Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My unexpected 3:59 marathon :-)

On Sunday Emir and I ran the OD Marathon at the shore.  We had signed up for this marathon because we needed to run a marathon distance run in our 50K plan and this one fit nicely in the schedule.  It also is a very convenient race for us as we have a condo in Wildwood and the race shuttle bus picked us up/dropped us off only a few blocks from our place.  The OD Marathon was Emir's first ever marathon.  He ran it last year while I was pregnant with Una.  His training for it had gone extremely well and I was anticipating he would  be close to a 4 hour marathon.  Unfortunately the day before he was running a fever and barely made his 2 mile shakeout run.  The morning of the race he took some Tylenol and felt a little better but after about 10 miles or so it wore off and he hit a major wall.  Also on a bathroom stop, something happened and his knee was killing him.  Then to top things off, there was a constant headwind the entire race.  Needless to say he was so disappointed.  He finished which is awesome but he felt like he could have done so much better than his 4:36. 

All last week leading up to the marathon, Emir kept saying that it was just a training run and its no big deal.  I was a little nervous just because of that awful 14 miler turned 10.5 mile run last weekend with my throbbing ankle/foot.  I rolled and iced and the rest of the week my runs were good, pain free.  I had been thinking in the back of my head for a few weeks that this marathon would be my only chance until the fall to improve my marathon time since the rest of our races this spring are those of the nature that just finishing will be a major accomplishment due to the 1000s and 1000s of elevation ;-)  I didn't want to go out and immediately sprint but depending how I felt I did want to try to improve my time.  I knew Emir was probably worrying about this race due to his experience last year and the fact that he also reads endless amounts of blogs, posts and listens to running podcasts and that our training program specifically said that we could run a marathon race but we should NOT RACE it due to the fact that this is part of our training.  I grew up participating in sports where Emir didn't have that opportunity in Bosnia.  It's just my nature that I'm competitive, I can't help it.  I have this urge/desire to constantly get better, improve and beat opponents.  Emir is cautious and always worries that if he does too much now, it will affect him later.  Even within a marathon itself I know he is always worried that if he goes to fast, he will die later in the race.  My logic is I want to go with how I feel.  If I'm feeling really good, I run as fast as I feel comfortable.  If I get tired later in the race, I get tired.  I know that if I don't go as fast as I comfortably can, and then later I'm not trashed, I will always wonder, could I have done better in that race? 

So Saturday we dropped off the kids at my parents and made our way to the shore.  When we got there we gorged a bit on the famous Mack's pizza (it was there first open weekend of the season) and picked up our bibs.  In the end we probably walked 2-3 miles very leisurely.  That night we went to our favorite spot around the corner from our condo and had a couple beers (good for carbo loading, right?!?).  I'm very into the IPA scene these days but the last few times I had a couple, I woke up during the night with a splitting headache.  So smart me had two different, pretty strong IPAs.  When we got back then I filled up on my pasta with buffalo meat (our favorite).  And can you guess what happened???  Yup woke up around 1 AM with a splitting headache.  I got up and found an Advil bottle (yes!) but it only had one pill.  I took it.  I fell back asleep but woke up an hour later with a worse headache.  I was so mad at myself #1 for drinking those beers but even more importantly for not bringing some pain relievers from home! ugh!  In the end I found infant's Tylenol drops and yes you guessed it, I sucked down a few droppers full.  After suffering for a bit trying to get back to sleep, I must have passed out and woke up to my alarm at 5AM and amazingly headache free although feeling pretty tired.  We went through our usual morning routine coffee, me still having to pump and then our breakfast of eggs, English muffins, avocado, cheese and bacon. 

