Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Heat Is On

One week remains until the Minneapolis Marathon, and after a slack-ass week (really ... I ran exactly 1.2 miles all week, but did some no-impact biking instead, thanks to my blisters), I finally Body Glided my tootsies up and headed out for my final "long" run before the big day. My blister on my little toe is still giving me a lot of attitude. I hope one more week of tapering will allow it to heel over completely; if not, I'm pretty sure duct tape and I will become BFFs during the marathon.

Last night I "practiced" my night-before routine. I ate what I want to eat the night before the marathon, went to bed when I think I should go to bed, and set my alarm for when I should get up to arrive at my starting corral on time. I even had grand visions of driving Downtown, parking in the ramp I want to park in the morning of the race, and doing my 8-miler along the course. This morning, however, my alarm went off and I was too pissed at it to wake up. It's a holiday weekend; my body wants sleep!

I hit snooze for ... oh, I'd say a good hour. I finally decided to turn it off, roll over, and snooze until I wanted to wake up. The problem with this is that I have a (terrible?) habit of sleeping waaaay too late. Pretty soon it was nearing 11a.m., the sun was wilting the plants on my patio, there were no clouds anywhere, and I knew I needed to fit in my last 8-miler in midday heat/sun.

What a terrible idea. Welcoming your body back into running is already kind of a pain, let alone doing it when most people are taking cover from Mr. Sun's intense rays. I ran both Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet instead of heading out to the course, and it was hard -- I forgot how little shade there is along the Greenway and on the lakes. I brought my Amphipod handheld and sucked that thing dry, stopping to refill it four times. Four?! In 8 miles? I'm pretty sure in other countries that's considered water boarding.

I was trying to run my goal pace, but I found that -- even while running a smidge slower -- I slowed to a walk a couple of times, usually when I found shade. At a few points during the run, I was feeling pretty lightheaded and I was covered head to toe in goosebumps?! Are you supposed to get goosebumps when it's close to 90 degrees? I wasn't sure if I was getting heatstroke or if my skin was literally burning off. I saw plenty of other runners out at the same time, and not one of them looked like they were suffering as much as I was. What gives?

With this morning's disappointing and painful run, I can take some solace in that my last long run is out of the way -- until next weekend, anyway. I get to look forward to one final week of tapering, even though this week is 75% resting. I've got two 3-mile runs planned for Monday and Tuesday, but for the rest of this weekend you will not find me working out in this heat. Instead I biked over to Minnehaha Falls and enjoyed the view from a summer perspective. It's much different now than it was when I was there this winter!

Next on the holiday weekend agenda: grilling veggies, drinking beer, and sunning myself at the beach. Happy Memorial Day weekend! :)

8.25mi splits (1:15:49)
1: 9:15
2: 8:51
3: 8:53
4: 9:00
5: 9:05
6: 9:01
7: 9:24
8: 9:53
.25: 2:23
Air Temp: 89F, soooo sunny

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I'm starting to have a lot of doubts about the marathon. Part of me has been playfully toying with the idea of switching over to the half since I know I can finish that. Of course I won't go do that, but I keep questioning what drove me to thinking I can do this, what drove me to train for it, what's going to drive me during the actual race ... and whether it's going to be enough.

I don't remember having any of these feelings the first time I ran a half marathon. What's really so different about a full marathon (other than the additional 13.1 miles) where my mind is telling me to drop out before I even try?

This past weekend I hung out with a few friends who incidentally have finished full marathons as average runners setting out to prove they can do it. Naturally, a million questions started flying out of my mouth -- before they even got to answer -- because I wanted to hear every detail of their experience. What scares me is that I haven't heard very many positive things about what happens to the human body during the marathon. Maybe it's my slightly stressed-out mentality lately, but I'm not hearing a lot of happy/proud feelings of finishing, which I thought is what is supposed to happen when powering through "the ultimate test." This past weekend, I heard about how my friend's knees stopped working and he ran with completely straight legs for a mile, all while laughing at how ridiculous he looked and how much pain he was in. I heard about black toenails, bowel movements, puking up all fluids, shot nerves and spent bodies, injuries, dehydration, swollen limbs, being passed by the bus, and having to walk down steps backwards for the following week after the race.

