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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Week 4 and 5 - The Road to 26.2

The essentials for long distance...
Time slipped by with some busy weeks and I realized that I have not updated for the past two weeks!!  No updates does not mean that work has not been happening.  It has been exhausting really.  But exhausting is good...it means you are working hard.

Week 4 -  The new training plan...which only has one rest day...Sunday...was in full force.  I was finally back in the groove...especially in terms of strength training.  A few adjustments now that PT is a part of my plan...AM dates with Gym will be necessary.  Mondays are for walk/run and pilates (on reformer).  Tuesdays are for strength training and PT.  Wednesdays are for walking.  Thursdays are for walk/run and PT.  Fridays are for strength training.  Saturdays are for long distance walk/run.  This is my life until October.  It will not be a cake walk.  It will be exhausting...but it feels good to have mapped out how I am going to progress through the plan.  My reward...getting those 26 miles.  I know I can do it.  I will do it.
New kicks already racking up the miles...
Week 5 -  The reality of the addition of PT and how that is going to change things hit hard.  Gym in the AMs after being used to getting a good full night of sleep is not going to be easy.  I am going to have to start doing a few things - going to bed at a decent hour and not eat like an idiot.  Truth be told...my nutrition has been non-existent since the half marathon.  I need to fix this.  I feel it in my energy level and in the long distance walk/runs.  I was exhausted this week...and my eight miles did not come easy.  There is one other thing that I have not done since the half...walk/run outside for long distance.  I have got to get over this fear...each Friday night I psych myself up thinking that I will wake up early and get outside.  I get up on Saturday and I settle on the treadmill.  I can work on pacing.  I should take it easy just in case.  I am afraid to hit the streets.  My goals for Week 6 are clear... 1) get to bed early, 2) eat healthy, and 3) get outside on Saturday to get those 9 miles.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I am an Athlete? (The Jury Might Be In...)

My first mathing out of what it was going to take...
Despite my knee not bothering me, I decided to keep my PT appointment scheduled for tonight.  Knowing that the miles are going to continue to increase with my training...it seemed smart to be sure that nothing stands in my way of getting those 26.2 miles.  I am so glad I did.  My right knee problems have nothing to do with my knee...but my right hip.  A problem I have been dealing with for years...and I had grown so used to it...it did not even occur to me that it could be the problem.  It is all connected...repetitive motion with incorrect form...leads to other injuries.  I felt like such an idiot as the light bulb went off over my head.  It was quite the epiphany...and I am thrilled to finally be fixing the real problem.

During the initial evaluation, one of the things I was asked to do were squats.  Upon completely several, my therapist complimented me on my form.  All of the work Stacy K has been giving me the past several years was recognized.  And when you are not holding a kettle bell or Vipr...your form is even better.  It is in moments like those where it hits me how far I have really come in terms of my time with Gym. There was yet another revelation to be made...while scheduling my next few appointments my therapist commented on how fun it was to work with an athlete.  An athlete?  Me?  I smiled and I didn't correct him.  He was right...I am an athlete.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Week 3 - The Road to 26.2

Week 3...how is that possible?  Well, technically it is Week 1 for me actively following the 20 week marathon training program...but it is the third week of the plan.  There was a bit of overlap with the half marathon training...but here I am...officially training for a marathon in October.  It is happening!!  My knee is much better and I just need to do some PT...still need to get that scheduled...maybe I will have to leave the office on time or earlier then usual.  Yep...there are worse things!!  I was happy to feel fantastic after my 7 miles yesterday.  It felt really, really good...and I was put at ease.  My new kicks are wearing in nicely...Nike+ band is up to 126 miles logged...and I learned how to treat a blood sugar low without stopping.  It was a good week.  During my seven miles my blood sugar dropped at around 3 miles...I treated with my Gummie Lifesavers...and like clockwork...15 minutes later...I was back at full power.  Because I was a bit panicked...I took a few extra.  Here is what I learned...I should pop a few every three miles...I surged with energy.  I walked faster in those later miles.  I ran faster in the those later miles.  I think next Saturday I will put this plan into place and see how I do.  That is what training is about.  Testing different things so that on game day you know what to do.  We are off...the road to 26.2 has begun!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

