Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A running update and a few random running thoughts

I can't believe that June is over. I ran my second Rock-N-Roll Marathon a month ago. It seems like longer. For the month of June, I ran 97 miles . Not bad, considering a) I didn't run at all the first week of the month b) I am not training for a marathon and c) I ran only a mile more in May, which included a marathon, a twenty-two miler and a sixteen miler.

My new training perspective focuses on a lot more miles at a slower pace. I think one of the mistakes I made during my marathon training was putting so much emphasis on the long runs each week and not enough on the midweek runs. What I learned in my training was that the more your weekly base miles, the better your body recovers after a long, hard run. I was only running three days a week and I often substituted bike riding for one of those runs. I figured that as long as I had a good long run on the weekend, I would be fine. I didn't realize that my body wasn't recovering properly. If you look at the chart below, you'll see that your midweek base miles really do affect recovery.
During my marathon training cycle, my long runs were often more than 50% of my total mileage (especially my twenty and twenty-two milers). That is probably one reason I suffered with the shin splints. You don't prepare your body for the rigors of a marathon by running twice a week!

My half marathon training involves running five days a week--quite a change for me. However, my long runs of twelve or thirteen miles are less than 30% of my total mileage, giving me ample opportunity to recover. As I go into my "sharpening" phase of my training plan in the next couple of weeks, I should be well prepared for tough speedwork and hill training. In theory, my fitness will be at a higher level. I am excited to see how it all plays out.

Today I went out to run seven or eight miles. It was late in the morning and starting to get hot. It has been tropically humid here lately and I knew it would be a sweaty run. I didn't bring my hydration belt because, frankly, it seemed like overkill. However, I soon learned that seven miles is just a bit too long to go without water. I should have learned. Even on Friday's relatively cool run with Jill, I stopped at a drinking fountain to take a sip.* On Sunday's thirteen mile run, I carried two ten ounce bottles and filled one up around mile eight. Why would I be able to run seven without anything??

Jill had a handy hand held bottle. I think it is the perfect thing for shortish runs that are longer than an hour. Heck, as the summer hits us, it might be the perfect thing for all runs. She has the Amphipod and really likes it. She has the twenty ounce bottle. I am wondering if I just want the twelve ounce one. If I am running long enough to need twenty ounces, I will probably just pack two bottles on my hydration belt (10 oz of water and 10 oz of sports drink). I love the idea of this brand because of the low profile and the pocket. It also seemed to fit nice and snug on Jill's hand. Hmmm.... Do any of you use a hand held bottle? If so, which one do you like?

Finally, I have a health/injury question. On Friday I woke up with a little tightness in my chest on the left side. I didn't think much of it and it didn't bother me at all on my seven mile run. Later that night, it was really uncomfortable. Every time I moved, it hurt. I had to sleep on my right side with my left arm propped up on a pillow. Saturday, it was bothering me and I was pretty grumpy about it. I figured that I pulled a muscle water skiing or something. I went on my thirteen mile run on Sunday as planned. The first few miles bothered me. As I was running, it hurt especially as I breathed out. I stopped noticing it around mile five or six. Once again that night it bothered me a bit more. It is pain that is preceded by an awkward movement, so I am convinced that it is nothing internal (like my heart). On Monday, I taught a Stroller Strides class. My chest bothered me, but I was able to demonstrate a pushup, so I know it is not my pectoral muscle. It hurt when I did things like lifting my arm back and behind me. Fast forward to today. My chest was still bothering me when I woke up. VERY annoying. I went for my run and it bothered me for all seven miles. I felt like it hurt worse when I was increasing my effort (breathing harder). Now, for the rest of the day, it is worse than it has been the last four days. I can not get comfortable and no matter what I do, it hurts.

If I had pulled a muscle, it should be feeling better four days later, not worse, right? I took quite a forward fall on Thursday while water skiing (in fact, it was my last run of the week). It was one of those falls that rings your bell. BUT, I didn't feel pain in my chest, ribs etc. If I bruised my ribs or something, wouldn't I have felt it Thursday?? Have any of you fitness folks felt pain like this? I am thinking of calling the doctor, but if it is a bruised rib or pulled muscle, he can't do anything about it. I am definitely going to take tomorrow off from running or working out. Hopefully rest is what I need.

