International Traveller

So, I haven't been very good about posting my "race day" blog, mainly because I know it's going to take over an hour to write. Maybe shorter, maybe longer... but nonetheless, more time than I've had lately.

This Tuesday I flew out to Amsterdam for a European strategy session (cool!) & will be here until Tuesday. Then I take a train over to Berlin, where I'll attend a lifestyle trade show for a few days. Nate is coming out on Saturday, and he'll come with me to Berlin & we'll extend the trip for a few extra days. Should be fun!

So far, the highlight has been (next to the working sessions, of course :) finding a track club at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam & joining them for a workout. Pretty sure at first they thought I was a joke: I'm hardly 5'1, don't look like much of a runner, and after an "on your own run/warm-up", they do a bunch of weird plyometrics and hopping drills. I honestly couldn't do about half of them. I could see what they were doing, but couldn't mimic it at all. The coach of the club tried to help me, but basically ended up telling me that I need to start more of this stuff :). Ok, I admit, I probably should...

I hopefully looked less ridiculous on the track. 1st workout back after the marathon, so I wanted to make sure I eased into it a little bit (and I wouldn't have chosen a track workout for the day, but it was too fun to turn down). I started with the mid-distance group (mistake, but I had no idea which group was which since they all speak Dutch). I ran just behind the first woman, not really winded. She looks at her watch and says something about the time. She asks me what my 1500m times are. I told her I had no idea -- I haven't raced that since college, and pretty sure it was very slow. I told her my recent marathon time, and she exclaimed an expletive (F*) very loudly. Found out later that that seems to be one of their favorite words. Mildly amusing.

But anyway, turns out the Netherlands isn't much of a marathoning country, and they thought I'd be one of the top 2 (if not the top) marathoner. They talked to the coach, and I was moved into a group of fast-looking 10k guys.

The reward for running fast is having to run faster, right? :)

Anyway, the workout went great. 11 600s (I missed one when switching groups) with 1 minute rest, 5 minutes after every 3rd one. I went through in about 2:05-2:07 each time. Felt relaxed and easy, and could tell it was an excellent threshold workout by the last 2-3.

As I left, the coach and some of the runners invited me back for Monday. I might make an effort to get over there. Nothing like having a group to run with, even if the only words I can really understand is their expletives :).


The Day Before - June 17th

In an effort to capture as many details as I can (SO many things went right, I want to make sure I can replicate them!), I'll break this into a few blog posts over the course of the next week. Helps me just to focus on one portion of the race at a time -- and also cuts the amount of time I'm writing each night as well :)

The day before the race was a little chaotic. We awoke at 7 am, wanting to get up to Grandma's as quickly as we could to beat construction delays. On the agenda: pick up cousin who is coming to cheer, grab his two bikes and strap them to our car (which didn't fit the bike rack perfectly, good thing Nate is fairly handy and could rig it so I felt somewhat safe), drive to Hinkley to drop off the dog at a kennel, and then arrive in Duluth.

On the car ride, my right calf cramped up pretty badly. Oddly enough, just 3 or 4 days earlier my left calf had done the exact same thing, same location. (Do I need to change my diet that last week?) It's the inside portion of the calf (sorry, I am a finance person and don't know much medical terminology). I was SO worried. I felt SO good, except for that part of the calf. It was a complete brick, and I knew that the left one had taken a little over 2 days before it worked again. I didn't know whether to knead it & embrace that pain because it would help or if I should leave it & my body would try to heal it faster that way.

Ug. Anyway, we got up to the elite check-in and grabbed my packet and info. I ate quite a bit -- big bagel (splurged on peanut butter because I thought my muscles would appreciate the protein), sandwich and a half (just jelly), and a banana. YUMMM, all-carb days :). We decided to use the water bottles they had there instead of what I had brought (which were the screw on caps). I was sort of flustered, trying to keep the bottles and Gu's straight during the switch -- too many things happening at once. I ended up pouring one of the water bottles all over my packet, at which point Nate graciously offered to finish switching the bottles :). He's so good.

Anyway, I took everything out of the soaked packet and put it into another bag. I specifically looked (as did Leighton, my cousin) that there wasn't anything left in the wet bags before we threw them. (Noted only because of what I find later...)

We then go to the convention center for Nate's packet. I sit on the ground & wait. Meanwhile, my mind suddently goes to my packet... I don't think I ever saw a chip in there? Hmm. I dump everything out & search. Sure enough, no chip.

We truck back to the elite building. They set me up with someone over in the convention center who will create a new packet. Ug. So, we truck BACK to the convention center. I ran, only because running is easier for me than walking (I don't typically walk much in a day). They had everything waiting, so it wasn't too bad of an ordeal - just a lot of back and forth. I noticed that the second packet also had pins, which the first didn't.

