Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Year's Resolutions?

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.

'Which road do I take?' she asked.

'Where do you want to go?' was his response.

'I don't know,' Alice answered.

'Then,' said the cat, 'it doesn't matter'.”
–Lewis Carroll, From Alice in Wonderland

If what you are doing is worth doing, hang in there until it is done.”
–Nido Qubein

"If your goal is worth doing, it's worth starting now."--Alex Gardner (aka, "me")

Here are the six most popular New Year's Resolutions for Americans:

1 Lose Weight
2 Pay Off Debts
3 Save Money
4 Get a Better Job
5 Get Fit
6 Eat Right

But yet, also according to Wikipedia, recent research shows that while 52% of participants in a Resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals! [emphasis mine]

That means that if you make a New Year's Resolution, your goal is likely to be in the area of health and fitness. And, if you are typical, you have about a one in ten chance of success.

That seems just about right. I dread the months of January and February at the gym. I've had many memberships in several regions of the country. And it's always the same. January is the most crowded month, with people fresh and hopeful of their new goals. But as March approaches.. things return to normal, and the load at the gym is the same as it ever was.

Here are my thoughts on increasing your chances of reaching your goal(s):
  1. Set measurable goals. Don't say "lose weight." Say, "Lose 10 pounds in 8 weeks." Or something appropriate like that.
  2. Set something lofty, but achievable. This may mean breaking your goals up into smaller chunks. If you need to lose 50 pounds, make your first goal losing 10 pounds by a certain date. Then, evaluate and celebrate your success and go from there.
  3. Start now. This might be the biggest one. If it's worth doing, it's worth starting now. Abandon the "Fat Tuesday" mentality, and start working on your goals today. Skip pigging out until January 1st--it only makes that goal further out of reach.
  4. Don't give up. If you blow it one day, don't let it derail you. If you have a hard day, remember that no truly worthy goal is going to be easy. I have to tell myself that latter statement several times per month.
  5. Tell someone else to hold you accountable. Incredibly powerful, it's one thing to let yourself down. But, if you know someone else is watching, you're more likely to succeed. And who knows? They might even help you.
On a personal note, here is what I've set out for myself to achieve in the next year, taking each of these above suggestions into account:
  1. Run a 22 minute 5K this Spring. I'm already working on it, and hope to have a baseline when I race on January 25, 2009. This is an extremely exciting and challenging goal, and possibly the hardest thing I've ever attempted personally.
  2. Qualify for Boston '10 this Fall. I tried last year, and just missed. I'm not giving up. I feel stronger than ever, and I will make it. Requires a 3:50 marathon at a qualifying event. Pretty sure that's going to be easier than goal 1, above.
  3. Read through a different translation (Message) of the Bible by December 31, 2009. I started the day after I finished a similar 40 day journey a week ago. No reason to wait until January 1st.
  4. Keep my weight near 110 pounds. For me, this actually requires work in both directions. In the last three months, I've weighed as little as 107, and right now am nearly 115 (I'm 5' 6"). Now is a good time for me to have some buffer, as my mileage and cross training are increasing rapidly, and I tend to drop weight too quickly. Losing weight is helpful to running only if you have it to lose. Not so great if you are too skinny (any ideas what might have contributed to my stress fracture?).
Best wishes to everyone for a prosperous and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Secret to Running Faster!

This is a top secret blog post. Really. You probably shouldn't be reading it right now, it's that secret. Are you still with me? Make sure you look over your shoulder and the coast is clear.

And, shhh! Don't tell anyone I wrote this, OK? I'm about to reveal... (drum roll please).... (are you ready for this?)... "The Secret to Running Faster!"

You probably already know, my current goal is to run a 22 minute 5K. My PR being 23:38, it sounds appreciably hard, but not utterly impossible. On paper anyway. Until I started running again, and realized how uncomfortable 8 minute miles can be. And I need to run a full minute per mile faster. Three times in a row. Yikes! This doesn't seem possible at all. Even with some brutally hard work.

So, as I began daydreaming of my perfect 22 minute 5K (insert harp music here), I began wondering, Is there a secret to running faster? I mean, a whole LOT faster than you've ever run before? One really BIG secret that will get me to my goal?

I Googled "secret to running faster" and received 594,000 hits. And probably 594,000 different answers to that question. Mind boggling.

