Wow, it’s been a while since we posted. A good two months! So much has been going on lately that the Mad Marathon feels a long time ago, rather than a matter of weeks.
Mike and I haven’t lost our enthusiasm for running and our marathon experience didn’t change our minds about training for more races. But, we’ve hardly run at all since the Mad. It’s a bit depressing, but we have some good reasons for it. Nevertheless, it’ s going to take some work and real discipline to get going again.
Mike and I just announced to the world today that we’ll be moving to New York. He will be taking a new position with the Cummins Northeast distributor, and since we knew there was a likelihood of moving, we’ve been busy trying to get our house into selling shape. Not terrible with 0-1 kids, but with three little boys under 5, it is almost impossible to keep the house at a basic level of clean, much less show worthy.
Second, I’ve been gearing up to start my first year of homeschooling, and that has required a lot of reading and planning. We’re in our second week now, and getting the hang of things with a reasonable routine, so hopefully I can get exercise scheduled back in. I mean, formal exercise. I do alot of running up and down the stairs as it is.
Finally, the biggest reason I, in particular, haven’t been running? I was just crazy exhausted after the marathon experience. Note to all women of child bearing age out there….refrain from training for a marathon two months after having your third C-section when you’ve scarcely done any serious running in your life. While the idea seemed great at the time, and the training started well, towards the end of the 16 week training session and in the actual marathon, I tanked. My training runs up to 20 miles in length were going great, and I was happy with my times, but suddenly I just started pooping out, and my last few long runs were terrible. I attribute most of this to just being plumb worn out.
However, I loved the marathon experience and am determined to get back to serious running again. But this time I’m going to do it right. I’m going to train for alot of shorter races and half marathons first, before I attempt another marathon. Besides the physical effort it takes, the time commitment is really tough especially when you’ve got a young family.
I was planning on running some races in Indy this fall, but since we’re moving, it isn’t likely that will happen. So, my goal is to get at least one race done in New York in the last months of this year. All of you who follow this blog please hold me accountable to this!
Seeking to fully live,
It’s hard to believe that it has been a week since the inaugural Mad Marathon and Julie and my attempt to go from non-runners to marathoners in 5 months! All the preparation (or maybe lack of) was now culminating in the big run. I’ve only done a couple of organized cycling “races” before so it was still a new experience to be part of a group of people taking on the challenge together. We had been given tips to not get sucked out with the fast group and stay toward the back. I kept reminding myself to stick to the plan and Galloway run/walk method that had worked so well for us during training.
As Julie mentioned in her post, it was an extremely tough race for her and I felt helpless on what to do. We tried energy gels, Cliff Shots, gatorade, advil, a lot of walking – but none seemed to help. I tried to run at a reasonable pace to try to “pace” her but that didn’t help. I even tried doing some breathing exercises (had flashbacks to birthing classes!). The course was EXTREMELY challenging – even though we had done hill training – our training route was a series of short, steep climbs where the Mad Marathon course had more gradual but continuous climbs – check out the elevation map below:
Julie started to tell me to leave her and run on but I really wanted to finish it with her – we had started this journey together and I wanted to finish it together. Finally, at mile 15, I got the EVIL EYE and a lecture to go finish the race at my pace. I finally did run on ahead but then almost did myself in. At the point, Julie and I separated, we were at the pace limit to finish the marathon within the time limits. I wasn’t sure how stringent they would be about kicking people off the course (we have heard stories of people travelling to races and then getting pulled off during the race due to slow pace). For the next 6 – 7 miles, I tried to make up time and ran paces that I had not even done during training runs. My body supported it for a while but then gave up in the last couple of miles and I had to walk a lot.
When I finally crossed the finish line, I was elated but it was bittersweet because we were not able to do it together. But Julie gutted it out and clawed her way to the finish – I was so proud of her – she could have quit at any point but she was determined to finish the race. I’ve had a couple of people ask me where we finished or what our times were – you can find out if you are that curious – but to us, it was the fact that we had set out to accomplish a new challenge TOGETHER and that we completed it!
We have been a little slow in updating the results of our marathon last Sunday. it’s been a hectic week and a lot of windshield time driving back to Indiana. Each of us is going to share their view of the race.
Almost six months ago, a month after having my third son (and third C-section), my husband popped up with the idea of signing up for the first ever annual Mad Marathon in Vermont. He was so excited about the idea, and I was motivated to get rid of the baby weight as quick as possible, and we both loved any excuse to go to Vermont, so I hopped on the marathon bandwagon.
