I Mean, a Bacon and Beer Bar?!?!

Thoughts on my brain at the moment (all marathon related, naturally…as if I could be expected to have other thoughts right now.  Oh, aside from the fact that Christmas is 12 weeks minus 1 day away.  That’s pretty exciting!).

1. I was made aware of a bridge somewhere around mile 25 on the Chicago course.  This bridge is higher than the road, so there will be a slight hill going up.  I’m prepping myself to power up that little hill right now.  When I was running the US Half in San Francisco I was on track to PR at mile 12, and then a little hill came up out of nowhere that literally crushed my spirit to the point that I ended up finishing more than 2 minutes behind where I was going to finish. I don’t want this to happen on Sunday.  You better watch it, little hill.

{San Francisco elevation profile: the little bump at the end ruined me}

2. Boston registration is still open.  Assuming most people in the last few weeks have registered immediately after Sunday qualifying races (i.e. not waiting until the Wednesday after qualifying when spots could be going fast), my guess is registration will remain open for races this weekend.  I’m not holding my breath.  Chicago WILL fill it up if it doesn’t fill up prior.  But I almost want to try extra hard to qualify for 2013. At the same time, I kind of want the spots to fill by Friday so I can have that added stress lifted off my shoulders. I mean, I’m not above limping my dead self to a computer to register right after crossing the finish line, but I don’t want to be that person necessarily.  This is all assuming I actually qualify in the first place.

3.  COLD.  Likely 36 degrees when we arrive at the race.  Yes, I know I complained so much about the heat all summer.  But having to stand for an hour or so in 36 degrees sounds sad. Another consideration: frozen GU is extra thick.

4. I’m really looking forward to sleeping in once we get to Chicago.  I haven’t been getting an adequate amount of sleep this week.

5. I did 4X400’s for our workout last night.  Oh 400’s how I’ve missed you.  Looking forward to traveling back to half marathon land after this race is done!

6. Aaron just found a place called Paddy Long’s, the Best Bacon and Beer Bar.  “Must Do” doesn’t even begin to describe it!

7. I secretly hope to run into SkinnyRunner.  I wish she made herself more stalkable. But then I wonder if it would be really weird to go up and talk to her.  I mean, she isn’t like, a real celebrity unless you read running blogs.  Maybe I’ll just take a picture on the sly and then post it on here.  This feels significantly less weird.

8. In the event that you would like to spend Sunday morning tracking my progress, you can sign up to do so at http://tadpole.textingforward.com/portal/tf_marathon_login_social?pvRaceId=1481. Incidentally, my name actually is Amy Lavender.  If you don’t, rest assured I’ll update everyone on a daily basis for at least a week.  Which is about as long as I’ll wear my finisher’s medal.

9. I can’t decide if taper time is a hypochondriac’s dream come true or worst nightmare.  (I am a hypochondriac).  I have plenty to be anxious about: sore throats, phantom injuries that come from nowhere, congested lungs, upset stomach.  But, this is a little hard to handle.  Too much potential, life threatening sickness!

10. Inspirational Quotes of the day:  It really isn’t my style to quote the Bible to strangers. To each his own.  But I found this the other day and I thought it was so appropriate and applicable to anyone regardless of beliefs:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

I hope you  have an inspired Wednesday! BREATHE! (talking to myself right now!)

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Marathon Reflection Monday: The REAL Taper Edition

{So, this is the post I had wanted to do LAST Monday}.

Way back when I first started training for a marathon and the whole concept of a 3:30 finish time was pretty abstract, I thought if I could do my last 20 miler with an average of 9 minute miles (1 minute slower than marathon pace), my training would have been a success.  

This is based on my Half Marathon Land ability to run races a minute faster per mile than my long runs.  Also, the experts at these things say long runs should be between 30 seconds and a minute and a half slower than race pace.

But first…

OMG TAPER!!!  But really this time! (for the record, this may be the first time I’ve actually ever typed out “OMG” but if any occasion calls for it, it’s this one!).

If you didn’t know, Aaron and I were both quite ill last weekend and decided against running our last scheduled 20 mile run.  After weighing the options, we decided to postpone the long run to Saturday.  Even though it was not ideal to allow only a 2 week taper,  we didn’t feel adequately prepared.  On marathon day we would have been 5 weeks out from our last long run.  Physically, I don’t know if that’s as terrible as it sounds, but mentally, it was quite unnerving.