After the Road - The Journey to the Second Finish Line

So then there is the story about getting to the second finish line on Sunday, June 2...it was a labor of love...for two things...the sport of soccer and my family.  I signed up do to the half marathon back in February...long before a soccer match was scheduled at RFK...the US Men's National Team versus Germany.  Following the game of soccer changed my life over two years ago.  After going to a University of Maryland soccer game...a light switch flipped in my being...I remembered that work is not just at the office...the concept of doing work can be applied to anything...like getting to gym and being healthy.  I found it poetic that on a day where I was about to do the most physical work I had ever done...there was a soccer match that I needed to get too.  It was just meant to be.

I had to get to the game...but just like getting those 14.6 miles...the journey to get there was not going to be easy. 

Unexpected Tears

After crossing the finish line and before boarding the bus back to my car...I sent my Mom, Sister, and Bestie N a text saying that I finished with a picture of my medal.  I will never forget all the of great texts, tweets, and FB posts that everyone was sending while I was on the course.  And then there was my trainer/coach/friend Stacy K who was a rock on the course...always positive...always motivating...believing that I could finish.  I felt so special!!  To see all of  the messages afterwards was overwhelming.  The one thing that I had not expected was how my finishing the race was going to make people feel.  Especially my Mom...


With support like this...you can do anything!!!

It was the first time ever my Mom got to be a "Sports Mom"...I made her cry...which then made me cry.  Talk about never ending support...and then later that night she wrote this....

Not going to lie...seeing this picture of my daughter with her medal for not only her first half marathon but an endurance challenge (trails..inclines) brought me to tears...she had a plan and worked that plan...that is the definition of success!

My Boyfriend Gym

You didn't think I could do all those miles and not see him right?  I mean...I was covered in mud and needed to get into my USMNT gear before heading to RFK.  A quick pit stop to get game ready.  I can't imagine what I looked like as they swiped my membership card at the front desk.  I'm pretty sure I had mud smeared on my face.  It felt great.  As I limped along...with my gym bag at my side...I realized...this was what all of the hard work was for.  It was to get to the after and to wear a brand new pair of Nikes that I got especially for the game.  

Tweeting My Way to RFK

I did it!! A half marathon...that was on trails!! Now the race to RFK...for the love of the beautiful game!!

So I drove from Virginia to work so that I could park and then hop on the metro...on the Red Line.  The game was going into half time...so I figured I would get there just before it ended.  I was okay with this.  I was going to get there.  I wanted to hug my Mom.  I wanted to get a picture of us (my Mom, Sister, and I) in our matching jerseys.  It just had to be.

On the escalator...descending into the Metro...  
Did I mention that my right knee was still a problem?  I could not bend it...so I was dragging it along...determined to get to my destination...no matter what.  I should note that I was extremely grateful that my new shoes did not hurt...not that it would have kept me from wearing them.  They are that awesome.

I'm so driven that I don't even notice that there is a "special train" awaiting my arrival....it was only going to Woodley Park...but I didn't have time to hesitate so I just got on.  I found a seat...and started visualizing how amazing it was going to be to be at RFK with the stands full.  I was excited.  It was going to happen!!

As the doors close, the announcement about track work comes across the wire.  Stations are closed.  There is a shuttle from Woodley Park to Metro Center.  Yep.  I was in trouble.

Are these kicks gonna get to RFK?? All for the love of the beautiful game... #USMNT #thisdayisoneforthebooks

On the Metro...
Steadily we roll along...and arrive at the Woodley Park station...I hobble my way out of the Metro...I hobble my way up the metro steps...I ride the escalator up...I knew I had much more walking ahead of me...so I couldn't waste my legs...I had to prioritize every ounce of energy I had.

