Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Questionable Decisions

So far this week I've done all triathlon sports within a 24 hour period. A one hour swim Monday morning, which was highly exciting because I managed to do the whole thing freestyle. That's important because that's how you have to swim in triathlons. It's a law. Usually I switch strokes because I get bored, but I guess I should break that habit.

Tuesday morning was an hour of spinning followed by 30 minutes of running. I can't wait until I can ride outside during the week more. It's way too easy to half ass a trainer ride at 5am while I'm half asleep.

Racing can get expensive, which means that just like anywhere else you may spend your money, it's tough to resist a good deal. This inability to resist a good deal has led me to some questionable decisions lately. I haven't really mentioned them, because mentioning them on the blog makes them real and real is scary.

On Valentine's Day, I cryptically mentioned that I'd made such a questionable decision but didn't elaborate. I"m finally ready to admit that I signed up for a GORUCK challenge. This is a super secret, overnight event. Basically you show up to a location that isn't announced until the week of the event (you know the city, but that's it) at 10pm, and are led through the city for 8-10 hours, covering 15-20 miles. Doing things like bear crawls, pushups, flutter kicks (during the part where they submerge you in water), buddy carries....the list goes on and on. It's super secret because the special forces members who run it don't really decide what exciting challenges it will hold ahead of time. 

Oh, and you wear a backpack with 4 bricks in it the entire time. 

My friend Mike did such a challenge a few months ago and has been trying to convince me to sign up ever since, and my first reaction was: no way, no way in hell, never, you're insane, not if you paid me, etc, etc, etc. 

Then they had one in Baltimore, and two of my other friends, Jackie and Colleen, joined Mike. That was a Saturday night, and on Tuesday Jackie emailed me to convince me to sign up for the upcoming Annapolis challenge with her. Since now I had girlfriends saying it was awesome, and they were throwing down their credit cards to sign up again before they could even walk down stairs, I was convinced to try it. 

The real clincher was that it was buy one get one free until midnight, meaning Lily and I could split the price of one entry. And that, my friends, is how loving good deals gets you in trouble.

One thing (of many) that really concerns me is the staying up all night thing. You see, Jackie and Colleen work as a surgeon and a police officer, respectively. So they have the advantage of not only being able to stay up all night, but staying up all night doing things like SAVING LIVES. I'm used to getting my beauty sleep so I can be at my best for this:

I actually had my friend come in and take this while I was teaching for authenticity (you're welcome), but my students said it looked staged and I never look like that while I'm teaching.

 I think I stayed up until 6am studying one time in my freshmen year of college. Then went to sleep. Now I go to bed earlier than my students AND my grandmother. Oh, and I have no upper body strength. 

That was just questionable decision number one. Questionable decision number two is that I'm running another marathon. A week from Sunday. I had no choice though - I was offered a free entry.

Kara ran the Lower Potomac Marathon as her first marathon last year. She was given a comped entry this year. She had already agreed to volunteer for the race, so she was nice enough to offer it to me, as well as room, board, baby drool, and pizza. Also, a running buddy for the last six miles. I'm excited to go visit her and run another marathon, but terrified because music isn't allowed. I truly question my ability to run 26.2 miles without Ke$ha. Just typing that was frightening. She told me about the entry last week, but I haven't admitted it on the blog or to many people because this is probably the most I've ever feared a marathon, including my first. But, I know I can run 26.2 miles, I'm not ready to do another ultra yet, and GORUCK and the Half Ironman aren't for months, so I need some sort of challenge....right?

What do you think of GORUCK? Would you ever do it (there are spots still open on my team!)?

Have you ever stayed up all night?

Do you need music to race? Maybe I should mention this isn't known as being a "scenic" or "crowd supported" marathon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My first long ride

Full disclosure: I've been a tad nervous about switching from the weekends being for long runs to the weekends being for long bike rides. Mainly because I've never done a long bike ride. And I don't like change.

