Archive for Rhode Scholar

Last Rhode Scholar: Recap of The Great Flail

I spent 4 hours, 42 minutes yesterday earning the right to say this: I’m a marathoner! It’s still a little surreal that I did that – and that after 4 months of training, it’s already over – so maybe a brief recap will help it all sink in.

Pandering for cheers from spectators

Team Flail convened at my hotel room in the morning to get bibbed up and then head to the start line just a block away. I met up with Portia at the 10:00/mile group marker, where Amy C got a picture of us (scroll about halfway down this page). We had a few minutes to freak out and then it was time to go.

The first 18 miles were just plain solid. Portia & I held ourselves back to slow-pace the first 2, then settled into roughly 9:50 miles. About halfway, her knee started acting up & she pulled back but told me to go ahead. I kept running with a guy (John or Sean? Not sure) who had joined us, until he pulled back around mile 14.

I put in both earphones and settled in. But around mile 18, the effort started to feel harder. I hadn’t really planned what I would do in the latter parts of the race, but considered two options: keep running until I absolutely couldn’t, then struggle through whatever was left; or start conserving what I still had, and “enjoy” the end of the race. Since my plan has always been “one & done” with the marathoning, I went for the latter.

From Barrington Patch

I switched to 1 minute walk, 4 minute run in miles 18-20, then roughly half & half through those *%@!ing hills in miles 21-23, then mostly powerwalked 24-25. Weirdly, walking was actually more painful than running, so I got back up to a trot whenever I could. Just before the 26-mile marker, I ran and kept running as I turned the corner (waving to Leah & Annie who were cheering me on), where I saw the 5 ½ year-old bandit who jumped in and ran across the finish with me.

Official time: 4:42:21. Going into it, I thought 4:30 was the optimistic edge of doable, so I’ve got no problem with those extra 12 minutes. My Flailmates, on the other hand, put their wheels on yesterday. Now-three-time-marathoner Andrew PR’d with 3:47, Adam beat 4 with 3:54, and John (who, I’m not kidding, ran not more than 6 times total in the entirety of our training period) came in at 4:08.

It’s a good thing I’ve got finals to cram for, or else I’d go on forever about this. One final additional round of thanks before I shut my trap about all this running – thanks to our friends Annie, Amy, Alison, Joe, Leah, Pippi, David & Michele, who all witnessed and cheered us on in The Great Flail yesterday. We promise not to do anything this ridiculous again.

Rhode Scholar: Quick thanks before the 26.2

Relaxing in a hotel room right next to the marathon start, I’ve got a little time to kill before meeting other Rhode Scholar bloggers for dinner. Let’s put that time to good use and say thanks to a bunch of people who helped me get here, and to the starting line in 14 hours, and to the finish line (hopefully) 4-ish hours after that.

So in no particular order, except this very first one, thanks to:

My husband & kid.  Tim & Miles have put up with me for 4 months of marathon training. I’ve shirked household duties “because my legs are tired,” missed t-ball practices due to weekend long runs, and left the cabinets empty numerous times following training-induced carb rampages. So they really need to be thanked for helping me do this crazy thing.

(more after the jump)

Read more

Rhode Scholar: Week 16 – Trusting those 400 miles and 60 hours

60 hours. Nearly 400 miles. 42,000 calories. By the end of this week, that’s what I will have invested in running as preparation for the Cox Rhode Races marathon. That doesn’t even count the cross-training, stretching, endless blog reading, and running playlist tinkering. The running alone racked up the two highest-mileage months I’ve ever had since tracking with RunKeeper:

I mention all this primarily for my benefit. Similar to right before each of the halfathons I’ve run, I started to doubt my readiness. This time it’s been: should I have done a 22-miler? Skipping that last interval workout was a catastrophic mistake, right? How did I get these love handles while training for a marathon?

But I read a recent article from Jeff Gaudette stressing that when you’ve mapped out a plan and done the time, you have to trust your training. So that’s what I’m going to do. I mean, my training involved a 20-miler where I ran the last 8 carrying a broken finger, so I’ve got to believe I can handle 26.2 on tapered legs and an early start time (my preferred way to run is at Early O’Clock).

Speaking of that training, week 16 involved two workouts where I mixed it up with tempo and marathon-pace speeds, two cross-training days (step aerobics), an easy 4-miler, and a 10-miler:

That 10-miler marks the last double-digit-mile run on my schedule (yay?). It was also a trial run to see if Portia & I can keep each other entertained enough (or just shut our traps when needed) to run a good chunk of PVD together. Survey says yes, we’ll cover as much of the 26.2 miles together as possible, with ample leeway for either of us to speed off or hang back at any point.

So now all that’s left are a handful of easy miles to keep the legs loose, a 7-day regimen of tart cherry juice to keep the post-marathon pain to a minimum, and 5 days to make myself and everyone around me completely nuts obsessing about the race.

