Days 252-253: Oh, That's Why I Was So Fast

I have 90 Virtual Running Buddies! I hope you all are finding something useful in this here blog. I never dreamed I’d have “followers” when I originally started Mom vs. Marathon. I just wanted a new adventure to write about! I just wanted to follow through with something for once and I thought blogging about running toward my marathon dream would help. And it definitely has. I hope I’ve helped some of you, too. Thank you for reading and for the support!

DAY 252
Sunday. Rest. An adorable little boy’s 4th birthday party. Friends. Food. Fun.

DAY 253
Facebook status update on Monday morning: “I’m really glad I’m not out running right now.” 

I wrote that while sheets of small ice pellets came down from the sky. The hail was so thick, you couldn’t  see through it. I thought about Amanda (5 Miles 2 Empty) because we’d just been talking online about when she was going to be able to get out for her long run. I hoped she hadn’t left yet.

I only had a 3-miler and hills scheduled. Because I failed to get up early, the hills were nixed since I’d be pushing the BOB. Not that I couldn’t do hills with the jogging stroller. I just didn’t want to, okay?

I put T Junior down for a nap, then changed into my running clothes so I could not back out of my workout. I did some chores in my sapphire Mercer Island Half Marathon shirt and gray capris while my son slept and slept.

Me: Excited to be done with a windy run. T Junior: Why are we out here again?
When he woke up, I loaded the stroller in the minivan, along with the rain cover and other things I need for running with T Junior, including water, snacks, the Discman and a CD (important). I also brought a huge sweatshirt that covers my rearend so I could throw it on for our trip to the grocery store afterward.
We drove to the paved Cedar River Trail because I didn’t feel like running on gravel because it can hurt my feet. When I got out of the van, I discovered it was colder outside than I expected because of the wind. At least I dressed my son warmly and thought to bring my gloves for both of us. At least it wasn’t raining or hailing.
On my first 1.5 miles, I ran north-west on the trail. It was easy. Wow, I’m getting faster with the BOB, I thought when I looked at AJ II and saw a 9:45 pace. I was happy to be running to 1950s-era Disney music. I was happy to be running. Then I turned around.
Severe and gusty winds slammed the front of the rain-covered BOB and my face. Ooooooh, so that’s why I was so fast. (Insert SNL’s funny wah-wah-wah Debbie Downer music here.) The second 1.5 miles was me pushing a giant brick on wheels versus the wind. T Junior kept yelling, “Hut Two Four Two!” (what he calls the song Colonel Haithi’s March) and I just pretended I couldn’t hear him. 
I only have two hands and they were both busy. If I had to stop to hit back on the Discman so my son could listen to the same song over and over again, this run would be all over. Finally, it was over. After a quick picture, I loaded the kiddo back into the van so we could go to Safeway for groceries. 
I slid on my huge sweatshirt and was happy I brought it because it covered some very unfortunate sweat marks on my pants. Gray capris, I love you. You are very comfortable, but you are embarrassing me. Your days are numbered. Black capris, you just got a promotion.
One more adventurous day of running in the books!
3/29/10 – 3 Miles – 31:00
10:24 Average Pace
(NOTE: Exact Garmin stats are not with me right now, I will update this tonight.)
COMING UP:
  • A dark and stormy 7-miler at night
  • These vitamins are making me sick!
  • Friday weigh-in results

Day 251: The Sketchy-Dude Motivator

Cedar River

Friday night I thought about skipping my Saturday morning 9-miler. Due to what I think is allergies, I had a scratchy throat and some post-nasal something-or-other. So I put out the call on Facebook for running buddies.

Mel had already invited several of us to her running group, but I needed to get my run finished earlier and with the drive and the start-time being later it didn’t work out. But no takers on Facebook either, which meant I’d be on my own.

Instead, I took the thoughts about skipping my long run and twisted them around.

Mr. T and I had a date night planned for Saturday night. Dinner at Maggiano’s and then the KHPB concert. The restaurant has this awesome dish called Rigatoni “D,” and I really wanted to be able to order it. So the run was on. All just so I could eat and drink what I wanted 11 hours later. (I was sad at dinner when I got full faster than I thought I would.) The second thing I did was pretend I felt great.

And, yeah, I felt (and looked) less than stellar when I crawled out of bed at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, but a couple miles into my run, I felt just fine.

