Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Streak Recap

I hope everyone had a great holiday season. Here in Atlanta, we had a slightly bizarre holiday season weather-wise with days ranging from 40 degrees and raining to 70 and sunny.  I ended up wearing every type of running gear I own. The joys of life in the south.  Despite the odd holiday weather swings, we were able to maintain a holiday mood and had a great end to the year.

But on to other things.  Important things.  Streaking things.  How did every one's holiday workout streak turn out?  Much like the weather, we had mixed results here.  Initially, I started with an all running streak.  I made it 16 days running at least one mile per day (some days were combined with biking as well), but for a mix of reasons, I broke the streak.  First, I felt like the quality of my workouts was dropping due to the monotony.  Sure, it is only a mile, but I don't do well with boredom, so my actual workouts started to suffer.  On top of that, I quickly shifted back in to marathon training upon finding out that I am a 26.2 with Donna Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer Ambassador.  Both of these items combined to re-introduce rest days into my schedule and adjust my approach to the whole streaking thing.  Despite of not officially streaking the entire time, much was still learned and gained from the experience. Here is a breakdown of my workouts for the 34 day period.

Days worked out: 28 out of 34 days

Longest consecutive streak: 16 days

Number of miles logged: 82.44 Running, 30.2 Cycling, 5 Hiking

Fastest mile, Running: 7:45

Slowest mile, Running: 9:20

Average Run length: 3.75 miles

Shortest Run: 1 mile

Longest Run: 10.5 miles

Training plans started: 1 marathon, 1 donut dare

Races: None, but many days were spent dreaming about and planning for races.

Number of Holiday Treats consumed: Not sure, but I am positive that it is more than the number of days I worked out and I don't regret a single one. :)
How did the holidays turn out for you? Who has plans to do Something Fun on January 1?

Feel free to link up your holiday streak recap or recent training recaps here.  I'm excited to catch up with everyone post holidays and hear how your streaks went!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

#RunDonna Marathon Training: 9 weeks to go!

Here is a recap of my training 9 weeks from race day!

Monday: 6 miles on the mill.  I kept it easy and enjoyed my new play list.  Turns out Lady Gaga makes me dance a little while on the treadmill. Who knew.  You are welcome for the show fellow gym lovers.

Tuesday: 30 minutes on the bike followed by strength training.  The gym was very quiet, so I took extra time on strength training and pushed a little harder.

Wednesday: 6.6 miles.  Very slow start to the run.  I was a still a little tired from strength training only 16 hours earlier.  After a few miles I did get into the grove and over all pace wasn't too bad.

Thursday: 5.4 miles run-commute home from work.  Yeah, I worked through the holidays, but the good news is that I felt really productive.

Friday: 25 minutes on the bike to loosen everything up and get in a good stretch.

Saturday: 10.5 miles.  This was my longest run since Chickamauga Marathon. No major problems and it felt good to be out there putting in a long effort.

Sunday: Rest day!

A good training week.  I hit every mile that was on my plan and got in two cross training days.  Overall, my body is feeling good, but a little more tired from the mileage increase.  I did notice that I don't have a large pace difference between my workouts. My average pace for my 4 runs this week was 8:25, 8:35, 8:45, and 9:05 for my long run.  I know I should be running my long runs slower, but it doesn't always feel good to slow down.  It seems like my stride changes if I slow down too much.  Does anyone else have this problem?  Thoughts? Opinions?

Hope everyone had a good week!  How was your training?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

#RunDonna Marathon Training Week #10 Recap

I've decided this training cycle to count down the weeks. It reminds me that 26.2 with Donna is coming soon and I better get moving!

Monday: 3.1 mile easy run on the treadmill.  The run reminded me that I definitely need a new playlist.  At this point, I can tell my mileage based on what song is playing.  I went home and made a new playlist and then promptly forgot to sync it to my iPod.
This box of Donna goodies has helped get me motivated to run!
Tuesday: 5 mile tempo run home from work. I was happy with my pace and it included 2 solid climbs. Woowoo!  Still did not sync iPod.