My running buddy, Rick, who is by far stronger and faster than I am, could run a 22 minute 5K on a moments notice, and could kick my derriere at any time likes hills. Hills, hills and more hills. "Speedwork without the impact!" And he can't be wrong on that, just try to run uphill against him.

What could be easier than a magical pill? What about legal ergogenic aids? If you want to make your head dizzy, go read some of that and try to figure out what you should take. I gave up, and I was still in the "A's." And we're not talking milliseconds or elite speeds I'm seeking either. A 22 minute 5K is rather ordinary. As long as my diet is healthy, and contains what my body needs, there's no supplement that's going to make a huge difference. This was no help.

Plyometrics is awesome. Talk about some great cardio cross training and strength building. Can it make you faster? Absolutely.

Interval training is definitely effective.

And don't forget strength training! Without a doubt, essential to help you avoid injury and get faster.

But really, is there a single secret? I think this blogger might be onto something! Well, I had fun giggling through that. But not without a tad of seriousness here. Think about it, there's some truth to be found.

This past weekend I watched Kung Fu Panda [warning! movie spoiler to follow], a very entertaining animated flick about Po, a hapless, overweight panda who was more likely to trip over a rock than fend off the enemy dragon warrior.

In the final scene Po is fighting the arch enemy dragon warrior Tai Lung over possession of the secret dragon warrior scroll. The scroll is supposed to contain the secret to limitless power. The scroll is seized by Tai Lung, who finds it blank. Po laughs: "There IS no secret ingredient," (recalling his father's recent revelation about the "secret ingredient" in the family's noodle soup) and soundly defeats the evil Tai Lung.

From an article about running faster I found this: "(Psst. I’ll have to keep my voice down so no one can hear this secret except you: muscles don’t care about what they are being used for! They don’t ask if they’re lifting a weight or walking up stairs, or moving down a track. They only want to know about the load placed on them so they can gauge how to respond.)"

And that about sums it up!

It's all too confusing to me, and I can't wade through it. This actually confirmed a decision I made nearly 18 months ago. I hand those decisions over to a trusted expert. I may know a lot about running, but to always be improving my game, I need help. Nothing can replace a good coach who can adapt your program to your specific needs--and figure out what intervals, hills, strength training your body needs for your goals. Because there really IS no single secret to running faster. It's just plain, old-fashioned, sweaty, gut-busting hard work.

And if I want that 22 minute 5K badly enough, I'm going to have to do it the old-fashioned way; I'm going to have to EARN IT.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

If It Weren't So Windy, It'd Be OK

"If it weren't so windy, it'd be ok," I heard a woman mutter as I entered the grocery store post-run.

That was an understatement. The first two-and-a-half miles out in a stiff headwind could be the windiest and one of the toughest runs I've ever done. It felt like running in a wind tunnel. Rick looked like the Easter Bunny, fresh and teasing us by running backwards. He really is too strong. Then Travis left us in the dust for the last mile. Must have been sub-7 and that was mile 17.

This was my first 5 miles since Chicago. Suffered enough to feel nauseated at the end. Good feeling! :-)

Thanks, Rick and Travis for putting up with me!

Route:--Elev. Avg:742 ft
Location:Blue Springs, MOElev. Gain:+26 ft
Date:12/13/08Up/Downhill: [+265/-239]
Time:10:45 AMDifficulty:2.7 / 5.0

Weather:Fair and Breezy

50 F temp; 47% humidity

50 F heat index; winds S 23 G 37

Distance: 5.00 miles

Speed:7.1 mph

Pace:8' 25 /mi


Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
18' 32+0' 077.0-0.1+19 ft
28' 43+0' 186.9-0.2+3 ft
38' 37+0' 127.0-0.20 ft
48' 11-0' 147.3+0.2-4 ft
end8' 01-0' 247.5+0.3+7 ft
Versus average of 8' 25 min/mile

Posted from

Thursday, December 4, 2008

True Confessions of a Long Recovery

I climbed on the recumbent bike for a nice 45 minute workout today. In my gym, the bikes are seated behind the treadmills, and mine was in dead center of about 15 treadmills of different sorts, almost all of which were being used.

