My Favorite Quote:

"There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, who knows she is capable of anything that she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experiences; who knows she can fall, pick herself up, and move on."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Marathon #2: Fargo Marathon Post-Race Report

Our crew left for Fargo on Friday, May 20th at 2pm.  We finally got out of the cities around 3:30pm.  Eric was driving us all in our minivan.  We brought along my stepson Justin and his fiance Kathryn.  We also had my brother Luke and his fiance Lizzie with.  All four of them were planning to run the half marathon.  I was planning to run the full marathon.  I was a little worried going into this race since I was unable to complete my training plan due to injury, motivation, and the Minnesota winter.  I decided that this race would have only one goal: to finish with a smile on my face!  We arrived at the expo rather late and then headed out for a carbo-load at the Olive Garden around 8:30pm

The weather was a little concerning to me since it was forecasted to be 69 degrees with thunderstorms for race day.  It was 62 degrees when we showed up at the Fargo Dome at 6:45am.  The race was scheduled to begin at 7:30am.  I had a great night of sleep at the hotel and really did not want to get up and run for 4 hours.  But, we made our way to the dome and after a few pictures, I headed out to the start line.  I did some quick warm-ups and set out to find the 3:50 pacer.  I positioned myself with her group and then saw my husband Eric and his best friend Bill (his family joined us for the weekend and Bill took some great photos for us!)  I ran after them and caught my leg on a fence and cut myself.  I was starting to think it was going to be a long morning.  After I talked with them, I tried to find the pace group again but couldn't.  I think the pacer had her sign down.  I ended up lining up with the 3:40 pacer and thought "what the heck".

A pre-race photo of our crew.

The start was pretty successful.  Few people went out very fast and it was not crowded at all.  It was perfect I would say.  I settled in behind the pace group and decided to try to stay with them for a couple miles and get a good head start on my race.  I waited patiently for the first water stop at mile 3 and ended up with Powerade instead of water...ugh.  I had to wait until mile 5 to get my first water.

The crowd support was awesome and there were bands all over the place. It was a lot of fun and there were a lot of distractions on the course.  I saw a guy in a curly red wig, a much too small brown sweater with his belly sticking out, and huge sunglasses banging on a cowbell.  He was hilarious.  He appeared another 6 times along the course.  He was my favorite fan.  I also enjoyed the "Go Mom" signs, even though they were not mine - but one day!

By mile 8, I was losing sight of the 3:40 pace group.  I settled in and waited for the 3:50 pace group to catch up to me (not with intention of course).  I saw Eric and Bill at mile 9 and they took some pictures of me at the water stop.  I walked through all of the water stops to recover and keep the muscles loose.

Although I'm sure that walking the water stops helped, I was starting to feel tired by now and the tightness in my glutes was really growing strong.  This was an area that started to bother me 2 weeks before race day and I was worried it might stop me during the race.  My IT Band was holding out, so I decided to wait for a longer walking break until after I got my half split.  The run to the 13.1 marker was long.  It was through neighborhoods that were mostly packed with runners and it was hot, humid, and muddy.  The rain was holding off, but it was seriously humid.

I made it to the half split at 1:54:04.  I was not expecting to make it this fast considering my training, but since I was there at this time I went to plan B which included a "possible" sub-4 hour time goal.  After I crossed the chip mat, I started walking for 2 minutes (the deserved long walk I was waiting for!).  It felt so good.  I didn't want to run again, but the 3:50 pacer was on my tail, so I picked it up!

Around mile 14 my gluteal issue was causing sciatic nerve compression and it felt like I was getting tasered in my backside.  I had to stop a couple times since it about knocked me off my feet.  I started praying that this would not be the issue to take me out of the race.  The 3:50 pace group caught me at mile 15.  I ran with them to mile 16 - they were SMOKIN'!!!  I was not.  We ran through a water stop at an 8:11 pace and I decided it was not my day to run with them.  I kept them in my sight for a couple miles and ran with some guys around me for awhile.  It was fun chatting with those around me.  It kept the mood up and I always seemed to be among a large pack of runners!

Mile 16 - tired, but happy!

