Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Glass City Marathon Race Recap (4/22/18)

Let's begin with a Jeopardy question, shall we?  

For 500 points:  The most difficult marathon that I have competed in thus far.

Answer: What is the Glass City 2018 marathon?

BINGO!  I bet most of you got that one right, since a) only my friends read this blog, and b) why else would I start a recap blog about the race with that question?!

Time for the nitty, gritty details that my friends appear to enjoy hearing about, starting with the day before the race. Actually, I will rewind to a couple of weeks before the race.  I ran the Xenia half-marathon, and was feeling pretty darn confident.  My overall pace (8:49) felt relatively easy, and I was excited to see how this translated to my marathon.  Following Xenia, I felt less than great for the first week of taper, which is typical for me.  Also, my quads felt pretty tight, especially in the days leading up to Glass City.  I rolled them frequently, saw my chiropractor for some deep tissue work, and had a "flushing massage" with my massage therapist.  Nothing really helped.  My left quad especially was worrisome to me... not painful, and running didn't both it.  It was just... tight.  I decided to wear my quad/hamstring compression sleeve for the 48 hours leading up to the race, and it definitely helped!  My body does love compression :)  

I was ever-so-excited to have my best friend Tamara join me for the trip up to Toledo.  We hadn't had a chance to chat much since her ah-maz-ing Boston marathon on Monday, so it was a jabber-filled two hour car ride!  We didn't leave until after 3:00, so I had Allison pick up my bib at the expo (which closed at 4:00).  Tamara and I stopped at her parents' house (where we'd be sleeping that night), and then headed to Mancy's, our favorite pre-race Toledo eatery.  Allison, her fiance Donny, Amy, and her husband Robert met us there, and we had a great time chatting and eating.  I was not super hungry for my pasta meal, but boy did I eat a lot of bread!  I ended up also going to the restroom no less than 4 times while we were there... pre-race hydration = on point!

Dinner selfie <3 Note Tamara's wine glass.  Being a cheerleader has its perks!

Tamara and I headed back to her parents' house after dinner, where we enjoyed a bit of conversation + cupcakes with her parents and their friends.  I set out my outfit and race necessities, took my Melatonin, and turned in at around 9:45 PM.  I could immediately tell that it was going to be a long night.  My mind wasn't racing or anything... I just didn't feel super sleepy.  I tossed and turned until around 11:15, when I got up and got some water.  It was close to midnight the last time I checked the clock, and my eyes snapped open at 4:30 AM.  4.5 hours of sleep is not an acceptable amount for me, ever, but especially not the night before a race.  I didn't really worry about it too much, though, as most people say the amount of sleep the night before a race isn't as important as TWO nights before (when I'd gotten over 8 hours).  My alarm wasn't set to go off until 5:15 AM, so I stared at the wall until 5:00 when I couldn't wait any longer.  I got up and started getting dressed.  I swear, getting ready for a marathon is like getting ready for prom!  All of the layers (race clothes, throw-away clothes), fuel belt, lubing up with Aquaphor, etc. etc. etc.  It takes awhile!

Tamara picked my outfit out... my signature PINK!!!
I crept downstairs to eat my bagel and banana, and then finished my pre-race preparations (including a successful bathroom mission LOL!) while Tamara ate her own breakfast.  We were out the door by 5:48 AM, right on schedule.  Awesome thing #1,085 about Tamara: we both like to be early for our big races!  She knew how important this race was to me, and was prepared to do anything in her power to help me get there.  We headed toward the race start and were parked about a quarter-mile from the start by 6:15 or so.  I quickly decided that I needed to visit the porta-potties, so we headed over to the starting area, where we joined thousands of other runners.  I did my dynamic stretches, overall feeling good.  Nothing was bothering me... my quad felt good after the compression sleeve for the past 48 hours... nerves were high but that was a good thing!  Time to turn the butterflies into positive energy.  I knew I'd be fine once the race started.  

At 6:45 we headed over to the corrals, trying to hook up with Allison and Amy.  I ducked into the "C" Corral at 6:50, and just after that Allison and Amy found Tamara.  They hurried over to where I was waiting for the race to begin.  Tamara had been worried that I was going to be running alone, since we hadn't found the others, and I acted like I didn't care, but I was secretly overjoyed when they arrived.  I didn't bring any music, and 26.2 miles was a long way!  

The three of us had discussed our race at dinner the night before.  We were going to start together, at around an 8:55-9:00 pace, and see how things went from there.  I was pretty sure that Amy wouldn't be with us for too long, as she was running the half and would likely push the pace a bit more.  The first mile was a cluster--sooooo many people, and within a quarter-mile, there were WALKERS!   A huge pet peeve of mine is people starting in the wrong corral.  "C" Corral was for marathoners from 3:45-4:10, and half marathoners from 2:00-2:20.  One, I thought this was dumb (a 3:45 marathon in no way correlates to a 2-hour half), and two, no one should be walking in the front of this corral... at least not a quarter-mile into the race!  Okay, rant done.

Due to the aforementioned cluster of a start, our first mile was relatively slow (9:13).  We had to do quite a bit of weaving in and out to find an open area where our bodies could happily run, and that took approximately 0.95 miles (no joke, I looked at my watch to see when it happened).  Shortly thereafter, Amy asked me to start talking, as she'd noticed already that I wasn't saying much.  Typically on our runs, I am a chatterbox.  I had already realized that this race wasn't going to be the happy-happy-joy-joy one that I was hoping for.  Our pace, which should've felt easy, definitely did not. I wasn't sure what was wrong, but I told her that I was "conserving energy for the marathon" or something like that... which was basically true.  I was scared to death that if I started to talk, I would waste energy that later on I would sorely need.    

Miles two, three and four (8:55, 8:54, 8:54) ticked off pretty quickly.  I held Allison and myself in check after Amy took off shortly after the 5K mark.  Our pacing was pretty much spot on.  The weather was perfect.  Everything was going swimmingly, at least on paper.  The only problem: I felt "off".  I couldn't pinpoint the problem, but for some reason, running felt hard.  Don't laugh, I know that it's a marathon and it's SUPPOSED to be hard.  But not at mile 4.  I found myself looking forward to my first gel at mile 5.5.  "Remember," I said to myself, "Tamara told you that she felt so much better at Boston after her first gel."  I smiled when we saw Tamara and Donny cheering for the first time at mile 4ish, and I smiled again when I pulled an apple cinnamon Huma gel from my fuel pouch a mile later--my favorite!  It basically tastes like cinnamon applesauce.  I looked forward to the surge that fueling gives me... and it never came. Mile 5 was 8:53, mile 6 was 8:54.  At least our pacing was good...

