Running Update: 18 Days Until Boston

Hi friends!

So, I’ve been kind of holding off on this post because 1) I haven’t had very much spare time recently (I feel like I haven’t had spare time since January), and 2) I was trying to wait until I wasn’t angry about this dumb leg and its dumb inability to move without pain (just like I was trying to wait to run until after I could walk up the stairs without hurting, but since neither of those things have happened, here we are).

I am angry about my dumb leg and its dumb inability to move without pain.

Since last we spoke about marathon training, I had just completed an uneventful 20 miler 2.5 weeks ago.  YAY! 20 miler complete, ability to complete marathon verified.

Then I attempted some mile repeats (finally running a sub-7 minute mile for the first time this training cycle) which caused massive shin splints.  Annoying, but not a big deal. I rested for a couple of days, and everything was ok. BUT THEN, when the shin splints were not bothering me any more, the dumb calf thing appeared out of nowhere (during a rest day) AGAIN and started hurting AGAIN.

More rest. More annoyance.  Mild panic over the fact that my most crucial training weeks were rapidly being wasted.  I did however buy a bag of Easter egg Reese’s cups (they were on sale at Target!), and eat them.

Then, last weekend, I ran Bataan (bad Amy) but at a slower pace than I wanted, not because I was being cautious, but because I hurt so bad.  When I caught up to my dad, he asked me if everything was ok since he was expecting me to pass him long before.  I said no, as a matter of fact, I wasn’t ok.  But, as I mentioned in that epically long Bataan post, that particular race really changes one’s perception of “discomfort.” And, at mile 10 my body just stopped caring and the pain went away.  Until I crossed the finish line and remembered it.  Then it came back.

MORE rest.

I didn’t run all week.  I tried once, but I got less than 2 miles in before having to stop.

Sunday was scheduled as our final long run.  We had chosen the course weeks ago as a ridiculously challenging 22 miler with a steep uphill and a steep downhill, up and down until mileage was complete.  A 10K is actually run on this course…it is called, “The World’s Toughest 10-K.”  My goal was to mimic the long downhill stretches followed by long uphill stretches of the Boston course.

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It sucked for the following reasons:

1) I was throw-up sick both Friday and Saturday (this happens for no apparent reason every once in awhile, and no, I’m absolutely not pregnant), so most of what I ate didn’t stick around long enough to provide energy or nutrients,

2) The course included almost 1,000 feet of elevation gain over 4.5 miles (meant to make the Newton Hills look easy),

3) Intense spring winds made downhills feel like work (even Aaron said so!).  My average pace was 10:20 which was not confidence boosting.

Thanks to a fabulous bacon themed party the night before, we stayed up past our bedtime and woke up late/got a later start than planned, and I ran out of time.  I only got in 19.6 miles instead of the 22 I had wanted to run.

Luckily, the course ended at a resort (we’re so clever!), and we headed straight into a massage (slightly ironic that the massage was the cause of my run being cut short).  It simultaneously felt amazing and painful.  I told the masseuse to let out her life frustrations on my calf, and she did.

But I still hurt.

It isn’t an injury.  Nothing is broken.  It just hurts.  I’m making an appointment with a sports chiropractor (thanks, Beth!), and I’m hoping he doubles as a miracle worker.

I’m able to run, but not fast.  I’ve lost 2 weeks of training and my last long run wasn’t long enough to satisfy me (I considered attempting 20 miles again this weekend but I have decided against it).  And we are EIGHTEEN DAYS AWAY from Boston.

So, my training isn’t suggesting that I’ll hit 3:30 much less even match my Chicago time (not that I won’t fight to the death to try). But I am excited nonetheless.

My Runner’s Passport and welcome brochure came in the mail this week which was comparable in excitement level to getting my first college dorm and roommate assignment. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be lining up in Hopkington and running this amazing race.  IMG_6120

Also, thanks again for all of your kind words regarding the Bataan Memorial Death March! I shared a photo album (from someone else) on the blog’s facebook page if you want a better idea of what that race looked like!

I hope everyone is having a good week!

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Bataan Memorial Death March Race Recap

In April 1942, at the conclusion of the Battle of Bataan, approximately 60,000-80,000 American and Filipino soldier prisoners of war were forced to walk 80 miles in an event that resulted in the deaths of thousands, and was eventually considered a massive Japanese war crime.  During this sweltering hot march, soldiers were tortured mercilessly.  They were starved and denied clean water during 3 days of continuous walking, and anyone who fell behind was beheaded, bayoneted or beaten.  As many as 11,000 soldiers didn’t survive the march, and many died of other diseases including dysentery in the days and months following.  Growing up, my dad knew a couple of survivors.  One had his Achilles Tendon cut to prevent him from escaping. The other had an appendectomy with a sharpened spoon as a scalpel and a stick between his teeth as the only form of pain control.

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Since 1989, The Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon and Honorary March (14.2 miles) has been held on a desert military base in the very Southern part of New Mexico.  The purpose of the event is much less a simple commemoration, but rather, it is meant to give marchers a small taste of what the soldiers endured more than 70 years ago.  Most race participants are active duty members.  They march in full uniform with a 35 pound sack on their backs (most fill their sacks with canned food to donate to a local food bank).  Many compete as teams of 5 with a true “no one left behind” mentality.  All team members must finish within 20 seconds of each other.