So that is my update. Thanks for getting through all the randomness.

Happy running.

*I hate drinking from drinking fountains! You barely get enough to quench your thirst. In order to get enough water, you are bending over the stupid thing for what seems like forever (especially when you are running with a friend). And there is always the ick factor. Who else just drank from that fountain? What else has that fountain been used for?? No thanks! I would rather carry my own!

Monday, June 29, 2009

My recent blogger meetup

I had the privilege of meeting Jill of Jillwillrun last week. She was in town for a little get-away with her husband and wondered if I'd like to go for a run. Yes! I was really looking forward to it. For a while now, Jill has been one of those bloggers whose posts and comments I look forward to. Through posts and various comments back and forth, including Facebook and DailyMile, I'd like to say we have become friends.

I went to her hotel to pick her up and recognized her right away. Pictures are a definitely plus for readers to know who you are ;-) It never felt awkward like a blind date or something. It wasn't like talking with a stranger. We already knew each other. I don't think there was ever a pause in our conversation.

I wanted to take Jill on a run that she couldn't get at home. We ran along the bay, which is so peaceful in the morning, and then along the ocean for a few miles. It was an overcast, humid day... something I know she doesn't get a lot of (although, I had nothing to do with that). Running along the ocean like that is one of my favorite things to do. I am so glad to share that with her.

Not only did the conversation come easily, but she is an easy running partner. Our pace was natural and relaxed and I don't think either one of us felt too rushed or too slow. It was one of my more pleasant runs lately.

My only regret is that I didn't get a picture of the two of us. I have a picture of Alissa and I as well as one of Alice. Luckily, I don't think it will be the last time we will meet up. I know I will be in Las Vegas sometime (either for a get-away or for a race) and I'll be sure to look her up.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Staying strong has benefits that result in FUN

I have been MIA the past week or so. We went on vacation with some close friends whose family has a lake house not far from here. We had a wonderful time. Our friends, Jen and Greg, have kids the same age as ours and enjoy the same things we do (water sports, playing board games at night, laughing, and relaxing). Jen even went out with me for a run. It was nice running with her again*.

I did run twice while on vacation. That is a feat in itself (especially if you have ever tried Jen's mojitos!) I did a five miler with Jen and then seven a couple days later. The seven miler was brutal because we left for early morning skiing as soon as I finished. Later that afternoon, I swam out to a buoy and back in my first ever open water swim (a triathlete I am NOT). I suppose my run, ski, swim combo is my own version of a triathlon! :-)

We went to this lake last year and had a great time then, as well. When it came to water skiing, I felt much better this year. I am the strongest I have been in a long time... maybe ever. The stronger I am, the better I can enjoy the things I love to do most. I water skied last week on multiple days. While I was a bit sore in my shoulders and arms, I felt great in my legs (other than a bit of tightness in my left quad). I am not nearly as sore as I was last time. I know all the running and cross-training I have done in the past months really paid off by allowing me to make better turns and stay out there longer. A week like that makes me want to continue to stay fit to enjoy fun outdoor activities for years to come.

Here are some pictures of our great time. Yup... that's me.

My husband, Kenny, got up on the wake board for the second time in his life. I think he enjoyed it more this year. Last year he was having major hip pain. This year, with his new hip, he is able to try more things pain free!

The handsome devil looks like he is enjoying himself!

Our friend, Greg, had some good wake boarding moments himself**.

I usually don't post a lot about my kids here, but I just can't help sharing a few pictures of them this time. They are so darn cute!

Having fun floating around in the water***

She is a daddy's girl at heart!

Finally.... there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Naps ARE a good idea, especially for three-year-olds.

