Thursday, October 28, 2010

In which I see a chiropractor, and this guy is AWESOME.

So I mentioned that at the race expo I met this chiropractor.  I didn't know anything about chiropractors nor did I know that they are all alternative-mediciney--I thought they were regular mainstream medical doctors.

I've wondered about my back because when I was a kid and they did those scoliosis screenings in school they'd always call me back for a second and third check and say I was deformed or something (it was humiliating) but since that time I've never really noticed that my back is weird.  But when I did this guy's little diagnostic thing for posture he found that I stand with 16 extra pounds on one foot vs. the other (which is 13% of my body weight... so a really big number).  He does free consultations so I went in just to see because he was talking confidently like he could make my hip not hurt and could potentially tune up my running form, prevent future injuries, etc.  (all of which of course I'm really into).

So I went in, he examined me and did an xray, I discovered my health insurance covers this, so what the heck?  I went back... we looked at the xray.  My spine slants a little to one side and one femur is a little higher in the socket than the other--he said that part could just be a tight muscle.  On the opposite side, the top of my pelvis was slightly higher than on the other (not that significant).  But the spine thing he said we could fix and it would help with the hip thing and other things as well.  And he was super open about me being vegan, asked a lot of nutrition and general wellness questions as a part of his examination, and I discovered that he isn't all into medications and whatnot--instead he recommends supplements if he feels you need them.  And all of his supplements are ethically sourced and organic.  He's so alternative mediciney that it blows my mind.  And even though he does spines he can also fix leg things... he immediately poked at the outside of my knee that was sore after the marathon and said it's an IT band thing.   Basically the guy is all-around awesome.  He's about my age and really nice and knowledgeable and its the first time I have ever trusted a doctor (literally).

So last time he adjusted my back and neck in a few places while I was lying on my stomach and then I got electricity stimulation on my lower back which felt freaking amazing.  I went back this morning and he spent a lot of time with me... he examined my back again (basically you just lay there fully clothed on your stomach and he pushes and pokes at it a bit) and then he adjusted me again (this time body-slam style... I laid on my back and hugged myself with my arms, and then I did like a partial sit-up and he cracked my back... it was kind of awesome).  And I had more electricity stimulation, and he explained to me like what exactly happens in your body from these "adjustments" and how your body gets used to the new position of your bones.  And he poked around at my sore hip--I haven't posted about this yet, but post-marathon I've only run twice:  4 miles on Saturday (about 6 days after the race) and 4.5 this Monday.  I haven't run more because my hip has been freaking KILLING me.  Well, he thinks it's my piriformis muscle.  The good news, he says, is that it's easy to fix if it's that... the bad news is that it's painful to fix.  He did friction massage on it and it was like.... teeth-grittingly tough.  It felt pretty good after that though, at least temporarily.  He also worked on my ankles and feet a little bit.

And he said these words when I asked if it would still be ok to run given my hip: "There are very few instances when I would ever suggest that you not run."  How awesome is that??  He's a triathlete himself and he understands.  I'm so happy that he will work on running injuries and soreness without being all "no running for x time" and without being all "here's a bunch of pain medication" and he actually listens to what I have to say rather than treating me like an idiot like all other doctors I've met.

AND THEN he knows that I'm interested in nutrition so he gave me this amazingly long nutrition survey.  It's like a homeopathic questionnaire that I've done online before with various indications for things, grouped into categories, really detailed, like "crave candy or coffee in afternoons," etc.  I'm so excited about this--you have no idea.  He said next time we'll go over the ones I rate as moderate or severe symptoms and he can see if there are any trends or whatnot and see if he will recommend dietary changes or supplements.

My level of being stoked about this chiropractor:  like 1 million.  I can go to him a lot of times because of my insurance, and if I ever get hurt while running he can help me.  And what he's doing for me is going to help my overall wellness so much if he can give me some nutritional guidance and if my spine straightens out and it helps with my form.  I have one slightly compressing disc in my back--nothing bad enough to be concerned about--but making my spine straight will make sure that marathoning doesn't wear down one side of it more than the other and cause potential issues with it.

Also, his office is in my neighborhood.  It's all too perfect, really.  I'm so stoked that I fell into this.  I can't wait to hear what he says about nutrition.  And I can't believe I've finally found a doctor who's into alternative treatments and prevention.  PREVENTION!  when do doctors ever care about that?? They just always want to treat problems you already have.

If you are in Columbus and interested in a chiropractor LEAVE A COMMENT and i'll give you his info,  because this guy is my new hero.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Food Guide for Marathoners

Today I was procrastinating by going to the bookstore for a running book (Daniels' Running Formula--more on that later) and instead of that one book I came home with TWO, because I also impulse-bought Nancy Clark's Food Guide for Marathoners.  I had heard of this book before but wasn't sure it would be helpful/easily adapted to vegan eating, but I sat in the bookstore and read it for awhile and I liked the simple approach she takes to nutrition.  I'm decent enough at finding vegan equivalents now that I thought I'd get it and see what I can learn.

I'm really diggin' this book.  So far I only have one point of hesitation and it's only a small one: Eating the things she suggests constantly would be SO. BORING. But I think this is mostly because I like to cook and make things, and I like complexity of flavors and etc etc... so the inner foodie in me sort of cringes.  But at the very same time I appreciate how simple her options are.  The suggestions for meals that she has are things that could be viable when you're pressed for time, which is inherently valuable in and of itself.  I'll be stealing a lot of these ideas to make sure I'm actually eating more often. And it's not like she says "Oh you have to eat these boring things all the time"--rather, she gives a lot of fast, easy options and you could make more complex things that abide by the same principles.  I also still bring my own biases to the table (raw is better, unrefined is better, unprocessed is better, not using a microwave is better).  She doesn't disagree with these things necessarily, but sometimes comes down on the side of "faster is better" or "something is better than nothing"--both of which have their place as well.

