I ran the Maine Marathon today. (Yep, that’s what I said…)

I signed up for the Maine marathon last spring, mainly to have a focus over the spring, summer, and into the fall. This was before Janet and Margaret wanted to head back to Philly.  So, when we signed up for the Philadelphia marathon, I planned to switch my registration to the Maine Half Marathon instead.  Janet had signed up for the 1/2 marathon to use it as a training run (she did that last year, too.)  But I never switched.  For the Maine Marathon, you can switch events right up until the race, so I figured I’d just fix the registration when I picked up my race number the day before.

But then a bunch of things happened.

First, unlike the Maine Marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon requires an event switch way in advance – for the November 23rd race, the last day to switch from full to half or the other way around was on September 30.  Due to the reality and demands of life, Janet was feeling a wee bit behind in training mileage, but had made peace with that and was planning to do some catch up last week. And then she got sick – really sick – with pneumonia.  No way she could do any running at all.  Janet had to decide last Tuesday whether or not she could go the distance in Philly, and she made the wise decision to switch to the half marathon instead.  And then, Margaret needed to do the same.  So, for really good reasons, both of my Philly Marathon teammates needed to take the 1/2 distance registration instead.  I’ve got a lot of miles in the bank, so I decided to stay on for the full Philly.

So, since Janet has pneumonia, there was no way she was going to run the Maine Half Marathon today. NO way. My marathon training plan called for 20 miles today.  I was dreading those 20 miles – it’s a long way to go alone.  So, when I went to pick up my race bib yesterday, I kept my full marathon registration. I figured I’d just go for it. No pressure, no plan. Walk if necessary. Take advantage of the other runners’ company and the fanfare and just clock in the mileage.

This morning, I got up early and got to the race an hour early.  To give you some perspective on the difference between congestion at a 3,000 runner race (Maine) versus a 30,000 person race (Philadelphia), the port-a-potties are actually a helpful gauge:

Here was the potty line 1 hr before race start this morning:

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By contrast, here is the potty line at Philadelphia last year, 1 hr before the start:

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*Anyway*, I was looking for some friends at the starting line. My friend John, was running the 1/2 today and he’s pretty tall, so I was hoping I’d find him milling about the start. Nope. I was also looking for my college friend, Wendy, who was running the full and I knew what she was wearing, so was really looking for her, too. Nope.

I got in line, the canon went off, and I set off to just cover the distance. No pressure. It was gorgeous weather, gorgeous views (go MAINE!), and I just did my thing. One of the nice things about this race is that that it is an out-and-back (like Philly), so if you watch carefully, you can see those ahead of you pass you going the opposite direction on their return.  I was SO focused on the returning runners, but I never saw either of them – too fast!!

Because I was just running for mileage, I took the time to take a potty-stop at about mile 8.  I walked through most water stops. I stopped and stretched my calves along the curb (multiple times.)

And then, I had a very awesome experience. There was only ONE wheelchair competitor in this race. Her name was Carla.  I ran up behind Carla who was pushing herself up a particularly awful hill. Runners going by her on both sides.  She was nearly at a stop, just trying to keep her chair from going backward. She was amazingly determined – and STRONG.  I asked her if she wanted company to reach the top and she said, “YES – and you can yell at me if you want!”  So, I walked next to her and talked to her (not yelling!), encouraging her.  We were slow. So slow that my watch went onto “auto-pause” because it thought I had stopped.  But, it was totally worth it. Carla made it to the top of the hill and went cruising down the other side full speed. I picked up my gait again – amazingly inspired. Truly amazing.  It was enough to get me through the next 15 miles.

THEN, just after that, I saw JANET waiting for me on side! Janet – the one sick with pneumonia – made her way out to the course to cheer for me.  That’s an example of terrific friendship, and I was so happy to see her! She was on the side for me TWO times, which was a huge pick-me-up in my step and determination.