Also, biking can be a bit stressful because, unlike running, you can't just bike anywhere. Ideally, you'll find a place with wide shoulders, minimal traffic, smooth roads, little to no street lights, etc. My neighborhood doesn't really work too well because most of the streets are busy with zero shoulders.

My training plan called for a three hour bike ride this weekend, so my friend Mike said he had a 30+ mile route for us, which sounded pretty good.

 It was a bit of a jump, since my longest previous ride had been about 18 miles. In July. I ignored that fact. Also the other unsettling reminder that, other than a 10 mile ride on a nice day, I hadn't been on my bike outside since the fall. 

The trainer was an awesome Christmas present, and has been great to get some workouts in. Unfortunately, it can't really do much other than train the muscles and work on cardiovascular conditioning (that sounded sort of scientific, so I'll add in the disclaimer "I think"). Not that those two things aren't important, but it doesn't attack a lot of my cycling weaknesses. Such as steering, not having panic attacks on downhills, going around curves, avoiding potholes, changing gears, dealing with wind resistance, and dodging cars....for starters. 

Despite all that, I loved life on this ride. As we headed out down the first hill and around a curve, that familiar fear  started to grip me again. However, as I got re-accustomed to being on the bike, I started to get more comfortable and it didn't last. Other than my shoulders getting pretty tired and my toes going numb from cold, I was feeling good for most of the ride. 

Shadow shot to prove I was there.

I like smooth pavement.
Scary swinging bridge. I followed the posted sign and walked my bike across.

Just like long runs, it's important to use long rides to learn little lessons in addition to training. I learned today  that if you aren't gripping your brakes in terror, you can shift your hand position and actually help your shoulders hurt less. 

Also properly adjust your helmet before you begin. It's not supposed to crush your skull.

We rode 32.3 miles in two and a half hours. Not exactly what the plan called for, but I took it. Next week also calls for 3 hours of cycling, so I'll give myself something to build up to. 

I quickly threw my running shoes on to get in the required 20 minutes of running to make it a brick workout. I had zero high hopes for pace and hoped to do 2 miles in the twenty minutes. I was pretty surprised when I reached a mile before it was time to turn around at the ten minute mark, and even more surprised when I got back to the car and saw a 8:13 average pace. I was pushing it, but my legs felt fine. The bike ride was at a super easy pace, so I'm sure that helped.

To make things even better, we basically rode all afternoon, so my lunch was 3/4 of a Clif bar. By the time I got home and had dinner the only choice that I had to replace all the calories was to eat them back in chocolate. Darn.

Valentine's Day

Saturday was supposed to be my first long bike ride. On Friday night, when there were tornado warnings and expected 30mph winds, it was canceled. My plan said to do a 75 minute run on Sunday, so I flip flopped the two days. It's weird to think of running in minutes, not miles. I did 8 miles in 73 minutes and called it a day. Even with the winds, I felt great.

My actual Valentine's Day was excellent - tons of chocolates from my students, a hilarious card from my parents, and flowers from my husband. Let's be serious though - Valentine's Day is all about romance. And no one does romance better than girls. So I was truly excited to celebrate (a tad late) with my girls.

Quite a while ago, Carolyn, Casi, Lily, and I planned an epic celebration. We started out with some romantic ice skating, complete with hand holding. Not much though, as we were busy dodging the 864 small children that were on the rink. 95% of them were better skaters than me.

We risked our lives attempting to stop and take this picture, and it didn't even have our skates in it.

Another guy risked his life when Carolyn grabbed him and demanded he take this picture.
After about an hour, we decided to quit while we were ahead with no broken bones, and left to get some coffee. A night this epic required extra caffeine.

After coffee, we got my favorite dinner ever, Wegmans subs, and ate them in my favorite way - snuck into a movie theater. 

Action movies are strictly to do funny poses in front of, not to watch.
 We saw The Vow. Two of us thought it was just ok, two of us loved it. Personally, I thought it was no Breaking Dawn, but staring at Rachel McAdams for two hours made up for it.