To my far left, I watched a girl (ok, young woman) in a pair of Nike shorts just like the ones I run in. I watched her long, smooth stride, and estimated her pace somewhere in the low 8's. She couldn't have looked more relaxed and at ease. She ran the entire time I was on the bike. I was jealous; envious; my eyes developed a distinct patina of green.... because I wanted to be running like that. I wondered if I could take her in a race of any distance. I knew I couldn't now... and as she ran, she was getting stronger by the minute. And I was merely pedaling away...

Almost in front of me was another girl (ok, another young woman--see I think of myself as a "girl," it isn't a derogatory term to me) doing a nice workout at a steep incline. She wasn't going very fast, but she had that hill incline cranked up. I watched her shins, wondered how much pressure was on her tibias. When could I do a workout like that? I was sad. I know I can't now.

To my immediate left was another girl (ok, I give up) on an Elliptical. Definitely hate the Elliptical, but I remember how the upstroke, while looking so smooth and easy, was slamming into my tibia in a most unfortunate way. And while I held no jealousy against her for being on the machine (blech!), I was incredibly jealous of her apparently strong, solid tibias. What I would be doing with those! Certainly not spending any time on an Elliptical!

I plopped back into my chair in my office some 40 minutes later, and began to type a request to Vince to reorganize my running this weekend. I wanted my 4-miler on Saturday instead of Sunday. Not something I would normally get excited about. But, it's my first 4-miler in more than 8 weeks. Suffice it to say, it's the highlight of my week. Four. Whole. Miles. Running. I wanted to celebrate!

My plan was to get a sitter, and try to get my training partner, Rick, to run part of his long run with me. But he's already leaps ahead of me now, running his mile repeats deep in the 6s. When I contacted him, he already had plans for an 18-miler with another group on Saturday. I blinked. Would I ever be able to even keep up with him again? It's been over two months since we've run together. He's the fittest he's ever been. I've done nothing but lose fitness for two months.

I nearly laid my head down on my desk and cried. I'm just being honest here. It's so hard to watch everyone pass me by. I'm filled with so much drive and determination, and I can't do anything with it. I want to be working out; I want to be doing 200m repeats; 400m repeats; redefining my fastest mile; running till I puke. I want to explore what it's like to train for my fastest 5K ever. But, I can't. And I know that's weeks and weeks away. I worry that my Spring and even Fall plans are at risk.

So, I'd like to institute a new "week." It's "Be Kind to Your Favorite Injured Runner Week." We're all suffering out here. And we can't WAIT to get back to training hard with you again!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Ode To My Toe

You brought me great pride; you were part of a set
You were primped, preened, cared for undeniably, yet...

On that day in Chicago, in the sweltering heat
I crossed that finish line, oh, was I beat!

It took a few miles, but I hobbled to the tent
You'd been hollering for some time now, with many a vent

I sat down and untied my trusty old shoe
To see my sock discolored, and that definitely wasn't blue

I pulled off the sock, a fellow runner leaned in
"Oh my, that's impressive," he said with a grin

For out of my sock came not a toe, but a plum
Deep purple and red; I grasped what the pain was all from

Weeks went by and I managed to keep you, in fact
Your whole body went black; but the toe stayed intact

I went to the spa once; and then of course again
Massaged you, scrubbed you and painted your tip with a grin

But even as the weeks passed by and by
You continued to complain and I wasn't sure why

But last night it became clear what the problem really was
You did the thing that a runner's toe often does

And my perfect red toenails dropped from ten to nine
As you shed that red shell with a tiny little whine

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More On Stress Fracture Recovery

Thanks, Runcolo, your comment is perhaps the most helpful yet. I skipped replying to your comment, and figured I'd just write my next entry around it here. I appreciate the fact that you've been through this exact injury, and that really speaks volumes to me.

The link you sent about recovering from the stress fracture had some really important points, for example, that "On average, it takes 90 days for a stress fracture to heal completely." I've also read that the tibia, being one of the largest bones in your body, can actually take a little longer.

This in particular gave me hope: "You may be able to resume running 6 to 8 weeks after the initial diagnosis," if you take it
cautiously. I thought this test was particularly good: "When you can walk briskly for an hour without pain, you should be able to try a small dose of running." I haven't even tried the hour walk test.