I have heard about the infamous "wall" at mile 20 and how my body will hurt in ways it's never hurt before. I've heard about how I will be in pain for a long time and how nothing will prepare me for what I'm going to feel toward the end of the race. When I did my 22-mile run, I certainly hurt, but I don't think I hit that wall. And after 22 miles, I didn't unbearably hurt afterward and felt pretty much ready to go again the next day. Will I hit the wall in the last 4 miles? What is going to happen if I do hit it? Is it really going to hurt? Is it possible to not have a wall? What if my wall comes at a distance I will never experience?

Another close friend who's come very close to running 3-hour marathons keeps telling me to have faith in the taper. He's guided me to believing that healing is positive, my training was sufficient, and a "good" taper can shave up to 10 minutes off my marathon time. Of course I don't know what my time is so I don't know how I'll gauge whether my taper was successful, but I'm trying to trust him that this is a good thing. I am trying to trust him while truly questioning how -- when you rest for a day of training it's the equivalent of losing two days of progress -- taking time off this close to a race is a good thing.

Why is it that we channel our energies to the doubts of our bodies and our physical capabilities? A marathon is obviously mostly physical, but it's also equally as mental. When the body (inevitably, by the sounds of it) shuts down, the mind has to take over to push us to the finish. I really don't know if I'm ready for that. My training has prepared my physically, but has it prepared me mentally? I'm in the best shape of my life, and until recently I've never felt more driven and excited to run a race before. And yet, I'm still scared of what's going to happen to me. I'm scared of twisting an ankle at the starting line and how I'll deal with the fact I only made it a few feet giving my full effort. I'm scared of running out of fuel or passing out and hitting my head on the concrete and never realizing what happened or that I didn't finish. I'm scared of getting heat stroke. I'm scared of not knowing what I'm going to go through. I'm scared of not knowing how I'm going to do. I'm scared of how I'm going to deal with a physical and/or mental breakdown in front of spectators. I'm scared that this time I've needed to take off to rest my blisters is going to hurt me. I'm scared at how much "not knowing" is eating away at me.

Tomorrow marks 10 days until the race, and I am so, so nervous.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Training Run No. 11

This morning was the very last Minneapolis Marathon training run, and for the first time since I've run with the group, I couldn't finish what I had scheduled.

This first week of tapering has been a big struggle for me because of my blisters. I thought my taper couldn't have happened at a more perfect time after last week's blister-laden 22-miler, but every time I put on a shoe (work shoe or running shoe), my little toe on my left foot kept getting progressively worse and worse. I had to take more days off of working out than I did actually getting out there (cross-training included), and ended up wearing sandals everywhere because I couldn't fit a shoe on comfortably. It's been really hard dealing with the idea that I can't run, even though I know I should be starting to do more resting anyway.

Yesterday Team Ortho posted the coolest video about their training runs to spark more interest in their foundation and the other practices they'll have for upcoming races this year. I saw the camera crew down at Historic Fort Snelling last weekend during the training run, but I tried to avoid the filmographers. Inevitably, the I made a few appearances in their kick-ass video.

Minneapolis Marathon Training Run-Team Ortho from EideCom on Vimeo.

After seeing this video yesterday, I was completely rejuvenated to go out and run again. The video made me so excited about the marathon, about Team Ortho, and reminded me of how much I love to run! I woke up excited and chipper with my alarm, bandaged up my toes as comfortably as I could, and headed out to meet the group one final time before the race.

The past few weeks we've had record numbers of runners showing up for the training runs. It was pretty sparce this morning for reasons unknown. Perhaps the late night Twins-dominating-the-Brewers game? Maybe because it was hazy and unusually warm at 6a.m.? Perhaps because the forecast called for early-morning thunderstorms? We're supposed to get some blistering 90-degree/high-humidity weather starting tomorrow, but I didn't figure that was going to affect people today. Perhaps it did.
We waited around for a few announcements, got some tapering advice, and headed off on our 8-mile loop of the West & East Mississippi Parkways, crossing over at the Franklin and Ford Parkway bridges. Right before I took off, I heard the co-director of the marathon say something to another runner: "You should be knocking down your volume these next two weeks. Get as much rest as possible. Don't quit running; just don't run as many miles. Nothing in your training will help you now, but it can hurt you."

