Monday, September 22, 2014

Rochester Marathon Race Report

To preface this race report, I want to say that when I originally signed up for a fall marathon (at first, the ADK Marathon which I then switched to the Rochester Marathon) I was ready to put in the work and try for a BQ (3:35). I trained aggressively and very well for 12 weeks, and then developed runner's knee. At that point, I tried to do my best while not further aggravating my knee, which was hard. Sometimes I could run fine and other times it really hurt. I had to cut long runs down, cut out all speed work, and I really lost a lot of motivation for the following 5 weeks up to the race. Even the day before the race, I was unclear of how the race would play out or what I would be able to do. I was tentatively looking at running an 8:30 pace and trying to run around a 3:45 marathon. I was upset about this because I really wanted to try for the BQ, but I also didn't want to risk hurting my knee any more. It was annoying and I probably had the conversation 15 times with John about what I was going to do on race day (which I'm sure he loved).

Fast forward to race morning.

John and I before the race
My dad had come up on Saturday so we spent the day doing non-race things (lunch, I bought a new mattress, etc). John came over at about 4:30 and we cooked dinner for the 3 of us, and then my dad and I watched a movie. I went to bed at around 10:30. My alarm went off at 5:00 am on Sunday (one of the nice things about the race starting 10 minutes from your house) and I was up at 5:30 to shower, make coffee, and eat a bagel. John picked my dad and I up at 6:30 and we headed over to High Falls. I hit the porta potty twice and then handed my stuff over to John, got some hugs, and made my way into the herd of marathoners. I was talking to my friend Debbie when I happened to see the 3:30 pace group (which was the finish time I was originally hoping for to give me 5 minutes of "buffer"). At that time, I decided "f-it, I'm going to see what happens" and went over by them. Spoke with my Ironman buddy, Kenny, at the start, and then we were off!

The first 9 or so miles of the course are down East Avenue. I managed to stick with the pace group, which was quite large, with relative ease and with no knee pain. I even ducked into the woods/bushes a few miles in to pee (record speed there too) and caught back up without a problem. I saw my friends Andy and Brett on bikes on East Ave. I saw John and my dad at about mile 5 or 6 (can't remember) and I waved!

I heard them from the other side of the road!

I like this blurry shot on East Ave.
Once we got onto the canal path, it got a little harder. I hate the unpaved section which goes for a while. Chris, the pace leader, was great! Talked enough to be entertaining/funny, but not so much that he was obnoxious (I've had *that* guy and I eventually had to exit the pace group - not that I am slamming on *anyone* that offers to be a pace leader, but I tend to be easily annoyed in large packs of chatty people anyways). I saw my dad and John at mile 11. We hit 13 miles right on pace and I remember thinking, "this is where the work begins" however it still seemed to be going ok, although my knee was starting to bug me. I can't remember at what point it started raining but it was a relief, as I was starting to get pretty hot. It was humid and I didn't think the aid stations were close enough together, so I was pretty hot and thirsty, especially on the canal path. The weather was weird; it would rain pretty hard, and then stop and heat up, and then rain again, etc. The weather situation was kind of a blur and it didn't really bother me, except for my shoes getting wet, which is never enjoyable.