So, we woke up and did our last 20 miler on Saturday.  I knew from the beginning that I’d take it slower than normal just to make sure my legs didn’t get too trashed.  Mornings have been cold and dark, so we started much later than we had during the summer…at about 7:40.

We did the same course we did on our first 20 miler.  Lots and lots of uphill with an eventual 6 mile downhill at the end.  Truthfully, it was a rather uneventful run in the best way possible.

Everything felt good.  I fueled at mile 7, drank a half liter of Gatorade at mile 10, and fueled again at mile 16.5.  At no point did I hate running (GOOD!).  My body didn’t hurt, and even my feet didn’t get tired (EVEN BETTER!).  I didn’t get depressed over the amount of mileage left (considering some of my earlier long runs, this is a huge Amy breakthrough).  It did start getting warm at around mile 15 and I was thirsty, but it was nothing compared to some of the temperatures of summer.

I finished 20 miles in 3 hours and 53 seconds.  9:02 pace.  It felt comfortable and strong, and is almost 8 minutes faster than the first go 5 weeks ago when I wasn’t focused on taking it easy or going slow.

And more than that, it gave me the confidence that has been wavering over the past few weeks.

With all the good things that running brings, it can also turn into an all-consuming quest to be better (than myself or others) or to crush goals.  Both worthy aspirations in my book.  But I am incredibly competitive and Type A.  The underlying pressure of meeting my goal of running a Boston qualifying marathon has sometimes driven me to insanity.  I’ve felt inadequate, weak, or just plain not enough during this process.

Yesterday, I tried to go back to why I came up with that crazy goal in the first place.  It wasn’t because I really thought I could qualify on my first try.  The odds are not in my favor, and looking around blog land, many faster runners than me aren’t able to run marathons that fast.

I set a high goal so I would work hard and give it my best effort.  To say that I would simply finish would allow me to take it easy.  I wanted to give this marathon training my all, and I knew the only way I would do that is if I set my bar high.

I don’t know if doing this long run was the best idea.  The general consensus during #runchat yesterday was that trying to make up runs during taper time is pretty much the stupidest thing you can do (I of course didn’t publicize our 20 miler to the marathon #runchat people for fear of being judged). I don’t know if I’ll recover enough in two weeks.  But I am feeling a billion more times confident in my ability.  And I think that is everything.

I ran the final long run that I wanted, and my hope in myself is renewed!

So, now all we can do is make this a very effective taper and we’re pulling out all sorts of stops. Air filters running constantly in the house, hanging out in the steam room at the gym everyday to get rid of residual sickness crud, being diligent about daily vitamins and supplements, and eating so clean it hurts (with the exception of some special occasions coming up).  I’m also going to try to put those yoga for runner’s DVD’s to good use (they have been used exactly zero times during this marathon training season), and ice/stretch/roll muscles everyday.

And that’s about all we can do.  Training is done.  Now it is time to sit back, and hope that our efforts over the last 3.5 months were enough.  And if they weren’t….well, at least it looks like I’ll be able to finish  my first marathon in under 4 hours!

Have a fantastic week! I’ve seen some fantastic race PR’s from this weekend!

The Start of Taper Madness and Outfit!

Thanks again for all of the encouragement on Monday!  Getting sick this weekend was not the end of the world, and I’m trying to remember that.  Initially I was disappointed that things didn’t go according to plan.  But all is not lost…YET, anyway!

We’re both feeling much better (Aaron is still pretty sneezy, but he is likely also experiencing the allergies that come with the fall season).

We ran 2 and a half moderately paced miles on Monday and our “tapered” version of a hill workout yesterday.  The tapered hill workout felt way too easy to be real.  In half marathon land I would have not been a fan.  But now, it just seemed like we needed to be doing more. Aaron said I had a look of determination as I ran up each set (actually, he said something more along the lines of I wanted to make that hill my bitch).  I guess better late than never to take this marathon seriously? Is this what taper madness is all about?

Since we’re putting in less mileage, we are really focusing on eating clean because putting on extra weight right now will not help us go faster.  Dinner is strictly grilled fish and veggies for the next couple of weeks (YUM…).  This weekend was an “I’m sick so I’m gonna eat whatever I want” situtation, plus, we had a few nights of birthday celebration dinners, so it feels good to eat foods that don’t make my stomach revolt.  Not that I love fish.  I HATE fish.  But it is a necessary evil. And hopefully it will help come marathon day.

