Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm back!

Wow! It's been a long time with no posts.

The big news: I just booked my hike to the Grand Canyon today! Yes, folks, I'm actually paying about $800 to lug 35 pounds of stuff to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back. While sleeping outside and not showering. Aren't you jealous?

Other sort of big news: I ran 19 miles last Saturday and felt 100% afterwards and had ZERO muscle fatigue the next day. Awesome!

I'm hoping to do it again this Saturday. Or at least run 16 or so.

Goofy Challenge: 14 days to go!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Saturday Long Run

On Saturday my sister, husband and I set out for our first long run in prep for the Goofy Challenge in January.

We're all coming off fall races and we've got great milage bases so our plan for Goofy is to do more long runs to build long term endurance.

Our plan was to do 15 miles (or more if we were feeling ambitious) and we did just that. My sister and I made a conscious decision to run together and we hung together for all but the last mile and a half when I pulled away from her just a bit. I think this is because her most recent marathon was Nov. 18 while mine was back on Nov. 4. My legs were a bit fresher.

It was cold and windy but pretty good running weather overall. We felt pretty good and maintained a steady pace that's just about right for our ideal goal pace for the marathon. It was great practice for us!

The main happening of the day was that some weasel stole my fleece that I had left on a fence post along the trail. Normally if I leave gloves or a hat or a fleece along the trail it's still there when I come back. Not this time! I'm still bugged about it even though I got it on the bargain rack last winter.

I had no repercussions from the run: no muscle pain, no aches, no blisters, chafe or hotspots.

On Sunday the weather was pretty foul but Brian and I went out for a walk anyway. It started out overcast, turned to sleet and ultimately into rain but it was a surpringly good walk anyway!

This Saturday we're shooting for 18 miles. More than 15 for sure. The weather looks to be the same as last weekend. Sunday weather looks rather grim but I'm hoping to get in a short run on Sunday too.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

CW-X Xtra Support Review (the white and purple one)

It's awesome! I can't deny that $55 is a total ripoff but it works great.

Once you wedge it on over your head (maybe this is easy for other people but I am pretty uncoordinated and found it rather difficult) it's like you aren't even wearing anything. And it doesn't let anything move at all. Exactly what I'm looking for in an undergarment.

I've worn it on a few runs - so far the longest is 8 miles - but it's comfortable and not a hint of chafe. I'll be cruising the internet searching for bargain rates on this one so I can add more to the collection. It will be great to get rid of the stockpile of ratty things I'm wearing now. Especially since they're going to seem even worse now that I've found this great item.

The other model CW-X that I bought - the regular sport version - I could tell right off the bat that I wouldn't want to run in it. Way too bouncy. I'm not sending it back though because I think it'll be just fine for walking/hiking/cycling or going to the gym to do weights (as if I ever actually do that!)

UPDATE: the "sport model" CW-X that I said wouldn't work for running? It works just fine (at least up to 5 miles). I've worn it twice now without any problems or discomfort.

Philadelphia Photo

Here's me after the half-marathon in Philadelphia. I'm wearing the Livestrong shirt I got from Lance for running the NYC marathon.

The free shirt actually has short sleeves but I'm wearing the long-sleeved Livestrong shirt I bought at the Livestrong challenge underneath the free shirt.

The yellow hat is from the Delaware Marathon. Too bad I didn't have any yellow gloves.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

(I didn't actually win this trophy. I made it to give to the winner of the Thanksgiving Bake-Off at work.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

11/18 - Philadelphia Half Marathon

I didn't decide to actually run this race until Saturday night. In fact, until I went to the pasta dinner with my running buddies, I was 100% sure I wasn't going to run. I've been feeling sick all week and the weather was looking grim (cold, wet, possibly even SNOW!) and I just didn't see the point. But then I got my number, and my shirt, and everybody encouraged me so I decided to go.

Sunday morning, it dawned cold, but mostly dry and while I made a feeble attempt to wimp out, Brian wouldn't listen to me, and we were up and getting ready by 5AM (the race started at 7AM!)

A minor setback when my pre-race favorite meal (overnight oatmeal in the crockpot) was ruined because I cooked it on high instead of low but we still left the house on time.

Conditions were really perfect for the race and I found myself in a really insteresting situation. Completely unprepared and really not invested in how I did. It was just like a training run - a way to stretch out my long rested legs and to see how my Garmin would work out in a race.

As it turns out, I had a great day! Not quite a PR but very close: 2:20:48 officially.

Mile 1: 11:27
Mile 2: 10:43
Mile 3: 10:20
Mile 4: 10:22
Mile 5: 10:45
Mile 6: 9:51
Mile 7: 9:49
Mile 8: 11:06
Mile 9: 10:20
Mile 10: 11:33
Mile 11: 9:57
Mile 12: 10:29
Mile 13: 10:55
final: 2:55

Total time: 2:20:39 -- the Garmin time. It's a little off and it measures 13.3 but it's close enough for me!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quote of the day

I just came across this on the web:

“In every race, there is a crucial moment when the body wants to quit. Then it needs imagination and mental tenacity to survive the crisis. Otherwise the penalty is defeat.”- Derek Abbotson

I'm feeling defeated about my half-marathon on Sunday and it's not even here yet. I'm still sick (cold with cough) and I think I might skip the race. :(

Friday, November 09, 2007

Even more money spent: Garmin 305

In all the excitement over the marathon, I forgot that I bought a Garmin! I got the 305 because I wanted the HRM but I'm not going to use that right away. This weekend I'm planning on taking it for a spin just to figure out how it works, then I can introduce the HRM after the 1/2 marathon on the 18th.

I'm really hoping that this is going to help me steadily pace my long runs and lead to a really good marathon performance someday. I don't expect that performance will come at Disney because of the Goofy Challenge, but it could help if I do a spring marathon. (Right now I'm considering Ocean Drive -- I'll get a new state -- or a repeat in Delaware.)

Another $100 out the window

I am in desperate need of new running bras. I know, that's more information than any of you need.

I just plunked down about $100 for these two slightly different models from CW-X. I am skeptical but I hope that they are worth it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New York Marathon - Race Report

Well, I survived the New York Marathon on Sunday!

I finished in 5:09:08, which is about 2 minutes slower than my PR (setlast year at NYC) and I'm completely astonished that I was able to pull off that time since I started struggling at mile 15 and was actually thinking about quitting at mile 17. The worst part is that there wasn't any real reason for the glum attitude -- it was all just my own negative thoughts working against me.

My plan for the race was to stick like glue to the 5 hour pacer and try to hang with him all the way to the end. On a perfect day, I thought I'd be able to do it. But it would have to be a perfect day.

My training has been spotty at best since the 25 mile hike I did in late September and when I did my longest run in preparation for NewYork (only 18 miles instead of the scheduled 20) I felt horrible. Really horrible. My legs hurt until Wednesday and typically they don't hurt at all after my long runs. At that point, I knew that New York was probably going to be really hard but I still hoped for a miracle.

I started out with the pace guy and struggled to stay with him in the early miles because I really wanted to be running faster than the pace (11:26). I kept having to slow down to stick with him and it was a frustrating battle but one that I thought would be worth it in the long run. By mile 13 we were running 1 minute ahead of pace for a 5 hour finish. He told us that that was intentional because we'd lose 15-20 seconds on the bridge into Queens just past 13 miles and we'd lose the rest of the lead on the Queensboro bridge between 15 and 16. Somewhere along that stretch I lost touch with the pack. And the11:26 pace that had seemed too easy now seemed pretty hard.

On the bridge, it was dark and it's uphill and many, many people began to walk. I joined them. For some reason during this stretch they have mile markers at every 10th of a mile and at one point I started to run and didn't even make it to the next 10th marker. Now that was demoralizing! I thought to myself -- how can I possibly go more than 10 more miles when I can't even run a tenth of a mile at time? UGH!

Turning off the bridge onto 1st Avenue in Manhattan is a pretty exciting part of the race because there are big, rowdy crowds there. This is just past mile 16 and there is a sign there that says "If the definition of easier is less than 10 miles to go.......welcome to Easier!" Unfortunately for me, it didn't feel easier.

