Thursday, October 27, 2011

Atlantic City Marathon!

The morning of October 16th arrived after an OK night of sleep.  I was up an out on the boardwalk by 7:15 .  It was a short ¾ mile walk to Bally’s to the start/finish area and it was clear that everyone who was up at this hour was running a race.  The air was cool, perfect running weather. 

I went into Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino to use the bathroom and stretch.  It was kind a funny to see people sprawled out in front of the slot machines that were still actively being used by some inebriated guests.  Seeing that I was not going to need to stay in my sweatshirt to stay warm I wandered over to bag check and then spent the rest of my time back in the casino so that I could use the bathroom right before the start and hopefully not worry about any problems later. 

There were no corrals or start waves so at about five minutes to eight the boardwalk just got filled up with Half and Full Marathoners.  I made my way to the middle of the pack and saw that I was near the 3:55 and 4:00 pacers.  I did not plan to run in a pace group but I had hoped to be near the four hour mark so I stayed where I was.  With no previous marathon under my belt I realized anything could happen so I was not going to over think where I start.  

The Gun went off at about five after eight and straight off the boardwalk we went in the first quarter mile.  We started up a highway ramp early.  These would be the only inclines in the entire race so I felt great getting them out of the way.  I always think it is cool to be running in the middle of the street that is closed off to traffic so it was even better to be running up and down highway ramps and thru a tunnel.  The first part of the course brought us on to the mainland and around a few casinos.  I really was feeling great and may pace felt natural thou I wondered if it would be too fast in the end.  I only run with a stop watch so I don’t know what my splits were.  I knew I was running sub nine minute miles each time I passed a mile marker.   It felt good so I kept it up.  I kept telling myself I’d slow down if I needed to.   I also had to keep reminding myself that the people in the yellow bibs were not going the full distance with me.

The Steel Pier in front of the Taj Mahal
At about eight miles we returned to the Boardwalk.  As soon as I stepped on the boardwalk the wind picked up and started to blow sand all over the place.  Immediately I thought what if it is like this the entire time!  WTF!  Luckily it only lasted until we hit the first tall building and I was able to enjoy the sights and the gentle give of the boardwalk planks.  
I saw my parents at mile ten.  At nine thirty, just when I thought I’d get to mile ten…Still feeling good!   I knew the turn for the half was coming up and soon the field of runners would really be spread out.  Once I passed that turn cone I felt that the race had now really begun.  We stayed on the boardwalk until about mile 12 where it ended.  The next part of the race was run on the road to the end of the island and then some looping in nearby neighborhoods.   

At the half marathon timing mat I started to notice the 3:55 pacer and her group approaching.  By now I had held this pace so well that I was convinced I could break the four hour mark and was determined to do so.  Suddenly I was running with this group and really I didn’t like it too much.  I am used to my space.  I alternated being in front and behind this group for the next few miles with each water stop.  As I trailed behind it was interesting to see the group get smaller and the pace of that group seem to get faster.  

By mile 18, I realized I was speeding up to keep up. I finally had to tell myself to slow down or I would never make it.  We were then in what seemed like in the never-ending loop in the neighborhood of nearby Margate.  Every time I thought we would turn around there was another loop to run.   Honestly I thought we might never return to the boardwalk.  A spectator somewhere in this neighborhood yelled out “you are still in at four hours.  Keep it up”!  While this was encouraging it was also hard to think about the last part.  I was losing steam!  How could I keep up the pace?  Maybe I should have researched better fuel?  Is this the “Wall” I had read so much about? What were my goals?  How hard did this feel?  Was I really in that much pain?  Was this harder than when I was in labor or giving birth to the boys?  Wait an epidural was involved part of the time there, maybe I should not think about that!  

I felt so slow.  I considered walking a bit.  I did for about five seconds and then realized that was a bad idea.  Walking was painful.  Running somehow felt much better.  The four hour pacer came running merrily along.  She had two people with her.  I kept up with her for about a mile and an half.  The two people with her had fallen off.  Soon it was just the pacer and her sign on a stick in the distance in front of me.  (How annoying would it be to carry one of those things 26.2 miles?  How many times did she accidentally almost hit someone with it)?  Anyway… slow as I was the end was near.  Every water stop I gulped down a Gatorade and dumped water on my head.  It was mid-day and the sun had been in full force the whole way.   

Back to the Boardwalk and there was 5k left! 
At this point regular runners, bikers and Sunday strollers were enjoying the warm October sun.  I was still looking at my watch but also just wanted to be done. This part of the Boardwalk was narrow and there were not very many spectators other than at water stops.  I saw very few runners.  I just kept moving forward.   