But the most impactful part of Bataan is the survivors.  Each year, survivors of the Death March answer to a roll call before the race, and greet marchers at the start and finish lines.  This is really an event to honor and remember them and the hell they went through in order to protect their country.  There is a bit of urgency to do this race NOW because, as the actual Bataan March slips 71 years into the past, the number of survivors is sadly diminishing.  This year, 3 were at the event.

White Sands Missile Range is located about 3 and a half hours south of Albuquerque.  The nearest airport is in El Paso, Texas (over an hour away) and the nearest city is Las Cruces, NM which is a decently sized college town housing New Mexico State University.  NMSU is where my parents met as students and where my little sister is currently in her senior year.

My dad (who did this race 10 years ago) signed up for the full 26.2 course a while ago, and my little sister followed suit and signed up for the honorary 14.2 course (her first half!), so Aaron and I jumped on board, signed up for the honorary 14.2, and we made it a family excursion. Aaron and I headed down on Saturday, and my parents along with the other sister (who didn’t do the race) and their dog followed a few hours later. Giuseppe was slightly annoyed that he wasn’t invited, even though he was sufficiently spoiled by Aaron’s parents while we were away.

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I WANNA GO!

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I know I complain a lot about how dry and barren Albuquerque is, but southern New Mexico is much, much worse.

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We drove into town and went right to packet pick-up, or, in military speak, “in-processing” (am I signing up for a race, or the draft?).  Because we had to go on base, we had to have a special pass that came with registration that granted us access (DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASS!).

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If you’ve ever been on a military base, you probably know that there are some little quirks that you don’t find in a normal neighborhood.  For example, explosive items and public art in the form of giant missiles.

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We also passed by an aid station set-up that gave us an idea of what we’d be dealing with.  Just sayin, if I was a rattlesnake, I’d live there.

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In-processing was held in the base community center and was quick and organized.  A nice yet very intense drill sergeant type guy was commanding you where to go, so there was little guess work involved.  They also had artifacts and newspaper articles on display from the actual March.  You get your “medal” (a dog tag appropriately) and finisher’s certificate right there at in-processing, which kind of gave my little superstitious self a heart attack.  During the race, I carried mine with me and put it on myself when I crossed the finish line!

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After in-processing, we started the drive back to Las Cruces to unpack at my sister’s apartment.  Let me just take this opportunity to say that my sister’s college apartment is way nicer than my first big girl job apartment.  SIGH.

While the rest of my family headed out to in-processing, Aaron and I headed out to carb-loading. We were also on an urgent mission to find a television broadcasting the Mountain West Championship game in which Aaron’s team (New Mexico) was playing.  We started off at High Desert Brewery which had some really good beer if you don’t mind the dive bar atmosphere.

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BUT, they didn’t have the game on, so after a quick taster flight, we had to make our way over to a sports bar called The Game.  We were in NMSU Aggie country so the place wasn’t crawling with Lobo fans, but Aaron still cheered loud and proud when the Lobos won! (Don’t worry…all three teams I cheer for are OUT in round 1, so I will stop talking about basketball now).

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After gorging on sports bar food, we made the short drive back to my sister’s apartment and started getting ready for bed.  Because the base has limited parking and one gate for some 5,200 participants, they asked that marchers be at the gate at 4:30 am, meaning we’d have to LEAVE at 4 to make the 25 mile trip.  An ideal bedtime would have been 7, but since that was damn near impossible, we made an attempt for 9.  We finally crawled onto our air mattress at 10.  Best case scenario: 5 hours of sleep.

BUT.

As amazing as my sister’s apartment is, it is still in a college apartment complex.  She is on the ground floor, and her windows face the handicapped area in the parking lot, which apparently is the designated turn around/drop off/pick up point of the complex.  And, it was a Saturday which meant drunk people were loudly walking around ALL night.  In fact, they were still walking around when we left the next morning.  Oh how I miss college.

Add to that my parents’ poor puppy who was disoriented and confused and quite vocal about it, and we literally got 1-2 hours of sleep. I’m certain it was closer to 1.  This is not even remotely an exaggeration.

Sadly, the alarm went off at 3:15 am (we were already awake), so, we got up, got ready, and got out the door and to the base by about 4:40 am (there was already a long line of cars, and we got one of the last close parking spaces).  We met up with my dad and sister who drove separately, and my sister’s boyfriend who was also doing the half.

There was no gear check, so we packed all of our valuables into the trunk, hoping that hoards of military personnel would ward off any potential thieves.

Even though the ridiculously early morning arrival was necessary for parking, opening ceremonies didn’t start until 6:30, and the race didn’t start until 7:05.  So, like everyone else there, after parking and making trip #1 to the porta potties, we took a half hour nap in the car, which almost doubled the amount of sleep we got overnight.

At about 6:25 we made a final trip to the porta potties, and I was in one when they announced the presentation of the colors.  As I found out, there is a very unique type of panic that occurs when you are sitting on the toilet and hear the announcement that you are to now rise for the National Anthem.  Do you stand? Do you get yourself out at all costs, ready or not?  Do you hide and pretend that you aren’t committing patriotic travesty?  I opted to get myself out of there FAST, ran a few steps away, and got into proper National Anthem form.  As previously mentioned, the majority of people doing this race were uniformed service members.  Probably one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen is uniformed service members experiencing the same panic.  During the course of the song, several had to run out of the porta potty and jump straight into a salute while the doors slammed shut behind them.  I wish I was able to more accurately describe just how funny this was.

