Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Plitvice marathon complete!

So Finally I was in Bosnia ready to run my first marathon!  We got there in the beginning of the week and my race was that Saturday.  Emir and I did a couple easy shake out runs that week leading up to the race.  On Friday we drove to the Plitvice National Park where the race was being held.  We had booked a hotel room for that night.  The nice thing about races in Europe is they start later.  The race started at 9:30 and we literally were staying at a hotel in the park so I only needed two minutes to walk to the start line!!  Friday night we got our bibs and goodie bags.  They also had a pasta dinner that was INCLUDED in the fee for the race.  Side note the race only cost the equivalent of $15 and not only did it include the pasta dinner the night before but also lunch after the race AND admission for the whole weekend to the national park.  Now that is a deal!  Anyway I had some trouble sleeping that night because I was pretty nervous but come morning I was ready.  The race started out well.  The first few miles were flat or downhill and I was coasting.  The nice thing was that Emir's 10 miler followed the same course as the marathon and we all started together.  So I had a running buddy for the first 10 miles.  After the first few miles, the steep incline began and didn't stop for 3-4 miles.  It was soooo hard!!  But it was nice to have Emir there with me to help me keep going.  Just before the 10 mile mark we had to part ways :(  Emir told me he knew I could do it and that he thought the worst of the hills were over.  Well he was wrong.  About a quarter mile after we parted, another steep incline started and this one was at least 5 miles long before it started leveling off.  It was HARD!!!!  After that there were some general ups and downs but nothing like those mountains.  I was guzzling water and downing gels like it was my job.  The aide stations were interesting.  They had full bottles of water and these giant sugar cubes that people were licking.  At one point I pulled off to a wooded area to take a potty break but other than that I never stopped until I crossed the finish line.  I was so tired and so emotional that when I saw Emir waiting for me, I started crying!  I couldn't believe it that I, a girl who could barely run to first base in high school just ran a MARATHON!!!  I was hurting sooo bad, I couldn't even stand but I was so happy and so proud of myself.  Emir was too and when we got back to Emir's family's apartment I called my mom and dad.  I could hear them beaming over the phone.  It was awesome!!!  As bad as I hurt afterwards I knew I had to do that again.

 Back in present time.  I've had a rough time since last post.  Our beloved greyhound Junebug went to heaven.  We adopted her 12 years ago before we were married, actually we were still in college.  She was our first baby together and meant the world to us.  The day I had to take her to the vet was so hard and so sad.  I had 18 miles to do that day which I did but I'm not going to lie, I definitely cried during parts of it.  Then on top of that Emir left that night for a ten day work trip to England and Spain.  Which is ok, I'll miss him but I'm happy that he was getting to meet his work team finally.  The bigger piece is that I have the kids alone for 10 days.  You don't realize how critical having that second person around is.  It has just been non-stop cleaning, cooking, dressing kids, driving kids, putting kids to bed not to mention trying to get my stuff done like running.  It's been pretty exhausting.  Oh and did I mention I also came down with a nasty case of mastitis????  UGH  It was soooo painful and made me feel like I had the flu.  Luckily a couple of days on antibiotics made it start feeling better.  But despite all this, I was able to get all my miles in.  Pretty proud of myself for that.  This past weekend I stayed at my parents with the kids.  There was a 9.3 miler at a state park near by put on by the local road runner group.  Since I was scheduled for 12 and 10, I did 13 on saturday and decided to do the race Sunday.  It was awesome.  I just showed up with a signed form and $5.  It was freezing but they had a fire pit going and vats of hot chocolate.  It was a Hawaiian theme so some people were dressed up and they gave us lais at the end.  The race was called the "Teriible Tyler" due to this awful hill that we had to do twice.  Even the rest of the course is full of ups and downs but it was fun.  It was so nice to run with a big group of people who love running.  Afterwards they had a huge spread of food and drinks.  I just thought it was great!  They have about 7 or 8 of these types of races which they call their winter series.  You can either sign up for all of them or you can just show up like I did and pay $5.  Totally worth it!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Feelin Good