After The Vow, we stopped for frozen yogurt. We planned to eat it at my house, with wine, while watching a second movie where Rachel McAdams can't remember who her husband was, so I brought a cooler.

Food porn
 You can't tell but mine had 4 kinds of yogurt, brownies, reese's, oreos, and nutella, among other toppings.

Tell me this doesn't look like the best night of any woman's life

Eric was too frightened to come take a picture of all four of us.

Now The Notebook - there's a good movie. Combine Kiwi and Pear flavors into wine - also a good choice. Eric hid in the bedroom all night terrified. Probably another wise choice because he would have come out to the tissue box being passed around to four sobbing girls.

Be honest - would you rather spend Valentine's Day with your significant other, or have a day like this with friends? Eric is great to hang out with and all, but a husband will never sob to The Notebook. Sometimes you just need your besties.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Sometimes the stars align for bloggers. The very same day that I do something completely stupid that I plan to embarrass myself by sharing on the blog, I get an email with my Myrtle Beach marathon race photos. Now I have a theme for today's post without even trying!

One time I told a friend on Facebook that I don't really get embarrassed anymore. Whoever runs Karma must have seen that message, because the very next week I was pulled on stage during an assembly and forced to do some sort of African dance in front of the entire school. I was embarrassed.

But, before I get to that, I must share the exciting news that I did manage to make it through yesterday's hour long swim. It wasn't fast or done with good form by any means, but I did move back and forth across the pool continually for the entire hour, with no help from floaties or inner tubes or the like. The pool was pretty crowded, and I did kick a guy while sharing a lane, so it did sort of simulate triathlon training. I still think my idea of having Eric come to the pool and just randomly attack me and swim over me while I attempt to do laps is the best bet, though.

My training plan had 90 minutes of spinning on the schedule this morning. The YMCA has spin class at 5:45, but it's only 45 minutes long, so I got up at 4:30 to do another 45 minutes before class. I'm noticing that triathlon training means the 4am hour is about to become my friend.

Luckily, I had something exciting to get me out of bed. My new noodle hugger - a headband that the talented Emily makes and sells for super cheap prices. I'm cheap too, so I bought three and had her bring them to Myrtle Beach. I'll spend money on headbands even though I already have 400, but I'm not throwing the post office an extra $2.

It's just that perfect.
My bike hadn't been shifting gears correctly for a few weeks, which wasn't a huge issue on the trainer, but would be for my outside ride tomorrow. I finally got around to bringing it to the bike shop to find out the problem, really hoping it wouldn't need some expensive repair. 

Eric had diagnosed it with a bent rim, so I walked in the bike shop announcing my bike had a bent rim like I knew something. The guy took it in the back and figured out the problem in approximately half a second. Turns out there was no problem, except the owner. Apparently you are supposed to clean the chain. Frequently. Buying the bike in April and cleaning the chain in February doesn't qualify.

This is why I like running. You get shoes, and then you run. No other work required.

They sold me a little contraption that attaches to the chain and then you pedal and the brushes inside clean it. Now my bike shifts gears nice and smooth like it's coated in butter.

After my first marathon, my own mother said my race pictures looked like I was a member of some sort of program where the Special Olympics helps their contestants run marathons. So based on that sort of photographic past, plus knowing how I actually felt during the marathon, I thought I was prepared for the worst.

Somewhere near mile 12, I was still with Lily, it was still early in the race, and I saw the photographer in time.

At least in this one I appear to be a somewhat normal runner.

I look like I'm about to smack her for bringing a fanny pack.
Lily's aunt's theory is that if you are smiling in race photos, you didn't work hard enough. I'm pretty sure she would approve of mine. Here's what I probably looked like in 99% of the race.

In my defense, the orange barricades in the background show I was almost at the finish line.

Don't hate because I can run a marathon with my eyes closed.
 I hope these photos brought some joy to your day. 