*Jen was one of my running partners in 2008 for the marathon. We ran a hilly, but fun, fourteen mile run last year while staying at the lake. It still is one of my favorite runs of the training. Last week's run with Jen brought a lot of the memories of training back. Good times.
**Jen, I know you are reading this.... I would post some cool shots of you on skis, but I know you'd kill me :-)

***My five-year-old swims perfectly well. In the lake, for some reason, he gets nervous about the depth. He is convinced that it is harder to swim in forty feet than it is in five feet. On the other hand, his little sister is fearless, which is much more nerve-wracking for a mom! I was constantly calling her name to make sure she wasn't under the boat or something.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Positive Splits

A Positive Split is defined as running at a slower pace for the second half of a race. Most of us have done it. Planning on it, however, is not the best idea. It could actually be race suicide.

At the beginning of a race, we feel great. We've fueled, we've hydrated, we've rested. For a marathon, we've had a nice, long taper and our legs are raring to go. Mentally, it is very hard to hold back. You are thinking to yourself, "I might as well run strong now...I'll slow down later, no matter what."

Remember this: Setting out to do positive splits is a self fulfilling prophecy. If you go out fast, hoping to take advantage of your early strength, odds are you WILL slow down in the later miles. That is best case. There is also the chance you will run out of steam altogether. Going out too fast taxes the muscles early and uses up your muscle glycogen early. This causes negative feelings. Seasoned runners can run this way, because they know how to deal with feeling lousy toward the end of the race. Sometimes elite runners will go out fast, hoping to force competitors to go out faster than they should.

I was guilty of this strategy two weeks ago. I went out fast early, taking advantage of the downhill in the early miles along with my great mood. Mentally, I kept "banking" my time, knowing that I had several minutes to spare for my goal. As my glycogen depleted and my energy waned, I saw that bank of time dwindle away. Early on, Laura and I even talked about how fast we were going and mentioned that we knew people that had done it successfully. Just because others can do it, doesn't mean that I am meant to. I need to learn to have confidence in my race plan and stick to it. Once I can figure out how to do it, I can better coach people to do the same.

The best way to run a race is running an even effort (constant pace). Figure out what your average pace for the race will be, and start out at that pace. If there are hills, you should take those into account.
"A good rule of thumb for uphill of 100 ft/mile gain is to add 20 to 30 seconds/mile to your average pace while on steep uphill of 200 ft/mile add 40 to 70 seconds/mile. For downhill, subtract 15 to 20 seconds/mile for 100 ft/mi and 20 to 40 seconds for 200 ft/mile."*
Personally, I have a hard time doing math in my head during a hard run. That is why a pace bracelets or temporary tattoos are often helpful, especially in a marathon. I think if I would have started out at 9:05 pace like I had originally planned, I might have met my goal of finishing under four hours. I'll never know. I am pretty sure that if I would have started out at 9:30-9:40, I would have had around the same finish time (4:16), but felt much better at the end. The best thing about last month's marathon is how much I learned from it.

Often the best results come from negative splits. This is a tough one to plan for. No one really wants to start out slower than your goal pace. That is why negative splits are often achieved when someone reaches a stretch goal. Some people are able to do this quite nicely, however. Negative splits are very powerful psychologically. You feel strong and pass people in those last miles. It may even lead to even faster splits. That is what happened to me during the Carlsbad Half Marathon when I achieved my PR. That race is still my favorite race ever. I felt a euphoria at the finish line unlike any other race. I ran negative splits during that race, having my fastest mile the last mile of the race. This happened because I started out conservatively in the beginning.

The lesson from all this is to plan your race. If you just go out and run it, you'll likely start out too quickly. Proper training and preparation will give you everything you need to run a great race for you. I will remind myself of these things as I prepare for AFC in August. Last year I ran out of gas. This year I want to finish strong.

Happy running.

* "Marathoning- Start to Finsh" by Patti and Warren Finke.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A much needed good run...

Today was one of those runs I desperately needed. My life continues to cause me a lot of stress and my running seems to be the only thing going well (other than my sweet kids, loving husband, family and friends. of course*). I ran and lost myself in music and forgot about all the things that keep me up at night. It was great.

