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marathon recap

This is it!  Marathon day!  I cannot believe that this day is finally here, and that i woke up 3am and was wide awake.  The race started at 7am, so our plan was to be to the start area by 6:15 in order to have time to stretch, use the bathrooms, and get in our corrals.  Therefore, we needed to leave the hotel at 6:00am.  My alarm was set for 3:30am in order to eat and digest before leaving my hotel room.  For breakfast, I ate my normal pre-long run fuel of an english muffin, peanut butter, a banana, coffee and water.  It was harder to make myself eat all that food due to my nerves, but I ate it all and was digested, dressed and ready to go before 6!

with our coach!

We arrived at the start area about 6:20, and immediately went to the bathroom line.  We were threw that in no time, and into our corrals soon after.  It always feels like you are standing in the starting line for so long, but today it was only about 10 minutes.  This race started in waves, so once 7am hit, the elite runners were off!  Then, each corral moved up and started every 3 minutes.  I was in corral number 3 (green), so as soon as they gave us the 2 minute warning, I got rid of my “throw-away” shirt, and started taking some deep breaths.  And, then the countdown started: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – and we were off!

the elite runners!

The start was great – I was feeling great!  I saw Brant and some other friends right after the starting line, which was definitely motivation that I could do this!

Mile 1

They had planned to spot me at other places along the route, so I was excited to look out for them at those points!  The first 10k was nice – fairly flat, fairly scenic, everyone was in a great mood!  We started down the main street in town in order to hit the 10k mark and it was lined with onlookers.  They were yelling out everyone’s names and just cheering people on (I definitely ran that mile too fast!), but they were pushing me along.  Shortly after the 10k I spotted my fan group (Brant, Brian, Jaimee, Andrew, Rachel, Debi, Eric…) and gave a smile and a wave.  How fun to spot them in the crowd!

The next 10k was great as well.  We ran through a few parks, up some hills (mile 9 was a killer!), and had some great support especially as we were making our way closer to the halfway point.  The halfway point was packed with people!  Half marathoners were finishing and marathoners were half way done!  It was definitely my favorite part of the whole race.  Once again, I spotted my fan group.  I was off to run another 13.1 miles, while they were off to breakfast :).

The next half was getting harder.  I needed to focus on my pace to make sure that I would have enough steam in me to finish those last few miles.  We made our way towards the river, which is where we would run the last 10 miles.  Once we were along the river, we were passing runners heading to the finish line.  We saw the lead male and female – it was so cool!  At mile 16, it was motivating to see those runners almost finishing, but by mile 19 I hated all of them!  They were past mile 20…and I was not!

Eventually, I hit mile 20 and was right on pace!  The spectators were few and far between during miles 14-19, but mile 20 was our turnaround and it was on a small main street with hundreds of people cheering!  People were passing our beer and chocolate brownies, along with the normal water and oranges.  Everyone was so into it.  And, there is was!  Right ahead of me, Mile 20!

I touched the cone at the turnaround point for good luck and made my way back up the gradual incline to the river for my final 6 miles.  Miles 21-23 were great.  I was focusing on pace, and cheering on the runners who had not made it to the turnaround yet.  But, at Mile 24 my legs started throbbing.  It was all I could do to keep them moving!  I knew that if I stopped, I would not start running again and I was determined to come close to my goal!  I still kept an ok pace of a 9:30 mile for these last 2.2 miles, but it felt so much slower than that.  I passed Mile 26, saw my fan group (to whom I did not flash a wave or a smile to this time!), and saw the finish line!

Mile 26

Those last .2 miles felt like the longest .2 miles I have ever ran, but I stayed strong until I crossed the line with my hands and head held high!

I did it!  I finished my marathon in 4:04!!!

garmin!

I could not believe it, and still cannot believe it 3 weeks later.  I could not be prouder of myself for sticking through the training and running a great marathon!

