A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn....

It's gonna get harder before it gets easier. But it will get better, you just gotta make it through the hard stuff first.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Running clients and NYC marathon report.

Fall is the time to harvest the crops, and,thankfully, more folks are NOT me who only harvested a DNF one:) even if a delightful one. So, I'd like to share some things that inspire me daily, results I live through daily, and what keeps me going often.

It burst at the bubble with good dude HorHey taking an hour and half off his 100M PR - after we got him to Rocky Raccoon 100 last February in sub-24 as his first 100 (through first 50M and first 100k), he came back and asked for training for Arkansas Traveler 100 - and he nailed it all, training and racing! 22:01, and hour faster than planned - way to go! Here is his report.

Liz had come a long way through summer training - to nail her first 50 miler at Palo Duro in 11hrs and change! Strong season all-around!

Janelle had fun times at the D.C. relay, where too much fun lead to a broken arm - and 2 weeks later still finished a half-marathon, her goal race!

Doise trained consistently for a R2R2R, and due to the Government shut down couldn't partake in the endeavor, so she transferred the fitness into Cactus Rose 50 couple of weeks later, and PR'ed (and if it wasn't for stomach issues, would have gone faster still).

Angela finished her 2nd trail 100M at JJ in Arizona on a hot and humid day, when lots of folks decided to call it quits, after making her first finish at RR100 with me (as well as a really 1st 100 miles in distance at ATY just prior), while juggling residency in Pharmacology.

Alex B. decided to jump into ultras feet first, and just 4 months out of his goal of Cactus Rose 100, being an army guy, feared nothing - and finished in 29:43, just like that! He should have a write up (may be with some drama emailing me at mile 65 begging to quit) soon here.

His wife Angel, despite some, ahem, physical challenges (baby on board!), had PR'ed in a trail half-marathon!

Mr. Crash managed to drag his 60+ yo booty to a Toronto marathon finish as he is taking on Rocky Raccoon 50 training!

Emma fell in love with speed training so much, she decided to forgo her initial long-distance trail race goal and nail some road PR's - woot!

Alisa finished Pikes Peak marathon in style!

Both Lori and Erin were well on their way to their respective goals of Waldo 100k Cascade Crest 100 when the injuries stooped them during the race(s) - there will be other times, now that you know your body CAN!


Megan and Brandon are running more than ever and making strong decisions to never skip track workout, yeah! 

And lest not forget my own hubz Larry who got into best shape of his life, and while his goal 100 didn't happen the way it he was trained for - his body held A+++ and recovered like nothing (not 76 miles) happened! Lets put this solid base into something fun!

More peeps are getting stronger, faster and running longer - a plan and a someone to be accountable to for it, and who encourages - is often that little bit that missing. Lots more - first trail race, first ultra, first "I feel strong and recovery is easy"...

And now, Alma - my ever-wordy Alma (and you thought I write a hell of a lot!) - she PR'ed in NYC marathon, her dream destination, while slowing down with beloved CrossFit just to train well, and destroying half-marathon best time - by 40 minutes! 4:29 or bust, bummed hamstring and aliens' attack!  Below is her lovely report, enjoy - fresh and raw!

HIYA!

This was going to be short and sweet, but DANG IT.  I start writing about it and just get carried away.  I can't stop myself without giving all the details.  I tried.  I really did!
No! I haven't forgotten about you!  hehe  We just got back last night from a whirlwind week in NYC! WOW!   What a city.  We had a great time wining and dining and lots and lots of walking and riding subways.  It's amazing how quickly all the soreness disappeared with all the walking we did.  The Russian Tea Room was the first place we hit up when we got there - but only for afternoon tea.  Still, it was delicious with caviar, sandwiches, cupcakes, truffes, champagne and TEA!  I don't usually enjoy hot tea, but that was the best tea I've ever had!

As for the race, it's funny how so many little things could go wrong, and still not really matter in the big scheme of things.  