I decided to try using my heart rate monitor instead of pace to keep my training intensity where it should be. I checked my handy dandy chart and found that I should run a 10+ mile run around 142 beats per minute, based on my age. It was nice running by feel, although it was a little annoying to constantly check my heart rate monitor.**

My pace was a bit faster than what the recommended pace was. The chart suggests I run a 10+ mile run at 10:26 average pace. My pace for the twelve miles averaged just under 10:00 minute miles. I was very good at keeping my heartrate right at 142 or 143. I was able to lower it pretty quickly when it crept up toward 150 through my breathing or slowing down a bit.

I can really tell how economy changes during a run. When a good song came on my iPod, where I just zoned out and got into a nice groove, my heart rate would be right where it needed to be, yet my pace was faster than it had been (closer to 9:40). When my brain would start thinking about some of the crap going on in our lives and my heart rate would go up while my pace went down. If I took a deep breath, relaxed and just ran with the music, my heart rate dropped a beat or two and my pace leveled out.

It started out a bit chilly (low 60's feels chilly to me). I wore a short sleeve tech shirt that kept me relatively warm. It didn't take long for the sun to come out. It warmed up to the high 70's and the humidity seemed pretty high as well. I looked at the run as training for the AFC, since it is in August and was really hot last year. One thing I notice on sticky runs is that my face and head sweats more than anywhere else. My shirt doesn't get wet, but my face and pony tail are soaked. Does this happen to anyone else?

I was a bad girl at the end of the run. It did teach me something about coaching, however. I decided that the last mile I would bump up the intensity. I noticed on my pulse chart that the marathon heart rate for my age is listed around 157. I decided to run at that level for the last mile. That ended up being around a 9:15 pace.*** What it taught me about coaching is that if I can't follow my own simple advice, how will my clients? I think I am going to give clients a little bit of speed as an option, just to help them get it out of their system. It goes against some of my training, but I think that a little boost for a runner's confidence is a good thing. I would rather allow a little wiggle room than have them toss the training plan out completely.

Here are my stats for the run:
distance- 12.25 miles
time- 2:00:59
average pace-

It was my best run of the week. I feel better than I did before the run. Hooray for mental health runs.

Happy Running.

*We are actually pretty blessed in this regard. I can't imagine what we would do without the love and support we have received.
**I have the Garmin 205, which doesn't have the heart rate monitor. I already had one before purchasing the Garmin and thought it would be redundant to get the 305. In retrospect, I think it would have been nice to splurge on the 305 (which is on sale at Costco right now, btw) so I didn't have to wear two different bulky watches. Oh well...
***That is not very good news for a sub-four marathon. However, it is still only two weeks since the RNR and this was my first long run since then.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Giveaway results

There wasn't a lot of interest in old Orange Gu. Hopefully, I'll find something else in the future. I removed the entries (Penny and Irish) who said they hated Orange Gu. Sorry gals, if you wanted to win them, let me know and I'll owe ya one. So that left four entries left. I noticed that Chris linked to my giveaway, so I gave him one more entry. Using random.org (although picking random winners from four is pretty easy) I chose #3 and #2. So Chris and JanetB, you're both winners! Send me an e-mail with your address and I'll send you the Gu's. pslisarg at hotmail dot com.

Happy Running.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The importance of LSD

No... that does NOT have anything to do with Timothy Leary and psychedelic drugs. I am talking about Long Slow Distance.

Yes, my new training perspective involves running more slowly. Many training programs, such as SmartCoach from Runners World ,have us running at slow paces (and I almost always ignored them until it came time for tempo runs and speed work). But until last weekend, I never understood WHY.

Without boring everyone with an overload of science, you should run at about 80% of your maximum effort for that distance (maximum effort being a race) in order to train your body to utilize all the energy systems. In long distance running*, the body uses a combination of burning glycogen (muscle and liver glycogen and blood glucose) and fat. By training at a slower pace, we can train our body to "increase the contribution of fat to the overall energy production by more than 20%; therefore sparing muscle glycogen and extending the time until its depletion."** As most of us know, you hit "the wall" when your glycogen stores are depleted. You can avoid this by training at lower intensity to use more glycogen from the liver and bloodstream so that "efficient aerobic metabolism using fat can be maintained for a longer duration."**

Did I lose you yet?