Mile 25 there were my parents, Dad out in front of me taking my picture.  Holy crap a mile more to go! Do I have anything left to sprint in the end?   A couple people pass me, the crowd start to get thicker as we approach the finish.   I dug in, found some speed, pushed all the way through.  4:05 and change.  I’ll take it.! Accepted a medal and water from a volunteer and then tried to figure out how to relearn to walk without falling over!  “Keep moving”! I said to myself.  I kept walking and breathing until I stopped for some Rita’s Italian Ice which hit the spot.  I found a place to sit and stretch and then send a text out to my husband and a few friends.  --OMG I did it.  I am alive after 26.2!  
So now I have plenty to think about. I won't take too much time second guessing anything.  I did this all on my own.  And yes, I will do it again!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Things have been crazy here in the real world.  Being a homeowner is not fun especially when stuff you really need starts to not work.  We have lived in this house for ten years now and slowly we seem to be replacing everything.  Here is the list of the current household issues I have my husband working on getting fixed. 
Hot water heater
Basement mold popping up everywhere due to the moisture!

Laptop – Brendan dropped it-Craked the entire screen!  Thus the reason I can’t find time to lounge and race recap!  I have insurance but of course had to transfer a year’s worth of pictures onto an external hard drive before I could drop it off!
I hope to put my thought on the AC Marathon in writing soon! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Day before the Marathon

Well marathon weekend arrived quicker than I even could panic.  All week long as our regular schedule kept us busy I had pieced my overnight bag together and then double checked it Friday night.  All the rain that had fallen cancelled Brendan’s early Saturday soccer game so I got a good solid sleep in.    My parents were nice enough to drive me to Atlantic City for the big event but not until we watched a few innings of the boys last baseball game.  I hated that I was missing their game so I was happy to be there for Michael’s homerun (he hit for Grandma’s birthday), and Brendan’s spectacular base hits!!

We left at around two and headed down to the Jersey shore. It was nice to be a passenger in the car, reading a magazine and catching up with my parents, hearing about the past two weeks they had spent with my brother and his family out west.   I was feeling pretty good, but was quickly realizing that a last little jog was most likely not going to happen by the time we got to the expo and the hotel.  Considering how tired I had felt on my last run I chalked it up to being fine and needing the last bit of rest for the Marathon.  This last week’s training seemed to fall apart.  Probably not the best taper but it is what happened so I can’t go back in time.
I knew we would arrive close to the last hour of the expo so I had my parents drop me off at Bally’s Casino while they checked into the hotel down the boardwalk bit.   The line was HUMONGOUS!  There were four races and a kid’s fun run checking in all at once.  I picked up my bib, water bottle a pretty cool long sleeved tech shirt.    I wandered around the expo for a while, thought I might find a cute shirt but nothing seemed worth the money.  I found my way out of the cavernous casino and out onto the street to meet my parents and get to the hotel. I changed quickly and we headed out to the Boardwalk and eventually to the Tropicana in search of a place to eat. 
Who knew people could still smoke inside the casinos in NJ?  I didn’t!  I guess I never thought about it because it has been so long.  I felt like vomiting the moment I walked in there. How did I hang out in smoke filled bars in my twenties?!?!?
Anyway we got a table at Carmines, a family style Italian place and ordered up some penne and chicken parm.  It was amazingly garlicky and the bread basket perfect.  I little walk on the breezy boardwalk and we headed back to the room to find a wedding in full swing right across from our room.  Ironically my mother had changed rooms to get a better view and the pool view was adjacent to both the bar and hotel reception room. 
Luckily it was only about ten and I tried to lay out my gear.  I had it all but it was pretty annoying to be in an unfamiliar place rummaging through three different bags. I was worried I’d miss something last minute.  Maybe the nerves were starting to set in a bit.  I really started to wonder if my fuel belt was going to be able to hold everything I needed it to. I had started to pin my fruit chews onto the belt because I needed room for a certain “girl thing” inside the pocket.  The stress of a possible potty visit was already lingering in my mind and now I needed to worry about other possible pit stops if you know what I mean.  Somehow I managed to get myself together and to bed.  I was only a few hours away now.  No turning back now.  Whatever happened happened. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vampires Playing Baseball

I think this picture says it all. 

The weather was perfect.  The company was great.  Caught up with some old friends and got to know a few new ones better.    I had a yard full of boys who were NOT looking to be entertained.  They were psyched  to be dressed up in costumes and they wanted nothing more than to play whiffe ball and race around my yard playing a game called “pickle” in the October sunshine! I have no idea how the game is playedand that is just fine with me because they were having a blast and I was too just watching them. 