canal path running!
sadly I did not see this when I was running
From miles 13 to 19, I hung right on Chris's shoulder because I knew if I fell back, I would be done. The pace group slowly was dropping people but I was determined. I was also questioning my ability to make smart decisions, because marathoning is not always a fun way to spend 3-4 hours. Why am I doing this? I could be in bed right now. This hurts. Why don't I have a *normal* hobby? I want to sit down. I saw Marty and Linda at Schoen Place, John and my dad at mile 17, and then Jennie at mile 19 where she yelled "stick with the group!" (Sorry Jennie, I died RIGHT after I saw you!). I kept the 3:30 group in sight for a while and then slowly kept falling back. I thought for a while I still might squeak in under the 3:35 BQ time but it became pretty apparent that I was running out of steam. Fellow triathlete Kirsten was out there running with her friend, and I tried pacing off of them for a while, but couldn't keep up (her friend went on to run a 3:33!). I was chugging cups of water at every aid station (and walking them) and my quads were screaming, but once I hit Genesee Valley Park I knew I was close! I saw my dad and John again at mile 22 where I was basically alone, dodging some half marathon walkers. I was pretty miserable at that point but managed a smile for them. The river trail is the worst part of the marathon course in my opinion (it's hilly-ish, rooty, and has a lot of people going slow that need to be dodged) but I got a bit of a second wind through that section (I saw Ben - my ex, who was not having a great race) and then before I knew it, I was crossing the Ford Street bridge, running through Corn Hill Landing (where I got a good pick me up from seeing my friend Matt), turning onto Plymouth, and then rounding the corner at Frontier Field to finish!

in GVP!

Somehow, I managed to cross the finish line in 3:39:24 (at least that was what was texted to my phone) which is a FOURTEEN MINUTE PR. I am THRILLED. Of course, it leaves some unanswered questions. If I had chosen to run behind the 3:30 pace group a bit, would I have been able to hold on for longer without drastically slowing down? Could I have tried harder to keep up with them at mile 19? I am not good at pushing through the discomfort of a marathon. Even so, this was a huge breakthrough race for me. I put it out there and gave it a shot and even though I couldn't do it, I didn't miss it by much. AND, I got 2nd in my age group. Again, unbelievable. I know this is a small-ish marathon but that is not something I would have even considered possible. I didn't even know until I checked my facebook later and someone had posted it!

After the race, we went back to John's house, stopping for some supplies (chocolate milk, Coke, Gatorade, and ice - all for me, oh and 3(?) Pepsi Maxes for John, because he's gross) on the way. John had texted his brother to get the ice bath going so when we got there, I had to get in, no excuses. Me and 60 lbs of ice in a barrel is not exactly what I *want* to do after a marathon, but it really did help. I showered (4th best shower of my life) and changed into dry clothes while the men cooked, and the we had brunch (or as my calendar invite says - SuperMegaBreakfast) including: chocolate chip pancakes with homemade whipped cream, some weird flavored sausage and bacon (which I can't comment on because I don't eat meat), biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and scrambled eggs with asparagus that John & David's roommate, Dan, made. It was all delicious. Unfortunately, my stomach does not allow for much eating for hours following a marathon so I had: a lot of chocolate milk and one chocolate chip pancake. I know, I am pathetic.

the boys and the breakfast!
Dad and I at breakfast!

John's sister, Jennifer, and her son, Francis!

As for stats:

Gun time: 3:39:28
Net time: 3:39:24
Pace: 8:23 min/mile
76th overall
19th female
2nd F AG 30-34

Let me just say that it was *amazing* to have both John and my dad out there all day. My parents have always supported my craziness racing/sports 100%. They have come to marathons, Ironmans, half-Ironmans, cyclocross races, high school & college cross country meets, horse shows, the list goes on and on and on. I have never had a boyfriend do that for me. That John willingly played chauffeur to my dad all day so that he (and they) could see me 6 times from start to finish was awesome. I know they both had fun and I loved seeing them out there! I felt so much support from them as well as all of my other friends that I saw out there. Literally, too many to name. It was unbelievable and really is why I race. I can't believe I ever doubted my choice of this race because it was such a fantastic experience.

The day after: I am pretty sore, as to be expected. My knee is not good. I have a pinkie toe that, due to the wet shoes/socks, did not fare so well. (I will spare you the gory details, except Jennie, who got a photo text). BUT, I have a brand new king-sized mattress to flop onto tonight, an exam to take tomorrow, and then I am free from running AND homework for a whole week! (Free from running for however long I want, actually).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's almost marathon time..

..and I don't care.

