Tuesday, September 29, 2015

T Minus 4 Days

Every day I'm tapering, tapering. The St. George Marathon is this Saturday! I am in full Hanson "Tapering" Mode.  I will only be running 49 miles this week, including the 26.2 on Saturday. This means I have a lot of time on my hands to be restless and perform questionable acts that someone in her right state of mind might find offensive or disturbing. Eating as though I'm still peaking would be an example. Phish Food, Ben and Jerry?  Did you have my demise in mind when you concocted this devil's delight? So sinful no amount of Hail Marys could save me. At least I didn't finish the entire container in one day. Oh wait, does 24 hours count as a day still?

"a chocolate ice cream with gooey marshmallow 
and caramel swirls, and a school of fudge fish"

I also have a lot of time to peruse the internet. I have celebrated National Daughter's Day, National Coffee Day, National One Hit Wonder Day, and National Eat A Quart of Ice Cream Day with friends real and virtual (Are you questioning the validity of that last holiday? Who are you to judge?). I also have read every topic on the Runner's World Marathon message board (RWOL), putting my two cents in when necessary (or unnecessary). I also bought a pair of Pro Compression socks on sale that I won't be wearing on race day because I have never trained in them, however they were too cute to pass up. $30 well spent.

...maybe I will wear them race day after all...

When you have a lot of time, you can also check weather forecasts for cities all over the world online. What does it say about St. George, Utah, you ask? Well, at the beginning of last week the forecast was 86 degrees. Yikes!  Marathons have been known to be cancelled in those temperatures (see Chicago). A couple of days later my iPhone had a different forecast, 95. Was this a joke?!  A RWOL member from Colorado said they were actually expecting a cold front in the area which would bring the temp down to the mid-70s by noon. Still hot after running 26 miles, but sooo much better than the other forecasts.  I'll go with him. (However, as of today, weather.com says 89)

Today is my day off, then 6 easy miles tomorrow. I fly out to Vegas on Thursday where I'll run another 6 (and catch the Cirque du Soleil show Love). Friday I drive two hours to St. George where I plan to run the last 3 miles of the race course. I'm hoping to also drive the course if I have time. Then Saturday is Marathon #5...a little bit of Monica in my life, a little bit of Erica by my side....did I mention I was tapering?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Reach the Beach Relay Review

Monday morning I received an email from our good friend Dana from Martha's Vineyard. He asked if I would be interested in being a last minute substitute for their Reach the Beach Relay team, that weekend.  Without hesitation, I cried, "Yes!" in my head.  Of course, I had to discuss it with Pete first.  Even though he was secretly hoping to be the substitute since he had run that relay with another team twice in the past (Sorry, Pete, they wanted a female...or just me), he was very gung-ho about my participation.  There were a couple of issues, of course.  First, I am winding down my marathon training. Racing two weeks out is not the smartest idea. Would they mind if I was to run 9:00 miles? No problem. And B (as in Van B), I'm going to be away from the kids for four days marathon weekend.  This would be at least three more days away.  No problem, Pete and the kids would drive up. Okay then, done deal!

Thursday afternoon I took the JetBlue shuttle from JFK to Logan where I met N, one of my 11 teammates.  He is a totally chill dude who used to live on the Vineyard before he and his family moved down south. I liked him immediately.  Soon Van B picked us up and I met J, L, and my friend, Dana. We made our way very slowly to New Hampshire. Boston traffic is no joke, but it gave me an opportunity to get to know the others as well as prepare me for my upcoming van odyssey. I snacked on an apple and a couple of Nature's Valley granola bars, but still began to feel foggy and loopy from my hypoglycemia. By the time we arrived at our rented ski lodge in Bretton Woods, I was almost slurring my words. Luckily, a feast awaited. Van 1 (Yes, Van 1 and Van B. There is no Van A or Van 2.) had arrived hours earlier and its occupants had already started cooking.  I downed some cheese and crackers before we all sat down for delicious pasta pomodoro with meatballs and/or pasta with oil and basil, grilled chicken, and a huge salad.