For the next several miles up 1st avenue I was really in a very bad place. I was walking a lot, felt like I had nothing in the tank despite following my proven fuel plan, and was just completely miserable and grumpy. Even the crowds, who were awesome, weren't doing much to help me. I started trying to figure out if I could drop out and walk back to the hotel from where I was. Then I started thinking that I could just walk the rest of the way. I calculated I could walk the whole rest of the way and still finish under 6 hours. Not a great time, by any stretch, but it was achievable.

Finally, we made it into the Bronx and the people there were just fantastic. They were loud, and fun, and dancing and really gave me a nice boost. They got me running a little bit more but I still felt rotten. Entering Manhattan again is also a really nice push because even though you still have about 6 miles to go, at this point you are heading towards the finish line and that makes it seem a little better.

I couldn't maintain any consistant running so I was trying to walk as fast as I could and run as much as I could. This was mostly on downhill sections, when somebody called my name (thank goodness this happened a lot), and when I spotted a photographer. I was also aided many times by this gang of runners dressed as Darth Vader, Yoda, Chewbacca and Princess Leia. I started out enjoying them but by this time Darth was getting very sloppy with his light sabre and he kept whapping people with it because he was trying to get around them or was just not paying attention. He whapped me with it three or fourt imes and he was so incredibly annoying that I kept having to run to get away from him. He kept catching me though and then I'd have to run away again. I hated him, but in retrospect, he really probably helped me quite a bit.

By now I was closing in on Central Park and the last few miles of the course. This is about when Nike+ decided I had run 26.2 miles so it started congratulating me. I love that it thinks I ran a 4:30 race when I was really struggling through some kind of death march. That perked me up a bit, and I was in the park, which is filled with people and long downhill sections. Awesome!

This is also when I realized that my time wasn't nearly as terrible as I had feared. By this time I had talked myself off the 6 hour ledge and was figuring that I'd probably finish more like 5:30, but I realized that while my 5 hour goal was out the window, it was still possible for me to beat my PR of 5:07. Shocking!

I tried running more but I was still not maintaining many long running periods. Around here I started to think about Ryan Shay and was wondering where it was in the park that he had fallen on Saturday and tried my best to pull some inspiration from him too keep on going. That helped. Then I spotted the "1 mile to Go" sign and that reminded me of all the awesome Nike+ people, and that pushed me on a little bit, but then we exited the park and it got a little less exciting, and it got a lot more smelly (lots of horse manure from the carraige rides) and I couldn't run anymore. I'd also figured out that I'd have to run an even 10 minute mile to finish with a PR and that really seemed impossible to me, so I figured I'd walk a little around here hoping for a strong finish up the last hilll and across the mat.

I didn't quite pull that off either, but I'm amazed to have come so close tothe PR time when I felt so bad for so much of the race.

They handed me my medal and I read the back of it which had this quote from Alberto Salazar: "....a triumph of the will over all limits." I actually cried when I read that. I've never cried at the end of a race before but that got me. Luckily, it was a very short burst ofwaterworks and they were all cleared up by the time I got my finisher's photo.

What a day!

What I find completely amazing is that the race was almost identical to the race I had in 2006 NY marathon. But last year I felt prepared, and excited, and absolutely exhilerated for the whole race. I had nothing but energy running to the finish line, I was practically jumping for joy! (Check out my athlinks profile picture -- that's just a few feet from the finish line at the marathon last year.) I think the only real difference between the two races was the dialogue I was having inside my own head. I was my own worst enemy....but I still ran my 2nd best marathon ever. So all in all, I'm very happy.

Now I get about a week off before I start back on the training for Goofy. Clearly I have my work cut out for me, but it's very obvious that I need to schedule a lot of long runs. I'm solid over 13 but after that it's all downhill.

For the numbers people, here are the splits that were sent to me bythe athlete tracker:

Location Time Pace/mile
5 Kilometers 0:35:04 11:17
10 Kilometers 1:10:38 11:22
15 Kilometers 1:46:14 11:23
20 Kilometers 2:21:12 11:21
Half-Marathon 2:28:58 11:21
25 Kilometers 2:58:12 11:28
30 Kilometers 3:34:59 11:31
35 Kilometers 4:13:59 11:40
40 Kilometers 4:53:05 11:47
Finish 5:18:24 12:08 ------------- This is confusing. I think the 5:18 must be the clock time but all the other splits seem like chip times.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Men's Olympic Trials

There are so many interesting guys in this race it's like impossible to choose who will secure one of the top three spots.

I really love Meb Keflezighi for some reason, but he's been a little off his game in his last few marathons. However, I think his luck is going to turn around on Saturday.

I'm also rooting for Brian Sell since I find the whole concept of the Hanson's traning group fascinating and I really want them to succeeed.

Then there is Ryan Hall, the young phenom and his opposite number Mbarak Hussein who is 43 years old! 43! How can I not be rooting for a 43 year old guy to get into the Olympics?!

And then you have Abdi Abdirahman who is super fast and seems to be getting faster every time out.

There are probably a dozen more guys who could take one of the top three spots. It's really an awesome field and I wish I could actually watch it in person but that's just not in cards for me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The 5 hour barrier - can I break it?

When I first signed up for New York this year my main goal was to finish under 5 hours. I really don't care if I finish in 4:49:59 but I do really want to get in under 5.

As my training has progressed, I've slowly convinced myself that getting in under 5 isn't really a realistic goal. Since the Megatransect my miles have been somewhat scattered and my pace hasn't really been great. I haven't even felt particularly good on my runs and I've mentally backed off the idea of breaking 5 hours.

Today I spent a little bit of time with the online pace calculators trying to figure out what breaking 5 hours actually means. Finishing in 4:59:59 means maintaining a 11:26 pace for the race. Can I do that? Probably but I'm really not sure.

Then I went to McMillan running calculator and plugged in some of my recent times to see what it thinks about my chances. My most recent 1/2 marathon (virtual half) recorded by Nike+ was 2:21:26. I don't think I was really that fast, but if I was, McMillan projects a 4:58:17 marathon time.

My horrible feeling 18 mile run with the group took me 3:29 minutes and it was rough on me. I walked A LOT and felt lousy for at least half of it. That translates to 11:36 per mile and a 5:04 marathon.

My most recent real 1/2 marathon was the PDR where I ran 2:23:16 and felt pretty decent but had some odd chafing issues that shouldn't be a huge problem during the marathon. Plugging that time into McMillan yields a 5:02:09 marathon.

The bottom line is that I still don't think it's very likely that I'll finish New York under 5 hours. But now I do think it's possible for me to match or maybe even improve my time from last year (5:07) and if all goes perfectly and I really stick with my plan of remaining with the 5 hour pacer at all times until the very, very, very end, then maybe I can do it. Maybe.

Mostly I just want to enjoy myself but man, it would be really awesome to get under 5.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The women's race

I've been thinking aboout who I want to win the women's race in New York since I can't win myself. I'm checking out the list of women who are running and I'm torn between a few of them:

Jelena Prokopcuka has won the last two years and if she wins on Sunday she'll be only the 2nd woman to win NYC three years in a row (the only other is Grete Waitz). She'll also take home the big prize for the World Marathon majors. I think she's super cute when she wins and I kind of love her dominating the race, so I think I'm rooting for her repeat victory.

Paula Radcliffe is pretty awesome, she's the World Record holder three times over, and this will be her first race in about two years (she's been off having a baby and recovering from a broken sacrum). She's also won 6 of the 7 marathons she has run (the other was the memorable DNF at the Olympics). A victory in New York would be a pretty awesome comeback. I like Paula because she congratulates me after every one of my runs (thanks, Nike+) and is always telling me what a great job I'm doing.

Catherine Ndereba I like because she has such a cool name and cool nickname "Catherine the Great" and she's nipping at Paula's heels in the World Record race. Plus, she trains here in Valley Forge so I feel like she's my buddy even though I've never actually seen her in person. She's finished on the podium in 16 of her 17 marathons so I expect she'll be doing well on Sunday.

Last but not least, is Gete Wami , I have to admit I've never heard of her until today but I should have because she's currently in the lead of the World Marathon majors competition and if she wins on Sunday she'll win the prize.

I don't much care about the men's race because I'm more interested in the Men's Olympic trials on Saturday. More on that later but right now I really need to do some work.-

Me & Lance, together again November 4th

Wear Yellow and take to the streets of NYC on November 4th!