Here is the photo Janet took of me as I ran past her:

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Shortly after that, I ran past Janet’s husband, Michael. He wasn’t running the race – but he had been part of the volunteer race crew before the start. I’m not sure what he was doing – we were pretty far out and he was running by me the opposite direction – I think just getting his own long run in for the day. (He’s also running the full Philly.)  He saw me and yelled happy, encouraging things, still yelling to me long after we’d passed one another. I loved that.

So, just like last year, I made it to mile 20, the infamous “wall”, and still felt pretty good. This year,  I assumed it was because I had given myself those little breaks along the way and might be able to cruise on through to 26.2.  Not so.  Just like last year, mile 23 was my wall. And it was BIG.  But I kept pushing, grateful to have my body working for me, even if working a little less efficiently.

But – I made it. And, just as I crossed the finish line, the announcer had time to see my number and call out my name on the loudspeaker. I felt like a champion. 🙂

I finished 1 minute off of my Philadelphia time last year. This is pretty astonishing considering I had more training mileage completed before Philly last year, and I took all those (brief) stops today. But, I think I am stronger this year. I am definitely faster in my training runs. So, I think I overall ran well even though the time might not show it. And I felt really proud of crossing the line at the end.

A very nice stranger at the finish line took this picture of me:

 

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Onward!

 

(P.S. – my friend, Wendy, qualified for Boston with her time today! That’s very cool, and very fast. Go Wendy!)

Diversions

I’m in the middle of a travel stretch – no blogging last Sunday because I was hardly at home, so I have two weeks of details.

Since the last post, I’ve been to Indianapolis and had the opportunity to clock a fairly fast 4 miler with a friend of mine along the canal, early in the morning, before the sun came up. We had packed schedules, so 4 miles was all that would fit, but it was nice to get it in with so much sitting in meetings, airports, and airplanes.

I got back late on Saturday, had a work commitment that evening, and was hoping to pull through a 16-20 miler on Sunday morning. No go. It was pouring torrents and I could only get through 7 miles. But, I needed the mileage, so I crammed in a long run, 14.5 miles, right before I had to get back to the airport for the next trip.

This time, I’m in Minneapolis. Except, to get to Minneapolis, I had to spend an extraordinarily long time in the Philadelphia airport. So, I lapped the terminal a couple of times, browsed the bookstore, ate some chips, played with my ipad, got a coffee, and then… found this:

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Yep – the airport had stationary bikes located throughout the terminal – for folks to just hop on and ride! No surprise, it wasn’t hard to find an “open” bike. The chairs were more popular. But, I hopped on and set the dial to a pretty insignificant tension level, and just happily moved my legs for about 20 minutes. Not really a workout because there was no need to get sweaty before cramming into a plane with a bunch of people, but it was nice not to be idle.

I arrived in Minneapolis, late, and just went to bed. Still, I got up early enough to spend 30 mins on the treadmill (HATE the treadmill) before getting out the door for a full day of work.

NOTE – at the end of my long day, I got to meet up with Lucy at Carleton College – great to see her, meet her roommate, and spend some time with them. Very happy!

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I ended up up having to switch hotels, and pretty much assumed I’d be back on the treadmill because this hotel is near the airport – all busy traffic all around. BUT, I saw a guy come in the lobby from a run as I was checking in and I asked him where he’d gone, and it turns out that there is a National Wildlife Refuge about 1.5 miles from the hotel! With miles and miles of beautiful trails! So, this morning, I ran out there, and into the refuge for the most beautiful scenery. (And, there were other runners, dog walkers, photographers, and hikers, so it wasn’t too scary to be in the trails…) I managed 10 miles and it felt great – beautiful, cool in the shade of the trees, and just nice to get fresh air and move.

Here are some scenes:

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So, the hassle of delayed flights in Philly and switching hotels in Minneapolis actually had an upside.