As soon as the National Anthem was done, we hurried to get into our corral.  The Opening Ceremony was pretty amazing.  A giant American flag billowed in the breeze against the early morning desert landscape.  During the roll call, three survivors yelled, “HERE” much louder and stronger than their age might suggest, and I almost teared up during Taps.  A Black Hawk helicopter flew over just as the sun was rising.  If you are wanting to renew your pride in America and our armed services, this is the place to do it.

Pre race in our corral

Pre race in our corral

Unlike traditional races, corrals are set up to accommodate the hardest workers.  Full marathoners with 35 pound sacks go first, etc., and honorary race marchers go last.  So, basically, it is set up slowest to fastest. We were marched around a field led by bag pipers, and we lined up at the start line.  Even though we lined up at the front of the Honorary corral,  it easily took 45 minutes for us to cross the start line.  The survivors were lined up, greeting marchers right before crossing the chip mat.  I managed to shake hands with one who looked justifiably overwhelmed with the number of people coming at him.  Still, very awesome to get to honor someone who lived through Bataan.

So, we finally crossed the start line, and the next 5 miles were spent attempting to weave through the crowd. While it was frustrating, I kept trying to remember that this was not MY race.  I was there to commemorate a horrible event in our history and to honor service members past and present, so I very patiently passed people at a very slow pace.  People with packs, people carrying large flags, teams of 5 walking arm in arm, and people who didn’t train at all and were struggling at mile 3.

I never carry my camera or a phone during races, but I wish I had for this one.  There were so many amazing and inspiring sights, and the scenery was incredible!

This is what the first 5 miles looked like.

This is what the first 5 miles looked like.

Also, I have managed to make my legs somewhat unsuitable for running (another post for another day).  Should I have run on Sunday?  Probably not. I was in pain for the first 10 miles. Yet, something about seeing a wounded warrior with an amputated leg carrying a 35 pound pack on his back changed my perception of discomfort.  My little side calf issue that hasn’t fully healed since October?  Absolutely nothing compared to to these amazing strong and determined people.  So I ran on and I ran with a feeling of purpose.  Not everyone gets the privilege of running on two feet.

I decided to just enjoy the experience and not put pressure on myself to run fast.  I was hurting, and a heat advisory had been issued the day before suggesting that people not participate if they weren’t fit enough to handle it.   I walked the aid stations and drank full cups of water to keep hydrated (turns out, there is significantly less spillage with this method!).

Spectators aren’t allowed on the course (can you imagine all of the rattlesnakes and explosive items that might be lurking in the desert?).  But that didn’t stop a man wearing a mullet wig (or, maybe just sporting his natural mullet?), dancing like a weirdo, banging on his cowbell near the start.  It was the only spectator amusement we got all race, and he was definitely enough!  Thank you, Mr. Cowbell Man for your enthusiasm!

At about mile 2, the pavement turned into dirt, and I wouldn’t see pavement again until the last .1 mile.  Truthfully, the dirt was pretty packed down, so it wasn’t horrible to run on.  Definitely dusty, but not impossible.

My dad was running the full, so he had a significant head start.  I ran into him at mile 4 and he ran with me for a couple of minutes.  He was doing the run 4 minutes/walk 2 minutes method and was able to keep it up for 17 miles before having to walk.  He’s in solid half marathon shape, but he hadn’t been training for a full.

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At mile 7, I came across my sister’s boyfriend (I thought he was running with her, so I was surprised to see him), and I ran with him for a bit.  This was about the time that the sleepless night started impacting my overall mood.  I was grumpy and exhausted.  At about mile 8, the course splits sending full marathoners and Honorary racers into different directions.  Volunteers yell out exactly where you need to go, and someone checks each person as they go through their respective chute to make sure nobody goes the wrong way.  I went from being on a course with thousands of marchers to suddenly being around about 2 or 3 other people.  Out of the 5200 participants, less than 900 did the Honorary.

At mile 9, I came across the dreaded part of the course known as the Sand Pit.  For a little less than a mile, the rocky sand is ankle deep and incredibly soft.  Oh, and lest this be too easy, the whole part is uphill.  This comes at about mile 21 for the full marathon, and I can imagine that walking with a 35 pound pack makes the section just slightly more cruel.  Truthfully, it wasn’t as bad as I had heard, but it wasn’t the easiest running experience. I slipped down to a 9:50 for that mile split.

Check out that nice uphill!

Check out that nice uphill!

As I emerged victoriously from The Sand Pit of Doom, I had a really weird race moment.  I looked around and realized I was completely alone in the middle of the desert which was truthfully very disorientating. I have never been all alone during a race.  I started questioning if I was in the right place, and then I started having visions of grandeur.  Perhaps me, little Amy Lavender in her bright green compression socks, was in first place (forget the fact that logically, Aaron had to be somewhere far ahead).  I also really count on other racers to bring out my competitiveness, so not having any one there made me much less motivated to pick up the pace.

I approached an aid station, and I felt kind of like a rock star as these awesome volunteers cheered loudly just for me.  They also sprung into action and picked up their water/sports drink trays.  I didn’t necessarily need a cup of water and a cup of sport drink, but I felt bad for having them pick everything up for me, so I stopped and took one of each and thanked the volunteers for their support.