I eventually made my way through the finishers shoot – got my medal, mylar blanket and Philly pretzels in hand – and to the family meeting area to meet my family and friends.

Me, Brant, Brian & Jaimee

More of my fan group!

My legs were initially throbbing, but felt much better after a little walk back to the hotel, a snack, some stretching and a hot shower!

What a day!

the day before

We left bright and early saturday morning (nov. 21st) to make the trek down to Philadelphia for marathon weekend!  We woke up, packed up the car (who knew I would have 4 bags for a 1 week vacation?!), and hit the road!  The drive down was a breeze.  No traffic, and bright and sunny our whole way!  Once in Philly, we made our way over to the Convention Center for my number pick-up!

at the expo

There were a lot of people at the expo, which made me both more nervous and excited!  This was it!  My 18 weeks of training come down to one day – and that day is tomorrow!!  Holy moly!

While at the expo I picked up my number, packet and shirt.  It’s a great shirt!  I also changed corrals.  After much debate, I decided that I needed to start off with the faster runners.  It was up to me to be disciplined enough to keep my own pace, but I would be anxious to start the race, and even more anxious if I needed to bob and weave my way through the pack at the start (this wastes way too much energy!).  This ended up being a great idea for me, but more on that later!

The remainder of the day on Saturday was spent just lounging around, hanging out with friends, and eating!  We ate dinner at a fabulous italian restaurant right around the corner from our hotel, La Viola.  They had homemade pasta which was to die for!  I’m bummed I didn’t snap a photo.  The menu looked delicious, but I ended up ordering plain fusilli pasta with homemade tomato sauce.  I needed to keep it plain and simple the night before my big day!  After my pasta, lots of warm italian bread and water, I was ready to call it a night.

Back in our hotel room, I layed out my clothes for marathon day, put my name on my shirt and kept debating about what to actaually wear, since the temperature at start time was going to be about 40 degrees.  Chilly!

time to carbo load

It is getting so close to marathon day!!  I am so excited, but so nervous as well.  I know that I can do this…I can finish.  I have trained so hard for this, I have given it everything that I have, so I feel more than prepared for this big day!  I have a goal in mind, but will be happy enjoying the day and finishing!

I have been doing a lot of reading up this week to try to keep my mind off of the actual run…and I have been finding some interesting reading on carbo loading and how it actually helps an athletes performance. 

The biggest mistake that a runner can do is to overeat or eat to many fatty foods the week before a big race.  Research shows that the three days leading up to a race are the most important, so it is not the time to try new foods, rich foods, cheesy foods, etc.  I normally eat a very healthy diet, with some splurges every now and then.  I always say everything in moderation, but once I started eating healthy my body stopped craving sweets.  So, now I eat them when I want and crave them…not just to eat them.

This week, my goal was to stick to my normal eating routine of mostly protein and carbs with some fat.  I added some more carbs with lunch, and a snack in the afternoon.  Today (3 days before my race), I have been trying to eat more carb-dense foods.  Some pasta is on the agenda for dinner, mixed with protein.  I will cut down the fruits and veggies a lot for the next 3 days because sometimes my tummy gets a little upset from all that I eat.

Hal Higdon has a few tips for preparing for the race on his website:

  • Weight Gain:  Runners who have properly carbo-loaded should gain about one to three pounds-but don’t panic! This weight gain is good; it reflects water weight and indicates you have done a good job of fueling your muscles. For every ounce of carb stored in your body, you store almost three ounces water.
  • Fluids: Be sure to drink extra water, juices, and even soda pop, if desired. Abstain from too much wine, beer, and alcoholic beverages; they are not only poor sources of carbs, but can also hinder your ability to perform at your best. Drink enough alcohol-free beverages to produce a significant volume of urine every two to four hours. The urine should be pale yellow, like lemonade. Don’t bother to overhydrate; your body is like a sponge and can absorb just so much fluid.
  • Protein: Many marathoners eat only carbs and totally avoid protein-rich foods the days before their event. Bad idea. Your body needs protein on a daily basis. Hence, you can and should eat a small serving of low-fat protein-such as poached eggs, yogurt, turkey, or chicken-as the accompaniment to most meals (not the main focus), or plant proteins such as beans and lentils (as tolerated).
  • Event Day: Carb-loading is just part of the fueling plan! What you eat on marathon day is critically important and helps to spare your limited muscle glycogen stores. By fueling yourself wisely both before and during the event, you can enjoy miles of smiles.