After months of training and preparation, the race day, July 10, finally arrived. And now that the race is completed, I’m left with two predominant thoughts about the experience:
1. The Mad Marathon was AWESOME, well done, well organzied, BEAUTIFUL, and BRUTAL.
2. My race was about the worst, painful, most anti-climactic long run I’ve had so far.
Running the marathon was a great experience for us. Through it, we met some terrific people and were able to push ourselves to limits beyond what we believed ourselves capable of. The Vermont countryside in the Mad River Valley is breathtaking, and everyone involved in pulling off the marathon, especially Dori and Ian, the organizers, were fabulous. We were impressed by the serious runners who tackled the tough course in fantastic times, as well as amused by the more social participants, who stopped occasionally to snap pictures.
All that being said, the race was personally super tough for me. I was experiencing awful headaches every day for most of the week before the race, and didn’t feel in top shape by race day. While Mike and I included hill training in our prep for the race, I was intimidated from the start when we drove the course prior to the race. Hill after hill lay before us, including a particular daunting patch called “the Dip.” that we got to run down and up twice during the race. That was a misleading name…it should be referred to as “the Yawning Chasm” or “the Grand Canyon”.
From the start of the race, I had trouble breathing properly. This was frustrating for me because I haven’t had breathing issues since February. Only a couple of miles into the race I began to already feel exhausted, and by mile 15, my legs were cramping and having muscle spasms. At one point, my calf muscles cramped up so much that my toes curled under in my shoes and I tripped, nearly falling all over myself. I was so discouraged, because I had never experienced this before, and that morning I had been careful to eat and drink what I always did before long runs. Drinking gatorade and slurping down energy gels did little to make me feel better.
Mike was awesome, sticking with me and encouraging me, but I was obviously really holding him back. He refused to run on ahead until I told him that I’d be seriously mad at him for the rest of the day if he didn’t take off and run the best he could. He finally obeyed me ( ) with a little over 10 miles to go, and I proceeded to limp in to the finish. However, through the incredible encouragement of all the aid station volunteers and friends, alot of prayer, and sheer willpower, I did finish.
I’ve heard that people never run two marathons. They either run one and determine that that will never happen again, or they catch the bug, and run more and more. Despite the frustration with my first marathon, the nausea, cramps, and ginormous blisters on my feet….I’m addicted. I could hardly do more than hobble around after the race for about three days, but the whole time was thinking how nice it would be to get out and go jogging.
Mike and I are already planning our next marathon.
I was in a panic on Thursday morning. I had been anal about packing all of Julie’s and my running gear for the trip – even packing it in a special bin separate from the rest of our belongings. Being paranoid (and an engineer!), I was taking inventory of the items on Thursday and realized that I did not have the tops to the bottles in my running fluid belt. I know that I had stuck them in my pocket before we left but I think I aimlessly threw them away somewhere along the journey to Vermont. The irony is that I had lectured Julie multiple times prior to leaving to make sure she had everything she needed – since we were in a small town, we wouldn’t have access to many stores.
I know this would not be a big deal to some – but being my first race, I want to use the products that I am used to from my training runs – my own gels, my own electolytes, my own fuel belt. During the months leading up to the race, I had tried multiple fuel belts but had settled on the Amphipod Run Lite belt with multiple bottles. I liked the fact that I could move and adjust the bottles and it was what I was comfortable with. However, the bottles are uniquely shaped and take a certain type of top (see picture) and it wasn’t something you can find at your local store (Amphipod products are usually only sold at specialty athletic stores).
So I put in a paniced call to Amphipod’s customer service line. The customer service rep calmly asked what type of running pack I had, where I was located, when the race was, etc. I kept trying to explain that I was in the middle of no-where (sorry Waitsfield!) and didn’t have alot of options. She asked for my phone number and said she would call me back in a few minutes. She then proceeded to call the closest dealers and convinced one of them to sell me the tops of one of their in-store fuel belts. In exchange for doing this, Amphipod would send the store a replacement set of bottle tops. She told me to go to the Ski Rack in Burlington and talk to Lucy. She was almost apologetic to me that they were going to charge me a nominal fee of $3.50 for the tops and that I was going to have to drive an hour (at that point, I was willing to do anything!). I was blown away and thanked her profusely and called her my “HERO” She just kept telling me to have a good race!
We made the trek to Burlington to go to the Ski Rack to get my bottle tops. I walked into the store and was directed to Lucy. As I walked up (with bottle in hand), she said “You must be Mike – I’ll get your tops”. She takes the tops of their belt (which makes their belt temporarily unsellable) and then refuses to let me pay for them! She wishes me well in the race and tells me to have fun! Wow!