Nothing in my training will help me now, but it can hurt me.

I kept this in mind as I hobbled away in my bandaged toes. I took off with the 9:30-minute milers but somehow made my way to the front of the bunch. Even while gimping, I managed to keep ahead of everyone and even pass a few others. Mile 1 clicked by, then mile 2, mile 3, mile 4 ... and all the while I was managing less than 9-minute miles. Miles 5, 6, 7, and 8 -- I was back at the start with an average of an 8:49 pace. None of this was easy, though. My little toe was throbbing uncontrollably, I was starting to change my gait to favor my left foot, I felt a new blister developing, my ankle and knee started to twinge, and I knew it was going to be ugly when I took off my shoe.

My training plan had me going 12 miles today, but I kept trying to tell myself that I was going to seriously hurt myself. For whatever high-achieving/high-discipline reason, I couldn't get it out of my head that I had to do 12 miles. That's what my plan said; that's what I had to do.

After grabbing some water, I headed back out for mile 9, then mile 10, and then finally mile 11. That's when I couldn't handle my toe anymore and thought for a second I was going to cry in front of everyone. My littlest toe felt like it was taking up my entire shoe, and I could feel the "heat" inside my toe box. If you've ever had that "heat" feeling, your heart immediately drops knowing that you're going to have a bloody mess, one less running sock, and one ruined shoe.

Despite all that, I still managed to average an 8:48 pace for my last three miles.

Even though I had a seriously fast run by my usual standards, I know that I pushed it way too far today. I need to take more time off this week to be sure these blisters heel before the race. I'll be devastated if I end up walking half of the marathon because I'm in so much pain. At least I know that taking time off makes me a hair faster, right?!

Resting during a taper is a good thing. I need to get this into my head. Nothing in my training will help me now, but it can hurt me.

14 more days!
11-mile splits (1:37:04; average of 6.8mph):
1: 8:52
2: 8:37
3: 8:53
4: 8:54
5: 8:54
6: 8:54
7: 8:54
8: 8:39
9: 8:39
10: 8:51
11: 8:54
Air Temp: 68F

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Let the Healing Begin!

I've officially survived the hardest 15 weeks of marathon training, and for the next 3 weeks I will scale everything back to let my body rest, let my muscle tears heal, let my hips and toes take a break, restore my depleted glycogen stores, rehydrate, and refuel. Well, until the ultimate test that we call the "marathon," that is, where I will undo all of this healing, plus some.

I started off my taper by running to the gym this morning -- it was a gimpy and relatively slow 1.3-mile run there and back -- and hit up a crosstrainer for 20 minutes or so. I finished the day with a pretty hilly 12-mile bike ride that actually loosened up my leg muscles nicely. Working up a sweat feels good the day after a long run, as long I'm treating it as a recovery and not a full-blown tempo. My joints and muscles already feel a million times better than they did yesterday afternoon, and if it weren't for these blisters, I'd say I'm ready to get back there and run this marathon already.

This week, I will basically be cutting my workouts by 25%. I will then make another 25% cut of that next week, and then another 25% of that the following week, essentially leaving me with nothing four days leading up to the marathon. Tapering sounds like a fun and welcome idea after all the time I've put in since February, but after 15 weeks of decently intense training, I'm afraid I'm going to be scratching at the walls due to all the free time and extra energy I will find.

Since I'm really not "allowed" to do much exercise (bear in mind, that means runs of "only" 4 to 12 miles, plus moderate cross-training), I have a few ideas in mind to keep me occupied and still focused:
  • Re-watch "Spirit of the Marathon" ... a couple of times.
  • Get my bling, drama, and lady friends together to drink cosmos and see "Sex and the City 2" on May 27th, duh! Okay, so that won't do much for my focus, but it will still be fun.
  • Finish reading the pertinent chapters in Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide.
  • Start reading Mark Remey's The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a Runner Needs to Know -- And Then Some (I got this in the mail Friday; looks hilarious!)
  • Pull out my stacks of Runner's World and Running Times to re-read some inspiring stories that pushed me to get where I am.
  • Revisit my old race results.
  • Go over my night-before plan and race-morning plan again and again and again. And again. Then once again, for good measure, because we don't need any moldy bread situations on race day.
  • Maybe come up with some official goals for my race, even though most pros have told me to avoid coming up with anything more specific than "finish" for my first marathon.
  • Get my hair cut, get my oil changed, do all the things I put aside simply so I could have more time to train.
  • Put together the perfect marathon playlist.
With that in mind, I'm taking suggestions for some updated running music. Because I'm super boring and stuck in my ways, I embarrassingly have listened to the exact same playlist for the past 15 weeks. Nope, I didn't even put it on random. What's more, that playlist is less than 2 hours of music, so I frequently heard the same songs a number of times every week -- and even on the same run. Of course I rarely noticed because I barely listen to music when I run, but it might still be fun to have something to make my 4+ hours of running even more enjoyable on June 6th.