The book wasn't a huge eye opener for me nutrition-wise--kinda already knew about the percents carbs/proteins/etc for sports nutrition.  But what it DOES give is some ways to do this practically and simple ways of thinking about things to keep you on track without having to overanalyze things.  In other words, it's a busy person's guide to still being fueled well for a marathon.

Here are some of the best points I've taken from the book so far (when she says dairy, i'm assuming dairy equivalents here btw, which I will get to in a minute).

She has a simple definition of eating well which I find really awesome--it's such a simple way of thinking about how to eat what you should:

  1. eat three kinds of foods (kinds: grain, fruit, veg, protein, dairy) at each meal
  2. eat two kinds of foods at each snack
  3. eat evenly throughout the day, not more as the day progresses and ending with a huge dinner
  4. eat at least 80-90% of your calories from quality foods (she says the last 10-20% can be sweets or whatever)
I know that I am often lacking in dietary variety because I get lazy, so I'm going to try the three kinds/two kinds rules for a few days and see how it goes.

Then she gives these general guidelines for a 2000 calorie diet (so remember if you're deep in the thick of marathon training you'd need more--I was aiming for 2500-3000 before):
  1. eat at least 2c of fruit and 2.5c of veggies per day
  2. choose a variety of colors of fruit/veggies
  3. eat whole grain products at least 2x a day
  4. drink or eat 3c/day of milk/yogurt/cheese (equivalents--but remember that soy cheese is often oil-based and some other vegan cheese subs are flour/water based, so soy cheese may not always "count".  Non-dairy milks/yogurts are the best subs in this category, and I always try to look for enriched milks too.)
More on milks:  she lists things you should eat 2-3 of per day to meet your calcium needs and gives these on the list as the equivalent of 1c milk, 1c yogurt, or 1.5 oz cheese:
  • 1c soymilk
  • 8oz tofu (half a block)
  • 4oz almonds
  • 3c broccoli
  • 1c collard or turnip greens (cooked)
  • 1.5c kale or mustard greens (cooked)
She says that to get the most of your vegetables you should:  Eat more of the best vegetables (the dark or brightly colored ones) and less of paler ones like zucchini, cucumbers, etc.  Eat salads with dark lettuces.  And to get the most from your salads from a sports nutrition standpoint, add carbs to them:  dense veggies like peas, corn, beets, carrots; beans; cooked rice/pasta; oranges, apples, raisins, grapes, dried fruit; croutons; bread on the side.

There are a lot of other suggestions in the book for grab-n-go breakfasts, having "second lunch" around 4pm and things you can take to/leave at work to make that easier, and suggestions to make the rice/pasta/potatoes meals more interesting with different spices, etc.  She also talks about how fat can be good for runners (in moderation of course) because it makes you feel fuller and enhances performance.

I'm only about halfway through the book--still to come, there are sections on water/sports drinks and hydration; fueling before a long run; fueling for recovery; weight loss; and calculating your caloric needs.  But I was excited to report the whole "eat 3 at each meal, and 2 at each snack" way of approaching nutrition.  I'm going to try that starting immediately and hopefully will introduce some more variety.  I also like some of her grab-n-go ideas for days I have no time to be home.

Annnnd...with that, I have now wasted most of my Sunday which I should have spent doing work and cleaning.  Yay!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The race shirt worth more to me than gold...

totally rockin' this shirt for my first run back this morning... yay street cred!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


This race report is going to be EPIC!  I've been a little reluctant to write it up simply because it feels like it's putting closure on something awesome that I don't want to be closed. Heh.  This post is gonna be picture-heavy, and really long, so sorry in advance...but I want to remember EVERYTHING.

Let me start off with a little "before" and "after":  
Here I am in Sam's car, getting ready to leave.  It's like 6am-ish and I'm pumped and ready to rock.  You can see my little inspirational things on my hand from you all.  On the inside of my arm, which you can't see, I have my planned mile splits.  I like this photo--I look tough and determined.

Now, here I am after the race:
Sam took this photo after I slumped onto a bench, clutching Gatorade and crying because my muscles were cramping so badly and I was feeling everything emotional about the race just crushing down on me.  This photo was never meant for public viewing--it's pretty much the most unflattering thing possible--but that face I am making, and the way I'm sitting, and everything about this photo just captures what I went through.  And because of that, and because it's a hilarious contrast with the "before" photo, I'm posting it here too.

Hopefully in day-to-day life I look more like the "before" than the "after."  And if you haven't done a full yet now you know what you'd be getting yourself into.... :P