How does all this relate to my own training for this past marathon? Well, first, I did most, if not all of my training runs at about 90% effort. My long pace runs were done at a higher effort than that (I think that some of them were closer to 95%). I was training my body to use glycogen, but not to become more efficient at using fat. In addition, I was never on my feet for the duration of my marathon. I think my longest run was 3:23. I didn't train my body to run for four hours. And it is not just one run. The body needs to adapt to running this long. Glycogen runs out in approximately two hours without utilizing other energy sources. Even with the use of Gu, I was feeling the lack of energy and "lead" legs around two and a half hours. Training, along with starting out too fast, contributed to my body's inability to have energy in the later miles of the marathon.

So let's get out there and build our endurance. Don't worry... I'll be talking about the speed. But the key to speed is specificity. You want to tailor your speed workouts to the race you are training for. More to come....

*long distance running is actually defined as any distance over a mile
**Marathoning- Start to Finish by Patti and Warren Finke.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A new training perspective

Wow. I learned a LOT last weekend. I have a whole new perspective on training. Since I only have two marathons under my belt and the coaches teaching the class have hundreds (if not thousands counting all their clients over the past 25 years), I am going to take their word. It helps that they presented science behind their practices. I loved the science so much, that I am considering going back to school someday to learn about exercise physiology.

Here are the highlights of what I learned for my own running:
  • I've been training way too fast
  • Because I have been training too fast, I did not train my body to go the distance, using the right energy stores.
  • I went out much too fast during the marathon (planning for positive splits are asking for trouble)
  • I am not fueling myself enough (I need about 2400 calories per day and I don't think I am close)
I am still undecided as to whether or not I am going for a PR at America's Finest City Half in August. I am going to train as if I am. So I checked my charts and found that my shorter training runs should be run around a 10 minute pace (80% of max effort). I ran 6.25 miles at a 9:50. I'd say I did pretty well. As I was running I was feeling like I was at a good pace, but I didn't feel as slow as I thought I would. Then the negative thoughts crept in. I started worrying that I wouldn't be able to run faster. I worried that my legs would get too used to that pace. I need to get over that if I am going to coach people to train at the slower pace.

I am excited to try this out, however. I also have a handful of guinea pigs. Several of my friends are running the AFC too. My goal is for all of them to finish strong.

As I stated above, I learned a ton at the training. Jill and Donna, you're going to really enjoy it. I will post some more from the training later this week. I passed the test today (so I am official) and am still organizing my thoughts.

Friday, June 5, 2009

RnR after some RnR

Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful encouragement. Five days later, I feel MUCH better about Sunday. As a matter of fact, I am damn proud of my 4:16! I am ready to train for another marathon (depending on our financial situation, logistics etc.) and this time I will have much more conservative goals. I know I'll get that four hour (or faster) brass ring someday, but in the meantime, I want to have a race where I feel strong and well-trained. For the next couple of months, I am going to get ready for America's Finest City Half Marathon in August. Right now, I don't plan on going for a PR. I really want to have fun. I have a lot of friends running it and several doing their first half marathon.

I feel pretty much healed physically. I was pretty sore (especially my quads) on Monday and even more so on Tuesday. You should have seen me walking up and down the stairs. I actually walked down the stairs backwards because it was easier. But today I feel great. I even did my dreaded "squat o' rama"* at Stroller Strides today and my quads felt strong. I would have run yesterday or today, but I was SO tired when I woke up. I didn't feel any pressure to get out there and run.... so I didn't.

Here are some pictures from the race:

Right at the beginning

At mile 21.... I fake it pretty well.

If you look closely, you can tell I am TIRED.

Here I am at the end. I am so glad that I am running and look pretty strong.

I even have a smile on my face.

You would never know that Laura and I both felt like we wanted to throw up.