Luckily, the complete loneliness only lasted a mile.  I turned a corner, and spotted a herd of about 10 runners half a mile ahead.  I made it my mission to pass these people.

I overtook the first of them at mile 12, only to get re-passed when I stopped at the mile 12 aid station to high-five a little kid and accept one of the little American flags he was handing out.  But, as soon as I was done at the aid station, I put on my DOMINATE face with only 2.2 miles to go, and slowly overtook my racing comrades one by one.  I should also mention that there were no “categories” for the Honorary march.  Most of the people doing this race were in normal running clothes as opposed to uniforms, not carrying any sacks, and not running in teams, so it wasn’t like I was unfairly whizzing past people.

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I always secretly want to be a big cheerleader type person, but I always feel so awkward shouting out words of encouragement as I pass people.  Will people think I’m being pretentious if I cheer them on as I leave them in my dust?  I usually do a mental “GOOD JOB!” as I pass people, but I rarely feel comfortable saying it out loud.  But every lady I passed during those last 2 miles cheered me on, and I felt like an ass for not putting forth more of an effort.  I shouted a hearty “YOU TOO!” in response, but maybe I should have initiated the good will.

Mile 12 is also when the winds picked up.  They would get worse throughout the day (when we were driving back to Las Cruces several hours later, we saw a bunch of marathoners get blasted by an intense dust cloud), but we got a small taste of it.  The combination of wind and sand and sweat is not a fun one.

I knew I was getting close to the end, and started focusing on a strong finish. Every flier/volunteer/website has a different mileage distance listed for the Honorary (everywhere between 13.5-15.2 miles), so I wasn’t sure WHEN it would end, but I knew it was coming.

There was one last aid station at mile 13.5 (with only .7 miles to go).  I wouldn’t have stopped, but again, I was the only person there and the volunteers were going out of their way to make sure I had water.  So, I grabbed some.  Then, I heard the familiar voice of Coach Aaron telling me to KEEP RUNNING.  For every race that he is able, Aaron circles around after he is finished to meet me and run with me into a fast finish.  And there he was, waiting for me at the mile 13.5 aid station.

I attempted to swallow some water as I ran on.  I asked Aaron how he did, and he gleefully let me know that he was the first to cross the finish line.  He was cautiously optimistic since it was hard to tell the chip times of people who potentially started way after us.  He also let me know that I was the 4th female in, but he had talked to one of the girls and she said that she had started near the front of the march and likely hadn’t run a 3rd place time.

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With the prospect of finishing THIRD OVERALL FEMALE, I picked up the pace and excitably attempted to spot the finish line. I’m glad Aaron was there with me, because the turn off from barren desert to finish line chute wasn’t exactly obvious to someone trying to sprint her way in.  The finish line chute was downhill, which makes for an amazing flying sensation, and, with American flag in hand, I ran in with some awesomely supportive spectators cheering me on.

I crossed the finish line in 2:05:43, an 8:50 average pace which is by far the slowest race pace I’ve ever had.  I realize that this isn’t a traditional race and I shouldn’t treat it as such, but if this race was supposed to validate my fitness level for Boston, let’s just say that it didn’t.

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I took my dog tag out of my pocket, and medaled myself, proud of finishing a race that was harder than most.

Aaron and I stayed cheering people on for about 20 minutes.  We chatted with the girl who ran the fasted female time.  People came up to congratulate us and ask me why on earth I was wearing bright green socks.  We also talked with the sport drink sponsor reps.  The course served Cera-sport.  It was much sweeter than Gatorade  but it is designed not to screw with your stomach.  The reps talked sports drinks with us for a bit since apparently we looked like we knew our way around our Gatorade, Cytomax, and Nuun.

We weren’t sure how far behind my sister’s boyfriend was, or how far behind my sister was, so Aaron and I decided to trek to the car, pick up some more sunscreen, and then head to the mess hall for lunch.  Lunch (choice of burger, brat, or pulled pork sandwich along with potato salad and Bud Light) was provided for all the marchers which was really a nice perk.  We met up with my sister’s boyfriend, and my sister finished her first half about an hour later.  We were all able to enjoy our victory lunch together.

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Aaron took a nap on the golf course, and he definitely wasn’t the only one.

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Because my dad was expecting to finish in about 7 hours, we had decided beforehand to head back to Las Cruces early since we still had a 3 hour drive home (he ended up finishing in about 6 and a half hours in a course best for him!). We headed back to my sister’s apartment and took an amazing shower (the amount of dirt on face my was unreal) and a really quick nap (still going on 1.5 hours of sleep).  We weren’t able to really celebrate St. Patrick’s Day since we still had to drive home, but we stopped at another local restaurant/microbrewery called De La Vega and grabbed a quick early dinner and a beer flight before driving home.  This was actually a really great restaurant, and the beer was decent.

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While I totally understand and appreciate that this wasn’t “our” race, we were also really anxious to know the results.  Aaron had possibly WON the half, and I had possibly won third overall female.  By Monday morning, the results still hadn’t been posted.  Any inquiries via the race facebook page were met with some severely harsh comments from other racers (not the organization itself) suggesting that it was our patriotic duty to shut the eff up when it came to results.  Like most races, chip timing was outsourced, so this isn’t a reflection on the race itself.