It was freakin freezing that morning (we got snow today!).  We both went with a couple layers of long sleeves and long pants.  The first few miles, I felt fine.  Not overly great not bad though.  We were probably averaging 9;30-9:45 minute miles.  Emir kept saying "don't get sucked into the race!"  I was like "yeah ok, mmm hmmm"  I'm not sure when it happened maybe 5 or so miles, I just felt like I needed to go faster.  I just let my legs take over.  Emir knew we were going faster and started making comments again.  I kept on prob at a 9:15-9:20 pace.  Somewhere between mile 8 & 9, we ran under the boardwalk real quick to pee ( I really really need to figure out how to run a marathon without peeing!!!!)  At this point a descent headwind had picked up.  Emir was saying that we needed to slow down due to the wind.  He said it would be like this the whole way and would wear us out.  I just really wasn't worried about it and really didn't care.  I just wanted to run how I felt.  A couple of times he said if I kept going how I was going he was going to have to let me go. I really, really did not want to leave him behind.  I wanted to do the race together.  We train together, we are partners in life and running and I love running together but I was almost getting tired of holding myself back.  Somewhere in mile 12 I just let go and let my legs take over.  Before I knew it Emir wasn't next to me anymore.  At the halfway point I checked my watch.  I was at 2:03 and overall 9:28 pace.  I was like this is great!  My time for the Philly marathon in November was 4:19 so even if I start slowing down when I get tired/hit the wall, I should pretty easily be able to beat my PR.  I don't even know how to explain it but my legs almost felt like they weren't apart of my body.  I would check my watch and I was comfortable in the 8:45-9:00 mile zone.  The miles were flying by way faster than I've ever experienced during a long run.  When I reached 20 miles I was still feeling great.  I checked my overall time.  I can't remember exactly but I'm pretty sure I was around 3:06.  I thought to myself "holy crap, if I can keep up this pace, I might make under 4 hours!!!"  That thought sent me soaring.  The next 3 miles I kept on what I felt was a good pace.  I checked my watch again at 3 miles to go.  I was at 3:34.  I had started feeling a bit labored those 3 miles from 20 -23 but overall nothing that I have experienced in each of my previous marathons.  I was like "ok Amy, you can do this!!!  It's only 3 miles, that's nothing.  Just give it your all and you get to die in only 3 miles!!!"  So I kicked it into high gear and I was determined.  I was definitely the most labored I was all race but it was almost over so I wasn't worried.  With 1 mile to go I was at 3:51.  Once again I found some higher gear.  I kept checking my watch that last mile and kept pushing myself.  I knew it would be close.  I hit my watch as I crossed the line and it said 3:59.55!!!!  I yelled out loud when I saw it.  Later looking at my stats I had many miles in my second half less than 9 minute pace but more impressively I paced 8:30 the last 3 miles.

Then and even now I just can't believe I broke the 4 hour mark.  I have had that goal in my mind but I kept thinking it was something I wouldn't achieve until the fall or next spring.  Let's face it, it hasn't even been a year yet since I had my second C-section and I've only been running overall a total of 2.5 ish years, 9 months of which was spent pregnant followed by 5 weeks no running after surgery.  I can be silly and unreasonable at times unlike my practical husband but usually overall goals like this I'm pretty grounded. I still don't even know how I did that!!  And to top it off, I wasn't crippled like the usual after marathon cripple.  Two weeks ago I could hardly stand or walk afterwards but this day, I felt great (relatively speaking).  It feels awesome to know that all this training has been for something.  I am not only getting into great shape but I'm improving.  And that's really what I want and it's what will keep me going and working so hard.  As I had written the last few blogs, I had been feeling a bit down, tired, sore, etc.  I was beginning to feel like my speed would never change, I was always the same pace sometimes way slower.  This was exactly what I needed to show me that none of that is true.  That is just part of training especially intense 50K training.  I have the motivation I need to get to our next event at the end of April.  More on that later.  For now, YEAH BABY!!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

One of my nightmares came true :-(

So since my last post we had a 26.2 training run.  We dropped the kids at my parents and headed to the Delaware Canal towpath.  It's awesome for long runs although more flat than I would like.  We always park in New Hope and hop on it there.  I find the scenery awesome and also the fact that we get to run over a couple bridges into Jersey and back again.  The towpath runs along the Delaware river on both the PA and NJ sides.  And it's sandwiched between the Delaware River and the canal.  Anyway everything was going great.  The weather was amazing!  It was probably around 60, sunny.  I actually ended up taking off my shirt and running in my tank since I got so hot.  It was pretty interesting because the day before there was prob about an inch of snow so parts of the trail were muddy, other parts that didn't get much sun yet were snow covered or icy.  Anyway we crossed back into PA at Washington Crossing.  This was around mile 18-19.  Up til this point, we were at 945 pace overall and it was good.  Then all the sudden somewhere between 19-20, my legs felt like lead.  I was also SUPER thirsty.  I had my hydration pack filled to the brim with tailwind however I was craving plain water, which of course I didn't have.  I also began having a nagging pain on the inside of my left foot.  I'm pretty sure I strained a ligament in there when we were skiing as the day after skiing I had experienced the same pain.  I SUFFERED the rest of the way, it was not pretty!!! I had told Emir to go ahead because I didn't want to ruin his run.  In the end I ended up finishing with a time of 4:30 which isn't awful but overall was so disappointed because it was such a terrible run.  I guess I should also mention that earlier in the week I did my sunday 10 miler on Monday because I was exhausted due to Una having me up all night.  Pretty sure that didn't help my case as I ended up with a 60 mile instead of 50 mile week.  Ohhh well.  So I learned my lesson that maybe 60 mile weeks are a little above me right now and also for runs more than 18 runs I need plain water in addition to my tailwind ;-)