Mile 4 (happy to see Tamara!)
Allison and I continued moving forward, the miles passing by on my watch.  I kept my focus on everything positive... the other runners, the gorgeous weather, the friend by my side, the posters that those cheering us on had made.  Still, though, as I got to mile 7, I found myself thinking, "Only 6 miles til the halfway point."  Oh my goodness... six miles just to get to 13.1.  And then another 13.1 after that.  Never have I ever ran a marathon and said to myself at mile 7, "Only 6 miles til I am halfway."  The first half of a marathon, if you are a) trained correctly and b) running the race correctly, should feel very easy.  Relaxed.  To say I was worried at this point would be an understatement.  I decided to start breaking up the race into chunks. I knew we'd see Tamara and Donnie again at mile 10, so I told myself, 5K til you get to see your friends again!  5K is nothing!  I focused on that small goal, passing the time by chatting with Allison.  I'm not sure if she realized how difficult things were already becoming for me.   I know that Tamara didn't... she said I looked amazing at mile 4 and mile 10!  

Mile 10: I can see the look in my face... it's saying, "Umm... not so sure about this."
The half-marathoners turned off shortly after mile 7.  I was feeling okay at that moment, telling myself that even if we just maintained our current pace, we'd make both my goal (3:50-3:55) and Allison's PR (3:57).  Originally I had hoped that we'd go faster for the second half of the race, but deep within I knew that most likely, that was NOT happening today.  I didn't let myself get down about it... I simply decided I would do what needed to be done to make it through.  

I felt decent for miles 7-14.   There were good moments and bad ones, but more good than bad.  I kept telling myself, just keep this pace.  Just keep this pace.  You don't have to go any faster.  Miles 7-13 were 8:55, 8:52, 8:52, 8:59, 8:58, 8:58, 8:52.  Half marathon split was a 1 high 1:56ish.  I remember thinking to myself at that point, hey if we can just keep it the same, we have a 3:52-3:53.  OK, yes, I can DO this... positive thinking, right?!!

It didn't last for long.  At mile 14, I started to fall back into my mental funk.  12 more miles.  TWELVE.  I decided to go back to my strategy of dividing the race into chunks.  3 more miles til mile 17.  Then 3 more till 20.  Then a 10K to finish.  Allison and I made the unspoken decision to go a bit faster.  Mile 14 was 8:49, mile 15 was 8:50.  I was happy to see Tamara at mile 15.  She told me later that I still looked like I was doing well, smiling, having a great time.  (Damn, I am good at faking this happy runner thing; look at my picture below!)  

BEST RACE PIC EVER!  Mile 15!  I love my smile, my arms, etc.!
Mile 16 was slower, 8:57.  I fueled at 16, this time taking a caffeinated Huma gel.  Lemonade, yum!  I waited for the jolt of caffeine to give me a surge.  Waited... and waited.  Usually caffeinated gels give me a great boost, since I don't drink coffee.  Not so much today.  Mile 17 came, and I settled into my next 5K.  I knew that this would be the roughest stretch of the race.  It would be into the wind (which had picked up during the race--still only about 8-10 mph, though), and had the biggest uphill on the course at mile 19.  I was proud of how well Allison and I powered through this stretch!  Lots of self-talk, lots of encouraging each other.  I asked Allison to repeat the biblical verse she'd told me at the start of the race: "Run with endurance the path which is set before you."  This verse got me through so very many miles, but especially the stretch from 17-21 (8:53, 8:49, 8:48, 8:51, 8:57).  

Mile 20 came and went, and I experienced a bit of a downer when I didn't see Tamara at mile 20 as I had expected.  The race had turned onto the bike path again, and other than this small spectacular section with a bridge and a river, it was not the most interesting part of the race.  I had started to walk the water stops back around mile 16, to make sure I was getting enough hydration.  Allison was still running through them, but I would catch her within 200 yards or so.  However, by 20, this was getting more and more difficult.  When we finally saw Tamara and Donny at mile 21, Allison was about 10 yards ahead of me.  I think that Tamara finally realized that I wasn't doing so hot at this point.  She hopped into the wearing her beautiful blue-and-yellow Boston Unicorn shoes.  She asked me what was wrong.  I told her  that it was my legs, they were just so tired... that I was just so tired, all over.  She encouraged me to do a few high knees or butt kicks to vary my stride, to get my legs loosened up.  I told her I would, wanting to try anything that might help me get out of the rut that I'd been in for most of the race.  When those didn't work, I decided to do a short surge to catch up to Allison again.  When I was within 5 yards of her, I shouted out that I was there, and soon we were side by side again.  I told her that I was struggling and needed her.  She said she'd stay with me, but immediately after hearing her words, I felt guilty.  This was HER race, who was I to tell her to slow down?!   I told her to go, and she immediately said no, that best friends were more important than PRs.  At that point, we agreed to stick together till mile 25, and then she'd go on and finish ahead of me if she felt good AND if I was still okay with it.  I was so grateful to have her by my side, and worked hard to stick with her.  Mile 22 was an 8:46, so clearly I was pushing it a bit in order to be with my friend.

At the water stop at mile 23, I heard the volunteers yelling out "water first, Gatorade second!", just like at all of the stops.  Gatorade was the one thing in my arsenal that I hadn't tried yet.  Maybe I needed some electrolytes, I thought to myself!  I slowed down and walked through the stop, sipping on the cup of lemon-lime Gatorade.  I watched Allison continue on, and when I started running again, I realized that I most likely wasn't going to see my friend again til the finish.  I was happy for her, that she felt great and was going to have a kick-ass PR.  As for me... I started to do the dreaded countdown.  2.9 miles to the finish.  2.8.  2.7.  Every tenth seemed to last years.  I focused on the runners around me, passing people when I could, reminding myself to be grateful that I was strong enough to finish this race.  1.9.  1.8.  1.7.  God, this trail is never ending.  1.3.  1.2.  1.1.  I can't wait to say "Less than a mile!"  We finally turned off the trail and headed towards the stadium.  Praying with every step that my body would not give out on me, I covered the ground the best I could.  Only when I was within a quarter-mile of the stadium did I finally tell my arms to GO.  Churning my arms had the effect of forcing my legs to go faster, so I was actually able to sprint into the stadium and through the finish line.  I don't think I could have done it for more than that quarter-mile, that's for sure!  Miles 23-26.2 were 8:58, 9:11, 9:10, 9:12.  The final 5K was by far my slowest of the race.  I was able to go an 8:16 pace for the last 0.3 into the finish, though!

