Old Port Half Marathon – Not Conquered. Completed.

I care too much about the goals I set for myself. So, even though last week I said that I’d probably skip the Old Port Half Marathon today, I didn’t want to pull a no-show on a race I’d planned for, sort of trained for, and recruited friends for.  And, truth be told, my pulled muscle was feeling a lot better. I figured if I could keep at a slow enough pace to avoid having to take deep breaths, I’d be fine. 🙂

So, last night, my friend, Wendy Harper, came to spend the night at my house since I live nearly an hour closer to the race than she does and the start time was at an early 7 a.m. today. We had a nice evening catching up, early to bed, early to rise this morning, and then left the house at 5:45 a.m. to get to the race (and wrastle up coveted parking spot…)

While I can be committed to my goals, I’m not completely irrational. I knew I wasn’t really ready for the full 13.1 miles and I was prepared to take walking breaks to get through the distance.  (Several years ago, I would have considered walking a complete failure, so I have matured a bit in my thoughts on distance completion – at least when considering my actual fitness level.)

Wendy is super fast, so she was in the first start corral (for the super fast runners.)  I was with everyone else in the second wave corral. I happily found my friend, Margaret, and her sister, Cathy, just before it was our turn to start running.  Here’s a picture of us just before take-off:

(Whitney, Cathy, Margaret, LtoR)

001

So, I knew Wendy would finish in plenty of time to cool off, get a snack, and generally relax before I came through. And, since Wendy finished in under 2 hrs, that’s exactly what happened.   I was not so fast. 🙂  So, by mile 9, I could tell I had maxed out my fitness level. Everything from 9-13.1 miles was going to be really tough and extra slow.  And those miles were both of those things, complicated by my first real experience with wheezing.  I don’t know what that was about – I have definitely run with great fatigue before, but the wheezing was new and really just put an end to any sort of productive running effort. Basically, I think my body was saying, “You can try to keep going if you want, but I’m just not going to process your air that quickly, so good luck with that.”

But, I wasn’t too discouraged – I happily ran into Margaret and Cathy around mile 9 (or 10?) Then Cathy took off for a speedy finish and Margaret and I slowly made our way to the finish line with a nice chat along the way.

Once we made it to the finish, I caught up with Wendy (who had camped out by the finish line for some great cheering as Margaret and I made our way to the end.)  I downed a bottle of water, ate a piece of watermelon, and then followed Wendy to the beer tent. (This race was sponsored by Shipyard brewery, so there was, in fact, a beer ‘garden’ for runners after the finish line.)

I’m not usually down for a chilly beer at 9:30 in the morning, but it just happens to be Wendy’s birthday and enjoying a beer refreshment seemed like the just the right thing to do to celebrate friendship, finishing, and a birthday.

010

 

On another note, Janet and Margaret and I were together on Thursday evening and discussed the potential of a fall marathon effort.  It seemed like a good idea on Thursday night. Today was a bit of a reality check.  But, there is still time to get ready so we’re gathering some info. I’ll let you know what we decide.

In the meantime – onward!

Dude, the air is just so thin…

Howdy friends,

As you might remember from my last post, I am scheduled to run the Old Port Half Marathon on July 11 – that’s 6 days from now – and I got my friends Margaret and Wendy to sign up for it, also.  You might also remember that I had a terrible 12 miler 2 weeks ago, my last shot at a long run before the race, given a 7 day trip I had in between.

Well, let me tell you about that trip. I took off for Colorado Springs last weekend for an SSATB board meeting and we stayed at the most luxurious place called The Broadmoor Resort with amazing views of Pike’s peak. After a 4:45 a.m. alarm and three plane rides, I arrived at the resort at 4:30 p.m. – just enough time to lace up and jog around the small lake a couple of times to get a run in before our 6 pm dinner to start the meetings. It was gorgeous, but I could hardly move. A quarter mile felt like a 5k.  I assumed it was the early start + 3 planes. No problem, I thought.  I’ll have a chance to shake it out later.

Fast forward 3 days, no more runs (though some excellent late-night bowling after our meetings!), and I left the Broadmoor to drive out to the Tarryall River Ranch, nestled in the Tarryall Mountains of Pike National Forest, CO.