Wednesday: Looooooong work day.  No time for the gym. :(

Thursday: 3.1 miles on the treadmill.  I did my 'progressive k's" workout where each kilometer is faster than the previous one.  It makes life on the treadmill a little more interesting even if you didn't sync your iPod.
I did get in some Donut Dare training this week.

Friday: 25 minutes on the bike.  Still forgot to sync iPod.

Saturday: 6.6 miles race pace.  This wasn't the workout I originally planned.  I was hoping to go longer and slower, but I just didn't feel like running in the morning and by the afternoon, I had to squeeze my workout in before the monsoon rain started. The good news is that I did sync my iPod and was able to enjoy some new tuneage while I was out.

Sunday: It is raining like bananas out there.  Thank heavens I got in some sort of run yesterday.

Overall, it was a good start to training.  My legs seem happy to be back training and my mind likes the challenge as well.  I would have liked to run longer on Saturday, but my body just wasn't feeling it.  I hope to pick it up this week.

How was your week?  Still finding time to workout during the busy holiday season?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Developing a 10 week Marathon Training program

As I mentioned last week, I will be running the 26.2 with Donna Marathon in February. I'm very excited to be a race ambassador, as I've had several people close to me battle breast cancer. The rapidly approaching race day though requires a new marathon training plan adapted for 10 weeks. Yes, I am very aware that 10 weeks is not a typical training cycle for a marathon, but I'll make it work.
To be honest, I haven't been following much of a plan since Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon. I've kept it easy and let my body dictate the pace of my work outs. After running two marathons in 3 weeks, it took about 15 days post race until I felt like pushing hard in workouts, and since then I've kept a regular schedule of 3-5 milers during the week and 6-8 milers on the weekend. Also, I have focused on doing more strength training. Recently, I did start training for the Krispy Kreme Donut Dare, but I'm not sure that plan has a lot of crossover with Marathon training.
Short and sweet?
I've been using last week and this week to start ramping the miles back up and see how my body responds. So far, so good. I've decided to adapt the marathon training program I used for Chickamauga. Though I typically like to go into a training cycle with specific goals, I'm also waiting to see how my training goes for the next few weeks to develop my race goals. For certain I know my goals will be to have fun, finish, and probably not win the race. Especially not since this awesome lady (and fellow Mainer) is running Donna again!
With the renewal of marathon training, I'm bringing back weekly updates to keep me accountable and to see how this 10 week thing really works.

Anyone have any experience with shortened marathon training programs?
How did it workout?

Friday, December 13, 2013

My year of running 2013

I've been dragging me heels about writing a year in review post because we still have over 2 weeks left in December and I didn't want to cut it short.  But,  Miss Zippy posted a fun link-up for year end reviews with 6 running related questions and I thought it would be fun to join in:

Best Race Experience: Heroes Half Marathon.  After signing up on a whim, it ended up being my favorite race of the year in term of running. I was able to really 'race' for the first time and it was really exciting to see hard work pay off. The post race helicopter ride didn't hurt either.
Happy to be back on the soil in one piece!
Best Run: My loop through Cades Cove in August.  It was truly a special experience to run through a national park completely solo.  I will remember that one for a long time!
Isn't it lovely?
Best piece of new gear: Island Boost. Finding a fuel that didn't make me hurl mid race was a huge game changer. I set multiple PRs this year from just having the ability to fuel better.
Birthdays are so much better when they are not Barfdays.
Best piece of running advice you received: Patience, it will come. For me this applies to individual runs (relax, you will get to the finish) and to training overall.  Big changes don't happen in seconds. Be patient, they will come.

Most inspirational runner: I loved Meb's NYCM story this year.  We've all had bad days and races, but it's all about how we respond when they happen.  If you haven't read it, do!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be: Back in the groove!

Overall, it was a great 2013 and I am very excited for 2014!