And when they did finally post, they went up in waves.  While we got ours posted on Monday night, some didn’t post until Tuesday afternoon. But when the half results did post, it was a joyous occasion!

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Unfortunately, awards are not given out for the Honorary march.  This may very well be the only race that Aaron wins, and the only where I come in 3rd, but we will have to be content with our private celebration.  And that’s ok.  We are still very excited about our accomplishment!

IN CONCLUSION:

Bataan Memorial Death March is a race that I think every American should consider.  I was inspired and humbled with every step, and I am so grateful that I got to experience it NOW. Even 20 years from now, World War II will be a long forgotten war.  While I’m sure this race organization will make every attempt to keep the meaning of this event forefront, soon there will be no survivors.  Most of the marchers will be too young to have ever had conversations with their grandparents or even great grandparents about the war years.  While it will be a nice memorial, the marchers of the future will be too far removed from the war to really grasp the significance.  To get the opportunity to run and shake the hand of a man who survived is an unforgettable experience.

I do suggest that anyone who wants to run keeps that meaning in mind.  You will spend the first several miles weaving through people.  It will be hot, dusty, sandy, and uphill.  There are less water stations than you might want (everyone in my family aside from Aaron and me carried CamelBaks).  And you will be reminded that running fast is pretty wimpy if you don’t have on a full uniform and 35 pound sack on your back.  And you will have to be ok with all that.

With good reason, the Bataan Memorial Death March has become the New Mexico marathon of choice for the Marathon Maniacs, 50 Staters, and all other efforts at running a race in every state. Because of this, I think it should be noted that this in no way is a tradition marathon/ half marathon.

This is not the race for you if:

1) You are looking for a PR (the half distance is pretty unique anyway);

2) you think $95 for a race entitles you to flawless execution and lots of bells and whistles (the marathon and honorary cost the same).  You do get the dog tag, a t-shirt, a reusable drawstring backpack, lunch, and course support.

3) you hate running on dirt, hate trail running, or hate running uphill;

4)  and for whatever reason if you have an aversion to the military, veterans, or people being extremely patriotic.

I would suggest flying into El Paso and booking a hotel in Las Cruces (but book early…there aren’t a lot of rooms to go around).  Get to the gate at 4:30 am if you don’t want to walk 2 miles to the start line.  PRINT OUT YOUR PARKING PASS or you will hold up the long line and grumpy sleep deprived people will hate you.  Prepare for the fact that there is no gear check.  Bring your dog tag with you to the race so you can wear it afterwards.  And enjoy and appreciate that you are getting to experience a small part of history.

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2nd Birthdays and Irish Kisses

At some point during this week, my little blog celebrated its 2nd Birthday!

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If you didn’t know, “Lavender Parking” didn’t start off as a running blog.   It didn’t really start out with any focus at all, but since I hadn’t yet discovered the hobby that would eventually consume my life and my paycheck, it certainly had little to do with running.  I still talked about craft beer a lot though.  That hasn’t changed.

Incidentally, my first race recap came early on (about 2 weeks in).  It was a 5-K recap for a race called, Will Run for Beer, (at that point…this was pretty much the only way I’d consent to running).  Looking back at that post, I said, “Despite my best efforts, I am kind of enjoying running and racing.  I plan on doing the 10-K at Run for the Zoo in a month.  Aaron might make a runner of this girl yet!”  If  Two Years Ago Amy only knew.

Total amateur…and like 10 pounds thinner.

Now, here we are.  This blog has completely transformed into a running blog, and I am training for my second marathon with the support and guidance of people from all over the country and even the world.

It has always been more of a priority for me to have blog friends as opposed to readers or lots of followers. I’m always amazed at the level of familiarity I can have with complete strangers, and sometimes I forget that I don’t actually know most of you.  I’m sad that we can all live in one little blogger neighborhood and go on group runs and then have BBQ’s with lots of beer and cheeseburgers afterward. And we could take lots of pictures of everything without judgement.  And then post them to Instagram.

So, THANK YOU.  Thank you for stopping by.  Thank you for cheering me on in my various adventures, and thanks for being such great friends!

OK, hug time over.

Other thoughts on this Friday:

1) SELECTION SUNDAY: Bracket prediction update: Saint Mary’s is now set to play UNM in the pretend 2nd round.  Oh, and we lost our tournament.  By a lot. SIGH.

2) I really wish I was in Chicago this weekend. GREEN RIVER.

3) I’m running a really hard trail race this weekend…I still haven’t decided if I’m “racing” or if I’m “surviving.”  According to Advanced Marathoning, I can go all out if I want to and still be fine for my goal race.  But the trail has ankle deep sand, so even if I tried, I’m not sure I can run a fast race.

4) A friend let me know that The Alabama Shakes are performing in Albuquerque this summer!

5) 1 month until Boston, 1 week until taper!  I apologize in advance for the craziness that will surly come out around here soon.

6) HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY.  I  LOVE this holiday even though I am 0% Irish.  Giuseppe is Scottish, and last year my mom made him this fabulous kilt outfit.  He LOVES it….

Do I have to?

Do I have to?

!

Kiss me, I’m Scottish!

Good luck to everyone doing a race this weekend! May your celebration be full of Guinness, and may you get many Irish kisses!