There were lines of Metro Buses ready to shuttle everyone to Metro Center.  It was amazing...well organized...but an additional 20 minutes...was an additional 20 minutes...and my time was fading fast.  I hobble to the bus...there is not much room...but the bus driver invites me on...I can stand right up front.  Pretty cool actually...I was at the helm!!

I am just a girl trying to get to a soccer match after doing a half marathon...just your average Sunday Funday!! I am crazy...

At the head of the bus...
I was texting my sister...pleading that they wait for me.  I will get there.  I will get to our seats.  Even if the game is over.  Please. (Insert huge guilt here over my sister buying me a ticket...that I was not going to even use.)  

I'm the second person off the bus and I hobble my way across the street to Metro Center.  I'm making progress.  I'm going to get there.  Even if the game is over...I will get there.  This sounds familiar right?  Just like the half marathon...I may be slow...but I will finish!!  But reality sets in...

This is me not bursting into tears on the metro...I will set foot in RFK today!!!

I am heading to the Stadium Armory station...I am texting with my sister.  I am missing an incredible game.  I am missing an incredible atmosphere.  I'm trying not to think about it too much.  But there are no tears...at some point on that leg of the journey...it became all about wanting to hug my Mommy.  I needed to get to RFK...our home away from home...and hug my Mommy.  

I finally arrive at Stadium Armory...and Red, White, and Blue is already filling the station waiting for trains...it was beautiful.  Everyone was cheering.  We had won!!  I am hobbling my way in the opposite direction of everyone else.  If only I had a picture...but I will see it in my mind always.  Through the sea of people...as I made my way out of the metro and down the street towards RFK...was my second finish line of the day.  And at the end...was my family.

I was a ninja salmon walking toward RFK...when 40k were walking away.

So there I was...weaving and bobbing my way through a swarm of people.  My legs are working overtime.  I don't feel any pain.  I am just focusing on the fact that RFK is getting closer and closer.  My sister and I had been texting and we agreed that at this point...meeting outside the Team Store made the most sense.  I crossed the last street and headed toward the store.  I could see my Mom and Sister...but they couldn't see me.  I was going to get there...the second finish line.  I had done it twice...in one day.

And so my family waited for me...and this was worth way more than any medal. I am so lucky...

My Family....

Friday, June 7, 2013

On the Road - The Journey to the First Finish Line

So the final week...week 14 is behind me.  It did not exactly go as planned, but I had set my mind on two goals for the week - -  1) Finishing the Half Marathon and 2) Getting to RFK for a Soccer Game.  It ended up that I had two finish lines...this blog entry will capture the adventures in getting to the first one.  The second is a whole other story...and worthy of it's own smattering of words.

All of the books will tell you...there is no "perfect" race scenario and that you need to plan for what could happen while you are on your way.  This is completely true...before, during, and after the race.  On Wednesday night while doing strength training my throat started to hurt.  By Thursday AM...yep...another cold with an added party favor...a cough!!  I didn't do any walk/running leading up to Sunday...just stretching...sleeping...and hydrating.  I was NOT going to let a pesky cold keep me from my second fitness goal of the year.  And then it was Sunday AM...I was finally going to be on the road to get those 13.1 miles.  It was time for the North Face Half Marathon Endurance Challenge.

The Moments Before

Good Number
My trainer/coach/friend Stacy K and I were each doing our own thing.  My bib and number were different from everyone else's since I am at the end of the alphabet and they ran out of numbers.  I panicked initially because according to the bib I was to do 50 miles.  This was quickly clarified and then I was back to zen.  SK was getting her gear ready.  I was really quiet...completely in my head.  My mind was clear...there was no sense worrying about what I did not know was ahead of me.  I just told myself...if I face something that scares me...I need to just keep moving forward.  I could not waste time hesitating.  I have to finish.  I heard other people chatting about how it was their first half marathon on trails.  It was my first half marathon ever.  It was my first time on trails ever...well except for that one time on the Billy Goat Trail in Great Falls...where my fear kept me from moving past the cliff and I turned around.  No matter what I faced...I knew I had to keep going.  I was not going to turn back.