Continuing on with my adventure to my first marathon in Croatia in 2011....Many training runs especially the long runs, I had to do on my own.  Emir was only training for the 10 mile race that coincided with my marathon and my sister Cindy was training for the broad street run which is also 10 miles.  Each of them did a few runs with me but never longer than 14-15 miles but I give them credit it was way more miles than they needed to do for their training and I appreciated the company. I do have to say that Emir, Cindy and my mom and dad were soooo incredibly supportive during my training.  Watching Niko, running with me (not mom and dad, hehe) and just being so encouraging even tho I'm sure they were wary if I could really do this or not.  Anyway early May was the Broad street run which all three of us were doing.  Cindy had done it several times and was trying to PR in it.  This was the first time for Emir and I.  This was actually the first race Emir had ever done longer than a 5K.  Secretly I was trying to beat Cindy but she had swam in college and had been running since.  Never anything longer than 10 miles but still running.  She also is about 4-5 inches taller than me and 4 years younger than me.  She definitely has more speed than I do.  The start of the race was ridiculous.  It was so packed you could barely move let alone run.  Cindy told me to follow her and we shot for the sidewalk.  Emir of course being the cautious runner he is, was so paranoid about going out too fast so he stayed behind.  Cindy and I were flying down the sidewalk to get by the huge pack.  Next thing I knew we were at mile 1.  I checked my ipod that I was using at the time with Nike+ and it said 7:30...I was like "HOLY CRAP!!"  It was very exciting yet very scary at the same time.  I had NEVER run anything faster than maybe a low 9 minute mile.  After a couple more miles I just settled into my own pace now that we were out of the crazy crowd and didnt' worry about keeping up with Cindy.  It was becoming too much for me.  Around mile 5 I was feeling beat.  I had definitely gone out WAY too fast.  I was feeling weak, had to pee and was wondering if I would even finish this race.  Somehow I gutted out the rest of the race.  I felt like I barely made it.  I ended up doing 1:27 which I was soooo proud of and I only finished 2 minutes behind Cindy.  I know I went out too fast but you know what I didn't really care.  I had run the reknown Broad Street race and exceeded my goal time by a lot.  The following week was my 23 mile training run with the annual Susan G Komen 5K for breast cancer the next day.  Like I said I'm not one for worrying if I'm doing every little thing right.  According to my coach (Emir), I shouldn't have all out raced Broad street so close to my longest training run not too mention my actual marathon and I shouldn't be doing a 5K race the day after my long training run, oh welllllll.  Susan G Komen is so important to my mom as a 25+ year breast cancer survivor and I didn't want to tell her no because I was training.  She would be like ok so you can run millions of miles every week but not do a 5K for breast cancer?  The other thing I want to point out is the reason I did a 23 miler instead of another 20 miler was for my mental health.  I knew I would feel a lot better about finishing 26.2 if I had completed a run that was only 3 miles shorter than one that was 6.  The 23 miler went pretty well.  Of course I was tired and sore but not too bad at all and I never once thought during the run about stopping.  The next day I was easily able to PR in the 5K with a time of 25 minutes.  I mean lets be honest I had only run maybe 2 5Ks and they were pretty early on when I first started running but still that was my fastest by a good 6 minutes in less than a year of running.  I was feeling good and pretty overall positive that I was going to do this thing.  A few weeks later Emir, Niko and I were boarding our plane to Bosnia!!!!

This week was a "rest" week for me.  So I only had to run 35 miles instead of the 40 I had done the previous couple of weeks.  I finally was feeling like I had more energy again and felt really good on my runs, my pace said so too ;-) Also I wore my Saucony Viratta's all week and I swear those shoes make me faster.  I just always feel and am actually going faster when I wear them.  I was a good girl this week and did all my runs on their scheduled days.  I'm pretty sure that helped especially on my weekend runs since I had my friday rest day.  We went down the shore friday afternoon for the weekend.  It was supposed to be spring like in the 60s however as usual the forecasters were wrong and it was a cool damp maybe 50, most likely high 40s.  Oh well it was nice to have a  change of scenery for my weekend runs.  I love running the Wildwood boardwalk, the sea wall through N. Wildwood and then I head over the bridges to Stone Harbor.  Especially this time of year, it's quiet, peaceful, just nice.  Sunday I took Niko with me who now was feeling much better so he did not sleep.  In fact he blabbed the entire 5 miles!!!  Oh well it takes my focus off of my run so much and I enjoy the time with my son.  He really seems to be enjoying the fact that I have been taking him lately.  He has been asking to go alot and he keeps talking about running races.  I'm glad that all this running has turned into something positive for our family rather than mommy and now daddy (he's training for the 50 K as well) just disappearing for hours on end.  Speaking of which this week I ordered my double BOB Ironman Jogging stroller!!!!  I have never been one to be big into baby/kid gear but I cannot wait to get this stroller!  We haven't been able to do any family runs in a long time since Una was too little to sit in the BOB for a while and then we just kept putting off getting the double because of the cost(we had some unexpected expenses the last few months).  But we got some gift cards for christmas to kohl's + the 20% off coupon came in the mail and I knew it was time!  It will definitely make getting some of my runs done easier and more enjoyable although maybe a little difficult pushing two kids, oh well!  Next week is an up week 45 miles and I have to work Saturday so that is always an added challenge.  And to top it all off Emir is leaving on a work trip to Europe on Sunday for 10 days, ugh.  Of course I will miss him but now if he isn't home the bigger issue is that I have to do everything myself!  It might sound weird coming from the mom but Emir does ALOT around here and is so helpful with the kids.  I mean who's going to do the wash, the dishes and put Niko to bed???  I'm thinking it will also end up being a bunch of treadmill runs on the days that I work while he is gone, I mean the kids can't watch themselves while I go out in the dark to run!!!  ;-)