Rhode Scholar: Week 15 – Starting the taper

Before I recap week 15 of marathon training, let’s take a second to talk about last Monday, when a first-time marathoner took on and finished Boston in the blazing heat.

Carlo – who co-owns Salon CU in Somerville, where I get my hair cut – came running by me in Natick Center, looking amazingly good for someone 10+ miles into a marathon during unseasonably ridiculous heat. I jumped in to run and talk with him and his running partner Nicole for a few minutes, and snapped a quick photo as they powered ahead for the next 16.2. It was so great to see him and to get the text several hours later when he’d crossed the finish line.

I didn’t do anything that impressive this week, by any means, but I did get Ol’ Breaky McFinger reset and splinted by the orthopedist. I managed to get away without surgery, but before that appointment I tried to pack in as many workouts as possible, assuming I’d be barred from running for a while if I ended up with surgery. So this week I did speed intervals, a tempo run and a hill workout, where I’d usually only have two of those three. I let myself have more rest days than usual, and didn’t do any cross-training.

Routes covered in the long run

This was technically the start of my taper, so my long run dropped back to 13 miles (since when is a half marathon a drop back?!). I spent a couple hours huffing along the routes of North suburban Boston, but was amazed to have plenty of run left in me when I pulled up to my house. That’s never been the case for me after a halfathon distance, and got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’ve trained myself to be able to actually finish those 26.2 miles in PVD.

Because if I don’t, Carlo won’t let me live it down ;)

Rhode Scholar: Week 14 – Wherein running was the least hard part of a 20-miler

The OMG 20-miler started off innocuously enough. Team Flail (Andrew, Adam, John and me, minus Matt) met up at Adam’s apartment Saturday morning, mostly awake and resigned to our long-run fate. We headed out past the Museum of Science – where the T Rex statue is wearing a #65,000,000 bib in honor of tomorrow’s Big Race – and followed the south side of the Charles River well into Watertown.

Then, around mile 12 a root snagged my toe, I went down hard, and this happened.

Luckily, John is trained as an EMT and I have a reasonably high threshold for pain, so he popped it back in. We started back up, with Andrew carrying my water bottle for me, but I could only hold pace with them until about mile 14.5. I sent them ahead as I pulled up to walk, really mad that I didn’t have the stamina to keep going. But I made a deal with myself (this sounds like that 18 miler again, huh?) – even if I had to power walk those last miles, I was doing the full 20 on my own two feet, no matter what my stupid finger had to say about it.

Read more

Rhode Scholar: Week 13 – Magic Mile says my marathon time will be…

Things went according to plan in week 13, where my schedule included speed intervals (6x 1.5 minutes), cross-training (step & weights), a hill workout (4x 3.5 minute sprints uphill), a rest day, 3 shake-out miles, and a 10-oops-forgot-my-route-so-it’s-almost-11 miler. I made one minor diversion from the plan, however, to try a Magic Mile during Friday’s 3 shake-out miles.

I read about Jeff Galloway’s Magic Mile on No Meat Athlete, in Matt’s post about ways to predict your pace and/or time in a marathon (or other distances). So after a brief warm-up, I ran a mile flat-out, middle-school style, trying not to barf in the process. I did this twice, running 7:13 and 7:36 minute miles to come up with two estimates:

For the time being, I’m going to split the difference between these two and say I will probably run a 9:30 min/mile pace and finish somewhere around 4 hours & 10 minutes. That sounds pretty doable (right? Right).

Something that sounds a little less doable at the moment is my recent hare-brained idea to run a race (any distance; probably 5ks and halfathons mostly) in each of the 50 U.S. states. I ran my first 5k on Thanksgiving in 2010 (Massachusetts), and since then have run a handful of 5ks (all Massachusetts) and two halfathons (both Rhode Island).

After finishing the North Reading Turkey Trot 2010

The marathon will also be in Rhode Island, so that leaves me 48 states to go (yes, I’m aiming for Alaska and Hawaii). This project should be a cool opportunity to drag my exasperated family plan family trips all over the country, and a way to keep running dynamic, interesting, etc.

But before I can think about a 10K in Tennesee or whathaveyou, I’ve got to conquer 20 miles in Massachusetts – the long run coming up at the end of week 14. Yeesh.

Rhode Scholar: Week 12 – Willing legs, cranky lungs

Week 12 of marathon training was both lazy and long-running. I’d originally chalked up my sluggishness during 8 with Portia last weekend to forgetting my pre-run caffeine. But within a day, the real reason reared its ugly, snotty head: a nasty head cold.

Now, I hate missing workouts due to illness or injury. But I hate missing long runs the most, and with 18 miles planned for the Friday, I figured I should take it easy and see if I could mend enough to run that. So I took a couple rest days, did some yoga and two easy runs but no cross-training, and felt… ok-ish on Friday morning.