I arrived at 5pm and was met at the gate by Paula, the ranch manager. She got me to my cabin by 5:10 and on a horse by 5:20. No joke. By 5:45 we were already friends and had ridden our horses up to an incredibly beautiful look-out point. Just a taste of what the week would hold for me. By 6:30, we were back, horses untacked, and we were at the dinner table to meet up with the other guests.

Since this is a running blog, you might be thinking, “just get to the running part already, ok?”  I’m getting there.  But first, I had to settle into the fact that I was vacationing at a dude ranch. I went out on TWO rides on Tuesday – one all morning, then back for lunch, then one all afternoon. Heaven.  I kept thinking, “I have to stop and take a picture,” but then we’d ride another 10 minutes and I’d think, “No, THIS is the spot that needs a photo.” I have a million photos and they are portraits of amazing views.

So, after day one of riding (that’s two rides!), I got back and put  my running shoes on and set off.  Mind you, I was in the mountains. At a very high altitude. I’m not sure how far up the ranch was, but it was of the ‘so-high-up-you-have-to-drink-gallons-of-water-and-gasp-for-air-just-because-you-laughed-a-lot’ kind of altitude.The air was thin. For real.  Running was impossible for me.  I would go about 1/10 of a mile and have to walk. Heave for air. Then start again. It took me about 30 minutes to go two miles. It felt awful.  But, I had my phone strapped to my arm, so I kept stopping for more scenery photos – like this one from that brief run:

026

The funny part was that other ranch guests saw me set off on a run after all the rides came in – disappear around the bend – and come back 30 min later. They were all hugely impressed and told me so at dinner. I had to confess to all of them that it only looked like I went running because of my running outfit, and that, in fact, I would run a few steps, stop, lean over to drag air into my lungs, walk, and then try again – over the course of 30 min. Nothing to be too impressed about.

Wednesday was a break from riding and we went white water rafting on the Arkansas River. That was pretty awesome. Evidence below:

DCIM101GOPRO

DCIM101GOPRO

The only downside to this bucket list adventure was that I pulled a muscle in my ribcage – I think when our boat ran into a rock. Or maybe with all the crazy paddling through rapids. Or maybe both together. In any event, I was just a little sore. But I was only half-way through my dream vacation, so I took some Advil back at the ranch. And then I learned how to line-dance (which isn’t really running, but was still cardio!). I woke up more sore than the night before.

Next day was an all day ride – with the most unbelievable views and two river crossings on horseback. Here, we are stopped for lunch:

057

On Friday, my last day to ride, we set out and rode a bit harder, requiring a bit more work on my part. The muscle on the right side of my ribcage was tight and sore. I shook it off again.

Here is a view from my last ride:

082

Then, after we got back for lunch, I could have rested, but who would want to rest with a nice cup of coffee when the ranch is full of 4th of July celebration shenanigans? I mean, really, how could I resist games like this race seen below? (And, this game is really hard!)

I just couldn’t stop myself from joining in the fun, and every time I did, I made things a little worse for myself. By Friday evening, my ribcage was on fire. I sneezed and it brought a little tear to my eye.  So… all of this to say, I’m having a hard time believing I can kick out 13.1 miles next weekend. I know I’m not really injured in any serious way, but a muscle pull puts a serious hitch in my giddyup.  Plus, my suitcase didn’t hop the 3rd flight home today, so is still somewhere out in the world, but not here with me. And my running shoes are in that bag. So, I can’t even give it a try tomorrow.

On the upside, it’s not hard to trade a hot half-marathon for a week jammed with experiences, ranging from the breathtaking to the thrilling to the absolute whacky, anytime. We’ll see how the week goes and I’ll let you know what happens with the Old Port race.

Onward!

NOTEI have to just give a special shout-out to Paula and Colton who run the Tarryall Ranch.  They are the most amazing hosts and ranchers. They have a top notch wrangler staff who are cheerful, confident, and fun.  Keith, the cook, is an outstanding chef who kept us more than well fed and was blast to hang out with. If you ever want to try a ranch vacation, check this one out:  http://www.tarryallranch.com

Run. Walk. Talk. Repeat.

Well, I have finished all my rabies shots… thanks to being bitten by a dog we can all assume didn’t have rabies, but since I couldn’t prove it… I got the gift of 10 shots. Those are done, though, so if I get bitten by *any* animal, I will not contract rabies. I’m cool.

