Monday, June 13, 2016

Mount Desert Island Marathon training - Day 1 (and a mini race recap)

Back when I was training for Pumpkinman 70.3, I deeply regretted not writing more about training, especially the second year I did that race. There were many days that second year where it felt really hard. I felt like I was losing my mind, but I knew I had to have been feeling that way the first year. If only I had a journal of sorts to look back on. Sigh...

So here we are on Day 1. Oh right. Yeah. I signed up for my first marathon (which is news to the blog but probably not to anyone who actually still reads this thing)! Andrew and I will be running Mount Desert Island Marathon in October. I am really excited about it but it's tempered a bit by the fact that I had my a$$ handed to me in the Mayflower Half marathon yesterday. While Mayflower is an extremely hilly 13.1, MDI doubles the distance, while TRIPLING the elevation gain. The big saving grace is that it should at least be cool, if not cold, in October in Acadia (watch me eat my words...I ran the BAA 13.1 in October the year it was 85 on race day).

Since it's Day 1 and a scheduled rest day (YAY!) I don't have anything to report yet. I am using Hal Higdons (free!) Novice 2 Marathon training plan. I talked a bit with some of my running and tri friends and the majority of the experienced marathoners said the extra day of running in the Intermediate plan was pretty tough. They all felt like the Novice 2 was plenty to get me there without risking injury or burnout. It also leaves an extra day off so I can squeeze in triathlon training. I have about 7 weeks where the seasons will overlap and that's only if I want my last race to be the one I have on 7/31.

So what else have I been up to? I have completely turned my eating and nutrition upside down. I feel better than I have, ever, really and I'm losing weight while eating more and not tracking anything. I joined a month long online nutrition coaching group that really made things click for me. I thought I knew what I needed to do and was skeptical this would help but it really did. Somehow, having everything broken down into small daily lessons and action items made me not only understand what I needed to do and why, but WANT to do it. Once I started to see the positive implications of following the action items, I was sold. Now most of it is habit.

Since Pumpkinman (my last blog post! Ugh!) I have been running more. I was pretty lazy over the last part of 2015 and then, with some prodding from others, signed up to do the Winter Warrior Challenge through Marathon Sports. You commit to running 1, 3 or 5 miles outside every day. You have to run that minimum every day or you drop down to the lowest level (or DQ if you run less than 1 mile). You can't bank miles either. I signed up to do 3, but if I ran 2 one day and 4 the next, I would lose my spot in the 3 miles a day group and go down to 1. If I missed a day, I was out. It's funny that once it became a habit, it was not that hard. I did walk a day or two a week to avoid injury. I am not one of those people who can bang out day after day and do high mileage. That's one of the reasons triathlon has been so good for me. It also tricked me into realizing the benefits of HR training since the large volume of slow easy miles made a big difference in my endurance.

One of my favorite Instagram pics from that challenge.

Since then I've done a 5K and started training for Mayflower. I really enjoyed this race last year and since it was so hilly, Andrew and I thought it would be a good warm up for MDI. We happily signed up right away and got to training. Then we saw that the course was "new and improved." I'm not exactly sure what happened, but the race had been billed as running along the waterfront and then suddenly, the entire waterfront section, including the beautiful bike path portion was moved inland. The entire section that I loved last year had been changed, including the part that went right near my parents house where they could easily watch for us. I certainly didn't expect them to fight construction, tourist and race traffic to sit on a random side street to see me run by. Especially since I wasn't feeling my best. Back before Pumpkinman I strained my back. I was completely fine until the end of April when I think, due to bad posture and rushing at work, I reinjured it. It was BAD this time. There was really no position that was comfortable. Only walking felt good, but I was afraid to run too much. In the end, stretching, core work and gentle running helped. By the time I felt good enough to get back into training I had 3 weeks until Mayflower. I was getting through my 10 and 11 mile runs (slowly) and feeling great so I figured I'd give it a shot. I'm not trying to impress anyone and if I had to walk that was fine. It was my 6th 13.1 and I knew what I was in for.