How was your year? What are you favorite running memories from 2013?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

26.2 with Donna Marathon here I come!

I am very excited and honored to announce that I've been named a race Ambassador for the 26.2 with Donna Finish Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville, FL this February!
In addition to getting the chance to run my 7th marathon, I have the opportunity to continue to raise awareness about cancer research and programs. After watching several close friends battle breast cancer, I am on a mission to raise awareness that breast cancer can strike at any age.

I can't wait to meet the other Ambassadors and work with the amazing team at 26.2 with Donna.  As always, I will keep you up to date with my race prep! Come join us!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Krispy Kreme Donut Dare Training Plan

You may have noticed that I have a bit of a non-traditional race on my calendar, and a non-traditional race calls for non-traditional training.
It's officially my dream event. Source.
By this of course I am referring to the Krispy Kreme Donut Dare. The race consists of running a 5k, where around half way through you get the privilege of eating 10 Krispy Kreme Donuts before finishing the second half of the race.  The time it takes you to eat counts as part of your overall time.  There are options to run without eating, but I don't see the fun in that. Then you would just be running a 5k and, to be honest, I am not a huge fan of 5ks. But I am a huge fan of donuts and a huge fan of charity races (the proceeds benefit UGA Miracle) and that overcame my disdain for the 5k in this case.

So back to the task at hand, training.  Being slightly competitive by nature, I want to eat all my donuts and run a respectable 5k. The only way to do that is train.
Little Circles of Happiness.
As good fortune would have it, I live exactly 1.25 miles from Dunkin' Donuts. I know this because I run by it pretty much on every single one of my runs. It is also possible that it's on my way to work and that a friendly DD employee, Kamal, knows my order and even asks where the Jayhawk is when I come in solo. In terms of life, having a DD so accessible could be seen as challenging, but it terms of training for the Donut Dare, it is essential and downright clutch.

I have put together a 6 week training schedule to keep me on track and make sure that I peak on race day. I tried to use the 10% rule in terms of increasing training (that is where the donut holes come in) and scheduled recovery weeks, but that can be difficult when donuts are involved. The plan assumes a running and donut base before starting. I recognize that I am training with a different donut that will be used on race day, but sometimes you have to do the best that you can. Maybe I could bring my own donuts to the race, but I think it would be hard to run with the box.

Race Day

Abbreviations used: M=miles, D=donuts, H=Holes, C=Coffee

Weekday workouts can be broken up into 2 a days (AM donuts with coffee, PM run).  Saturday workouts are designed to be run-eat workouts, with the donuts consumed at the midpoint of the run(or at least before the last mile) to simulate race conditions. Sundays are for recovery eating and Mondays are for recovery running. The peak week is two weeks prior to the race to allow for ample tapering and digestion.  Also, other plans might take you up to 8 or even 9 donuts, but I think that leads to overtraining. Nothing is gained from training with over 6 donuts except burnout, poor recovery, and the chance of never wanting to eat a donut again. I am excited to get started.

Have you ever run a non-traditional event (Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, Beer Mile, etc)? Did you train for it?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The History of my Bloody Feet

I received a lot of great comments, suggestions, and questions after my mentions of how my feet bleed in marathons, so I thought I do a post about the different things I've tried to stop this problem. Here is how my feet have progressed throughout my marathon training cycles.  I focused on marathons because it is only with higher mileage that I have a problem.  When I say my feet bleed, it is my baby toes and sometimes my ring toes (not my heel or other parts of my feet).  Basically my little toes get crushed to the point of severe blood blistering which often pops during the race.