I enjoyed running through all of the relay exchanges every 10K.  It was great to get a fresh set of runners to help re-motivate the full marathoners.  The first relay exchange was on the Concordia campus.  It was beautiful and the bells were ringing for us.  As I approached the final relay exchange at mile 20, I remembered that I was relay runner #4 last year at this race and I was the one waiting here for the hand-off!  I knew exactly what was ahead of me from here to the finish.  I looked down at my watch and I was under 3 hours.  I became really excited and knew that I could run a 10K in less than and hour and the sub-4 hour became a reality.  I started to smile and held that smile for the next 6.2 miles :-)

I looked at my pace (for the first time today) and knew that I now needed to keep it going to get there in time.  I was not expecting to run well today and was very pleased that my race was going so well.  I was also having a great time and enjoying the experience.  I was talking with other runners, cheering with the crowd, and soaking it all in.  I was also passing an incredible amount of people walking (mostly half marathoners).  It was almost too many people.  I was starting to wonder what was going on.  I had to shift over to the elite lane just to get past them all.

I kept the pace going and started to feel a weird cramping in my toes.  They started to curl under in both feet.  I figured it was from this race being the longest distance I have ever run with a forefoot strike.  I switched to more of a midfoot strike and tried to keep going.  It slowed me down for a little bit, but it passed and I was able to move on.  I also was having trouble breathing.  It felt like like my airways were narrowing, like asthma.  It concerned me enough to say to myself "monitor this".  I steadied my pace and it never got worse, so I pushed on.  My IT Band finally caught up with me at mile 24.  I didn't care by then.  I just kept running.  I felt like the energizer bunny.  I did walk through water stops during the last 10K to keep myself fueled.  I kept waiting for the wall and the 4:00 hour pacer and thankfully neither one caught up with me!

I saw Lizzie at mile 25!  I told her I was going for a sub-4 and she cheered me on.  I ran through the final water stop and had trouble picking my feet up high enough to clear the cups on the ground!  I almost cried when I saw the dome.  Too bad I had to run around it to the other side!  It was fun as the crowds were lined on both sides.  I kicked it in for the final 200m and finished with a new PR of 3:56:24 (9:01 pace) and a new memory of marathoning.  It was exciting to run into the dome and see people in the stands cheering.  After the finish line, I instantly had trouble breathing and almost went to find a medical person.  I bent over and tried to stay calm as I was having some sort of asthma attack.  It passed after several minutes and I was able to retrieve my medal which I proudly wore :-)

It was a good day.  I am very happy and I am excited about running this distance again!  I am also very excited that I now understand my injuries and look forward to loosening up the tight muscles and getting back to running without injury.  I am a bit concerned about my breathing issue.  I've had some trouble at home with it, so I now plan to go get checked out.  I very happily achieved my goal today of finishing with a smile on my face.  It gave me a new perspective that even though I am capable of running this distance at a faster pace than I did today, it was certainly far more fun to run it at a pace that made it more of an enjoyable experience.  It is not all about Boston.  This will certainly change how I train and race in the future!

Our happy crew!

Event: Fargo Marathon
Place: Fargo, ND
Theme Song: "Lose Yourself" - Eminem
Date: Saturday, May 21, 2011
Time: 7:30am
Overall Place:  631 of 2209
Gender Place:  150 of 920 
Division Place (F3539):  30 of 161
10K Split:  53:01
Half Split:  1:54:04
20 Mile Split:  2:58:02
Final Time:  3:56:24 (9:01 avg. pace)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Marathon #2: Pre-Race Thoughts

Pre-Race Thoughts
The training for this marathon pretty much fell apart at the halfway point.  My knee injury re-appeared in full force after the Get Lucky Half Marathon in March.  I ended up not running at all and swimming laps in the pool.  I am not a swimmer, nor do I pretend to be.  It finally occurred to me that I may have been mis-diagnosed with patellar tendinopathy and possibly that is why it wasn't healing.

I went to see my mentor and former PT advisor and told him I thought it was a flexibility issue.  He did some movement screens and immediately agreed and said my IT Band was the issue (plus some other weaknesses).  I started going to my chiro 3 times per week to get the IT Band massaged.  It was very painful.  But it started to work!

I was able to get in a 16 miler after a few weeks of massage.  I was very behind in my training plan and my mental attitude started to get to me.  I threw in the towel on an 18 miler and never ended up with a long run.  I also was only running 3 days a week and the shorter runs were too short as well.

I was closing in on race day with no long runs, a tight IT Band, plantar faciitis in my right foot, and a sprained right ankle.  Things were getting me down and I was dreading a repeat of marathon #1.  But, I decided to take away all time goals that I had for this race and run it for fun and with no expectations.