[Obviously, I could have thrown the first chip away, but I thought over what happened, and I REALLY don't think there was one in there] [Not that it matters, anyway :)]

I was also able to get a quick 10 minute massage, focusing on the right calf. The guy that worked on me touched it and immediately said "Hmmm..." and talked to me a while about contingency plans for the race tomorrow. He said that he's seen quite a few people try to run through cramps like this & it usually causes permanent damage. Great. Way to boost my confidence. But, it was good he said something... guess it hadn't occurred to me that I might need to have a plan in place if it got really bad.

We then headed out for a short run. I did another 9 minutes, and we tried to piece together the end of the race as best as we could. I also threw in 2 striders, just for good measure. I felt great. Now if only this stupid calf would loosen up...

Finally, 3.5 hours later, we finally were able to leave Duluth and head up to the cabin. Wow. Hopefully that was the end of the chaos.

We ate once we got to the cabin (whole wheat pasta with just a little parmesean at about 5:30pm), and then I happily took a 1.5 hour nap. The rest of the evening was spent laughing at my cousin, brother, and husband who were plotting out their cheering strategy (bro and cousin to bike from the start, husband to finish his half marathon and grab a bike at the finish and bike up to meet me), heating my calf, drinking lots of liquids, and talking with family. Good times :)

Bed at about 10:00, maybe 10:30.

(this is probably entirely boring to everyone reading, so I apologize... I use this to look back & learn what to do/what not to do for future races :).


2:44.46 - Olympic Trials, Here I come!!

More to come later, but I at least wanted to post my results here since I ran with a last minute new chip/number that hasn't been registered to my name :). I'm currently listed in the results as "Unknown" :)

But, more to come later once I've had time to digest. I'm sure it'll be a series of blogs, just to make sure I capture all of the little details. It helps a ton to be able to read afterward to see what I did that worked/didn't work :)

But in the meantime, I'm ecstatic! 2:44?!?! I sort of knew that was a possibility, but to actually be able to call myself a 2:44 marathoner and an Olympic Trials Qualifier?!?!!!... it doesn't seem real. :)


Hurry up and Wait

2 more days! I can't wait! I'm just excited to race, lay it all out on the line, and see where I'm at. Can we fast forward to Saturday, please?

Not sure if I've mentioned this here or not, but I'll be running with Brenden Huber, the assistant Gustavus coach. I'm so lucky to have him helping to pace and push me through. We've mapped out each of our roles (luckly my role is just to stick on his butt & not let him get away from me). I've also been in contact with a group of other women from around the country that are looking to qualify. Nice to have a pack to work with for encouragement, support, etc.

Update on the weather: low 50s at the start, dew points in the high 40s. Winds from the ENE (some say NE) at 12-13 MPH. Can it be any more perfect?

Things are coming together for me to have a great race! Just have to make sure my body is feeling good -- not sure what I can do to ensure that (can I help guarantee not to have a stomach ache? Cramps? GI issues?).

Left to do: make sure to HYDRATE, pack up tonight (including getting my bottles ready, writing down some key times, getting Gus ready), get to bed early... and relax and enjoy the rest of the week/weekend! After all, this is just a race, and the whole point of running and racing is to enjoy yourself and have fun :) (in fact, for all of the times I'll write down, strategies I'll map out, one of my MAIN goals is to be running with a smile on my face :))



My lunch was pretty awesome today. Grilled chicken breast w/ a little cheese on top (microwaved a little too long so it was a little rubbery), wrapped up in a big piece of lettuce, 2 hard boiled egg whites, beef jerkey, and some sugar free jello for dessert. Not very satisfying or filling (although I'm not hungry at all any more, I miss having that 90 mile/week appetite). Sigh.

I am so excited for bagels, oatmeal, fruit, and pasta tomorrow!!!!

Better yet, I'm really excited to have some type of chocolate bar or brownie after the marathon. Maybe cookies? Or a doughnut?


1 down, 2 to go...

I know after TCM there was some back and forth on this blog about the latest research behind carbo-loading. I decided to stick with what had worked for me with TCM: 3 days no carb (to completely deplete your body of carb stores), and then 3 days all-carb (your body over-compensates by packing in the glycogen (and also stores water w/ the glycogen)).

I'm through day 1 of the no-carb diet, and it's awful. I'm really not a protein/fat eater, so to make an entire day's worth of calories out of foods like that isn't appealing at all.

On the bright side, it does help me to lose that extra 1 pound before race day. Basically because I don't really want to eat more than I have to because 1. I don't really have loads of chicken breast in the fridge waiting to be snacked upon, and 2. the foods I can eat really aren't appealing to me. So, just 2 days to go. I can do this, I can do it...

On another topic, weather for Two Harbors and Duluth looks spectacular! 50 degrees at the start, little bit of a tail wind (9mph is what they're calling for now, who knows what it'll actually be). Some chance of storms, so the air is more humid than ideal... hopefully that part will change. The rest can stay exactly as is!


Challenging Week

Wow... less than 1 week to go.

The last week has been a little challenging, I think because of the heat. Rewind to last Saturday: we did a 1/2 marathon at MP effort. Luckily we started at 6:30, because by the last few miles, it was already getting uncomfortably warm. I felt good on the run, and finished in 1:22.10. That's proabably a little faster than I hope to go through the 1/2 at Grandma's, but the pace (6:16s) felt pretty effortless.