I did another out and back x2 on the Cedar River Trail. I went 2.5 miles out (slightly downhill) and 2.5 back (slightly uphill) to the car to drink and GU, then out 2 and back 2 for a total of 9. It was nice not to wear my fuel belt. But I wished I had a buddy.

I was almost back at the car on my first out-and-back when I passed a sketchy dude, strolling along the trail, wearing a grungy backpack and leisurely smoking a cigarette. He was probably harmless, but he did seem to be out of place. I made sure to look him in the face and say “hello” so he knew that I see you; I could describe you to a sketch artist or pick you out in a lineup. He said a genuine, “Good morning.”

Oh man. I’m such a jerk.

There was a whole bunch of runners and bikers just beyond him, and I was jealous that they weren’t running alone. Back at the car, I drank, GU’d and put on some more Burt’s Bees. Then I was off for another out and back.

At about a mile, I saw the sketchy dude up ahead. I kept hoping some other people would approach from the other direction. But no. As I got closer I knew I’d be passing him alone. I was conflicted. I considered turning around and doing a mile out-and-back twice to get to nine miles, but that just seemed a little obvious. I considered simply turning around and going home. I knew I’d regret that. Besides, the dude is probably perfectly harmless.

Instead, I took out my phone out of my shirt pocket and held it. As I approached the man, I opened it up and and pretended to text. I know, lame, but I felt it was better than nothing. I glanced at my watch and an 8:23 pace surprised me. “Good morning again,” I called out as I hauled a$$ and fake texted Mr. T.

Obviously, I can’t hold an 8:23 pace very long, but that mile ended up being a 9:33 average pace. Dude! If only race organizers could strategically place sketchy looking dudes along the race route.

3/27/10 – 9.08 Miles – 1:33:13
Average pace: 10:15
Mile 1: 10:25
Mile 2: 10:22
Mile 3: 10:42
Mile 4: 11:04
Mile 5: 10:17
Mile 6: 10:12
Mile 7: 9:33 (passing the sketchy dude)
Mile 8: 10:04
Mile 9: 9:46 (parking lot in sight)

Spitting Like a Man and Other Things I Tried this Week

I was Kate Winslet on Tuesday night’s 6-miler.

Not Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind-Kate. Titanic-Kate.

I had this really icky phlegm coating my tongue. It was distracting. So I spit. I’ve never done that before. I’ve always been too scared I’ll screw it up and I’ll just have saliva dripping down the front of my shirt. I mean, it’s already gross enough to be spitting, but to have it hanging from my lower lip would just be humiliating. Never mind it was dark.

But I couldn’t stand it. The phlegm was slowing me down. I thought of Kate Winslet in that scene in Titanic when Leo DiCaprio teaches her to hawk a loogie. I sort of sucked it into a liquid ball on the tip of my tongue, then blew it out into the grass along the sidewalk.

Spee-it lack ah man! I celebrated in my head.

Okay, so it was a girlie version of how a man spits, but I did it! And I felt so much better afterward.

***

I tried Zico Pure Coconut Water this week. I saw something on TV that said it is supposed to be really good for you. Good hydration, all-natural and all that.

I just grabbed the non-flavored carton off the shelf at the grocery store, completely missing the fact that there are flavored options available.

At home, I showed it to Mr. T and he smelled it first. Then I took a sip. “Not bad. Tastes like unsweetened coconut.”

Mr. T tried it. “Tastes like sour milk.”

“No it doesn’t.” I grabbed it out of his hand. But then all I could taste was spoiled dairy. Argh. I chugged it anyway. It was refreshing once I got it all down, but next time I’ll get mango flavor.

***

I’m going on a date with Mr. T and I have been wanting to get a dress. So me and T Junior went shopping today. A little high from my 2-pound weight loss, I tried on a size Medium dress.

Booyah! Totally fit. And it was a cute dress. And it was on sale.

Everything was going so well, then T Junior ran face-first into the wall in the dressing room, splitting the inside of his upper lip. I dropped to the commercial-carpet floor and cradled my sobbing child in the dress. I saw what he did, but still don’t understand how he did it. He was playing with his dinosaur (a dragon from his Happy Meal at lunch) and he just ran straight into the wall. It was so weird.

Luckily, the cut must’ve not been that bad. There wasn’t too much blood, which is good because all I had in my purse was a package of Wet Ones.

And I got the dress, plus a cute little cardigan cover-up…in a Medium. Yay!

Days 248-250: Ten Seconds

DAY 248
Continued from Day 247: Last Year, This Month
Wednesday morning, the news blared on Mr. T’s ancient radio alarm clock warning me that it was time to get up. It only took one step.