I know many of you reading this are thinking two things – Mike is a bit OCD (I won’t deny that) and what’s the big deal? You see, I have worked in some form of “customer service” for most of my career at Cummins so I am extra sensitive to good or bad support. I know I make Julie cringe when I get frustrated by lack of customer service that you tend to see at many stores and restaurants nowadays. It just seems in general that most people don’t care anymore – don’t get me wrong – I realize that sometimes these are crappy jobs but try to make the best of it.
So yes, I forced everyone to drive for an hour to get some simple plastic bottle tops..but it was worth it to me to have one less thing stressing me for the race! We got to experience more great people (and even get Ben and Jerry’s to boot!). And if you want a great running fuel belt, check out www.amphipod.com.
Now that we have been in Vermont for a few days, it seems like we have so much to talk about and the race hasn’t even happened yet! So we thought we would break it up into multiple posts and each share our expieriences (they might be a bit random!)
The first thing I noticed quickly was the pace of life is so much slower and quieter here. I know Indianapolis isn’t a bustling major city but it’s still fast paced compared to the Waitsfield and Warren area. The pace of life is why we fell in love with the Mad River Valley last year and why I’m glad that we came back. In fact, if anything, I’ve done a terrible job of rushing the family around. It’s amazing how hard it is to ACTUALLY SLOW DOWN It’s hard for me to get out of the habit of the non-essential parts of our life – social media like email, facebook, etc. The only good thing I have done is stay off my work Blackberry! Today was a more relaxing day – walking around the Waitsfield Farmer’s market, taking an afternoon nap, and trying to decompress.
The second thing that came back quickly was the people. Everywhere you go – the people are friendly, taking a few minutes to chat, talking to the boys and just making you feel at home. First and foremost has been Dori Ingalls, the Mad Marathon race director. Ad I mentioned in earlier postings, Dori and I have developed a friendship primarily via email. One of the first places we went on Thursday was to meet Dori and her husband. She even told someone she had “important people” to talk to…us, a random couple with a blog from Indiana? She loved on the boys and made us feel special. She even went out of her way to invite us to the Marathon Sponsor party. When I told her that we had logistics issues getting to the party (Julie had to take the car to pick up her friend), Dori hands me the keys to her car. I stood there in disbelief! Are you serious – handing over your car to a stranger?
At the party and over the next few days, we met a lot of wonderful people. People wanted to know our story – the running, the blog, the boys (they are great entertainment!). Everywhere you go – the local coffee shop, the Warren Store, the Ben and Jerry’s shop in Burlington and even the random parking garage attendant in Burlington was friendly and talkative (usually you get a grunt and a ticket!)
I could keep going on and on but I think I made my point. So to all the runners out there, do you want to deal with the chaos of a race with 40,000+ people or come to a race where you can relax, rest and enjoy the time?
We are here! Our goal for the last six months, the Mad Marathon is right upon us!
It’s hard to believe that tomorrow Mike and I will be running our first marathon. Doing such a thing certainly wasn’t on my radar 8-10 months ago….then I was consumed with wanting to have my third baby so I could stop waddling around being a tired, pregnant mom chasing two other little ones all day. Mike has tons of work demands that have worn him out, and I have three little boys age four and under, one being our new little six month old addition. Fortunately, the baby just started sleeping consistently through the night for me, but I really could have used that extra sleep over the past few weeks.
So, has this journey been worth it? I can already say, even before the marathon has been run, that this journey certainly was worth it. My top reasons?
1. Mike and I have met some incredible people along the way that most likely would have never crossed our paths had we not started the marathon training and signed up for the Mad Marathon.
2. Training for a marathon is a great way to shed those extra baby pounds quicker.
3. Our preschooler is getting to see the value of exercise and the fun that can be involved with it.
4. Mike and I have grown closer and strengthened our relationship as we pursued this goal together.
5. My self confidence has taken a steep climb upwards….I used to think that two miles was my limit….I now know that I can do alot more than what I gave myself credit for.
6. I’ve had an amazing amount of fun!
Mike’s idea to run a marathon has changed our lives these last few months…we have entered a world, so to speak, that we previously were clueless about. I used to hate running, but have since become addicted to it, and have found that the running community is actually a really great thing to be a part of.
Am I ready for tomorrow? I hope so. As Mike recently posted, the last couple of months of training have been really tough.
I’m not a morning person (just ask Mike) so getting up to run has always been really hard. But, by seven pm I’m so exhausted from the day’s events that the only running I feel like doing is the short sprint to my couch. Making myself gear up and head out for runs at night would not have happened at all if we hadn’t set this marathon goal.
