NIKE Women’s Race Report x 3

I was given a bib for this year’s NIKE marathon. A half marathon bib. I hadn’t trained and had to drop out of TNT after raising $800, and various niggling injuries. I was seriously done with training.

And then. I got this bib in my hand.

After a great dinner the night before with Cory, Shiloh, Chris and Row that included cupcake carb loading, Shiloh and I proceeded to try to sleep.

I uncharacteristically slept great. Because I wasn’t really racing.

We woke on time, ate, and made our way to Union Square. I already was panicking because my bib clearly stated that I was to run the full marathon. I has visions of race directors taking me off the course.

I soon lost Shiloh on the way to the only open hotel restroom. After 3 years, you know these things. I even yelled, “I’m pregnant!”, so as to get people to move out of the way. I figured I already had started lying so what more could it hurt?

The race started in beautiful Union square, and it took 25 minutes to get across the start line.

I had no plan. Did not plan on running much. Did not want to hurt. I had run only 7 miles, 2 weeks before and this makes for ugly running.

I ran. Then kept running. I ran 3.5 miles, down the Piers. I started walking at mile 4…enjoyed myself tremendously. At mile 5 I ran again…knowing that I would walk mile 6. That hill.

Miles 7-9 took me on a run-walk schedule…but it was the first time I texted, Facebooked and snapped pictures doing a race. There was a CVS on the course, and I had an urgent need to take care of womanly business (they should have those things on the course…now THAT’S an Aid Station)… I had no money and broke into a box and told the owner I would send him some money but he said NO WAY! Keep going! (thank you!)

At mile 10, there is a steep downhill. I was like a little kid. Light on my feet, new Nike ZOOMS, and raced all the way down and then some.

At this point my quads were signaling for attention. Hey Linda. Remember us? You will!

Mile 10-13.1 I found a new friend. We ran and walked the rest together. Took more pics on Facebook.

Had a blast. Ran in. Got my Tiffany. I saw the bus line and told the last lie of the day: I hopped on the TNT bus an minutes, and was shuttled to the hotel. I have a few complaints like TNT walkers walking 5 deep across. If they do that, they should know I will squeeze through them. The Tiffany is getting smaller. There was a bagel and a bottle of water post race. Small complaints.

However…i am grateful…A great time…gifted to me by people I love and some I don’t even know. Today is Thursday and I finally have made peace with my thighs.

I thank you! I will be back…

Marathon Training: Re-Invented LA 2011

A runner getting encouragement at Mile 25 of t...
Image via Wikipedia

The LA Marathon is coming up.  It will be my fourth (Nike Women’s 2009, LAMarathon 2010, Marine Corps Marathon 2010).  Going into last winter, I was completely caught off balance with a gift from the LAMarathon folk (Peter) of a bib for the marathon.  In fact, it was in doubt whether or not I would run another marathon this year.  I was defeated with the same things that continue to plague me:  being too tired to complete the distance, wanting to sleep during the marathon, vertigo, among other things.

As luck would have it, I also started dating and fell in love with someone who lives out of town.  With 100 miles between us, we had to be creative in seeing each other, and of course that means weekends would be prime time for us.

So, I have this training that I must do …and a relationship that I absolutely WANT to do…Add to this that my long runs are typically beset with night before anxiety, running the route in my head, laying out gear, getting nutrition ready, etc.  I lie awake many Friday nights fearing the long run.  Plus, I didn’t want to spend four hours running during a weekend spent with my new man.

I stumbled upon the Hanson’s Marathon Plan in Runner’s World, and started researching.  It seems that the whole program works with shorter runs on the weekend because you are doing a boat load of miles during the week.  I called my coach.  I talked to people.  I started taking responsibility for this plan.  I’m in my third week of training, and I love it.   45 mile weeks are the norm, and the long runs on the weekend aren’t much more than the during the week runs.  In fact, the longest run is 16 miles…but this plan teaches you how to run your LAST 16, not your first 16 miles…because you are training on tired legs.  Here are some observations from the plan that I’m noticing.

  • I seem to have much more strength and energy in my legs at the end.
  • Both 13.1 & 14 milers were finished with fleet feet~no dragging
  • This plan teaches me how to run on tired legs…every day.
  • Long gone are 5 mile runs.  The new norm is usually 8 milers during the week.
  • Speedwork of 8 miles seems daunting, but is very exciting!  Accomplishments!
  • We are up at 4:30 am on Fridays, and out until 10pm at night many days.
  • I’m more tired during the week.  Quads were on fire at first!
  • I have zero anxiety on the weekends…(SCORE!)