Marathon #1: Houston, 2005
I was a totally Marathon and runner newbie at this point.  I did most of my training in a pair of free Nikes that an old roommate had given me (really, what could go wrong?). To make things more interesting, my trusty Monster turned one of them into a backless shoe (she literally chewed the entire back off the shoe) less than a week from race day!  Being a young college grad, I was a bit strapped for cash and bought an off the rack pair of Adidas three days before the race at Academy Sports.  In fact, race day was the first time I ran in them.  Needless to say, my feet bleed through my shoes.  I visited the med tent at the finish and asked them to look at my feet because "I wasn't sure the next time I would be able to bend over and do it myself".  Stay classy EB.
I use to eat running shoes, but I swear I've reformed over the last 8 years.
Marathon #2: NYC, 2007
For this race, not only did I keep the Monster away from my shoes before race day (she was 'older' and more 'mature'), but I bought real running sneakers at a real running store. I stayed with the Adidas, but move up to a size 9 (from a size 8.5) thinking this might alleviate some of the trouble.  Feet still bled, but the race was tons of fun and it is one of my favorites.
This won't be on our Holiday card.
Marathon#3: Goofy Challenge, 2008
I moved up yet another size in sneakers to a 9.5 Adidas and added specialty socks with additional padding in the toes and heels to reduce (hopefully) impact related blistering.  My feet did bleed through my sneakers, but I also ran 39.3 miles in a littler over 24 hours. I did also loose some toenails (on different toes) during this experience. This was the end of my hope of being a foot model.
Ah, Disney Memories.
Marathon#4: Mercedes Marathon, 2010
I stayed with a lot of the changes I made for Goofy and ran in size 9.5 Adidas.  I attributed that bleeding to the mileage, but apparently, 26.2 was enough to induce bleeding.  It actually occurred at mile 24 ( I could feel it happen) and it bled right through my sneaker. 
I still smile while my feet bleed.
Marathon#5: 7 Bridges Marathon, 2013
During this training cycle, I went to a shoe with a wider toe box, but unfortunately it didn't work for me and gave me mild PF.  I switched to Asics (size 9.5) and was happy throughout training.  However on race day, both feet bled, but only through the sock.  I do believe my super cute Birthday socks had something to do with this, but how often do you get to run a marathon on your birthday?
It was still a great birthday!
Marathon#6: Chickmauga Marathon, 2013
I went with a thinner, dri-fit sock that I used in my whole training cycle and was still in the same pair of Asics, but still experienced bleeding around mile 16. To be honest, I think a major reason my feet bled during this one was because they were not fully healed from 7 Bridges a few weeks before.  On a positive note, they did only bled through my socks, but they looked pretty bad afterwards. I'm hopeful that I am on the right track.
It was an ugly scene under this sock.
So to recap, I've moved up 2 sizes in shoes and feel confident to say I am running in the right size.  I've tried more padded socks, but decided less padded result in bleeding less frequently.  I've tried shoes with a wider toe box, but also discovered there is such thing as too wide and a bloody foot is better than the injuries that come with too wide.

Anyone else had experience with blood blisters and bleeding feet?  Other ideas on things to try?
I am open to new ideas!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Recap

Miles: 56.2

Races: Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon.

Current Running love: The weather.  My northern self is loving these 40 degree, sunny days.  Perfect running weather.

Current Running want: To register for a lot of races, but I am showing restraint and respecting my budget. I have added a couple and am currently deciding between a few late winter marathon options. Anyone ever trained for a Donut Dash?

Things coming in December:

We are still streaking!! How is everyone doing so far?  I unintentionally started two days early, so I am on day 5 and so far, so good.

Marathon Mom and Jill Conyers are hosting a 14 in 2014 Challenge, getting runner to commit to running 14 race in 2014.  It's completely free and a great way to challenge yourself in the new year. So stop by and sign-up!  Tell 'em I sent you!

For anyone who loves A Christmas Story, there is a race to commemorate the 30th anniversary.  Being a huge fan myself, I was pretty darn excited.  The race is taking place in Ohio and passes by many of the locations from the movie. My race budget doesn't allow that kind of travel for a 5 or 10k, but they do have a virtual race complete with leglamp medal.  It kind makes me want to dust off my pink bunny suit or at least drink some Ovaltine.
Oh Fudge, that is a fun medal. Source.