Off to carbo load!!

2 weeks to go!

I cannot believe that I have less than 2 weeks until I am running the Philadelphia Marathon!!  I am kind of in shock, but am so excited (and nervous, of course, too!)  I have been training since July 20th, so it is crazy to think that we are only 2 weeks away.  The training is really winding down and it is officially the big taper now.  Here is what I have planned for the next 2 weeks:

Week 1 – Taper:

Nov. 9 – rest

Nov. 10 – 5 miles with 10 x 200 progressives

Nov. 11 – 5 mile recovery run

Nov. 12 – 6 mile tempo run

Nov. 13 – rest

Nov. 14 – 4 mile run (maybe pace)

Nov. 15 – 8 mile run (slower run)

 

Week 2 – Taper:

Nov. 16 – rest

Nov. 17 – 1-2 mile w/u, 2 miles at race pace, 1-2 mile c/d

Nov. 18 – rest (or slow 2 miles)

Nov. 19 – 3-4 mile run

Nov. 20 – rest

Nov. 21 – rest

Nov. 22 – MARATHON!

 

The next 2 weeks look SO easy compared to the training that I have been doing, but they are actually probably going to be a little bit harder for me.  I have trouble resting, and rest is exactly what I need right now! 

The main point of a taper is to get you well and rested for the big day!  You want to make sure to cut back the distance dramatically, but you do not want to cut the quality or intensity of your runs.  So, my plan is to have some shorter good runs, and to do lots of yoga for stretching.  I normally eat very healthy, but will definitely be doing more of that!  Watch for a full race report!

20 miles…check!

I woke up this morning and was psyched to get an early start on my last long training run due to daylight savings!  I jumped out of bed and quickly ate my breakfast of cinnamon toast and peanut butter to give it time to digest.  Once I was all geared up with my GU and water, I headed out the door for my 20 mile run.  I have been training for this marathon since July 20th, so it is amazing to me that there are only 3 weeks left until the big day!  I’m super excited, but definitely nervous at the same time.

It was a good run overall.  My legs felt a little heavy, but I managed to keep a good pace throughout the run and finished well.  Since I have been training for so many weeks, I figured I would write down my 6 tips for my long run days!  So, here is goes:

1. Eat your carbs! (and protein and fat) – I think that it is very important to eat some carbs, protein and fat before a long run in order to have the energy to complete the run well.  Your body breaks down the foods you eat and absorbs what it needs, and uses those nutrients when necessary (like during a long run!).  A breakfast of champions for a runner is toast (or a bagel, etc) with peanut butter, banana and a drizzle of honey – perfect!

2. Get plenty of fluids! I make sure to drink a lot of water all the time, due to it being so cleansing for your body and since I am running so much.  But, I especially drink a lot of water on the day before a long run.  It’s important to be hydrated so that your body will perform the way you want it to.

3. Get lots of sleep! Your body cannot function as well if it is sleep deprived.  A good night sleep before a long run will work wonders.

4. Get your electrolytes! I find that taking a supplement during the run really really helps me.  GU is extremely popular and some people swear by Gatorade.  It is important to eat them before you feel like you need them so that your body has time to work its magic.  Research shows that you should take them after about 45 minutes of strenuous exercise (and every 45 minutes after that), but I find that my body performs well if i take them every hour.  And, make sure you take them with water!  I do not love Gatorade, so I prefer to just drink water and to eat something during my run.  It definitely helps me to use my Cliff Shot Blocks or Luna Moons.  Today’s supplement of choice was watermelon Luna Moons – yum!