My back pain had returned. I took small, tight steps to the bathroom. A shower, two Ibuprofin and one 25-minute commute later, I was in my desk chair trying to adjust my body in a way that would make sitting less painful.

I made the mistake of not bringing my gym bag on Wedneday and, therefore, sat at my desk at lunch, writing. It was sunny and warm outside – I felt it through the window. I resolved to run after work, even if it meant pushing T Junior in the BOB.

By the end of the work day, my back (or more like my left butt cheek) still hurt. From past experience, I knew running wouldn’t make the pain any worse, so I was still set on going for my 3-miler (a day earlier, actually, because Thursday’s forecast was dreary and I wanted to enjoy the sunshine).

I’m never as fast at getting ready to run as I am in my mind. I thought I would just go home, throw on my running gear and head out the door. But really, it’s not that simple. The first problem was getting T Junior to go in the house so I could, in fact, change my clothes.

On the 60-second drive from day care to our house, I told him we were going to get some exercise and go running. I parked the minivan in the driveway and removed him from his seat, setting him down on the concrete to let him walk inside on his own.

“Exercise,” he whined and stopped walking.

I was already halfway into the garage, my arms full with my luggage-size purse, his lunch box, my lunch bag, coffee mug, water bottle, the mail. “T Junior, come on. Mommy has to change her clothes first.”

“Owssiii-iide. Ex-er-ciii-iise.” More whining.

We battled for a minute. I don’t remember what I said that got him to come inside. Probably something about toys.

Once in the house, there was the whole routine and then finally I changed into my running clothes, although I had to run up and down the stairs three times to assemble a complete ensemble: pink plaid running skirt and white short-sleeved Champion shirt. Finding two socks was the real problem.

Earlier in the day, I fantasized about running with T Junior and the dogs. The weather was so beautiful, I wanted our boxers to enjoy it, too.

T Junior, Annie and Lucy

After I got T Junior all set up in the jogging stroller, I found the split lead, and hooked Lucy and Annie together. This was difficult as they were bouncing up and down and punching each other in their upturned noses. I hooked up the leash and we went out the door to join T Junior. I was excited to take all three of them out for a run. This is gonna be great. I decided we would walk to the trail and then start our run on a nice, easy straightaway.

Then we left the garage.

Crossing the street, Annie was her usual self trying to pull me, Lucy and the stroller in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. Lucy didn’t know whose lead to follow so she was being yanked left and right and forward and back, but was mostly trying to stay away from the wheel of the BOB. And it was windy. My skirt was going all Marilyn Monroe on me.

A woman with two older kids eating snacks in a double jogger got to the corner just before the entry to the trail at the same time as we did. She had on black capri sweats and a track jacket. I smiled and told her to go in front of my crazy crew. “I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea.”

I waited for her to disappear down the hill to the trail, then hit start on my watch. Anyone want to guess how much time passed before I took the dogs home? Anyone?

Ten seconds.

We didn’t even make it onto the trail.

But it was a good thing I took them home. I had a tough run. My back was stiff, my legs were sore and the gusts were strong. Running with the BOB was like pushing a sailboat head-on into the wind.

I made one loop on the smooth sidewalks through the center of town, but unfortunately I was fighting the breeze, my skirt filling with air and lifting up. Lovely. I was glad I had the stroller in front of me for that reason alone.

I finished up the 3-miler on the trail, passing the woman with the double jogger on my way out. She grinned and I yelled, “Yeah, that only lasted 10 seconds!”

The run was hard, but as always, I was glad that I got out there and did it. And my back didn’t feel worse, as I suspected.

I let T Junior run the rest of the way home.

DAY 249
Thursday morning, I woke up with no back pain! I felt tiny twinges throughout the day, but that was it.

I should’ve worn my Garmin at work Thursday because I was working on a project that had me running from my office to the Mac in the art department to the printer on the other side of the floor all day. It was nice to be up and out of my chair, walking around!

Since I switched Wednesday’s workout for Thursday’s, I had to do cross training after work. It was dumping rain outside, so walking with T Junior in the BOB was out.

I pulled up a Self workout on Netflix, and T Junior did some of it with me. I should’ve grabbed the video camera for his version of “dumping dacks!” Hilarious!

I took it easy on the jumping moves because of my back, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad. The hard part was working out around wrestling dogs and 22-month-old tantrums.

