Tuesday, January 22, 2013

26.2 Marathon of Me!

I promised an update on this weekend's final LONG training run before the 26.2 with Donna race coming up in less than 4 short weeks! With getting Monday off form work in honor of MLK, I went in to the weekend a little nervous, but also fairly laid back about my long run. When I say laid back, I should probably specify that this only applies to when I would be doing my long run. I remained rigid about my pace goals. 9:40 per mile or better. Period.

My original thought was to run first thing Saturday morning - knock it out early then enjoy the rest of the weekend. But, I planned poorly on Friday and wound up not fueling properly for the next day's run (a protein shake for breakfast and lunch, roasted mushrooms for dinner does not a healthy girl make). I was feeling the effects of too few calories from the previous day on Saturday morning and decided to push the run back.

I fought myself about whether to do it Sunday (with help) or Monday (while I was home alone and Mike worked = no help) and finally landed on Sunday morning. Since it's not blistering hot here in Florida (for a few short weeks of the year), I decided to let myself wake up naturally instead of beat the sun. By 7:30 I was up, dressed, fueled, and ready to hit the pavement.

Even though I was running in daylight, I for some reason picked this fashionable color combo just so I would be sure to be seen by cars. Beauty before comfort? No, safety before beauty!

Roady wished me luck and I headed out the door.

My neighbor and fellow first-time-marathoner-to-be joined me for the first 12 miles before she had to stop to go to church. I let her know ahead of time about how I would be hard-headed about the pace for this final trial, and she did a great job of staying with me as we ran the first 12 miles at a 9:25-9:36 pace.

Like I planned for last week, I completed 2 laps of 6.5 miles each. We breezed through the first loop without stopping for water. On the second loop my buddy needed a quick potty break, so I knew we were running a little behind time. Lap 3 I was on my own and feeling strong. I finished the first 4 miles of the third loop (miles 13-17) around a 9:05 pace. I took a look at the actual time and saw that it was approaching 11:30 am, when I had asked Mike to meet me at the house so he could run or bike the final loop with me. I wound up cutting the third loop about a mile short in order to make it back in time, figuring it was better for him to bike an extra mile with me than be waiting for me to get started.

When I got back to the house, Mike was ready to go with his bike, his Pandora Reggae station playing, and some water bottles to bring on the trip. I was so thankful for the company, as I had 18.5 miles behind me and 7.5 more seemed ridiculous.

I don't know if it was the miles or having Mike there to be strong for me, but my pace really started to slow. I was tired and my hips were aching, but I should have been OK. I was mad at myself for slowing down. Right at the dreaded 21.5 mark the foot pain I've been managing for the past 2 weeks kicked in to high gear and my foot no longer wanted to support my weight. Reluctantly, I stopped to stretch my foot and roll my ankle. My average pace was creeping up and I was starting to lose hope. I kept going, knowing the pain would stop (or go numb) if I could just keep moving. Again I cried a little, not as bad as last time, but enough to get Mike's attention and make him start cheering and pepping me up.

I thought of you guys and asked him to take a picture for the bloooooog, even though I knew I would look disgusting and miserable. As you can tell, I was not feeling great anymore. When it was time to turn around, I got a little surge of energy and told myself "just get home, you just have to get home." 

The final 3 miles are a little blurry - literally. I put my head down and stared at my shadow on the pavement in front of me. I felt myself getting dizzy and foggy, and shook my head to wake myself back up. It was hard to focus. It felt like work just to look at the ground in front of me to make sure I wouldn't trip on anything. A little day dream about tripping and falling during the race managed to occupy a few minutes of the remaining miles.

As I approached my street (and the last 0.2 miles!) I saw my neighbor on her way back from church. She honked and cheered out the window, which gave me the boost I needed for those final steps.

When it was all over, I was very happy and very proud...but this is the closest thing to a smile I could come up with.

26.2 miles in 4 hours and 25 minutes. For my first marathon distance, I am pretty proud. I am, however, wondering and worried if the adrenaline from the crowd can really help me shave a whopping 10 minutes off that time on race day, in order for me to make my 4:15 goal.

On my Monday off, I took the pup to my training session with Tammy then for some well deserved play time at the dog park in Ponte Vedra. He loves to run free, swim, and fetch the ball.

Oh, and sniff everyone and make new friends.

Once his exercise was taken care of as well, we snuggled up on the couch until Mike got home from work. I had zero energy to go to the grocery store and plan for this week's breakfasts and lunches. Which is why today's lunch looks like this...

