Sunday, October 11, 2009

"If Only ..."

While out mowing the lawn this afternoon, I was thinking about all of the things I wanted to say in this post, not the least of which was the title. Other possibilities: "3 out of 4", "Bitten, Again", "Flippin' Freezin'". Lots to choose from. I went with "If Only ...". Why, you may ask? Because just once, I would LOVE to run a marathon. The whole thing. Start to finish. But I was bitten by the cramps, yet again. I just want to know what I'm really capable of when the limitiations are my fitness/training, energy level and my brain. Not leg cramps. But that may never come to pass, and I have to accept that. This time they began at mile 18, in earnest at mile 21, though there were twinges at mile 15. For the most part, I had to stop for only 20 seconds at the most, but I was stopping A LOT. Probably 5-8 times/mile. A few times I kept running and they released. But sometimes they would do weird things like pull on my foot so I was landing on the outside of my foot, with the rest of my foot at about a 45 degree angle. Not runnable. People have given me all kinds of suggestions, and I've tried them all: I have a supply of virtually every electrolyte capsule ever made, calcium supplements, sodium (I still do salt my pasta the night before the marathon), potassium (I was eating 2 bananas/day for a few days before one marathon, had a blood draw the day after the race as I had made an appt for the cramps and my potassium was way too high--the doc said to lay off the bananas and to come back and get it re-drawn), Hammer products (including carrying little bags of their electrolyte beverage and mixing my own fluids on the course), drinking a lot before the race, not changing my hydration before the race, drinking at every stop, not drinking at every stop, going out really slow (nothing faster than 9:00 pace), going out fast, ... all with the same result. Leg cramps. An old, tired story, I know. Let's recap the weekend ...

I was staying with 10 other River Runners in a cabin about 2 or 3 miles outside Ashland.

The owner is TOTALLY into hunting!

Shortly after we arrived, it was off to the expo ...

to pick up our packets and run into friends. Like Joe, Dalene and Tonia ...

Steve and Cathey Strange ...

Joyce and Roger Heil ...

and Andy Hemenway and his wife.

Also spotted from Rochester at the expo was Steve DeBoer. I'm probably forgetting someone. Sorry. :-)

My goals were: 1) finish, 2) a Boston Qualifier, 3) a PR, and 4) a 3:35 finish time. The weather forecast, which was for snow, cold and wind, was giving me fits. I didn't know what the day would bring, but hoping to make the best of it. I just didn't know what to wear. Friday night I finally decided on lycra tights (which, as it ends up, were too big and wouldn't stay up so I was hitching them up the whole time), a short-sleeved shirt under a long-sleeved thermal shirt, hat, gloves, mittens (thin, meant as an outer layer) and a garbage bag at the start. It snowed the night before and I also wore a fleece jacket and extra tights (which went in my drop bag) and windbreaker (which I kept for the race), and I duct-taped the toes of my shoes. There is nowhere to stand at the start except outside and it was flippin' freezin' out there! My feet and fingers were numb. Monty Steffens (from St. Cloud) had a pair of gloves which he wasn't going to wear (he had chopper mittens--lucky guy!) so I ended up wearing those too. I couldn't wait to get started. I think the temp was somewhere around 30, but the wind chill was much lower. Right before the gun went off, a gust of wind blew snow all over us. LET'S JUST GET GOING!!! Finally, 6 minutes late, we were off. (That's me and Kalli Christen, trying to stay warm.)

Most of the first mile is on an asphalt road and that was covered with ice and was very slippery. (I heard at the finish that someone had fallen and broken some teeth.) We then turned onto the trail, which we'd stay on for the next 23 or so miles. There had been a lot of rain the week prior, so the trail was very soft. It was like running on sand mixed with gravel and the occasional rock. Since it was so loose, it was easily kicked up and into my shoes. My head just wasn't into this race for some reason. I don't know whether it was the weather (BTW: wind wasn't always at our tails!), the poor footing, my still-lingering cold, headache and drippy nose (I think I woke up everyone in our sleeping loft--6 of us--with my coughing), or what, but I found I just wasn't very psyched up. Probably not 10 miles in, I was already talking of stopping. Just felt sluggish, probably a residual effect of racing the TC10 last weekend. But a few miles later I felt a little better and continued to press on. At about 15 miles, I felt twinges of cramps so knew that they would make their presence known at some point, hoping for later rather than sooner. At about 16 miles, I was thinking thoughts like ... 10 miles left, I can walk this and finish in time. At 22 .. I can walk this and still get a BQ, even with a 3/8" stone under my right heel, another on the side of my big toe and lots of sand in my shoes. Playing head games, for sure. The final miles were slow, lots of stopping to release the cramps, but I got my PR and BQ, though not my goal time. 3:42:30  And I was happy to be done. It felt great to get into the food tent which appeared to have been heating. It was freezing out tin that wind. I felt so sorry for the volunteers that day. It must have been miserable having to stand out there for hours on end.

Looking back, I would have liked to have run my marathon at Twin Cities and had that day's weather and the good footing, but looking at the big picture I was very happy to have been able to race TC10, my favorite race distance, and run a marathon this weekend as well. My GPS had a time of 3:39:24. I still had the auto-pause feature set so I spent at least 3 minutes not moving at all. My splits (and you can see where the wheels really fell off): 8:09 (ice)  7:42  7:49  7:40  7:45  7:51  7:54  7:55 7:58  7:54  8:34  (pit stop) 7:56  8:03  8:08  7:57  8:11  8:18  8:08  7:57  8:06  8:38  8:52  9:37  9:52  9:37  9:43  2:46 My split at the half marathon was 1:44 Today I don't feel too bad. Going down stairs hasn't been an issue, like it usually is. My right knee is a little sore on the lateral side. I'm thinking it's probably because of the soft surface and all the extra movement that caused.  I'm a still stiff after sitting for a while. I mowed the lawn and cleaned out some perennials when I got home which was just the right amount of movement for the day.

Congrats to others who also ran PRs at Whistlestop: Trevor Distad (12 min PR--pictured with me below in the beer tent after the race--I still had 4 layers on!),

Andy Hemenway, Dave Schuller (St. Cloud), Kris Stevens. Congratulations to everyone that ran anything this weekend, be it a Whistlestop race, the Chicago Marathon this morning, or whatever. Check Dan Strain's Whistlestop post at The hotel room photo made me LOL!!

I stayed overnight in St. Cloud last night. I knew I'd be too wiped out to drive another almost 2 1/2 hours getting home around midnight, driving by myself and  not knowing if the cramps would come on again in the car and was nervous about that. So I holed up in a hotel room and happened to catch the infamous Julia Child trussing a chicken on PBS. A classic. :-) Then this morning I met the River Runners at the Holiday Station in St. Joe after their early AM Sunday run. They're such a fun bunch. They have fun EVERY time they get together. :-)

Busy week coming up: Cooking Light cooking group tomorrow at Kathryn's home. On the menu:
Warm Cranberry-Walnut Brie--Margo
Plum Galette with Armagnac Cream--Barbara
Barley Risotto with Eggplant and Tomatoes--Diane
Halibut with Grilled Tomato and Olive Relish--Kathryn
Darlene's Healthy Salad or Pesto Caesar Salad--Renee
Tuesday night, my website design class, Wednesday dinner with Ann-Kristin and Jean, then Thursday up to St. Cloud for a dinner/presentation with Aaron Doering that I had a part in getting set-up. He spoke at the RTC banquet a few years and it was a smashing success. Can't wait to hear it again and see his great photos. He's such a good speaker. So interesting and engaging.
Time to get to bed. Good night!

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