I’m working now on my nutritional needs.  My coach sent me the plan and at the top it says EAT EAT EAT!! The first week of the miles and all the eating, I lost five pounds.  FIVE.  I continue to learn, as last night I had a Peaks and Valleys Run that I posted, and I had not eaten properly yesterday.  I hit all the paces until the end, and I had no fuel.  I had begged him during the day to let me off last night…that I was too tired…and he simply would not give in to me.  I ran it.   And, true to form, I learned the lesson that he predicted.

So far, I’m very happy with this plan.  The main shift for me, was taking responsibility for my training.  Attacking the plan, doing the CORE work.  And, most of all…accepting the responsibility that comes with a Marathon Registration.  Respect the distance, and train like you mean it!

1 year Ago

lake merced SF
Image by mioi via Flickr

1 year ago I became a marathoner. 

I ran my first full marathon in San Francisco, at the Nike Women’s Marathon.  I remember driving into that city.  So confident, so assured.  You can read my race report here

And, in that year, many things have changed, and yet stayed the same.  I have long hair.  I have run another marathon.  I have run lots of half marathons, and smaller 10k and 5ks.  But the fact remains:

One year ago, I became a marathoner. 

My life changed when I lined up in the corral.  With my Mom and sons watching, with elbow to elbow running for 6 miles at least.  When chasing up the long hill.  When I got to the park.  When I got to Lake Merced. 

But mostly, my life changed the day I ran across that mat.  I was 50 years old.  Yet, I was like Seabiscuit.  I didn’t really *know* I was 50.  I just trained like everyone else.  I remember when my TNT Mentor came up to me at mile 23, and asked me when I knew I would finish the marathon.  I told him I knew at Mile 6.  And I did.

Tomorrow, I go back to the Nike Women’s Marathon to run the half.  And, even though I have run many other races in many other places, I still cannot wait to stand in Union Square in pitch dark…to feel the pulse of the crowd, and see the Niketown Wall.  To be with friends.  To again pound the pavement.

Because it was there, in that city that I became a marathoner.  1 Year ago.  When I decided that the marathon was the distance for me.  And I ran in LA, and I will run in DC in a few weeks…to see if it is still the distance for me.

But for now, I will walk around Union Square and savor the joy and the heartache and the sweat and the tears that gave me the ride of my life.

The Marathon.

Nike Women’s Marathon Race Report

Let’s get the details out of the way.  Right now.

5:58:16, a 13:40 pace

121/212, 57%

I’ve started to write this report a dozen times.  I’m not sure that I can capture exactly what this race has been for me. 

PRE-RACE:  It all starts Friday, when my Mom and sister come up to be my cheer squad, and to take my sons to San Francisco for the race.  We are up late…my sister helping me pack and re-pack.  Getting everything laid out, then put back in. 

Saturday morning comes bright and early.  I wake with a stomach ache.  *that kind*…I get up at 4am, go back to sleep, get up…all marathoners must know this drill.  Sleep, wake, look at clock.

At 6am, I am finally packed, have my bowl of oatmeal and am driving to San Francisco, about 80 minutes away.  It’s dark.  I had planned on taking the BART, but switched at the last minute, and am so happy that I did.  Can’t even imagine dragging luggage today.

I check into my hotel, and decide to walk over to the Expotique.   img_1850

I decide that Nike is a machine, it’s all a racket, am very cynical.  I get some oxygen…I look like I’m sick here, but whatever. img_1844

I even stand in line for an hour to get a free manicure.  I look up.  The poster that would inspire me the rest of the weekend.  Two girls.  Happy finishers.

And…the Mother Ship.  NikeTown.

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I’m sitting doing the manicure, and get a tweet from @anotorias, aka Jennifer, who is…in the building.  We have chatted on Twitter, but we go to Macy’s to get a coffee, and spend a lot of time talking about nothing at all…racing, running, folks.

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My children ride spin bikes to make a smoothie. (what?)

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Just as soon as I’ve decided that it’s all a big racket, I see a crowd in front of NikeTown.  I think they are all in line to go in the store.  People are taking pictures.  We stroll over there, and see that it’s a wall.  A wall of names of people who raised money for TNT.  Suddenly, I realize I’m on that wall.