If you check out http://www.rnrmarathon.com/elite/webcast/sd/archive.html and type in my bib: 6053, you can see me finish. I am pretty much in the middle of the screen crossing at 4:17:53. I am amazed at how many people were coming across at that time! I am also amazed how slow we all look. You can see me put my hands on my hips and hobble a bit. I do look tired as I walk out of sight.

Well... I am off to learn all about running and coaching. I am driving up to my brother's house in Orange County and then going up to Pasadena tomorrow for my training. I am excited to learn more about running and how to help myself and others get better. I'll be sure to report when I get back!

*Squat o' rama-- static squat with thighs parallel to the ground and arms out in front of you (like tucking a ski run). Hold it for about 10 counts or longer, with slight bouncing. Then we lean over and put all our weight on one leg for 10 counts and then the other. Back to center for 10 counts. Do 10 full range squats, pulling your arms back as you move up and down. Do the entire set again. Burn, baby, burn!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm hosting my very own giveaway!!

I still haven't figured out how to get people to send me free stuff, but I do have something to give away to two of my readers. OK... it isn't anything super fabulous, but someone may really enjoy it.

I have nineteen packs of Orange Burst Gu* that my husband was given through his former work. My generosity is not entirely altruistic. I can't stand Orange Burst and I am sick of going into my basket of running supplements and grabbing one instead of my Just Plain or Espresso Love. I thought it would be fun to give eight each to two different readers. Because of his expressed love of Orange Gu, I will send OzRunner three of them (if he wants them) just because I told him I would**. *wink*

Leave a comment telling me about your favorite gel, chew or food for running (it doesn't have to be Orange Gu or other Gu). In the interest of expanding readership, if you link my blog in a post, you'll get one more entry. Just post another comment saying that you linked. Lastly, if you become a follower of my blog on Facebook, you'll get another entry (post another comment to let me know).

I'll use a random number generator to choose a winner on June 10 in the evening.

*In the interest of full disclosure, these Gu's are technically "expired." They are about a year old. I have been eating the Espresso Love and Just Plain from the same batch and haven't noticed anything odd about them. Honestly, I am not too worried about a sugary substance packaged in a foil container going bad. But I needed to let you know. I am pretty sure I know why we were able to score so many Gu's for free. *wink*
**Oz, if you are interested, send me your address at pslisarg at hotmail dot com.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rock 'N'Roll Marathon Race Report

***warning: this post may not be as upbeat and inspiring as I'd like it. It may even contain some whining. After I am done, however, I'll shake it off and move on. Oh... and in true Lisa fashion, it's a long one***

It was hard. It was painful. It was a true test of my determination.

After all the dust has settled, I am much happier with my time. A 4:16 is a pretty good time. I am proud of that. I think what has had me down today is not missing my time goal, but missing much of my other goals. I didn't sing and dance. I barely noticed anything in the second half of the race. I really didn't have all that much fun. After looking forward to it for so long, it was really quite a letdown.

I started out the morning in a fabulous mood. I was probably annoying Heather and Laura with my bubblyness (I'm pretty sure that is not a word). We avoided a minor catastrophe. Heather, our angel of the morning, got up bright and early to bring Laura and I to the starting line. This is something that saves, literally, hours of stress. She dropped us off in record time using the southern route that had NO traffic and headed down to the airport authority to park and catch the trolley to her relay leg a couple of hours later. A few minutes later I realized that I had left my iPod in her car!!! My heart stopped. Could I survive without music for four hours? I didn't want to find out. I called her and she turned around and drove up Laurel which was bumper-to-bumper and straight up hill in a stick shift. She saved me!!!! It really added time to her trip and I felt bad. She is a true friend!

I was really excited. I felt great. I felt well-prepared. I was
ready to go. Luckily, I got some pre-race woo hoo's in. However, Alice, I didn't get to moo. Being in corral 4 is different than last year's corral 10. Not as many moo'ers. I sure did think about it though (although we were really only in the corral for a minute or two). In retrospect, maybe I should have just moo'd and taken advantage of my good mood.

We started out and felt really relaxed. We had a great pace (so I thought). We were a little faster than we had planned, but it really felt good. Our first three miles were: 8:51, 8:53, and 8:51*. We both discussed that we felt comfortable--a very conversational pace.