Am I nervous about tomorrow? Heck, yeah! We drove the course a couple of days ago and the long hills look daunting. I don’t want to be a DNF (did not finish). But darn it, what better and more beautiful place is there to be a DNF than Vermont?
Furthermore, my best friend came up from Boston to see us and help watch my boys (just having her around is heaven) and I’m getting to run my first marathon tomorrow with my other best friend, who is also the best husband I could ever have asked for. What could be better?
Seeking to fully live,
I would be lying to say that I wasn’t nervous about Sunday’s Mad Marathon. The end of our training program had too many bumps for my liking.
First, I stressed my knee too much which made the last long runs difficult. As I mentioned in a prior post, my desire to be prepared for running hills drove me to run some very short steep hills multiple times and lead to much knee pain. As part of our training program, you actually run the full marathon distance 3 weeks prior to the race. I wore knee braces on both knees and was doing well. I was on pace to finish in about 5:30 when 21 miles into the run, my right knee completely locked up and I had to basically drag it for an hour. Then as quickly as it locked up, it loosened up and I was able to run the last few miles at my earlier pace.
Second, I messed up reading the training program and cut myself short by a week. This meant that we had to do a 23 and 26 mile long run closer together. I should have just read the chart in the book but transferred it to Excel and goofed up. This definitely didn’t help the knee situation.
Third, my schedule and general tiredness over the past few weeks has led to inconsistent short runs during the week. I still did all my long runs but sometimes only did 1 short run during the week. I know that the last few weeks are the famous “TAPER” but this was a pretty lazy taper in my mind. I can contribute alot of it to poor planning and motivation. I didn’t adjust my schedule to run earlier in the day or earlier in the evening and the next thing you know, it was 10 pm and I didn’t feel like running.
Fourth, if my laziness about running wasn’t bad enough, I slipped back into my habits of eating poorly and eating too much. I had lost 25 lbs in 12 weeks when I started the endevour but put 10 back on in the past 8 weeks. I can contribute it to work stress or trying to juggle too many balls, but ultimately I made bad decisions.
I’m not saying all of this to be a whiner – but to the contrary to eat a little humble pie. Even though I came into this endevour with little athletic background, things were going fairly smoothly and I got overconfident and cocky. Not over the top where I had unrealistic goals of qualifying for Boston but still cocky for even my meager performance. In the long run, I needed these challenges/difficulties to slap me across the face and refocus even in this last week. As I told Julie, I don’t want this race to be a one time deal (aka a bucket list) but a change in lifestyle to continue to run other races and improve on my time.
Come on, I only have to run a 3:20 to qualify for Boston – shouldn’t I be trying?
I realized that I neglected to write the companion post to Julie’s post on “Random Thoughts on Running 26.2 miles and long runs in general”. I did the training run on June 19th so it’s not that old Here’s my take..
1. Running for 6 hours gets real boring – no matter how many things I listened to on the IPOD…it’s still a long time to be doing anything physical. I thought about calling people on the phone to pass the time!
2. Never stop experimenting on your training runs. I thought I had my nutrition and gear dialed in but I decided to change things up a bit. I switched to Gatorade G2 instead of water with electrolyte fizzs and it seemed to help with hydration. For some unknown reason, I had avoided Gatorade during my training but now kicked myself. I also bought some higher quality padded socks and my feet were thanking me.
3. It sucks when your knee completely locks up I was doing great up to mile 21 and then my right knee goes stiff and I can’t bend it. I wasn’t going to give up and I drug it for another hour (2.5 miles) before it loosened and I could complete the distance.
4. Indiana has way TOO Many cornfields. We tend to run in the country east of I-65 (areas of Needham, Greenwood, Whiteland)…light traffic, flat roads but still the scenery isn’t too exciting.
5. Advil is my friend – especially when #3 happens. I won’t mention how many Advil I took during the run. There are a lot of articles that are against ibuprofen when running but when knees lock up, it helps.
6. Don’t start a full marathon at 3 pm! I was up and ready to go at 9 am on Sunday but it rained until mid afternoon. Unfortunately, it meant finishing at 9 pm and then having to get up and go to work the next day. I got a few laughs as I hobbled around the office on Monday :-p
7. Being rested makes a big difference in how you run. The one benefit of the rain on Sunday and getting a late start meant that I was able to get some extra sleep and take it easy prior to heading out. This made an immense impact on how I felt compared when I do runs late at night after working a full day. It’s a reminder that I need to get enough sleep the night before the Mad Marathon.
8. I love my Mueller Sports braces. I wore knee braces on both knees (a simple single strap and the full double strap with side supports) and it helped with the knee pain (well, until #3). They are pretty basic – a piece of hard rubber inside some neoprene to keep your knee tracking correctly. Best $25 I spent! I haven’t decided if I am going to start out the Mad Marathon wearing them but they will be in my pocket just in case.