In between all of those shots, I managed to do some fun things. For instance, I went to my 25th Bates College reunion and had so much fun reconnecting in person with friends.  In fact, I sat next to my former classmate and friend, Wendy Harper, at our reunion dinner. (You may recall from a winter post that she and I both ran the Maine Marathon and she was so fast that she qualified for Boston. And then she took a rest break and ran the Santa Hustle half-marathon with me in December.)

Here is a pic of us having a good time at reunion…

(me on the left, Wendy on the right)

Whitney and Wendy reunion photo

Evidently, I have some persuasive powers because I have convinced my friend and marathon buddy, Margaret, to run the Old Port Half Marathon with me on July 11. That means she has to come from Pennsylvania to Maine to run that race, and she’s doing it! And bringing her sister!  But I didn’t stop there… I sidled up to Wendy at this reunion dinner (above) and convinced her to do it, too.

That, of course, was so that I would feel the pressure of my friends’ commitment and officially get myself into gear and get some mileage in.  The morning *after* our reunion gala, I went out for a 10 miler.  Thankfully, I had my friend Ryan Ricciardi along for the first 6 miles – she was great company and we kept a solid pace. Unfortunately, when I continued for the next 4 miles by myself, the wheels fell off. I attributed it to the clouds of pollen that looked like smoke blowing by my face. It was a slow finish.

This week, I planned to redeem myself. I announced to Wendy that I was going out for 12 miles. She sounded impressed and I was feeling all proud and ready to take it on.  Well. IT. WAS. UGLY.  I set out to do the first 6 miles on my own and then I picked up my friend, Janet, in my driveway for the next 6 mile loop. She was all fresh and happy and I was already spent. It was terrible.  I got a cramp. I had to walk. Janet talked and was patient. We ran. Then I walked. We talked. We ran. And so forth.  We stopped to take a happy ‘selfie’ photo by the water at about mile 9 (for me) or mile 3 (for Janet) but I decided not to post it because we both look just terrible in that photo. I’m not sure what happened – I probably couldn’t get a good shot because I was heaving for air at that point…  So, I’ll just give Janet a shout-out for being amazing and inspirational rather than posting our pic. 😉

I also stopped my watch when we stopped for the photo, and I forgot to turn it on when we started running again. But, that’s OK. I don’t really need the timing evidence of how slow my second 6 miles was.

Though I’m not proud of the pace, I did manage to cover 12 miles with my own two feet, and company of a great friend, so not all was lost.

This may be the last really long run I get in before July 11… I have a nutty week at work and then I’m away in the mountains of Colorado until July 4. So, we’ll see what happens.

Onward.

I don’t even like bananas.

The last really long distance I ran was the Maine Marathon in October. That was pretty long. After that, next longest was a 10 miler with my daughter, Lucy, right around Christmas.  Full stop. Nothing. Okay, maybe a little bit here and there… I didn’t want to lose all that fitness, but winter just got SO MEAN that it was such a battle to think about leaving a warm bed to go outside into subzero temps, with wind, in the dark, to exercise. So, I didn’t.  Plus, there was just so much (expletive) snow to move all winter (10 feet of it, thankyouverymuch), that I was spending enough time outside in the cold and dark. Plus I had to shovel my roof. I was absolutely getting plenty of outside time.

The problem was (is), that my appetite was (is) still of the marathon size… so let’s just say there has been an imbalance of calorie intake versus calorie expenditure, and intake has been in the lead.

The combination of the improved weather and my ill fitting clothes has motivated me to think about getting in shape.  Two weeks ago, I had to travel and I just so happened to think optimistically about my commitment and I packed my sneaks. I met some new colleagues on that trip and after dinner, one of them said, “Hey – let’s go for a run in the morning!”  I looked at him, and the other guy with him, and said, “You mean me?”  They agreed that they meant me. They promised only 30 minutes, slow pace.

I was game – so I met them in the lobby of the hotel at 6:15 a.m. and we set off. However, we were all new friends, so there was a lot of talking, and I was trying to keep up, while talking, and I finally had to beg them to stop and walk – TWICE – just so I wouldn’t throw up on them.  I don’t think they were impressed with my fitness but they were really nice about it.