Thanks to Brooke for taking great finish-line pics of me!
As usual for me, I near-collapsed into the arms of one of the medical volunteers at the finish.  I am typically pretty woozy after a race, and this one was no different.  He helped me get my mylar blanket, medal and some water, and once he was convinced that I wouldn't pass out, he sent me on my way to find my friends.  I almost immediately ran into Tamara, overjoyed to see her face.  I WAS SO HAPPY TO BE FINISHED!  She led me to Donny and Allison, who was sprawled on the ground nearby.  We hugged and staggered to the post-race party area, where we got food (banana, granola bar, pasta, pizza, cookie) and settled down to rehash the race with Donny and Tamara.  It was fun to see a few of our MRTT friends Betty and Brooke, but mostly I was just happy to sit down and not move!  I was annoyed with myself at first when I saw 3:55:01 on my watch, but Allison checked my results on one of the computers and it said 3:54:59--those two seconds made me immensely happier LOL!  She herself had smashed her old PR by almost 5 minutes; I was so freaking proud of her!!!

Yay for a huge PR for Allison!  The medals are super cool--the runner moves!
After a bit, we said our goodbyes and headed back to our cars.  Tamara and I stopped back at her parents so I could get a shower before we went back to Westerville.  Once I was in the shower, I gave myself full permission to cry.  I really felt like I needed to.  The mental battles that I had fought that day had left me on an emotional edge that was hard to describe.  However, as the warm water ran over my tired muscles, I realized something:  I had left every single bit of myself on that course.  Not only physically (which I typically do in a race), but mentally as well.  I knew that I couldn't have done any better on that day than I had done.  There wasn't a single thing I could have, or would have, done differently to make myself go faster.  Therefore, no tears fell from my eyes.  A grateful feeling spread through my bones.   

My friends who messaged me after the race sent words of congratulations, and most were confused by my Facebook post relaying the difficulties I'd experienced throughout the marathon.  "But look at the pictures, you look amazing!  You look so happy!  You made your goal!"  Yes, yes, and yes.  Those pictures, that time, they are not the true story of this race, though.  The true story of the race is this:  I ran 26.2 miles on a day when running was not my friend.  All runners have bad runs, when your easy pace feels hard (or, as Shalane Flanagan said after her 9th place Boston Marathon finish a few years ago, "It was a bad day at the office").  Fortunately for most of us, those don't usually happen on race day.  But it did for me.  What I didn't do is let the race beat me.  I persevered... because that is what I do.  

I was almost happy when I looked over my heart rate data over the course of the race and saw that it completely justified how bad I was feeling.  Just two weeks ago, at Xenia, I ran an 8:49 overall pace with negative splits, with an average heart rate of 151.  Training HR pace is 140-150 for me, so a 151 meant that I was barely even working above my normal easy run effort.  At Glass City, my overall pace was 8:56 (that includes those final slower 3 miles), with an average heart rate of 165.  My heart rate soared into the 170's for the final 5K of the marathon, even as my pace slowed.  From the start, it was higher than it was at Xenia.  Again, it was just justification, physical proof that my body was working super hard to accomplish what it did.  

Now that it has been a few days, I can look back on the marathon with less disappointment and more pride.  Pride that I finished, that I accomplished my time goal, that I didn't let my physical and mental state get the better of me.  My take-away from this race: I am stronger than I knew!

Prior to the race, it was difficult for me to accept that a BQ wasn't going to happen.  Even before race week arrived, I was already day-dreaming about a possible September race, to see if perhaps, just perhaps, I could finally achieve my dream.  I spoke with my coach at length on Tuesday about the race, as well as the upcoming summer.  Here's what we've lined up:

Triathlons: Central Ohio Sprint (June 10), Mingoman Olympic (June 24), HFP Caesar Creek Olympic (July 8), with the hope of qualifying at one of these races for USAT Olympic Nationals on August 12. I need to get top 3 overall, or win my age group to do so.  Back-up plan in the event I don't go to Nationals: maybe do a 5K swim on August 19.  Other thoughts: I may swim on relays at the Ross Fit (July 22) and at Ohio 70.3 (July 29).   

Running:  We are looking at either the Erie Marathon (September 9) or the Air Force Marathon (September 15) as possible races for me to run to qualify for Boston.  I am also looking at the Last Chance BQ.2 Chicagoland Marathon (September 8) or The Huntsville Marathon in Utah (September 15).  The latter of the two is interesting in that it offers a BQ or your money back!  Both Chicagoland and Utah are "qualifying" races, where you need to be within 10 minutes of your BQ standard to run it the race.  Guess what... my 3:54:59 puts me at 9:59 from my 3:45:00 cut!  

Lots of decisions to make, and lots of training to get done.  My muscles have recovered from my race, and after three days of zero exercise other than walking, I am planning on getting back in the pool tomorrow, and then go for a nice easy short run on Friday with my best running friends.  Needless to say, I am ready for the next phase of training to begin!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Review/Recap/Review--the great trifecta!

My poor blog, I've been so neglectful!  Life, as always, is crazy, and gets in the way of blogging.  Someday I am sure I will find the time to fit it in on a regular basis.  Until then, you'll have to be happy with the combination entries such as this one.  I'm going to review (this training cycle), recap (today's race) and preview (my race in two weeks)!  No pictures this time--I have limited time to get this blog done and want to enjoy the final hours of my spring break!

After the Indianapolis Monumental marathon in November, I blogged that I had decided on my spring goal: A BQ marathon.  So, this winter has been all about building up my mileage while attempting to stay injury-free.  And I ALMOST did it.  Training has been going pretty darn well!  I have been able to up my miles, continue to bike a couple of times a week and swim once a week, and do strength (Body Pump class) a couple of times a week.  I had one tiny blip a couple of weeks ago, when I had some soreness in my left foot.  Fortunately, I was able to will it away with ice, compression, and an extra day of rest.  The one thing that didn't happen this training cycle that I'd hoped would was the addition of speed work.  My coach had me doing intervals once a week (where I would run short bursts of speed, 60-90 seconds, within a run), but that ended after my tweaky foot thing.  And if I'm being honest with myself, it wasn't enough speed to warrant an attempt at a BQ.  I have confidence in myself, but I also know that in order for me to be able to run a marathon at an 8:25-ish pace, I need to have some faster miles in my training.  I'm not giving any excuses... just stating the obvious, and despite a pretty solid season of training, I am obviously not ready to run a sub-3:45 marathon right now.  