We certainly figured out this weekend I wasn't quite ready to run short distances every day. So, we're trying out an every-other-day approach, whereby I'm either aqua jogging or something else less impactful on alternate days. While waiting for my aqua jogger belt to arrive, I hopped on the elliptical machine yesterday and hated every unnatural second.

The article sanctions at least some running during recovery (which does keep my spirits up): "Initially, you should run every 3rd day or every other day." I'm scheduled for an easy 2-mile run today (and a non-impact workout tomorrow). Depending on how I feel for the next few hours, I'll either do the run or skip it and catch a spin class at 5:15 tonight. I think I may give the hour-walk test a try this week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tibial Stress Fracture Update

So, today marks the end of week one of my attempted return to running after being out for a month with a confirmed tibial stress fracture. I had 15 total miles, split between 2 and 3 mile runs. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them.

Generally, I've been pain free. But, I've also been very cautious and nervous about anything that even hints toward tibial pain.

Today I felt a small flash of pain in my tibia as I first bore weight from getting out of bed. I walked around a bit, took the stairs, deciding if the pain was still there; real or not. I didn't notice it again. So, I proceeded with the 3-mile run, finishing easily on the treadmill with a 1% incline in 25:50. But, I did notice, towards the end of the run, a certain tightness building behind the tibia as well as a few flashes of pain in the tibia itself. Not a good sign.

I think that means I'm probably done running for at least a few days; maybe longer. This is my one opportunity to completely heal, and I don't want to screw it up.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Decision Has Been Made

In my posting the other day, I pondered whether my next running goal should be a sub-22 minute 5K or a BQ for the Spring. I did hear from many of you, and received much food for thought. I've considered all of it carefully.

Several of you suggested to go for the Spring BQ, because you never know what's going to happen and then you have Fall to fall back on (pun intended). One good consideration was to go for the Fall BQ as a goal, as the Spring marathons have more unpredictable weather and can be windy. You're body is simply better prepared to run in potential heat of Fall, with no wind, after a summer of training. (I'd happily take a repeat of '08 Chi again as opposed to many other possible conditions.)

In any event, I'm grateful for everyone helping me think through this. But, I've made up my mind. I'm going for the sub 22 minute 5K this Spring. There are a couple of reasons for this:
  1. It's something new. I've been training for the marathon distance for years now. And although I'll give Vince credit for never giving me the same workout twice, it's kind of exciting to think I'll be training my hardest.. but differently.
  2. It'll make me a stronger runner. This goal to me actually sounds way harder than a 3:50 marathon. I think it's going to take more work than I've ever done. And that makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it.
  3. It'll lower my threshold. I can't really comprehend running the 22 minute 5K. That's over three 7 minute miles. My threshold pace is somewhere in the 7:30s. This will naturally lower my threshold.
  4. My BQ is there to be had. I only missed it by a little over 3 minutes in the extreme heat. By Fall, I may actually be looking to run a 3:45 or even a 3:40. Although I have to "get back up there," I don't think I need to worry about multiple BQ attempts for 2010.
  5. I want ripped arms. Ok, silly, I know. (Just wait until you read tomorrow's post.) But, I never wanted to add any bulk for marathon training. Nor did I really care that my arms are absolute sticks at the time. But, frankly, I'll need the muscle mass to help with the lactic acid processing. I'm going to continue the arms and shoulders workouts I've been doing these past two weeks through this training, and bump it up a level. While I'm thrilled with how I look from the core down, now I can work on the rest.
There are other reasons as well, but these are a few key ones. I know it's probably also going to take more than a few attempts to pull it off. I'm not going out there in 8 weeks and knocking 98 seconds off my 5K PR--even in my dreams. But, I like to dream big. And, I'm confident I'll get there!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Spring BQ or Fast 5K?

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?" --Robert Schuller

For those of you in Facebook, you see that as my status today. My leg is feeling really good. I'm almost 4 weeks of healing (not running). I'm still coughing. A lot. But as tired as you might be of reading about that, I'm even more tired of coughing, writing about it and acknowledging it. One day, I will stop coughing. So, I'm going to start ignoring it, and planning "what's next."

I'm still determined to qualify for Boston, even though I recognize that's for Boston 2010 now. In my wildest dreams, I don't think I'll be ready to train hard enough to run an early February '09 marathon and qualify. So the question is, do I pick a Spring or a Fall marathon?