So anyway... here we go:
Pre-Race:  Sam and I got there with just about the perfect amount of time to spare.  The Cbus Pacers group I run with had gotten the downtown YMCA to open up early for us, so I got to use a comfortable, clean restroom with a line of like 3 people instead of the usual pre-race port-a-potty fiasco.  Still more perfect, the Y was between where we parked and where the starting line was, so we just stopped in there on the way.  The weather was a little chilly at the start--mid 40s--but clear skies.  The starting area was chaos when we got there.  This is the first year that the Columbus Marathon has done a corral start--you had to submit a qualifying time to get into each corral and they put that number on your race bib.  I was in corral 3, but it was nearly impossible to get to it because there were also tons of spectators cramming up the sidewalk and people pushing and shoving, literally.  I will definitely say that I was glad enough not to be a faster runner because most of those I encountered who were trying to get to corral 1 were complete assholes.  Maybe it was just the few I ran into, but geez.  Way to represent corral 1 and all the fast runners, arrogant self-centered dudes...I understand it was stressful, but we were ALL stressed.  This might give some sense of the chaos, but I'm not sure where this photo was taken from (Sam's friend took it):
So I made my way into corral 3 with about 6 minutes to spare.  I have to say I felt nothing like I thought I would feel.  I was expecting nerves, upset stomach, the usual pre-race jitters...but somehow I was feeling completely detached and even a little zombie-like.  There was so much chaos around, and I was there by myself (Sam was in corral 2, and I didn't know where my other friends were).  I wanted to feel excited, to feed off of the energy, but at the same time I thought I should probably just keep on with the general feelings of apathy since it was keeping my stomach from feeling sick.  I really felt out of it and detached from the whole experience and the whole scene, kind of like I was going through the motions.  

The Early Miles.  When the gun went off they had fireworks off of the top of a building which was pretty neat.  It took about 6 minutes for me to cross the starting line.  Once I started moving I was feeling pretty good and I did have to resist going out too fast.  A couple of times I looked at my watch and I was doing a 10-minute mile which would've been fine later in the race but the plan was to hold back a lot for the first 6 miles.  The streets were wide at the start and thanks to the corrals the people around me were mostly my pace.  A really weird thing happened, though--about half a mile in, this guy ran up behind me and grabbed me around the waist and chest in a weird sort of groping bear-hug...then he pushed me aside and sprinted off around me.  I have no idea what that was about, if he thought I was someone else, or if he was going fast and just crashed into me, or if it was intentional, or what.  But it was very weird and threw me off a little, and it would've been nice if he hadn't pushed me.  I didn't exactly plan to get mauled by some random strange dude and pushed out of the way in the first mile.

Approaching mile 2, Lisa came up behind me!  Of all the thousands of people on the course--close to 15,000 to be exact--I never thought we'd run into each other.  After doing parts of my last few long runs with her, it was nice to see that familiar face early on.  She was doing the half, and after we chatted for maybe a minute, she sprinted off ahead.  At this point I was just focusing a lot on trying not to go too fast, and being hyper-aware of any tiny aches and pains (my right hip was tight a tiny bit and I was starting to worry..) 

The first stretch of the course that goes east felt kind of long because I was expecting to turn earlier--I think I didn't remember the course correctly.  The road was divided and the wheelchair racers were coming back the opposite way.  This meant I also saw D. come zooming past (he was a bike chaperone with the fastest wheelchair racers).  I tried to keep my mind on the race and not on getting my hopes up that he would still appear somewhere on the course to cheer for me because this race was so important to me (Incidentally, he didn't, but I entertained those hopes all the way through mile 14 or so with a heavy heart.  I ended up getting support from a lot of others along the way, for which I feel fortunate, so it's ok I guess--I'm considering myself lucky in spite of him).  At mile 3 we turned off into a residential area near Bexley and I saw Angela up ahead of me--she runs our Pacers Turtle Thursday runs.  I yelled at her and caught up with her for a minute, but the streets got really narrow there and I couldn't manage to hang with her in the crowds.  I realized around mile 5 that the slope of the streets was what was causing my hip and the ball of my foot to hurt more and more--I'm so glad I figured out that was the problem, because it saved me for later in the race.  I just moved to run in the middle instead of on the side and felt immediately better.  During this time I was also debating about ditching my pace strategy--I kept catching myself running faster than I was supposed to be running, and I was getting frustrated.

At just before mile 6, it was finally starting to get more sunny.  Michelle came up by me--another person from the Pacers who was doing the half.  She said she wanted to run with me the rest of the way, I told her I was going to be doing around an 11min mile, she agreed to it, and we kept on.  I think she was struggling a lot and also getting angry with me because I was having trouble holding back to the 11 min pace.  My original plan was to run miles 6-18 at a 10:45 pace, but I decided that having company for a few miles was worth more to me than running that extra 15 seconds faster, and that I had time in the bank already from rushing the first 6 miles too much.  But then I couldn't do it...I think we did a couple of miles at around 10:30 anyway by accident, which is why she was getting grumpy with me, I think.  I told her to just tell me if we needed to slow down because I was having trouble with pacing.  The mile 6 water stop was manned by the Pacers crew but I didn't see anyone I knew--everyone I knew was running.  I took a gel early at mile 6, trying a slightly new strategy with the fueling  (I know, nothing new on race day, but I learned on my last long run that I need to eat more and earlier).

As we made our way downtown the crowds started to get heavier.  I was starting to feel awesome.  Somewhere around mile 7 I started feeling like I could rule the world.  I stopped feeling like a detached zombie and started looking around me and appreciating the experience.  There were a lot of people out in German Village south of downtown, and this part of the run was really fun.  I had some fears about the stretch from miles 11-13 going north on High Street because last year that part of the half was extremely hard for me and it's a long steady uphill.  This year it didn't even phase me... I hardly noticed, except that it was raising my heartrate a little.  I was trying to keep my heart rate under 170 for as many miles as possible at the start, and when that started to get hard, I was trying to keep it under 177.  I read before the race about how a well-paced race doesn't have you reaching anywhere near your max until late in the race, because your heartrate will naturally climb with the amount of time you're running--so along with pacing I was watching the heart rate a little.  I took a second gel around mile 10--again, trying to frontload the nutrition.