The view from the ski lodge.

The rest of the team were warm and welcoming, just as I had hoped. It would have sucked if they were assholes or thought I was one. Everyone had run Reach the Beach together for many years in the past, but it had been ten years since their last. I had one relay experience, Hood to Coast, so I was familiar with how it worked.

Here are the players:
     Van 1:
          G - The captain who recently had major surgery and wanted to get the old gang together now that he had recovered.
          D - The super nice ultra-marathoner
          ML - Adorable, tiny mother runner whose marathon times range from the 3:20s to 3:30. She is famous for her consistent pace.  She runs 5ks at the same pace as her marathons. I actually met and ran with her the last time we were up on the Vineyard.
          J - A former Division 1 cross country runner.  'Nuff said.
          K - Very sweet, uber fit ice hockey runner. Low 3:00 marathoner.
          P1 - Nice, very fast, and second newest member of the team (I think he ran 4 out of the 10 races with them).
          Chubby - Van 1 mascot, an illuminating gnome who sits on the van roof staring into the night, always watching out for those below him or scheming their demise.  It's hard to say which.

     Van B:
           N - Whom you've already met
           Dana - "
           L - Don't let the "Grandpa status" fool ya, he is in fantastic shape. A gentle giant.
           PB - Another "Grandpa" I wouldn't want to be competing against. He does Spartans with his 24-year old son...and his son has to keep up with him.
           B - The only other female in Van B and what a female she is! She is beautiful and vulgar and hilarious and sweet and freakishly fast, like elite fast.
           Me - Suddenly wondering what I'm doing with this talented team of titans.
          Woody - Van B mascot extraordinaire, the smarter of the two gnomes.

Woody & Van B

After dinner I went to the designated bedroom that I shared with J. G said he would be up at 5, but our start time wasn't until 11:30 so I figured I could do some crossword puzzles that had been ignored over some months due to child rearing. J went right to sleep, but not before my gassy stomach announced I was holding in a fart or two. Nice. I went to sleep a little before midnight.

G and apparently everyone else was up butt early. I tried to stay in bed as late as possible, but breakfast and its creators were summoning me downstairs. We ate, made sandwiches, packed the vans, and were off.

We got to the start early to do a little shopping and attend the mandatory team meeting.The rules were simple: don't relieve yourself publicly or you're disqualified; make your bibs visible or you're disqualified; make sure you are wearing headlamps and flashing lights front and back at nighttime or you're disqualified.

It was time to start. D was Runner #1. He had a beast of an ascent, basically up an almost vertical ski slope that he immediately had to descend. G was next and then J. Once J went, we all got in our respective vans and were headed to the beach which would be almost 200 miles and 28 hours later.

The Start.

I was Runner #8. My first leg wasn't until after 3 in the afternoon. It was 7.3 miles of a gradual downhill in the shade. I passed four people (They are called "kills" in relay speak. Our humane van called them "apples" that we would pick off - like an Olympic assassin would kill a turtle of a jogger.) and nobody passed me. I made the final turn for the last mile right into the afternoon sun. It was hot and uncomfortable, but I ran it out. My Map My Run went wonky at Mile 2, but I think I was averaging 8:00 miles.

N was Runner #12 and then we started all over again. We spent most of the time in the van talking about burping, farting, pooping, peeing, and our kids. If I had known how open everyone was, I wouldn't have held in my fart the night before so I could have been comfortable without my stomach grumbling all night. We took turns driving the van and I think I impressed them with my mad skills. My car at home is almost as big as these 15 passenger vans, after all.

