Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Marine Corps Marathon Weekend!

First of all…AHHHH!!! I am STILL on a runner’s high two days after MCM!  I really surprised myself on Sunday.  Quite honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever been so proud of myself.  I had no doubt that I would cross that finish line and I was not too nervous about my primary time goal which was to break four hours, but I wasn’t happy that four hours was my primary goal.  As race day got closer, I couldn’t stop thinking about a potential BQ, but I brushed off those thoughts for the most part.  Why did I brush off the thought of a BQ? Well, it was my FIRST marathon and my current best half marathon time is 01:49 which is a slower pace than I would need for a BQ.  Even when I told myself to stop thinking about a BQ, the thoughts were still there.  My tempo runs were on track for a BQ and I was feeling STRONG!

I was so torn.  Part of me wanted to tell the world that I was ready to BQ and another part of me was thinking that a BQ was a five year goal and not a reality right now.  Well, I guess the part of me that believed in myself was right! 

Still early in the race - feeling FABULOUS!

We picked up our race bibs on Thursday which was great that we got it out of the way, but it made Friday at work go by SO slow.  I was ready for the weekend and even more ready for Sunday!  After work on Friday, I went out for an easy and Garmin free 4.5 miles.  I had to really tell my legs to take it easy… they were itching to take off which made me even more excited for Sunday!  We relaxed for most of the night, I picked out my race day outfit (Anthony thinks this kind of “girly” stuff is super funny and ridiculous, but I tried my outfit on for him anyways….and then ended up wearing something different!), and we watched (fell asleep to) a movie.

Anthony at Haines point...feeling good!

Saturday was an early morning of grocery shopping and an easy 3 mile family run with Anthony and Brutus.  We ran some more errands in the afternoon, including a trip to Panera to pick up some bagels for the morning, and I couldn’t help myself…I had an apple pie bagel (gotta love having carb loading as an excuse to eat an afternoon treat!)  Anthony and I were both extremely calm and ready to go on Saturday night.  We got to bed by ~9:30 and had a great night of sleep.

Sunday morning could not have been more perfect.  We woke up at 4 which gave us plenty of time to eat a big breakfast, have some H2O and coffee, listen to some jams, and give Brutus some lovin’.  We took off for the metro around 6:00 and had just enough time to go to the bathroom, chat and head to the start.  We got into the start corral with very little time to spare, but Anthony surprised me and started the race with me!! We hardly ever start races together, so this made me really happy.  The race started and we shuffled with the crowd toward the start line.  Anthony high fived me and said something like “we’re doing it!”  I lost it, I was fighting back tears…at the start of the race…a couple of years ago I swore I would never run 26.2 and here I was SO EXCITED to conquer this race.  I was an emotional mess.   

Anthony ran with me for about 100 yards and then we parted ways... I had mentally broken the course up into 10 sections.  Rosslyn/courthouse loop, key bridge, Georgetown, rock creek parkway, Arlington bridge to Haines point, Haines point, mall/capital, 14th street bridge, crystal city, and the final push.  At about mile 2, I threw off my long sleeve throw away shirt.  Although I only had it on for 2 miles, I was SO happy that I had it.  The first 3 sections of the race flew by and I was pacing myself just right.  My goal was to start with a 9:00 pace, see how I felt and take it from there.  My first 5k was a 9:02 pace – right on!

On the rock creek park section of the race I talked to a girl for a little while.  It was her 10th marathon and she had been to Boston three times.  She asked what my goal was and I explained that I was trying not to think too much about a BQ, but my legs were feeling really good.  She told me that she thought I could totally BQ based on my current time and feeling.  I did not get her name, but that belief that she had in me really encouraged me.  I started picking it up a little bit in hopes of getting that average pace closer to 8:12 which is what I would need in order to BQ. 


I was able to speed up almost every 5k until the 35k point.  My fastest 5k was the 25-30k which was a 7:34 pace and my average pace was BQ worthy at ~25k!  Now all I had to do was keep that average pace <8:12.  I could do this!  The next few sections of the race felt good, no they felt great!  Then I got to the 14th street bridge and my calves started to cramp.  I made a point to land on my heels and this seemed to prevent the cramps from getting the best of me.  I was eating one Clif shot block every 15 minutes the entire race as well as grabbing H2O and Gatorade at each water station and I was confident that I was not going to hit “the wall” or bonk, I had the energy to finish strong, I just had to concentrate on “mind over muscle.” 


The entire Crystal City section of the race dragged on for me.  I kept telling myself that if I run faster I’ll finish sooner and repeating my mantras– these thoughts sped me up a bit, mile 23 was 7:50 pace, followed by an 8:30 mile 24.  After that 8:30, I was fearful that I was going to lose that BQ, I sped up again and held 8:10s for the next two miles and shuffled up the final hill to a BQ!  I was in shock!! I couldn’t stop smiling.  I got my phone out of my flip belt and saw a text from my dad: “Awesome work!!!  Margaret Nelson, Finish, 3:34:11.”  That was confirmation that I BQ’d in my first marathon!

Miles 22-26.2 didn’t feel good, but really it was only the last mile or mile and a half that really HURT for me.  So, I can officially recommend Hanson’s Marathon Method.  GREAT book & GREAT training plan!  I was able to follow this training plan extremely close aside from a few days when I had to listen to my body and take the day off or replace a run with an elliptical or cardio weight session in order to avoid injury.  Anthony also followed this plan extremely close and ran an impressive 3:18 (machine!) without any issues!  Highly recommend!

