Thursday, March 24, 2016

Easy is the name of the game

I had an enforced 2 weeks of no running. That was hard because last week I was in the Talledega National Forest with my horses and I had time to trail run, but I was still within 2 weeks of the marathon, so I didn't. I really like trail running, especially when I'm at an endurance ride, but I was 'good' and refrained, letting my legs rest. I did ride about 46 miles in 2 days between my two horses, so it's not like I didn't get to see the trails.

This week, I'm back to running, but just easy 2 milers this week. I'll start bumping the mileage back up next week, but still stay with the easy pace. No need to push it.

My next event is scheduled for mid-April in Huntsville, AL. A nice half. I won't be going for a PR or anything. Just out to do an easy pace and enjoy my first race outside of TN.

Spring in TN is a great time to ride horses and run. Looking forward to doing some trail running this spring and summer. I am so blessed to be able to be active.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Journey to A(nother) Marathon

I guess I have been bit. I just can't let the Chattanooga Marathon be the only marathon I finish. I have to see if I can tweak my training program and at least finish without hitting the wall. Finishing one without crying would be nice, too.

Due to my other sport of Endurance Horseback Riding and my current goal in that sport of getting my sophomore horse, Sasha, to her first 100 later this fall, I will likely be running for maintenance and doing a few 10ks and halfs for the rest of the spring, summer and fall.

In the meantime, I will do some reading on training methods and see if I can come up with a good strategy for training for the next marathon. Suggestions for websites and books to read are welcome.

I do not have an event picked out for my next marathon, however, I have signed up for the 2017 Chattanooga Marathon. That might be my second one depending on when I start my next training cycle.

There is the 7 Bridges Marathon in Chattanooga in October, but since the 100 I want to do with Sasha is in late September, I don't think I'll have time to train for both.

I really should have my head examined.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Chattanooga Marathon Was Short - My Reaction

It's been made public that the Chattanooga Marathon was not, in fact, a full marathon. Between mile 4 and 5, we ran through the St. Elmo neighborhood and had a U turn. That U turn was supposed to be at 51st Street, but was instead set up at 49th Street, 0.14 miles short of the mark. This resulted in the marked course being 0.28 miles shorter than advertised/certified.

During the marathon, I was aware there was something wrong due to my GPS not hitting the miles in the same general area as the mile markers. At the time, I thought perhaps the mile markers had been placed in error due to a last minute reroute, but in the day or two following, it became apparent what really happened.

I understand this is an embarrassment for the Chattanooga Marathon officials.

I understand if somebody was going for a PR, this really stinks.

I understand if somebody was trying to qualify for Boston or any other marathon or wanted it to count for Marathon Maniacs, this was a dud and really really stinks.

Having said all that, I don't feel like I missed out. Due to being back of the pack, running my first marathon and not really concerning myself with running the tangents (to run the course as closely as it was designed), I actually did run 26.2 miles on Sunday. I ran a marathon. I am still proud of that and will still proudly say I finished a marathon.

Still proud of my medal!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Chattanooga Marathon Race Recap

Two words: Yeah, Baby!! I did it. Ok, so I should have left everybody in suspense, but there it is. I did finish!

Last we heard, I was at the hotel, hoping to get some sleep. I slept better than I thought I might, but worse than I'd hoped. It took a long time to get to sleep, what with the kids running up and down the hotel hallway and screaming. Really? I hate kids. Well, not all of them. Just ones that run amuck with no respect for others. And I won't tell you what I think of their parents. Yes, yes, I get sometimes things are hectic and sometimes kids need to burn off steam. But they don't need to do it in the hotel hallway at 10 PM the night before people have to get up to run a really freakishly long way.

5:30 AM - My phone alarm rang, waking me up.

5:35 AM - The hotel alarm did NOT ring. Always set more than one alarm!!

I had laid out my clothes the night before. The only thing I wasn't sure about was my short sleeve shirt. I had chosen my Zooma Half Marathon shirt to wear. But when I put it on, I decided it was fine and stuck with it.

7:11 AM - Dressed and ready to go, I added a large sweatshirt for additional warmth (it was about 39 degrees) and headed out from my hotel. The start was about 3/4 of a mile away. I turned right and headed toward Broad Street, but changed my mind and returned to Carter Street and went to grab a rental bike. It was a lot nicer riding to the start line instead of walking. There was even a bike drop off station half a block from the starting line.

Start line from the wrong side.

7:32 AM - I stood in line for the porta potty for a last minute stop. Watching and listening to the runners around me. I heard lots of last minute advise shared between friends. I looked at other runners' gear, saw some covered in garbage bags for warmth, others jumping up and down looking quite cold. I was nervous and bounced some, but wasn't very cold.

