Sunday, March 29, 2009

on the road again...

just can't wait to get on the road again...

today was my first run after the obligatory (coaches orders) week off after the marathon. it was grey and rainy when we left NJ, but the sun was out and it was muggy and warm when we got home. so i threw on my gear and went out for an easy three miler.


sunshine, warm breeze, loads of flowers in bloom, kids out on bikes and scooters... legs working nicely and without pain. felt good to be moving.

but my legs were getting pretty tired by the end.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I've been trying to get myself ready to write about the marathon since last night... but somehow, I feel as though I just don't know where to start. People have been asking me to let them know when I have something posted (blogs, photos, etc) and so I feel compelled to start somewhere. So I shall start with how I'm feeling right now.

I'm feeling kind of sad, to be honest. I can't quite believe it is over... after months of training and fundraising and getting to know the coaches and my team mates and the TNT staff... it's kind of a let down to think that I'm no longer involved in all that. Fortunately part of the team is still training for the Nashville Country Music Marathon... so I can still go join them for their Saturday morning training runs for a few more weeks yet.

When I get past the feeling sad that it's over part... I'm feeling mighty proud of myself. I ran 26.2 miles on Sunday. That is 8.2 miles (over 13 kms) further than I had ever run before. Now, I didn't break any land speed records... but in effect, that means I ran far longer than the speedy-gonzales people in the pack.

I had hoped to finish in under 5 hours... and things were looking good for it by the half-way mark. But at mile 14 I stopped to go to the toilet, and never quite caught up to my team mates (who I had been keeping pace with from the start). I never would have imagined I would find it so hard to keep going on my own.

Not that I was truly on my own, as there were still loads of other runners on the course... but the psychological support of having my team mates beside me was clearly something I had been relying on. I kept running at a good clip until about mile 18... which is as far as I had ever trained. And then I hit a funk.

Miles 18 through 22 were really really hard.

In order to keep the energy levels up, we had to consume vast quantities of sweet crap... gels, gummy things, gatorade... none of which I would ever reach for on a regular day. But for a long run, it's necessary... so I gagged down the vanilla gels and the lemon gummies, and chugged water and gatorade until I could pretty near feel my teeth floating.

Even still, I ran out of steam... my walk breaks became more frequent and lasted longer. My feet hurt. My hip hurt. My legs felt like lead. And the miles felt long and lonely.

We ran down a quiet wooded road... a vastly different experience than 2 hours earlier when we ran en masse through the army base, slapping palms with cheering army service men & women... vastly different experience than 1 hour earlier when people lined the streets with their stereos playing and tables full of beer for the returning runners...

Down the wooded road we straggled. Very little conversation remained, and what little there was focused on getting each other through... keeping each other going.

I chatted briefly with a woman who was from Virginia Beach, who had trained on that stretch of road. She told me we would be passing the oldest remaining light house on the east coast... she told me that we would be passing the landing place of the earliest settlers in Virginia... she told me the story of how the marathon came to be 26.2 miles (rather than 25) long when the queen of England wanted to watch it during the London Olympics so the race was extended to run past Buckingham Palace.. and how runners now say "long live the queen" when they reach mile 25.

I forgot to say it when I reached mile 25... that was a good hour later on, and I had other things on my mind. Like not throwing up, for example. All that sugar and water were sloshing about in my belly, and goodness knows nothing else was left in there to slow the movements down.

But by that time I had also come across Coach Joe on the course, and he had offered to run me in ... he kept me going by telling me how proud he was to have been my coach and my friend, by reminding me of the obstacles I had overcome during training (and in life), by asking me if I had realised yet that I was going to reach the finish line...

I have a much deeper appreciation and respect for the coaches as a result of race day. I had always been appreciative of the training tips and support... but really, the final few miles were the point for me where I came to understand all that they do for us.

Joe embarrassed me with his over the top cheering and pointing as we rounded the corner and came onto the boardwalk where the last loyal spectators remained to cheer us on. But he helped me to finish strong. He helped me to finish running... and I shall love him forever for that.

My mom, dad and brother were there on the boardwalk... still cheering after almost five and a half hours of waiting. They sent me text messages as I ran, telling me they were there with me and that I could do it.