As the road started going downhill, we sped up a bit. I got a little worried, but still felt good. It was around this time that Paul (I think that's his name... Irene, Alice?), from San Diego Track club was yelling some great words of wisdom through his bull horn (I love that guy).** One of the things he said really hits home to me now. He said, "while tempted to go faster down this hill, hold back; there's a lot of race ahead of you." Hmmm.... that mile was 8:29. Oops.

We hit the 10k mark averaging under 9 minutes per mile and I felt we had a nice little "bank" of time and we could slow down a bit as we headed up hill a bit and then onto the freeway. After mile 7, I decided to slow a bit. Laura kept going. I thought I might catch her after the 163, but I think I knew at that point that I wouldn't see her again until the finish.

Between miles 7 and 8, my legs started feeling pretty heavy. The mist had cleared up and there wasn't much of a breeze downtown and I realized that I was sweating more than I thought I would. I thought that my sluggish legs would bounce back and I would hit my second wind (as I often did on long runs). I even mentally composed wording for this blog about how I had a couple of slower miles and then came back strong. I slowed to 9:01 and 9:17 for the seventh and eighth miles.

As I was running on the 163 freeway, I experienced the first of many side stitches. I was really having a hard time breathing. I tried to put my arm on my head, breathe deeply through my nose etc. My legs started to hurt and show some early signs of cramping. I had been drinking sports drink and taking Gu every four miles, but I was already starting to feel some pretty major muscle fatigue. I also really noticed the slant of the freeway (I didn't notice it so much last year), by the time I got to Friars, my IT band was starting to bug me.

I don't do a lot of stopping when I run. I like to take small sips from my hydration belt as I go and run right through the water stops. About midway through the freeway section, I decided to stop and take a couple of Tylenol before my legs started hurting more. I also felt like I needed to catch my breath. I had never felt like this before.

The freeway is a pretty long uphill section. I slowed it down and took my time. I knew I still had banked time. I think I stopped somewhere again around mile 10. I was telling myself to rest a few seconds, shake it off and mentally imagine myself starting a brand new sixteen mile run. I can do a sixteen mile run on any given day easy. Ok. New run. New start. Miles 9 and 10 were: 9:26 and 9:55. I thought those miles would be my slowest. I knew then, however, that sub-four was going to be very hard.

Mile 11 is mostly downhill. I wanted to make up a little time, but I really couldn't. I got a pretty bad stitch and the faster I ran downhill, the more it hurt. I kept it pretty easy. 8:59. By the time I hit the half marathon mark, I was still within my goal (1:58). But could I keep up that pace for that long again? I was beginning to doubt it. A time of 4:05 or so was starting to sound pretty good. I was ok with it, wasn't I? I needed to take the pressure off. There was a small hill after the half marathon. It was here that I realized that I was really starting to hurt. Everywhere.***

I ran by the second relay transition point (mile 13.4) and saw my friend Heather. She was all smiles and was cheering for me. By this time, my bubblyness had worn off and I was feeling pretty drained. I knew that the rest of the race was going to be a struggle. I should have just waved to Heather and smiled. But I wanted someone to know how I was feeling (doesn't misery love company?). I was a little lonely out there. I gave her the thumbs down sign and indicated that I wasn't having a great run. I feel bad. She was so happy to see me and excited for her relay leg and I am afraid that I brought her down a bit. I know that she was worried about me.

Then I saw my family. It was great. My dad and husband were riding bikes and towing the kids in a trailer. I tried to put on a brave face, but I ended up telling them that I was struggling. They told me later that I looked tired. My wonderful husband put on his coach's hat. He said, "Lisa, the 4 hour pace group is right there [I hadn't realized that they had passed me]. Keep him in sight and you'll be fine. You'll be able to catch him at the end." I didn't tell my biggest cheerleaders that there was a small part of me that was wondering if I would even make it to the end. They rode along side of me for a while. The kids honked a horn and rang a cow bell.**** After a while they turned and rode toward Friars to go find a second spot to see me in the latter miles. As soon as they were out of sight, I stopped and walked for a bit.
They took some pictures of me around mile 14.

