CIM Race Report

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This is so overdue that I considered not posting a recap, but I decided that it was a special day and I would like a record of it.

It’s important to mention that CIM was a big question mark for several weeks leading up to the race. After my disaster at the Snohomish Half, I had no interest in running CIM and was convinced that running the marathon would be a very mean thing to do to myself. But in the end, after changing my mind at least a dozen times, I decided to do it. And I’m glad I did.

California International Marathon

Dad had knee surgery on October 31 (oddly the same day I was laid off) and couldn’t run the marathon. But since he had paid for his registration and his knee was healing nicely, he was able to run parts of the marathon with me. He started and finished the race with me, and his support got me through the race.

We took the shuttle to the start, arriving about an hour before the race started. After wasting time doing the typical pre-race stuff (such as going to the bathroom and then immediately hoping back in line for the porta potty), we positioned ourselves in front of the 4:25 pacer, listened to the national anthem, and then we were off!

The race started on a nice downhill and then the rolling hills began. Knowing I was under-trained, I made a conscious effort to keep the pace super easy and hoped that proper pacing would get me to the finish line.

After two miles, we spotted John on the right side of the ride. Before peeling off, Dad reminded me that he and John would be at mile 10, and that he would run miles 10-12 with me.

Feeling lonely and a little scared, I concentrated on getting to mile 10. At mile 8, I walked through the water station to hydrate and take a GU, and the 4:25 pace group passed me. That was a low moment, but I tried to brush it off, telling myself there was plenty of time to catch up with them.

I saw Dad and John at mile 10, and Dad joined me for the next two miles. Dad reminded me to stay in the moment and not to compare myself to myself. I sadly dropped Dad off with John around mile 12.5, and I eventually made it to the halfway point at 2:12:30.

At mile 14, I started feeling really sorry for myself. I was tired and worried how I would finish the race. Tired with 12 miles to go — not a good feeling. And then the perfect song played on my iPod:

‘Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.

I smiled and thought: Eminem, you totally get me; this is exactly how I feel. This shit sucks.

But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse

The lyrics woke me up and removed me from the pity party I had started in my head. Smiling like a fool, I played the song again and resolved to not give up. I accepted that this wasn’t going to be a good time (for me), but I was still going to give it my all.

Knowing that I would see Dad and John at mile 16 also helped me stay positive. About 20 minutes later, I saw them and waved.

After running by Dad and John, I started the countdown until mile 20. We planned for Dad to run miles 20-26.2, and I was looking forward to the company. I got through the next four miles by trying to enjoy the race as much as I could. I distracted myself by thanking the volunteers and spectators. High-fiving the kids and spectators. Reading the signs. For the first time in a marathon, I wasn’t dreading mile 20; I was looking forward to it.

Right on time, I saw Dad and John at mile 20. Dad started running with me, and I yelled to John: “See you at the finish line!” Dang, it felt good to say that.

Compared to other marathons, I actually felt pretty good at mile 20. I was tired, but nothing hurt that badly and my energy levels had stayed pretty consistent throughout the race.

At mile 21, Dad turned to me and said, “Just five more.” I laughed and thought of my nephew Ryder, who is obsessed with saying “just five more.”

It doesn’t matter what you say to Ryder, he always wants five more. For instance, you could say, “Ryder, 15 more minutes until bed time.” To which he would look at you really seriously, squint his eyes, hold up his right hand and say, “No, five more.”

I was tired, but I was happy that my pace was staying pretty consistent. I kept chugging along, counting down the miles.

The last mile of CIM is pretty terrible — it’s a long straightaway until you turn left toward the Capitol building. I kept willing the turn to come faster. I also willed Dad to not leave me (he didn’t cross the finish line). By this point, I was really tired and so ready to be done.

Finally, I made the turn and at the last possible moment, Dad peeled off the course. I saw the finish line and tried to soak it in as I finished my seventh marathon.

I had and still have very mixed emotions about this marathon. On one hand, it was my slowest marathon time ever (4:27:26). So that doesn’t feel very good.

But it was also my most evenly paced marathon, which I attribute to smart pacing and fueling. It meant a lot to receive such great support from my dad and husband. It was a team effort, and I couldn’t have made it through the race without them. Being able to see them so many times on the course kept my spirits up and helped me break the race into manageable chunks.

Team Megan

Team Megan

I had two reasons for running this race:

1. Because I’m stubborn and didn’t want to quit. Mission accomplished!

2. Because I thought it would inspire Dad and me as we make plans for 2015. Check! More on this later, but let me just say this: 2015 is my year. The fire is back, and I’m determined to make this my best year of running.

20 Miles

In my last post, I talked about feeling burnt out, etc. I took a short break from running, which didn’t help. I still felt like crap and didn’t want to run. My solution? I haven’t been running very much. Which makes total sense when you’re a few weeks away from a marathon..