Well, that kind of embarrassment is just the right kind to get me in gear, and I got serious. I signed up for the Old Port half-marathon in July so that I’d have a date looming ahead.  I diligently ran 2-3 miles, several times a week over the last couple of weeks (including a jaunt by the East River in NYC this past week.)

All of this means that there is nothing like regular exercise to remind you how much what you eat influences how you feel. This is how the bananas have made it back on the grocery list:

008

I don’t even really like bananas, but the truth is that they are the perfect athletic ‘fuel’ in so many nutritional ways, that’s it’s really self-sabotage to NOT eat them. So, there they are. I’m eating them. One a day. Hoping my muscles and metabolism appreciate the treat since my taste buds most definitely do not.

Today, I woke up, with a COLD, and still laced my shoes and stepped out for what I expected to be a 3 miler, with a 6 miler planned for tomorrow. But, my running buddy (and good friend buddy), Janet, was heading out for a long run on her own today with a new pacing method.  I felt good when I got started (thanks to the banana and cold meds), so I followed her plan and actually clocked 9 miles!

I’m back!  Bananas and all.

Onward.

 

 

 

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:

IMG_2822-1.JPG

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!

IMG_2826-0.JPG

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:

IMG_2828-0.JPG

IMG_2830-0.JPG

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!

Running through…

Marathon training is hard. It’s physically grueling, time consuming, and not even a necessary part of life. Everyone who does it has their own reasons and I have mine. But, whatever the reasons, the mileage stays the same and everyone training for a marathon has to figure out how to press on – or not.

I took 2 days off after my long run last weekend.  I did lunges, squats, kettlebell, and the BodyBlade. And longish walks with my dog, Stella. But nothing that was really very difficult. I was resting. When I went out for some mileage on Wednesday morning, I was struck by how bad I felt, and realized that’s almost always how I feel when I step off the driveway for a run. I noticed tightness in my calves, a strain in my foot, a knot in my right shoulder blade, and just overall fatigue.  In the first mile, I thought, “I need to listen to my body – it says it’s tired, this is too much, I should back off.”   But, I also remembered that I usually feel better somewhere between 2-3 miles.  The first mile isn’t a good gauge.  The first mile is just a succession of whiny fake out excuses.

I kept going and told my mind to think about other things besides aches and pains and before I knew it, I was cruising through the 4th mile, warmed up, breathing easily, with a steady cadence, … and comfortable.

I realized that it’s much like other things in life – when faced with discomfort, don’t give up. Check it out. Check in with that discomfort. Try it on for a while. See if you can move through it and get comfortable.  Because if you can move through it, you might be able to keep moving and cover a lot of ground. But, then again, sometimes you can’t. Like, last weekend when my IT band got into a fight with my knee and there was no “running through it.” There was only stopping.

But I had a goal this week – I wanted to get past that 18 mile mark that has been eluding me.  So, I used that goal as my focus – and I made time to use the roller twice a day, to roll out my feet, to stretch my hamstrings and my hips. And went to a massage therapist (HEAVEN) to really try to loosen up all that tightness. I wanted that 18 miles.

In the meantime, my Super Friend Julie came to visit me for a couple of days.  I’m a country girl. She’s a city girl. As in, she hasn’t had any yard work responsibilities in 20 years.  So, how especially sweet and exciting was it that she mowed my lawn so that I could fit in time for a training run before it rained? THIS sweet:

julie mowing

 

Because Julie freed me up to run for an hour, I had a chance to test out my bod after all that therapy work and I was feeling good – feeling like maybe I could get to the 18 this weekend.

As I mentioned in my post last week, friendship is an amazing thing. In Julie’s company,  I started to feel better physically, I laughed a lot.  We also quietly hung out on the coast near my house and I appreciated the peace of watching the water and giggling at the clams that were spitting at us on the shoreline.

020

As an aside, one example of how Julie is the greatest kind of friend is how much she loves my dog, Stella. I mean, really, who takes selfies of themselves with someone else’s dog? And lets that dog lick her face??