At mile 13, the half marathon runners split off; I said a quick goodbye to Michelle (who ended up with a new PR by 8 minutes!)  From that point on it was a whole new race.  The course thinned by at least 75% and very suddenly I went from running in a pack to running basically alone.  There were a few runners maybe 50 yards ahead of me and one guy behind me.  The whole street was vacant, no spectators, nothing.  It stayed that way until about mile 18.  I actually really really enjoyed this time of the race--it was hands-down absolutely my favorite part of the whole journey.  Things had been really high-energy and chaotic with the half runners and as soon as I was alone, it was eye-opening.  When I passed that turnoff point, I remember thinking to myself, "Well, now it's about to get's time for serious business."  Like, there's no turning back, last year I would've been done but now I'm doubling what I just ran, and I just committed by passing the half turnoff. 

Miles 14-18 were really desolate, then, even though it was right down Columbus's main street.  I used this time to let the "it's serious now" feeling sink in, and to look around me and think about how awesome it was to run down Columbus's main street while it was completely vacant.  They had a timing mat somewhere around mile 14 with a guy saying names as you passed over it and they didn't say my name, so I started getting worried that my chip wasn't working (gah.)  We went up through the Short North and into the Gateway area, around a little residential block, and then toward the main part of Ohio State's campus.  I ran into Jess at the mile 15.4 water stop--I was on a massive runners high at this point, it was ridiculous.  This race was going so well for me then, basically awesome since mile 7, and even more awesome after mile 13.  I was on pace, feeling good, nothing on me was hurting and I was reaching the point where, in training, sometimes things would start to hurt.  Seeing Jess then was just perfect because I knew it might be awhile before I saw another familiar face.  As I was passing mile 16 I took my third gel.  It was deserted all through OSU's campus as well...probably too early for students to be awake.  I must admit with humiliation and shame that at this part of the course I was listening to the new Nelly song "Just a Dream" on repeat because for some reason it was giving me superhuman amounts of energy.  How it even ended up on my ipod is beyond me--the rest of my ipod was full of obscure indie music for the most part--but I considered it a godsend since it was making me run awesome.  Whatever it takes, I guess.  (Ironically I once commented to D. when we were dating that Nelly was crappy and "no longer relevant"... and here I am running a marathon, finding Nelly the most relevant possible thing to listen to on spite of my elitist anti-mainstream music tastes!)

Mile 18 was where things started to get tricky.  Mile 18.5 to be exact.  We had been running on a weird service road or something, with an uphill, and very suddenly I just started to get crazy muscle cramping and I took my "pause and stretch."  I had to fight muscle cramping, sometimes severe, for the rest of the race.  I guess this is probably a hydration issue, but I was taking water at most of the stops and I also took about 4 Hammer Endurolyte capsules (one before the race, 3 during).  I was not taking sports drink because I thought the endurolyte capsules would make up for it and i was afraid the gatorade would make me sick (I usually drink Nuun).  If I could figure out how to not have this cramping happen, which has happened, on every run over 15 miles that I've ever done, I might be able to become a much better runner.

Miles 18-20 were getting quite tough.  There was a guy near me who was also struggling and I thought about trying to get him to run with me to motivate each other, but this other guy came back to coach him so i was on my own again.  I was expecting Sam to meet me...somewhere, but I wasn't sure where.  The plan was that he was going to finish his half, and then get on his bike and bike to a few points on the course to see me.  At mile 20 they had another timing mat and this time read my name, which gave me a little boost (thank god, the chip was working!)  I was heading down  think I first saw him just after mile 20, when my legs were burning like fire and all i could think about was "Oh my god, there are 6 more miles of this!"  You can see how funny I'm running in this photo.
Miles 21-23 were a blur so some of these miles may not even be that accurate.  I literally hardly remember scenery, hardly remember anything.  We went through grandview--the above pic is me running down the main stretch in Grandview which would've been somewhere around mile 23 I think.  Sam was somewhere near mile 22 where I was literally thinking I wasn't going to make it-- I saw him and nearly had a meltdown.  He was being all encouraging, and nudging me to keep going, and then he said, "Here, Angela will bring you in, go with her" and I turn around and Angela was there!  She was supposed to be ages ahead of me, as she was aiming for a 4:15 finish--but she hurt herself around mile 17 and was walking the rest of the way (they told her at the aid station she could either walk the rest or wait for the sag wagon, which would've been like 3 more  She hugged me and we walked a little while she told me what had happened, and then I realized how much worse it was hurting to walk--every step was killing both of my hips and my lower back--so I decided to try to keep on moving and I left her.  At this point my pace was obscenely bad... I was doing like 12:30 some of the time, but I would get these little second winds where I'd run at an 11 pace for a bit again.  It was really up and down.  I saw Sam again near mile 23, and then I was coming up on 5th avenue and my friend John (in the above pic) was there (Unexpectedly!! He was signed up for the full marathon, but backed off to run the half...but his bib was a marathon bib so he could be on the course.)  When I ran into John I literally crouched down on the road and was whimpering like a freaking baby (it was really humiliating, but everything hurt so much!)  We walked a bit (maybe like 2 minutes) and then started running, and we ran the whole rest of the way from mile 24 to the end without stopping.  

Miles 24-26. John was saying some great stuff to minimize the amount of running left... one of the best was "Two miles?  TWO MILES?!  My grandpa could run that and he uses a friggin' walker!"  and other things about how it was just a mile, I always run a mile, etc etc.  The constant stream of optimism he was spewing during these last 2 miles was fricking priceless and really got me through.  My legs were in immense pain at this point--mostly my hips, also a little pain on my left knee...but weirdly it was getting easier to ignore.  The crowd support started to get awesome--these people really realized how hard it is to do a marathon, I guess. The crowd support was great before John came along too, the whole last 6 miles of the race had great spectators--not huge amounts of them, but the ones that were out there were REALLY saying supportive things.  It made a huge difference.  The run down Neil Ave, mile 24-26 I think, was nice and tree-covered, a nice wide street, lots of people saying lots of things about how close were were to the end.  Just after the half-mile to go banner, John split off (he didn't want to cross the finish line again since he hadn't really run this race).  