Anyone running a fun holiday race?  There are so many!

Monday, November 25, 2013

We're going streaking!

As I mentioned the other day in my Runner's Festivus wish list post, the holidays are bearing down on us and in an effort to make the holidays fun, the Jayhawk and I are going streaking and we are inviting you to join us. It will be a group thing. Heck, we might even get the dog involved.
I'm not sure I like the sound of this.
Now that your mind is sufficiently confused, we are actually talking about a running (or workout) streak!  In an attempt to ward off the holiday pounds and excuses about being too busy, we have decided to challenge ourselves (and anyone who would like to join us) to 1 mile per day, everyday from Thanksgiving until New Year's.  If you are not able to run like the Jayhawk who is currently rehabbing a nasty hammy pull, you can substitute another way of being active for 15 minutes each day (cycling, competitive dog walking, intense vacuuming, etc).  The point is to not let the craziness of the holidays prevent you from being the awesome active person that you are.
We all love to eat gingerbread men, but no one wants to look like one. Well, he is kind of cute.
To cap it all off, we are doing Something Fun on January 1.  It can be anything that you think is fun and active.  Maybe a snowball fight if you are lucky enough to live in a winter wonderland, or a trail hike to watch the sunrise on New Year's Day.  It just has to be something fun to celebrate your hard work and start the new year off right.

So we hope you can join us for a nice streaking party.  Stop back and visit to link up your activity reports.

How do you stay active during the holidays? Do you have any fun New Year's traditions?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fuelin' Up Friday: Hungry for more.

Now that I've found a race time fuel that works for me, Island Boost, some of you may be wondering if this means the end of Fuelin' Up Friday posts.  Will I retire my barf gear?  Will I change my blog name? Fear not.  Even though I have successfully fueled my way through 2 Marathons without hurling, 7 Bridges Marathon and Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon, there are still many aspects of fueling that I need to perfect: pre-race, post-race, and additional during race options.
Our team logo from 2 Ragnars.  Yes, I have a rep. No, I didn't puke in the van.
Though Island Boost works wonders for me, I will be the first to say the no one fueling option works for everyone (see all my attempts at very popular fueling options).  I would like to have additional options in case for some horrible reason I don't have Island Boost (like a forget it home or TSA confiscates it or I consume all of REI's supply).  I also think different types of fuels are appropriate for different types of events.  In my opinion, gels or liquids are ideal for marathons both for the rapid absorption but also for their convenient packaging and carrying ability.  However, I don't have these kinds of space restrictions when biking thanks to the huge pockets in my cycling jersey, so I am open to different forms of fuel.

So fear not.  More fuel reviews are to come. If you have any ideas of new products to try, feel free to leave a comment.  I am always up for an adventure and being a guinea pig.

New reviews will begin in two weeks. There may even been some barfing, but no guarantees.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Runner's Festivus Wish List

Since the Holiday Season is rapidly approaching, I thought it was a good time to put together a list of runner's need (and wants) as gift giving begins.  If you are a runner, you could oh so subtly email the link to your family members or leave copies lying around the house. You know, just to make it easy for them.

1. Compression Socks: Let's be honest, my feet swell to look like Christmas hams when I run (see any of my bloody feet stories). I started using compression socks as part of my long run recovery this summer, and it has really helped to reduce the swelling. Now they just look like bloated sausages (lovely image for you during Fesitvus Dinner).
Feet up, Wine down.
2. Road ID: I train primarily by myself and though I carry a cellphone, there is no excuse for me not having one. If you care for the runner in your life and want to keep them safe, this is a must.

3. Foam Roller: We all talk about the importance of stretching (dynamic or static, you pick), but there is also the importance of massage. A foam roller is a great way to both help massage tired mussels. Alternatively, a personal masseuse would also be fine.