And now I still have two days of this beautiful weekend ahead of me with leftover’s to boot!

October is looking good so far. 

Just need to avoid the cold the birthday vampire seems to have caught.  At least for the next seven days.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Virtual 5k

Virtual 5k race report

Saturday I had multiple things on the schedule.  The Free 5k I had registered for in July was in conflict with the fact that I had no one to bring the boys around to their weekend activities.  A Virtual 5k was perfect substitute.   Thank You Molly!
Once Pete got home I grabbed Calli girl and the last invite to Brenda’s birthday party, I headed up the street on a route I knew was exactly 5k.  Up is the only description of the beginning of 50% of my routes.

I tried not to look at my watch too much and just go.  As long as the dog didn’t make a sudden stop to poop (rip my arm off) I’d do pretty well and be happy about my speed.  About where I knew a mile was I was very happy.  The weather was cool and the traffic light.  No worries of the dog being spooked and jumping in my way.  I was at 17 min and change as I approached mile 2.  Whoah!  One street crossing and a little downhill passed some shops as I came to the last mile from home. 
Dodged a few puddles as I walked past a playground where a few teen agers were hanging out.  Just as I approached a smartass punk jumped out over the fence  and tried to race me!  Hey here is that race adrenaline I was missing!   He didn’t make it long and it was a good thing as Calli didn’t seem to like him at all.  I cruised out of view of the pesky kids and headed back home up the hill that takes me there. 
Do most people finish on a hill like this?  I ask myself this every time!
Finish line at the end of my yard, boys stopped playing catch long enough to ask if I was done. Thanks Guys. 

Despite my handicap of running with a dog and hand delivering a party invitation about a half a mile in, I felt great!

 Finished in 24:23.  My pace was 7:52!  Haven’t seen that in a while. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Should I Be Freaking Out?

I’ve been so busy and wrapped up in back to school stress and the boys activities that I don’t think I have let it really hit me that my marathon is in less than two weeks.  I mean I realized it is coming but no panic has set in and I have found this taper period only lessens the anxiety I have about being able to fit in all my runs. 

As I had originally thought the last month was going to be really hard.  Not because of the increase in distance but because September meant that I was back to work full time and “me time” was very limited. Although I would have plenty of things in my head on my runs that I wanted to share, I never got a chance to blog or even post about my two longest runs! (One of those took place after standing all day at my sister's babyshower in heels)!   And then it took me two weeks to post my half race report. 
Last weekend as I thought about my planned twelve mile run, I realized it would be ten miles shorter that what I ran the previous weekend.  I realized then it was two weeks away and I had already completed my longest training run.  No fanfare, it was just not going to get any longer until the actual race.  Huh?  Should I panic?  Well I am pretty mellow and maybe that is just how it’s going to be. I ran twenty- two miles all by myself and felt fine the rest of the week. Didn’t miss a single run that following week.   I have found myself faster than anticipated the past two weeks since my half and I still am feeling good.  I’m sure there is still time to panic.  But I don’t know how its possible to think about that now.  I have nervous students and parents to deal with at work and a Costume party to throw at my house this Saturday.  Unless a whole bunch of Halloween themed goodie bags fall from the sky and someone comes to clean my house, I have to panic about that now!  Did I mention my husband is redoing the driveway himself?
At this point my biggest concern is not getting a cold before the 16th, or falling down in the heeled shoes I wear to work. 
I am ready for the Marathon.  I know it.  This weekend, not so much. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dutchess County Classic Race Report