Do you agree with the theory that smiling photos means you didn't work hard enough?
I can usually smile easily in the first half, but after that, not so much.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My new least favorite exercise

After running a marathon, things can get tricky. You hear all this stuff about how you are supposed to take one day off for every mile ran, but generally you're all pumped up from wearing the medal around, and already planning your next race. 

I took two complete days off, then was ready to get going again. My legs were still really sore, like the kind where going down stairs is tough. I haven't been sore that long after a marathon since my first. Of course, now I'm all jazzed up on running and can't wait for my next marathon (especially after reading Kari's  post yesterday). So it's kind of weird that I now have to shift gears, and start boning up on two other sports. 

Now that the marathon is over, I intend to start following my Half Ironman plan fully. Tuesday, the plan called for 60 minutes of biking and 30 minutes of running in "Z2", which means conversational pace. I was barely prepared to do that, but I tried. It's hard to tell what's conversational pace by yourself.

I had woken up Monday feeling somewhat better, but 10+ hours in the car took care of that for me. We didn't get home until after 9pm, so I was expecting to want to cry when my alarm went off at 5am the following morning, but getting up was surprisingly less terrible than expected. I did a pretty easy hour on the trainer, and then quickly layered up to run, since it was 27 degrees outside.

Running was pretty painful, but my "I love running because running is the greatest!!!" high carried me through a quick 3.3 miles. I was surprised to see an average pace of 9:17, since I was expecting this run to be more in the 10:00-10:30 or even higher pace.

My friend Jackie and I have been discussing doing a boot camp workout for months, and never seemed to be able to find a date that worked around everyone's crazy work and marathon training schedule. During Monday's painful car ride home, an email reminded me that we'd finally managed to schedule it. For this Wednesday. 4 days after the marathon. Awesome.

I wasn't about to back out since we had started talking about doing this in October, and since Jackie was designing it, she was nice enough to make it mainly upper body. Which may help, since I have a 1.2 mile swim coming up in a few months. I'd never done an outdoor bootcamp, but I'd heard they can be brutal. Even more brutal than waking up at 4:20 am to get there. 

The workout was brutal (and this was an "easier" one since it was our first and we are all recovering from intense races) but it was awesome. Jackie did a great job. She designed four circuits, with quick bursts of all sorts of crazy stuff - pushups, variations on pushups, situps, variations on situps, mountain climbers, planks, tricep dips, etc. She had one lunge set, but my quads were still screaming, so I did push ups instead. Extra upper body work never hurt a runner. I was also introduced to bear crawls, which may replace mountain climbers as my least favorite exercise of all time. 

I drove an hour round trip and paid $3 for the toll for the pleasure of that torture. Worth it. There's really no chance in hell I'm doing bear crawls and pushups at 5am on my own. Plus, once we get the hang of it, we are going to rotate who hosts/leads the workout. 

Obviously boot camp wasn't on the schedule, and I'd already skipped a day of the plan on Monday, so I had to replace a day of running with bootcamp. It feels weird, but I need to get used to the fact that if something needs to go now, it's running. I can't afford to skimp on cycling or swimming.

Tomorrow the schedule says an hour of swimming. I've never swam that long. Actually I've only swam half that long. I'm scared.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dancing is your best bet

I don't know how I forgot to mention this in my recap post, but Lily and I engaged in our patented, number one marathon recovery activity Saturday night at the post race party. 

Dancing our asses off. Which is really hot when you can barely move your legs.
People who danced too well obviously didn't run hard enough. Also people who were able to make normal expressions in pictures half assed it.

It was really hard to take my eyes off Glitter Pants Suit.
Our 4:30 wakeup call Saturday morning for the race, plus that whole running really far and drinking thing did us in and we were all asleep by 10pm that night, which was much later than I thought I'd make it. Which meant we were all up by 7am on Sunday. Party animals.

Mike, Nicole, Emily and I decided to take a walk on the beach to loosen up. It was grey, drizzling, and windy, but not too cold. We walked about a mile in the sand and I saw my first real - life (dead) jellyfish, which we got to kick and explore. We turned around and got the pleasure of not only walking into the wind, but a torrential downpour immediately began. 