A few months ago, my friend Emily mentioned that she'd like to run a sub-2 half marathon this spring. I offered to pace her at the Xenia half, the same race I helped my friend Jamie PR at four years ago!  Unfortunately, Emily has been injured, so the pacing gig was cancelled.  I had registered for the race when it was super-cheap back in December, though, so I still wanted to do it.  My friend Katie was running the full, so I figured, why not tag along with her for the first 7 miles, til the marathoners split off?  We both loved the idea, and even better, our friend Amy decided to sign up at the last minute and join us.

Katie wanted to run the first several miles at around an 8:50-9:00/mile pace.  My coach agreed that this was a good, solid pace for me to try.  I was a little nervous, as I really don't ever run this pace.  My runs all pretty much stay in the 9:10-9:30 range.  Occasionally I dip into the high 8's, but it's rare.  Turns out I had nothing at all to worry about :)  

Amy and I rode together to the race.  Xenia is about 1 hr 15 min from my house, so we left Westerville right before 6 AM with plenty of time to get there.  The race is small, but well-organized.  It's based at the Xenia YMCA. We grabbed our bibs, and I stood in the uber-long bathroom line.   It was super cold out (the real-feel was sub-20!), so it was nice to have the indoor facility!  I met Amy back at the car where we stayed toasty warm until it was time to race.  The race started right on time without a hitch!  We were unable to find Katie, but she found us about 3 miles into the race.  That gave us a nice little 4 mile stretch to chat.  It felt like a normal training run!   The first 5ish miles of the race are the most hilly, at least compared to our usual running routes, but they're not TOO awful.  I fueled once, at mile 7, just as Katie was leaving us.  Amy and I spent the rest of the race talking about whatever random stuff we usually talk about during our runs.  I had to keep her in check a few times, as the goal was to NOT go faster than 8:45.  I accomplished this until the final mile, when she decided we should just go with the downhill that the course was giving us LOL!  My final time was a 1:55:51.  My pre-race goal was 1:55-1:58, with an average heart rate in the low 150's.  It ended up being a 151--woo hoo!  More than anything, I needed some confidence for my marathon in two weeks, and this race gave that to me.  The best part about Xenia: the post-race food!  Pizza, salad, cans of pop, and delicious cookies.  YAY!  Amy and I left after our meal, as we both had busy days back at home ahead of us.  

Quick wardrobe notes for the future:  a real-feel in the high-teens/low-20's warrants a lot of calculation!  I ended up with: tights (not fleece lined), a short-sleeve shirt under a long-sleeved half-zip (thin tech material), gloves and an ear warmer.  I was cold at the start, but ended up very happy with my decisions!

So... in two weeks, I have a marathon.  Back to Glass City I go!  I actually just registered for it a few days ago!  I swear, I have PTSD over registering for races and not getting to run in them, especially with this race (Glass City).  I talked to my coach last week about the plans for this race.  I wondered if I was even ready for a marathon, given the amount of training that I'd done, but he said he felt I was.  The big question: how fast would I want to go?  I proposed starting out at around an 8:50-9:00 pace, and then, at the half, seeing how I felt... going faster if I was feeling it, maintaining my pace if not.  He thought it was a great idea, and said using Xenia as a barometer would be a good plan.  

Well, if Xenia was my barometer, I am feeling pretty good about the race plan we've laid out.  Still very nervous... it's one thing to run 13 miles at an 8:50 pace.  It's a completely different thing to run 26 miles at that pace!  If I can hold it, though, I will end up with a very respectable 3:51ish.  I would be happy with that!  It's not the 3:41 that I am dreaming of, but it's still a solid time.  And... it sets me up for another marathon in the near future. (Just a little bit of foreshadowing there LOL!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How to train through the Ohio winter

The subtitle for this blog ought to be, "You are doing HOW MANY WORKOUTS?!!", because that's the response I get from fellow runners when I tell them my weekly schedule.  

Ohio has been slammed so far this winter with severe weather.  From extremely low temperatures (wind chill bringing the temps down to -15 and colder) to ice and snow storms, we are definitely experiencing Mother Nature's wrath after two relatively mild winters.  As a teacher, I am totally loving it (we've already had two snow days and one early release!).  As an athlete, I admit that it can be less than ideal for training purposes.

Note: this is NOT how our local running paths have looked!
Thus, the inspiration for this blog.  I figured I'd outline exactly what I've been doing so that others can see that it's possible to a) train for a triathlon despite the cold weather, and b) fit in multiple workouts while still being a working mom.  You just have to be a bit creative at times!  

Here is what last week's training week looked like:

Monday--rest day.  Mondays are ALWAYS rest days.  I honor them 100%.  No lifting, no exercising, no nothing. (Although yesterday I did shovel twice... sometimes life gets in the way even of resting!)  Last Monday was a "cold day", meaning we had no school due to insanely frigid temperatures.  So I spent the day hanging out with my kiddos.  

Tuesday--AM workout: 60 minute run at 5 AM.  It was still pretty cold out, but not cold enough for another snow day, so my friends and I opted for the treadmills at the gym.  I love treadmill dates with friends.  Katie had speed work to do, and had we been outside, I never would've been able to keep up with her (currently my coach has me doing all of my runs at an easy pace).  However, the treadmill makes it totally possible.  PM workout: 40 minutes on the bike trainer.  Tuesday nights are busy ones in our house (my 12 year old has basketball practice, and his dad is one of the coaches, and my 10 year old has swim team practice--and both practices are at the same time).  I am lucky that I have a trainer for my tri bike, and can fit in a ride between swim team drop-off and pick-up.

Wednesday--AM workout: 45 minute Body Pump class.  I love that my gym offers a 5:15 AM Body Pump class.  I love that typically the people who come on Wednesdays are the "regulars".  I know the teacher and I am comfortable with her.  She pushes me to do better, and I like that!  It's an "express" class, so only 45 minutes long, but we still are able to fit in all of the body parts with the combination tracks for biceps/triceps and shoulders/lunges.  It's such a fast class that it really gets my heart rate up as well--bonus!  The gym has nice showers so I am able to get ready there and go straight to work after class.  PM workout: 40 minute run.  Occasionally Rarely, I can find someone to join me before Body Pump to fit in a short run.  As my minutes of running have increased over the past several weeks, though, it's been harder to fit in running before class, so I've had to do it in the evening on the treadmill at the gym.  When I looked at the weather forecast earlier in the week, though, I realized that Wednesday afternoon would be an amazingly warm afternoon (45 degrees in January!), and asked my mom if she could do the after-school pickup for me so that I could fit in my 40 minutes outside right after work (3:15 PM).  It was SOOOOO beautiful!  I saw four other runners, all who were exuding the same aura of excitement/happiness/gratitude that I knew I myself had going on.  