This is what $8 of organic strawberries looks like, eaten with a knife since I don't want to run downstairs to the cafe for a fork. Along with this is a homemade larabar and a glass of apple chai tea. Looks like I will need to pack in all my veggies and protein during dinner.


  1. WOW! I read this like a great mystery novel...I KNEW you would finish and finish well but I held my breath with each mile and each step...I'm going to be a cheering machine on race day! This is such an awesome and inspiring story. I was going to take today off but now am planning to lace up my shoes and try to at least run a measly three today! I'm SO proud of you. My best friend is a MARATHON RUNNER!

    AND don't worry....you are going to rock it at the race. Just think about that and not about the time or the audience and you will meet your goal! LOVE!

  2. Hey! My name is Megan, I live in the same neighborhood as Derek and he mentioned you were planning to do the TDP Extreme (Tour de Pain)...he sent me the link to your blog and I just read this post! I too an training for 26.2 with Donna for the first time and I have only done 18 as of yet...this Saturday is my 20 mile. I'm not doing more than that but still hoping 26.2 will be possible in 3 weeks!
    He said you wanted some information on the TDP Extreme... it's tons of fun and trust me, SO much easier than The Donna will be! If you can run 26.2 miles at once, the 22.4 in 24 hours is NO problem! Let me know if you want to know anything specific :) I'm hoping to do it again this year but with The Donna, then Gate in March, we have to see if I'm still living!

    1. Hi Megan! Thanks for stopping by and especially for leaving a comment! Woo hoo! This is still pretty new to me, so I get REALLY excited about having a new reader.

      I think that is awesome that you are saving the last 6.2 for race day. It will make it a new adventure for you. There are so many different training plans out there, and since I had the extra time in my plan (21 weeks building UP from a 1/2 marathon), I decided to get they mystery out of the way ahead of time.

      It's great to know someone who's done the TDP Extreme. I am out of town for the Gate but am anxious to get another race on the calendar. That one looks fun and like a new/different challenge. Was there a lot of fan support for that race? How did you like the courses? I live at the beach, so deciding whether or not to drive in to town 3x in 24 hours is factoring in to my decision...

      Best of luck at the Donna! Once you conquer that, the Gate and and the TDP will feel like a breeze. And good luck this weekend on your 20 miles! I hope to see you out there on race day!

    2. No problem, it's always nice to read a runner's blog, always something to learn and relate to! It was cool to find out that you are also training for 26.2 with Donna and your post definitely gave me the reassurance that I can do my 20 miler tomorrow (hopefully!).
      The TDP Extreme was tons of fun, like I said though, a piece of cake compared to 26.2 at once! To be honest, there wasn't too much fan support for the race but it was the first year they had it so I'm sure word hadn't really gotten out- I know I didn't see anything advertised except in the world of Jacksonville Runners aka First Place Sports! I'm sure there will be more this year though as it is the second year and everyone on the race route at least now knows! The combination of runs this year is different from last because we did the 10K Saturday am, 5K Saturday pm, then the half was Sunday morning...this year I think it's the 19K Friday night, the half is Saturday morning, then the 5K ends it all Saturday night.
      Personally, I liked the course because the Half ran up Liberty and I live in Springfield so it was fun to run through my neighborhood and see my neighbors along the route plus a few miles of the run (the half) was in Evergreen Cemetary which is beautiful and different from most Half Marathons I've run! Other than that, the 10K and 5K were very similar courses and one main thing I didn't like was the the 5K course (the Landing, down to the end of Water Street, over the bridge to Riverside, under the Fuller Warren Bridge, and back over the Riverwalk) was a part of all three races and personally, the last few miles of a half marathon i don't really want to be the same course I've always run 2X that weekend!
      It is a tougher call because you live so far away but it is definitely a different experience than any other race you'll do- it's always fun to run 13.1 or maybe even 26.2 but it's these different series of runs that makes it unique! Plus you get two medals, one for the series and one for the half itself :) Kind of fun to walk away with two medals around your neck!
      It's up to you but it definitely is a fun and challenging experience!

    3. How did your 20 miler go? I'm sure you rocked it. And you are probably tapering from there?

      Thanks for all the info on the TDP! It's really helpful. My boyfriend expressed some interest during a run together this weekend, so I think we're going to go for it! Even with the repetitive courses, it will be fun to do together.