7:46 AM - I found my corral. Well, ok, there was no corral for me. The slowest pace marker was a 12:00 minute mile pace. I just stood a ways back from that. My goal pace was 13:15 minutes per mile.

About 3 minutes before gun time.

Mile 0

Yes, I'm going to do it by mile. Just before the start time, I removed my sweatshirt and hung it on the corral fence to be picked up and donated. Started my GPS units as I stepped across the start pads and moved right into my 3 minute jog, 30 second walk groove. I was very careful to feel like I was barely moving.

Mile 1

13:12 pace. Right on target! Yay for me. I also dropped my knit gloves shortly before the first mile marker. Down to just my arm warmers.

Mile 2

13:00 pace. A bit fast, but not terribly off. I determined to slow it down a smidge for my next mile.

After the marathon split from the half marathon. Emergency worker in the truck on the right. They were EVERYWHERE! I felt quite safe and looked after.

The half marathon runners split off before mile 2 and it was just down the marathon runners. The pack thinned out a lot. There were 529 runners in the marathon (plus 46 marathon relay teams) and 1370 runners in the half. Since I positioned myself rather appropriately, I was well in the back of the pack.

Mile 4

My pace for mile 3 and mile 4 were really good at 13:16 and 13:18. Just after mile 4, I came to an aid station at a confusing intersection, where I was to turn left, but runners were coming at me from ahead and turning to my right. But the volunteers noticed my intense confusion and pointed me in the correct direction to run down Virginia Avenue through the St. Elmo neighborhood.

Mile 7

Miles 5-7 were again a bit too fast. Not terribly so, but maybe I should have eased off a little through there. 13:01, 13:03 and 12:57.

Mile 9

Pace back on target for miles 8 (13:18) and 9 (13:13). Just before mile 9, we actually ran past the finish line. I could hear the announcer announcing some finishers of the half marathon. That was a bit cruel, I thought! And buckled down to pass 5 or 6 people.

Mile 10

A beautiful run along the river behind the Tennessee Aquarium. I popped into a porta potty at the aid station and still managed to turn in a 13:24 mile.

Mile 11

Veteran's Bridge. The sun is in my eyes here.

A climb to Veteran's Bridge. It was really beautiful to cross. 14 minutes for that mile, but that included a couple of stops to take pics. :-) Hey, if I'm going to do a marathon and it's a gorgeous day, and I'm going to be over 6 hours anyway, what's a minute here and there to take pics?

Mile 12

Past the aid station and more hills ahead. I tried an orange wedge at this aid station. It kinda gave me a stomach ache. I didn't eat the fiber, just squeezed all the juice out. 13:52 pace.

Mile 13

Speed bumps. Up a rather steep climb. Haha. Really slowed me down! I was walking the hills. No point in trying to run them, I would just exhaust myself sooner. I did run the downhills, letting my pace go beyond a 12:30 pace as long as my effort was not too high. I turned in 14:05 for this mile.

Mile 14

Around this mile, I crested a hill and saw a beautiful view of the river and a golf course. What a beautiful day for a run AND I got to go downhill after this!! 13:26.

Mile 15

Back at the aid station, I accepted a Tri Berry Gu as it was about time for me to eat again and I wanted to try it. I'd never tried that flavor, but I had done Gu in training and I had some others with me in case I didn't like the flavor of this one. It wasn't bad, but it definitely wasn't my caramel macchiato Gu.

I pulled off my arm warmers just before this aid station and forgot to drop them in the trash, so tucked them into my hydration belt directly at my lower back, so it looked like I had a weird tail for the rest of the run because I kept forgetting to toss them in the trash.

Bonus, I tucked them between my extra water bottle and my SnapPod. My SnapPod had been bothering me for 14+ miles because it seemed I was ALWAYS pushing it away from the bottle to keep them from clanking, but the socks (arm warmers) tucked there kept them from banging and bothering me the rest of the run.

Took me 14 minutes 30 seconds for mile 15. I did pause for a good minute at the aid station between getting a Gu, dropping the water cup and having to pick it up and put it in the trash and trying another orange slice, which again, made me nauseous.

MP3 player on sometime in this mile.

Mile 16

Back across Walnut Street Bridge. Pretty over the water. Lots of non runners on the bridge. Things were getting tough for me. Harder to maintain a 12:30 pace when running. Still doing 3 minutes run/30 seconds walk, except for walking the hills. 14:13.

Mile 17

This was where the pain really started. There really wasn't that much elevation on this mile, but it took me 14 minutes 47 seconds. Shouldn't have taken me that long, but I was very aware of pain setting in. My middle toe on my right foot cramped up. It didn't uncramp until sometime in the middle of the night after the run. My left knee was aching a bit.

Mile 18

I sucked it up and picked up my pace, turning in 12:51 for this mile.