Sunday we did a medium length run in the Carleton arb. I've really started to enjoy running there. It was a nice place to excape to on Sunday because it was another really hot day.

Then Monday. I did just 5 miles, but did it in about 90 degree temps. I remember finishing the run and being pretty wet -- that never happens (I don't sweat much). I felt sick the rest of the day, getting chills randomly and just not feeling right. I hadn't realized that I had not been drinking a ton over the weekend or Monday before the run. Dumb.

The rest of the week has not been great :(. I'm not sure if it was heat, or I was coming down with something & running simply made it worse, but my workouts suffered. I took Tuesday off (high of 104, gross!), and Wednesday tried to do a tempo workout. I struggled to hit 6:10s. Not good. My legs felt dead and had no spring or strength in them. I decided not to do the second set of tempo work, figuring that I was probably just digging myself into a hole by trying to run hard. The easy run back in wasn't very pretty, either -- I checked the watch afterwards and found some of the miles were at 9 minute pace. That's when you know something isn't right.

I took Thursday off, as planned, and Friday went out for another tempo run. 2x12 minutes, and averaged 5:55-6:00. That's about where I should be. I didn't feel like I could have brought it down to 5:40-5:45 like I was able to a few weeks ago, but at least it wasn't as bad as Wednesday.

Today's run was better as well. 90 minutes, and covered 11.75 miles. I told Nate on the run that I felt like my "spring" was coming back -- only about 5-10% back, but coming back nonetheless. If I can have 100% of that "spring" and strength back in my stride for Saturday, it's going to be a very good day... so seeing it start to come back is fun :).

So, minor set back earlier in the week, but I still have plenty of time to recover & get back to where I was. I'm not too worried about it. If nothing else, it was good -- to remind myself that I need to be drinking a lot more, washing my hands a TON (I do NOT want to get sick!!!), sleeping more, etc.

Crazy no carb/carb diet starts tomorrow... not looking forward to it :(.


Mental Strength

I've begun to visualize the race each night before I fall asleep. Maybe not the best time/place, but it's better than nothing. Sometimes I make it to the 3 mile mark, sometimes I make it to mile 20.

I also try to visualize the race during each run. Even on easy runs, when there's 6.2 miles left, I visualize seeing the 20 mile mark. I often have to remind myself to slow down, continue to take it easy. My pace tends to quicken as I get into the visual of race day/race day effort :).

I know that in order to make the 2:45.xx goal, I'll not only need to have one of my best days physically, but also mentally. I've struggled so far to know what to focus on. Do I try to run through each possible scenario? Running with a pack of women at first, and if they run even, staying with them, if they run too fast, lagging behind, etc. Do I just visualize how the effort feels? Visualize hitting my splits or not hitting them, and how I'll react? Sometimes I feel like the best way to approach a race is with little more than a plan to race ALL OUT. Leave nothing behind. That's how I've raced my best previously, but I think there's more mental preparation needed for the marathon distance. Maybe I'm wrong and should just keep it really simple.

Anyway, I was talking to a group I run with over lunch about my mental preparations, and they suggested seeing a sports psychologist in town. We've been emailing back and forth (it's someone I've met that is an active runner in town), and I'll meet him early next week. He's willing to sneak me in & make a CD so I can rehearse using that over & over until race day. No charge.

WOW. Which leads me to my next topic: I can not BELIEVE the amount of people that have been willing to support and help me along the way. First off, to my husband, who puts up with my constant chatter about workouts, how I'm feeling, trying to find the right shoes, eating right, etc. Next, Jerry, who has been the most AMAZING coach and the best thing that's happened to my training, ever (pretty sure that's a true statement). Next, Jim, my chiropractor, Dr. Bahl, who helped with iron testing, Chrissy, who helped put together a strength routine, Brenden, who will help pace me during the race... heck, this weekend I needed to put in a 13-15 mile MP run, and not only is Brenden driving over to do it with me, but the Northfield runners in town have mapped out a separate route for me (they're doing an annual informal 1/2 marathon that same day). The list of people is pretty impressive. Seriously, all of these people that want to help ME? They must not know that I'm really not that talented...

I am SO grateful for the help, and know that without it, I wouldn't be where I'm at today. However, with help comes the pressure of wanting to perform. One thing the sports psychologist mentioned in his last email is that I need to remember that I'm doing this for ME, and that there's no pressure from anyone (including myself) to hit that time. The race isn't the "end all". I need to let go of feeling like I HAVE to perfom because so many have put time & energy into me. Not an easy thing to do, since I feel very indebted.

Anyway, I'm rambling a bit. I'm excited to hear what the psychologist has to say. I'm a little nervous about the prospect of working with one (I feel like I need to have a mental issue to go to one!!)

P.S. Tempo workout earlier this week: 2 tempo 5ks inside of a 13 mile run: 17:52 and 18:03. How fun!