Bring your Marathon bib to Niketown New York, Macy's Herald Square, Paragon Sporting Goods, or Long Island and New Jersey area Dick's Sporting Goods November 1st - 3rd to receive your FREE Nike Dri-Fit LIVESTRONG Yellow Race-Day top (available in both men's and women's sizes), a $45.00 value!

5 Lucky runners caught wearing their shirt on race day will win an autographed LIVESTRONG shirt...signed by Lance himself!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thinking about the weather

That's all I can do these days. The ideal forecast of 47 and sunny is now 63 and rainy. I know it's too hard to predict this far out but I really don't want it to rain. That stinks for everybody.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nice weather for New York!

The first glances at Accuweather are looking pretty favorable for race day:

Saturday, Nov 3
Partly sunny
Low: 34 °F
High: 47 °F

Sunday, Nov 4
Sunshine and some clouds
Low: 34 °F
High: 47 °F

The waiting around at Fort Wadsworth might be pretty brutal but the running should be good. I need to get out and find some hand-warmers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dumbledore is gay?

I can't believe he's gay. I always thought that he was secretly married to Professor McGonigle!

I wonder why JK decided to drop that bombshell? She was already in hot water with all the conservative types who found the magic offputting so this is really going to send them over the edge.

I'm just sad to hear that he had his heart broken by that awful Grindelwald. It's as sad as hearing about how Tim Gunn had his heart broken 20 years ago (or more!) and hasn't had a relationship since. Poor Tim and Albus!

4 miles a day

By the way, no sooner did I decide to run/walk 4 miles a day that I started skipping days.

Thursday I came up with the total miles of 4.1 and I went to VF to run the loop. When I arrived I realized I didn't have sneakers.

Friday, we had rain and thunderstorms most of the day, plus I had a headache bad enough to send me home from work AND somebody stole my credit card. Fun!

Saturday I ran with the girls so I logged 4.5 for the day! Yay!

Sunday, I did the virtual half plus an extra 1.3 warm up miles.

Should have run: 16.4 miles
Actually ran: 18.9 miles

And today (Monday) I actually have my sneakers, so I should be good for a mile or maybe two at lunch.

Water Stop / N+WM Virtual Half marathon

We manned the water stop at mile 16 / 20 for PhillyFit's 21 mile run on Saturday. I was really a lot of fun and I was very happy to see so many happy faces in contrast to the miserable, stiff, grouches who were finishing up their 18 miles last week. There was much improvement and good spirits and a few people decided to take the plunge for the full marathon. Very exciting!

I ran a short 2 mile out and back with a couple of my friends to pick up an easy four miles for the day. It felt great to be able to do that.

Sunday, I got up to run the Nike+ Women's Virtual Half marathon. This was my last long run and I was hoping to feel and perform better than I did at the 18 mile run last week. That run killed my legs until Wednesday! It was terrible.

Sunday was a perfect running day: sunny, cool, breezy. I ran on the Perikiomen trail, Schuylkill River Trail, and the Valley Forge loop (why did I decide that adding 6 miles of hills to the middle of the run would be a good idea?) and I felt great the whole way. My bizarre belly button chafe re-appeared -- I can't figure out what's causing this. nothing seems obvious to me -- but other than that the run was pain free. Monday morning, I felt like I hadn't done a thing, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

I ran at an easy pace, walked on the hills when I had to, but tried to run as much as I could throughout the whole thing and I was thinking so much about New York and how things would be on race day. I really can't wait for the race. I hope I can have a good day.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

4.1 miles a day - can I get it done?

When I first signed up with Nike+ (January 1, 2007) I joined a challenge that was to run 1001 miles in one year. I just calculated the status of my efforts and I'm tantalizingly close but I'm still not sure that I'll be able to do it.

As of now I have logged 693.51 miles for the year. That means I have to run (or walk) 4.1 miles per day for the rest of the year to make it to 1001. I think I can do that. I might not like it, but I think I can do it.

Tonight I'm heading to VF so as long as the daylight lasts I should be getting credit for a full loop: 5.5 miles. That would put me 1.4 miles ahead of schedule.

I'm guessing I'll get about 6 miles or so for Urban Dare on Saturday - that's 2 extra miles and then I'll get 9 extra miles on Sunday when I run the virtual half marathon. So by next week I'll only have to do 3.9 miles a day for the rest of the year.

This is going to be a nifty little sub-challenge, isn't it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Orange Start Again

The marathon is almost here! It's really pretty awesome to come home from work and find this in your mailbox.
My sister and I both have very similar numbers and we're both in the Orange start. That's exciting for her since she was in the green start last time and has never been on the top of the bridge.
My legs feel better today and I'm looking forward to running again tonight.
Only 18 days to wait........

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ouch, Ouch, Ouch!

I ran 18 miles on Saturday instead of the 20 on my schedule. It was about 6 miles too many for my poor legs. I am really paying the price for all my resting!

I haven't really run much in the last few weeks -- at first to save my legs for the Megatransect and then to recover from it. I've done walking but very little running. Saturday had the PhillyFit group doing 18 miles on a paved trail -- not the normal gravel/dirt trail we usually use. I think the combination of time off, increased milage and different surface created a perfect storm for sore legs.

My friend Melinda was an awesome cheerleader and kept me from throwing in the towel at mile 12 when we passed our cars and could have bailed out on the long run. She also kept me from totally walking in the last three miles like I wanted to. I did walk the last half mile, but other than that I tried my best to do the run/walk shuffle. There were three of us who were really struggling at the end (Melinda wasn't struggling at all -- she was just super patient with the three of us who were!)

Anyway, my legs were hurting Saturday afternoon. On Sunday my quads were in bad shape. Steps were like torture. I haven't felt like this in a long time. Today they are a little better but still sore. I'm worried about New York. I know I can cover the distance but it's going to be pretty hard.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Not much to report

I don't have much going on to report since the Megatransect.

Over the weekend I decided to sleep late instead of getting up early to run and wound up taking a 7 mile walk instead of doing my scheduled run. Sunday my legs weren't really into running either so I did a 20 mile bike ride instead. I think those were good decisions.

Tuesday I did some walking but was cut short by thunderstorms and I don't know what the rest of the week holds for me.

Saturday, though, is my 20 mile run in prep for New York. This should certainly be interesting -- but the good news is that the weather should be ideal for the long run. Here's hoping my poor legs can handle it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bald Eagle Mountain Megatransect - Race Report

Despite that awful picture I posted, the Megatransect is really a pretty amazing event. The folks who organize it do a great job and the volunteers were all over the place making things go smoothly for the runners/hikers.

Friday night we got to the start/finish area to collect our goodie bags and race numbers. We were greeted with music, a nice fire, and food. They had typical happy hour stuff: cheese and crackers , chips and dip, salsa, some pizza squares, and some mini meatballs and some other kind of sausage type thing. Good snacks but not a real meal. It also looked like there was beer and wine, soda and Red Bull, but I was only interested in the water. Lots of runners were camping out and socializing at the pre-race party.

The goodie bag was fine – nothing too exotic but Brian did get lucky and found a really nice nalgene bottle in his bag. There were also some Clif bar samples and some Hammer Gel in the bag. On the table of food there were also boxes of Hammer Gel and the Hammer version of e-caps with signs that said “Take as many as you want”. So I helped myself to a couple of each flavor. I haven’t tried them out yet but it will be fun to finally have a new gel in the rotation.

It also included a nice gray Asics tech shirt with the logo on the left breast. It’s a very nice shirt –much like my shirt from the New York Marathon. I was hoping for something a little more flashy since this is such a strange event but it’s fine. I was a little jealous of the guys wandering around camp with the long-sleeved cotton shirts from years past because those had nice elaborate designs. Oh well. It’s not about the shirt, right?

Saturday morning, we were up and out before the sun rose. We arrived at the start/finish area and had time to collect our chips, use the rest room (indoor, yay!) and have some breakfast. I had some scrambled eggs to augment the Oatmeal-to-Go bar I had eaten in the car. They also had two big pots of oatmeal (one with raisins, one without) and a ton of bagels and cream cheese and peanut butter. It also looked like they had coffee and maybe juice but I’m not 100% sure. At this point, you could even see the pigs cooking away for later.