Here I am coming up the final 0.2--yes it was UPHILL up a bridge before making a right turn into the finishing chute.  At this point I'm both grimacing because the pain was so bad and I was refusing to walk, and also fighting back tears a little because it was starting to sink in... All of the spectators along the last 0.2 were yelling ENJOY IT!!  ENJOY IT!! at me, so I must've looked like complete hell, what with gritting my teeth and fighting through the pain.  This one guy in particular screamed out, "SMILE!  You just ran 26 freaking miles, TAKE IT IN!!"  I'm glad he was there because I needed to unfocus and refocus on everything happening around me and I was able to actually appreciate the rest once he woke me up a bit.  Coming into the finishing line the spectators were like 10 people deep and it was really awesome.  Just as I'm coming down the finishing chute, though, I felt this one blister on my right foot completely split open.  I was literally probably 20 steps from the finish and it exploded.  I've never had that happen before.  Yikes.  So close!

The big moment of finish line joy!

So I finished in 5:09-- my garmin inexplicably says 5:03.  In any case i was aiming for 4:45ish so I did much worse...but I'm so proud that I ran the first almost-19 miles so so well.  I felt so amazing for the majority of the race... it was just those last 6ish miles that kicked my butt.    

Incidentally I officially hate both those shorts and my Ifitness belt that I got... possibly the most unflattering combination ever.

Now for a few more photos:

My favorite one from the race, taken I think around mile 24... don't I look like a badass legit runner in this photo??

finish line with my medal :o)  That finishing moment was seriously intense...but I don't think the fact that I finished a MARATHON even set in until like...yesterday.

Me with Sam after the race--

My first ever ice bath... yes, I am wearing a sweatshirt in a bathtub... yes, I have swimsuit bottoms on.  I'm on the phone telling my parents about the race :D  The ice bath, while absolutely horrible, really helped a lot... I felt better almost instantly after getting out of the tub.

So how have I felt since the race??  Actually, really good!  The rest of race day I was in pain--I got home, had the ice bath, had some food, and fell asleep on the couch (without a proper shower until like 430, bleh).  Monday I was walking around rather stiffly, limping a bit.  But today I went for a light swim in the morning, and while I'm still a little sore, it's nothing out of the ordinary compared to a regular long run.  I'm descending stairs normally without pain.  I went down 4 flights today and at the bottom was like "Hey wait a minute--that was supposed to hurt still!!"  

And I can't wait to get out there and run again!!  I was even saying at the finish line that I'd DEFINITELY do this again--in spite of the pain, in spite of it all.  I did something I thought I would never be able to do in my wildest dreams... and even when I wanted to give up, I toughed it out and somehow moved through those last miles.  All I can say is what a journey... mentally, emotionally, physically.  It was difficult in nearly every possible way it could have been difficult.  And i still ran strong for almost 19 miles, and I ran the last 2 miles without a break.  And my longest walking break was only maybe 2 minutes, tops.  Any other breaks I took were just to stretch.

So I have garmin data to analyze and ideas about what to do for next time but I'm not gonna go there in this already ridiculously long report :D  So, more on that later.  

Definitely one of the most special and most important moments of my life so far.  I can't thank everyone enough for supporting me through training and giving advice and everything.... and I can't say how unspeakably happy I am that on race day some people were there to share it all with me, too.  I feel like everything is different now... I achieved the unachievable, and I have something that's mine that I really can be proud of.  I did this because I *wanted* to do it, not because I had to or someone made me.  It's mine, and I did it.

ALSO:  as hard as this race was, the pain didn't even COMPARE to what I endured on that 21 mile training run.  Go figure, eh?  I kept reminding myself of that as I went along.  

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I finished, guys!!  my garmin time was 5:03, my clock time was 5:15, and my tweet my time twitter thing said 5:09... so not sure what's accurate yet.

THE GOOD NEWS is that I ran really strong until mile 18.5 which I'm really proud of.  I ran that portion at a pace much lower than what I thought I could've handled in anticipation of the rest of the race being awful.  My time is slower than I wanted, but somewhere around mile 20 I decided I didn't care any more and just had to do what I had to do.  So it's ok.

Which... it had its dark moments for sure, and a race report will follow once I get some food in me and have a chance :o)

But overall... I feel pretty good!  More soon :o)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

pre-race and the expo

Things I learned at the race expo today:

  • I only weigh 122 lbs!  This means that somehow in marathon training I lost 15-18lbs.  When I started my weight was around 140-142, before my scale broke.  How is it possible that I lost THAT MUCH WEIGHT and didn't really notice much?  I thought I looked fitter, but not 15-18 lbs thinner...geez.  I haven't weighed that little since high's very strange for me, and a number I thought I would never see again (and was ok with that).  So now I'm left wondering if it was the increased mileage or the increased food intake (remember when I started eating huge amounts of calories?)  or if it was something else.  I mean, I'm happy about this but also...baffled.  And also even more terrified that I'm just going to get really chubby after this race is over.
  • I distribute 16 more lbs of weight on my right foot than on my left foot, and the right side of my pelvis is somewhat higher than the left, which I guess is like...really bad.  16 lbs is 13% of my body weight, so I'm really stickin' it to my poor right leg.  I found this out at a chiropractic booth thingy that Sam was interested in.  The guy does free consultations and said he thinks I might have some muscle weakness around the lower back that could be corrected to fix it or something, which might help with my running form.  And he was a pretty cool guy who likes to treat athletes and who is a runner himself.  I might go for a free consultation just for kicks.  He said it's very likely my insurance would cover nearly everything if I wanted to pursue any treatment.  I don't know though.
  • I got (*cough* impulse bought) a Power Balance at a random booth. Call me a sucker.  Maybe I am.  But we will see if it works.  What can I say... it appealed to my inner hippie and the demo they did was pretty crazy.  Also I just think it's a neat. More on this later.
  • I got a long sleeved tech shirt from an old race for $3.  And a second shirt from Cap City half that I did in May, just it's a small so it's a little snug. (also for $3).
  • Lots of possible races for winter and spring... pretty psyched
  • I have figured out my pacing strategy:  I'm aiming for a 4:43 finish which averages to a 10:50 pace/mile.
    • I'll run the first 6 miles at 11:20, 11:15, 11:10, 11:05, 11:00, and 10:55 respectively.  
    • miles 7-18 will be at a 10:40-10:45 pace if I can maintain it with my heartrate at the usual level for a long run (under 180ish)
    • miles 18-26 will be whatever I gotta do to get to the finish, hopefully will have some energy in the bank from doing early miles slower

Friday, October 15, 2010

omg omg omg

Ahhhhhh!!!  It's so getting closer and closer!

Today I just have to work until 230 and go to a meeting... then I'm meeting some friends for pizza at 7 at Zpizza as a sort of "carb-loading" thing.  Then Sam and I are watching Spirit of the Marathon on hulu.  Then in the morning I might head out to Dublin for an 8am easy 2 miles or so with the Cbus Pacers, followed by breakfast and nervous chatter with the group.  Then the expo is tomorrow, and I'll have to get all of my stuff together for the race!

I'm seriously literally the most excited and nervous person in the universe right now.  Choosign coffee was probably a bad idea this morning.  I'm bouncing off the walls!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Columbus Marathon: The Course

This is the course map for Sunday's race!  I'm have to admit that I'm a little more excited about the Columbus Marathon now that I heard that it's rated one of the top 20 marathons in the country by  So it's not like I'm just doing a marathon cus it's in my city... it also happens to be a pretty good one, at least according to other people!

I'm trying to approach this as a brand-new race, which involves forgetting the negative memories I have from the Cbus half last year, when I ran it the day after having the flu, when it was 30 degrees at the start, and when it was raining (notice my conspicuously absent race report... the only one I've ever failed to write, I was so sad).  This is harder than it seems, but given that the forecast is now 50 in the morning, 70 by midday, and sunny, maybe the brighter weather will help :o)

View Columbus Marathon 2010 in a larger map

So the course starts downtown, and goes east of the city and back, then through and around German Village (an old part of the city, where there will be some cobbled brick streets).  Then we head back into downtown and north along High Street (there is a long gradual hill for miles 11-12-13).  When we finally head west of High Street at the northernmost edge of the course, we'll go through the campus of Ohio State University, and then around southern Upper Arlington (a wealthy/nice neighborhood).  Grandview Heights will have a hill around mile 23, and then we head back south toward downtown through Victorian Village/Harrison West/Short North, which has a lot of old homes and such and is kind of the "hip" area of the city.  I'll know when we go by Goodale Park close to mile 26 that the pain is almost over.

This is a pretty epic tour of our city.  I live about 1.5 miles north of the northernmost part of the course so we're not going through my neighborhood... but other than that they really have us going through the "coolest" neighborhoods of the city, plus OSU.  I am hoping that I'm not so slow that no supporters are left on the course by the time I get to those final miles.

There will be some people from my running club manning the water stop near mile 6 but I'm not sure how many of them I will know, if any (most people I know are also running).  Jess will be at the 15.4 mile stop.  And after Sam finishes the half, he will bike to somewhere along the course to see me in those final painful miles, probably somewhere between miles 18-22, so he has time to get back to the finish.  I'm sort of hoping there will be the pleasant surprise of seeing others from my running group on the course at some point or another, but they will probably be faster than me, since most are doing the half (and the one I know who IS doing the full is going to do it probably 30 minutes better than me).

If you want to follow my progress on Twitter, I signed up for TweetMyTime.  My name on twitter is VegetariRun, so feel free to add me.  (The tweets won't be duplicating to facebook because I'm a shameful coward about owning my slow pace in front of a couple BQ runners I know..blah.  When will I ever stop being insecure about that??)  Basically my timing chip will somehow magically tweet my time live as I pass the  10k, 13.1, 17ish miles, and the finish, I think.

Friday night I'm having pizza to carb up with some running buds... and at some point I plan to watch Spirit of the Marathon, which is available on hulu (a documentary about marathon running).  I'm kinda psyched.

In which I discover that I am NOT bendy (Part 2)

I read that doing a yoga pose called the Pigeon Pose can help with IT band tightness, so I thought I'd try it (gently of course, since the race is in 4 days...)

Here's a little short video to show how to do it: you see how the woman has her front leg bent at like a 90 degree angle??    I can't do it at all.  I have to have my heel back UNDER me in order to keep my hips square to the front (which the woman in the video says is the most important part, even if that means moving where your heel is).  So apparently I have hip flexibility.  fml?  You should try this, I'm curious if it's nearly impossible for normal people or if I'm somehow broken and inflexible.