The pictures (see them here) from the half marathon came in Thursday and they are not great. There’s one good one of me and Zoë at the start, but the other two look like they were taken on a hill! I look like I’m dying! And no finish pictures, which makes me sad.

DAY 250
Good news. I lost 2 pounds! This week, I’ve been paying attention to my food and it paid off!

You know what I realized? I was eating the same amount of food each day, as if I had a long run every day of the week. Duh!

This article by RunnerDude really helped me figure out how much I should be eating. I was a little hungry yesterday just before lunch and after work, but I drank more water and that helped. I think my body will need to get used to the smaller amount of calories on the days that I don’t have a run. There was an adjustment period when I started Weight Watchers, too, so I know it will get easier.

Today is a rest day, and I want to enter a couple of races in May, but I just realized they are back-to-back and right before my marathon. I may have to pick one. I hate choosing!

Day 247: Last Year, This Month

I hurt myself a year ago. Well, it might’ve been before that and I just didn’t know it.

Sometime in my life, somehow, I injured my back. I herniated a disc. The lowest one. And last year, this month, it returned with a vengeance.

The strange thing is, I remember the very first time I felt the shooting pain starting just above the left side of my rearend and spiking down my leg and into my toes. I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom of the studio apartment me and my boyfriend (aka Mr. T) shared. He stood next to me, toothbrush in hand.

I leaned forward and spit paste into the sink. “Ouch. What is that?” I stood up, rubbing my bum. “I guess I pulled a muscle.” I played on an indoor soccer team at the time, but I was out of shape. Out of college for less than a year and working long days in a newsroom, eating poorly and sitting a lot. So, I very well could have injured the disc playing soccer then.

Or, as my chiropractor would later tell me, it could have been when I was extremely active in high school sports. When I was running a cross country race and then playing a full soccer game in one day.

And, it didn’t help that I put stress on it in December 2007. I was about 5 months pregnant and decorating the Christmas tree. Bending over and leaning to reach the low, far branches. The next day, I bent down for any number of reasons and a lightning bolt of pain zapped my lower back, down my left leg andinto my foot.

It hurt to stand, sit, walk, lay down. If I bent over, I couldn’t get back to a full and upright position. Sometimes, I walked hunched over. Sometimes, I gritted my teeth and forced myself through a brief moment of excruciating pain so that I could be upright. One night, I simply rolled out of bed and landed on my hands and knees to crawl to the bathroom. I pushed myself to a stand using the side of our soaking tub.

But it gradually got better and better. Then, I had T Junior and forgot about it. A quiet pain hovered in my lower back and leg, but I had other things to deal with.

In March 2009, I was picking up my 10-month-old son when the pain stabbed me and shot down my leg into my toes…again. This time, it never went away. I hobbled around in constant discomfort. I was cranky, sad and probably a little depressed. I was also overweight and sedentary.

March 2009

Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore and put out a call for help on my mom blog (here) and Facebook in May. A chiropractor (or several, actually) were suggested and I made an appointment with one. I learned a lot of things: stretches, icing and what the maximum amount of Ibuprofin was that I could take. But I was also told to move. You know, off the couch.

But it hurts too much, I told myself and left it at that.

Then, in early June, the pain worsened. I cried about it a lot. The chiropractor ordered an MRI and then he told me surgery might be the best option.

I limped into the surgeon’s office with T Junior in front of me in an umbrella stroller. The doctor talked in a hushed voice. I could barely hear him over the plastic container filled with Cheeries being shaken by my child. I made out about every other word. Essentially, he told me that surgery would be the absolute last option and that the disc might, in fact, heal itself if I could be patient.

First, a cortisone shot. Oh, the happy day I got that needle in my a$$ cheek! I felt great! I could move again. But I knew the novocaine would wear off and then I would truly find out if the cortisone worked, which it didn’t.

Or did it? Because a couple weeks after I got the shot, I felt good enough to take T Junior for a walk around the neighborhood in his red plastic car. I favored my right leg in my flip-flops, but I went. And then we went the next day. And, guess what?

My chiropractor was right, of course. I needed to move! After a few days of walking, I wondered about running. Could I? Would it hurt?

In July, I jogged a few feet in my rubber flip flops as I pushed my son in his car. Hey! That wasn’t bad! That didn’t hurt much at all! I only felt the same dull pain I already had.

The next day, I pulled a dingy pair of white-and-pink New Balances out of a dark corner in my closet. I don’t remember when or why I bought them, but it wasn’t for running. I decided they would have to work. I strapped T Junior in the jogging stroller and we went down to the dirt trail by my house.