There are a couple of Spring options that are intriguing me:

New Jersey Marathon
Ft. Collins Old Town Marathon

But, much like the quote above, I'm confident I can qualify for Boston. After all, I only missed it by 3 minutes and 14 seconds under far less than ideal conditions in Chicago last month. Is there truly a need for me to qualify this Spring? Or should I wait for a Fall marathon? My time in Chicago is fast enough to get me preferred seeding for '09; I've made it all the way up to Corral C.

The other '09 goal I want to achieve is to run a sub 22 minute 5K. This is a tough goal. I'd have to work my proverbial and literal butt off to do it. A lot of track work, a lot of strengthening. I'd probably even increase my strength training and weight work-outs to gain more muscle to handle the lactic acid build-up.

The 5K is a difficult race for me, and not my favorite distance. The first mile beguiles me... reels me in, making me think I am strong and fast. If run well, my first mile split will generally surprise and delight me, and I find that I am feeling pretty good. Here is where the race begins for me. I begin to tire half-way through mile two. I think, "Well, good race, but maybe next time. You weren't ready for these speeds," and want to slow down. But--if I'm running well--I don't.

With a little over a mile to go, the suffering becomes intense. All I really want to do is quit. It's worse than the marathon. And quitting is an option available to me. But, I have to talk myself into not quitting and to realizing I'll be wearing the finish time as a badge for months to come. Seconds count. And I continue my race strategy closing in for the final mile. This involves counting the seconds backwards. I know what my finish time will be. I know exactly how long until I finish. I mentally bring my way against the massive outcry of my body to stop, and bring it to the end, nothing left. It's all about hanging on.

Shaving 98 seconds off my very best effort is no small feat. But, I believe I can earn it. And perhaps this training will prepare me to be an even better marathoner.

If you have an opinion on whether I should spend the Spring training for the sub 22 minute 5K or spend it training for a Spring BQ marathon, please comment here, send me an email if you have it, or direct message me in twitter. I'd love to hear some opinions to help me make this decision.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tibial Stress Fracture

"You ran a marathon on that?" My newly introduced orthopedic surgeon pointed at a film and looked questioningly at me.

"Yes," I demurred.

"And you finished it?" He sought clarification.

"Yes." I reined in the satisfied smile.

Earlier that morning, my regular doctor called to inform me my MRI results were in. I had a confirmed tibial stress fracture. He passed on the referral to the orthopod.

I can't really say I'm surprised. It didn't initially feel like it does now, which is very bone-oriented. Vince explained, "Your body knows about the stress fracture before you do, and sends signals to the other muscles to tighten up to protect it." That seemed accurate. My initial complaint seemed more soft-tissue related, and I'd dismissed the possibility of a stress fracture several times.

Vince thinks I may only need to rest a total of 4-6 weeks. I'm already two weeks into it. The doctor, of course, was a bit more cautious, suggesting three months of rest. He's not a runner. I'm pretty sure he's never run a day in his life. I really feel safe saying that.

My doctor suggested a cast as a means of comfort and pain control. I asked him if it would help me heal any faster. He said it wouldn't. I re-iterated that it hurt to walk with every step, and just wanted to be sure I wasn't doing additional damage by walking on it. With the emphasis on necessary walking only, he said, no, I wasn't doing any additional damage or prolonging the injury. We skipped the cast.

He offered pain medication, which I also skipped. I intend to mask nothing in the process of the healing. Pain is an important guide. I will be listening carefully.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It Really Was Hot Out There!

Went to check the weather report from yesterday at, and this was what was officially recorded for yesterday in Chicago (race day). It really was quite warm.

I did not rest very well last night (race hormones I guess), but I'm up and headed back home today. I have two serious blisters on my left foot, and my calves and quads are predictably sore. All in all, though, I've felt worse after marathons.

But, I am still quite happy--now even more so seeing how hot it actually was. It made for a tough finish!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 Chicago Marathon Post Race Report

It was a beautiful morning, if an absurdly long walk to the Endurance Pavilion and back to the starting corrals. I discovered that the 3:50 pace group would only be in Seeded Corrals, not in Open Seeding, and therefore never saw them post-line-up.