It started thundering and lightening when we got back to the hotel. Except the boardwalk that we thought led to our hotel led to a different hotel, since our visibility was approximately zero. By the time we finally made it back, the hotel staff had to put up a wet floor sign as a result of our walking from the door to the elevator. Does it sound like I'm complaining? Because I'm not, I loved our adventure and I couldn't get over how lucky we were that we didn't have that adventure during the marathon.

Nicole's sweatshirt is supposed to show how wet we were.

Since it was pouring rain, we spent the remainder of the day enjoying the view of the ocean from our hotel. I loved the food at the post race party (especially the price), but it had been a little bland, and I was craving salt like crazy. Emily suggested Chinese food for lunch, and nothing had ever sounded better. We found a place that also had stuff like burgers, so Emily and I went on an adventure to get lunch for everyone. It turned out it was about twice as far as we'd thought, and when I asked for extra ketchup for Nicole, they insisted that they'd given me "enough for you" and charged me for extra. I thought since I was getting charged they'd give me a bottle or something, but they just threw like 4 extra packets in the bag. Money well spent. When we got back and everyone dug in, it turns out that Emily and I had been the only ones to make the right choice - when ordering from a place called "Wok Express", a burger isn't your best bet. Nicole's "turkey burger" was a burger with a slice of deli turkey on top. However, my shrimp and vegetables soaked in soy sauce hit the spot.

We said a sad goodbye to Emily, Nicole, and Mike, and spent the afternoon all doing grad work. Again, not complaining, because grad work while looking at the ocean is a huge step up from grad work in my own living room. When it was dinner time, Lily and I continued the salt - fest with a Mexican feast.

Margarita plus homemade chips and salsa is the best post-race food ever.

Obviously, that was only the beginning. We got back and took one final dip in the hot tub with some wine. I just want to spend every night drinking wine in a gorgeous, outdoor hot tub that overlooks the ocean.

Finally, it was time for my sundae bar. Someone suggested we didn't need to get the largest ice cream container that Super WalMart had to offer, but thank god I was there to provide a voice of reason.

This was what remained after my sundae.

I think we all know how I felt about this.
Even though I was only 3 minutes above my marathon PR, I'm very happy with my time. My Garmin autopaused in the bathroom, so my Garmin time was 3:55:56, which means that the bathroom break didn't cost me a PR (which would have made me cry). I was pretty sick with bronchitis throughout a lot of my way too short training. In retrospect, I think this race was too close to the 50 miler, but I don't regret it. 

I'm thrilled to have another sub-4 marathon under my belt. I tend to doubt my abilities, so even though I got a sub - 4 in Baltimore, thoughts plagued me like "Maybe that was just a fluke. The race gods were smiling at me that day. I couldn't have done it without Kara pushing me". I feel good knowing that this time represents my true abilities, and that I was able to push myself to get there. It was great having friends to run with for the first half of the race, but we all know the end is where the going gets rough. 

I also just found out that I was 25th in my age group!

I'm so sad to have to leave Myrtle Beach, especially since today is gorgeous and sunny. Returning from vacation to the real world is so lame. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Myrtle Beach Marathon recap

Yesterday, I completed my fifth marathon. Official time - 3:57:52. I think the only slightly less than positive thing I have to say about this race was that they made the huge "medical tent" signs look exactly like mile markers, and that really ruined my life at what I thought was mile 24. 

On Friday, Emily, who was about to run her first half marathon, met Lily, Eric, and I at the race expo to get our packets. 

We were really into the palm trees.
We then adjourned to enjoy what might be the world's greatest lunch: soup and salad at Olive Garden. After that, we headed to the hotel to check in and get set up for the weekend. It turned out that we were staying at an absolutely gorgeous, gigantic villa, with two bedrooms and bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a large living room. Which was lucky, because here's what we brought with us.

This is just from four of the six of us staying in the villa.

