Monday, February 27, 2012

Memories of 26.2 - the bridge

The roads I ran on my first marathon are the roads of home. It is not unusual for me to drive those areas and often. But I haven't been on the roads since the race - until today, two weeks later. As I drove up and over the bridge that were miles 23-26, the memories came flooding back. And the tears trickled.
I was beaten by that race. It got me. I didn't run it the way I wanted. I didn't finish strong. I didn't beat it. It beat me.
If you know me, you know I am incredibly competitive. I don't like to lose.
As I drove the roads tonight all I could think of was I will be back.
I will beat this one. It will not win. It was a good feeling - that feeling of revenge. Of desire to win.
I have to wait awhile, but I will be back and I will finish strong.
Butler Boulevard - Watch out! Next time we meet, you will be MINE!!

Only photo I took
26.2 with Donna photo

Rachel Leitao photo First Coast News

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Still recovering?!?

So it has been almost two weeks since my first marathon - and I still feel as if I am in recovery mode! Why? Maybe it was the freezing cold (literally) temps that Sunday morning on February 12th here in Jacksonville? Or maybe this is just what happens? I don't really know. I'm new to this! I know I didn't remove any of my layers - hat, ear wrap, 2 pairs of gloves, tights, RunningSkirt, tank and long sleeve top - until about mile 19. And I only took off one pair of gloves and my hat!
ALL my layers!
No hat, one pair of gloves to finish!

When I finished the race, my throat felt sore and my hands were swollen big time! I had never experienced that before! Not even on my 26 mile training run. Very weird! I was obviously very tired but that was to be expected. The next day, however, I felt like I had a cold or the flu or something!
For the next week I would battle the sniffles, sneezing, coughing, and insomnia! Fun! I thought I had it kicked pretty well 8 days in only to wake up on the 9th day feeling even worse! I finally went to the doctor and she put me on antibiotics and cough meds. I think I'm starting to feel the effects two days into this.
I haven't run in four days. I missed my last group run with my Galloway training group today. It has me really bummed. I'm reading all of the blogs and tweets about the Princess Half this weekend at Disney and I want to be there! When I can't run, I really miss it!
I'm wondering what other people go through with marathon recovery. I know I'm not the only one! I have noticed that my immunity always takes a hit after 20+ mile runs. I really want to know how to avoid this in the future! Any hints and tips out there in the distance running world? Would love to hear! Thanks!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gu as inspiration?

On February 11, 2011, I stood outside in the cold with friends from school at our Patrol Gu stop. I watched the runners at the beginning of the pack race by. WOW! They were so fast! I watched pace groups go by, not even sure what I was seeing. I saw Donna and Tim, in his glitter skirt, run by. By the end of the day, we had handed out many packs of Gu and given lots of cheers to the runners passing us. My brain started thinking. I was training for my longest run ever, the Gate River Run, a month from then. 9.3 miles was a LONG way... I couldn't ever do a marathon! Who would want to? Well, being there that day changed everything.
This year, I was the one running by the Neptune Beach Elementary Gu stop! This time it was my students and their parents cheering ME on!! I collected a bunch of hugs - and a bunch of Gu!- and kept running! What an encouraging and fun stop along my race route! So thankful to the Patrol sponsors, parents, kids & great friends who came out to see me! Ok, so maybe it wasn't all about me but... :-)
Talk about coming full circle!