These are NOT the people I saw... just a random stock photo of happy runners :)

Thursday--AM workout: swim practice.  I swim every Thursday morning at 5:45 AM--as long as school is in session, at least. I workout with a Master's swim team that practices only a few minutes away from the school where I work.  It's super convenient as I can shower after practice and head straight to work.  There are others who practice with the team multiple times per week, which I have done in the past, but right now once a week works well for me.  I am able to fit in 45 minutes of swimming time before I have to get ready for work, which typically amounts to 1800-2200 yards, depending on what we're doing that day.  PM workout: This was supposed to be a spin class, but after two days of double workouts, I was just not feeling it.  I knew that I had my long run scheduled for the next day, and I knew that I could fit in a spin class on Saturday. So, I listened to my body, canceled my reservations for class, and spent the evening chilling with my family.

Friday--AM workout: 90 minute run.  With a snowstorm predicted for Friday afternoon into Saturday, my friends and I all decided it would be best to do our long runs before work on Friday.  For me, this meant starting at 4 AM.  Yep, 4 AM.  It's not super fun, but sometimes it's necessary.  Plus, we were greeted with tank-top-and-shorts weather-- it was over 50 degrees out!  (No PM workout... Friday nights are for pizza!)

Saturday--AM workouts: 40 minute spin class + 60 minute Body Pump class.  I love sleeping in until after 8 AM on Saturdays, and then fitting in two tough classes at the gym.  The spin class backs right up to the Body Pump class, so I sneak out 5 minutes early to get my weights set for Body Pump.  I have been able to go to Body Pump twice a week 90% of the time for the past two months, and I truly feel it is helping with my overall conditioning and strength.  

Sunday--AM workout: 50 minute run.  Today was supposed to be Friday's long run, but things were flip-flopped due to weather.  It was pretty cold out (with the wind chill, it was -1 for the real-feel temperature), but my BRF and I decided to brave the chill as it was a sunny Sunday morning.  Honestly, we dressed perfectly and the temperatures were just fine!  The roads weren't bad, either--at least once we got out of my subdivision. (No PM workout... Sunday afternoons and evenings are for grading, lesson planning, and laundry!)

And there you have it!  Nine workouts in six days (three days of "doubles").  Four runs (240 minutes total--this was just over 26 miles if you're curious), one swim, two Body Pump classes, one spin class, and one bike trainer ride.  I work full time as a teacher, and I have four kids who are pretty active themselves in sports and other activities.  Sometimes I have to be creative (e.g. fit in a workout at the gym while my daughter is at her girl scout meeting down the street), but I find that as long as I write it down, I feel committed to it.  Knowing friends will be there motivates me as well, but I've done more than my fair share of solo treadmill runs lately, so I've had to draw more motivation from within.

A few take-away key points:

1) Look at the weather forecast early in the week.  Be prepared to move workouts around based on what you see predicted.

2) It's okay to cancel/skip a workout.  It's not great to get into this habit, but listening to your body is super important.

3) It's MUCH easier to convince yourself to do workouts if you have friends who are doing them with you.  This goes for running, lifting, anything!

4) If you are super busy and have kids who are active themselves, you might need to get creative with your scheduling.  It's taken me time to figure out when to fit in things like swimming and spin class.  Knowing how important they are to my training, I persevered until I found times that worked with my life.  

5) Rest days need to happen!  Plan them and keep them in the schedule.  I used to skip my rest days when fun runs would pop up.  This definitely is a contributing factor to my injuries, so while I am willing to move my rest day with advance notice, I will continue to honor their importance in my training schedule.

I hope this blog helps others realize that it truly is possible to train through the long, cold Ohio winters!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Dear Future, I am ready.

I was searching for a good title for my traditional New Year's blog, and I came across this quote:

I love it.  New Year's reflections have always been a part of my life, and ever since I became a runner, I have incorporated them into my goal-setting routine.  

Before I set new goals, though, I always check out my progress on the previous year's resolutions.  I am super happy to report that I met every single goal I set for 2017!  

2017 Goals:

1) Race in a marathon again--accomplished on 11/4/17.  I didn't care about my time... just that I competed in another marathon.  I was so thrilled to cross that finish line!

2) PR in the half Ironman
--accomplished on 7/31/17.  This was a difficult race.  I struggled with injuries (as usual) leading up to the race.  I knew that I would kill the bike, but wasn't sure what would happen on the run.  I had built up enough of a cushion with a sub-3 bike leg that even though my run was slower, I still had a 5 minute PR!  Woo hoo!

3) Become a scholar of the heart-
-I definitely embraced heart-rate training this year.  I stopped wearing my monitor after my half-marathon, as my heart rate was being super wonky.  However, I am planning on getting back to it as 2018 begins.  It truly is a great measure of how hard I am pushing things, and how well I am recovering.  I loved having a Fit Bit to chart my resting heart rate, but it sadly died in September.  I want to get another fitness tracker simply for this reason!

4) Compete in a swim meet
--I actually raced in TWO meets (3/4/17 and 4/1/17)! I had a fantastic time, and did relatively well, winning my age group in all but one race at both meets.  

Time for some new goals, I suppose!

2018 goals:

1) PR in the marathon--I wanted this goal to be to qualify for Boston... then I realized, if I PR, I WILL qualify for Boston!  I am turning 40 in September 2018, and thus would be 40 when I competed in Boston in 2019.  My new qualifying standard is a 3:44:59.  Since my PR is 3:44:29, I will basically qualify with a PR.  For whatever reason, saying that I want to qualify for Boston hasn't worked for me in the past... so I will just go for that PR!  **NOTE: I fully realize that it will take faster than a 3:44:29 to qualify for Boston... but right now I am not focusing on that :)  

2)  Qualify for Age Group Nationals for the triathlon
--This year's AG Nationals (held every August) happen to be in Cleveland!  If I have a good race in June at the Central Ohio Triathlon, I should be able to make this goal happen.  Basically, I need to win my age group, or place in the top 10%.  If that race doesn't work out... I don't have any other triathlons currently on my race schedule.  I can't do Mingoman as I'll be out of town.  I may sign up for an HFP event instead.  I haven't even signed up for Ohio 70.3 for 2018 yet.  I am not even sure I WANT to... and $300+ is a lot to pay for something that I am currently ambivalent about.  