Photo: Took my buddy running this morning!
My Buddy after our run together

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Physical Therapists are bad patients!

So I left off halfway through my marathon training in spring of 2011.  I was feeling great about my half marathon however as my miles were piling up so was the pain in my left shin again.  I swear Emir could not even look at my shin without me screaming.  It definitely was BAD!  If you have ever heard that doctors make the worst patients well when it comes to the musculoskeletal system, physical therapists rank up there as terrible patients.  I just knew if I went to the doctor, I would have to get an xray which would lead to a bone scan which most likely would reveal a stress fracture which then they would put me in the boot and tell me no running for probably at least 6-8 weeks.  There's NO WAY I wanted that.  I had told everyone I was going to run this marathon and darnit I was going to do it!!!  Now I just needed to figure out how to get around this shin problem.  I did a little research and found a compression wrap for the shin that everyone was raving definitely helps with shin splints.  You never know with online things but the physiology behind it seemed legit so I was like what the hell, I'll spend $20 to see if it can help me.  I also started being hard core about stretches and strengthening exercises for my shin and calf muscles.  It's not like the wrap and the exercises magically made everything better but gradually over the next couple months things did improve.  But I do want to put out this disclaimer that I definitely don't recommend doing what I did!  It definitely was not the smartest thing I've ever done and I could have ended up with a more serious fracture.  It was just worth the risk to me.  I would have hated myself if I stopped at that point.  I would have always thought well maybe I could have done something to work through it so that I could make it to the marathon.  Anyway over the next couple months I made my way up to 20 miles.  Sometimes I would think during a long run "How will I ever make it to 26 miles?!?!  I'm struggling with 14, 15, or 16!"  But I just kept on no matter how tired or sore I would get.  My first 20 miler was not pretty.  If you haven't realized already, I might be a stickler for accomplishing my goals but sometimes I don't make the smartest decisions on my way there.  I like to have fun and relax and figure things will work out.  I know my husband was probably in his head scolding me but the night before my 20 miler I had a few beers oh and a shot(I couldn't resist, it was this jello blow shot thingy that I've never seen before).  It was a chance to be out kid free and I wanted to enjoy it!  So I had a few and they were the strong IPA kind that I love but that doesn't always love me back!  Well let's say the next day wasn't too kind.  I had a splitting headache and was definitely dehydrated.  It took me half the day to get the pain dull enough to get out to attempt my run.  I was definitely sluggish and struggling the whole time.  I barely made it to 20 miles when I started feeling awful in my stomach, not to mention all my muscles were screaming in pain.  I barely made it inside my front door and just collapsed.  Of course being the smart person I am, my sister and boyfriend were coming over about an hour later to take us rock climbing.  Let's just say I spent a lot of time in the bathroom the first 30-40 minutes at the rock gym.  Oh well as much pain as I was in at times that weekend, I had a great time ;-)

So back to my current 50 K training.  After my New Years adventure I ended up taking Wednesday off.  I was just so exhausted after work that day and did not feel like running at all.  I actually fell asleep with my 8month old while nursing her.  So I did the proper thing and got a good nights rest.  I did another 7 miler that thursday and 5 miler friday.  I was feeling pretty tired in general last week and my son had a cold with fever so I'm sure I had a litttle something.  I took naps on my days off and over the weekend and went to bed early but just couldn't shake the tired feeling.  Anyway I couldn't decide what I wanted my route to be for my 16 miler on Saturday.  I know it bucks the heck out of Emir when I go out without a set plan but it doesn't bother me.  Sometimes I like just like getting out there and seeing where I feel like going.  I headed to the big trail and figured I would run a few miles and see if I felt like trying some of the upper trails.  I know I need to do some training on them for the 50K for the technical terrain and the inclines but I didn't know if I was really up to it.  After 3 miles my pace was pretty slow and I just wasn't feeling it but I saw the trail head off to the right and just headed up onto the upper trail.  These trails are pretty hard especially compared to what I'm used to running on just flat trail with tiny ups and downs here and there.  There's a lot of stone, tree roots and mud plus the long steep inclines.  I just kept following the upper trails ignoring the branches to come back down to the main one.  Eventually I realized I had no idea where I was and I was at about 7 miles so I headed back down.  I figured out where I was when I got back down and completed my 16 miles on the regular trail.  It was a pretty hard run for me and I was very tired and sore after but glad I toughed it out.  On Sunday I wanted to get Niko out of the house.  He had been sick for 3 days and hadn't really gotten out of the house.  I finally convinced him to go running with me in the BOB stroller by telling him I would take him to the playground.  Poor guy was still so tired and not feeling 100% that he fell asleep after about 1 mile.  I still ran to the playground in case he woke up and wanted to play.  Of course there are several pretty steep inclines on the way there which were 10x harder pushing a 30+ lb 3yr old.  It's been a while since I ran with him probably about a year and a half before I got pregnant with Una.  It was definitely a really tough 5miles pushing him!!!  But in the end it was a good workout and it will make running without a stroller feel easier.  I read something on twitter the other day that rang true for this past week "Every really difficult run is a step closer to a great run"