Instead of running, I’ve spent the last few weeks debating what I should do re: CIM. For a few days, I would be 100% sure that I was running it. Then I would go for a run, it would suck, and I’d be out. In the last month, I have changed my mind about CIM at least 10 times.

To add a little context, three weeks ago I was laid off. It was super unexpected and has added a new layer of stress to my life. On the bright side, I am convinced that I will get a better job and it will work out in the end. But right now? Right now I’m in what they call a “transition” period, and it’s pretty tough for the control freak in me.

Back to running. My heart has not been in it, but I think I may be turning the corner.

Monday morning, I was applying for jobs and had the New York City Marathon playing in the background (I already watched it the day of the race, but for whatever reason I saved it on the DVR). Watching it, I remembered why I run marathons and realized that I want to run CIM. I knew I needed one more 20 miler (my only 20 mile run was more than two months ago), so I checked the weather forecast and decided on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, I woke up earlyish (early for an unemployed person = 7 a.m.) and ran 20 miles. I won’t sugar coat it: The last few miles really hurt. My hips and legs ached, but my heart was happy.

I didn’t worry about pace at all; I ran completely by feel and just tried to keep it comfortable. Around mile 12, I started naturally running a little faster, and I ended up negative splitting the run. When my watch read 20, it felt so satisfying.

Even though I’m nowhere near PR shape, I’m really excited for CIM. I have two simple goals for the race: To finish, and to be grateful that I’m healthy and able to run 26.2 miles. It’s going to be awesome. 16 days!

I hit the wall

In my last post I mentioned that I’ve hit a rough patch, but I was optimistic and ready to take on the rest of my training.

Well, less than 48 hours after posting that, I ran a half marathon. And it sucked big time. By mile 2, I was sucking wind and had a side ache. By mile 4, I was contemplating a DNF. And by mile 6, I started walking. A lot.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 11.16.55 AMNeedless to say, I was super frustrated. I’ve put in a lot of miles (averaging 150 miles/month for the last three months, which is a lot for me) and yet I am getting slower and slower.

WTF?

At first I chalked it up to the fact that I’ve lost speed. That may be the case, but I don’t think it’s the only problem.

When I looked back at my training log, I realized that my running has been pretty rocky this entire month. The first bad run was on October 5 (18 mile long run). My long run pace is pretty slow (75 seconds slower than goal marathon pace), so I generally have to pull back to hit this slow pace. Not this run. I struggled a lot, walked quite a bit, and almost cut the run short.

Since then, running in general has just felt harder than normal. Paces that should feel easy or comfortably hard have felt tough. I have dreaded my runs and have absolutely no competitive drive.

As an example of my lack of competitive drive and my “I don’t give a shit” attitude, Christina and I stopped to take pictures of cows during last week’s half marathon. Yeah, we are a little odd…

photo-43Originally I thought my burnout was just mental, but now I think there is a physical component as well. I’ve been training for a long time, and I think my body is tired and a little over-trained.

So I’ve decided to take a week off from running. No cross training either. I might do a little yoga, but my priority for the next seven days is to get lots of rest and re-charge for this last bit of training.

Taking time off this close to the race isn’t ideal, but at this point I don’t think I have a choice. If I show up to CIM in the same state I showed up to my half marathon, I won’t make it to the finish line.

Last year I had to take four days off from running about a month before CIM to deal with my shin splints. The break did wonders not only for my shin splits but also for my attitude: I went on to finish up my training and run a really solid marathon.

Fingers crossed this helps.

Also, my dad is having surgery tomorrow to repair his torn meniscus. Please send healing thoughts his way!

July Recap and August Goals

July was a really good month. In fact, it was the best month of running I’ve had in a long time. It started out a little rocky, as I was dealing with post RNR Half confidence issues and struggling to believe that sub 3:55 was a realistic goal for Portland.

So I made the decision (with the help of my coach) to move my goal race to CIM, giving me an extra eight weeks to train.

A few days later, I participated in Ragnar, my first relay and an incredible experience. I ran better than I expected, and I left feeling re-charged and excited for CIM.Ragnar Northwest Passage Continue reading

Change in Plans and the Shortest Ragnar Recap Ever

I ran Ragnar Northwest Passage (my first relay) two weekends ago. Never heard of Ragnar or a relay? Here’s the short version: 12 runners pile into two vans and take turns running. Each person runs three times, and by the end of it, the team runs a total of 200 miles.

Relay recaps tend to get pretty lengthy, so I’m going to give you the quick and dirty version: IT WAS AWESOME.

The key to having fun during a relay is having good people in your van. When you’re sleep deprived and having GI issues (oh man, my stomach was a hot mess!), you don’t want to be in a van with high-maintenance drama queens. Thankfully, my van was pretty darn awesome. No drama, just lots of laughter, singing along to 90s pop, and encouragement.