3) Keep up with Body Pump and spinning classes at least once a week (for both)--I love going to my gym for Body Pump, and have recently started going to spin classes more as well.  Right now my coach is having me go twice a week to pump, and cycling twice a week.  As much as I hate spinning classes, I prefer it to sitting on my bike on the trainer in my (now super cold) sun room.  I also know that spinning is good for triathletes!  I need to make sure that I am making strength and cross training a priority for 2018.

4) Incorporate my PT exercises back into my life--I know how important these are, and I need to start doing them again. I get so upset when I am doing them and then still get injured... but I am sure they do me more good than harm!  I will set a small goal of 20 minutes once a week, and hopefully can up that to twice a week in the summer once school's out!  I did the best with PT when I actually put it on my calendar, so that's my plan this time around as well.

As always, I will add the caveat that the best thing in the world would be to stay injury-free.  Not a likely thing to have happen... but you never know!

The interim: a super-brief recap (AKA the injury blog)

Even I had to laugh when I typed the title for this blog.  Super-brief?  When has this blog ever been "super-brief"... or even just a little brief?  I'm going to try to make this a shorter-than-usual entry, though.  I need to fill in a few gaps from after my half marathon in April to my half-Ironman in July... and then from the half Ironman to my recent marathon in November.  Honestly, this just basically an update of the injuries that I've had, and the treatments that I've used for them.  I like to have all of this documented both for myself as well as for friends/fellow runners who might need the info!

In early-July, I blogged about my acute case of plantar fasciitis, and mentioned taking a week off. In addition to that week off, I took the advice of my former coach Betsy and visited a new doctor.  Dr. Brittani Young is a DO in Upper Arlington.  She practices a method called Airrosti.  When Betsy first recommended I see Dr. Young, I checked out the Airrosti website and was immediately skeptical.  They talked of "curing" people of their pain in an average of three visits.  Ummm... whatever.  But curiosity got the best of me, and when I found out that the visits would be covered by my insurance, I figured I'd give it a try.  I would describe Airrosti as a combination of deep tissue massage, chiropractor-type manipulations, and physical therapy exercises.  My first visit was pretty uneventful.  Airrosti doctors spend a full 60 minutes with their patients at each visit, and I really liked Dr. Young.  After my appointment, she said that she thought one more visit would be enough.  Still skeptical, I came back 5 days later.  I wasn't pain-free, but I felt a bit better.  I'd been resting, though, so I wasn't surprised.  However, within 48 hours of my second appointment, I realized that the pain was gone.  Like, totally gone.  Yes, I know that I had also taken a week off from running, so I wasn't going to shout my praises of Airrosti from the rooftops or anything. I was soooo happy to be able to run my half Ironman without pain (well, without the pain of PF at least!).  A couple of weeks after the half Ironman, I had some soreness in my hip flexor. I was immediately concerned, and called Dr. Young.  She fit me right in, and what do you know... after just one appointment, the pain was gone.  I lovingly call Dr. Young my "voo-doo medicine doctor".  I have no clue why what she does works, but she's amazing. I have referred several friends to her.  I wanted to go before my marathon, as I just knew she could fix my injured calf (more on that in a minute), and made an appointment.  Unfortunately I was out of visits per my insurance.  Self-pay would be $250/visit, and that wasn't going to happen, so I had to cancel.  Dr. Young is so sweet, though; she e-mailed me after my race to check in on me!

As I mentioned, after my half Ironman I had a little hip flexor soreness, but it went away quickly.  I told my coach George after the race that I reallllly wanted to do a marathon in the fall.  He agreed when I told him that I wasn't interested in speed, but merely wanted to finish it respectfully.  My goal: "start healthy and finish happy!"  So we slowly started to ramp up the time I was spending running.  Things were going really well.  I was a bit worried that I wouldn't have enough time on my feet, but I have learned to trust my coach, and I knew he'd have me ready to go on race day.  On September 29, I finally pulled the trigger and registered for the Indy Monumental Marathon, taking place on November 4.  It had taken me awhile to figure out which race I wanted to do... lots of debating with Tamara on this one!  Should I do Erie (only six weeks after my half Ironman)?  The Columbus Marathon in October?  Indy?  The Philadelphia Marathon, which wasn't till November 19?  I obviously decided on Indy, as I felt the timing was better than the others... and, of course, I ended up having a group to travel and race with, which tipped the scales greatly in the favor of this race! 

The day after I registered for the race, I felt a twinge in my left outer calf.  What the... I couldn't believe it.  Seriously.  I had waited and waited to register, and when I finally commit and pay the $108 entry fee, this happens.  At first I just figured it was a twinge and nothing more.  After a couple of weeks, though, I realized it was definitely not just a twinge.  I saw my doctor (Dr. Natalie Dick at MaxSports Delaware) on October 10.  Her advice was to take off a week or so.  This happened to coincide with my family's annual trip to Hocking Hills, so it worked out for the best.  My calf wasn't 100% upon my return, but I was able to get some runs in, and by the time the marathon arrived, it was feeling about 80-90%.  The funny thing is that it never hurt at all during or after my race... and hasn't hurt since!

After my race, both of my ankles were very tight.  I attributed it to post-race soreness, but after a week, my left ankle felt fine... and my right was still sore.  Dr. Google said it was posterior tibial tendonitis.  The pain was in my inner right ankle area, around the bone and radiating a bit up into my lower leg.   I consulted with my doctor, and she recommended I see a foot and ankle specialist.  I saw my chiropractor who said that he agreed with the posterior tib diagnosis, and suggested I have his nurse practitioner give me a couple of steroid shots (rather than see the foot and ankle doctor).  I took him up on it.  I did have to take a few days off after the shots, but they seemed to do the trick!  No pain ever since.  

I wish I could figure out why I have all of these different injuries all of the time.  My chiropractor said it comes with running.  I just don't get why my friends aren't in the same boat as me.  I don't even run that much, especially compared to them.  *sigh*  I am an enigma, that's for sure.

Up next... my traditional New Year's blog :) 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Race recap: Indianapolis Monumental MARATHON (11/4/17)

Just look at it... that title.  It says MARATHON!!!!!!!!  There honestly are not enough exclamation points for the end of that word.  It has been three looooooong years since my last 26.2, and just, wow!  I finished another marathon!

No caption needed... MARATHON!!!
Okay, taking a quick step back... I have neglected this blog tremendously for the past 4.5 months.  I never explained the pre-stuff leading up to my 70.3 in July, and I haven't given any other updates since the race. I really need to write a nice long "interim" blog entry, explaining all of the things that went on in the summer as well as following the half Ironman.  Maybe over winter break... as this blog entry was started right after my race and took a few weeks just to finish!  As I have mentioned before, my ever-so-long recaps are honestly more for me.  I love to reread them and remember all of the nitty gritty details about each race.  So, here I go, in typical Marcie fashion!