But I did sit down at the start line, in close proximity to the front of the open seeding, next to Dave from Boston. Dave ran a 3:40 in New York 12 years back, and was looking for a finish time anywhere between 3:30 and 4:00. We hit it off pretty quickly, and we made it together through mile 15. Dave dropped back at this point, and I never saw him again. But, I still want to offer much thanks to him for running those very fun 15 miles with me. Thanks, Dave!

Within the first half mile, it was clear my Garmin would be of little use. With so many long tunnel "under bridge" runs, it was simply not able to keep track or calculate the elapsed distance. Fortunately, from watching the video repeatedly, this was not unexpected. My plan was to watch the elapsed time, and follow the mile markers.

We did a marvelous job of this, never getting more than 15-20 seconds ahead or behind the goal time at any mile marker, hitting many of them dead-on. I was quite pleased with my discipline of setting and maintaining this pace. Dave and I crossed the half marathon line in exactly 1:55:00 according to my watch. Perfect! We high-fived.

By 18 miles, I'd been on my own for awhile. And I was feeling great. I told myself at this point that this was "my race," and I expected to reach my goal of 3:50:59 or better. I was pleased with how relaxed I felt, and how much Gatorade I was able to take in, and how well the nutrition and electrolyte plan was going. (I'd taken a Hammergel at 0, 5, 10, and 15 miles, and electrolytes a couple of times.)

At mile 22, my target time was 3:12:59. I crossed it exactly on target. But shortly after this point, I started to feel dizzy... not nauseated, no GI issues, just dizzy and a little overheated. I realized at this point, I was at risk of passing out. I slowed to a walk and drank two full cups of Gatorade. I told myself I could walk as long as I truly needed to walk, but I'd just given up my BQ. My physical endeavor was over. It was hot and very sunny. But, I still had a lot of work to do.

But the catch was--I told myself--as soon as I started running, I would no longer look at my pace or elapsed time. I would only focus on running. I had 4 miles to go, and I would just put one foot in front of the other until I crossed the finish line. And, although it was brutal, and a gritty effort, I did just that. I never walked again. In fact, as an internal measure, I don't recall being passed by anyone once I started running again a little after the 22 mile point. I forced myself not to give up, remembering "quitting is forever." This was an important psychological lift for me. Running the next four miles will be burned into my memory longer than any other part of this race, and something on which I will draw for many years to come. The last four miles were very hard.

Although I didn't BQ, and missed it by 3 mintues, 14 seconds, I believe that I ran a very good race. I'm proud of my effort, probably more so the last 4 miles of sheer mental determination than I am of the previous 22. I have no regrets; I left nothing on the course.

I have many people to whom I owe gratitude, you know who you are. I owe so much thanks to the dozens of people who have encouraged me so much these past few months. Even though I crossed the finish line alone, I didn't get here alone. And to everyone who took even the smallest part of this race, Thank You!:

God (for giving me the health and ability)
My family (for letting me train and travel here)
Vince (for coaching me these last 13 months, what a difference you've made!)
Rick (for just everything; pushing me encouraging me and everything else)
Bonnie (my bff, for believing in me)
Twitterville (all of you guys have been so inspiring and awesome!)
Jesse (you deserve a special mention from Twitter)
Dave (for running a great first 15 miles with me today)
And many other people I did not name, but who have encouraged me so much along the way!

This was definitely my best marathon ever!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Chicago

So, here I sit in my hotel room at the Palmer House Hilton in a perfect condition before the race: Bored. This is a good thing. Other than a wonderful visit with my friend and former co-worker, Molly, I've done absolutely nothing today.

My racing gear has been checked and double-checked. My bib is pinned. My gear bag to check is packed and marked. Other than essential self-care between now and the race, there is nothing left to do.

I'm spending my time resting, browsing on my laptop, watching DVDs, reading Lance Armstrong's WAR and eating. Which is a most excellent way to prepare for a marathon.

With regard to tomorrow's race, how ready am I? What's on my mind?

#1: The heat. Molly and I went out at lunch, and we sat outside. It was a lovely day for a picnic, but too warm to run a marathon. The weather reports converge on 75 F at Noon, and vary between partly and mostly sunny. This will be my biggest enemy, and one that I'll do everything I can to outwit it. I will be running as conservatively as possible, looking for even splits. I will not hold back; I've already finished marathons. If I blow up due to the heat, I blow up. I'm going out there to do my best with the goal of qualifying.