4. New Sneakers: Any marathon training cycle is likely to take 1-2 pairs of sneakers and these babies ain't cheap. A new pair of sneakers is always a welcome addition, but always consult your runner for specifics first (or get them a gift card to the local running specialty shop). (Note: An off the rack pair of kicks is likely to start the airing of grievances)
Color is always key when shopping for running shoes. Oh, and fit.
5. Race Entry Fees: Does Active, RunDisney, or the RockNRoll series make gift cards?  Well the should!  How awesome would that be as a gift! Let's be honest, this runner's habit is kept on a budget and race entry fees would be greatly appreciated!

6. Body Glide: You can never have too much and it makes a perfect stocking stuffer. Nothing says "I care for you" then glide to protect your wobbly bits from chaffing. (Note: Could be handy during the Feats of Strength)

7. Fuel:  Runner's are frequently hungry.  I don't know one that would turn down a case of race fuel or healthy snacks they could keep at their desk.  Afraid of picking out some yourself? Monthly subscriptions to sites like RunnerBox take care of it for you!
Perfect stocking stuffers.
8. Membership to a local running club: After running itself, there is nothing runner's like to do more than talk about it.  Running clubs allow them to do both at once. In addition, membership can help you get discounts on races and at local running stores. It's a win-win.

Ok, there's a good starting list, so go out and get your holiday shop on. Is there anything I missed that is on your runner's wish list this year?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Post Marathon Check in

First off, Thank you everyone for the kind words!  I really appreciate it.  I train mostly solo, so it's really fun to get so much support from other runners!
It's been about a week and a half since the marathon and recovery is going really well.  Overall, my legs felt pretty good after the race so I was able to get in a few workouts along with some good stretching last week.  Unfortunately, my toes needed an extra day or two before I could really start running again.  Yes, they did bleed again during this race (right around mile 15-16), but I think it was mostly because they weren't fully healed from 7 Bridges.  It's the same two toes that always bleed and the poor things look like ground meat. I will spare you the photos, but needless to say, that will probably be on the top of my goals list for my next marathon.
Looks innocent enough, but it was one of the uglier scenes I've ever seen inside.
Overall I am pretty happy with how the race and training cycle went. The format of my training plan worked really well for my life and I will definitely be using it again. I accomplished a lot of my race goals, finally found a way to fuel, and feel far more confident with the marathon.  Dare I say I might actually be starting to like the distance? The Jayhawk remarked after the race that I wasn't nearly as spent as he expected me to be (maybe he thought he would literally have to lug me to the car).  To be honest, he has a point.  I think I am still a bit nervous to push too early in the marathon and I run end up running comfortably for a lot of it.  Another thing to work on for the next one!
I somehow ended up with at least a dozen Moon Pies after the race. They were a staple of recovery. (source)
Right now I've been working on figuring out what the 'next one' is.  I've resisted the urge to sign up for every race in a 50 mile radius, though I am slowly starting to add items to the list over to the right.  I'm hoping to find a marathon in late winter/early spring so I can take advantage of all the training I did this fall and all the new found excitement I have for the marathon.

How much time do you take off after a big race? How quickly do you register for the next one?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Race Recap: Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon Part 2

You can find part 1 of my recap here.