I was dreading my next leg, Leg #20. As time passed, it became apparent that I wasn't going to go out until 3am. B was ahead of me, and she and I had "Wild Card" runs.  Hers was anywhere between 7-9 miles, depending on how she felt, and then mine would be either 4-6. Rather than hand off at a designated transition area, during a Wild Card run, you can hand off whenever you wanted. We both hadn't slept, but we were both antsy to get out there. She took off at 2am on a mostly steep uphill course. We drove past her and I was just in awe at how fast she was climbing that hill. We waited for her at Mile 7, but she wanted to keep going. We had to stop her at Mile 8, though because with all the van congestion, we wouldn't make it to the transition area at Mile 9 in time. I took off into the blackness a little after 3am. My leg was mostly downhill and I flew as fast as I could without really seeing the ground unless headlights were coming up from behind. I followed the lit runners ahead of me, sometimes getting dizzy from their bright flashers. I sped up past the people with the bright lights to avoid a possible migraine. The temperature was 49 degrees and there was also a cool mist in the air.  It felt amazing. My best run of the race.

I drove again after my run, but I was exhausted. I could only drive a couple of more legs before it would become unsafe. Dana took over and I laid down for a nap. Sleeping in a van is restless and almost impossible. When I awoke, I told Dana I could take over driving again.  He laughed at me and said that he had only driven 3 miles. Really? Ugh. I was awake and that would be my shuteye for the 24+ hours.

We had breakfast at a firehouse at one of the transition areas. I had a big pancake, coffee, and juice. I did my business for the first time since the race began which was a relief because I had been eating lots o' carbs that were just sitting in my belly all night. N had hurt himself on his second leg so we all, meaning everyone except for B, decided B would do his last run for him. She obliged because she's a rock star and a team player wrapped into one. Finally, my third leg #32 came around at 1pm the next day. I was functioning on fumes by this point and was so happy to get my run done, but my brain was almost completely asleep despite everything else feigning awake. My last leg was 6.7 miles (GPS said 7.1) with one 300 foot hill in the middle. Almost immediately after taking off I realized I had forgotten to put my bib on.  Luckily, my van drove past and saw me flailing. They stopped and quickly got my bib and pins and I was good to go....until Mother Nature decided to rear her ugly head again. As I winded down the hill, I hopped in the thick brush to go potty. Hello, poison ivy! It was everywhere, but I had to go and fast so I said screw it. I popped out of the bushes and thankfully wasn't seen by the potty police. Apparently, I wasn't done because I made another stealth detour around Mile 6. When I finally made the transition to Dana, B looked at me laughing. "Why are there sticks in your hair?" she asked. Oh, yeah. That.

3 legs, check!

B took off for Leg #36 and both vans made it to the beach. We met her, as well as Pete, kids, and K's family at the finish line. We picked up our tiny trays of meat and beans and headed to the beer tent. We were all thrilled it was over, but also proud of our accomplishment. The teammates were so gracious and said I fit right in with their team. I had a blast thanks to these awesome runners who couldn't have been kinder, funnier, and more welcoming. Long live Woody!

Beer tent

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Inaugural Suffolk County Half Marathon Review

Soon after I bagged the Rockapulco Half Marathon due to "technical difficulties", I started searching for another.  I found the Inaugural Suffolk County Half online.  It was close enough geographically, however maybe too close in time to St. George. I went on the Runner's World marathon message boards to get advice from the gurus. The experienced marathoners said, "Go for it!"  So I went for it.  Later, I had to clarify that I was following the Hanson's Method, to which the gurus said, "Don't do it!" Uh oh. I decided I would use it as a long tempo run, unless I either felt like pushing it or slowing down.

Saturday was packet pickup.  I took my time making my way out there.  I checked the race site as my son and I moseyed into the car around 2:30ish pm.  The expo closed at 3pm!  And it was 45 minutes away! 3:00 - 2:30 = 30 minutes + 45 minutes = drive fast.  We raced to St. Joseph's College in Patchogue and arrived at the expo at 3:09.  Vendors were packing their cars and trucks.  I asked if they were still handing out packets, and luckily they were.  I took this as a good omen for the next day's race.  The Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC), the race organizers, have always been runner friendly so I didn't expect to be sent away, anyway.  I got my bib and noticed there must have been hundreds of others still in the boxes.  I figured it was going to be a small race field.

