.  It was the first (and probably the last) time that my husband I will run a race together.  Sharing this race with him was special. Yes, I wish that I would have reached my goal and we would have that memory.  But just having him beside me during the good and the bad was what I needed.  I may have quit if he hadn't been beside me.  He really tried to keep me going and I know I wasn't the nicest to him the whole time.  But he was very patient and encouraging the whole time.  I know this wasn't easy for him.  Every time I wanted to walk, his legs would hurt at that pace.  He is used to running a much faster pace and slowing down for me was a challenge.  I am proud of us for getting through this together. I am truly blessed to have him supporting me.Knowing that my kids are proud of me, and cheering me on always fills my heart with joy. I am also so blessed to have my best friend Michele, along with her fantastic husband and girls.  They were so supportive, taking care of our kids, getting to the best spectator spots, and then helping us at the end.  We could not have asked for better cheerleaders!!
We had a nice dinner at a local pub and enjoyed a few beers.  All my disappointed feelings were gone, and I was just enjoying the time with the people I love.

We did it together!!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Carbo-loading and Bookclubbing

Enjoying the last couple days of taper, and marathon preparation.  Trying to hydrate, started carbo-loading today.  I've decided to actually figure out how much carbohydrates are actually recommended for carbo-loading and try to meet that goal.  I found an equation in Train Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea that looks like this: 1. Divide your current weight in pounds by 2.2 to get kilograms. 2. Multiply the kilograms by 8 to get the amount of carbs you need to eat on Friday and Saturday for a marathon or half-marathon on Sunday.
 So, that means for me that I have to get 452 g of carbs/day!! That is much harder than I thought.  I have been adding up my carbs, and I am struggling to get over 300.  I may need to snack more than I usually do. Hoping to prevent the "bonk"during the last few miles of the marathon.
 Had a great day today. I hosted a book club meeting at a local restaurant.  We discussed the book Room by Emma Donaghue. I read this book a few weeks ago, and it really affected me.  What an intriguing book. There were 10 ladies at the meeting tonight and what a great conversation we had! We are all mothers, so I think this book resonated with us in an interesting way. 
  Now we are having "family night fun-night" in our home.  We eat pizza and watch a movie or DVR'd  t.v. shows.  Tonight we will try to catch up on episodes of "The Voice". So much fun.
Early to bed tonight. Hoping to get some good rest. 2 more sleeps until Marathon!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Go Fast. Take Chances.

So, here I am just 5 days away from the marathon. I'm thinking of my strategy, my plan, my goals for the Harrisburg on 11/11.  I have my running outfit picked out.  Oiselle all the way: Tank, arm warmers, and black Rogas.  I haven't received my race kit, otherwise I would plan on wearing the Oiselle team singlet.  The weather looks great: mid 50's, sunny.  The marathon is typically a small race, with only about 1,000 runners, with the full marathon and a relay division.  However, because of the displaced NYCM runners, registration has gone way up during this week.  Now they are expecting at least 2,000 marathon runners.  It should be a fun time, as long as the race director is able to scramble to prepare for all the extra runners.
 My best friend Michele and her husband are coming to visit this weekend with their 2 girls.  Michele and I normally run races together, but she is not planning on running this marathon.  She instead is coming to support my run, and watch my kids for me.  I could not ask for a better cheerleader.  Just knowing that she is going to be here to support me allows me to relax and prepare for my race. 
 This is the first race that my husband and I are going to run TOGETHER!  He has run several marathons, and normally is much faster than me.  But he has been plagued with injuries during this training cycle, and decided a few weeks ago to go ahead and run the marathon, but at a slower pace: my pace.  He is convinced that he can pace me to a sub 4hr marathon.  I just hope we can run an entire marathon together.  And to be speaking to each other afterwards.
 We discussed our "strategy" over a dinner date on Saturday night.  We discussed that my ultimate goal (Plan A) is to run sub-4.  I told him that my plan B is to PR, and my plan C, if all is going wrong, is just to finish.  He did not want to hear about B and C.  He is an "all or nothing" kind of guy.  He believes I am capable of sub-4, and he is determined to get me there.  Okay..... So now I just need to convince myself. 
 I have been looking back on my previous 4 marathon experiences, and the biggest mistake that I have made is the classic mistake that many people make: I went out too fast.  By mile 19, I was dying, barely hanging on.  My pace continued to slow down, I had to take walk breaks, and I fell apart.  So, I am determined to go out slower this time and finish strong.  NEGATIVE SPLIT is my ultimate goal.  Now I'm just trying to decide how exactly to do that.  Should I run one pace for the first half, then a faster pace for the second? Should I split the race into three? 10 miles, 10 miles, and 6.2? Still working it out. 
 If anybody out there would like to share their thoughts about this, please comment below.  I could use some help!
So, questions...
 Have you ever been paced by a close friend,  or spouse? How did that work out?
 Do you have any suggestions about how to successfully negative split in a marathon?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween treats and a Special Surprise!

This has been a crazy, busy week. We got through the storm without any damage. To see the devastation in NJ and NY made me so grateful that we had no problems here. We were told on Sunday night that the storm was coming right for us here in south central PA, and I think some people were affected, but nothing like people on the coast.
The kids stayed home on Monday and Tuesday because school was cancelled. Things got back to normal on Wednesday. Well, as normal as things are on Halloween. My daughter had a fun preschool Halloween party.
 Spending 3 hours with 30 preschoolers on Halloween was exhausting! I don't know how the teachers do it.
Then Halloween night was filled with getting all 3 kids ready for trick or treating. My daughter decided to warm her warmer Winnie the Pooh costume, and the boys were dressed as Anakin Skywalker and a Jawa.
After trick or treating, I checked my email and found out that I had been accepted to be a member of the Oiselle Ambassador Team! For those not familiar with Oiselle (pronounced Way-zelle- french word for bird), they are an awesome women's running apparel company.  They have great, high quality running clothes made especially for women.  I discovered them a few months ago on Twitter (@oiselle), and when I found out that they have runners around the country representing their company at races, I jumped at the chance to apply to represent and promote their company.  What a thrill to be selected! I will be soon wearing their racing singlet proudly at races. Check out their website, and start shopping! I don't think I'll have my race kit in time for the Harrisburg marathon next weekend, but I have a few favorite Oiselle pieces, including my Roga shorts and my arm warmers, which I plan on wearing.
 So, this week will be focused on resting, hydrating, carbo loading and preparing mentally for the 26.2 miles on Sunday.  I am formulating my goals and strategy in my mind, and I will share them with you soon. Go Fast. Take Chances.