#2: How perfect this whole trip has been. It's just been surreal. From the parking spot next to the stairs in the airport garage, getting upgraded to first class, flight on time, hotel reservation intact, bed comfy. I couldn't have wished for things to align better.

#3: I feel pretty.. uh, 'darn'.. good! Seriously. I've trained my butt off for this. I've never worked harder for anything in my life, and I feel as ready as I can be. Weather aside, I am well-prepared for this, mentally and physically. Bring it!

#4: My lower left leg. Since the massage therapist hit something wrong two and a half weeks ago, there's been a problem with my lower left leg, below the calf and behind my shin bone. It's been a moderate nuisance; and egg-shaped sized pain that expands and wraps around the leg below my calf. But, in training, it has not slowed me down, and I fully expect to be able to withstand anything it brings me during the race. I'm pretty good at handling pain. Several of you have asked about this, and it is on my mind.

#5: GI distress. This has been an erstwhile problem of mine during training, and has not left me without a nudge or two today (since Thursday, really). However, I've done everything possible to control this through diet and eliminating disturbances (e.g., caffeine). I'm hoping this won't be a problem.

#6: I'm ready to move on. Seriously. Boston is not supposed to be easy; and, it sure hasn't been. But I really want this. I have other dreams to chase, but I absolutely MUST have this one first. I'm hoping I just remember how important it is to me when I want to quit at mile 20, and can't remember why I thought running another marathon was such a splendid idea.

I'll be turning in fairly early, nothing more than another DVD or two and another meal planned. I will spend some time visualizing the race and preparing mentally for what is to come.

I'll be at the endurance pavilion immediately post-race, and depending on how I feel, either heading back to my hotel or onto the post-race party until 4 PM. I always think that cold beer after a marathon sounds really good.. until I've just finished running a marathon, and then mostly it's about not puking.

Thanks to everyone who has been cheering me on! I've received so many well-wishes, and I'm deeply appreciative and grateful. I can only promise one thing tomorrow: I'm going to do my best!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chicago Heat Wave!

No break on the weather in sight. Here's the current hour-by-hour forecast for Chicago on Sunday.

Hoping for more cloudy than sunny!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Goal was to keep miles 3,4,5 and 7,8,9 at race pace, rest relaxed. As it turns out, my overall pace ended up being 8:47 (about race pace anyway).

Felt relaxed and strong, this was a good run, even though it was solo.

But, I did run out of water, and it got totally dark when I was still 3 miles out. Don't want to repeat that.

Route:--Elev. Avg:747 ft
Location:Jackson, MOElev. Gain:-3 ft
Date:10/04/08Up/Downhill: [+492/-495]
Time:05:30 PMDifficulty:3.3 / 5.0
 72 F temp; 61% humidity
 72 F heat index; winds SE 7

Distance: 12.01 miles
Speed:6.8 mph
Pace:8' 47 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 00+0' 136.7-0.20 ft
28' 45-0' 026.8+0.0-20 ft
39' 34+0' 476.3-0.6+13 ft
48' 35-0' 127.0+0.2-7 ft
58' 30-0' 177.0+0.20 ft
69' 11+0' 246.5-0.3-23 ft
78' 38-0' 096.9+0.1+16 ft
88' 32-0' 157.0+0.2+6 ft
98' 33-0' 147.0+0.2-7 ft
109' 04+0' 176.6-0.2+14 ft
119' 10+0' 236.5-0.3+7 ft
128' 51+0' 046.8-0.1-3 ft
end********** ft
Versus average of 8' 47 min/mile
** Insufficient data to calculate this split

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Deep Tissue Massage

As I walked back in the house, I handed my husband her card, uttering three little words: "I. Dare. You." On it was the name of a massage therapist who specializes in deep tissue and sports rehabilitative massage.

Just two hours prior, I was laying face up on a table, answering the cursory "first massage" questions.

"Have you had a massage before?" she inquired.

"Yes." I answered.

"I see you've requested a deep tissue massage. Have you ever had one of those before?"

"Yes." It really wasn't a lie. Seriously. At least a dozen, if not more. I thought I had anyway.

Forty-five minutes later, I was laying face down on sweaty sheets. I'd have been crying from pain, but was too exhausted. Sweat was pouring off of my body so heavily, her hands were slipping. And I started out cold, with goose-bumps. I've never sweated from the pain of a massage before.