Ragnar Northwest Passage Continue reading

Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday I ran the RNR Seattle half. My race strategy, per my coach’s instructions, was to not look at my Garmin and run by feel. Warm up for the first three miles and then shift into half marathon pace.

Going into the race, I had no expectations of PR’ing, but I did hope to be able to run goal marathon pace (9:00). Spoiler alert: didn’t quite work out.

I was a little scattered on race morning. Due to a stupid long porta potty line, I started the race farther back than normal (corral 17 when I should have been in 10-12). And my head was just a mess. I’ve been really enjoying my easy-paced runs, and I was scared of how much the end of the race would hurt. This was the first race I’ve “raced” in more than six months, and I was scared and lacked confidence. In many ways, it was deja vu of Eugene Marathon.

The race started and I tried to find a reasonable pace. I tapered more for this race than I have any other recent half marathon, so I was surprised my legs didn’t feel quite as springy and light as I expected. This only added to the crazy thoughts circling my not so stable brain.

I felt like I was going at a decent pace, but my was head was just not in it. I questioned whether I was going too slow/too fast. Would I blow up at mile 10? Was I going too slow and wish I had done more?

I had pretty much assumed that I would break 2 hours, so when I looked at my cumulative time around 12.5, I was shocked when I realized I would be finishing in 2+ hours.

I finished in 2:03:44, and I’ll be honest:I was pissed when I crossed the finish line.

But now that I’ve had 24 hours to decompress and I emailed with my coach, I’m over being pissed. RNR was not a goal race, and I’d rather have a bad day now rather than on October 5. Time to move on and use this disappointment as motivation for the next 15 weeks.

hatefireAnd, on the bright side, there were a ton of photographers on the course. Here are a few gems. Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 4.03.46 PM

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Hooray! Finally a normal picture!

Hooray! Finally a normal picture!

Here are my splits, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon Splits

17 Weeks Out

I’m now five weeks through base building, and I’m less than two weeks out from the Rock N Roll Half and 17 weeks out from Portland (!).

Overall, base building has been going really well. Last week I had some tightness that was causing significant discomfort in my lower left leg (same leg I had shin splints), so per my coach’s instructions, I skipped two runs and shortened my long run. As much as I hate missing scheduled runs when training is going so well, it was the right call.

Here’s how the last five weeks looked:

Week one: 5 runs totaling 21 miles (long run: 8 miles)
Week two: 5 runs totaling 24 miles (long run: 10 miles)
Week three: 5 runs totaling 26 miles (long run: 12 miles)
Week four: 5 runs totaling 21 miles (long run: 7 miles)
Week five: 3 runs totaling 13 miles (long run: 8 miles) <— skipped two runs due to leg issues, and my long run was supposed to be 14 miles.

In addition to rest, I saw my chiropractor for ART (ART hurts but I love it; if I were rich and/or my insurance didn’t limit the amount of treatments, I would go in once a week) and I’m working with my coach to improve my cadence, to hopefully avoid future issues.

The nice thing about base building is that it’s gently easing me into marathon training. In the past, I often went from taking a break in training to going balls to the wall. On several occasions, I fell into the “too much too soon” trap, got burnt out, and then either rallied to finish a good training cycle (like I did for Eugene) or totally gave up (like I did for both my Portland cycles).

It’s also been a good lesson in balancing running with life. Things are settling down now, but the last two months have been pretty busy. Here’s a quick rundown:

We went to Hawaii.

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Maui VacationWe updated/gently remodeled our kitchen. Woohoo! The under mount sink and touch faucet are life-changing. Well, not really, but they are pretty sweet.

Kitchen before (taken right before we moved in)

Kitchen before (taken at the appraisal shortly before we bought the house)

Kitchen after!

Kitchen after!

I went to my friend’s bachelorette party in Vancouver.

bachelorette partyThe following weekend, we went to her wedding.

photo 5

WeddingWeddingI turned 29. This shouldn’t count since my birthday was super relaxed (just hung out in Seattle with my dad, nephew and John), but I’m including it. Plus, I love this picture of Ryder going down the slide on his tummy. I’m not a kid person, but man I love this little guy. He is a total goofball.

photo 3Last but certainly not least, my girlfriends and I saw the Backstreet Boys in concert. It was pretty darn amazing.

backstreet boys

The last two months have been great, but I know all of these activities played a part in my leg acting up. Specifically, for several weeks straight, I averaged less sleep each night than normal, I drank a lot more than I normally do (especially the weekends with the bachelorette party and wedding), and my diet kinda went to crap.

My goal for the next 17 weeks is to achieve a better balance: keep the fun but lose the excessive booze and unhealthy food. And sleep more. Training for a marathon requires sacrifices, but it doesn’t mean I need to forgo all the fun in my life. It just means I need to have fun, only have one glass of wine, and then be in bed by 10 p.m. :)