The first 13 went pretty well – I took a route back & forth through the Parker State Forest, around several lakes and over some fun wooded trails.

Then I started flagging – even though my legs felt (relatively) ok, I kept getting winded. That’s not typically a problem for me; my hamstrings always threaten a boycott, and often my feet start screaming, but I can still huff along without a hitch. After a water break around mile 15, I struck a deal with my on-strike lungs – I’d alternate walking 1-2 minutes with running 5-6 minutes. It was pretty demoralizing (“Yikes, maybe I can’t push myself through the final, toughest miles of a marathon“), but it got me home and into a cold-water bath, hopeful than the 20 miler in a couple weeks will go better at the end.

Thankfully, I was feeling well enough during a whirlwind Chicago visit with my best friends to head out for a quick easy run with a new running partner.

Nina did a great job keeping up – she even broke into a sprint a couple times that were a challenge for me to match. Since my own stubby legged dogs aren’t really running partner material, it’s a treat to have a canine companion once in a while.

Next up: week 13, which is another pullback before The Big Training Run in week 14.

Rhode Scholar: Week 11 – Running like a girl

Even though it’s a pullback week, #11 had a few more first-time milestones: a longer tempo (8:30 min/mile) run; an 8-miler that covered a good chunk of the Boston marathon course

…and running with another girl!

As the sole XX bearer on Team Flail, I’ve only co-run with a bunch of guys. Adam, Andrew, John & Matt are great, but these are guys who are faster than I am, and who probably don’t want to hear my story of labor with Miles in gruesome detail. Portia, on the other hand, swore up & down that her long run pace would be slow to me (it wasn’t!), and happily talked running skirts & labor experiences during the 8 miles. (We also talked about engineering software and biological pharmacotherapy, for the record)

Pretty cool that marathon training led to meeting someone with many things in common: running, UX work (her & my husband), kids (ours are close in age), wedding anniversaries (within a few days of each other), dog ownership. Also cool to run part of such a big-deal race course for the first time – I mean, none of my other training run routes have been festooned with yard signs advertising marathon wear.

We must have been out too early to catch many other runners, but on the drive home, the roads were packed with people clearly training for the big race. My own training this week included those tempo and long runs, plus some yoga, an interval ladder, a hill workout, full rest day, and 4 miles to shake out before today’s long.

Coming up in week 12: an 18-miler. Yeesh. But that’s my second-to-last longest training run before the marathon, which I’m going to keep repeating in my head, to make it seem a little less crazy.

Rhode Scholar: Week 10 – Sweet (MERCIFUL *&$#! THIS IS HARD) 16

Week 10 of training for the Cox Rhode Races marathon was, in a word, hard – even though it was also a shortened week because I moved the long run up a day. The yoga, step aerobics & rest day were no big whoop. Still, the intervals got longer, and the aforementioned long run was a 16-miler, making it another farthest-I’ve-run-in-one-go workout.

We ran 3.5 miles through scenic woods like this

That 16-miler this morning really knocked me for a loop. I’ve ice-bathed, recovery-smoothied, compression-socked, lunched & now coffeed, and I’m still having a little trouble getting up from the couch or making sense of what the digital clock is trying to tell me. It’s not just me – Flailmate Adam also made the trek, and as we pulled up to a walk nearing my house, he declared, “Well, that sucked.”

Post-16-miler (admittedly, staged, but still accurate)

Lesson learned: it’s may be fun & games up through 14 miles, but prepare for the gut punch when tackling runs longer than that. I’m sure (hoping?) they won’t all be like this; nor did we stay that grumpy/hostile after the run. It may have been the cherry recovery smoothies, but more likely our photographer cracking wise, that coaxed some frivolity out of us.

In week 11, I’ve got tempo, interval and hill workouts. And that doesn’t exactly leave me feeling gleeful, but the only-8-mile long run next weekend sure does.

Rhode Scholar: Pullback week + cherry recovery smoothie recipe

Ahhhhh, pullback week: a couple easy 4-milers, some yoga & cross-training, a little ok, a whole bottle of wine, and an 8-mile long run. Granted, the long run was in the snow, but even that wasn’t too big of a deal (look carefully in my hair, though).

Snow? What snow?

The easiest part of this week, oddly enough, was the recovery from last week’s 14-miler. Honestly, I’ve never bounced back from a serious long run more quickly. Is my vegetarianism helping me recover? In No Meat Athlete’s post about his laid-back approach to veggie boosterism, Matt notes that some crazy endurance runners credit their vegetarian diets with shorter recovery times. Or maybe it’s my adherence to post-workout ice baths, even though I look forward to submerging my nether regions in freezing water about as much as I do shoving an ice pick into my forehead.

Read more