Marathon Reflection Monday: 34 Days Until Boston

For me, there is an exciting moment when the Garmin beeps, and I realize that I have just run 20 miles. I don’t think there is anything more reassuring during marathon training than knowing that you have hit that milestone.  It is the moment (for me, anyway) where I realize that I am going to be able to run this beast of a distance.

THANK GOODNESS I was able to experience that moment again this past weekend.

I was worried about Saturday’s run because my last attempt at a long run ended with a 5 mile walk home.  I also approached it cautiously since my last successful long run was 17.5 miles…more of a mileage jump than I’d like.

The weather on Saturday was supposed to be pleasant during the morning and rainy in the afternoon, but I think weather.com lied.  Because it was windy and snowy (I was wearing shorts) so, it wasn’t the least miserable run ever.  Aaron had to work on Saturday morning, so I ran this one solo, but he did get out on his bike to meet me at about mile 14.

As luck would have it,  I ran into a coyote during this rare solo run.  It just ran across the road in front of me, and then stood there, about 10 feet away, eating something while I had a heart attack.  Albuquerque is a city where coyotes can be found in just about every part of town, but this was only my second time running into one.  My reaction was to freeze, call Aaron (more as an “in case I die, this is where to find me” precaution), walk slowly, and then bolt.  It worked, apparently, but I was pretty nervous.  That mile split was about 13:00.

Also, it is worth acknowledging that despite the random snow storm on Saturday, we have had great spring time weather which unfortunately means pollen.  I only developed allergies maybe 2 years ago, but now I’m a sneezy little person.  This past week, I have hacked up more yuck stuff from my throat then I care to think about.  I also think, unscientifically, that my lungs aren’t taking in adequate amounts of oxygen, leaving me much more out of breath than I should be.  All part of the sport I suppose.

Otherwise, the run went as well as it could.  I was expecting to feel like hell at mile 19 since I hadn’t built up the mileage, but everything felt great during and post run.  We celebrated victory by watching basketball ALL day.  Aaron’s team (New Mexico) lost by 1 point in the last few seconds.  I was only minorly sad since I typically don’t cheer for the Lobos, but the environment of disappointment was almost too much to handle at the sports bar.  Except for the lady watching hockey.  She didn’t care.

Meanwhile, my Saint Mary’s Gaels won by 3 points and are set to play Gonzaga for the WCC championships tonight.  Interestingly enough, the way the current bracket predictions are going, Saint Mary’s COULD play New Mexico in the 3rd round.  I do not want to see what this might look like for our marriage. Also, I would fear for my life if I went anywhere in this town with an SMC shirt should that game occur (though really, the odds of us getting past the 2nd round aren’t high).

Bracket

UH OH

ANYWAY.

I have a back down off it week this week including Bataan next weekend (14.2 trail race) and then one last long run before tapering.  SO NUTTY.  This has gone by so much faster the second time around.  And I’m so thankful that aside from some minor hiccups, I’ve managed to stay injury free.  Let’s just hope I can get through the next 2 weeks without any major issues!

TRAINING RECAP:

Monday: 5 mile recovery run

Tuesday: 1.2 mile walk (had to postpone the scheduled workout to Wednesday morning)

Wednesday: 8 x hill repeats (7 miles total) + 1 hour spin

Thursday: 5.5 mile tempo run/7.5 miles total, 58:48 (7:58 pace).  I really wanted to die for a lot of this, and had to stop on about 3 occasions to cough stuff up.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 20 miles!!! 3:03:34 (9:10 pace)

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Sunday: BLERG. We put off running until the afternoon because we didn’t get up in time (time change), but on my way back home from lunch with my family, I started feeling really sick and I spent the afternoon in bed sleeping.  The thermometer confirmed my fever.  I’m feeling fine today (even though I still technically have a fever…don’t tell), but I was looking forward to celebrating 50 miles this week, and now I can’t.

TOTAL MILEAGE: 40.7

MARATHON GOALS:

I think this week was one of those that really shows how hard it is to lose weight while marathon training.  Spinach salad with grilled chicken just wasn’t enough to satisfy my enormous hunger, and after a hard workout, the last thing I wanted to do was more squats.  Sunday night is usually our yoga night, but I wasn’t up for it yesterday.  Staying on track with my goals was just much harder than it has been.  With 5 weeks to go, I’m running out of chances to hit 2 perfect weeks in a row.

IMG_6047Hope you have a great week despite the sleepies this morning!

 

I Guess I’ll Look at the Sky Instead of the Road

Happy Friday! I am so excited for the time change this weekend. I mean, not the waking up earlier part, but definitely the “it’s 6:30 pm, and the sun is still out!” part.

I want to thank Larissa for nominating me for the Liebster! Larissa’s lovely blog is a collection of fitness and running inspiration.

11 Random Things About Me:

1.  I know this is probably one of the worst songs ever created (maybe even beating Gangham Style in the Absolute Crap category), but I LOVE the Thrift Shop Song.  When that song comes on my radio, I start jamming.  “I’ma take your grandpa’s style, I’ma take your grandpa’s style, No for real – ask your grandpa – can I have his hand-me-downs?”

