marathon edition: my first 26.2

November 4, 2009

a running story: part 5

a lovely week for running in NC, no?

i’m waiting for lunch to settle so that i can head out on today’s interval run. it’s going to be a fun one: 3 x 1 mi intervals! i really like longer intervals and i’m hoping that my legs feel nice and rested after 2 days off from running (cross-trained monday, and rested yesterday). in the meantime, i figure it’s a good time to continue with what is getting to be quite the epic running tale.

previous installments, in case you need catching up:
part 1: the high school years. first a cheerleader . . .
part 2: college baby steps. treadmill time!
part 3: taking it outside in beautiful williamstown, MA
part 4: and then there was josh. learning to race!

we left off in 2005. i had just completed my first half marathon, run in the most conservative way possible, in 2 hours and 11 minutes. i was thrilled with the very idea that i could run that far, but . . . i wasn’t done. i’m a pretty type A person (i know, shocker!!) and this little taste of racing — with its time goals, intricate training plans, and a whole community of absolutely OBSESSED devotees off of which to feed — just left me wanting more.

i started out with another half marathon. this time, though, the beginner’s plan was tossed out the window in favor of its intermediate cousin (still to be found here). this plan added a lot more speedwork, and average weekly mileage up into the 30s. other than weekly outdoor long runs, i was doing a lot of treadmill running because

a) i liked being able to be ‘exact’ with my speedwork
b) i had perfected my running-with-a-magazine technique and found it fun
c) i lived in durham and there really were not running-friendly areas around our house

even with my butt indoors most of the time, this training really paid off: my very next race was run in charlottesville virginia just 7 weeks later, and i finished in 1:53. meaning: an improvement of 18 minutes. i’m not sure i appreciated it then, but this was miraculous! i made more progress with speed and race technique in those 7 weeks than i’ve made since then. but at the time, i thought i’d keep making those sorts of gains. which meant i could probably plan on running the olympic trials in 2008.


so yeah: i was hooked. at the same time, josh was really getting back into the running game as well. unlike me, he is a natural athlete and runner — in the years prior, he had already run multiple marathons and he even ran on the track and cross country teams at duke (for a year, until he decided to focus on academic pursuits). i was pretty psyched about my improved time, but josh came in 3rd in that race. overall.

at the time, he was training for the cleveland marathon, his first since starting medical school. i had been planning to do the half (i was addicted!) and then cheer him on at the finish line. but after my big finish at charlottesville, the incessant goal-setter deep inside of me said, “hey! you’re already done halves — they’re easy! why not run a whole marathon? if he can do it, you can too!”

i guess that little voice has a bit of a competitive streak. there were 6 weeks between the half i had just finished and the upcoming marathon. i remember posting on the runner’s world forums, asking if going from a half marathon to a full marathon in 6 weeks was a good idea. the overwhelming consensus answer was “NO!”.

so, of course i ignored the advice. ha!

i slapped together a quickie buildup plan. i kept my weekly mileage in the high 30s, but incorporated one longer run each week: a 16, an 18, and then a 20, followed by a taper. the feelings of accomplishment that i had after completing these new distances were amazing! back then, i really had no pain or injury issues and was having a great time. before i knew it, josh and i were headed to ohio for the race.

i was definitely nervous about running a brand new distance (those 6.2 miles were TRULY uncharted territory!), but felt like i would deserve whatever happened to me. being marginally trained actually took some of the pressure off in a way — ie, if the race went terribly, i could always blame it on inadequate training and try again after completing a “real” 16 week program with more than 3 long runs.

well . . . as you can see from these splits:

i ended up having a great race!! my report (from my old, retired separate running blog!) makes it sound . . . not so bad at all, although i still remember my dismay at mile 20 when my iPod conked out. i never hit ‘the wall’ (though i feared it!), and my final time was 4:01:57, and i was completely elated with my stats, which included negative splits.

for contrast, here is a graphic depiction of poor josh’s race:

ouch. look how fast he started, though!!

so it was official: i was a marathon runner, and i was HOOKED! visions of hardcore training plans and boston qualifications danced in my head as we drove home from cleveland that night. surely a real marathon training schedule would mean a MUCH faster time, right? well . . . i have to head out on my run before it gets dark soon! so, to be continued!

more packages!?
i gave josh his birthday present 1 month and 5 days early! um, i can NOT keep secrets from him (unless they are other people’s surprises — then i can do it for the sake of not wanting to disappoint someone else!). i managed to keep my mouth shut about this gift for about 5 days, and then i cracked. oops.

once the cat was out of the bag, i figured i might as well let him enjoy it! after all, the pace of technology moves so quickly that i don’t want it to be out of date before he turns it on.

in his happy place (ie the couch) with his new mini 10v netbook. cute and ultraportable! thank you, jeremy, for the recommendation!

also arriving via UPS was another much bulkier box. i was absolutely overwhelmed at the amazing array of soups and almond milk that arrived from pacific foods yesterday. i had written them saying that i wanted to try a couple of varieties that i hadn’t seen in the area, but i wasn’t expecting such a generous cornucopia of warm winter goodness. i’ve already dug into the almond milk and the tomato-red pepper soup (reviews to follow) — thanks so much, pacific!

mmm, soup! i am excited to try the new black bean and the cashew carrot ginger.

i’ve never had almond milk before. anyone have any recommendations on how to enjoy this?



workout: rest day

doin’ time: yet another martha-sponsored beef creation. i have to say i am getting tired of all of this red meat, but my iron stores are probably at an all-time high.

steak and onion sandwich on a crusty multigrain roll, served with sauteed mushrooms, peppers, and extra onions

reading: an article on abdominal emergencies in the first year of life. fortunately, there were no babies requiring me to put these skillz to use last night. my favorite quote from the article

sugarplum???? what!?? yeah, we have lots of those lying around in the ED . . .