That night I ate Southwestern salmon from Trader Joe's (yum!) and Japanese rice with soy sauce. I figured the rice would bind me up and not cause any bathroom emergencies mid-run. I went to bed relatively early (10:30am) and set my alarm for 5:30am.  When I woke up, I felt surprisingly refreshed. Surprisingly because I hardly ever wake up feeling like that. I'm always the one hitting the snooze button while cursing the sun and whoever else invented morning. I put on bicycle shorts to prevent any chafing (which has been a common occurrence lately) and a bright orange singlet.  I made sure to pop a couple of generic Imodiums and headed out the door.  Once I got on the Southern State Parkway, I realized I had forgotten my earbuds.  I had enough time to go back home and grab them, as long as I didn't get caught up in any traffic. Well, traffic caught up with me about a mile from the Heckscher State Park entrance.  The cars were crawling while state troopers sped alongside in the emergency lanes. After seeing all the bibs that hadn't been picked up at the expo, I was shocked to see the volume of cars on the road. I thought for sure there was a major accident ahead.  Thankfully, there was not.  I was directed to park in Field #2, used the non-porta potty, and then jogged 3/10s of a mile to the starting line.

There were hundreds of people milling about as the official GLIRC emcee made the usual announcements in his usual friendly, upbeat manner. The half marathoners lined up on one side of the road, while the full marathoners were on the other. We listened to a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and then were off on time.  The skies were clear and the temperature was in the 70s.  I quickly felt the humidity, however.

The first couple of miles were in the park and along Sunrise Highway.  We then went through some local neighborhoods where there was plenty of crowd support, to my surprise.  I skipped the first couple of water stations, but hit almost every one afterwards because of the 83% humidity.  At 83% a little rain shower would have been nice. Hello!? I was running between 8:00 minute miles, with a couple of 7:45s thrown in for variety.  Around Mile 5 I saw a glorious misting tent which I ran through disappointingly, as it turned out to be more of a warm spitting tent. We ran through the Suffolk campus of my alma mater, St. John's University.  I cheered the lead runner as he blew past us on the out and back. He looked very casual and nonchalant, as though he were "jogging" an easy 3.  Before the turn around, a group of Dowling College students were high-5ing the runners reminding me of the Boston College kids on Patriot's Day. On the way back, I ran "with"a couple of women.  I would pass one of them, then stop for water. They would then pass me, but not for long.  I would get ahead again until the next water stop.  The course led us through a botanical garden before getting back on Sunrise Highway for the home stretch into Heckscher Park. At this point, I passed the two ladies for the last time. They didn't pass me again.

I crossed the finish line at 1:47:03, 5 minutes slower than my PR, but decent for a tempo run.  I grabbed two ice cold water bottles and ran back to the car.  My socks were soaked.  I did a few boring laps around the parking lot so I ended up with 16 miles to round out my last "long" run. I finished 4th out of 162 (top 2%) in my age group and 182nd out of 2033 (top 8%) overall.  By the looks of most of the finishing times, it was a slow day.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hanson's Weeks 13 and 14

Williamstown, MA
(photo from harschrealestate.com)

Sunday (8/23/15) - Saturday night we came home from our road trip and Pete and I went straight to a party where I ate three crackers and drank three keg beers.  A recipe for an all day headache on Sunday and a missed run with ER and TPP

Monday (8/24/15) - 8.01 miles, 1:09:18, 8:39 pace

Tuesday (8/25/15) - 10.03 miles, 1:21:37, 8:08 pace - Last week was bad, but Tuesday I nailed my strength session at the gym so I started to feel optimistic again.  I ran 3 miles total to and from the gym, plus 3 x 2 miles at 10 seconds below Half Marathon pace with 800m recovery in between. Bring it on! (maybe I spoke too soon....see weekend)

Wednesday (8/26/15) - 6.43 miles, 57:24,  8:56 pace - This is normally my day off, but I decided to do a short, easy run since I missed Sunday.

Thursday (8/27/15) - 8 miles, 1:13:12, 9:06 pace - This is normally a tempo run, but since I was signed up for a Half Marathon that Saturday, I ran an easy 8 instead. 