What music has been moving you?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Training Run No. 10

This morning I cranked out my final long run of my training plan with the Minneapolis Marathon training group. We set a new record number of attendees this morning, topping out at 240! And while the run was far from easy and I started bargaining with myself about three-quarters of the way through ("You never have to run this distance again! Well, nevermind the marathon... You never have to run a 22-miler again! Just dig deep, don't puke, and get it over with!"), it was a cloud-free, bright and sunny 73-degree morning -- which, in running terms, might as well mean we should just run in the middle of Death Valley.
I was pretty sure this morning was going to be a disaster. I have noticed that my runs follow an every-other-weekend pattern, where I have a strong run followed my a run that I wasn't pleased with, followed by an awesome run, followed by a run that was downright painful, etc. I had two good weekend long runs in a row, and I figured I would be doomed today. I tried to get this negative thinking out of my mind, but when my cat woke me up on the wrong side of the bed (and an hour too early, as well, with the inability to drift back to sleep), I couldn't help but dwell on this pattern while I laid around waiting to begin fueling.

To make things worse, when I went to make my breakfast while doing my pre-long-run morning routine, I noticed this:
My English muffins were as green as the Whole Foods logo. At least we know the "no preservatives" label is true! I really began to panic at far too early of an hour. Where could I find new English muffins this early? My whole pre-long-run routine I've been working on for months has been shattered! I have some oatmeal, but I know from experience my blood sugar will crash. I trust a bowl of Trix to get me through a long run even less than I trust oatmeal. I knew I needed a dense complex carb, so, ladies and gentlemen, I ate half of a Tandoori Naan for breakfast. Oh yes, I did. And it really wasn't that bad topped with peanut butter and bananas!

I left for the run with a half hour to spare, only to find out mid-commute that 35W was closed between Hwy 62 and I-94 ... which happens upon the exact route I take to get to Historic Fort Snelling. The detour wasn't bad at 7:30a.m., but I knew it was going to be a disaster heading back around noon. (Have you ever run a significant number of miles, and then tried driving a stick in stop-and-go traffic? Serious uncomfortable muscle twitching.)

I basically ran the entire marathon route today, minus the furthest-north 4-mile loop. We started at Historic Fort Snelling, ran north toward downtown Minneapolis, turned around at the Gurthrie Theater, headed back south along the West River Parkway, and returned to Historic Fort Snelling. It was there I made a loop around Snelling Lake to tack on a few more miles than the rest of the group was doing. Sad beans -- the airplanes were not flying over Snelling Lake this morning. :(
My first 15 miles went by relatively quickly and painlessly, until I turned off on the bike path behind Historic Fort Snelling. The path goes from paved to gravel under a canopy of trees and high-arched bridges, and while normally this is a great break on my joints and a welcome change in scenery, I sensed trouble. I sensed that I was making some new friends on this run.

Meet Friend No. 1. He actually goes from the top of my toe all the way to the bottom of the underside of my toe pad. That long white line is the thinnest part of the blister, while the fattest part of the blister takes up the entire top of my toe.
Meet Friend No. 2. He actually wasn't that painful ... until I lifted off of my shoe every. single. step.
Meet Friends No. 3 & 4. I'm starting to remember now why I like less room in my toe boxes, because these two places rubbed with every step I took -- lift off and landing.
Right when I felt these developing at mile 15 was when I began telling myself to just make it to 20 miles, and anything after that will be bonus on my training plan. No more than a few steps later, I scratched the idea of making it to 20, and began compromising with myself to just make it back to the start (a total of 18 miles). After that, it became, "just make it to that tree, then you can take your shoes off and walk back to your car."