I alternated walking and running for as long as I could: 20 minutes. Twenty minutes!

Sweaty and proud, I came home, put my son down for his nap and started this blog, which has had such a positive impact on my life. My original goal was to run a half marathon by next summer — the summer of 2010. How could I have known I would have finished two by then and be all signed up for a full marathon in June 2010?!

With exercise, the pain got quieter and quieter until it was basically gone early last fall.

On Sunday, at the Mercer Island Half, I let gravity pull me down an intense hill. I got a little out of control, to be perfectly honest, and had to yell ahead to warn runners I was going to pass them. It was a bad idea.

At the bottom of the hill, Zoë said something about how I was hauling. But I wasn’t proud of myself because I could feel something shocking me in my lower back. I knew I hurt myself again.

Tuesday night, I went for a 6-miler. My body seemed relaxed during the run, but when I stopped, I could feel it stabbing me. At home, I iced my back and my right shin, which has been tight for a couple of weeks. I went to bed and expected any back pain to be gone in the morning.

to be continued…

3/23/10 – 6.06 Miles – 1:05:18
Average pace: 10:46
Mile 1: 10:15
Mile 2: 10:42
Mile 3: 10:38
Mile 4: 10:49
Mile 5: 11:13
Mile 6: 11:00

Day 248: Post-Half Fun and Observations

Amanda and Zoë – blurry, sorry

Jill and Mel – in focus!
Zoë and me – blurry again

Immediately following the Mercer Island Half Marathon (recap here) Sunday, a bunch of us local bloggy runners assembled at a nearby Red Robin to celebrate Amanda’s birthday. Besides the smell of sweat wafting from our table, you would never have known we all just completed a half marathon. We were some loud and happy bloggers!

Seriously, we are a boisterous bunch – Amanda (aka PR Princess) and her friend Jessica, Mel, Zoë, Jill, me and Amanda’s adorable Little Buddy who just took everything in stride (no pun intended). At one point, I told Jill my face hurt from laughing so hard. Never mind the sore muscles from running 13.1 miles!

And, we all had eyes that were bigger than our stomachs. Zoë and I were the first to arrive, so I ordered waters for the table and fries to get us started. Then, Jill and I got the most amazing restaurant chain hot chocolate I’ve ever had. It had a perfectly shaped hat of whipped cream that was dotted with chocolate sprinkles. The topping oozed down the side of the beige mug and I caught it with my finger. Yum! It was the fatty fat whipped cream – no fake stuff here! Oh, and the hot chocolate was good, too.

I ordered a huge burger and only managed to eat half of it. I didn’t even finish all my fries! I couldn’t believe it. After being so hungry toward the finish of the race, here I was with all this food and I couldn’t eat it. Mr. T was happy for the leftovers, though.

Amanda’s Little Buddy completely outfitted his mama in perfect PR Princess style!

And her friend, Jessica, made her an amazing cake that rivals any Martha Stewart creation I’ve ever seen. It was pretty and delicious!

Mercer Island Half Marathon Observations
The following didn’t fit into my recap:

1. We ran all the way around an island, but I could never tell what direction we were headed. When Zoë pointed out the Seattle skyline, I couldn’t believe we were already back on that side of the island. I guess that would be the west side.

2. The race course was beautiful. No stinky freeway tunnels like the Seattle Half or underpasses or on-ramps. The Mercer Island course wound along the side of a hill most of the time, which made for amazing views of Lake Washington. Evergreens and spring’s budding trees towered over the road alongside million-dollar homes. The downside of running on a street cut into the side of a hill is that the road was not entirely flat. Much of the time I was running with one foot slightly uphill from the other.

3. The weather ended up being perfect. Overcast and cool with only some misty rain at the very beginning. I still got hot in my running sleeves and I eventually peeled them back to ¾-length.

4. Zoë and I hammed it up for the first race photog we saw on Sunday, flashing cheesy grins and peace signs. I hope the pictures turn out! I’ve yet to order race pics because a) I’m not usually in very many, and b) the ones I’m in typically show more of some other person than me. This time, I tried to smile big and make myself visible for the photogs that I noticed. I also tried to do something good for the finish line, although I never actually saw the finish photographer. So we will see.