2. Since we’re on music, I hadn’t heard of the Alabama Shakes until the Grammy’s.  Brittney Howard (lead singer) soloed on the Levon Helm tribute, and I decided to look her/them up.  The album is kind of bluesy and a bit of a throw back to the 60’s.  Aaron bought me the CD, and I’ve been blasting it in the car (you know, when Thrift Shop isn’t on).  They are still pretty raw…like you’d be more likely to hear them in a Gulf Coast Blues Club while downing your gumbo than in a concert setting, but I think they have some potential!

3. NCAA Conference Championships/Selection Sunday!  My team finally made the top 25 a couple of weeks ago, so at the very least, I’m thinking we’ll be in the tournament…even if we are seeded as the designated losers. Also, Gonzaga soooo isn’t the best team in the country.  Just thought you should know.

4. I bought bright green compression socks for the sole purpose of wearing them during my St. Patrick’s Day race (which incidentally isn’t St. Patrick’s Day themed).  I’m not sure if Pro Compression is in the same category as some of the bigger compression suppliers, but they are ridiculously affordable, and you can ALWAYS find a big blogger with a coupon code.

5. Shameless Plug (last one, I promise!).  FACEBOOK ME! 

6. I finally finished Downton, Season 3.  I knew “it” was coming thanks to an article from the UK that I saw before I even started watching the series.  Apparently the British are way ahead of us in Downton time.

7.  I’m way too excited over the prospect of hitting 50 miles this week! Maybe there is hope for me yet. I have also been HUNGRY all week.

8. I am the complete opposite of someone who loves cats.

9. If I never heard the words “Kim Kardashian” again, I would be cool.  These people need to go away.

10. I tried watching the show Girls, and it made no sense to me.  I’m not sure what this says about my girlness.

11. I wish everyone got a spring break.

Larissa’s Questions for her Liebsterees:

  1. If you could be best friends with anyone, current or historical, who would it be?

Historically, Audrey Hepburn.  Currently, Kate Middleton.  We are obviously already best friends.

  1. Coffee snob or tea–litist?

Such a coffee snob! I’d rather be a sleepy zombie than drink Maxwell House.  I do like tea too, though.

  1. Favorite workout?

Apparently running.

  1. Favorite recipe?

I don’t cook.

  1. Coolest place you’ve ever been. (Can be as extravagant as a tour of Europe or simple as the best hole–in–the–wall café ever).

This is such a hard question, because we really make a point to go to cool places.  I don’t know if this is necessarily “cool,” but the most impactful place I’ve ever been was the World Trade Center site in 2004.  About 2 and a half years after the fact, it was still a giant hole in the ground, and most of the surrounding skeleton buildings were still there along with 2 and a half years worth of little memorial mementos.

  1. Why did you start blogging?

Creative frustration. And I’m much better at writing than talking.

  1. One thing that automatically makes you smile.

Giuseppe’s bed head in the morning.

  1. Tell us one of your dreams or goals, why, and what you’re doing to pursue it.

Work in progress!  But seriously, right now my main goal is to have such an amazingly cool reason to miss my 10 year high school reunion (like, meeting the Prime Minister of Malaysia, going to Kyle Richard’s {Real Housewives of Beverly Hills} White Party, or hosting Kate’s baby shower).  I’m really running out of time here.   The Reunion Survey Monkey survey went out yesterday.  Who wants to invite us over for an emergency vacation???

  1. Which do you dislike most: emailing, texting or talking on the phone.

I hate talking on the phone. See #6.

  1. Would you describe yourself as a thinker, communicator or doer and why?

I think it just depends on the situation (note…if I was being interviewed for a job, I have a really great answer for this question…but since I’m not, I’m just gonna stay neutral…equal rights for equal strengths!).

  1. Finish the sentence: If I could do anything with my life from this point forward, I would…

Move someplace near a beach.  I miss water!  A couple of nights ago I stayed up until midnight watching The Descendants which is a horribly depressing movie that makes you never want to get married have kids, go on boats, or hire Matthew Lillard as your real estate agent, but it made me want to go to Hawaii SO BAD.  Hey, Sarah, what are you doing the weekend of my 10-year reunion???

Hawaii

I wanna goooooo

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I hope everyone has a lovely weekend! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a drama free 20 miler this weekend! Good luck if you are racing!

In The Proximity of (mostly future) Olympians, Part 2

Randomly, Albuquerque landed the multi-year contract to host the USATF Indoor Championships for the last few years.  This is amazingly cool because many Olympic level runners use these indoor races as “tune-ups.”  For example, last year we spent the entire weekend watching the games live and got to see Sanya Richards Ross, Bernard Legat, Galen Rupp, and Justin Gatlin do their speedy thing as an Olympic warm-up (along with Sara Hall…so Ryan Hall was somewhere in my general vicinity!).  That post (Part 1) is HERE.

I’m definitely not a knowledgeable running celebrity nerd.  Aaron has to fill me in as to who most of these powerhouse runners are (but once I know, I stalk).  But whether these people are famous or not (or just not famous to me), watching the country’s best runners zoom by right in front of you is a pretty amazing experience.

Also, my drive to DO GREAT THINGS and WIN EVERYTHING really kicks-in.  Watching these people in person, walking out to the track, looking like a bundle of nerves (probably wondering if they trained hard enough…HA), and, expressing either extreme disappointment or elation at the end really reminds you that these are not gods prancing among mere mortals. These are real people. They are not completely unlike you or me.  It also reminds (proverbial) you that YOU could be there, running in a big nationally televised event with a little hard work.  I mean, maybe? Regardless, it does remind me that these amazing running accomplishments are not completely out of reach.