I ended up being able to tune my foot pain out almost entirely -- only because I was uncomfortably warm and I did the last 6 miles without a supported water stop. It was coming up on 11:00, the sun was pretty high, there wasn't much shade around me, and I was sure this was going to be how I was going to die. Alone, on Snelling Lake, with no drinkable water or anyone around to find me, which completely defeats the purpose of why I decided to join a training group in the first place. That would be how my luck would have it. Pretty soon my new blister friends seemed like not-too-bad company.

I stopped to walk once (the Historic Fort Snelling hill), rationed the water I had left in my Amphipod handheld, and tried to tell myself to make it to the next landmark I could see. Somehow I made it back to the start (mile 21), grabbed some water, and found it somewhere deep within me to run another mile. Once I got back, I realized my mile splits didn't average out much differently than they have for any of my other long runs. Insane.
As I begin my taper, I question whether I will be able to finish the marathon. I think I can. Will it be easy? No possible way. Will it be pain-free? I'm absolutely sure there is no such thing. Will I die? I don't think so ... and that's good enough for me. :)

I thought about how to perform foot surgery to pass the time during my icebath. My surgery was mostly successful, if not ridiculous. I have no more immediate long runs, and it's time to start healing. It's time to start tapering!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sideways Rain

Days like today make it hard for me to wake up and have an optimistic day -- or just wake up. The temperature barely clawed its way above 45 degrees, a light mist drizzled on top of the city all day, the clouds sat so low they could be touched, and my desire to go outside and turn into a soggy, cold mess sounded downright awful.

This week is my second 60+ mile week in my marathon training plan, and while I normally would try to shift around my schedule as to not run when sideways rain is pelting against my face and straight-line winds are knocking me over, I had no option today because the rest of my week is already booked with running, running, and more running. Sitting on a treadmill for an hour at a crowded gym sounded worse than being outside, so I bundled up in my rain gear and headed out for soggy, slow run.

Even though this weather drains all the energy out of me, as soon as I get moving, everything magically seems better. Lake Calhoun was deserted this afternoon, and it was just me and a few mallards out enjoying the gale-force rainy winds. Today's run was by no means easy, but I can certainly tuck this one under my BA belt.
5mi splits: 8:45, 8:41, 8:33, 8:40, 8:20
Air Temp: 45F, rain

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Training Run No. 9

Only 28 days to go!
Have you ever had a run that you wished counted toward something official? Even though my training run "counted" toward my marathon training, I am really wishing I could claim it as some sort of half marathon PR.

Today was a step-back long run as I ramp up for my second peak week that starts tomorrow. My training plan had me running 12 miles this morning, while the Team Ortho training groups were running roughly 18 and 11 miles, respectively. Both groups started along the same course, but the half marathoners cut across the Lake Street/Marshall bridge over the Mississippi, whereas the full marathoners ran south to Ford Parkway and turned around. I decided to join the half marathoners and then modify my route slightly to tack on an additional mile.

My route:
What I covered on the actual course:
I took off with my new running buddy -- we'll call him V -- who happens to run at exactly the same pace as me. We sort of accidentally met 4 weeks ago when we kept catching up with one another. What baffles me about V is that he does absolutely nothing to monitor his pace. He wears a heart rate monitor and he watches his bests per minute. If his BPM falls below what he thinks is a "good workout," he speeds up a little to nudge it back up. I figure the logic behind this is skewed because as you become more efficient at running, your heart rate doesn't get as high until later on in a workout. It slows during rest, and it does its best to remain slow during exercise. This, however, isn't an issue for V: He doesn't run other than what the training group does. I, on the other hand, run throughout the week and keep a pretty consistent pace. I may not be speedy, but my human metronome kicks in and I can keep going for a long time at the same rhythm. During the training run where we officially met, he kept speeding up, yet I kept catching up.

V and I saw each other this morning as we prepared to take the official group picture for the Team Ortho website. After we took off, he and I chatted about our weeks and talked about how our running (or lack of running, in his case) is going. As I reached the Lake Street bridge where the half marathoners turned off, I wished him good luck with his first attempt at 20 miles. I realized after I got off the bridge on the east side of the Mississippi that I was leading the half marathoners. There was no one in front of me, and the nearest group of runners were just getting on the bridge. It was a cool feeling to be leading the group, and I may have sped up to keep it that way.