Can't beat this view from our private balcony. 
We took a dip in one of the many outdoor hot tubs to relax before the race. I've never done that in hotels before races in the past, because I was afraid it would dehydrate me, but I'll never forgo the hot tub again.

The last two members of our party, our friends Nicole and Mike, arrived later Friday night. Mike was about to run his first marathon, and Nicole was, by far, the best spectator and most enthusiastic cheerleader at the race.

I'm sure you can imagine my excitement when I saw the sign she had made us. It was even more exciting because she had no idea that Emily had found us absolutely epic race shirts. 

5am pre-race pictures are always a good idea.
If you don't understand why this is fantastic, stop reading this blog and start reading the Hunger Games.

We went to the race in two shifts: those of us who freak out if we aren't at the race super early, and those of us who freak out about having to wake up super early. The second group got to the start line with less than a minute to spare.

6:30 am race start means you get to see the sun rise!
I've run a good number of races in my day, and this one was one of the most well organized that I've experienced. There was a huge shopping center with tons of free parking right at the start line, more than enough porto-potties (enough time for those of us who need to go twice to easily fit that in), and music blasting to get us pumped up.

The half and the full started together and stayed together for the first 11 miles. Eric likes to run alone, so he headed to the back of the pack, and Emily, Mike, Lily and I started out together. The first mile was so crowded (we ran it in 10:46!) but it quickly spread out and there was plenty of room for the following 25.2. 

We separated from Emily early on (around mile 2), but stayed with Mike until mile 8. He kept us at a good pace (between 8:30-8:45), and then felt good, so he headed out while Lily and I walked through a water stop. I was feeling great, and really enjoying the course, which was through the touristy strip of Myrtle Beach. The only problem was having to pee by mile 2, which led me to believe that my goal of no bathroom breaks wasn't in the cards for this marathon.

I made it until mile 9 or 10, but then we saw some bathrooms with no line so we decided to just get it out of the way, and were back on the course in less than two minutes. I was still upset at losing the time, but feeling so much better helped me get over it. 

At mile 11 the full and half marathon split. I've never been in a race where the half marathoners split off like that, and I thought it would be a real downer seeing them head off toward the finish with more than 15 miles left to go, but it actually didn't bother me. The course cleared out a lot after that, but there were still plenty of runners to keep things interesting. 

At mile 12, Nicole was cheering her ass off for us.

If you've run a marathon, you know you have to play some completely insane mind games to get through it. Any time I wanted to slow down, I'd tell myself "If you don't speed up and pass this guy/girl RIGHT NOW Cato is going to come up behind you with his knife and completely F%&# you up." 

Training helps, but the ability to be completely delusional is really what gets you through 26.2 miles. 

Can you spot me and Lily?
Just after the halfway point, I felt pretty good, so I told Lily I was going to try to push it and we said goodbye. I thought I could run a few miles before I started jamming to my music, but I had my headphones in by mile 14. Music is just so much more motivating than listening to a bunch of sweaty people breathing heavily. 

Just after we passed our hotel at mile 17, we turned away from the main strip we'd been on since mile 8 or 9 and passed the next few miles in some random neighborhoods before heading back toward the finish. A guy had collapsed and was surrounded by a group of runners while someone performed CPR and mouth to mouth. Runners separated and helped to direct an ambulance rushing toward him. It was really scary to see, and after the race we kept checking the news to try to find out what happened. Luckily, we found out later that night that he had survived and was recuperating in the hospital.

I was pretty shaken after seeing that, but obviously there was nothing I could have done to help, so I tried to just move on. I saw Mike and Lily again in an out and back portion and they both looked strong, so that helped. Also, the weather could not have been better. It was in the high 50s/low 60s and sunny with barely any wind. I was still enjoying the course and felt good. Miles 8-18 my pace was in the 8:50-9:10 range.

The next few miles had some good crowd support, which was nice, but then we turned off onto some random paved path next to a highway, so there was really nothing to look at except.....highway. Around mile 22 I went from feeling great to feeling like complete hell, which in my experience is the nature of marathons. Something about that running 22 miles as hard as you can really takes a toll on you. 