9. I love Jeff Galloway…ok, not in a wierd way but I am so thankful for his methods and how they allowed a non-athlete to come so far so quickly. He is the MAN in my book!
10. I DID IT! I completed 26.2 miles…It wasn’t the fastest especially with the knee locking up but I completed the distance. I thought when I road the Hilly Hundred Bike ride or hiked the Paria Canyon (both in ’04), I had pushed my physical limits – but this was the next level!
Over the past few days, the reality that we are running a marathon in less than a week has been settling in. I know it may sound stupid – we’ve known for months that we are going to do this race in July but it always seemed out there in the future. Well, the future has arrived.
We arrived in Waitsfield, Vermont today to give us a few days before the race. As we drove on some of the roads that we will be running on during the Sunday race, there were doubts in each of our minds…Are we ready? How steep was that hill? Will my knee hold out? Are we CRAZY?
As we were driving here, Julie and I were laughing about the things that have happened since the beginning of the year. At the time, there was one thing on our mind – the birth of Landon but then how things have changed. I decided to lose weight, thought I could accelerate that by running, decided to run a 5K, scratch that a 1/2 marathon, scratch that a full marathon….then decide to travel to Vermont for the first annual Mad Marathon, decide to write a blog about our journey, where does it end?
When we left Waitsfield last summer, we were all a little sad to leave the idyllic SLOW life of Central Vermont – how we longed for a little bit of that slowness in our chaotic lives. We hoped that we could come back some time in a few years – how things have changed! But that has added to the excitement for us – the nervous thoughts of the race mixed with the joy of being back in a place we love.
So we hope to relax over the next few days (before and after the race) and get in a couple of last slow short runs. Take time to rest – time to play with the boys, Julie to catch up on her knitting, me on my guitar. We are looking forward to eating at two of our favorites restaurants – Warren General Store and American Flatbread Pizza. And last but not least meeting the other Mad Marathoner’s – Dori, the organizer (Julie calls her my BFF!) and the others that we have met through the blog, Facebook, etc…
And most importantly, savor where we have come in the past 6 months and remember why we picked this place to run our first marathon…
1. It’s amazing how I can drink water non-stop on a really long run and still manage to lose 5 pounds of weight by the end.
2. Running by fast food restaurants is brutal when you’re tired and hungry, but running by dairy farms when you’re at mile 22 is the worst ever. It makes you want to puke up everything that you don’t have in your stomach.
3. Running long distances can bring amazing amounts of clarity and critical thinking, but it can also bring incredible brain fogs. Yesterday in the first 14 miles of my run I had huge “aha” moments by listening to interviews with Dallas Willard, but by the end of the run all I could think about was counting my steps (1,1-2,2- 3,3, and so on nonstop) and silently cussing at Mike in my head for roping me into training for a marathon.
4. For the first 10 miles, energy gels work fine. After that, the idea of any brand of them makes me want to heave. By mile 20, I don’t want a sugary gel….I want to pull a hot dog or slice of pizza out of my fuel belt. I haven’t yet figured out how to package them for the upcoming marathon in Vermont.
5. To my coach in high school who very strongly implied that I didn’t run properly and wasn’t really worth the effort, may I say with all due respect that high school is not the world, and never say never. I may not be a good runner, or a fast runner, or a runner with fine form, but darn it, I am a runner and I’ve got the miles to prove it.
6. While waiting on the sides of back country roads in your van keeping an eye on your spouse who is running, Angry Birds is a great way to pass the time and drown out the continuous Thomas the Train music and dialogue that is coming through the car speakers.
7. Why is it that when you’re out running, lots of people in their cars and big trucks wait until they get close and drive as fast as possible around you, while revving their engines? Seriously, do they think that’s cool? Anybody with a foot can push an accelerator, not everybody is willing to get out and put some miles on the road. I prefer to pay homage to the runners and cyclists I pass VERY SLOWLY on the roads.
8. Completing 26.2 miles is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done (and I used to think biking 50 miles was tough), and at the end of it I thought I could easily give up running, but who would have thought, the next day running seemed like a good idea if I hadn’t been so sore. It’s funny how pain, sweat, and blisters can be so addicting.
9. I now know that I can exercise for 7 hours a day and not die.
10. Even though I’m the tiniest bit chagrined, I’m still thrilled and super proud of how Mike is whooping my butt at this whole running thing…let’s just say that in the 26.2 mile training run, he SMOKED me. I’m hoping I can just keep up with him during the actual marathon.