As the sun rose, and 7am approached, the race director addressed the crowd, thanked us for coming and did a quick survey to see who was returning for their 5th time (a shockingly high number) and how many were attempting the Mega for the first time. It seemed like at least half of the group were first timers. After that they wished us luck, started to play the Rocky Theme and then somebody shouted GO and we were off!

Take note of Brian's Camelbak in the photo. If only we had known what was ahead of us, he never would have dared to wear that sign!

The first three miles are on paved road through a little town and it leads to the base of the mountain and the first big climb. At this point most people were just walking at a decent pace -- the runners were out of sight right off the bat. We were sizing up the competition and didn't see anybody particularly scary. I'd seen some seriously fit women during breakfast and in the ladies room but I was sure they were at the front of the pack. The folks in the back looked like us -- just normal people. Some old, some young, some a little pudgy.

We thought we'd be able to hang with this group. HA! We stopped along here for a brief - like maybe 5 minutes - of stretching and they left us in the dust. We caught a few people by the time we got to the first climb, called the Jump Up, but we lost what little ground we had gained as we ran into a little bit of trouble getting our hiking poles to lock into place. So, we started up the mountain in close to last place.

The climb up the mountain is just beyond brutal. They warn you that it's steep but it's worse than you think it can be. I don't know how anybody could do it without poles. It's like completely straight up the slippery, muddy, side of a mountain. We were actually able to pass a couple of people here who were just huffing and puffing beyond belief. We were huffing and puffing too, but we did get up to the top. I was slightly encouraged here because I knew it was hard but I could tell I didn't feel quite as bad as some of the other people around us.

This is a really hideous close up of us at the top of the Jump Up. You can totall see how sweaty and gross we were already. We have 21 miles to go! At least we're smiling. That didn't last much longer. On the next stretch of trail, which was made of up of gradual rolling hills on super rocky and slippery terrain (so tricky that a few times I felt the rocks starting to pull my shoes off!) that Brian says "I'm not having fun". Behind us I can hear another couple talking and the woman asks the guy what his Garmin is saying about pace. We're moving at 1.9 miles per hour. We haven't even reached mile 6. This is when I had my first gel in anticipation of what was to come.

Mile 6 is the Boulder Field called the Bald Spot. We're greeted at the base by a group of volunteers who offered us encouragement, advice and candy. We made a mistake here and didn't pack up our poles so we spent the next hour or so climbing up the boulder field and handing them off to one another. This part is hard, but it's actually fun. The views are really quite spectacular and since there were no snakes (at least not that I saw) it was enjoyable. Really hard, but enjoyable!

This picture is taken maybe a quarter of the way up the boulder field. You can see the brown patch in the center of the photo - that's where the volunteers were and the woman in the picture (she's on the left and she kind of blends into the rocks) is one of the people we were able to pass on the Jump Up. She eventually had to drop out of the race because she couldn't make it to the Checkpoint before the cut-off.

The views from here were incredible and this part was well worth doing. What's the reward for making it to the top of a mile of boulders?
A trip on the technical, rocky Crossover that race descriptions call the part of the course most likely to cause a twisted ankle! If you look in the photo to the left you might see some people wearing red shirts. The girl that was part of that couple fell three times during the descent on the Crossover.

At last we came upon the first aid station/checkpoint and were rewarded with a variety of sports drink (Gatorade, PowerAde, Heed) and water. They also had tons of food: fig newtons, bananas, oreos, chocolate chip cookies, gel, peanuts, m&ms and more. I ate a section of banana, and a fig newton and had some gatorade. Our brief lift at arriving here was ruined when runners started passing going in the other direction -- they were at mile 18 and we had barely reached mile 7. We had until 12:15 to make it to the first official Checkpoint at mile 10.2 and we had about an hour and a half to do it. Time to hustle.

Luckily this section is kind of an old rutted dirt road and we were able to power walk and jog along here to make up some time. About a half mile from the Checkpoint we found a runner who was lost - she had been running around in circles and couldn't find her way to the aid station. We showed her the way but had to keep moving, hoping that she would keep us in her sights. She did manage to make it to the cut off in time.

We arrived at the Zindel Park checkpoint with abou 15 minutes to spare. We were able to take a port-a-potty break, refill the Camelbak (I was carrying 70 oz. of Gatorade in mine. Here I was about 3/4 through it and I topped it off with water), and get some snacks. I drank two or three cups of Gatorade, ate a small cup of peanuts, a small cup of Raisinettes, and a half of peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread. I can't even begin to list all of the food options they had here. PB&J, Just PB on both wheat and white bread. Cookies and candies of all sorts. Awesome spread and lots of it! With a warning that we had just 7 minutes to leave before the cut off we, made our way across the chip mat. Our band of back-of-the-packers included: me & Brian, the couple in the red-shirts, Mr. Green shirt who had been close behind us since the Jump Up, and a family of three that was a mom & dad and a college age daughter. Brian joked here that our best possible outcome for the day was finishing DFL. And we'd be lucky to manage that!

Next up was the newest and most difficult section of the race. It's called the Goat Path and it's a seemingly unending climb straight up a ridgeline and across the face of a cliff. It goes up and up and up and it tries as hard as it can to kill you. I stopped halfway up to ditch my long-sleeved shirt and to take some Tylenol 8-hour. My legs were feeling OK still but my wrists were killing me from the hiking poles. Our merry band of slow people were passing each other all over the place here - leapfrogging one another and then falling back again for one reason or another. It was just brutal.

On the way back down, on the section called the Lightening Bolt (it's terribly steep) Brian really started to suffer with IT band pain in his right knee. He was really struggling to keep a decent pace and talked to a couple of EMT guys who were along the course. I gave him some 8-hour and told him about a couple of stretches but nothing was really helping much. At about mile 13 the EMT guy told him that it was probably just pain from doing this unusual activity and that if he kept going he wasn't going to do permanent damage. He said everybody had been moaning about that downhill and that he'd probably be OK once the pills kicked in. Brian wasn't ready to quit yet (rats!) so he took an Ace bandage from the EMT and decided to press on and see if we could make the 3:45 cut off at the next checkpoint at mile 18.1.

While we were waiting, all the people we knew passed us, and so did the lost lady, and an old guy with a pink bandana. Mr. 500, the guy with the Garmin who was going at 1.9 mile pace also passed us. He told us that his girlfriend had to abandon the race because she couldn't make the Zindel Park cutoff. We were officially in last place and in real danger of having to give up.

Luckily, the pills started to kick in and the terrain leveled off a bit and we were able to pick up a little bit of speed. We were hoping to make it to the next checkpoint,and thought we could, but we weren't sure. It would be close. Have you noticed that I don't have any pictures to post? That's because we couldn't spare a minute to take any we were so worried about not finishing!

We passed the old guy with the pink bandana and the Lost lady and then we came upon a different lady in a red shirt and passed her just at the approach to Fleming Way, another wickedly steep climb. On this climb we also caught up to Mr. Green Shirt and the Red shirt couple, and Mr. 500. We all wound up at the water stop at the top of Fleming Way but were sad that there was no water left. Thank goodness for the Camelbak!

Brian took a minute to eat a protien bar here and then we started to book it as fast as we could along the flat section. We really did great here and passed everybody ahead of us, including the family of three who we hadn't seen since Zindel Park. Eventually though, we came across another downhill section that killed poor Brian. The leapfrogging started to happen again but we pulled ahead of the gang by the time we got to the 18 mile checkpoint. Along here I ate another gel and a Soy Joy bar. We were less than 15 minutes ahead of the 3:45 cut off when we arrived. The best part here was that we had reeled in another person! This was a new guy in a red shirt. I was so thrilled by this fact because I couldn't believe that nobody ahead of us had fallen off the pace. Finally we had reeled somebody in!

This checkpoint was low on food by now, but they did have peanut butter and animal crackers as well as water and gatorade. I topped off my Camelbak again and chowed down on some animal crackers. Time was still ticking and we had to make it to the base of the Chilkoot by 5 or we'd be swept. No time to waste.

I think the trail here was pretty but I'm not even sure. There was a stream along one side but mostly we were just like zombies moving along the trail trying to get where we needed to go. It was around 4:00 and we had until 5 to make to to the checkpoint and it was 2.5 miles away. We should be able to make it with ease but you can never be sure after you've been on the trail for nine straight hours. You heard me right -- nine hours! And just about every step of it you had to be concentrating on where to put your feet to avoid tripping and falling. You just can't imagine what it felt like. Luckily, my legs felt pretty good and I was in shockingly good spirits. I think I was just stunned that we were still moving along.