As I laid out all my gear on Saturday night, I realized I forgot to even bring any electrolytes with me at all - WTF? (My friend Heidi loaned me a couple of Nuun tablets which I've never tried before - I only used 1 in my water bottle around mile 20 I guess and didn't even drink it all).   But had I realized before SATURDAY night, I could've easily purchased some, I mean I didn't even think about electrolytes at the expo because of course I have that covered.  I NEVER forget my electrolytes.  Turns out I forgot my other little drug packet I usually bring too (it has tylenol, gasx, pepto and tums JUST IN CASE). 

The morning started out with both of us making the subway perfectly on schedule (THANK GOODNESS because it was SOO crowded once we reached downtown that many people got left behind on the subway platforms because there literally was no room inside the cars for even ONE MORE PERSON to SQUEEZE IN!).  We arrived at the ferry building with plenty of time to spare and we lounged around drinking coffee until the time approached for our ferry.  Heidi had to make a last minute bathroom break and I went ahead to try and secure seats for us onboard.  Once I was on, I got a text from her saying she didn't make the ferry - where am I?  Uhhh...I'm ON the ferry!  I realized on the ferry that I had forgotten my earbuds, but I wasn't planning to use them anyway, I just wanted to bring them for emergency backup, just in case.  So once I made it over to Staten Island I sat and ate my breakfast while I waited for her to get there before boarding the bus to the start.  The lines for the buses were SO long and the ride was SO long!  That was the most miserable part of the day.  I had to pee SOOOO bad on the bus that I almost started to cry!  I was literally on the verge of either stepping off the bus and walking the rest of the way or dumping the stuff out of my bag and peeing in the bag on the bus!  Fortunately when we arrived, I begged someone to let me break the line to the porta potty and they let me.  What a relief! 

The start village was a complete disaster.  We only had about 20 minutes until our start time once we got there and we tried to find the UPS "Ship it home" area, but no one seemed to know where it was.  We were racing back and to frantically trying to find it.  I had carefully planned out exactly what I would bring to the start with me because I had signed up to use the ship it home program.  Fortunately the many many layers of clothing I had on were all "potentially" disposable meaning no big loss if I ultimately had to toss them.   Except that at the last minute, I had decided to bring my most beloved trigger point therapy ball so I could roll my injured hamstring/hip area one last time before the start - I mean no worries, I'm shipping it home and if I need to roll after the race, I'll buy a cheap tennis ball to use until I get my TP ball back.  In the mass confusion, I managed to lose my friend - and I thought I would never see her again during the race.  Then I heard the call for wave 4 to line up, so no time to cry now!  I ran to the corrals and made the decision to just rip all my layers off and put them in the donation bins.  But I didn't want to lose my trigger point ball, so I stuffed it in my race belt (which meant I had to carry my phone in my hand now) and hoped to be able to pass it off to my husband soon.  I frantically searched for my corral, but ended up missing my whole start wave completely - along with a lot of other runners in the same predicament (they closed the gate on us).  I ended up in the last starting wave near the 5:00 pace group starting corral.  BUT.  My friend sent me a text as we were about to head up onto the bridge and she was headed my way, so I waited there for her and we found each other again!!  THANK GOODNESS! 

At the start line atop the bridge, I realized left my ibuprofen in the pants I was SUPPOSED to ship home but threw into the donation bin AND I forgot my lip balm.   As we stood atop the bridge waiting to start, I was actually quite miffed that they were NOT playing Frank Sinatra New York, New York.  THAT was one of the things I was MOST looking forward to about the race.  Every year when we get up early on Sunday morning to gather around the computer to watch the race, I always go overboard blaring out the song and dancing around the house and saying one day I will stand up there atop that bridge with that song playing - ready to run NY!  So it was a big disappointment for me to not hear it up there, but that's ok, my friend and I started singing it and a few others joined in with us.  It was good enough for me.  :)
 
Once we finally started, we got passed by SO MANY PEOPLE on the bridge.  We kept saying how tempting it was to run faster because it seemed like EVERYONE was passing us. But I was surprised that since we had made our way to practically the front of this last starting wave, it was not nearly as crowded as I expected it to be.  We just tried our best to stay slow and easy and I said we will be passing ALL these people right back shortly.  I think they forgot it is a MARATHON!  Brooklyn was our favorite part of the course - I have to assume probably because we were fresh and the crowds were so enthusiastic and it was new to us.  I realized early on I was in big trouble with my hip/hamstring/glute injury.  My friend asked me at some point around mile 3 how my leg was feeling and I told her I don't want to talk about it.  Around the same time, her husband was there and I was able to pass him my trigger point ball and finally get everything situated with my phone in my pouch and started to settle in. 