At mile 20 the clock was at 3:03. I hadn't been looking at my Garmin at all. It hadn't found satellite right away, so it wouldn't have been accurate, and I wanted to run by feel instead of obsessing over pace, which seems to be my best bet. We'd crossed the start line less than a minute after the race began, so I knew getting in under 4 hours was going to be a challenge. I'd been walking through every other water stop since mile 8 and refilling my handheld when needed, but there was no way I was stopping or slowing down after mile 20. Too much risk of not being able to start again. My pace was just under 9:00 in miles 20-25.

There were clocks every two miles after that, so I was continually playing the game of "omigod, I only have 40 minutes to run 4.2 miles, can I do that? What pace is that? What pace am I running - should I look at my Garmin? No, you've come this far, don't look at it. How the hell long does it take to run .2??" followed by "just calm down and keep running like you have been". I'm fairly sure that's the most pain I've been in during the last 10K of a marathon. I definitely remember feeling a lot better in the last 6.2 of the Baltimore Marathon

So, the last few miles were pretty freaking rough. Nicole was cheering at mile 25.5, and all I could do was turn my head towards her and give her a halfhearted grimace that was supposed to be a smile. It should have been a huge boost, but I was giving everything I had to keep running at that point, and had zero energy left over for things like emotions.

There was no 26 mile marker, but there was a clock, which I assumed was at mile 26. The clock said 3:57, and I let out a huge groan. Like, I'm talking top volume. I knew I was going to have to sprint it in to make it under 4 hours. The final .2 was at a 7:15 pace, and I'm really not sure how I pulled that out after 26 miles, since sometimes I can barely run 800 intervals that fast. Emily said she saw me come across the finish on the huge TV, and I can't even imagine how frightening I must have looked.

Immediately after finishing I found Emily, Nicole, and Mike. I could barely walk or think, but I'm sure deep down I was really excited for Emily and Mike for completing their first half marathon and marathon, respectively.

Mike did great, although I'm pretty sure that he should sell this picture from the finisher's chute to active.com, so they can post it as a warning to all those interested in signing up for a first marathon.

Running a marathon is fun, but be prepared to look like this afterwards.

We managed to pull it together a tad for a photo op, but not by much.
After walking around in a daze collecting random foods and drinks, we finally managed to get the group together.
Mike was still struggling with directions such as "look at the camera and smile".
I love small races, but big races like this also have their perks.
After stopping here, I was in slightly less pain.

Having that early race start meant we had plenty of time to take a dip in the freezing cold ocean.

At mile 24 I saw a finisher wearing his flip flop medal, which was one of the reasons I kept going.

We spent some quality time in the hot tub, then some time doing this.

The marathon continued to exceed our wildest expectations when we headed to the post race party. The party was at 5pm, so I loved that it gave the runners time to shower, drink coffee, and regain some of their mental faculties. It was in a huge bar with two floors, tons of food, free beer, live music, and footage from the race streaming on huge TVs everywhere.

We showed off our medals and race shirts. It took me five marathons, but I finally got a short sleeve race shirt. 

I'd had a few snacks at the hotel, but none of us really ate until we got to the party, where they had the perfect runner's dinner: two kinds of pasta and a rice dish. Still, apparently not eating much all day, going in the hot tub, and chugging Michelob Ultra wasn't the best plan, because I was really nauseous when we got back. The three full marathoners took yet another dip in the hot tub, and then we busted out the sundae bar that I'd been so excited for. The though of ice cream made me want to hurl, so while I feared for my sanity, this was all I could manage for dessert.

I love Cheez-Its, but they're no sundae bar.

Despite the fact that I was in the most marathon pain I've been in during the end (possibly, or possibly I've just blocked out other marathons), I loved this race and really enjoyed it. I had a fantastic time up until about mile 21 or 22, and that's really all you can ask. 