Friday (8/28/15) - 4.09 miles - My 6-year old rode her bike with me while I ran.  

Saturday (8/29/15) - 8.46 miles, 1:03:35, 7:31 pace - ...then came Saturday's Half Marathon (the Labor Day Half Marathon or End of Summer Half Marathon or Rockapoco Half Marathon...why settle on one name when you can have three?). Saturday morning I arrived at the race with just enough time (Thanks, but no thanks Google "Maps") to pick up my number and not enough time to go to the bathroom, which was a big no-no.  The race was at the beach, 3 mind numbing loops on the boardwalk. I went out too fast, the first mile at 7:07, the second at 7:15.  I should have been averaging 7:36 to hit my goal. At Mile 5 Nature called.  And again around Mile 7.  At that point, I decided to bag the rest of the race.  I couldn't bear the thought of doing one more 5mile loop.  I went home feeling crappy about myself, but decided to just chalk it up as a tempo. 

Sunday (8/30/15) - 16 miles - Freighbor's family carbo loaded with us the night before.  She and I decided to run the Massapequa Bike Trail Sunday morning at 9:15. I was scheduled for 16, and she needed to run 17 (She's training for the Marine Corps Marathon). I debated whether or not I should be doing it the day after a tempo.  I decided to go ahead because I couldn't afford to miss any more days, especially a long run. We were averaging 9:15s, but by 13 miles I was done. It was already 87 degrees and Amazonian humidity.  I told Freighbor to go ahead while I Galloway-ed the last 3 miles.  Needless to say, I felt pretty defeated after the last two runs.  I questioned my sub-3:30 goal and even if a PR was realistic.  

That night I found this article http://runneracademy.com/5-pre...n-mistakes-to-avoid/ which helped my outlook.  It basically says not to let a couple of shitty workouts ruin all the months of training I've put in.  I also need to be more confident and less doubtful about my abilities. "I think I can..."

Monday (8/31/15) - 6.01 miles, 54:59, 9:09 pace

Tuesday (9/1/15) - 10 miles, 1;21:33, 8:09 pace - This was the first day of school for my three oldest. While making their sandwiches in the morning, I sliced my thumb open with a new Cutco knife (Great knives, as evidenced by my deep, bloody wound). I was able to get it glued back together before drop off, thanks to the amazing urgent care facility in town. Despite the significant blood loss (Slight exaggeration might be in play), I ran to the gym where I did 2 x 3 miles, again 10 seconds below Half Marathon pace with one mile recovery in between.

Wednesday (9/2/15) - Off!

Thursday (9/3/15) - 9.77 miles, 1:17:26, 7:55 pace - My last 9 mile tempo run!!  Whoo hoo!! (10 next week...wait, wha?!?)

1.0 mi08:36 min/mi00:08:35
2.0 mi07:47 min/mi00:07:47
3.0 mi07:40 min/mi00:07:35
4.0 mi07:57 min/mi00:07:56
5.0 mi07:37 min/mi00:07:36
6.0 mi07:43 min/mi00:07:41
7.0 mi07:55 min/mi00:07:54
8.0 mi07:56 min/mi00:07:56
9.0 mi08:08 min/mi00:08:06
0.6 mi07:31 min/mi00:04:50

Friday (9/4/15) - 6.01 miles, 53:33, 8:54 pace

Saturday (9/5/15) - 9.78 miles, 1:25:42, 8:46 pace - I started my run from the Williams College soccer field in Williamstown, Massachusetts where Pete played in the alumni soccer game. The first five miles was a slow 300+ foot gain along Route 43 to the beginning of the Hopper Trail to Mount Greylock.  I turned around right where the paved road became dirt. I stopped at the super conveniently located porta potty (Thank you, Potty gods!) at Mile 6. The run back was mostly downhill and much quicker than it felt. I met the family at the field house where I was able to shower in the locker room. Afterwards, the school put on a nice barbecue where I had the most amazing vegetarian black bean burger in the world.

...and the Papa Tomata squashed the Baby Tomata and said, "Ketchup." I'm caught up.