From that point on (which was about mile 4), this became a race. My "easy 12-mile run" turned into a "get back to the start before anyone else does." I focused on my form, watched my breathing, tried to keep my eyes on the horizon to mentally prepare for running tangets (hard for me since I always look down, and still hard for me to do today, even with no one around), and passed the water stations I didn't think I needed.

I got back to where we started -- 8.4 miles and roughly 1:10 at this point -- grabbed a cup of water, got a "congratulations, you're the first half marathoner back!" from the assistant race director, then headed north up to the Broadway Street bridge to squeeze in my remaining 3.5 miles. I ended up following the Get Lucky 7k course and turned it into a 4-mile run by cutting a few corners, still shocked that I was keeping up my pace and hadn't even taken any Sports Beans or my PB&J tortilla wrap yet.

As I crossed the Stone Arch Bridge back into downtown Minneapolis from St. Anthony Main, I realized that I was kind of booking it -- at least by my standards I was. I was on track to beat my half marathon time, and picked it up even more. I saw that some half marathoners were back at the starting line at this point, but remembered that they ran 11 while I ran 12.5. It was a good feeling to know that I was able to pick up my pace and run more than an additional mile while others were finishing up -- all while on a training run!

I got back to the starting line and clicked off my Garmin: 1:48:39. I have never run a long run so quickly! That's when I began thinking ... Why couldn't I have done this during my half marathon 2 weekends ago?! That would have been good for a 1:51 or 1:52 race, dang it! Other than the first mile where V and I were separating ourselves from the gaggle of runners, I never went above a 9-minute mile. What a perfect Saturday morning long run. :)

Happy early Mother's Day to all you beautiful mothers out there -- plant, pet, and child mothers alike!

12.4mi splits (1h 48m 39s):
1: 9:06
2: 8:44
3: 8:59
4: 8:50
5: 8:46
6: 8:37
7: 8:28
8: 8:39
9: 8:36
10: 8:59
11: 8:51
12: 8:39
.4: 3:21
Air Temp: 42F

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cross Training?

My friend's company went through a round of layoffs today. He still has his job, but it's going to be hard on his company ... especially when they have a co-ed softball team that lost two players!

I got a call around 4:30 today, asking if I wanted to sub for one of the females at their 7:00 game (or else the team would have to forfeit). Uhh, have I ever played softball a day in my life. Okay, so I did little league when I was in third grade -- but that definitely doesn't count. I didn't want my friend to be sad about losing a(nother) game, so I stepped in.

I quickly scurried home, fit in the fastest 4-mile run ever, then called my remaining mile I was supposed to do "cross training" as I did jumping jacks in the outfield. I also vowed to make a solid effort to chase after whatever came to right field ... which was essentially nothing. It counts as some semblance of a workout, right?

This is about where they trusted me on the playing field. Definitely a wise choice.
Friend posing for a picture, which was begging to be hijacked.
And this is about how much contact I had with the ball the entire game (notice the absence of said ball). Yup, I never touched it; not even when I was at bat.

Even though I contributed absolutely nothing and struck out when at the plate, they invited me back to finish the season?! Could I channel my inner Maureen and take up softball as my second hobby?!

I think I am going to stick to my first hobby and put myself on the sub list. :)

4mi splits: 8:12, 8:17, 8:00, 8:01
Air temp: 62F

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One Half of the Duel

For the first time since I started my marathon training, I missed a workout.

Instead of my easy 5-miler this evening, I chose to head west of town to catch a lecture by Minneapolis-native Dick Beardsley. If you ever have a chance to see this man speak, do not delay.

Mr. Beardsley has a resume of accomplishments that take up an entire website in and of themselves, so to sum up the highlights, he is Grandma's Marathon record holder, the Napa Valley Marathon record holder, and the 4th fastest American of all time.