Around mile 4, another friend, Caty, met us and ran on the course with us up until around mile 13.  Heidi had sent her a picture of her bib for the race and she was going to try and copy it to make one for herself so she wouldn't get thrown off the course.  LOL  I was looking forward to seeing how she made it, but she didn't have any bib on and it turns out no one ever even noticed.  Thank goodness because those were the happiest miles of the race - when she was there with us!  She and Heidi chatted for much of the race and I apologized for not being chatty at all, I just explained that I was in a lot of pain and just trying to hang in there. I never even got the chance to ask her about the bib.  Sometimes my hip would actually ease up for a bit and I was able to relax a little, but it always came right back.  Caty would offer to grab water for us and she filled my water bottle for me a couple of times - it was really so nice to have her there with us!  I told her "I know you probably don't think you are doing ANYthing but just having you here has been a huge boost and a huge help for me.  It really means a lot to me."  Her sister lives in Brooklyn so she was also giving us details of some of the areas we were running through.  Sometimes they would call out the pace when they thought we had sped up too much to essentially say 'hey I think you need to slow down a little!' and I remember several times telling them - maybe we can run this mile a little faster, it feels SO good to alter the pace.  I tried to do a faster mile followed by a slower mile because it felt so good on my leg to switch it up.  I don't remember a LOT of the area, just the support of the crowds and especially the little kids with their high fives and checking the garmin and my pace band (4:29) every mile.  I DO remember an entire church choir had gathered onto the steps of a church in Brooklyn and were giving us a full out performance and that really made me smile.  That and all the Rocky Theme Song music as well as Eye of the Tiger - we heard them so many times!  People had just brought out their stereos and boom boxes onto the street and cranked them up as loud as they could play them. For the first few miles, we were ahead first 30 seconds, then a minute or so for a long time.  I knew there was no way I could hold onto that lead the whole time and wondered when we would start to lose it.  I kept telling Heidi I felt like I was slowing her down, but she kept saying no, not at all, she's fine.  And she didn't have a "real" time goal anyway, especially considering she hadn't "really" trained.  She's a top Crossfit athlete in SA, but she did do just a few long runs in the last couple months - the longest being 16. 
 
Around mile 5, I saw my husband and I tried to fight back the tears because I was already in a lot more pain than I should be and deep down I really didn't think I would make it and I wanted to tell him all about it, but at the same time, I didn't want him to see how scared and how much pain I was in.  I asked him to run with me for a few seconds and managed to say how good it was to see him there and  found out later he has all that on video.  LOL  I didn't even know he was recording me.  He said - "keep going, you're doing good" and I fought back the tears as we pulled away from him and wondered if I would see him again.

 At the last aid station before Caty left us, I didn't need to stop for any water so I kept moving through and ended up getting way ahead of them for a long way.  I kept wondering if they are ever gonna catch up to me again.  I wanted them to be back with me and started to look over my shoulder for them.  Finally Heidi caught up to me and I found out that Caty had left the course already.  I remember at one point saying that I WANT to go faster just to get it over with, but I'm scared to go too fast and have nothing left at the end, ESPECIALLY with my leg already hurting.  So then we were ready to cross over into Queens and wow, the Pulaski bridge was a bigger hill than I had figured on.  Still, we handled it well but I knew what was coming next and wondered how the Queensboro bridge would go.  Anyone who reads about the NYC marathon will see that the Queensboro bridge is the biggest hill of the course after the first mile on the Verrazano Narrows and it comes at a challenging point around mile 16.  Everyone describes the eerie silence of that mile on the bridge after having been bombarded by all the crowds before and ESPECIALLY the roar of the crowd that follows the bridge as you descend onto the most crowded spectator section on First Avenue.  I found it funny that right after the Pulaski Heidi said - well that wasn't really that quiet.  LOL.   I told her - that was not it!  It's NEXT. 