Now, my flights from Minneapolis to Chicago is canceled thanks to the flight tower problems they’ve got going on and I’m sad to say that I don’t think that the diversion of my re-routed trip is going to have much of a silver lining. I’ve got a tight layover in and if I actually make it onto my connecting flight, have a 50-50 chance of making it to my evening work event on time…

Here’s to hoping that this diversion has an upside like the rest so far…

Next weekend is the Maine Marathon or the Maine Half Marathon. I have to decide which I’ll do. I signed up for the marathon before Janet, Margaret, and I decided on Philly. It’s a little early for me to grind through the full 26.2… but I have gotten some heavy mileage runs behind me already, so I might be able to do it. Or… I could save myself the trouble/stress/strain and just switch to the half and enjoy it. We’ll see.

Onward!

On the road again…

Last time I posted, in *January*, Maine was in a deep freeze and I was complaining about plantar fasciitis.  Let’s just say, in all respects, it was a LONG winter, weather-wise and exercise-wise.

I just couldn’t get myself to deal with the gym and do the therapeutic workouts on the rowing machine or elliptical.  I’m not a gym girl. So, I made up my own workout – not the same cardio as running, but a regular routine that worked on strength.  It helped me keep focus and I stayed generally fit.

Ever heard of a Bodyblade?  Neither had I.  And then I tried one out and … it is one serious piece of equipment. It’s a long piece of fiberglass with weights on the end and a handle in the middle. You grip the middle, and cause a rhythmic motion and that works *everything*.

Here is the Bodyblade:

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So, anyway, I had a routine of the Bodyblade, 40 lunges, and a 7 lb kettlebell, 6 days a week.   To deal with the foot issue, I rolled out my foot on a special (not so nice) nobby ball that was supposed to help loosen up the tight fascia in my foot. Then, along with those exercises, I slowly started running again.  Just 2 miles at a time, a couple times per week. Then 3 miles. Then 2 or 3, etc.  And now, I’m getting some real mileage back.

However, I am not completely recovered from the plantar fasciitis, so I have to do the following:

1. run with tight tape (and yes, the angle of this photo does make my ankle look really, really strange. It doesn’t really look like that.)

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2. A post-run ice bath for my poor foot.

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3. Then, a therapeutic compression sock especially for plantar fasciitis (and I have to sleep with the sock on, too!)

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The good news is that I’m actually getting somewhere.  I logged over 20 miles last week, with an 8 miler last Sunday. (Though, I stopped at mile 7 for a quick hello to a neighbor who was outside in his driveway, and then it was actually a 15 min chat, so I got a bit of a rest before getting that last mile in.)

And, if you’ve read this blog before, or if you actually know me in person, then you know that there is a probably a goal embedded in this mileage effort.  Indeed, multiple goals exist.

For instance, I no longer have horses. This leaves a huge hole in my life for a lot of reasons, including regular exercise and a daily time commitment to caring for them.  Running takes time and effort and planning, so it helps to fill that tremendous void of an effort that I loved so much.  In this way, my goal is to use running to distract myself from the loss, finding an alternative outlet.

Also, running connects me to other people, though I mostly run alone. But, I know that Janet and Margaret are there, working on their own goals, logging their miles in achievement, with focus.  And, sometimes we’ll run together.  Margaret will be in Maine for the 4th of July. I am running the LLBean 10k on that day with a couple of friends from work, and Margaret will join us. 🙂  Janet is coaching a Couch to 5K group, so she’ll be with them on the 4th.

And, running is helping me keep my head together as there are days when the intense push-pull of my life could get me so mixed up that I would want to just stand still. But running keeps me moving forward – literally and figuratively.

So, I’m on the road again. I am aiming for October 5 – either the Maine Half Marathon or the Maine Marathon, depending on what I’m ready for.  Janet really wants to do the Philly marathon again, but it’s so late in November this year that it puts the heavy distance training during my busiest travel time which is pretty complicated. But, as Janet pointed out, Philly is relatively flat and has fans cheering for the whole 26.2 miles.  Maine is hilly, 1/10 of the runners, and not so many fans. It’s lonely and hard.  I’m not sure I need lonely and hard. So maybe Janet and I will just do the half marathon on Oct 5th and then decide about Philly.  Too soon to say.

However, I just went out and planted a water stop for tomorrow morning’s run – I am going to head out before it’s too hot and just see how far I can go….

Onward!