I also picked out my mommy-sponsored race day outfit! I’m going with the Lulu pace setter skirt (aka business in the front, party in the back).  I accidentally picked up the “long” version, but I think it turned out for the best because the shorts underneath are longer and don’t ride up. As a rather short person, the long skirt might make me look like a 1950’s cheerleader, but at 26.6 miles, I’d rather not be a chaffed up mess. I also chose the race length cool racer back (shorter than the normal version).  I took both out for a test run, and everything seems to hold up! If I bomb on race day, it won’t be because of my outfit! Thanks, mom!

The skirt has 3 gel pockets which I am happy about! In general, I tend to fuel less often than the every 6 miles/every 45 minutes that is recommended because sometimes (always?) squeezing that little gel down my dry throat just isn’t even appealing.  My plan is to take a Clif Shot at miles 7, 14, and 21.  They do hand out Clif shots along the course and bananas at some point, but I don’t want to risk somehow missing those stations and then not fueling.

In other news, we got our Chicago Marathon “confirmation tickets” in the mail on Monday! This included our bib number and corral information along with everything we need to know about Marathon weekend.  It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever gotten in the mail (close behind college acceptance letters)… and I may have sat there and memorized the booklet! I know I’m stressing and freaking out more than a person should over this marathon, but I am really and truly unbelievably excited. This is really happening, and in just a few weeks, for better or for worse, I will have crossed the 26.2 finish line!

I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! 

Nerd Time During the Perpetual Taper

I kind of feel like a bum this week.

I started the second taper of the last 3 weeks after taking a few days off to rest the IT band (still tight, but not as bad as it was last week), so nothing too exciting with running.

I also did pretty badly on the April “Have Fun Everyday” blog challenge that I signed up for.  I tend to think that I have a pretty fun life.  Turns out I am SO UNFUN.  Some of my fun moments included stealing the remote to watch a Doris Day movie on TCM and taking pictures of the snow.  I need to liven up a bit.

I also looked at my daily horoscope after purchasing my car on Friday, and it said “DO NOT enter into any contracts today.”  Fantastic.  I don’t believe in horoscopes, but it kind of freaks me out that it said not to enter into contracts on the one day of my life that I actually sign one.

So while my athletic life, fun life, and astrological life are in need of some fine tuning, I did get in some major nerd time this weekend.

And by nerd time, I mean I hung out with my family.

My little sister goes to college in a town about 3 hours south of Albuquerque, and about 45 minutes north of Mexico.  You have to go through border security on your way out.  Albuquerque is barren desert.  This town is the barrenist of all deserts.

A couple of weeks ago, a club she belongs to (some acronym to do with building model planes…she’s a mechanical engineering major) went to Wichita Kansas to compete with other college teams across the nation.  They got through one out of three rounds before the competition was called off due to tornadoes.  Wichita actually made national news that day/night because the metro area had about 97 tornadoes touch ground.

The team was ok, though pretty freaked out because the competition site along with the gas station 2 blocks from their hotel were obliterated, but they also didn’t get to finish out the competition.

They decided to show off the plane and complete their missions on Saturday safely back in the land of no tornadoes, so Aaron, Giuseppe, and I hitched a ride with  my parents at the crack of dawn, and we all drove down to the desert to watch the plane fly.

{Giuseppe, walking through the barrenist desert}

They got through their first mission of flying as many loops as they could in 4 minutes, and finished the 2nd mission of carrying added weight before the plane crashed in fabulous glory during landing.  GAME OVER.  I guess it was a good thing that it crashed in front of friends and family instead of in front of judges.

{Meanwhile, the plane is flying and Giuseppe is stealing the show!}

{Poor little crashed plane}

{Where model planes go to die}

My sister designed the wings.  The wings did amazingly! They managed to fly even in the super windy Tornado prone Kansas, and they were still in good shape after the crash.  Good job, sister!

Next year she will be the president of the plane flying engineer people.  Hopefully the plane won’t crash under her reign.

We went to lunch, and by this time, because we were in the barrenist of all deserts, it was HOT.  We went to get some Frozen Custard (FroCu?  It sounds like a bad word phrase when you say it, but FroCus doesn’t sound any better), to cool down, and then dropped my sister back off at her apartment to have a finals induced heart attack/panic attack for the next couple of weeks.

And then we drove back home after passing through the border checkpoint!