I signed up for the Monumental Marathon in early October, about four weeks before the race.  One of the driving factors in selecting this race in particular for my third marathon was the fact that I had two good friends making the trek to Indianapolis as well.  They, along with another friend of theirs, had offered me a spot in their hotel room.  The fact that we'd all be driving to Indy together, as well as spending about 30 hours together, was a definite selling point!  One of the three women was none other than Elisa, who I met in Toledo during my first-ever marathon in 2014!  My blog readers (all three of them LOL) will recall that I became fast friends with Carolyn, Steph and Elisa during that first full.  Their good friend Kim and I met after the race on an early-morning run, and these women became some of my favorite running pals.  I don't get to see them nearly as much as I used to for a variety of reasons, but I knew it would be a fun weekend with Elisa and Kim by my side!

Elisa, Lisa (the fourth person joining on our little trip) and I met up at Kim's apartment at around 12:15 on Friday afternoon.  We'd decided that my new (to me) van would be our chariot, and by 12:30 we were off!  Lisa sat up front with me and we became super-fast friends.  Lisa is a fellow triathlete, so we had enough to talk about to easily fill up the 2.5-hour trip!  We had to make one bathroom stop, but otherwise made great time and arrived at our hotel at around 3:30 PM.  The Alexander is a gorgeous hotel that doubles as an art gallery, and is located about a half-mile from the start of the marathon.  After we checked in and brought our bags to our room, we headed off for the expo and to get our bibs.  I realized when we were about a block from the expo that I had left my purse (and ID) at the hotel.  Oops!  Fortunately, it wasn't an issue; I was still able to get my bib, as well as my friend Megan's (she'd asked me to pick it up for her).  At the expo, I was happy to run into a few local friends and exchange hugs and good-lucks.  Not having my purse was probably a good thing, as I wasn't tempted to buy a single item!   After taking pictures and getting a few freebies, we headed back to the hotel.

Us looking all cute at the expo!
I was in charge of dinner reservations, which I'd made at a well-reviewed Italian restaurant called Maggiano's that I'd found online... which ended up being a bit further from our hotel than I'd thought.  It took us a good 45 minutes to get there, but the food was delicious!  Megan met us for dinner, and we had fun chatting and stuffing our faces.  After dinner, we headed back to our hotel, where we got everything laid out for the next day.  We had all brought almost our entire running wardrobes for the race, as the weather forecast had been changing daily.  The rain that had been predicted for race-day morning was no longer in the forecast, thankfully.  It was going to be a cold, cloudy morning... just about the best weather that a runner can hope for!  I didn't have any trouble falling asleep a little after 10:00 PM, thanks to my Melatonin, and the fact that I wasn't really all that nervous about the race.  I didn't have any huge goals.  In fact, I wasn't even sure what I was going to do.  Not having a race plan is not my typical way of doing things, but I honestly didn't know how I wanted to run this race.  I had a few options.  My friend Julie was going for a BQ (she wanted a 4:06).  I could try to join her, but that would be a bit of a stretch, given my recent calf injury as well as lack of training due to the injury.  Lisa wanted to run a PR of a 4:20.  This sounded fun as well... to join my new friend and continue getting to know her over 26.2 miles.  Given the fact that I was nursing a recent calf strain, I knew that it would be best to not push myself too hard.  I decided to sleep on it.

The night passed uneventfully, and I got enough sleep to feel rested upon waking at 6 AM.  The race was scheduled for an 8:00 AM start, and we planned on leaving the hotel shortly after 7:00.  Despite my calm demeanor the day before, I started to get fidgety as soon as I was dressed and had eaten my bagel and banana.  I had decided on my tank top, arm sleeves, my best friend Tamara's shorts (guaranteed by her to not chafe), and compression socks, with throw-aways to wear before the race to keep me warm.  It ended up being the best outfit I could've chosen!  The temperature at race start was in the mid-40's, and it rose to the mid-50's by the time I finished.  I would've been warm had I worn much else!

Ready to hop in our corral!
We left our room at around 7:10, arriving at the race by 7:30.  It was on the way to the race that I ended up finally deciding on a race plan: I would stick with Lisa and follow her race plan of run/walk intervals.  I felt super happy and comfortable with this choice, and couldn't want to get started!  The Monumental is a pretty popular race; the full marathon had actually sold out a couple weeks prior.  We were able to wade through the sea of runners and find gear check, and then make our way to the corrals.  All four of us were in Wave 3, which was supposed to start at 8:10 AM. We waited until 8:05 to slip into our starting area, and before we knew it, we were off!  It was surreal for me, starting this marathon.  So many miles... so many tears... I couldn't believe that I was finally HERE.

Lisa's plan for the first three miles was to run at around a 10:00-10:30 pace.  The rest of us had convinced her to stick closer to 10:00/mile, and our splits were actually more in the mid-9's.  After 3 miles, the plan was to start run/walk intervals (4 min run/30 second walk), keeping our run pace in the 9:30's.  At around the half-marathon mark, we'd switch to 4 min run/40 second walk, running a bit faster.  And then we'd move to 4 min run/1 min walk, dipping down in the low 9's for our run pace.  The first 8ish miles went swimmingly!  The four of us ran together, and it was so much fun!  I love doing intervals, and while Elisa wasn't sure if she'd stick with us, she ended up deciding that she liked them as well.  We had fun reading signs made by spectators, sharing stories, and looking forward to our short walk breaks.  We met a woman on the course who was originally from Central Ohio, and it just so happens that she graduated from Hilliard (another Columbus suburb) in 1996, just like me, and was a swimmer in high school!  Sarah and I chatted a bit and I learned she was also a triathlete (National Champ in the Athena division!).  I just love meeting friends on race courses!  I promised to look her up after the race, and we are now Facebook friends as well :) 

Kim had decided before the race to drop to the half marathon, and we were all pretty sad when she left us just past mile 7 at the turn-off.  We were having so much fun together!  Around a mile later, Lisa started to have some breathing issues. Due to a recently diagnosed heart issue, she became concerned immediately.  We began peppering our runs with more walk breaks, hoping that her heart rate would come down.  At around mile 9, Lisa decided to send Elisa and me on.  She was going to keep walking and run when she could.  We were all bummed that the race plans hadn't panned out, and it was difficult to leave Lisa.  She promised she'd stop at the next medical tent to get checked out, so we felt that we were okay to go on.
Kim snapped this picture at the split when she left us, around mile 7.5.
I am the one on the right... Lisa in the middle, Elisa wearing yellow on the left.