I said it.

Runner's knee has killed my BQ aspirations and all of my motivation to train as well. I have done a hodgepodge of runs/trainer rides over the past month and while I know I can run the marathon, it's not going to be impressive.

I'm going to race, I'm going to try to PR (my PR right now is not very impressive) but I'm not going to risk making my knee worse. I want to enjoy the marathon, enjoy seeing my friends/family that will be out there cheering for me. I want to celebrate Rochester and life and all that jazz, but that's it.

My fun Fall starts AFTER this race. Webster Cyclocross (my first race of 2014 AND as a CAT3 woman) is the following Sunday, so that should be interesting (I hope my legs are recovered enough to hammer them for 40 minutes!). The weekend after that, my brother, my dad, and I are all driving to Providence, RI for the KCM Cyclocross Festival that Grant and I will both be racing in (2 days), and we are bringing my dad along so that we can have a fun family trip at what will probably start to be a pretty sad time for all 3 of us. It would have been my parents' 40th wedding anniversary that weekend, and then into the holidays and then to my birthday in January which I think are all going to be hard.

John and I have a trip planned to Connecticut in November which will be nice. I'm sure I have lots of other things going on as well that I can enjoy without the marathon looming in the background (although Theory of Statistics I is ALWAYS looming, everywhere).

So while I am bummed that several months of hard work and training is not going to end the way I wanted it to, I have a lot of stuff to look forward to!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Marathon training - what's that?

I haven't posted my training weeks in a few weeks.. and that's because my training schedule has essentially blown up due to a nagging knee issue. It started whatever weekend it was that I painted my office (Week 12 of my marathon plan) - I took a misstep while running and twisted my left ankle on an uneven sidewalk during my weekly long run (it was a 12 miler - cutback week) at about 2 miles in.. I turned my large loop into a small loop intending to stop once I got back to my house (I have had many, many sprained ankles in my running days and essentially I am good to go the next day, sometimes even I can keep running on it if it's not too bad), but by the time I got back, my ankle was runnable so I kept going. By the end of the 12 miles, my right knee was feeling achy. No big deal, I figured it would just take Monday off and get back at it on Tuesday.


 Since then, I have had this niggle on and off, more on than off. It killed my long run the next weekend which was supposed to be 20. I did 9 on Saturday and then 10 on Sunday followed by an hour on the trainer. A lot of my midweek runs have also been replaced by trainer rides. After about a week and a half, I broke down and went to see Jennie Hansen (she's a physical therapist) and of course, runner's knee. She gave me some stretches and exercises to do to try to correct the problem in the future (tight quads, tight hip flexors - none of this is new information to me, nor is this a brand new injury that I've never had) but not much can be done now other than back off running and hope that my current fitness level can carry me through the marathon.

It was very upsetting at first. I have worked so hard and put in so much effort for this race. I executed workouts, ran in the morning, around my crazy work/school/life schedule. Did all of my long runs. Ran when I was out of town. You name it, I did it. Then this happened and threw my training plan into shambles.. which ultimately made me lose motivation. Who wants to be in the basement sweating on a trainer when they can be running outside? Not me.

I have been trying to power through and I had a bit of a breakthrough this weekend - I ran 15 miles on Monday with manageable pain levels. I was in Baltimore over the weekend for a wedding and did not have much success running - I ran Friday and Saturday with John but both days, my knee was unhappy which did not leave me feeling optimistic about trying a longer run on Monday, but I had to try. I am glad that I did it, and now I am taking it easy from here on out.

I hope that my pace goals are not ruined for the marathon but if they are, they are, and I definitely learned an important lesson.. that I need to not cross the 50 mile per week magic threshold! And that I need to do more preventative maintenance.

Anyways, just trying to make it through the race (it's in < 3 weeks) so that I can switch to cyclocross where there is no time goal and everyone is drunk anyways!

John and I on our run at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore

at the wedding!