Thank you so much for all the supportive comments! Don't worry, I plan to destroy the remnants of the sundae bar tonight.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The picture of ideal marathon prep

I'm blogging in Myrtle Beach - and running the marathon tomorrow!!! Our view from our hotel is mainly shopping centers, but I'm pretty sure I saw a palm tree when we pulled in last night.

To sum up my week of preparation, I did a super easy three mile run Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and ate massive amounts of chocolate and valentine's day candy every day. I drank some Powerade, so I'm good. 

Last night after work, Eric, Lily and I headed down south. We left about 6:30 pm, and I carb loaded with my first ever Subway foot long. I may never go back to the 6 inch. 

I mentioned in my last post that Runner's World should really do a feature on proper pre-marathon nutrition using me as an example. (Hint: Eat an entire box of Valentine's Day chocolate every night). I've read numerous times that the sleep you get the night before the marathon doesn't really affect your performance, so lying awake due to nerves all night is nothing to worry about.  It's actually most important to get a good night of sleep two nights before the race.

I really nailed that one. I took a Tylenol pm at midnight, and restlessly dozed in the backseat until 3:30am when we pulled into the hotel in Myrtle Beach (Eric is obviously a superhero for driving). By that point I was so whacked out that I couldn't even string together a sentence, and stumbled to our room to crash for another 6 hours. Now on top of a stellar week of nutrition, I also got proper rest for optimal performance. NAILED IT. Plus there's nothing that helps hydration like 9 hours in the car. 

In all seriousness, these will just become important factors in my excuses in the case of poor performance, or overwhelming obstacles I managed to overcome in the case of a good race.

Is there anyone out there who doesn't love the Hampton? Despite being exhausted, all of our internal alarm clocks woke us up by 9:30. The most important part of a hotel is the complimentary breakfast (second place: the pool, third place: if they serve cookies) and it was only served until 10. We were not about to miss out on that. 

Woah Woah Woah.....Oatmeal Bar.

Right now we are laying around in the hotel beds (we must conserve our strength for the race). Once it's checkout time, we'll head to the expo to meet Emily, and then to the villa we are all staying in with Nicole and Mike. Tonight we'll carb load with a pasta dinner party, and we have a nice early wake up call for the 6:30 am start of the marathon on Saturday. I'm not going to lie - I'm getting pretty nervous! I just keep telling myself that at least I don't have to run 55 miles. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A love letter to my husband

That's a little Valentine's Day joke.

On the off chance that I would ever write a love letter to a person I live with, I wouldn't be posting it on a public blog. 

I am curious to see if my stats for this post are way down since who would want to read that?

Here's a funny Valentine's Day story (at least it was funny to me). When Eric and I were engaged in 2008, I really wanted to cook him a steak, but I'd never cooked meat. Everyone at work had different opinions on how to cook it so I got overwhelmed and pulled into Outback on my way home and got takeout. I hid all the  takeout containers and told Eric I'd cooked it myself, and he was duly impressed, which shows he's a man. A woman would have noticed that not a single dish appeared to be dirtied in the process.

The next morning a local radio show was asking for listeners to call in and share if how their Valentine's Day went. I called in and bragged about how awesome I was for fooling my fiance, and they asked if they could call him and reveal the secret on the air. So, we totally got to be February 15th radio celebrities and at least one person I know heard us by chance. 

In 2009 I was a real live wife so I felt obligated to cook Eric and actual steak. 

The watch wasn't a v-day gift. He went through a phase of needing it in every picture.
Good story, huh? In 2012 Valentine's Day exploded in our apartment.

Flowers from Eric, the rest from children
Really generous students + zero willpower around sweets = textbook fueling for a marathon. Runner's World should do a special on me. 

So far my taper has included an hour on the trainer on Monday. Check out my sweet setup.

Good thing I had him take it right when I started. Apparently he was exhausted.

I can't type anymore, in fact, I can barely see straight due to my sugar induced delirium. I've already made one questionable race decision and I need to step away from the computer before I do more damage.