5. Eat your protein! After the run, the most important thing to do is get some protein in you right away (ideally within 30 minutes after the end of your run).  I have read that your muscles need that protein within 30-45 minutes in order to help them recover faster.  I look forward to my post-race smoothie!  I get home and whip up a PB Chocolate Banana Smoothie – delicious!  See my recipe below.

6. Relax! I try to enjoy a relaxing day after these super long runs.  I love to lounge all day and read/watch tv.  We deserve it!  Today, however, my husband and I spent the day organizing our place…I guess that is relaxing for me :).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Normally serves 2 (after my 20 mile run, it served 1!)

Ingredients:

  • handful of ice
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (I use Whole Foods crush-your-own PB)
  • 1 banana
  • 1-2 tablespoons crushed flax seed
  • 1/2 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate milk (I used almond milk)

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and mix it up!

This smoothie is totally satisfying and keeps me going while I stretch and shower.  I also make sure to eat lunch soon after with more healthy stuff in order to increase my muscle recovery!

halloween, spaghetti and meatballs

It was 70° here in Boston on Halloween!  That’s crazy!  I loved getting a touch of summer back though, even if it was only for a day.  It was fabulous to run in shorts and a skirt again!!  My marathon training is quickly coming to an end, so with my last super long run tomorrow, we decided on Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs for dinner.  Here is the delicious recipe my husband whipped together:

Turkey Meatballs

Makes about 12 meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 ounces breadcrumbs, oatbran or oatmeal (we used oatbran)
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  • splash Worcestershire sauce
  • finely chopped onion to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
IMG_0019

Uncooked meatballs on wire cooking rack

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl
  3. Place a wire rack on a cooking sheet in order for the fat to drip off meatballs while cooking
  4. Form mixture into tablespoon size meatballs and place on cooking rack
  5. Cook meatballs for ~20 minutes, flipping once halfway through
  6. Serve over spaghetti, or pasta of choice, with tomato sauce and crusty french bread!

These meatballs were delicious!  A perfect carb and protein packed meal for before a 20 mile run!

After our delicious dinner we suited up in our Halloween costumes and headed out to a party for the night.  We decided to be a Cop and Robber.

IMG_0023

Cop and Robber

The party was pretty low-key, but there were lots of good costumes – Frankenstein, Carebears, the Office characters, a Chicken, a Subway sandwich!!  I wish I could have taken pictures of all of them.  Definitely a fun night!

on the run…

I have spent the last 14.5 weeks of my life training for the Philadelphia Marathon!  I have been running more than I ever have before.  Over three years ago when I first laced up my running shoes, I never could have guessed that I would be running 40+ miles per week.  When I started the program on July 20th, I thought I was crazy!  But, looking back it has been great!  I have incorporated speedwork and recovery runs and pace runs and tempo runs and long runs all into this 18 week program.  I have had my good days and bad days, as everyone does, but overall it has been a very positive experience.

I am virtually training with some friends on dailymile.com since we are in different places and run at different speeds.  We all follow the same plan and each day we log in our runs.  It is so motivating to complete your workout well when you know that you friends are out there doing the same thing!

Today was the day that I realized all of my hard work was paying off!  I ran a 6 mile run at a pace that I thought I never could have acheived!  6 miles in 49 minutes, which makes that about an 8 minute/mile pace.  When I finished my run, I couldn’t believe it – all of my hard work has been worth it!

I am usually tied to my Garmin.  I can’t even imagine doing a run without it!  But, today Mr. Garmin was all screwy with my pace, which made me run by feel, instead of by what my watch said.  This, apparently, was a very good thing!  It feels so nice to just run!

The marathon is less than 4 weeks away, and I couldn’t be more excited!  I finally feel confident that I am going to be able to reach my goal!