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And, I almost cry.

This is where it gets really boring…everyone does this…lay out their gear, the food, the stuff that goes in the fuel belt…and oddly, I’m not nervous.  We go to the TNT Inspiration Dinner, which is a whole other post.  I will cry.  I will.  We go to meet the team, and CharlieBob gives us our last instructions.  He’s dead serious.  One of the girls is slightly tipsy, and he seems irritated, because he has said…no alcohol!  We are told to be in the lobby at 6am sharp.

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RACE DAY:  I wake up at 2am.  At 3:30, I’m still awake.  I put on my relaxation music.  It just wakes me up more.  I figure, what the heck.  Might as well get up.  Next thing I know I wake in a sweat, and it’s 4:45am.  I take a shower.  3 Alarms go off…and, it’s on.

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I meet CharlieBob downstairs.

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This is, literally, minutes before I am lost in the crowd.  I don’t know where anyone is.  I don’t know where I’m supposed to go.  I have my 12-14:09 orange bracelet, so I know I have to find orange.  I can’t find my Mom, my sister, my kids.  SpeedySasquatch, who at the 11th hour came in to coach me on my final moments last week, suggested I line up at the back of the corral.  Great advice, but I can’t find the corral.  Don’t even know what it looks like.  Is it wood? Iron?

I turn and see my kids.  The loudspeaker says something about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society…and that Myeloma…and that’s all I hear.  My mother looks at me, and says, “Did you hear that?”  We weren’t sure if Myeloma was a blood cancer, supported by the LLS.  My grandfather died of this in 1970.  The only grandfather I will ever know, and I loved him so much.  My sister got out her sharpie, and along with the other names on my arm, wrote, “Grandpa Eddy”.  I will cry again, but instead, I will play this in remembrance of him.  It’s a long story.  Another post.  (I’m the Silver Girl, in case you’re wondering)

I look to the left.  There’s the corral.  I have to hop in.  I’m in the very front.  I tell ya.  It was the thrill of the day for me.  The 5:30 pacer was right behind me.  I didn’t even really know what a pacer did…exactly.  I held signs, I snapped pictures.  I watched as everyone started.  Finally, 20 minutes later…we went.

RUNNING:  It’s hard to describe that first mile.  Overwhelmed.  Crowded.  Joyous.  The pacer?  I think to myself when she takes her first walk break…”No way.  I am not walking in MILE ONE!”

At Mile Two, I joined her, and was with her until Mile Twelve. {*note:  At mile 6, I knew I would finish.  Jennifer ran up and with me around mile 9 or 10. (HOW COOL!)  Then, the Half Marathoners split off to the side.*}

Let’s just say, my good senses overtook my pride, and I decided that if anyone could get me through this, the pacer could…and she took me to mile 12, until I had a very bad stomach ache…again.  I had to use the porta-potty.  So she stopped.  Then, while I’m deciding what to do she yells, “5:30 pacer is leaving the bathrooms!”  This just made me get OUT OF THERE.

And, I never saw her again.  Just that little red sign going farther and farther away from me.

At Mile 13.1, we turn around in Golden Gate Park.  I see other runners coming back, and I think…okay.  This is hard now.  The hills.  I was prepared for the hills.  I was not prepared to be alone, after running with *Deb*.  She had a whole other group now, and I was lost.

I turn the corner, and out of the blue I hear, “Hey, Linda…can I run with you?”  Her name is Michelle.  She is from Houston.  She is all supportive.  SURE!  I needed a partner right about then, and she was struggling…so I said, let’s do what the pacer does:  Run 5 minutes, Walk 1.  We did this the rest of the race…or a version of it. 

We had rules:  She said, I don’t run up hills.  I said, I walk if I want to.  Jockeying for position I guess.  I had to go to the bathroom.  In the woods.  She says, “Go ahead, I’ll cover ya.”  With this, she saved my life.  Seriously.  I would yell, “HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM”, which became our signal of distress.

At Mile 16, the Half Marathoners come in and Michelle says, whatever you do, don’t look right.  There is my sister and my sons, and my youngest yelling…”It’s right here, you can stop RIGHT HERE!”  To the right is the finish.  We are at Mile 16, and have to go to the left.

I see my Mother, and want to cry…but I have no pain.