All Smiles...Ready to Crush It!!


The Twists and Turns

I now understand why this particular event is called an endurance challenge...the entire race was on trails...gravel paths...dirt paths...with lots of tree roots and rocks to navigate around.  Most passage ways were wide enough for just one-way traffic.  The elevations were crazy.  For a clumsy city girl who had never been hiking...I was definitely not in my comfort zone.  I'm glad I didn't know what the road was going to contain...I'm not sure I would have done it.  When I fall asleep at night...there are still parts of the course that appear to me in dreams...and I wonder...will I ever get to the end?  There was one particular incline that I know will help me to run any hill on any Baltimore street during the marathon in October.  No hill on pavement will ever be like that one that extended and twisted up the terrain.  I should have taken a picture.  The first five miles plugged along...but something happened between mile 5 and mile 6.  My right knee started to really hurt...I think it was the uneven pathways that jostled things.  I could not run on it.  This was not so bad at first since many trails I was too afraid to run on for fear of falling off the side of the earth!!  The miles went on.  It was beautiful...but I spent most of my time looking down trying not to trip on anything. 

A sample view...stolen from the Race FB page.

Another sample view...stolen from the Race FB Page.


The Ticking Clock

My goal was just to finish...I kept looking at my watch...there was one point when I thought that we would finish before the race was shut down at 12:00pm...even after my knee started hurting.  But I did not want to get too hopeful.  I figured if we finished anytime after 12:00pm I would not get a medal...so I spent a lot of time working my way through that.  I just wanted to finish.  A medal is not what this is about.  I really can't thank SK enough for taking the trails at "joy speed".  I know that she would have finished the race at least an 2 hours (or more) faster if she was doing it on her own.  She kept track of the miles...cheering each time we got one more done.  Hearing her watch ring in a new mile was the best sound ever.  The time between the sounds kept getting longer and longer...I was slowing down.


The Trail that Never Ends

It went on an on.  And then it went on and on some more.  The pain got worse and worse.  I was gingerly stepping around rocks and tree roots.  Side stepping up and down steep inclines and declines.  It was crazy.  I kept moving forward.  I remember stopping for a few seconds only about twice.  I slipped in the mud only once.  I will never ever, ever forget this experience.  Not one single moment.  It was definitely the most difficult thing I have ever done physically.  It was horrendous and fantastic.  I talked to my Grandpa.  I talked to my Grandma.  I talked to Joel.  I talked to Chass.  I needed all the help I could get.  The time kept passing along...it was 12:20pm...and I don't think I looked at my watch again.  The road before us seemed so long.   It was mostly flat...but I was still struggling.  The good news was...we were in no danger of being scooped up by the special bus that comes along to take you back to your car.  This was promising.  This was my fuel.  I knew that even if I didn't get a medal...I was going to finish.  I was going to get those 13.1 miles. 

The Beautiful Arch

It was finally within sight...almost 5 hours later...the red arch that I had been waiting to see.  I tried to run the last little bit...but my knee was just not going to let that happen.  It did not matter...I was going to finish...my second fitness goal of the year was about to be realized.  I came in next to last....that was about where I figured I would.  I'm not fast.  I know that.  But I always finish.

Almost There!!

I crossed!!
I could actually still High Five!!
Mission Accomplished!!

The Realization

So back to that trail that never seemed to end...there is a funny story about that.  At the last aide station, SK's watch registered 13 miles.  But the last aide station was not the end of the race.  There was no red arch in view...just a long gravel path that we needed to continue down.  The folks manning the station asked if perhaps we had taken a wrong turn somewhere.  We were pretty sure that we had not.  Fast forward to Thursday...an email comes across the wire thanking everybody for going the extra distance.  Yes...that is right...we did 14.6 miles on Sunday...not 13.1.  There was a glitch in the race calculations.  I'll take it!!  I'm that much closer to being ready to get those 26.2 miles in October.