001

Julie had to leave me and head back to NYC, but she left me lifted up, leaving me energized, and feeling ready to go after that damn 18 miles.  Janet couldn’t run with me this weekend because she was busy going to pick up her new dog!  But, Kat was good for 8 miles and was happy to put her 8 into my challenge. So, I ran 5 on my own, picked up Kat in my driveway for the next 8.  We kept a steady pace, slow enough that we could talk and catch up.  It was really slow for Kat, but she kindly matched my steps instead of leading me into a faster pace that I wouldn’t be able to sustain.  After we finished the 8 mile loop, I had 13 miles behind me and continued on to get the next 5.

Usually I need music for long mileage because it helps me keep pace when I get really tired. But, since I had been with Kat, I didn’t have music with me, so I had to soldier into that last stretch without any assistance.  I had moments of thinking, “I should stop now before my knee hurts” but it wasn’t hurting, so I kept trotting along. I realized that I might be able to get to 20 miles.

I had two good reasons for stopping at mile 19:

1. I wanted to stop, for real, before my knee hurt. It was so stunning to me that I had made it that far without the knee acting up that I really didn’t want to make it happen.

2. Mile 19 was at my house. For me to get to 20 miles, I would have had to run PAST my house, which was just really hard to do when I had already gone 19.  So, the 19 seemed good. I stopped.

I was happy.   For dinner, I made this tasty plate of sauteed turkey sausage and kale, melon, corn, and roasted sweet potatoes.

002

 

And, just in case you think I’m all righteous with my healthy eating, I finished off the meal with a bowl of ice cream the size of a melon. The size of a watermelon, specifically. Dee-lish.

I have much travel coming up in the next couple of weeks, so I need to figure out how to get the mileage in.

Onward!

 

Vacation running.

I had the week off from work and while I would have loved to just get away somewhere, I had a bunch of obligations at home, so I could only get away for just one night. But, one night in Bar Harbor, ME, was a great getaway.  This was the view from downtown, near where I was staying:

IMG_2750

The problem with vacation is that it suggests *relaxing*… and when I started to do that, it was hard to imagine running. I realized I was just so tired! I napped, ate, napped, ate, and finished up my time there with this delicious view at lunchtime before I had to head back home. Pretty nice.  Relaxation? CHECK.  Mileage? NO check. Oh well. I got back to it when I got home.

IMG_2751

So, curiously, Janet’s aggressive training plan (that she downloaded from Runners World) only listed 3 runs for the week – each of them 6 miles. Nothing long.  Sounded pretty good to me! But, next weekend calls for a 16 miler and I just can’t imagine going from 13 last Sunday to only 18 for this whole week, with such a long run only a week away.

I think Janet couldn’t believe it, either, because she ran 13 miles yesterday and then ran a 5k today (today was the Couch to 5k finale for the group she’s been coaching!)

I am eating my words because it was not long ago when Janet thought the training plan didn’t have enough mileage during one of the weeks and I told her that I thought Runners World probably knew what there were doing with marathon prep plans and we should trust their custom plan. But, as I said, I thought the mileage seemed light this week, even accounting for recovery time in between long runs.  And since Janet already banked the 13 miler yesterday, I felt the pressure to keep up. (I am so weak under her spell…)

So, today, I managed 11.5 – just enough to feel pushed but stopping just short of anything hurting too much.   I tried some new routes today, including this scene by a golf course:

IMG_2764

And then I ventured into the legendary “trails” near my house.  Everybody who knows Brunswick and knows where my house is, says “you’ve got to try the trails!”  Well, those trails, as far as I have been able to tell are a myth.  Everyone talks about them and everyone talks about a different entry point, and each entry point sounds so obvious. But, do you think I can find them? NO.  It’s like Narnia.  There’s a magic “wardrobe” out there that leads to the trails and only the believers can see it. So, being crafty and practical, I decided to try and enter the trail system from the opposite side.  With 7 miles behind me, I entered the Town Commons via a parking lot.  The most direct route on the map should have gotten me home in about 2 miles:

commons map

Pretty creepy in there. The trails themselves are beautiful, but most are unmarked and they just loop around. Since I don’t have any sense of direction, I had a chance to “inspect’ many of the trails,  and therefore pulled off several extra miles.  And, by the way, I did exit the trail into a neighborhood, but not *my* neighborhood – some other neighborhood that was an absolute maze of its own.

I think I’m going to stick to roads with signs for the rest of my runs and God bless the “believers” who love the trail system.

Onward!