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon, November 9, 2013 Fort Olgethorpe, GA
Field: 1500 between the half and full. There is also a 5k and Kids race.  Beware, the half and full filled up in August this year, so plan ahead if want a bib.
Spectators: For such a small race, there were a good number of enthusiastic spectators.  The race offers a spectator shuttle to move fans around the course because many of the roads are closed/limited to traffic. 
Start:  The 6th Cavalry Museum at Chickamauga National Battlefield.
Course: A double loop course through the battlefield.  It was beautiful and an incredibly enjoyable route.
Schwag:  Long sleeve tech shirt and dri-fit hat. If you are a first time Half or full marathon finisher, they give you a framed copy of your bib number at the finish.  It's a really nice touch.
Other: The post-race food was ample to put it nicely.  Perhaps they heard I was coming.  There was a tent specifically for runners serving fruit, cookies, MoonPies, Soup, Banana Pudding, and Pizza.  I may or may not have visited it more than once.  In addition, there were many food vendors, bounce houses for the kids, and a live band.  There were still large crowds at the finish when the marathoners were finishing. It was a true party at the finish line and a great family race.
No, it's not pre-race jitters. This runner is cold and standing in front of a cannon.
The start of the race is pretty fabulous.  Instead of the classic pre-race horn or even gun, Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon sends you off in style by firing off a real Civil War Cannon.  It's loud and totally awesome.  So with one loud boom and lots of excited/nervous clapping, we were off.
Boom goes the dynamite cannon.
My plan was to tuck in with the 4:15 pace group for the first part of the race. Oddly enough, the one of the 4:15 pace leaders happened to be the very pace leader, George, from 7 Bridges Marathon who initiated my mid-race birthday serenade!  He is a very nice and funny gentleman and makes for an excellent pace group leader.  He gave the 4:15 pace group some sage advice pre-race:
I laughed because it is so true! The mile 20 gremlins always seem to appear.
In true me fashion, I stuck with the pace group for 1.5 miles before deciding that the pace was slower than I wanted.  It's always good to toss your marathon race plan out the window in the first 2 miles of a race, right?  I decided to run on feel and run at a comfortable pace for as long as I could.  I figured staying between the 4:15 and 4:00 pace groups shouldn't get me into trouble.
The reenactors camped out the night before.  Good thing they have wool uniforms.
So away I went, plodding along at my own speed.  I felt relaxed, yet still cold.  Though the sun had come up, the temperature hadn't changed much and my feet were pretty cold from standing in a frosty field before the start.  There were even runners with frost forming on their shoulders from their sweat! It remained cold throughout the race and my gloves didn't come off until after mile 20 (both literally and figuratively).
Monument to the Ohio Infantry.
 Around mile 6, I started running with a nice fellow in a red shirt (I didn't catch his name) who was running his second marathon.  He lives in the area and actually does most of his training at the battlefield (jealous because it is so stunning), so he told me a little about the park and the different areas we were running through.  Red Shirt Guy asked about my marathoning past and I fessed up that until recently I was an avid barfer in races.  He laughed and mentioned the advice he received from one of his friends:
While I appreciate the sentiment about hard work and pushing yourself, I truly believe that the marathon is far more pleasant when you are not throwing up!
It is always nice during the early miles of a marathon to think about things other than the race ahead.  For me, it's all about hitting a comfortable stride and staying relaxed. Red shirt guy and I chatted and ran together through the half (the only time I looked at a clock the entire race!) at which point we joked that the practice lap was over and it was time for the race lap.  I lost him shortly afterward around the mile 14 aid station (I plowed on through with my hydration pack), and then was out on my own for the rest of the race.  Yes, I blatantly wasn't following the sage advice I heard at the start. (Are you noticing a trend here?)
The race shirt is fits great.  It was a different color for each race.
The second loop was still as fabulous as the first. There were more fans on the course.  I was more familiar with what was in front of me, which definitely helped me stay relaxed.  I started to utilized the aid stations for oranges and the miles just kept ticking by.  After losing red shirt guy, I gave myself one rule: It's not allowed to hurt until after mile 20.  Those thoughts were not allowed to enter my head and it wasn't until after mile 21 that they start to show up.
Medal, hat, and surviving Moon Pie (it's friends were eaten during the car ride).
Shortly after mile 22 I rounded a corner for a short stretch (maybe about 0.1 miles) leading up to another corner. I was all alone and I kind of tucked my head down to grind through it, when I heard in a loud, booming voice "Elisabeth, is that you?" The volunteer positioned at the corner was non-other than Chris, a gentleman that I ran with for 7-8 miles of the 7 Bridges marathon!  It was a wonderful surprise and just what I needed at around 22.5 miles!  I stopped for a quick photo (sorry I couldn't chat longer!) and then continued along my way with a new bounce in my step as Chris called out, "You got this girl!"
Kicking it into the finish, hoping those kids in the back don't catch me.
With 5k to go, I knew that I would finish and now it was all about the mental game.  I did a good job battling my tired thoughts/gremlins and only slowed down once or twice.  Just before mile 26, the race turned a corner revealing the field with the post race party, fans galore, and a short lead up to a left hand turn before the down hill finish.  As I pushed down the hill, I heard the Jayhawk off to my right cheering and with that, I cruised into the finish with a new PR of almost 6 minutes.
Thanks to the Jayhawk for the awesome finish photo!
4:10:27 (Half splits: 2:02, 2:08), 4th in age group