Mile 19

I was still hurting, but I felt sorta ok. I popped into the porta potty at this aid station and it took me "forever" to work things. My hands just didn't seem to do what I told them. Might as well as not have had fingers. I blame that for my 15:33 pace for that mile.

Mile 20

Pretty flat. Back on track. Felt ok, ignoring the pain, pushing my legs to keep pace. 13:22.

Mile 22

My face after being told I "only had 5 miles left" around the 21 mile marker.

Ok, this is getting worse. I can't maintain my 12:30 pace for 3 minutes, even on this relatively flat terrain. Back it off to 2 minutes run; 30 seconds walk. 14:40 and 14:24 for mile 21 and 22.

Mile 23

Chattanooga National Cemetery

I am not sure I can do this anymore. It hurts badly to walk, but my legs are so tired, I can barely run. Oh, look, the cemetery where my grandpa is buried. Think about that while I run beside the cemetery. Tears and running and breathing don't really go together. Dial it back, think about something else. 15 minutes 44 seconds. This is going to take forever.

Mile 24

I tried. I really did. I pushed and pushed and pushed and I was going slower and slower. Another long mile at 15:49. I finally gave up. Time to walk it in.

Mile 25

This was one of the worst miles of the entire run. I was in pain. I couldn't run, but it hurt to walk. My upper legs muscles were so tight and painful, it hurt to stretch them out to walk at a decent speed. I was so disappointed that I couldn't run anymore and I couldn't keep the tears back. I'm sure the volunteers I passed thought I was crazy. I'm not so sure I'm not. 18 minutes 42 seconds.

Mile 26

The last full mile was a little better. I got myself together and was (sorta) over the disappointment in having to stop running. I was now just determined to finish. To get through it. So I could stop. As I approached the corner where I would make my last turn and see the finish line, I contemplated stopping at the hotel. Because, yes, I was walking right past the entrance to my hotel. I could just stop. Right there. Forget the stupid medal. Forget..Wait, what? Am I stupid? Go 26 miles to stop 1/4 mile short? Now that's just silly. 20 minutes 28 seconds.

Mile 26.2

As I neared the finish line, the Finish Line banner became my focus. My stride lengthened, I was determined. About 750 feet from the finish, I reached way down and started jogging. I was going to cross that line at a jog. I felt like I was flying. I was doing about a 13:00/mile pace...I heard the announcer give my name and tell me to smile. So I put on my creepy smile and kept running. I crossed over the timing mats and jumped up and down. I was done!!!!

6 hours 14 minutes 39 seconds chip time.


I got my medal from the medal guy and stumbled past the water, past the food and to the porta potty. When I got out, I stretched a bit and hung around to cheer in a few of the runners and then headed to my hotel 1/4 mile away. I could walk slowly. I didn't have to push. I certainly didn't have to run.

I cheered on the runners still coming in as they passed me, then went into my hotel. I hate elevators, but I took the elevator up to my 3rd floor room. Entered the room and I was done. What a day!

My nice spacious room at the Staybridge Suites.

I ate the whites off 2 boiled eggs. I added lots of lite salt. It's about the only thing I can stomach immediately after a long run. I drank water often as I went about preparing a bath.

I slid into a hot, hot bath and soaked for 15 minutes. I've found this is an important part of my recovery process. Some people do ice, but heat works better for me.

I ate more eggs and drank water, then ate a scoop of ice cream I had in the hotel freezer. I curled up on the couch with a blanket to read Facebook, watch old TV shows on cable and generally just stay off my feet. I drank a lot of water, alternating a glass of cool water with a glass of water with a half Hammer Fizz tablet in it.

By about 4 hours post finish, I felt pretty good. Still very very tired, and a good bit sore, but surprisingly alert.

My sleep was restless and painful due to being sore, but by morning, I was able to move with much less soreness. Another hot soak in the tub helped ease some more soreness out.

All in all, an interesting experience. The volunteers were awesome. Loved seeing every aid station. At the last aid station a very kind lady refilled one of my water bottles for me.

My awesome shirt. I love it!

As to whether or not I'll do another one? I don't know. But I do have a new book on marathon training and I did get some coupon codes for other marathon entries...

Saturday, March 5, 2016


Well, I'm here! I drove down to Chattanooga, checked into my hotel, picked up my race packet and found some food.

Now I'm going to see if I can get some sleep. I'm excited and nervous, I don't think I'll sleep much from that, but then, my hotel room is just outside the convention center marquee and my room is full of bright blinking lights!

We'll see if I can get any sleep at all!

I ended up not running at all this week and only a couple times last week. I hope I didn't overdo the taper. I am worried I didn't train hard enough, long enough, that my long runs were horrible things that ended up slow as molasses. I'm worried I won't finish in the 7 hour time limit. I'm worried that I will trip and twist my ankle and have to stop. I'm just worried.