The next miles are a bit of a blur. I would run a while and then walk a few feet. The fun had stopped. I would smile meekly at people as they yelled my name. I thanked everyone who cheered for me. I would find some energy and push it for a mile and then shuffle or walk. I was really hoping to average ten minute miles, but I don't think I did. It was during these miles that quitting actually crossed my mind. But it never really was an option. It was only a momentary flicker. My splits were all over the place:

mile 15- 9:52
mile 16- 10:33
mile 17- 9:28
mile 18- 11:08
mile 19- 10:49

I saw my former running partner, Jen, with her kids. I hugged her and started to cry (although I don't think I had any tears). I told her that I
was really struggling. She ran next to me for a bit while her son (my son's best friend) rode his bike by me. I told her that she saved me. She was so supportive and told me how awesome I was doing. In a painful twist of irony... in my excitement at seeing Jen and the kids, I may have missed my own family. It turns out that My dad, Kenny and the kids were looking for me very near that spot, on the other side of Ingraham. Honestly, I don't know how they missed Jen screaming my name as she saw me. At least my kids were having fun!

mile 20- 10:05
mile 21- 11:07

mile 22- 10:28
mile 23- 10:33
mile 24- 11:04

While I was feeling sorry for myself, I was resigned to the fact that the wheels fell off the bus. I was doing some math and decided I wanted to try for 4:15. I passed a couple of guys who were wearing tags from earlier pacing groups. One had a 3:30 sign on his back. I knew he was feeling worse than I was. As I passed him, I said, "we're almost there... we'll make it." He nodded. I sometimes wonder if I sound condescending when I say something like that. I suppose that I take that chance. I also take the chance of giving him just the boost he needs. Right? Right around mile 21, Coach Paul was there again thanking us for making his day. I love that guy.

I pushed pretty hard the last couple of miles. I wanted to walk more than anything. But I knew that I would be done soon and could rest then.

mile 25-9:30
mile 26-9:26

As I turned into MCRD, I had forgotten how far it is from the entrance to the actual finish line. I expected to see the finish line around every corner. I really tried to push. At the actual final stretch, I really didn't have much of anything left. When I crossed the finish line, the only thing I felt was relief. I wasn't happy. I wasn't sad. I was just glad to be done.

Laura soon found me. It turns out that she didn't have such a good race either. She finished in 4:07:57. Apparently, she was
still on pace to break four hours up through mile 20 where she hit a serious wall. She and I hobbled through the finish area, grabbed our drop bags and sat down on the pavement in pain. Before she took off we congratulated each other, even though we were both feeling a little down.

Laura was feeling pretty bad physically and didn't want to hang out, so she took off to meet her hubby. I went to find my friends who ran the relay and my family. I went and drank my free beer and relaxed.

What went wrong? Well, that is probably the subject of another post. I have my suspicions, but I also think that sometimes it just isn't your day. I am sure I will ramble a bit more before the week is done. I do feel pretty good with my overall time, especially considering how difficult it was to come by. I am torn between never subjecting myself to that misery again and signing up for another right away so I can try to finish one of these things on my terms. Vegas anyone?

*miles according to my Garmin. We were running the course miles a bit slower than this, since it was nearly impossible to run the tangents well. According to Garmin, I ran 26.61 miles total. Yikes.
**I have been considering joining the SDTC for a while now. Between fun runners like the Heffer crew, organized runs and an inspiring coach like Paul I think it might be something I have to do.
***except my shins, of course. The part of my body that kept me from several runs during the week felt fabulous the entire race. Every other part of my body seemed to hurt. My shins still feel fine. Strange.
****I had no idea about this skit before this weekend. As the kids rang the cowbell, I heard people say "more cowbell." Kenny said that everyone said it as they ran by. Even Alice mentioned it on her blog. Finally, my brother said it the other night and we asked him about it. LOL. I wish I had seen this skit before so I could have laughed then...


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