I woke up on my own at 5:30 that day and could feel that it was already warm out. The forecast was for 60s and raining up until that day and then BOOM! it was 70 at 5am. I do not tolerate heat well and have to go out of my way to acclimate for it. That's why I did so many mid day 85-90 degree runs last summer. I did not want to struggle as much in 2015's Pumpkinman as I did in 2014 (and of course it was low 50s and raining in 2015). I did not have many warm days where I could get out during the hot part this year. Luckily I had aced my hydration and nutrition leading up to the race. I think if I had not I may have been in big trouble by the end.

The race started with a huge hill and not a single person in my wave (2) ran up the whole thing. My teammate caught up to me (she was wave 3) after the first giant hill and we ran together a bit. Her kind words meant a lot to me and I thought of them later when I was really struggling. I wish I was able to keep up with her for longer, but I was already way too hot and needing to walk to cool off. From there on out it was a series of rolling or bigger hills.  I kept about a 12 min mile average through mile 4, which I was happy about given how I felt. Around then we were held to let traffic pass for quite a while. Now, I can see on some of these bigger roads (and this was one of them), holding the middle-of-the-pack runners and slower so that instead of a slow stream of racers that blocks traffic for hours, they alternate letting some cars go and then letting one big pack of runners go. The thing is, we were held for a WHILE. Long enough that some of us started to cramp a little. We were all standing patiently on the sidewalk while waiting to be allowed to cross and the officer already seemed mad at us. Sorry dude. We're all just standing here. Im not sure what that was all about. Maybe there were problems earlier? All I knew that was there was a porta pottie within the next mile and I REALLY needed to pee. The one a mile back had over 20 people waiting for it. That is my one big complaint. There were not enough at the start. My sister in law, who ran her first race, almost missed her wave! Since there weren't enough at the start, those of us who didn't really have to go figured we'd go at some point on the course. The second set wasn't as crowded, but I'm sure I lost 10 entire minutes between the traffic stop and the pee stop. At that point I felt great! I was drinking plenty at the water stops (props to this race for having water every mile, even if one of the later ones was out of cups) and had taken my first gel. My calf was starting to cramp but it didn't really hurt too bad. This was really the only scenic part of the race, along Billington St and Black Cat Rd (also hills!). Look! I'm even smiling at the 10K split!

(not sure why my 5K time is showing for my 10K picture but I do NOT run that fast)

To make a long story short, that calf cramp turned into an entire-foot toe-curling cramp around mile 8. That was about when I realized that my Salt Stick caps really don't take up much room so why one earth do I never bring them just in case? I mean really. I felt like I rolled in the sand at the end of the race I was so salty. The last 5 miles were brutal. They were either along busy roads or in neighborhoods and there was not a lot of shade. I tried to run to get it over with, but by mile 11 I was done. There were quite a few of us trudging along. Did I mention how hot I was? Maybe I need those cooling sleeves some of my tri friends use. Haha. Anyway, I made it to the finish and right at mile 13 I saw an old friend which made my day. Although at that point I wasn't sure if I was seeing  anything clearly so I jokingly said "who is that?! Is that really you?!"

And that's that. It took me over 3 hours and 20 min to finish this race and it hurt a lot almost the whole time. It's fine. I mostly did it because I had already paid and had friends doing it too, but it's still a bummer. I appreciate that people care and are trying to give me the tough love, you finished despite many major setbacks bit, you didn't quit etc, but you know what? Im still allowed to be disappointed. Yes, I know it's great to be able to struggle and overcome, but there comes a point where you just get sick of having to struggle. So keep that in mind. Your friends will appreciate your kind words and knowing how great you think they are. They will not appreciate being told how to feel. The ups AND downs are important. It's part of how we grow as runners and people. If I had breezed through yesterday and had the mediocre race I was expecting I may not be as ready to move on as I am today. When I woke up this morning I thought, "my gosh yesterday totally sucked. Im so glad that today is Day 1 of a new challenge."

(edited to say - most of my negative feelings to the race we mostly my own issues. I did prefer the course from last year and I do think there need to be more porta potties and cups at water stations. However, I felt safe the entire race, even on the busy roads and the volunteers were AWESOME. Plus, this race had at least water at every mile, which is more than almost all other races. I would recommend this race if you are looking for a very hilly challenging course. The time allotment is generous too, at 3.5 hours.)

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