Posts filed under 'Sweat'

That Time I Ran the NYC Marathon

It’s been a long time…but I actually have not forgotten about my blog. I think maybe I was purposefully avoiding it…. really avoiding this race recap. But here goes nothing…5 months later, in very broad terms about the race, and very specific terms about what I was going through, here is my recap of the NYC Marathon. Why? Because I blogged about all the training, and it needs a conclusion.  The NYC Marathon, and the Marathon Chapter of my life needs a final end.

I was originally set to fly into NYC on Wednesday, Nov 2 (before the Sunday, November 6 marathon) to get settled in American time, be early for packet pick up, relax with my friends, and be an utterly calm Zen Buddha master of life before race day. That didn’t happen. My MIL was moved to hospice the previous week so I changed my flight to half a week early (from Nov. 2 to October 28) and changed to fly into Chicago rather than NYC. (My return flight had always been from Chicago as I had plans to help my mother rehab hip surgery and spend time with my MIL post marathon.) I then spent the week in my hometown’s hospice, trying to support my husband and his family, trying to stay strong and sane while watching a loved one slip away, and selfishly, stressing about the marathon. I snuck away for a few runs but really wasn’t sure if I’d be running the NYC marathon or not. It wasn’t until Thursday evening that I bought a flight to NYC for the next evening (Friday). Sometime in the night Thursday, my MIL passed away.

 

My only picture at the expo.

I tried to support my in-laws the best I could on Friday and then got on a plane to NYC alone.   E had to return to Scotland for work as the funeral wasn’t going to be for another 2 weeks, and he hadn’t been home to Scotland in over 5 weeks (with work trips, a wedding, and being with his mother). It was a whirlwind of feelings I couldn’t process and I just trudged through like a zombie. I got to my brother’s Friday night, utterly exhausted, stressed, anxious. On Saturday morning I got up and got the bus to packet pick up. I had never been to a race expo alone (E has always been my rock…. I’ve never run a race without him cheering me on…ever). It was strange and exciting, but I was lonely and sad. I tried to put on a brave face and enjoy the experience, but I was numb.

 

That night my brother asked if I wanted to go out or pick up pizza- I opted for some chicken and boxed Mac n cheese. I talked to my brother about the schedule for Sunday, where he would be during the race, where I would meet him after. I texted my friends and cousin to arrange seeing them along my route. I stretched, and rolled, and hydrated. I took a xanex and went off to sleep at about 9pm.

I’m trying to remember the timeline of events of the morning of race day. Let me just tell you…. it was a long hucking day. My start time was 10:40am (I ended up missing my corral just by one so I think I started actually at 10:50 or 11). My ferry time was 8am. I think I left Hoboken to train to the World Trade Center stop at 6:40am. I then walked to the ferry…and almost missed it! Oppps! Once you depart from the ferry you are in line, standing, to get on busses that bus you to the start for over an hour. Probably closer to an hour and a half. Then once on a bus…. you are in the bus for about 30 minutes. Made only more excruciating if you have to pee. Which I did. And I mean, I REALLY had to pee. I almost bailed out on the bus. I was rocking back and forth and just trying not to piss my pants because that would make the upcoming 26.2 miles so very uncomfortable.

On the ferry, headed to Staten huckin’ Island

I made my way through this mob of people after about an hour and a half…it was miserable.

It takes so long on the bus (in part) because each bus needs to pull up at a specific spot where a mini police security team is set up. You exit the bus and immediately get metal detected, your bag searched, and possibly a small pat down. Once I get out of this I immediately darted behind a tree (honestly, about 6 yards from the bus door) and peed in someone’s yard. I had TP in my bag because it’ not my first rodeo. Thank god I managed to evade the police because after I did this…I watched another man try to do this and he was practically tackled by police mid-whipping out his junk because they want you to stay on the designated path in case he was going to pick up guns/bombs/heroine or whatever.

Let’s do this!

I then ran into my old co-worker from Qdoba. Who would’ve guessed the largest race in the world and I run into him. Admittedly, he was in a terrible mood. And I was super anxious. And we didn’t even get a picture. Nor did I get a picture when he passed me in Brooklyn ha! So I missed my corral, which was fine, just delayed the inevitable. And so there was some standing at the start of the Verrazano bridge, then there was the star spangled banner, and BOOM. Cannon fire and New York, New York streaming over the loud speakers.

Now my coach came up with very specific pacing for each mile. I created an AMAZING pace band from FindMyMarathon.com. Too bad it doesn’t do much good when your watch loses signal. But what’s worse is when you watch loses signal but you don’t know it and you’re sprinting to get your time knowing you are going way too fast but it’s too late and you want to hit that time on your watch. And then you get to mile 3 and your watch is saying you’re at about 2.3 miles. PROBLEMS. Math is not my strong suit either. So I knew I was too fast, but with all these different paces, there’s no way I could figure out and adjust as precisely. So I tried to stick to around 10:18 mile pace…and I did (even though I knew I was a few minutes early to every mile marker) until I couldn’t. Until I couldn’t push any more, and mentally and physically went from walking and running, from hysterically not being able to breath to solemn faced as I realized I missed my goal time.