He's best known for his "Duel In the Sun" 1982 Boston Marathon race with Alberto Salazar; Beardsley placed second -- just 1.6 seconds behind the victor -- in a race where they both set a course record and were never an arm's length away from one another during the first 25+ miles. After consistently running less than 5-minute miles for 25 miles in the scorching afternoon heat, it was only during the last 1,000 meters Salazar got ahead after Beardsley stepped in a pothole, but Beardsley amazingly caught back up. Perhaps if Beardsley hadn't been tripped up by the police bike motorcade that wouldn't get out of his way, he would have won. Despite coming so close to taking the title, Beardsley spoke candidly about how getting second place was better than winning, and of the road it took to get there.
I loved listening to Mr. Beardsley speak because he's so incredibly humble and self-effacing, yet hilarious. He admits he had no interest in running because the sport coincided with hunting and fishing season, and until he wanted to pick up chicks (he assumed he needed a letter jacket to do that), he wasn't fit for any other sports. He came in last during cross country practice, he only ran one varsity race (his coach felt bad and wanted him to get his letter jacket), and he was basically the stumbling idiot on the team. Despite all the odds, he still ended up becoming one of the best long-distance runners this country has ever seen, and he did so in a very short amount of time.

He also suffered a long, depressing history of narcotic drug addiction as a result of a farming accident, getting hit by two cars while out running, and needing far too many surgeries to get his body in a functioning place after his accidents. As a result of his prescription drug addiction treatment, he now speaks openly about addiction, how running is a great avenue for many addicts (hello!), and how he's started the Dick Beardsley Foundation to promote, support, and speak about addiction recovery.

I showed up nice and early for his lecture thinking I wanted a good seat, and was surprised to see it was taking place in basically a high school health classroom. I can't tell you the last time I sat in one of those tiny desks!
When people slowly started filtering in, I realized I was -- by far -- the youngest person in the room. Then again, I should have expected it: Were many people interested in seeing a guy speak about the peak of his career the year I was born? Of course the people who went to see him were probably also in the peaks of their running careers at the same time he was. Oh well.

In any regard, Mr. Beardsley was a very sweet man; his story is heart-felt, emotional, captivating, animated, energizing, inspiring, movie-worthy (yes, they are making a movie about his life!) and above all, he makes you feel that you really are capable of doing anything you put your mind to. As I approach my second "peak week" of marathon training, his story was exactly what I needed to hear.
Friday is normally my rest day before my Saturday long runs. In true addict fashion, I'll be doing the workout I missed today then. :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Training Run No. 8

It's really no secret that I love airplanes. I enjoy reading about the aerodynamics of planes, I have subscribed to podcasts about flights and flight patterns, I have plenty of books about the history and mechanics of flying, and it's no coincidence that I live on the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport's flight path. Every day I get to watch and listen to hundreds of airplanes flying overhead during take-off or landing. I can more or less tell what kind of airplane it is (freight, passenger, commercial, military) based on the engine noises, and my ears perk up when I hear anything new. I have figured out which runways the airport uses on which days -- and I'm slowly figuring out at which times -- because of the air traffic above my apartment. I have even gone to one of the dog parks (note: I don't have a dog) near the end of one of the runways just to stand under planes when they take off. I may or may not have reenacted the "Free Willy" cover art, except I was Jesse and Willy was probably some random Delta flight.Airplanes are seriously so cool.

The one thing I can't stand about airplanes is being in them. In fact, the feelings I have about being in an airplane involve the complete absence of love. I hate flying, I panic during the entire flight, and I can't be a normal human being when I'm not on the ground. Even when I drug myself, I can't get over how unnatural and scary the act of flying is. During my last flight, some 5-year old showed me up by having to tell me the plane was okay during turbulence. Yikes.

Regardless of my in-flight fears, I was beyond geeked to find out that the Minneapolis Marathon training group run today was going to be right next to the MSP airport! What better way to distract myself during my first 20-miler than to be around landing/taking off airplanes! When I got the map of the route, I immediately hoped that flights would be coming in from the east so I could be close enough to throw rocks at them.
(Forgive me for using the term "mile repeats" loosely since I know a mile repeat is technically a type of training run. This is basically where I looped Snelling Lake twice as part of me adding on additional miles to the predetermined 15.3-mile route.)