I had been wanting to take my gloves off for a LONG LONG time but I was waiting because I thought the wind might make me cold on the Queensboro, but I finally got so warm that I finally did throw them somewhere in Queens.  At last we can see the bridge coming up and as head into the sharp left turn to start up, we hear the strains of Sweet Caroline and Heidi sings along out loud and I say HERE WE GO.  Up up up we go onto the Queensboro, and oh my goodness - I said to her out loud - This sounds crazy, but honestly this feels SO GOOD on my leg - to use a different muscle group and get some rest of the ones that have been killing me on the flats.  I think she wanted to punch me a little.  It got a little frustrating on the way up because SO MANY people had stopped to walk and it was like playing Frogger trying to dodge and get around them.  We ran up until the very top (slowly - I  kept repeating EVEN EFFORT even EFFORT) - we maybe walked for just a few seconds near the top.  Then down and we know our husbands are there waiting on First Ave, but will we be able to see them in the throngs of people there?  YES!  We spotted them both and I passed off my fleece headband.   We are past the worst of it now!
 
So many people cheering, but all I can think of is now we are 2 minutes behind pace.  I keep checking every mile and we are still 2 minutes behind.   I tell Heidi it's ok - honestly I would be quite happy now with 4:35.  It's still a 35 minute PR.  And with my leg like this, I would be happy to get that and she agrees.  So in my mind, now I am shooting for 4:35.  At some point there in Manhattan, I told her to just go ahead without me - I'm not sure I'm gonna make it.  She said NO! and that she is fine and she is not going to leave me. 
 
I remember at mile 18 - I finally said to her; Mile 18 - I THINK WE ARE GOING TO MAKE IT!  Finally I relaxed a little just based on the fact that I knew I would finish - somehow or another, but we WOULD finish this marathon!  Then we cross over the bridge into the Bronx and I say to her, OMG, this is the last borough - just a couple of miles here and we are back into Manhattan!!  I look to my left on the bridge and point and tell her we are coming back over on that bridge.  The LAST bridge.  As we crossed over into the Bronx, I told her I need to walk at the next water stop - mile 20.  Little did I know it would come on a downhill and as we approached and the Garmin beeped mile 20, I did some math real quick and GASPED loudly OH MY GOD.  I didn't even think she heard me, but she said What?!  I did the math again real quick thinking it can't be right.  But it was.  It was 3:27 and we were at mile 20.  I said HEIDI - If we can hold 10 minute miles for the last 6, we can STILL BEAT 4:30 - a goal I had long given up many miles ago.  As I tried to figure out how it was possible at this point, considering we were 2 minutes behind my pace band, it occurred to me that  it would mean no slow down over the last 6 miles.  My pace band had been calculated to allow for "maximum fade" at the finish.  I said it's SIX MILES. Heidi, I do that 4 days a week!  That's EASY!  It's like a 3 mile out and back. WE GOT THIS!  I started to get SO PUMPED UP and said I'm NOT WALKING NOW - Let's GO!  We GOT THIS! 
 
It was around this time that Heidi started to get really quiet with a bit of a pained look on her face.  It was obvious she was struggling.  She kept saying she has to walk at the next water stop and we did stop to walk several times.  And sometimes I would say - come on we've gotta go.  And only once she said no that she needed to walk more - to the green sign.  So she started to ask each time we walked, how far can we walk and I would give her a point.  And she always wanted to walk more but I said NO!  Come on we have to GO!  She tried to tell me to go ahead and leave her because I have to make my time. But I kept telling her NO!  You are coming with me!  There was a lot of turns on the streets in the Bronx to get to the bridge to take us back into Manhattan through Harlem.  I remember seeing a band playing with the name "My Brothers Banned" and that made me giggle a little.  We passed over the bridge out of the Bronx and into Harlem and it was such a welcome sight - the HOME STRETCH.  And I was counting down the miles at each timing mat.  With 3 miles to go, I said 30 minutes Heidi - 30 minutes!  It's a little 30 minute WOD.  She told me later that she really did want to punch me at that point.  LOL 30 minute WODs are hard!.  LOLOLOL  The last 5 miles were so frustrating with the crowds of walkers on the course.  The whole course had been less crowded than I had expected - up until this point.  When I was finally fired up and my hip pain seemed to be numbing, succumbing to the drive inside my head to finish under 4:30.  And it was literally like playing Frogger again.  It was so hard to dodge and weave and pick our way through, and frustrating when we had to slow for them and then try to pick back up again.  But we kept moving. I yelled out to Heidi - its SO CLOSE I CAN TASTE IT!  We are SO CLOSE!  and I kept repeating it.  SO CLOSE!  WE ARE SO CLOSE!
 