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!!

Back to December of 2010 when I decided I would run the Plitvice Marathon in Croatia.  The marathon was scheduled for the first weekend in June 2011.  I told my husband my plan and he was overall supportive but I know he had his doubts.  He knows me and knows that I would work as hard as I could and do my best but I know he was afraid that maybe I just wouldn't be able to finish the 26.2 miles and I know he just didn't want me to be disappointed.  But being the internet man he is, he hopped right on the computer and found me a beginner's marathon training program and printed it out for me.  I began telling family and friends what I was doing.  I know most of them probably thought I was crazy and might not finish but whatever.  I knew once I started telling people that it meant I was definitely doing this.  I'm not the kind of person who just says stuff.  Once I said it out loud, it was going to happen.  So once January came, I started my program.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to some things so I made sure I completed every run ,every week.  I sometimes due to work, Niko and other reasons might shuffle runs to different days however I never skipped.  I signed up for a half marathon for the middle of my training program.  I figured I should run a half marathon before a full ;-)  I decided on the Bucks County half marathon.  It was close to my parents house so they could watch Niko and it fell on a weekend I was supposed to run 13 miles anyway.  It was a low key race but it was fun.  It took place in Tyler State Park so it was very pretty.  It was also fairly hilly!  There was a couple points where I thought, oh man I don't know if I can do this but I slowed my pace a bit and then I would get back into my groove.  I finished with a time of 2:03.  I was really happy with that!  My first half marathon ever and it was not a super easy course.  I was really starting to feel like I could do this thing!!!....

So it's a new year now, 2013 and it's a new week of 50 K training (week 3).  I was feeling really sore from my weekend 16 miler in the snow followed by 5 miles the next day.  The 5 miler was a little harder than I expected since the trail by my house was still snow covered.  Some parts still had a few inches of snow and other parts were icy.  By Monday New Years Eve, my legs were really sore.  Due to Christmas I ran all 5 of my runs 5 days in a row (40 miles) plus as I said 21 of those miles were really tough due to the weather.  I gladly welcomed my day off on Monday.  We went out to dinner with my parents for New Years Eve.  And Niko declared he wanted to sleep over my parents house.  This was quite welcome since Niko loves to wake up at the crack of dawn while Una our 8 month old will sleep til 830! So I gladly enjoyed a couple of cocktails with dinner.  We had picked up some craft beers while out and headed to our neighbors house.  We had a really great time however apparently I enjoyed it a little too much.  Once I laid down in bed everything began spinning and I knew what was coming and ran for the bathroom :-(  I don't know if this is weird or what but as I hovered over the toilet all I could think was "man, how am I going to do my 7 miler tomorrow?!?!"  Around 6 AM I woke up because I had a pretty bad headache.  I downed some tylenol with a glass of water and fell back asleep.  A little after 8, I heard Una over the monitor and got her.  My headache was gone but I felt weak and exhausted.  I really wanted to get my 7 miler in.  So I ate a nice big greasy breakfast and coffee, laid around with Una, hydrated myself.  Around 1145 I decided Una and I would take a nap.  We slept two hours.  When I got up, I felt better so I got ready to run.  Obviously it wasn't the best run of my life but surprisingly I didn't feel awful like I was afraid I would.  I also was very worried that my stomach would give me problems as sometimes it does after a few adult beverages.  It was chilly out and the bathrooms are closed this time of year so I brought some tissues with me in case.  I think my count is up to 3 times now that I've had to go #2 while out running and had to choose leaves carefully ;-)  Luckily my stomach was fine and I had a nice run.  Only 33 miles left this week! :-)