Monday, March 31, 2008

The torture is over!

Yes, it was all self-inflicted and by choice, and I guess I must be a bit of a masochist because I really am glad I tortured myself for all these months to be ready for the Georgia Marathon, but now I will say, I am so glad it's over!! No more training!! (Well, marathon level training at least.)

I feel proud for having done three marathons, and don't feel any need to do another at this point. I guess the second two were trying to recapture and improve on the wonderful feeling I had after the first, but I guess there is no reliving the past. I'll just have to treasure that memory.

First the results. I finished with a time of 4:30. Not as good as my first, but better than my second. And this was by far a hillier route than either of those, so 4:30 is actually not a bad time all things considered.

The best part is, I really felt good all the way up to about mile 23 1/2 - that was the turn back uphill on 10th street. Things got rough after that, but that's pretty much to be expected.


MOB stood by me at the starting corral til the race started. It was pretty cold. Supposedly in the mid-40s, but the wind must have brought it down to the 30s.

I had debated on what to wear, but decided to go with shorts, a long sleeve technical shirt with a short sleeve t-shirt on top. Once we started moving, I picked up an XXL warm cozy sweatshirt that someone had abandoned on the fence. I put it on until our group was almost up to the starting line, at which point, I tied it around my neck and it draped over my shoulders and back like a cape. It did a lot to protect me from the bone-chilling breeze that pushed us through the first 3 miles. After that, I was warmed up and didn't notice a breeze anymore, so I tossed it. Many thanks to the person who left it at the starting area!!

I did the walk/run approach for the first 23 miles - intervals of running 9 minutes and walking 1. I had a bottle of water with me, but took advantage of most of the water stops in the first 14 miles. It was definitely nice to have an option of stopping or not at the water stops. They must have taken the complaints from last year to heart because there was more than enough water. I also nibbled on a Cliff bar from miles 6 to 20.

Although grey clouds hung over us all morning, thankfully it didn't rain, and the flowers blooming all along the route really made up for the lack of color in the sky. Dogwoods, azaleas, rose-buds, maybe some cherry blossoms.... it was exactly what I hoped for as I ran through my favorite neighborhoods in Atlanta.

The half-marathoners were a chatty, noisy group (MOB would say "maybe back where you run") and I was kind of glad for the quiet that followed after we separated from them. There were pockets of crowd support and my face became sore from smiling so much at the people who came out to cheer us on. I really wanted them to know how much I appreciated it. The volunteers are awesome. Running by the cheering crowd at Agnes Scott was a huge rush. No one from the other colleges we ran through (Ga. Tech, Ga. State, Emory - you know who you are), showed up as far as I could tell. Well, except my friend S, who goes to Emory and ran along side with me for about a half-mile between 13 and 14 while we caught up with each other. That was very cool.

The route through the aptly named Druid Hills was tough but lovely, all decked out in spring flowers. I knew that after Druid Hills there'd be a nice stretch of flat and downhill in the Highlands and that kept me hanging on.

Okay, this is a little embarassing. When I finally made it to the bridge entering into Piedmont Park around mile 23, I broke into tears. I've become so connected with this park over the past 5 years of living by it and running through it, that it was like coming home after a really challenging journey. That only lasted a minute, as I realized I couldn't afford to lose it all yet. It was going to be tough going up 10th street right after the park.

A couple I know live on Juniper and 10th (between miles 23 and 24), and had come out on their balcony to cheer me on. I was hoping to see them there, but was not expecting to see my name emblazoned on some kind of placards they'd created and hung off the railing. It was such a rush at a point in the race when I really needed the extra push. They made me feel great.

Then it got tough, as it does for everybody. Around mile 24, my old knee pain started to reveal itself, but I thought about how I forced myself through those last 13 miles in Detroit with that damned pain, and there was no way I was going to let it stop me with only 2 miles to go this time.

I saw MOB just before the finishing area. I was happy to see him because I knew it was almost over, and that was all I wanted at that point. It was a push through the finish. The last 50 yards or so were a twisting, turning maze, but I understood later that they had to change the finish line because of all the glass and damage from the tornado on the original finish line.

It seemed like the temperatures plummeted about 50 degrees after I finished. Luckily MOB had brought my sweats, a dry shirt, and my wind-breaker, but the cold wind stiffened my muscles. I was able to slowly walk up the hill to the Peachtree Marta station, but I could barely make it up the hill coming out of the Arts Center station.

Seriously, I've never felt so immobilized. I think I know what it'll be like for me if I live to be 100. MOB ended up going ahead of me to get the car. Once the heated seats thawed my muscles a bit, I was able to walk again. I am still pretty stiff, but now it's more the normal post-marathon stuff.