The clock read 5:22:12 as the announcers struggled to pronounce my last name... Actual time for me to complete the race - 5:19:51.

My husband was there at the finish line, taking photos and then holding me up as I searched desperately for something to eat (box after empty box of no more bananas!!!). He reminded me to pick up my medal, which I had totally walked right by... He helped me to find the TNT tent, helped me to walk back to the hotel, ran me an ice cold bath and sat with me until I no longer felt like I was going to be sick from the shock of it... and tucked me into bed with a turkey sandwich.

(He also called around mile 20 to tell me that he was back at the hotel, stretched out on the bed watching tv... so he's not always my hero... just most of the time)

It is possible that I have never been more proud of myself than I was at that moment... stretched out in bed, legs up on pillow, toes poking out because they were too tender to have the blankets weighing down on them, eating my sandwich, too tired to sleep.


Funny marathon moments & highlights to follow in the next posting...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

running with my ma

my family has arrived, come to cheer me on...

yesterday afternoon my mom strapped on her shoes and came out for a 3 mile easy run with me. we haven't run together in about 8 months, and it was so nice!!! it was kind of cool and grey most of the day yesterday... but her last run a few days ago was in heavy snow, so we threw on our running skirts and delighted in the smell of fresh grass the magnolia tree in blossom and sighed a little spring is here sigh.

i'm so happy they're here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

reflections on training for a marathon... and fundraising update.

here i am, on the eve of my last group training run before the marathon... gear all packed up and ready for tomorrow morning. it's hard to believe that this time next week i will be packed up and ready to go to Virginia Beach and run a marathon.

even harder to believe that this time three months ago i was struggling to finish a 6 mile run -- never mind get my head around running 20 miles further.

it's been a period of personal growth... i've learned a lot about motivation and follow through... i've learned how to eat & drink while running (something i frequently have difficulty doing without making a mess when i'm sitting still, never mind whilst moving!)... i've learned how to push myself onward through tough runs, and how to forgive myself for not finishing or even not getting out there when what i needed was a break...

i'm proud of myself for getting this far.

have to admit to having some fear about maybe not being able to finish the whole marathon... what with the stresses of the last few weeks, and the humbling digestive issues of my 20 mile run... but, come race day i'm going to try... what more can i ask of myself?


a quick note on my fundraising efforts to date...

even though it looks rather dire (just $850 raised of my $1900 goal) when you look at my fundraising website, i've actually almost achieved my fundraising goal. i am still waiting on $400 worth of raffle tickets that should have posted to my page weeks ago... that puts me at $1250.
and once the IHOP fundraising money is added (they're still doing the calculations but it should be around $200 per shift, i did three shifts..) i will be at $1850... just $50 shy of my goal.

i've got a week to find an extra $50... i think i can do it!

ps.. a big thank you to my cousin Patty for her donation this afternoon!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

inspiration when motivation is lagging...

i did not much feel like running on Saturday... it has been a very long and stressful couple of weeks and i'm feeling exhausted. i did manage to log the short runs during the week, but when Saturday morning rolled around i just wasn't feeling it.

so i put it off until the afternoon.

it was gloriously sunny and spring like. perfect for getting out for a 10 mile run... but come Saturday afternoon i still wasn't feeling it. what i really felt like doing was laying in bed watching movies or reading fluffy books (in other words, i wanted to step out of real life for a while).

my sweetheart poked and prodded until i pulled on my running gear, moaning about how i didn't want to go...

he told me i'd be glad to be out there once i made it out the door. and so i gave myself a kick in the pants, and stopped grousing about how i didn't want to go and started thinking about why i did want to go.

Saturday morning my sister-in-law's father-in-law died after a long battle with leukemia and lung cancer. i knew that he had cancer... he was in remission when i first met him at my sister-in-law's wedding two years ago. his health was failing again last fall when i saw him at my niece's christening... he collapsed moments before his scheduled chemo appointment on Thursday, and passed early Saturday morning.

i ran for Mr Firrito that afternoon. and i am going to his funeral this morning....

i will run in his memory in two weeks time.