Here’s where it gets sketchy.  We go out 3 miles.  We go up to Lake Merced (who puts a lake by an ocean?).  From mile 19-22, I am at the *Bite Me* miles.  I know I will keep running, but I am having a hard time.  My legs feel like lead.  My stomach hurts, I’m cramping…I stop at Mile 22 and get Tylenol from the First Aid…which is exactly what I needed.

The best part of the day:  Coming down from the lake, and running the last three miles.  At this point, I had no music.  I listened to the sound of feet, and the ocean.  Beautiful.  Zen.

Several times, people from TNT come out and run with me.  Michelle waits, but then I tell her she needs to go.  I need her to go.  She has done a great service to me, and I want her to finish strong.  I don’t even care how I do…but I look at my watch, and if I keep running, I can make 26.2 miles in under 6 hours.

I hear my sister yelling.  My kids are running up with me on the sides.  Taking pictures.  I see my Mother.  Again.  I know she is proud of me.

I am so close.  I start to sprint.  I call up Granny in heaven, who doesn’t even need to give me that push again…but she does…and I thank her (again, another post).  I am vaguely aware that Michelle has turned around to look at me and cheer me in.

I sprint.  I remember the times in Jr. High when I ran with my dad.  The times on the track team when I’m last, and my family is in the stands waiting for me.  I remember my Dad yelling to sprint on our street.  And, I am sprinting. 

I look up at the clock.  I make it under 6 hours.  I get a blue box from a man in a tuxedo, which seriously was fabulous, but I couldn’t see a thing.  I take the box, and I cannot move.  People are hugging.  I don’t even know what to do.

Michelle comes up to me.  I hug her and say “Thanks Michelle!”  She says, “that’s not my name…I have a really hard name, so it’s easier to say Michelle.”  This makes me laugh, and then I cry like a baby.  A total stranger.  Who ran with me over half of the race.  Who pulled me when I wanted to stop. 

Her name is Najat. 

I cry.  I’ve done it…but not alone. 

More to come later…when I can process what this means to me…but I think I’ve found my race.  It’s the Marathon.  It is.

 

marathon by the numbers

My training.  Brought to you by the numbers.

  • 2465 the amount of money raised for TNT
  • 57 donors
  • 464.9 miles in training
  • 24 weeks of training
  • 93.9 biggest month of running (September)
  • 283 miles on my Mizuno Wave Alchemy 8. + 26.2 after Sunday
  • 6 races since TNT training started
  • 20…Mile 20.  Where I volunteered for the LA Marathon, and where you see what’s left.
  • 30:48 New and only PR this training in the Modesto 5K
  • 1 out of 1.  Medal I won in the Udder Run.  I was the only one in my category.  But, it was mine.
  • 8-26 The day my world fell apart
  • 2 missed long runs because of previous bullet
  • 40 days until i recovered significantly
  • 8 pounds lost
  • 1 amazing running partner, Kim, who ran the whole thing with me during the week
  • 1 parent 1 sister 2 sons coming to cheer me on at Nike
  • amazing support group of friends too numerous to count

I have my suitcase.  I have my packet.  Tonight, I ran a short 2.8, and prayed that on Sunday, I feel as good as I did tonight. 

2 years ago, on Halloween, Kim said to me, “let’s start running…”, and here we are, three training plans later, 2 years…and I am going to be running my first marathon on Sunday.

And, I will finish.  You give me strength every day.

it’s T minus 3 days.

This has been an odd day.  Last night, my youngest son tells me that he is getting promoted to a Red-Black belt tomorrow night at TaeKwonDo.  I say, “Honey, I have playoff tickets to Game 1…do you want me to stay?” Small pause.  “No, Mom.  It’s fine.”

Not only do I love this boy madly, I realized that even though October 15th, 1988 was 21 years ago, and when Kirk Gibson hit his dinger, and I have tickets to that very game tomorrow on October 15th, 21 years later…and I…well, I just realized in that moment that he would never be 10 again, and never get this belt again, and um…the Dodgers can play over and over again…

Okay, so I stayed home.

Today, I roamed around the house, packing for Nike…planning to go to the BIG Fresno Fair tomorrow…then went and saw “Whip It”…then the final team meeting.

Tonight, Marsha (of the LLS), and CharlieBob gave us all the lowdown on the hills and the Nike Marathon and the Gu, and ….AND I’m starting to fidget.  I mean fidget like crazy, like bounce around.  Rick, my mentor is sitting next to me saying You’ll be fine.  You will.  You don’t need the early start, and you will get across the finish line and …

I’m freaking out.