"You're handling this better than 90% of the men I do."

"Really," I gasped, as I was trying to imagine the sanity of any man, woman or child willingly putting themselves through this. It was like childbirth. Trust me, I know. I've had four. And by now, she'd taught me how to breathe through it to help the muscle under attention stay relaxed. No matter than every OTHER muscle in my body was as tense as a nervous racehorse. I kept telling myself to "embrace the pain." A key tactic I'm going to use to get through those final 6.2 miles in Chicago.

Once finished and able to speak clearly again, I noted: "You've redefined 'deep tissue' massage for me."

"Yes, I get that a lot. Most places that offer deep tissue massage give more of a deep Swedish massage. I'm specially trained to give the therapeutic deep tissue massage, and it does go very deep," she explained.

I'm not sure really what I was thinking. But, let's hope there some benefit from all this!

IMPORTANT POST SCRIPT, Sunday, September 28, 2008. The first and second day after this massage (previous Wednesday), I noticed swelling continued and I had some bruising and extreme tenderness on my legs (among other problems directly related to this massage). This also hampered my runs for the next few days, and I ended scaling back a few runs and ultimately taking a day off as a result. I thought it was worth noting Vince's reaction at this point (I will never request "deep tissue" again):

"The woman that massaged you should never be allowed to put her hands on another human being again. If you have bruising, there was damage done to the tissue (she went hard enough to cause internal bleeding). This may not ordinarily be a problem, but your body is already trying to recover from the 20 miler, and is now forced to recover from the massage. The same benefits of deep tissue massage can be accomplished over several sessions of lighter massage, gradually working into the tissue. There are several schools of thought on this but believe me, this woman's technique was old school. There have been very few (if any) studies done to show any benefit to this type of work. There was absolutely no way for you to know this, but it makes me very upset when I hear that people are practicing this type of work on athletes. I followed a 10k a few years back with a "deep tissue" massage that landed me a torn hamstring and 2 months off. I've work with lots of therapists, and the most effective never had to go hard, they just knew the body."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First Hammergel before we started left me dry heaving, and I was pretty sure it was going to end up on top of the wrapper at the bottom of the trash barrel. Not a good sign to start.

But, as the run began, things clicked. I managed 3 more fuelings at mile 5, 10, 15 without puking (good)! In fact, the warmer it got, the better it tasted (go figure).

The last half was a strong negative split, and I had more left! What a great feeling :-) last three miles at race pace without really trying.

My worst problem is a blister that has reformed on my left foot. No big deal, I can run through that kind of pain.

Thanks, Rick and Karen for supporting me on this run! It wouldn't have been such a success without you--your pacing (Rick) and water stops (Karen)!

Route:--Elev. Avg:743 ft
Location:Blue Springs, MOElev. Gain:-13 ft
Date:09/21/08Up/Downhill: [+1000/-1013]
Time:06:56 AMDifficulty:4.0 / 5.0
Weather:A Few Clouds
 66 F temp; 86% humidity
 66 F heat index; winds S 5

Distance: 20.01 miles
Speed:6.5 mph
Pace:9' 14 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
19' 28+0' 146.3-0.2+3 ft
29' 23+0' 096.4-0.1-14 ft
39' 38+0' 246.2-0.30 ft
49' 22+0' 086.4-0.10 ft
59' 23+0' 096.4-0.1-10 ft
69' 21+0' 076.4-0.1+20 ft
79' 41+0' 276.2-0.3-19 ft
89' 24+0' 106.4-0.1+23 ft
99' 16+0' 026.5-0.0-3 ft
109' 18+0' 046.5-0.0+6 ft
119' 14+0' 006.5-0.0-9 ft
129' 09-0' 056.5+0.1+17 ft
139' 25+0' 116.4-0.1+7 ft
148' 53-0' 216.8+0.30 ft
159' 07-0' 076.6+0.1-6 ft
169' 02-0' 126.6+0.1-20 ft
179' 06-0' 086.6+0.1+13 ft
188' 52-0' 226.8+0.3-4 ft
198' 41-0' 336.9+0.40 ft
208' 35-0' 397.0+0.50 ft
end8' 20-0' 547.2+0.7-16 ft
Versus average of 9' 14 min/mile

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