At last we got to the checkpoint and we were in the clear! It's only 4.4 miles to the end and one cheery volunteer kept saying "and three of them are flat". Unfortunately, that part wasn't true. Two of them were flat. The others were either brutal up hill, across rickety boulders with lots of weeds and bees, or an incredibly steep downhill made up of loose dirt and rocks that was a total knee killer. But I'm getting ahead of myself!

We got to the checkpoint first, but soon Mr. 500 and the red shirt couple caught up to us. We had a few more snacks (more raisenettes for me) and then quickly moved on. We couldn't wait to get done.

The Chilkoot starts with a trail so steep that the race people have installed a blue rope that you can use to pull yourself up. This is a shot of Mr. 500 heading up the rope. We let him go first while we stowed our poles.

This part was hard too but sort of fun in a bizarre way. What was at the top of the rope -- not so fun. This was another boulder field, only this one had smaller, more unstable rocks and also had a bunch of bees. It also tricked you because you got to the top, and there was a flat road, but then the boulders kept on going. I hate you, stupid boulders!

Towards the top a college kid was waiting and warning you steer clear of the bees nests.

He was nice, we were all joking about how slow we were but he was really nice and told us how impressed he was that we were all sticking it out and getting through it. While we were here taking some pictures, the Dad from the family of three popped up over the top of the mountain surprising us all. He'd taken a different line up the mountain but he still made it. That was pretty funny.

This is us smiling before we begin the descent from hell. I don't know how Brian toughed it out here -- his poor knee was killing him every step of the way. We got passed by everybody here except for the Lost Lady, the old man with the pink bandana and the sweeper. It was so hard for him I wished I could have made it easier but there was no way down short of making some kind of makeshift sled out of our backpacks or something.

Luckily, at the bottom of this hill we were back on the pavement and with that came our ability to use the Turbo Boost to catch some people Brian's fastwalker ability came to him and I started to jog along side him and before you knew it we were passing the pair of Mr. Red Shirt and Mr. Green Shirt and then the red-shirt couple. Amazingly we were not going to finish in last place!! A small victory, but HUGE to us.

It took everything I had to run (I can't even imagine how slow I was running) along that road to the finish. It seemed to go on forever even though it was only a couple of miles. I kept thinking to myself what good practice it would be for the final stretch of the New York Marathon and then I remembered that last year, along Columbus Circle I saw that guy ahead of me with the "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". That mantra got me over the finish line in Central Park and it did it for me again at the Megatransect.

Of course between repeating the mantra in my head I would talk to Brian and my grouchy, miserable self was saying stuff like "we're not going to make it in 11.5 hours" and "they might not give us a medal" and stuff like that. I should have known that wouldn't happen because as we were running it in people were driving out of the campgrown beeping and waving at us and shouting encouragement from the windows. It didn't seem like the kind of crowd that would deny us medal for finishing a few minutes past the cut off.

As luck would have it, we crossed in 11:38 just as the sun was setting. We were greeted by loud applause and a guy shook my hand as I finished and said "Congratulations, Megatransector!". Which made me think that's probably as close as I will ever get to hearing "You are an Ironman!"

We stopped and they handed us our medals and my legs were just shaking from being so tired. I've never had that happen before. This is certainly the hardest medal I've earned.

We were able to sit down and eat our awesome pork BBQ dinner with yummy peach/berry cobbler for dessert and I also scarfed down a couple of slices of Domino's pizza too. We watched the last few people finish: first the red-shirt couple about a minute behind us and then Mr. Red Shirt and Mr. Green Shirt finished together about 8 to 10 minutes after us and finally, about 20 minutes after us, Lost Lady and Pink Bandana guy.

Hats off to all of them and to the absoultely mind-boggling fit people who finsished this crazy thing in 4 hours, and of course, all the other people who got through the ordeal.

I think if Brian didn't have knee pain, and we didn't take pictures, we could have been at the very most an hour faster than we were and probably not that much ahead. We were just completely overmatched by the whole event and I'm really, really proud that we were able to stick it out and finish even though we were close to last. Brian especially impressed me since he had pain for at least half of the course. He's tough.

We hung out and socialized for awhile after we ate and people seemed to be having a great time, drinking beer and talking and listening to the music. We were just beat so we headed back to the hotel (by way of Dairy Queen for some ice cream) and then snuggled into bed for some much needed rest.

Here's a shocking thing: we slept for 9 hours -- less time than we were on the mountain!

It's Monday now and my legs feel pretty good. My right calf is pretty sore still, but other than that, just typical soreness that you'd expect after a marathon. Brian's knee is feeling loads better and he's happy about that.

So that's the tale of the Megatransect. By far the hardest thing I've ever done.

I'd like to say thanks to the Megatransect people who really put on a great event. It was hard for us, but it was really well done. The fault wasn't theirs, it was our inability to grasp just how intense this thing really is that did us in.

As the red shirt girl said at one point along the way "This is clearly for crazy people - not typical Outdoor enthusiasts." She couldn't be more right!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Megatransect Report

I think this photo sums up the Megatransect perfectly.

This was on the course in the middle of a steep boulder field at about mile 20.5 of the race. That's how we all felt at that point.
It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Like sheer torture for most of the day. We finished in 11 hours and 38 minutes and just barely avoided coming in dead last. It took every ounce of determination we had to finish at all.
More details to come.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Disney Vacation Plan

This is turning into quite the busy trip!

1/10 Arrive late in the day just in time for bed
1/11 Expo / possibly the 5K at the Animal Kingdom
1/12 Run half-marathon
1/13 Run Marathon
1/14 Sunset Safari + dinner at Jiko
1/15 Fort Wilderness Segway Tour
1/16 Do nothing (at last!)
1/17 Aqua Seas Tour - (swimming/scuba in the Living Seas Tank)
1/18 Do nothing again
1/19 Fly home

Obsessed with the Megatransect

Last night I went to REI to get myself a new Camelbak. I have one that's small, and holds about 35oz of water and fits into the small of the back. I stopped using it once I took up running and figured it was about time I invested in a comination hydration system / backpack.

I've occasionally carried a pack while hiking on vacation. It tends to hold our lunches, water/gatorade and binoculars and camera. I use a pretty ratty backpack for this, and it doesn't have a lot of structure. I'm also the supplemental water supply -- meaning that I share the water that Brian carries in his 70 oz Camelbak. Sharing means that we have to stop when I need to drink because I either have to drink using his mouthpiece or I have to take off my pack to pull out a bottle. It's not very efficient.

Since we're planning the long hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon next year, I thought that this would be a decent time to invest in the hydration pack since I'll need it for the Megatransect too.

I bought a Camelbak Daystar that's cut for a woman. It's a cute blue color and it holds 70 oz plus has lots of room for other stuff. I even read in some reviews that it can hold several more liters of fluid in bottles in addition to the water bladder. That's good for the GC hike. I think that this is going to be a lot more comfortable for me at the Mega even though it's breaking one of the big rules -- don't do anything new on marathon day!

The weather is still looking PERFECT for Saturday! Fitness Index of 10! The high is supposed to be 73 with an overnight low of 45. Seriously, the best it could be. I hope it's really true. I'm still scared of this event but I don't know why. I'm pretty fit, I can walk forever and I'm a fairly experienced hiker. I have nothing to fear. Except rattlesnakes. (And they should be pretty sluggish from the overnight chill!)
We can check in with the race folks on Friday night at the "welcome party". I wonder what that's all about?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Weekend Long Run

Horrible, horrible, horrible! That's the only way to describe my 10 mile run on Satuday. My legs felt like they weighed 400 pounds, I couldn't breathe and it decided to pour rain for a few miles in the middle of the run. YUCK.

The only good thing about it was that it probably helped secure an Eagles win in NFL Runnerbowl.

No more running for me until after the Megatransect.

Stay tuned for a post on that subject.

Sweater Update

I sent an e-mail to customer service about the cashmere sweater. They want me to send it back using the prepaid return slip.

I'm in a snit but I know it's the right thing to do.