We had a few things going on this weekend, so we were only able to catch the Sunday afternoon races. This year’s line-up was considerably less star studded, but we still go to see teenage phenomenon Mary Cain (16 year old record crusher) completely dominate the women’s mile.  I first started noticing this girl about a month ago because she started getting a ton of press coverage.  I know she’ll be a standout at the 2016 Rio Olympics, so watching her live was a weekend highlight.

I totally fan-girled and took 10,000 pictures of her.

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And her coach? Alberto Salazar? (Yeah, I didn’t know him until Aaron told me).  He’s won the New York City Marathon 3 times and the Boston Marathon once.  And he now coaches the Oregon Track Club Elite (Lauren Fleshman is on this team, and Steve Prefontaine is a former member).  He was much harder to stalk, but he’s the one in the baseball hat talking to Mary.

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Other highlights:

Beastly looking shorter distance runners/hurdlers (and I mean beastly in the most awesome possible way).

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Running Jesus aka Will Leer (probably a Pre wannabe).  He ended up winning by a hair (a long flowing one?).  I expect to see him in Rio too.

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This guy (it annoys me when people wear sunglasses inside).  Apparently he was an Olympian like 10 years ago.

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Ms. Teen New Mexico who apparently has to look like a princess wherever she goes.

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Drug Enforcement Peeps (in the orange shirts): they grab the winners and other (I’m guessing randomly selected) athletes right off the track.  I would love this job.  Come here, Mr. Big Time Athlete.  Come pee in my cup.

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These little kids get to carry around the runner’s belongings in little baskets.  I want one!

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In all, it was a fun and inspiring way to spend Sunday afternoon.  I think Albuquerque’s contract is up, but I’m holding out hope that just maybe we can play host to next year’s event again.

Also, thanks for liking me on facebook!  If you haven’t yet, you can do that HERE.

Marathon Reflection Monday: 41 Days Until Boston

Today officially marks the half-way point of my Boston marathon training.  Well, that went by fast!  I have three weeks left of actual training before the taper, and this is the point where I (and apparently most people) start having a minor freak-out (because I haven’t been freaking out the rest of the time?).

The taper crazies are definitely, well, crazy, but there is another perhaps more intense type of panic that occurs when you still have time to make a difference.

I feel faster and I feel stronger than I did at this point in Chicago training, but my mileage has been much more in line with a half marathon training program (I haven’t even hit 40 miles a week yet).  And I also don’t feel like I’m working as hard.  It might just be that everything feels easier the second time around, but I truthfully don’t feel like I’ve put forth as much effort.

So, I don’t really know what’s going to happen at the start line in 6 weeks.  It is quite tempting to go Rocky Balboa style for the next three weeks, but I know the “right” answer is not to over-train.

The Boston Marathon actually has a really helpful social media presence, and they posted this on Thursday.

Training TipBE CONFIDENT WITH WHERE YOU ARE WITH YOUR TRAINING. I mean, I’m not, but all I can do is finish out strong and make the most of the time I have.

My plan for the next few weeks is to really rededicate myself to injury prevention. Now is the time to make sure that my core is strong and my quads are adequately prepared for a mostly downhill course.  I didn’t put “get 8 hours of sleep” on my checklist, but I probably should have because I have been going to bed way too late and waking up way too early.  So, sleeping will be a priority. As will making sure that my body is prepared to successfully finish the last two long runs (two twenty milers).

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I have created a facebook page for the blog.  I’m not too concerned with how many “likes” I can get, but I would like to have a place for all of my running related links/pictures/etc. that doesn’t impose on the news feeds of my personal facebook friends who have likely all unsubscribed from me already.  I’ll very likely use this more than twitter since I’m considerably more comfortable with facebook.  You can like me HERE.

facbookWorkout Recap

Based on a lot of advice, I decided to take things pretty easy last week in order to not push myself into injury.  Also, last week my job had me on my feet all day on a concrete floor (easily walking 4 miles a day on said floor) which surprisingly tired me out, and made my legs ache.  My little desk-dweller body isn’t used to not sitting down for that many hours. I’m hoping this was the main cause of my heavy legs all week. We did yoga three times this week just to make sure that all my muscles were loosened up and less prone to causing sudden bursts of sharp pain because that wasn’t too fun.

Monday: Rest (still trying to figure out and heal the weirdness from the failed long run)

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 1 hour spin, plus 2 easy miles to test the waters

Thursday: 5 mile tempo run: I accidentally ran too far.  I only like to add .5 miles per week to my tempo distance, but I mis-remembered last week’s distance, and added a full mile.  7.1 miles total (8:04 pace).

Friday: 3 easy miles

Saturday: 14.2 miles (9:05 pace).  This is back down off it week, so our long run was shorter.  Overall, I felt ok.  Still having issues with that side calf that has been bothering me for weeks now, but no leg spasms, and no problems afterward.

Sunday: 3 easy miles.

Marathon Goals:

SO CLOSE to hitting all of my goals! As I’m heading into these last few weeks, I’m rededicating myself to getting those goals accomplished.  If over-training isn’t encouraged, then at least I have six weeks to make a difference with the little details.

IMG_6046Hope everyone has a fantastic week! It is suddenly springtime here (this week anyway), and I couldn’t be happier!