Sunday, December 20, 2009

When Pigs Fly

Last night at the Fogle holiday party, my dad bragged on my marathon finish. I can't tell you how great that made me feel. My dad is old-school and doesn't usually see the need to exercise (except for tennis), but now he's thinking about doing some running. He even asked my brother-in-law the cardiologist about his heart rate zones. : )

I can't find the words to convey what a cool feeling it is to finish a marathon. Especially when you are carrying the baggage about weight, body image and sweating that most women seem to carry. All of that stuff is really heavy.

However, I firmly believe that anyone who puts in the training can finish a marathon. The key is that the training consists of not just the three month marathon build-up, but the also the base-building phase where you teach your feet, legs and body that running is a normal thing. The base-building has taken me over 9 years. I don't think this is typical, but on my two prior marathon attempts as I ramped up into training, I hurt myself. My body just wasn't ready to go 26.2 miles (or less). I had built up a good enough run endurance for 6 or 13 mile races, but not 26. For this year's attempt, Doug wrote the plan for me instead of letting me blindly follow a plan I had found in a book or a magazine or on the internet. We built up to 25 miles per week of running my way - by increasing the distance of all three weekly runs at the same rate. That seemed to be easier on my feet and knees. Then, Doug had me add another run during the week and we started increasing the distance of my weekend (long) run. We didn't do any speed work, tempo pace or intervals. All of those things are great for people who want to increase their speed and are racing for time. Those people can already go the distance (not me). So, I ran all of my runs at easy don't-look-at-the-pace speed. That took a lot of pressure off.

On race day, the weather was forecast to be 36 degrees, raining and windy. When it is that cold, my gloves don't keep my hands warm enough. So, I followed some internet advice and added tubesocks over my gloves. Genius! My hands were toasty! I decided that the tubesocks/armwarmers would be a good way to give a shout out to Brooks. Voila - Brooks armwarmers. It turned out not to be so cold, so I only wore them at the start but aren't they cute?

All of my other racewear was Brooks too, but it is so well-loved that the logos have fallen off. Check out my vest - very reflective. This is on the shuttle from the parking area to the race start. I think the blurriness of the photo really captures the giddiness of the morning. We were all smiles.

We stayed with my folks at their new house on Edisto Island. It is on the tidal marsh and is beautiful. On the day after the race, we watched the sunrise (not the actual sun because it was on the other side of the house) over the creek. It was lovely.
Kiawah Island Resort puts on a good race. Here is my official race report on Beginner Triathlete. It was a green race, so they encouraged us to bring our own water bottles, to recycle our shoes and old medals. It was neat. I always carry my handbottle, so that was no problem. The start line looked good in the dawning light.

We went to Joe's condo to stay warm before the race start. Joe was racing to try to get his Boston marathon qualifying time. Here are Doug and Joe before we braved the cold of the start line.

Aren't they good-looking? Joe got his BQ. 3 hrs 25 minutes. He followed one of the Daniels plans (not a high mileage one, Paul) and ran a great race despite nearly (or not-so-nearly) breaking his toe over Thanksgiving vacation.

Our friends Amy and Jerry ran the half-marathon and they looked great as they passed us in mile one. I stayed on plan, though, and didn't go faster than I had trained (10 mins per mile). It was cool to see the miles click by as the race went on. We had Gus every 4 miles (I alternated Roctane and regular Gu) and I drank from my water bottle whenever I felt like it. Doug had some Chomps and also had Gus when I did. My IT band got very angry in mile 14, but as I warmed up again by going faster, it felt better. Whew! I felt pretty good until Doug told me to go on in mile 22. He was a great security blanket for the race. I had a lot better race because he ran with me. It was easier to stay in my plan because he was there. If I had been by myself, I would have been tempted to speed it up or slow it down and that would have been bad.

Then, in mile 22, I was on my own. My molasses pace and his Ironman had made Doug's quads cramp up.

Other than the IT, my GI and the usual aches and pains, the race hadn't hurt until then. Or, maybe they had hurt, but I'd been too busy to notice. But suddenly, my foot hurt and my knees were flashing red pain with every step. The little hills on the path to get it level with the road were suddenly like mountains. It felt like was I doing 8 minute miles when it was really 10-ish minutes per mile.

I cried those last two miles. For the sheer ridiculousness that I was going to run a marathon. I remembered back in elementary school when we had to run the mile for the physical fitness test and how I couldn't even walk it. I remembered how I used to be fat in middle school and how much I hated my body. And it was so great to be coming to the finish. I wanted to share the love with all of the cops, the volunteers picking up trash, the folks giving out water and the other runners. I tried to thank them all without bawling, but ended up only thanking some and just patting the other runners on the shoulder as I tried to keep it together.

Then, our friends were there when I finished and it was awesome. I loved it. : )


The O'Neill's said...

So proud of you Steph!
Merry Christmas!

Wes said...

Steph, you have developed into a well rounded athlete (no pun inteneded ;-) Congratulations on finishing your first marathon. One step on the ladder of bigger things to come!?!?

Annie said...

You are awesome! So enjoy reading your posts. Good job, Steph!