And yet, it's just another long run, right? Better or worse, I get to run. And that's a blessing. Thank God that I can run.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gear Check - Part 3 - Clothes

I've been checking the Chattanooga forecast since this past weekend. Being Tennessee in March, the weather could be anything from snow to 75 degrees and anything in between.

Looks like we might get lucky. At the moment, the forecast looks great:

Looks like about 38 or 40 degrees for the start, warming up to near 60 by my projected finish time.

So I have tentatively picked out the clothes I will wear on Sunday.

RaceReady LD Capris - These will likely be a smidge too warm for the last hour or so of my run, but better than being too cold for several more hours earlier. And I suspect I'll be glad I have them after I cross the finish line as I'm not planning to leave a bag at the finish. I figure by the time I find out where they have my bag, I could have walked to my hotel instead.

Zooma half marathon shirt - this was the last half I did before deciding to sign up for a marathon. Plus, I like the color and the fit is pretty good without being clingy or too loose.

I will start with a skull cap. Since I'm wearing my RaceReady capris, I'll tuck the cap into the middle pocket when I'm ready to stop using it.

The gray things coming out of my shirt sleeves in the above photo are men's socks. I cut the toe out and they make great cheap arm warmers. I will wear them at the start. When I get warm enough to remove them, I can decide to either ditch them in the trash or just tuck them in between my body and my hydration belt.

I'll start with cheap knit gloves. When I get warm enough to not need them, I'll drop them at an aide station or a mile marker.

Socks - Balega Outdoor Moh-rino vtech enduro quarter socks. These are fairly new socks, but I have several runs on them and hope they'll do me well.

Shoes - my trusty Altra Torins. They have about 150 miles on them, so they're broke in, but should be just fine.

My extra clothes.

Of course, I can't be entirely sure what race day will bring, both in weather and feelings, so I'm taking several other options with me in case I change my mind. The extra clothes include 3 other short sleeve shorts, a long sleeve shirt, my Under Armour cold weather shirt, another pair of socks, a headband with ear flaps, my lululemon toasty tights, a size medium SkirtSports shorts/skirt and a size small SkirtSports shorts/skirt.

I think I will be prepared. I hope so anyway.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Gear Check - Part 2 - Tech Gadgets

I've been accused of liking my tech gadgets. Guilty.

So my gear for the marathon will include some gadgets.

L-R: FR 630, FR 620, SanDisk Clip+

Garmin Forerunner 630

I bought this to help me train for the marathon. My previous favorite running watch was the 620, but I was worried that the shorter battery life of the 620 will not keep my watch going for my entire marathon since I won't be turning in any 4 hours for my finish time.

I will wear the heart rate monitor strap to help monitor my heart rate so I hopefully won't over-do it.

I will have 3 alerts set
Alert 1) My run/walk alarm. I have decided to do a 3 minute run/30 second walk interval. For my last half marathon, I did 4 minutes to 30 seconds and was able to maintain that for the entire run, barring the long hill I walked. Assuming I can maintain a 12:30/mile pace during my run sections, I should be hitting my mile splits somewhere around 13:15/mile. My plan is to drop to a 2 minute run/30 second walk interval when/if I can't maintain the 3 minutes.

Alert 2) My eat alarm. Every 15 minutes 36 seconds. This is an odd number so hopefully I won't have any of my alerts interfere with each other. If 2 alarms sound at the same time, I won't see one of them and I don't want to miss my alert to ingest calories.

Alert 3) My heart rate alarm. I will set this to 180. My max is somewhere around 194. I'm expecting to run around 170-174 for the entire run, but if it creeps up too high, I want to know about it.

I have several data screens set up, but my main one for the marathon will be only 2 fields. Heart rate on top and current pace on the bottom. I need to try to keep to a 12:30/mile pace while running, so I will be monitoring that closely.

My unit will auto lap every mile so I can monitor each mile split and analyze them after the run.

I have other units for my endurance horseback riding, but this is my favorite running watch.

Garmin Forerunner 620

I will also wear my 620. I will have this set up to show current lap pace, heart rate and current lap distance.

Nowhere do I want to see total mileage. I'm sure I'll see that just fine on the course mile markers.

My 620 will not handle any alerts. If the battery dies before the finish, I don't want to have it handling anything important.

SanDisk Clip+

This is my go-to running MP3 player. It contains all my running songs as well as a few extra things. I don't expect to listen to anything other than my running songs. I also don't plan on using it until I either get really pained, demotivated or really bored because I get into a pocket by myself with nothing else to amuse myself.

I use a cheap pair of earbuds and cut off one of the buds so it's only in one ear at any given time. I also wrap the cable so it's short enough to not get in the way when it's clipped on my sports bra strap.

The Clip+ is discontinued, so I'll have to find another good solution if this one dies.