At that point, Elisa and I weren't sure what to do.  She admitted she was enjoying the intervals, so I suggested we go ahead and keep running, but walk the water stops, which were every 1-1.5 miles.  Elisa liked that plan, and it definitely worked for us!  We enjoyed our walk breaks, but were able to keep a steady 9:20-9:30 pace for the running parts of the race.  I made sure to hydrate at every water stop, even if it was just a half-cup of water, and I took more time to drink at the water stops when I would take a gel (pre-planned by me to coincide with water stops at miles 6, 10.5, 15.5 and 20.3).  Speaking of fueling, I think I was pretty spot-on for this.  I carried my current fuel of choice, Carb Boom energy gels.  I had five in my FlipBelt, and used four of them, as I'd planned.  I never bonked, but I did have some slight GI issues beginning at around mile 17.  As my friend Christine would say, I was not "farting with confidence"... and I was super happy at the finish to see the row of porta-potties LOL!  But overall, I was happy with how things went in this area. 

Back to the race... miles 10-20 went really well!  The course was pretty well-populated with spectators.  Elisa and I chatted some, but were quiet at times as well.  We crossed under the half-marathon arch at 2:09:28, and at that point realized that we could very well negative split the race.  That became a mutual goal of ours, and kept us both going when things got rough later in the race. The very few "hills" (if you can even call them that... really just slight inclines!) on the course were between miles 16-19, and we both couldn't wait to see the "cliff" that was awaiting us at mile 19.  This was a running joke during the entire race, as we'd noticed on the course elevation map that there would be a sharp descent.  Elisa decided that we were going to either rappel or sky dive off the "cliff".  There was definitely a nice little downhill part right around mile 19!  It was actually a really cool part of the course, where the road spiraled down and around a neat-looking park.  Elisa's pace dropped down sub-9 at this part, and I had to work a bit to keep up with her!  She apologized, saying she just needed so badly to embrace the downhill while we were on it.  The road quickly flattened out, and we were back to our steady mid-9's.

It was around mile 22 or 23 that we both were feeling "over" the whole race.  We were still running steadily, but the water stops seemed further and further apart.  Elisa's stomach was starting to bother her as well.  At around this time, I started asking fellow runners who were hobbling along if they needed any BioFreeze.  I had a few packets in my belt, and was trying to be nice... as well as hoping that I could maybe get an extra walk break if someone said yes!  I was pretty stoked when one woman immediately said yes to my offer.  As I helped her to open the package, Elisa slowed to a walk behind us.  When I began to run again, I realized she no longer was with me.  I called back to her, but I could see in her face that she wasn't feeling good at all.  I contemplated sticking with her and walking, but to be honest I just wanted to be finished at that point!

I slogged through those final few miles of the race, counting down the amount of time I'd still be running.  I was still passing people who were worse off than I was, but more than anything I just wanted to be finished!  At mile 25, I decided to see what I had left in me.  Maybe I could do my last mile sub-9! I willed my body to push a bit harder, but not surprisingly, there wasn't anything more to give.  I trudged through another 9:20ish mile, giving my best fake grin to the race photographer stationed at the final turn.  I got choked up during the final straightaway.  This was it... a marathon.  FINALLY.  I was so happy to finish, to get my space blanket, to feel the weight of the medal around my neck... to NOT HAVE TO RUN ANYMORE!  I stood around in the finish chute for a couple of minutes, hoping that Elisa would be finishing shortly thereafter, and was super excited to see her less than two minutes after I had crossed.  We did the usual post-race stuff (huge embrace, pictures together, gathering food, finding porta-potties), and eventually got in touch with Kim, who had gone back to our hotel after her half marathon.  We all agreed that Kim would wait at the finish for Lisa, while Elisa and I would make our way back to the hotel to shower and pack up.  The walk back to the hotel was interminable.  We contemplated getting an Uber or taking a pedal wagon, but ended up trudging at a snail's pace... Elisa due to her still-upset stomach, and me due to, well, having just ran a freaking marathon.  

Post-race... I love the hat they gave us at the finish!
My splits and paces according to the race website are as follows.  I used the lap button on my watch whenever we'd walk, just to have an accurate time and pace for the running part, so I don't have a nice pretty list of my mile splits like usual.
10K: 1:00:41 (9:48/mile)
13.1: 2:09:28 (9:53/mile)
30K: 3:30:40 (9:52/mile)
26.2: 4:17:08 (9:45/mile)

Overall pace: 9:49/mile

My mid-race goal of negative-splitting the race was accomplished (2:09:28/2:07:40).  My pre-race goal of going 4:20 or faster was accomplished (sadly, not with Lisa, who did end up finishing the race; she was cleared by medical to go on and still was under five hours even with her breathing problems... rockstar!).  My #1 goal of starting healthy and finishing happy--check (despite the stupid calf strain) and double check (as evidenced by my happy tears)!  

Lookie, I am a marathoner (again)!
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful.  We stopped at a small restaurant outside of Indy, where I demolished a cheeseburger and two large Cokes.  Funny, as I am never hungry after a marathon... but this time, I couldn't get enough food in me!  My recovery following the race was better than in past years as well.  I had the typical soreness for the first couple of days, but nothing at all like I had experienced with my first two fulls.  I attribute that to a couple of things... one, I did walk.  A lot.  Less pounding = less pain.  And two, my coach had me on the bike the day after my race, and doing easy workouts later on that week.  Active recovery for the win!

Coke + medal = winning
So... now what?  Prior to my race, I felt at a crossroads.  Part of me wanted to spend the winter swimming 3-4 times a week, and be in top swim shape for spring nationals.  How fun it would be to try to place in my age group!  Another part of me felt drawn back to the road.  I would miss running so much if I were only doing it a couple of times a week... plus, I wouldn't be with my friends.  Within ten minutes of finishing the marathon, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  My heart and my mind were at last on the same page: I want to run another marathon in the spring. And I want it to be a fast.  A PR.  A BQ.  Now that I am "old", I get an extra five minutes added to my qualifying standard.  I need to run under a 3:45... which, based on recent years, means I really need around a 3:41 to qualify.  It's only 3.5 minutes faster than my best time.  I know I can do it, but the key will be to a) gain back my speed and b) stay injury-free.  Neither of those is going to be easy.  It would be way easier to go the route of hammering out my swims for the winter and get back to running in the spring.  But I cannot ignore this call.