Recap of Race goals:
  1. Finish.  Yes!
  2. No barfing.  Barf-free is the way to be! I used 3 Island Boost at 5,10,15 miles and a bunch of orange slices. And I definitely made good use of the post-race food.
  3. Smile.  Yes! I am hoping there is photographic evidence somewhere!
  4. Haul ass and winRun the best race I can that day. I did.  The cold weather got to me a bit more than I realized, but I am happy with how it went.
How was your weekend?  Any races?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Race Recap:Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon Part 1

A lot went on this weekend with the Marathon and exploring new places.  There were so many photos to share, I thought I would divide it up into several posts.  You are welcome.  Big thank you to the Jayhawk for his photographic skills while I was out running.

Quick Visit to Chattanooga
Friday night the Jayhawk and I made the quick journey up to Chattanooga, TN. Only 20 minutes from the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon start line, Chattanooga was the prefect place for us to spend the pre-race night. After seeing Chattanooga on foot a few week ago, I was excited to have the chance to explore. Though we didn't have a ton of time, we did get to see the famous Choo-Choo, which was made infamous by the Glen Miller song and had a great dinner at Urban Stack.
"Woo, woo Chattanooga there you are."
The Choo-Choo now resides permanently at the station which has been converted into a hotel. It's a fun idea with much of the original history and architecture preserved. They have even converted train cars into guest rooms. It's the one time you can sleep in a train station without feeling like a hobo.
The Florida Monument.
Pre-Race prep
The pre-race weather forecast showed the same temps as 7 Bridges Marathon (40s low/60s high), so I had planned to basically wear the same outfit. However, when we headed to the car in the morning, it was completely frosted over and only 33 degrees out. Yikes. I made a game time decision at the start line, and changed into my capris in the car (sorry people parked next to us, but you know you liked it). Thank heavens I did, because it didn't warm up that much during the race.
It's interesting to think what this area may have looked like 150 years ago during the battle.
This was the first time the Jayhawk has joined me on race day at a full marathon (he was running the 5k) and it was really fun to have him there. As we were discussing when I might arrive at the finish-line (between 4-4:30 depending how it went), he asked in jest if I could run a little faster today so he wouldn't have to wait in the cold so long. Sure honey, I'll see what I can do. While I was out on the course, the Jayhawk took a nice hike through the battlefield and took some great photos.
Even the reenactors looked cold.
A little background on the park
Now, I'll be honest. I'm not much of a civil war buff and I really didn't know much about the park before we got there, besides that it just commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the battle in September and that it was the most significant Confederate victory on the Western front.
Here is what I have learned since then. The battlefield is the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the civil war, second only to Gettysburg, with over 34,000 casualties in just 2 days. Throughout the park there are monuments to each of the states (Both Union and Confederate) that had units in the battle and there is a small museum with artifacts that have been discovered around the battlefield.
This is one of the more beautiful and incredibly well maintained parks I have run through. It's no mistake that the race is always on Veteran's day weekend and that many participates are from Team Red, White, and Blue. The battlefield is an impressive monument crafted with tremendous care and detail. It honors those who have fought for our country and the sacrifices they have made. Spending Veteran's day weekend at the battlefield was a powerful reminder of what so many gave to preserve our freedoms.
How did you spend your Veteran's Weekend?

Part 2: The Race coming up on Wednesday.
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