5. I really, really liked running with someone. It definitely helped me with the mental aspect of the race. I was less stressed and had more fun. I didn’t get angry or annoyed like I did during and after the Seattle Half. When people stopped in front of me, I simply went around them. The only thing that irked me was the hula-hooping woman who almost tagged me with her swinging circle as I sped to the finish line. Jill said she was nearly taken out by TWO hula-hooping women. Can someone clue me in to the hula-hoops? What gives?

6. I’m not very sore from Sunday’s race. After the Seattle Half in November, I could barely walk. Going up and down stairs was torture. True, I was stiff immediately after the race on Sunday afternoon, but by the evening, I felt pretty great. Monday, I was a little tired, but running actually sounded pleasing. I didn’t go because I thought I didn’t have to, but I should’ve looked at my training plan because I did have a short run scheduled and strength training. Oops!

7. Despite completely covering my toes in BodyGlide, I still managed to bring home blisters. Mel is always saying that I shouldn’t get blisters, but I don’t know how to avoid them. Well, I do know that I should try some different socks before I completely give up on blister-avoidance techniques. Really, though, I think it’s because my toes overlap. Therefore, they rub. Always have. So far, they’ve never been bad enough to bleed, but I imagine they might during a full marathon and that scares me a little.

8. Going to Costco Sunday after the race turned out to be a really good thing. They were having a demonstration of some leg and foot massage machines, and I tried one out. Wow! My feet felt amazing afterward. I tried to convince Mr. T that we should spend $350 on one (and that we should buy a spa), but he just laughed. What? (By the way, I never got that nap T Junior offered me.)

9. I need to lose weight. I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but I’ve been posting my weigh-ins every Friday in the sidebar of this blog. I’ve only lost 7 pounds (because I gained some last week while my sister was visiting), since I started running in July 2009. Luckily, I lost 8 or so before that through Weight Watchers Online. But I quit WWO when I started running seriously because I thought the pounds would simply melt off my body. That’s not happening. I definitely look and feel better than I did a year ago and I have lost inches, but I’m about 25 pound
s from where I want to be. I need to get serious. I’d like to lose at least 10 before my marathon in June. The less I have to carry around, the better. I especially noticed the extra weight in looking at those group photos that were taken after the race on Sunday. All those skinny, fit girls (and guy), then me. I don’t think I look horrible; I’m just not where I want to be. I’ll be doing some calorie calculations and really figuring out how much I should be eating for training and weight loss. I know that can be tricky and I definitely want to be safe.

10. I had another drenching night-sweat episode in the early morning hours on Monday. It’s so annoying! I changed clothes and settled in on the couch because there was no way I was getting back into my soaked sheets. The drenched t-shirt, which I simply threw on the floor of my room in the dark, was still very wet when I put it in the laundry last night. Ew! (I’m definitely not pregnant, so don’t get any ideas.) Monday night, though, I though of something. I asked Mr. T to take the heavy comforter off of me before he went to sleep (he usually falls asleep a while after me), so I just had the sheet and one other blanket on me. That helped! I woke up around 1 a.m., my heart racing after a strange and scary dream. My shirt was damp, but not drenched, so I changed my PJs. The sheets were not wet, and I was able to crawl back in and toss and turn, and try to forget the nightmare. Maybe it’s not my hormonies after all.

11. Running makes me feel young again, and it makes me feel better about myself. I’m in my early 30s, and I know I’m not old, but I’m past the age of hanging out with girlfriends until the wee hours of the morning. When I’m racing with friends and even running by myself, I forget for a little while that I’m a wife, mom and a responsible (sometimes) adult. It’s a nice release. It recharges my human being batteries and makes me a better person.

Day 247: Mercer Island Half Marathon Recap – A PR!

 
Fun post-race pic with other bloggy runners!

Despite my outward ho-hum attitude about acheiving a PR at the Mercer Island Half Marathon, I did really want to get it. In fact, I expected to get it. I felt there was no way I should not get it even though I continuously doubted myself — even during the final 5k of the race on Sunday.

Although I was carrying around this expectation, I wasn’t nervous before the race. For me, racing is really the fun payoff to training. I’m not trying to win anything, just hoping to prove to myself that I can do it. So, while I get nervous about parking and the logistics of the event, I’m not anxious about the running part (well, not anymore).

But I haven’t been feeling good. I didn’t sleep well two nights before the race — drenching night sweats, tossing and turning on the couch — or the night before — less extreme night sweating, but still had to change my jammies and try to fall back asleep.

The morning of the half, I popped out of bed, showered, then came downstairs to get dressed. I made a short list the night before of items I needed to remember and was glad I had it because I almost forgot a change of socks for Amanda’s birthday lunch post-race.