The last 2 miles really were the worst.  I had gotten so pumped with 6 to go - I remember telling her that I think I went too hard too soon.  I was running out of gas and getting nauseated all at the same time.  I wanted to walk so badly but I remember at one stop where we walked a few seconds longer than normal and I told her we can't walk that long again because I can FEEL my quads tightening up after walking and I'm not sure I will be able to get them moving again next time.  I remember running through the little hills of central park and thinking WHY don't these hills feel as good on my legs as it did going up the Queensboro?  I tried my best to fly down the downhill parts and thought I might actually lose Heidi, although I wasn't really trying to.  But each time I glanced to one side or the other, there she still was right with me. I think it pushed me to still see her there hanging on, and it pushed her to see me still doing the same. 
 
It struck me as odd that during my training runs, I often envisioned the last few miles in Central Park, with the crowds cheering and urging me on, and I always envisioned that the crowds would be what pushed me to a strong finish, but it was actually QUITE different.  I could barely look at the faces and the throngs of people.  I was totally inside my own head at that point.  All I could see was the 4:30 and don't let it slip away.  THAT was ALL that was pushing me, the spectators were mostly meaningless at that point.   We took a right on Central Park South and I knew we were less than a mile away.  About halfway down Central Park South, I said to Heidi, I can't do it.  I can't make it.  Meaning not that I couldn't make it to the finish, but I couldn't keep the pace we were on.  She started yelling at me you ARE doing it!  WE ARE DOING IT!  It's HALF A MILE COME ON!  Then I saw the 800m sign and OMG! I felt a rush of renewed energy that was the strangest thing ever.  I suddenly felt like surging and we pushed until we saw our husbands on our left with about 200m to go!  It was a brutal 200m up a slight hill that felt HUGE, but as we approached the mat, I grabbed her hand and threw it up into the air.  Somehow I was recorded a second ahead of her, but we were literally holding hands and crossed together.  LOL
 
She recorded 4:29:09 - the EXACT SAME TIME as her (our) very first marathon in San Francisco 4 years ago!  What a coincidence, especially since this is her last!  Yes this is our LAST marathon, we SWEAR!  LOL  So we started the marathon journey together (as a bit of a joke actually) and we finished together, crossing the mat hand in hand!  It was a spectacular day!

I do want to THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH THOUGH for all of your help and inspiration in training me for this race!  Like I said before, I know that even running 4:29:08 (my previous PR was 5:09:05 btw!), my body was TRAINED to run this race even faster - at least 4:25 I'd say!  I never felt "tired" at all until those last couple of miles and I think it was as much a fueling issue at that point as anything (I took exactly 3 stinger gel chew packets during the race and a couple of 100mg caffeine pills).  My body (my legs and my lungs) WANTED to run faster and felt strong to the end.  The limiting factor for me was the pain I was feeling in my hip, although I have to say the rest during the las
t couple of weeks was probably what made it heal enough that I was able to finish at all, much less at 4:29.  

And so life goes on, folks are running, reaching out for the goals, grabbing them, working hard, transferring that attitude on anything else they touch - family, work, hobbies...Nothing is impossible!

And if I can be a tiny help, one who takes a guesswork out of your day, tells you how far, how fast, how much - and then ask "Well, did ya?", and then yell "Yeah, man!" or even at times be a shoulder to cry on...thank YOU for letting me do that! From the bottom of my heart!

Run on!

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