Good-bye pretty cashmere sweater!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I've been thinking about baseball lately since the Phillies are making a run for first place and are only 1.5 games out of first and 1.5 out of the wildcard spot. It's interesting, even for somebody like me who doesn't normally follow baseball.

Tonight I came across this story about the guy who bought the Barry Bonds 756 baseball at auction. He has a website and he's letting the public vote on what to do with the ball. Your choices are: Send it to the Hall of Fame. Have it branded with an asterisk and then send it to the hall of fame, or have it shot into space on a rocket.

Here's a link so you can vote:

I chose the Brand It option.

In other news: I did go to the park and had a very mediocre run (with tons of walking thrown in) my legs weren't quite ready for all the downhills at Valley Forge.

Running / Recovering

Today is typically an off day for me but since Brian & I both had lingering stiffness in our legs yesterday we didn't meet at the park after work. I did get out for a lunchtime walk but it was pretty slow and only about a mile and a half.

Tonight is a perfect day to get out there and run (or walk) since the weather is good but I'm really busy at work and I don't know if I can beat the clock and get out of here before it gets too dark to run outside.

Tomorrow is our normally scheduled run in the park and I should easily be able to do it since I have a work-related class which will get me out a little earlier than usual.

I really can't go tonight but I want to because I need the miles for the NFL Runnerbowl challenge.

I really can't make up my mind! A smart person with this problem would be WORKING at work instead of typing this silly blog post.

Call the fashion police!

I was shopping at Garnet Hill (Awesome but super expensive company. I check the Sale of the Day every day!) and I decided to splurge on a couple of skirts from their fall catalog. I also added one of the 'sale of the day' items to my order - a plain black v-neck t-shirt that cost $16.

When my box arrived it had the two skirts I'd ordered but instead of the t-shirt they sent me a black, v-neck, cardigan, cashmere sweater. It's very nice and if my investigations on the website are correct, it costs $138.

So here's my dilemma: Do I just consider myself lucky and keep it or do I contact them and try to give it back?

I am dying to keep it since it's nice, and it fits, but I think I feel too guilty to do it. I just sent them an e-mail about it and I'm hoping they never respond so I can feel like I did the right thing and yet still get to keep the sweater.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My thoughts turn to the Megatransect....

Check out the course profile. Is this enough to scare you away? It's scaring me!

I'm hoping that there is a lot more of this:

and a lot less of this:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's a Beautiful Day in Philadelphia!

Nice medal, huh? Course record for me at 2:23! Yay!
I'm back from my half marathon today and I had a pretty good day overall.
Here's my race report done as a tribute to one of my favorite kids books (it's called Fortunately).
Fortunately, Philadelphia was blessed with perfect race weather today! Beautiful blue sky, and sunny with a light breeze, in the low 50s at the start. Even now, at about 3:00, it's only in the mid-60s.
Unfortunately, this gorgeous setting had me off and running way faster than my normal snail's pace.
Fortunately, I knew that was not good, so I tried really hard to force myself to slow down.
Unfortunately, that totally ruined my rhythm for the first 5 miles.
Fortunately, things started looking up when I spotted some friends and they kept me on track for the next 3 miles.
Unfortunately, they stopped at a port-o-john and I was on my own again.
Fortunately, the course takes a turn at mile 8.5 and heads into a long straightaway to the finish.
Unfortunately, my fashion choices started to backfire on me on this stretch. (Cute running skirt, why did you decide that today was a good day to chafe?)
Fortunately, I am too tough to let a little chafe ruin a PR for this course!
Unfortunately, they moved the finish line this year so my finishing kick ran out of juice a little short of the finish like so it was really more of a finishing shuffle.
Fortunately, they still gave me a totally awesome medal!
Also Fortunately, my 15 year old niece did the race too and finished with her own PR of 2:16 and Mr. hmonkeyruns also finished with a PR.
Pace Splits & times from the website:
5K: 10:40 33:07
10K: 10:43 1:06:43
10 mile: 10:55 1:49:04
overall: 10:59 2:23:49

Monday, September 10, 2007

Very worried

I'm doing some more reading about the Megatransect. I'm very worried. It's going to be so hard.

I really thought we were going to be off the hook!

Different Sort of Weekend - Bikes & hikes

I was completely frazzled by the end of the workweek and I also noticed that my right shin was feeling pretty sore so on Friday night I decided to skip Saturday's PhillyFit run. I decided to cancel mostly because the run was being held downtown, at Kelly Drive, and that meant at least a 40 minute drive to get to the starting point instead of the usual 10 minute drive. That was just a little too much sleep for me to give up so I opted for sleeping in.

Brian had a plan to ride our bikes for awhile and then follow up with a walk but we wound up just riding our bikes. We went about 15 miles, mostly on the flat, but there was at least one killer kill. I found it pretty fascinating that I was able to pedal the bike to the same point on the hill before I had to walk it as I managed when I was running. It's at least 3/4 of the way to the summit and probably more than that...maybe 4/5 of the way to the top. The big difference was that when I was running, I probably didn't have to stop at all but I did when I caught the runner ahead of me. It was a mental shift down not a physical one. On the bike, I was ready to die by the time I got to that point....I really couldn't pedal anymore and it seemed like FOREVER before my HR came back down.

As it turns out there was a huge cycling event going on in Philadelphia on Saturday so there were tons of "real" cyclists out on that hill at the same time as us. They were doing either 65 or 100 mile rides and I was happy to see that they were mostly struggling up (or even walking up) the hill and hurting nearly as much as me. These are people with might lighter bikes and more cycling experience than I have. Of course, they'd also ridden at least 40 miles at that point, so I suppose they were in a different spot than me.

By the time we finished our ride, we were starving and it was pretty hot out so we just blew off the walking segement of our workout. That was OK with me because we had a plan to go hiking on Sunday and I really didn't want to stress my sore shin because of the Distance Run coming up next weekend.

On Sunday we went out for a test hike to see if Brian's hip would be cooperating enough for us to still do the Megatransect at the end of the month. It wasn't 100% but I think he did well enough for us to do the hike. We were out at French Creek for about 3 hours and we tested out our new trekking poles and stuff. All in all, a good day. Today my wrists and hands are sore from the poles but other than that I think I really liked them.

Post hike we came home and watched that horrible Eagles game on Tivo. I think I could field punts better than those guys. Tonight I plan to watch the Men's final of the US Open even though I already know what happened.

On schedule this week: a couple short runs plus some walking to rest for the Distance Run on Sunday. The early weather forecast looks awesome -- sunny with a high of 68!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon - personal Course Record

So the Rock'N'Roll Half was on Sunday and once again the weather tried to kill me. Actually, the weather was probably the best we've seen for this race. I'd say it was in the low 70s when we started running, with a nice breeze, and relatively low humidity. By the time I hit the finish it was probably just over 80.
I had one and a half Oatmeal-to-Go bars with a small cup of Endurance for breakfast and sucked down a caramel PowerGel right before our corral started around 7:20. I wasn't wearing my fuel belt. I started the run with the 2:22 pace group and hung with them for the first half of the race but between mile 6 and 7 (Camp Pendelton) I faded, despite taking a gel at mile 5 with the specific intention of avoiding the doldrums at Camp Pendelton. I'm convinced that my fade was totally mental because while it was sunny in that section, there was a great breeze and I should have been able to run right through. Instead I slowed to a walk and kind of took stock of things. I didn't feel able to keep up with the pacers and according to my watch they were running close to a minute ahead of the pace and that was just too hard for me to maintain.
Anyway, as we left the Camp I was a little bummed out that the neighborhood gang that usually has the best cheer station was missing. I guess their leader must have moved away. I did Ok on the return miles and walked over the bridge but I did manage to run on the roundabout section. I tried running as much as I could down Atlantic Ave but this section (about 2 miles) always seems to me like twice as far. I really wish they'd put a water stop in the middle of Atlantic Ave. I ate my last gel right before 10.2 when they handed out the free ones on the course.
Rounding onto the Boardwalk I still felt OK but I knew that there was no chance of hitting 2:22 but I knew that I would be unde 2:30 which was my primary goal for the day. The Boardwalk was really sunny, like usual, but there was a breeze blowing from behind and slightly off the ocean so it didn't feel as awful as it has in years past. I also knew that the whole distance was about 2 miles and that's really not far and that helped me feel better. At this point I was really feeling tired and I was thinking I was dehydrated, despite drinking at every water stop. I'm really used to taking in much more fluid on my long runs and I was beating myself up for not wearing my fuel belt.
Along the boardwalk I also started to take extra cups of water to pour on my neck and back to cool me off a little and I did head into the misting stations when I saw them. I usually hate that kind of thing but at this race it feels really good and I know that even if my feet get wet, I'm really close to the finish line.
I was playing this annoying game of pass and fade with a racewalker guy -- who was really awesome and kept an incredibly steady pace -- but I think I finally passed him for good about mile 12. It was around that time that my crazy Nike+ decided that I'd finished the race. There's nothing quite as pesky as hearing a voice tell you that you're all finished when you have more than a mile left to run!
I ran it in, and felt pretty strong in the last quarter mile or so. My final time is 2:25:16, which is about a 9 minute improvement over last year (2:34:11) and is by far my best time on this course. I probably could have been more disciplined and run more in some sections when I let my brain get the best of me, and I think I would have run better if I had my fuel belt (if only for a security blanket). My point is that I might have shaved a minute or two of the 2:25 but there was no way in the world I could have bested my PR of 2:19 yesterday, and therefore I'm pretty satisfied with my overall race.
I'm hoping to do better at the PDR in 2 weeks but we'll see. I'll be wearing my fuel belt!
They served Accelerade on the course, which I actually liked quite a lot, I just don't think I drank enough of it.
Blogger is going crazy and is squishing this whole message into one giant paragraph even though when I look at it in the editor it has normal paragraph spacing. Hopefully that will sort itself out and this post will be more readable.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Easy Run (not so easy) and race prep