My stomach was uneasy, like it’s been off and on for about a week. Maybe I’m sharing too much here, but I was having…”girl” issues. But these “girl” issues were abnormal. In fact, I thought I might be pregnant (I am NOT).

Poor Zoë (Run, Zoë, Run) had to listen to me describe my “issues” just after 7 a.m. as we drove to the race in Mr. T’s black Malibu (aka The ‘Bu). In retrospect, that’s a little early for all that info, but she’s too nice to say anything.

We got on the island with absolutely no problems. No traffic back ups, no parking issues. We found a spot in the second-closest parking area (the first one was full), but this one was under cover and only a few blocks away from the community center where the race would begin and end. It wasn’t even 8 a.m. yet and the race wasn’t starting till 9. We took our time getting ready in the car.

Outside, it was about 50 degrees and looking like rain, so we debated what to wear, etc. I realized I forgot my fuel belt, which I hadn’t planned on wearing, but was going to bring with me just in case. I decided on my short-sleeve Walmart running shirt and my black running sleeves to match my black running capris. Zoë, of course, was in a tank top. Crazy girl!

“Well, if you’re in a tank top, then I’ll be perfect in short sleeves,” I told her from the driver seat. “I figure one step up from what you’re wearing, is just about right.”

We got to the start area around 8:00 (although, we sort of had to guess what time it was, since we kept looking at our Garmins, which don’t show the time and weren’t even on at that point). I immediately got in the Honey Bucket line, which was only about 6-people deep. Zoë shivered off to the side. When I met up with her again, it was decided I needed to go back to the car (read: “girl” issues). She was glad to because she wanted to sit in there and get warm for a bit before returning to the community center. “Great idea!”

On the way back, we passed a man walking the cutest brindle boxer puppy with floppy ears, and I couldn’t resist squealing “a boxer” then sticking my hand down for a lick. (Read about my boxer encounter at the Seattle Half. I’m 2/2 in boxer sightings at half marathons. I think AJ really is running with me!)

We chatted in The ‘Bu for a while. But then I started to get nervous at about 8:25 because I knew I had to get back in the Honey Bucket line and was worried the lines would be really long now. “At 8:30 we’ll go back up,” I said.

So we hustled back up to the community center at 8:30. It wasn’t too cold till the wind picked up. As I suspected, the lines for the potties were very long. I sent Zoë to get warm in the tent that was set up for post-race food and water, and I went to the farthest line, which I hoped would be the shortest. That’s when I ran into Mel (Tall Mom’s recap) and Jill (Running to Sanity), so I texted Zoë to come find us.

Honey Bucket line photo opp! Me, Mel, Zoë and Jill laughing at us in the background!

The line was slow. At 8:53, I still had four or five people in front of me! Mel and Jill left to get to the starting line. I told Zoë to go to, but she wouldn’t. She asked me more than a week ago if she could run with me since her foot has been bothering her and she needed to take it easy. She was going to run with me no matter what, she said. Even if we missed the start while I was in the potty! What a friend!

Finally, I got in and outta there, and we hustled to the starting area. Over the loud speaker we heard, “One minute!” We had to run down a steep hill of loose, soft beauty bark, then jump off a small cliff to get in line!

Other people following in our footsteps.

The crowd was thick and hot. Luckily, we were in there for only about a minute before it was time to run.

Zoë and I before the start. I wore my Lift Your Sole necklace with my “marathon mom” and “13.1” charms. I tucked the charms in my sports bra’s strap once we started running.

Once we crossed the blue mat, I hit start on AJ II and we were off. I felt good. My tummy issues went away. Zoë and I ran with our music plugged into our ears, but we pointed things out to each other along the way: cute dogs, a strange thin house that seemed to defy gravity on a hill, the Seattle skyline, beautiful Lake Washington, even the banana-carrying dude we gave a ride to during the Million Inch Run (who was wearing those gray tights again, by the way).

The first half of the race s
eemed to fly by on quiet rolling hills and curvy roads with a beautiful Northwest canopy. We were running at a great faster pace, and having a good time. I got a little out of control on one downhill, though, which scared me a little. I let gravity take over and I was a freight train with no brakes. “On your left! On your right!” I warned other runners.

We took GUs around Mile 6, I think, and I got water at all the stops except the first one. The water stops weren’t too chaotic, which I appreciated after the Seattle Half. The volunteers along this course were amazing. One man yelled, “God bless your day!” or something like that. And people came out of their million-dollar homes to cheer us on.