26.2 with Donna recap - My First Marathon

Well, it's taken a week to get this one out. How can one day be both incredibly inspiring and uplifting and yet so incredibly difficult?
I cannot imagine how any race anywhere could be so uplifting. Not only do we have a wonderful cause - to FINISH breast cancer - but we have to have the most amazing spectator fans anywhere in the world!! I can't even see Boston beating out our crowds! For almost every foot of every mile we ran there were people everywhere! Cheering, dancing, playing music and basically having a 26 mile long block party! AND in 30 degree weather no less!!! Does it get any more amazing?? I thought for sure that the crowds would be minimal because of the freezing temperatures. Not so! In fact, I heard other runners saying they thought there were MORE people out this year than ever before! That is just incredible!
I loved seeing all of the people and all of the different ways they came out to celebrate us - the runners. The signs, the banners, the balloons - We had whole blocks at the beach that were nothing but a big party! I particularly loved the Bloody Mary table as we came off the sand and then coming back on Ocean, the large bottle of Skyy vodka on another. Yes, these were for the runners if we felt so inclined! People had oranges and bananas cut up for us, candy, Gatorade, water bottles - it was great! There was never a moment to be thirsty  or hungry.
I would have to say the best part of all for me - and looking back, what really got me thru - was seeing those who mean the most to me, my friends and family, along the way. My "fans" standing out in the freezing cold for ME! The first friend I saw was Alison. She was standing all alone on the side of the road waiting for me and she was so excited to see me. And when I came back around ten miles later, there she was again, jumping up and down cheering for ME! Well if that doesn't get you thru, what will?? It was also a big boost to see my "coach" Dennis, who has been training me all of these months. Getting a hug and encouraging words at the halfway point when I was really starting to drop back kept me going for sure! I guess it's a good thing a lot of my friends live along the route out at the beach. It sure made all the difference to see them waving from balconies, waiting with their dogs or just standing there bundled like Eskimos waiting to see me!
I made a lot of training mistakes now that I look back. I didn't even come close to the 5 hour finish time that I wanted. It is because of two things that I even finished - my friends and others cheering me on all along the route and my stubborn competitiveness! I will train better. I will be more focused. I will not let this race beat me - it is too wonderful of an event to have any bad memories. I will get better, I will be better and I will be back to party my way thru 26.2 miles again!
I'll never have another "first marathon" again. I am so glad that this is the one I chose to be my first. It will not be my last! Thank you to my family and friends and to ALL of the people cheering me on last Sunday in the cold. Thank you to Donna Deegan for being such an inspiration and for creating this race to raise money for such a worthy cause. She told us yesterday before our celebration run that we have raised over $700,000 this year. More than any other year! Yes, we will FINISH IT!
If you want an amazing race in a beautiful beach community with the best fans/spectators anywhere - come join us here next year, February 17, 2013. See you on the roads!

Monday, February 13, 2012

First Marathon Lessons & Recovery

Ouch! That's a good summary of how I have felt for the last 30 hours.
I finished my first marathon and proceeded to do most of the recovery I had done after long (20, 23 & 26 miles) training runs. I didn't stretch as much or as soon. I had my recovery drink of choice, Endurox. I hydrated. I took my ice bath. I wore my compression tights. It wasn't enough to rid me of all of the fatigue and soreness. I felt better, stronger after my 26 mile training run. That run was flat and slower. I think I should have definitely gone slower from the start. Not that I was terribly fast in the race but I didn't feel right. I went with the five hour pace group. I felt like I was always worried about keeping up and staying with them. That should have been the first clue!
It was a bad race, mentally. I could not ever really get out of my head. I kept worrying and the negative thoughts kept popping up. It wasn't a light training run with friends. It was a race with thousands of people. I run races ALONE. I can't worry about others. And it's not about the times. It's all about me! Taking care of myself and enjoying myself and feeling good should have been front and center yesterday - it wasn't. I should have gotten lost in my playlist that I made just for this race. I shouldn't have tried to look for everyone I wanted to see. If I saw them, I saw them - if not, oh well. In the end, the people who truly mattered were there - and easy to spot.
Next year, I will do the half for this race and hope to do the full Disney the month before. I will be stronger, smarter for that one. I will do it my way. I will take care of myself, because in the end, I'm the one crossing the finish line. I will come back and do the full one day at 26.2 with Donna. I won't let it beat me. I will run the full 26.2 and not just 20.2. I will finish strong. 
My next race will be the Gate River Run. As I did last year, I will run my own race. It's on my birthday, after all. I'm running this one to celebrate ME!

Ready to run the Donna

As I sit here the Friday before my big debut I am filled with anticipation, excitement, and nervousness. I have waited for this day for one whole year. After volunteering last year at the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer, I knew I had to run it. And here I am one year later - 36 hours out - less than - from start time. Amazing what can happen in a year. I went to an informational meeting in April signed up in May and began training at the end of July. Through summer's heat, beautiful fall days, and cold winter mornings, I trained. I've done all the training runs all the way up to 26 miles. I know I can do it. I'm ready. I picked up my race bib today immediately following school. I couldn't wait to get to the expo. I had to be the happiest person there. Surrounded by pink, ready to run, and finding friends among all the faces. Seeing Dennis, my amazing group leader for these past 6 1/2 months, was uplifting, making me feel even more confident that I am ready. Reconnecting with Brandy at the Running Skirts booth while I picked up some cold weather gear for the race was fun. Looking at my sunglasses, my pink Oakley's that I want so badly but now am about to earn. It was a rough, busy day at school. I tried to eat. I tried to hydrate. But it was difficult. I carbo-loaded my dinner and now I lay me down to sleep. Kristin Armstrong's Mile Markers beside me on my bedside table ready for one more glance at all the wonderful things running can bring. I'm ready to run Donna.