To my luck, the planes did in fact come in from the east this morning, and while the lake had a lot of tree cover, I did have a number of deafening airplanes fly straight above my head! It was unreal! The two guys I was running near would laugh at me everytime I would scream with excitement and yell at the planes. "AHHHH! COME ON! HOW COOL IS THIS?!" They remained silent. One guy uttered, "It just doesn't get old for you, does it?" No, sir. No it does not! One airplane was coming in somewhat sideways due to the heavy winds today ... it was so crazy and I almost peed my pants watching that thing skid around in the sky. I really hope I get to be a pilot in my next life. I'm waaaay too terrified of flying to try it in this one. :)
Regardless of today's airplane excitement highlight, we had a huge turnout at Team Ortho's Minneapolis Marathon training group. We had a record number of participants, so they took our picture beforehand to document this monumental feat.
I covered miles 9-22 of the actual marathon route, and I have officially run the entire course now. The section we ran today was much hillier and dirt path-ier, but it wasn't impossible ... except for one HUGE hill I had to crawl up. I'm excited that I know more or less what to expect in terms of the terrain.

It was unbelievably windy today, but the course was lush, green, a good mix of pavement and dirt, and it wasn't too hot. The sun came and went with the visiting clouds but it remained right around 55 degrees all morning, which I find to be perfect for running.

We started at Historic Fort Snelling, which I've never actually been to. I had a bit of trouble getting to the start because of all the wacky roads and lack of exits off the highway, but I made it with about 10 minutes to spare. Fort Snelling is huge -- it's like a mini city within the city -- with Air Force and military buildings, a golf course, a tennis club, a chapel, baseball fields, a Metro transit station, and their huge cemetery. Both my grandmother and grandfather on my dad's side are laid there, and while I wasn't actually near the cemetery, I still said a little hello to both of them.

During the marathon, we will essentially be running from downtown Minneapolis to Snelling Lake in Historic Fort Snelling, then loop all the way back along the Mississippi. While we were waiting for announcements, I peeked over a handrail to the Mississippi and saw downtown. It suddenly hit me (really hit me) how far I will be running on June 6.
Here was some of the welcomed dirt trails around Snelling Lake. It was so peaceful back there (even with the crazy loud planes overhead!). I would head back there just to run this for fun.
I ended up having a really great first attempt at the 20-mile distance. I took a peanut butter tortilla wrap around mile 11 when I first realized that I should refuel before it was too late, and between miles 15 and 18 I popped Sports Beans. Both of my arches gave me some trouble between miles 18 and 20, but it wasn't anything I couldn't bear without slowing down a little and telling myself to HTFU.

While I did my 20-miler decently slowly (and I took two water stops, which I was sure to enjoy), this was a huge achievement for me: Today I actually feel like I may be able do this marathon. It's a looooong way to run and I still have a looooong way to go, but I'm learning my limits and what I need to do to get there. It's a good feeling.

I would like to thank the Brooks Defyance 4 and my golden shoelaces for helping make today's run possible. :)
After my run, I decided to try something new. Normally I rely on food, water, and rest for my recovery, but today I attempted my very first ice bath. And, to make it even more BA, I drank one of my soy yogurt/vegan protein smoothies while in the ice bath! Now that's some hardcore cold-on-cold action.

Minnesota Northwoods Pure ice?! Nothing like going all out when it comes to ... freezing water. (Hey, I needed a lot of it for my bath, and my little ice cube tray wasn't going to cut it!)
Yes, this really is perfect for every use. :)
I have to admit, the ice bath was not pleasant ... at all. Sitting waist-deep for 15 minutes in frozen water got progressively suckier and suckier as the minutes ticked by, but I got out of the tub feeling like I hadn't even run!? My muscles felt terrific! I'm not sure I'd say I would like to go do another 20 miles since my feet are still achy, but my muscles feel fantastic considering what I put them through. I'm having a bit of discomfort in my hips and knees, but that's not new (and it could also because I ran my longest run to date in shoes that really aren't broken in). Normally I'm relatively out of commission the day of a long run, but I feel great. Perhaps I could go fit in a swim today and make my peak week even peakier! (??!)

Today was a good day, and I rocked my first of two peak weeks.

Also, I just wanted to share this funny scene. While biking to my vegan grill-out last weekend, I saw this:
I'm really hoping it's for the parade tomorrow, as I'm guessing hunting anything that size -- an eagle, no less -- is way beyond illegal. :)

Happy May Day!