One of my favorite spectators was a girl, probably 6, standing in her feetie PJs behind the enormous picture window on the front of her house, which was perched on a hill above the road. She stood with her arms at her side just watching the runners pass by the end of her driveway. I pointed her out to Zoë and we waved up the hill. She continued to stand there in a morning daze.

Zoë was an amazing coach! She kept telling me the splits and then counting down the miles. She urged me on, she held me up emotionally. Just having a friend next to me was a spirit-lifter. At the half-way point she told me I was going to get an amazing PR. “Hope so,” I puffed.

We found Jill around Mile 10, I think, and we all three ran together for a while (until we lost each other at a water stop). I was struggling, though, so I didn’t say much. Zoë encouraged me. “It’s just 3 miles; you can push the BOB that far!”

I laughed. “True.”

The second half of the course was much more difficult than the first. Mile 11 had a hill that kept on going. Around every turn, I thought that would be the end of it, but no! It seemed we would never go downhill again. Zoë reminded me several time not to look up and to just get mad at it, but I ended up walking a little of it. “I think I can walk faster than I can run,” I whispered. Runners passed me in clumps. Then Zoë said, “Let’s run to that big bush up there,” and I did, and we kept on running after that.

I continued struggling after that hill till I realized that my music had stopped! No wonder. I had no beats to run to! I immediately felt better after I started up my Zune again.

Finally, we turned off the roads onto a sidewalk and I felt we were getting close. Less than a mile to go! My stomach growled. “I’m so hungry,” I squeaked.

“There’s food and water at the finish line,” Zoë said. I guess it was around then that some dude in a green shirt got all pushy with us because the route had narrowed. I didn’t remember being in his way, but Zoë told me about him. As we started up the final hill, she wanted to pay him back for his rude comments. I told her to go ahead and she took off. She’s so fast! You’ll have to check out her race recap later to see if she “chicked him” or not.

After that last uphill, the finish was on a downhill. A woman was hula-hooping next to me (what the heck?) and almost took me out, but I managed to skirt her and smile for the camera at the same time, even though I know he was aiming for her, trying to capture her weirdness.

I crossed the finish line with my arms raised in victory, which is what I wanted for my first half, but was so grumpy that I didn’t do it. This time I was truly happy. And I remembered to not push stop on my Garmin right away so that I would have a good (hopefully) finish picture.

AJ II read 2:14:07. About an 11-minute PR. I smiled.

Mel and Zoë found me immediately, and Mel (God bless her!) had stored a bunch of waters in her backpack so we wouldn’t have to stand around to get them. I recieved hugs and high-fives, of course, from my buddies. Then Jill was there, too. And we all swapped “war” stories. Jill’s mom and her friend found us and took our pictures. Can’t wait to see those pics. I bet I look awesome (I’m being sarcastic).

After stuffing my face with “the best apple I’ve ever had,” an orange slice and half a white bagel, we headed to the meeting spot (read: classy dumpster) to meet up with Amanda (5 Miles 2 Empty), who got a sub-2-hour PR on her birthday!) and lots of other friends and bloggy runners, including Sarah (Brunette on the Run) and her brother, who ran his first half marathon.

L-R: Amanda’s Little Buddy and friend, Jill, Amanda, Mel, Zoë, me, Sarah and her brother.

Whose idea was it to jump after a half marathon?

After our “photo session,” it began to pour and we were freezing, especially Zoë in her tank top and RunningSkirt. It was like being in a cold shower. We actually ran back to The ‘Bu.

I can’t believe we were running after finishing 13.1 miles!

Official Chip Time: 2:14:02
159/228 in my age group (30-34)

Paces per AJ II – 13.22 miles – 2:14:07
Average pace: 10:08
Mile 1: 10:01
Mile 2: 10:04
Mile 3: 9:46
Mile 4: 10:02
Mile 5: 9:41 (pretty sure this was that long downhill)
Mile 6: 9:57
Mile 7: 9:57
Mile 8: 10:22
Mile 9: 10:07
Mile 10: 10:22
Mile 11: 9:58
Mile 12: 10:50 (I think this is actually the long uphill)
Mile 13: 10:34
.22: 2:19 (10:35 pace)

COMING UP: More race observations and a fun birthday lunch with the PR Princess (Amanda).

PS: Thank you to Amanda’s friend for the groups shots! Love them!