I went for my typical Valley Forge run last night but since my fuel tank was very low (I forgot to bring a pre-race snack) I found myself struggling at times and did more walking than normal. I guess that's OK since I shouldn't be knocking myself out since I really hope to have a good race in Virginia Beach on Sunday.

I hear that the weather in Virginia Beach is supposed to be great this weekend (Weather Channel Fitness Comfort Index of 8 for race day!) and I hope that means that I won't get killed by the humidity like I normally do at this event.

I'm trying to decide how to pace myself and what I want to shoot for but I think the best idea is just to go with the flow, see how it shakes out in the second half, but think about running a PR race at the Distance Run in Philadelphia when the weather is almost sure to be better for me.

I think I'll try to run with the 2:22 pacer and see how that goes. My major plan is to finish under 2:30, hopefully under 2:25 and on a perfect day, under 2:19 for a PR.

Monday, August 27, 2007

LiveStrong Challenge

What a totally fun day! I am dying to run out to the bike store to buy a road bike so I can be in this even on a bike next year. It was still cool on foot, but the runners really were just sidekicks to the main participants on bikes. I look really nerdy in that picture, I know!

The day had a 5K run and walk plus 10, 40, 70 and 100 mile bike rides. There were thousands of particpants, mostly on bikes. Lance was there and I managed to get his photo when he was on stage but when he was 2 feet away on his bike, I only managed to catch his left arm. That's him riding right out of the frame. He's the one with the watch. I don't know who his unidentifiable sidekick is. (You can click on the picutes to make them bigger!)
The weather was hot and humid but it was overcast in the morning, which was a blessing since the run was still hard even with the cloud cover.

I took a lot of pictures before during and after the event and you can see them all by clicking this link to the slideshow.

I don't know how I did because I was struggling a little with the humidity and I stopped a few times to take photos. I did, however, run as fast as a I possibly could at the end from the point where I took this photo to the finish line which you can see if you look close -- it has to be no more than a quarter mile from the photo point. Maybe less. The point is that I ran hard enough at that point that the kid barely had time to unhook the timing thingie from my ankle before I totally hurled over the corral fence into the grass. I have done 20+ races and I've never even had a hint of throwing up from exertion before but here I was doing it for Lance. Crazy!

My friend from work was here today too doing her very first 5k ever and she did great and had a great time. She was as excited as I'd hoped she be when she finished.
Since is is all about fighting cancer, if you'd like to Donate some money to the Lance Armstrong Foundation you can do that by clicking on this link.

The t-shirt we all got was neat too. It has the LiveStrong logo in the center and it's surrounded by these yellow words:

LiveStrong means....knowing not all heros wear capes
LiveStrong means....honoring my child with every mile
LiveStrong means....challenging myself
LiveStrong means....having the courage to take a walk
LiveStrong means....defining my own finish line
LiveStrong means....pushing through the pain
LiveStrong means....having the courage to take a ride
LiveStrong means....turning tears into sweat
LiveStrong means....having the courage to go for a run
LiveStrong means....channelling attitude into action
LiveStrong means....pedaling my heart out
LiveStrong means....pounding the pavement to make a difference
LiveStrong means....knowing that courage is taking the first step
LiveStrong means....digging deep when I want to quit
LiveStrong means....knowing not all winners finish first
LiveStrong means....being scared and showing up anyway
LiveStrong means....believing in myself
LiveStrong means....knowing it's about the journey and not the finish line
LiveStrong means....knowing I'm stronger than I thought
LiveStrong means....
never, never, never giving up

Unity is strength. Knowledge is power.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saturday Long Run - 10 miles

Blah! Yesterday was gross. We started the run at 7am and it was about 74 degrees and 100% humidity. You heard me, 100% humidity. I think Bobby Julich (yes, the real one from the Tour de France...I'll explain later) said it best when he said it was nasty like being in a rainstorm but without the actual rain. The day would eventually heat up to the mid-90s and we had a heat index of 105 degrees.

Brian was at PhillyFit testing his hip for next week's race and I wasn't all that interested in running 12 miles with the group because of the icky weather and because I was running a 5K on Sunday morning at the LiveStrong Challenge. We wound up doing a solid 10 and spent the rest of the day rehydrating and complaining about the oppressive heat.

We went over to the LiveStrong Expo to pick up our numbers and stuff and it was just horrifyingly hot. Just standing still in the sun had sweat just pouring off of you. Even the inside of the gym where they were having the displays and handout was oppressively hot.

Bobby Julich was at the expo signing autographs and mixing with the people. I've always liked him and I'm still a little sad that he didn't win the Tour when he had the chance and now I can say that he really is very nice. I had nothing of interest to talk to him about, but he really spent time having actual conversations with the people in line ahead of me and he sat outside (in a tent but it was still really hot) signing autographs for FOUR hours in 100 degree heat. Lance wasn't doing that and it was his event! I got my picture with him but I forget how to get to it so I probably won't post it here but I did meet him.

So now my exciting celebrity autograph collection is: Deena Kastor, Grete Weitz, and Bobby Julich.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thursday Walk/Run

We met at VF last night and did a test run on Brian's sore hip. He's trying to ease back into things and figure out if he'll be able to do the race next weekend at Virginia Beach. He's looking positive but he's not sure. I think PhillyFit tomorrow will tell the tale for him.

I did mostly walking and then a slow run at the end up the big hill. It wasn't a great run but it did help me clear out my head of some of the stress that's been building up at work.

I'm worried about tomorrow's long run since the high tomorrow is supposed to be 93. The heat index is 105 and the humidity is supposed to be pretty bad. We have a 12 mile run scheduled and I'm not sure I want to tackle all 12 in such conditions -- it'll be cooler at 7am when we start but it's still probably going to be a hard day. I don't know if I want to put myself through that with the race next weekend looming and with the Livestrong 5K on Sunday.

But part of me really does want to run all 12 so I'll have a better idea what to expect next Sunday where I know conditions will probably be hot and humid.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Megatransect in Jeopardy!

We might not be able to go! Brian is having a flare-up of his hip problems and I'm not sure he's going to have enough time to get better and put up enough training miles to tackle the Mega.

We both really want to go but I don't think I'm brave enough to tackle the hills and snakes without him and I really don't want him to get hurt out on the course.

Stay tuned...

Saturday Long Run - about 12 miles.

I had an absolutely great run on Saturday! The weather was awesome -- very cool and no humidity and the group went out for 9 miles on Forbidden Drive. It was so easy it felt like half the distance.