The rest of the week I could still feel that nagging in my foot but it was pretty dull and didn't stop my runs from being overall pretty good.  I've also been sticking too my better eating habits and have dropped a couple more pounds (yay!) aside from a st patty's day outing with friends the other night ;-) 

Then came Sunday, the run from hell!!  I have NEVER not been able to finish a run before until Sunday's 14 miler.  I ran 10 on Saturday no problem, felt great.  Then on Sunday I was chugging along fine for 6.5 made my turn and headed up to the upper trails.  It's been a few weeks since I've been up there so I wanted to log some miles on the trails.  After about a half mile, my foot had shooting pains through it.  It was intense.  I've pushed through my really bad shin splint pain before but this was excruciating.  I knew I had to get off of the trail.  It took another half mile or so to get back down to the main flat trail.  I stopped down there, stretched my foot out a bit and gathered myself.  I started running again and the pain started again.  AHHH I couldn't take it.  I called my husband.  He encouraged me to do some walking and try running every so often and see how it goes.  The point where I was, was about 2.5 miles from a place he could pick me up and 5 miles from my car.  So I walked a while.  I was sweaty so of course I started to get freezing since it was probably around 40, cloudy and a stiff breeze.  I would start running every so often.  My foot would seem ok for a couple minutes then the pain would return.  When I was 1 mile away from the place he could pick me up, I called him back.  I knew it would be bad for my foot and I might turn into a popsicle if I tried to make it all the way to my car.  He said no problem (love him!) Once I got off the phone I started running again.  This time I made it probably a good .75-1 mile.  The foot was only a bit naggy but much better compared to what it was.  In the end I made it 10.5 miles out of my 14 mile run.  I am disappointed but in reality was I really never going to miss a run or have to shorten a run in my whole life?!?!  I don't think so.  So time to get over it and get my foot ready for Sunday which is the Ocean Drive Marathon down the shore.  I'm pretty sure doing the very uneven terrain on the upper trail is what set my foot off.  I think I'll be ok for now on road but our 50 K is only a month and a half away and that is ALL trail.  So for now I am rolling, icing and stretching the crap out of my foot!!!!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What's another marathon?!

So since last post, I've been making a concentrated effort to eat better.  I mean we don't eat out often as it is, usually twice a month but I was snacking a lot and eating poorly at work.  People are always bringing in bad foods!!!!!  And there was holidays and my birthday, blah blah.  Not really good excuses.  I don't know why both times after having a baby, I got into these bad habits.  After Niko it took until well after he turned a year for me to really turn it around.  I lost a good 60 pounds training for my first marathon and eating better.  This time at least I don't need to lose too much since I kept running throughout my pregnancy and I weighed ALOT less when I got pregnant this time.  So far I've dropped a couple pounds and I have been running a bit faster during my training runs although that could also be due to last week was a down week so my legs recovered a bit.  Whatever!  It was also good that it was a down week as Una was sick almost all week and weekend.  She usually never wakes up during the night but she was waking up multiple times and crying a lot.  I felt so bad for her but also was exhausted.  And Niko got a little crazy from being cooped up since we couldn't go out.  But the runs got done and everyone survived and Una is much better :-) 

The other thing that happened this past week was our decision about when to go to Bosnia and Croatia.  My husband is from Bosnia and most of his family including his parents still live there.  We try to go for a visit every year especially since we have had kids.  Luckily I have a very flexible job so I have been able to go for 4-5 weeks the last couple years.  Every year our trip revolves around some event, Niko turning 1, me running the Plitvice Marathon and last year my maternity leave.  This year we had no reason to go any particular time.  We really thought we would go in August as there was a trail marathon at the end of the month near Zagreb, Croatia.  However we started looking at flight prices and it was soooo much more money to go then.  As it happens if we leave the day before Memorial day we can save a lot of money so that pretty much made the decision.  Conveniently the Plitvice Marathon is June 2nd.  Do you even need to ask?!  I mean really what's another marathon?!  So yes we are planning on running the Plitvice Marathon as well.  So that makes 4 marathons + 50K in the next 3 months!  yikes!  Only the first marathon which we are running this Saturday is not an actual race.  It was just be Emir and I on our own.  I'm actually really excited to do Plitvice again.  It's so low key, doesn't start until 10! and it's GORGEOUS!!!  I also am excited to repeat my first marathon to see how I may have improved since then.  I do however have to make myself realize tho, that I have had a baby since then so it may not be as good as I want.  Yes I know I say that but I will still be hard on myself if I don't improve.  Oh well it's all in good fun! ;-)