Too late to care now I guess... I'm going on a song and a prayer at this point...!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Inspirational things to write on my arms

I need some arm-graffiti to keep me moving forward through those last 6 miles.... suggestions?  My ideas so far:

  • "shut up, legs!" - a famous quote said often by jens voigt, one of my favorite cyclists (it's what he tells himself when the going gets tough)
  • maybe something about lance armstrong saying a marathon was "without a doubt the hardest physical thing I've ever done" --if it's hard for even lance, it's ok and normal for me to struggle..  Maybe I will just write "Remember Lance"
  • "Oprah did it"
  • "when the mind is backed by will, miracles happen" --this was the quote on my teabag tag on friday morning, and it seems so appropriate for all facets of my life right now... it really was/is a sign.
  • "run with courage" --I like this for some reason.  running has been one long struggle of having guts for me. it took guts for me to get started, and it still takes guts every time I put my foot out the door.
  • "live the life you imagine" --cheesy, but I like it because I never thought I could do a marathon... and I'll be doing something that was only in my wildest dreams before.  wow, when did i become so cheesy?  it almost brings a tear to my eye even now..
Okay, so I only have so much real-estate on my little T-rex arms and hands, but I love you blog-followers and all of the support you've offered me on my training journey.  If you have suggestions of a little word or phrase I could carry with me, maybe something that was/is/has been meaningful to you on your journey, I will proudly graffiti my body, take photos as evidence, and think of you as I trudge onward in those last 6 miles.  You've been a part of the training... I'd love to have you be a part of my race too :o)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Goals... with no clear timeline yet. ha.

So here are some goals.  I want to say them now before I run this marathon and feel like I never want to run again.  Haha.

  • I want to get to a point where I can run 20 miles often without falling to pieces.  
    • This means I might have to work on my running form somehow but I have no idea how.  Maybe actually work on trying to learn Chi Running (although I was completely failing at teaching myself).  Or it might mean getting someone to videotape me running and then critiquing the hell out of the video, trying some new things, and taping me again.  As it is I have no idea what my running form looks like to other people, but I do know if I was doing it right my IT band/hip probably wouldn't hurt eh?
  • I need to work consciously on getting faster.  And while doing that I need to remember that even though it feels awful it's still working me toward a marathon goal in the long run.  I always focus on the short-term and don't want to do the immediate thing that sucks even if it helps me with a longer term thing.
    • I discovered as I was trying to see what marathon pace I'm capable of that I probably have a really crappy vo2max.  So I need to do more training to improve that.  I'm wondering if cycling would help with improving that as well... when I had my bike on the trainer in an easy gear and I was pedaling at a high cadence it was killing me aerobically after awhile.
    • I want to do some interval training at an appropriate speed, but also try to do a wednesday mid-week run of 8 or so miles as a tempo run.
    • I need to remember that marathon training HAS made me faster so I'm not as bad as I was last year.  This is improvement, even though I am still slow.
    • I wish I had a way to develop a plan tailored to ME so that I could get faster in the most efficient way possible because I HATE speedwork so so freaking much.  I want what I'm doing to be of maximum effectiveness.  I thought HR training would help but I'm not sure.  I wish I had been a runner in high school or college so I could've had a coach :\
  • I would like to keep my mileage at around 30 miles/wk minimum regardless of where I am in my training cycle.  This might mean some longer mid-week runs while keeping my weekend long run to 3 hours regardless of how far that is.  Or maybe my weekend long run will become somewhat of a speedier one as well so I can try to run further in 3 hours.  
  • I want to work on my swimming this winter.
  • All of this is because:
    • I want to run a 4 hour marathon
    • I want to run a sub-2 hour half marathon
    • I want to do the OSU indoor triathlon in January.
    • I want to do a half-ironman (to start)
    • I want to start improving speed and fitness now so that the possibility of doing a full ironman can exist before I'm 40, without me having to be in action for more than 12 hours.
    • I want to hold my head high(er) around other runners... I'm tired of being slow, and I want to be a serious athlete because I like serious athletes and want to hang out with them.  (and maybe date them. ha.)

This looks hopeful...

It's probably too far in advance for this to be accurate.... but oh please, oh please be true.  Last winter for the half it was 30 degrees at the start and drizzled the whole race.  Nice weather for my first marathon would be nothing short of a miracle.

Also I need to start figuring out what to wear.  It's silly but I want something sort of ok looking so I have photos that turn out well... since this is my first marathon and all.  I've run as far as 21 miles with no chafing so I don't really have to worry about that--in fact the only time I've EVER had chafing was some inner thigh chafing in a half-marathon downpour (wet shorts = not so good).  So I'm slightly ok with picking a new shirt if I feel like it, even though 'nothing new on race day' blah blah.  As long as it is comfortable, wicking, and has flat seams.  I was figuring I'd have to wear a jacket so I hadn't thought much about what shirt I'd be wearing...

Ironman 2010

I've had the Ironman World Championships on all day at  The elites just started the marathon leg of the race a little bit ago.  Frayed Laces is out there doing this crazy thing too, so I've been following her a bit.  Her blog was the first "athlete" blog I ever read, and was why I wanted to start my own blog after awhile... and everything she's done is amazing and inspirational.  And, she's in grad school, like me. She's due to finish somewhere between 11pm and 12 am eastern time.

I've never watched this much race coverage.  I've had it on since the cannon at the start of the swim.  The swim took just under an hour-ish, the bike leg was about 5 hours, and now like I said the run is starting.  These people are so so so badass.  It's unbelievable.

Most heartbreaking moment:  I watched the last swimmer miss the cutoff by 24 seconds.  She was 51 years old, and she did the whole swim, finishing strong to the cheers of thousands... then she came out of the water and was intercepted by a guy who had to break the news that she missed by 24 seconds.  She crumpled to the ground sobbing.  Watching that made *me* cry.  Album: We love you Sharon Colgin, Almost the Last Swim Finisher.