I ran most of the 2nd half with a guy in the group who is also running at Virginia Beach and he's training for Marine Corps. We decided to tack on a couple of extra miles and wound up running about three extra miles. We had to cut it a little short since there was a pit bull on the loose on the trail. The dog didn't seem mean, but it did run right up to us a couple of times, and while it stopped short of jumping up it seemed like it was pretty fiesty. Not aggresive and scary, really, but since it was a pit-bull and it didn't have a collar, we weren't taking any chances so we turned around. If it had been a lab or something, we probably would have kept on running.

In any event, the run was fabulous and other than being a little sleepy in the afternoon, it was like I hadn't done anything at all. Way to go, legs!

Sunday was super rainy so no running.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Saturday Long Run - 10 miles

We were scheduled for 10 miles today and we went to Forbidden Drive for the run since the weather was supposed to be pretty bad. The forecast was for mid-upper 90s with high humidity and while it wasn't quite that hot when we got started, it certainly was humid. Blech!

Not far into the run, maybe a mile or so, Brian stopped to do his normal stretching and since none of my normal running buddies were around I decided to stay with him. That was probably a good idea since it was just shockingly humid and he wasn't having a great day so it was good for him to have a buddy to walk him in for the last mile or two.

I actually felt quite good during the parts of the day that I was running. I took plenty of walk breaks and walked all of the last 2 miles, but while I was running I felt suprisingly strong considering the weather. It gives me hope for VA Beach!

After our run we changed shoes and went for a short hike to give the Megatransect shoes a slight workout. We were both kind of grumpy and not too into it though so we only went about 2 miles.

Sunday we broke out the bikes and went for a short, flat 10 mile ride. This was a test for Brian's sore neck. Hopefully it didn't set him back any and we'll be able to do some more riding. There's an awesome bike trail where we're going this weekend (Pine Creek Gorge) so I hope we'll be able to get some cycling in.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Reality Check - we need to schedule some big miles!

Last night, while we were walking the loop, Brian mentioned that we really need to be upping our miles before the Megatransect.

I'm such a dope! I've been so busy worrying about shoes, hiking poles, and water supply, that I didn't even consider the fact that it's 25 miles long! Sure, 25 miles of hiking, stretched out over up to 11.5 hours, isn't quite 26.2 at your best effort, but a lot of it is uphill and no matter how you slice it, it's 25 miles! We have to start making some changes.

The good news, is that our milage isn't so far off yet. For instance, last week we probably should have put up 15 but we did 12 instead. This week, the schedule counts 10 for both the group we run with and our Mega schedule. Where we get into some trouble is when we should be putting up a 20 mile hike. Our group is only doing 11 that day so I think we'll be on our own for sure. The other thing is that it falls on the "off" week between Virginia Beach and the PDR.

Here's how my next few months shake out - Long Runs only.

Blue is Mega miles, Green is NYC, Red is running group

Aug 4: 10 12 10
Aug 11: 13 9 12
Aug 18: 13 12 9
Aug 25: 18 8 12
Sep 1: 12 11 8 1/2 marathon VA Beach
Sep 8: 21 15 11
Sep 15: 8 10 15 1/2 marathon Philadelphia Distance Run
Sep 22: 6 13 10
Sep 28: 25 18 13 Race Day! Megatransect
Oct 6: 12 8
Oct 13: 21 12
Oct 20: 8 21 Urban Dare
Oct 27: 6 8
November 4 - New York Marathon

Oh yeah, and I also need to be planning for the Goofy Challenge!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Death-eaters at work?

I am a horrible person because the more I read about the bridge collapse in Minnesota, the more I keep thinking about the first chapter of the Half Blood Prince where Fudge is explaining to "the other minister" that it's Lord V. and the death-eaters who are causing all kinds of problems in the muggle world. One of the primary examples is a completely unexplained bridge collapse.

It's such an awful, real-life thing that I feel guilty associating it with a book but I still can't stop thinking it!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Spending money is so easy on the Internet...

I just blew about $300 in just about 5 minutes.

First, I registered two of us for the Philadelphia Half-Marahon and then I bought a pair of "limited edition" hiking poles. Is that the most ridiculous way to spend money?

I am pretty skeptical of the whole hiking pole thing but it seems as if most folks in the Megatransect use them and that they are highly reccommended for the Grand Canyon hike. I was shocked when I saw how expensive they were at REI.

Today, when I was over at the website for the American Hiking Society I saw these nifty limited run of LEKI poles that have the snazzy AHS logo on them (it looks like a boot print). I loved the cool print but the price tag is what really sold me. A bargain (HA!) at $67.50. The cheapest I saw at REI was $59 and that wasn't a LEKI, which seems to be the unquestioned best.
Hopefully they'll arrive before we head up to the Grand Canyon of PA next week.

A new medal! How could I have forgotten this?!

Do you believe that I forgot to report that our PhillyFit coaching team handed out medals at the end of our run on Saturday?

It was great. It was a big fat gold medal on a ribbon that was even engraved with Philly Fit and the fact that we'd run 10 miles. We got the medal after a particularly humid 12 mile run but the medal was for people crossing the 10 mile benchmark the week before. It was very nice and I know a lot of our runners have never run that far before so it was especially nice for them.

We were having a picnic after our run so the medals added a nice extra zing to the party atmosphere.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Phantom Ranch

I'm going crazy thinking about the Grand Canyon.

We've been talking about trying to book a trip to the GC with the focus of hiking down to the Colorado River and staying for a few nights at Phantom Ranch. It would be awesome! Unfortunately, I hear it's close to impossible to book such a trip for when we want to go. Rooms at the ranch can sell out in less than an hour. Tomorrow I need to be on the phone dialing like a mad woman to try to secure a reservation for late September 2008.

I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to get through to book a room. Which has me hunting all over the internet to find an outfitter who can produce the same trip for me. I found one that seems ideal but it's super expensive. Still, a night at a North Rim Lodge, 2 nights at Phantom Ranch and then another night or two at a South Rim ranch. Sounds fantastic! Plus, they'll lug my gear and cook my food. I totally want to go!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Saturday Group Run - 12 miles and shoe shopping

I was dreading Saturday's run because the forecast said it was going to be really hot and humid. It was very humid, but it wasn't as hot as I'd feared so things went OK.
My Nike+ went bonkers and decided I'd only run about 2.5 miles when really I'd gone at least 4 on the trail. I killed that workout and restarted and it seemed to work a little better but over all I only got credit for about 9 miles instead of 12. Very peksy!

I bought an awesomely cute pair of pink Saucony Triumphs on eBay but I suspect they are some kind of fakes because they were inexpensive and I've never seen pink ones on sale before. I love them though.

I also got a much uglier pair of Merrell Moab Ventilators too. These are for the Megatransect. Outside magazine says they're an awesome all purpose shoe. I really wanted the KEEN Targhee II because they were awesomely comfy and super cute (the picture isn't doing them justice) but they were so heavy compared to the Ventilators I just couldn't do it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

First sign of success!

I've been putting up a lot of miles but I haven't really seen any clear signs of progress until my run last night.

I made it up the hill from hell at VF. I hate that stupid hill and I remember when I thought that I would never, ever be able to run all the way up it. I overcame that last summer but have been really challenged by this hill all over again this year. Until last night when I got right up it without even thinking of stopping! YAY!

Of course, I didn't make it all the way around the loop without stopping. The brutal approach to the visitor's center after the big downhill gets me every time. That's the next goal.

Tomorrow is 12 miles with PhillyFit. I'd be looking forward to it except it's going to be hot and very humid and possibly raining. What a lovely combo! I guess it'll be good training for Virginia Beach.

In other news, I'm doing a lot of research about hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It seems like it might be impossible to get a reservation at Phantom Ranch, which is what I really want to do, so I might have to consider actualy backpacking and camping. Yikes!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Goofy Challenge Here I Come...

I'm feeling very excited since I just booked my flight to Orlando for the Goofy Challenge.

I'm really spending a lot of money today, aren't I?

But the flight was a good deal for sure $203 round trip with all fees and taxes at the times I wanted to travel.

Now I only have to get through 24 weeks of training, 2 other marathons (well one plus a 24.9 mile race), and 4 or 5 half-marathons. Should be a breeze!

I love Running Skirts + I love Sales

I just ordered these three awesome new running skirts for 50% off at Skirt Sports!

Now I better actually do some running!