So, I guess those were more than the highlights, but more like a full report on the whole thing. :) I guess I covered it! I'm looking forward now to getting into my bloglines and reading about everyone else's race this weekend - either in Georgia or elsewhere!

Friday, March 28, 2008

ING Georgia, and a few other things, on my mind

If it's not clear from both the content of my posts and the quantity of my posts - I've been a bit distracted by other things besides running lately. This past week, MOB mentioned something about trying to see me in the Highlands on Sunday, and I said, "why, what's happening Sunday?" Oh, that's right, I'm only running a frickin' marathon! ;)

Earlier this week, the forecast was ideal for Sunday, but now it looks like there's a chance of showers and lows in the 40s, highs in the 50s. One thing I've learned though, is never trust the forecasts.

It's not just the wedding and trying to sell my condo that's been on my mind. My mind is occupied by work as well. It was a bad year for our industry last year, and whenever a company has a bad year, my area (training and development) always feels a lot of pressure the following year. I really can't complain too much though. Compared to other companies (Delta comes to mind right now), we don't seem to be that bad off.

I try not to blog about work, but I'll just say this - they've been pretty good to me at this place. It's been the ideal job for me so far and I'd kinda like to keep it.

I probably won't be posting again until after the marathon. Going into it, I feel pretty good - I'll get through it. It won't be my best time, but I knew that all along. I'm glad to be part of this particular marathon because it honors all the great features of this city that I've come to call home.

Until then my friends!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring is here!!

I finally saw signs of Spring everywhere during my 7 or 8 mile run this past Friday. It really boosted my mood. Or maybe my mood has also been boosted by the fact that I'm not trying to fit 40miles into every week! The taper is good, long live the taper.

One week from today, I will hopefully be about mid-way through my last marathon! It's funny because although I have wanted to do this marathon for the past two years, now all I'm thinking about is the time I'm going to get back into my life to focus on my upcoming wedding. The party in April is 3 weeks away, the actual wedding is less than a month and a half away.

Ann asked about the tornado that hit Atlanta. Luckily it didn't move up to midtown where my condo is still waiting its new owner. I'm very fortunate that the only effect I will feel is that they've changed the location of the Expo for the marathon. I think I can handle that.

For those who haven't seen the photo yet, InDecatur has shared the best shot of the tornado and some background information on the photo. I'm not going to copy the photo because I'm not sure if it's copyrighted. I think the photographer could make a bit of money off of that shot - it's very incredible.

Monday, March 17, 2008

big woops on that taper

Yeah, so somehow I left a week out right at the end when I made up my training plan. I suddenly realized last week - wait a minute, somehow I did my longest run 4 weeks out from the marathon - I thought it was supposed to be 3 weeks out.

Once I looked more closely at the plan, I realized somehow I left the entire week of March 17th off of it. Nice going! I think a 4-week taper may be too long. To try to make up for it, I did 15 miles last weekend. I'll do 10 for my last long run and just hope and pray that my body holds up come race day!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

22 miles never felt so good

Happy dances all around, I completed my 22 mile long run last Sunday and it went very well!! I averaged a 10:27 minute pace, which is good for me with that distance and on all these hills. It was a perfect and beautiful spring day. The daffodils and crocuses are out and a few red-bud trees (I believe that's what they're called) were making an early full-bloom appearance. After the run, I was able to shower quickly and walk across the park to meet friends for lunch. Not very sore, my stretching and strength training program seems to be helping a lot. I am actually looking forward to this damned marathon now!

Hopefully the weather will be cooperative. We've been getting a lot of rain lately, which is a good thing, but I can't imagine it will be fun if it rains on the marathon.

The only problem now is my shorts (nice Nike running shorts - my favorites). I noticed on my 20-miler a few weeks ago that the back seams in the waistband rubbed raw two small areas of my lower back. On the 22 miler, about 6 areas of my lower back and waist were rubbed raw. I didn't notice it happening at all during either run, but in the shower afterwards, those areas were sore to the touch and later scabbed over in garish red. I guess I'll have to go out and find a new pair of shorts for the marathon. It's not a good idea to introduce new running wear for a marathon, but looks like I don't have a choice.

I made sure to eat lots of carbs on Saturday, the day before the long run. The Friday before was another one of those busy workdays where I procrastinated eating without really thinking about it, and then when I finally got around to it, I just scooped down a quick bowl of cereal. I knew I wasn't well fueled, so I put off my long run until Sunday so I would have more time to fuel up. I think that was a good move.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

ING GA Marathon Route - a moving target

Has anyone else noticed that they seem to have changed the ING GA Marathon Route several times since they first released it? Seems that they are still tweaking the route. No major changes, but I'm glad that they did away with the out and back on Freedom Parkway.