Biggest news:  Chrissie Wellington didn't start, citing flu symptoms.

One of the elite women is a first-timer who's never run a marathon before.  Her longest run ever was 21 miles, and she just got off her bike and is getting started.  I'm cheering her on.

I assume after we're done following these elites through the course they just aim the camera at the finish and we watch all of the age-groupers come in, but I'm not sure.  I have some things I need to get done today and I just want to watch these amazing people.  These runners are all so strong with really efficient form.

I want to do this so so bad, you have no idea.
I wish my marathon was going to be a thing of epic beauty like this.  I can't believe how strong these elites are running after swimming and biking.  I wonder how much I'd actually have to run before being able to run a marathon fast and without falling to bits around mile 18.  I suppose that kind of thing takes years to improve, eh?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

one more thing...about weight.

Some irrational fears I'm having about weight:  I saw my ex a couple of times recently. On the first occasion he gave me a backhanded compliment ("You look really pretty when you're running a lot.")  On the second, he noticed I'd gotten some new jeans and said, "What, did you get some new jeans to fit your new ass?"  He hadn't seen me since about... August 1.

Now, this guy has been known to be critical and also sometimes a jerk, so I'm taking it with a grain of salt.  But also I hadn't really noticed any significant changes to my body, though I think my calf muscles are more pronounced and my thighs might be a bit slimmer--and I don't have a scale that works so I have no clue if I've lost weight or not.   I said something to Sam and he thinks I've gotten slimmer, too, though.  I have been feeling really good lately about how I look which is rare for me.  Clothes just seem to fit well.  So maybe there have been more changes than I've noticed.  Also I went shopping with one of my friends and she and I used to be the same size, and this time we weren't.

So now this part of me is terrified that if I stop running high-mileage I'm going to get chubby or even go back to where I was before (which I hadn't even realized was that different--but apparently it was?? if others are noticing..)  But I also can't realistically maintain this mileage all winter, can I?  Especially if my knees and hips are feeling it and I need to work on some speed training, perhaps at the expense of distance.

I don't want to turn into a blob this winter or even lose the muscle tone that I've gained.  I don't WANT an off-season.  I want to keep feeling confident about how I look, and I want to maintain this.  But I don't know how I can do that.  Or if I can.  Or if I should maintain this level of training or what.  I think I peaked around 40 miles/wk but I'm not sure (I didn't check the garmin data).  Once I hit 30 miles/wk I was eating massive amounts of food and that was when I started feeling pretty good, I think, appearance-wise... but it's hard to tell how much of it is actual changed appearance and how much of it is just my attitude influenced by running endorphins.

I trained for 10k distances after my couch to 5k out of fear of losing progress and/or getting chubby, then I trained for halfs at least in part out of fear of losing progress or getting chubby, and now I'm faced with the same thing with the marathon distance.  I wish I could remove myself from this superficialness and just focus on the TRAINING, but I have to be really honest, I want to look fit all winter too :\  Blah.

Go away, germs.... seriously :o(

So just a quick little check-in.

Last week, the first week of my taper, I ran 21 on Sunday (as I wrote about), then did 4 on Thursday, and 12 this past Sunday.  I really didn't run much.  Between concern over my knee and all of the energy I was burning on the other stuff going on in my life I just didn't feel like it.  That 21 miler really made me think "Wait... why am I doing this?? Running isn't even fun, wtf?"  So I gave myself a break.

The 12 this Sunday was pretty good--I ran it with Lisa and we did about an 11:03 pace--not too crazy, it was comfortable.  However, both of my hips started hurting quite a lot, and my knee was twinging a bit.  I don't like that my hips hurt after only 12 miles. This cannot be good.

I had been using a rolling pin with a towel wrapped around it as kind of a ghetto foam roller on my IT bands, but I finally got an actual foam roller, and I've been trying to use it at least twice a day.  It's kind of strange--sometimes when I do it, it really hurts and then I feel really quite good afterward.  Other times I do it and I feel as if I am bruised afterward, and that's kind of where I am right now.  I used it this morning, and now that I'm sitting here I feel as if I have lumps or bruises on both of my hips.  In all likelihood I probably just didn't work out the knots well enough or something.  It has to be something going on inside because the "bruised" feeling spots are in exactly the same spots on both hips.

If I have a productive enough afternoon I'm going to head out for 4 miles or so this evening.  The crappy thing is... NOW I HAVE A COLD.  Lucky me, a taper cold.  And it's less than 2 weeks until the race.  I've been taking Airborne, Cold-Eez, and Emergen-C, along with immune-boosting tea, and I could feel a lot worse than I do right now.  All things considered I don't feel that badly, at least at this exact moment.  But I'm concerned because the usual pattern for me is that a head cold turns into a chest cold.  Last fall/winter I had walking pneumonia for 3 months because I couldn't get the chest cold to go away.    I'm terrified this is going to turn into a chest cold just in time for the marathon.  Please send all hopes/prayers/positive energy/advice/anything you've got toward me getting over this nasty bug without it turning into a chest cold.  I don't know what else I can do to prevent that from happening, because it ALWAYS happens.  It's like it's inevitable.  I probably wore myself down too much with anxiety and not eating properly so this is my own fault.  Grahhh.

Last week not running wasn't really bothering me but this week I'm starting to feel a bit stir-crazy.  I want to run and I want to run fast and I want to run now.  I guess this is what a taper feels like.

Some things I want to write about once I have time (must get some other work done today..)