Well its taken me nearly two weeks but here is my Dutchess County Classic race report!!
This race has been on my schedule since I ran it last year.  A Half in my back yard is a no brainer since it involves no travel and no disruption to the normal Sunday home schedule.  Once I decided on the marathon in October it just seemed like it was a logical fit in my training.  But as the date approached I didn’t know how to run it.  Last year my goal was to finish in less than two hours. I thought about just running it like a regular Sunday or running with my friend Beth.   I had already improved my half time by five minutes in NYC in March.  A part of me did want to see if I could run even faster.  But should I?
As the day got closer I still had made no decisions.  To make matters worse the Calli Girl had chewed my watch to a point where it no longer worked, my contact lenses were lost (possibly in my eye I believed for over a full day.  Seriously I had my friend the school nurse fishing around in my eye looking) and my dear eight year old had kindly brought home a lovely head cold for us all to share. 
The week of the race I was getting e-mail updates for the road runners club about the “dire parking situation at the park”.  I knew firsthand the flooding the fields had endured as my boys’ baseball season has been thrown for a loop at that same park.   The instructional fields have been underwater since tropical Storm Irene passed thru here a month ago.  The boys have been playing on a T-ball field ever since and it’s safe to say that is the way it will be for the rest of this season.  I remember last year’s classic and that park gets more crowded during the classic than on Little league opening day!  So heeding the warnings in the e-mails I picked Beth up at 6:45 for our race that began at 9.  I realized as I was sitting in the car that I had left my blackberry at home.  My back up timing was gone.  I would have to look at my I-pod.  It’s on my arm how could I see that?  I had no idea how I was going to run this race. 
Despite my own personal issues, the day turned out to be perfect for running!  After chatting in the car for an hour Beth and I made our way to the start line.  As the horn sounded and we made our way out of the park my competitive side began to emerge.  I needed to get out from behind the slower runners.  My cold medicine had kicked in and I was feeling pretty good.  About a half mile in I finally decided I had to run faster to just run and feel good.  The sun was shining but the air was cool.  I moved in and out of the pairs of chatty people running, finding my space and moving forward.
 Just before the first major turn I could hear loud music.  This being a large but still local race there usually is no musical motivation like some bigger races.  It kept getting louder and I came upon a man running with music.  Not ear buds but speakers blaring from a fanny pack.  Odd but whatever works for ya!  Not knowing how fast I was going I only knew I felt pretty good.  At this point last year I remember thinking I was going too fast.  I had missed seeing any mile markers.  But knew I felt pretty good.   I was passing people left and right as I climbed the hills and credit that to my frequent hills on my local routes. Mile marker 4 was the first I had seen and I was cruising.  I don’t  run with my I-pod but did bring it this time.  The music and the weather gave me a boost.   
Just before the 6 mile marker I passed by Beth’s house and saw her husband and three kids sitting on the corner.  I felt like I was flying as I waved at them.    By now I was so curious about my time.  I tried to ask other runners for the time when I could but they either could not hear me or misunderstood and told me the distance.  It was just past mile seven when I talked with a pair of runners who gratefully told me we had been running for exactly an hour.    I was right on track and still felt great!   Does that mean I could have been running harder? At no point did I have that feeling “This really sucks.  Why do I do this”? 
 I knew If I kept up my current pace I could do as well as NYC and better than my time at last year’s classic.  What would I need to do to PR?   Maybe I should just keep running feeling good and not hurt myself.  After all do need to continue to run this week.  No giving myself days off after today like last year.  This time next week I will be in the middle of 22miles.  I decided to just continue as fast as I could without feeling the “this sucks” feeling.  So that was it.  The miles kept clicking by as I felt great.  I loved reflecting on how hard it felt last year and how far I have come.  After all I had just run 20 miles just two weeks ago.  What’s thirteen point one compared to that! 
The last mile was fabulous. I ran steady and passed a few people who had passed me about three miles earlier.   As I reentered the park and looked at the clock I knew I was only about a minute slower that I had been back in March!  I was happy to be close but I will always wonder if I could have done better.  My next half marathon will definitely be run competitively so I can put those doubts to rest.
Final Results
13.1 miles --1:52:49 --8:37pace

Mommy Misses a Race

Missed a race this morning because of my mommy duties.   Pete works early Saturdays so I am usually on my own for the “Put your uniform on we are going to be late” panic.  Soccer pictures were added to the mix early this morning as well.  Most of the time my parents are meeting us at some point at the soccer or baseball fields and can take the boys solo if I need them to.  Today was not one of those days but I had assumed it would be when I registered back in July.  My parents left yesterday to go visit my brother and his family out west.  There gone now so that they will be back in time to drive me to and from the Altantic City Marathon. 
It was a free 5k for being a member of the road runners club but it was still a letdown.  Last year I ran this race and came in first in my age group.  It was the shortest race I ever ran but also the fastest.  So fast in fact that I nearly threw up in the finish chute! This would have been my 13th race.  Since I did not run it that makes Atlantic City my 13th  race.  Since I was born on the 13th I have always thought of it as my lucky number.  I am going to take that as a good thing.  Turning a negative into a positive right?
As it turns out today is another wet and rainy day in the northeast.  The fields are flooded and unplayable and we woke up early only for Soccer pictures and Dunkin Donuts.  SO now we will pull out the Halloween decorations and embrace the fall fun!!  And as soon as Pete gets home I guess I will go puddle splashing for at least 3.1 miles by myself.