MIND OVER MUSCLE...last mile!

Anthony's Finish!

My finish!

Overall, my first marathon experience was more than I could have ever imagined.  I am SO thankful for my body and my mind.  I was not sure how running MCM would change my thoughts on Ironman Lake Placid in July, but it definitely just made me 100000x more excited to become an Iron(wo)man on July 27!!  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our family is a circle of strength and love.

Less than 24 hours until Anthony and I take off to conquer our first marathon.  It’s funny how much can change over just a few years.  I remember the emotions I felt before my first half marathon…I thought running 13.1 miles was, well, kind of crazy.  Now, I have this total sense of calm about me knowing that I am running 26.2 miles tomorrow morning.  While I do have a TON of thoughts swirling on what my time might be, I am calm.  I know that I put in the work and I am both mentally and physically ready.  Tomorrow is going to be a fabulous day!!

The rest of the thoughts swirling in my head are centered around our honeymoon in Costa Rica, holidays with family, and how amazing and challenging 2014 is going to be.  Anthony and I have really changed our lifestyle a LOT this year.  We have always been active and loved being outside, running and racing, but this year we introduced ourselves to the world of triathlon.  Little did we know that triathlon would not become just a hobby, but rather a lifestyle and quite frankly, an addiction.  With our last race of the year tomorrow, I am SO excited to relax and enjoy the off season, but I can’t stop thinking about training for Ironman Lake Placid!

                Training is not going to be easy and it’s not going to just be about putting in laps in the pool and miles on the bike and on the road.  Nutrition becomes more important, sleep becomes more important, and time becomes harder to come by.  Getting ready for IMLP is not going to be easy… it’s a good thing Anthony and I both love a challenge!  While we don’t get to see our family and close friends all the time, I can’t imagine approaching this journey without their support.  I know most of our family and friends don’t fully grasp what goes into training for and executing an Ironman (and I’m pretty sure they don’t want to!), but they are so supportive, loving, and encouraging.  I already imagine what it’s going to be like to see loved ones along the course in July and how much happier that will make the day! 

                I recently saw a quote that started with: “Our family is a circle of strength and love.”  This could not be more true of our family.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world when I think of how amazing our family is.  I find strength, encouragement, love, and inspiration in our family.  Without that strength and love, the journey to tomorrow’s marathon would not have been quite as enjoyable and our upcoming journey to Lake Placid would surely not be as happy as I’m sure it will prove to be!  I know that because of the support that our family gives us, the challenges that we have set up for ourselves in 2014, IMLP in particular, will be conquered and we will do it with a smile on our faces and lots of hugs at the finish line!

I would list all of the amazing family members and friends and thank you for all of your support, but there are too many! You all know who you are – we love you and we’ll have bigger smiles as we finish tomorrow because of you all!

Mantras for tomorrow:  “When it hurts, just find a rhythm and pound away,”  “Attitude is everything,” & “You are only as fast as you make up your mind to be.”

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Countdown to MCM - ONE WEEK!

My brain is a MESS right now.

The Marine Corps Marathon, our first marathon, is one week away!  Throughout training I have been calm, confident and ready….until this week.  The week started with the possibility that MCM could be cancelled if the government didn’t get it together.  I had a backup plan in place, but I’m SO glad I didn’t have to execute a backup plan and train for ANOTHER 3-4 weeks.  Good news,  but take the good with the bad…I had to take it much easier than anticipated this week as I could feel the onset of some old injuries, mainly a pain in the outside of my foot.  Instead of the scheduled 49 miles this week (ending today), I completed about 30.  I cut one “SOS” run short and replaced the other with a long cardio lift session due to a sore foot.  Today’s easy 8.5 mile GADGET FREE run felt fabulous! It was such a beautiful day, hard not to just appreciate the fact that I was able to be out there running!  Today really turned around all the negative thoughts from earlier this week – my foot felt good, my body felt good and my mind felt great!

PERFECT fall day - beautiful run!

It’s the down time this coming week that I have to make sure doesn’t get the best of me.  “Am I going to run the time I want? What time do I even want to run anyways? Am I going to get hurt? Is my foot going to bother me on race day? Will I be too hot? Will I be too cold? Will I bonk? No, I won't bonk, I have a nutrition plan...right? It’s unrealistic to think I can break 9’s, but I really want to break 9’s…My tempo runs have been ~8:10-8:20, maybe I’ll BQ, no I won’t BQ I’m crazy to think that’s possible on my first marathon, but maybe… I’ll just be happy to finish right? But what if it’s a ‘bad’ time? Hanson's marathon method prepared me well, right?” Like I said…my brain is a mess and that doesn't even include my "I need to figure out off-season training plan for IMLP" thoughts!!  The list of all the “thoughts” is endless.  What I have to remember is the ultimate goal is to finish strong, whether that is running 9’s or 10’s or 8’s.  

So, the goal of this week will be: “Keep calm and taper on!” Despite my mind trying to psych me out, I am extremely excited to conquer my first marathon, to surprise myself with a good time (fingers crossed!), and to hug my hubby at the finish line because he always beats me there and he's always cheering me into the finish (I think he is going to surprise himself with an AMAZING time!)!  See you at the finish line! :)