 

 

 

 

 

The Highs and the Lows

So happy and naive….

  • Going over the Verrazano Bridge was exciting, sunny, and a bit windy. I tossed my gloves immediately. My first mile was a slower pace up the bridge and I was enjoying it, but when I was supposed to up my pace on the downhill my watch lost signal without telling me and I ended up sprinting ridiculously downhill until I get into Brooklyn and the crowds. I saw my mile marker was WAY off…and spent about 5 minutes stressing over it before decided to just try and maintain a 10:18 pace.
  • Brooklyn was amazing. So many people! This is the closest you’ll get to feeling like a professional athlete with hundreds of people yelling your name. My name was written on duct tape and I highly recommend you do the same. If I didn’t have my name on my shirt, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have finished.
  • Around mile 5 my headphones break. Just one of them. No sound comes out except crackling. So I am left running with one headphone in. Thank god there are 2 million spectators screaming my name because if there was a rural marathon I would have quit right then. Even that being said, there are a lot of points in the marathon that would have gone a lot better had I working headphones. I nearly always run with headphones…. especially mentally tough runs. My marathon playlist is an exact science to me. It takes weeks to perfect. I include motivational speeches at difficult parts (when I estimate I’d be on bridges, that last 3 miles). And with only one headphone, the NYC noise coming into my other ear is really too great for me to get an assist from my music.
  • I had most of my friends waiting for me in Brooklyn and they seriously made my day. I mean, I don’t even live in this city; I came to the race alone, and had 4 separate groups of people cheering me on. And can we talk about their enthusiasm and signage?

Mile 7 – On my right hand side was Katie Ly and her fiancé Jonathan

 

 Mile 8 – On my left hand side, my cousin Dylan and his girlfriend I basically ran straight across the road to see them as you can tell by my angle.

 

Mile 11 1/2 – My girlfriend Merima, who actually lives in San Fran, came into NYC to see me and a few of her friends who live there.

Miles 18 ½ and 23 – My brother and sister-in-law! My brother doesn’t do signs but he did suffer through the most crowded points of the marathon, see me at 2 different points, and then find me after the race…. which is no easy feat when there are 50K runners, 2 million spectators, and I am barely moving.

  • Pulaski Bridge into Long Island – Everyone talks about the Queensboro Bridge. How it’s the most soul crushing experience of the marathon. Too bad I had pretty much hit empty on the Pulaski Bridge – THAT I deliriously THOUGHT was the QUEENSBORO BRIDGE. What did that mean?   That I had a lot more race to run, and a hell of a lot of more hilly hardships than I anticipated ahead. I had to stop and walk for the first time on the Pulaski Bridge. But I kept my walk speedy and stayed optimistic because once I got through it, was giving myself a pat on the back that the Queensboro Bridge wasn’t too hard. A mile later I realize that I hadn’t yet met the Queensboro Bridge and doom and panic hit me.

    Over one of those damn bridges.

  • Queensboro Bridge – Eff this bridge. I walked lots.
  • Manhattan – The finish line is in Manhattan but don’t be fooled. You are nowhere near the end. You still have to head up to the Boogie Down after all.   And 10 miles.   I am disheartened trying to return to a jog/run I can maintain. I don’t think I can hit my goal time but there’s still a small chance. The crowds are mental but I’m really down on myself. Can’t let my brother and SIL see me walk though so I pick up a run again. I see them and hug them and they are super encouraging and enthusiastic…. I try and maintain my slow run up to the Willis Avenue Bridge.
  • The Willis Avenue Bridge is a baby bridge (in comparison) into the Bronx. The Bronx actually wasn’t as desolate as I thought it’d be. But by this point there was a lot of walking. It was realized my goal time had slipped away and I just wanted to sit and have myself a pity party.
  • Back into Manhattan and here is the worst part. Worse than that stupid Queensboro Bridge. You’re running down 5th Avenue for the next 3 or so miles at an incline. Sure, it’s not a huge incline, but it’s enough of an incline to break you. I am walking tons. I see my brother and Carly again before I head into Central Park. Of course I make sure they see me “running” but I don’t think anyone would really call it that. They later tell me how they thought I had looked good the first time they saw me around mile 18, but when they saw me now around mile 23 I looked pretty broken. Hey, I’m just surprised they thought I looked good at mile 18. I have lost my goal time, and now I am just trying to pick my sorry self up the ground and beat my Paris Marathon time.
  • Central Park – is a lot of uphill, but some rolling hills and with that at least means some downhill. The park doesn’t have a load of spectators but the ones that do save me.   There is one man on my right, he’s a few yards in front of me and he sees me struggling. He’s looking me right in my eyes as he’s yelling, “Come on Lauren! This is what you trained for! You know you got this! You’re almost home Lauren. Think of your training!! You can do this!” For a moment, I thought this man must know me. He did not.
  • Central Park South – a wee stretch of road where the spectators are mental and you’re almost home free. I’m really trying to turn it up here.

  • Finish line – eerily quiet. They charge money to sit here and watch the elites finish so by the time I finish it’s totally empty. Sucks a bit.

I cross the finish line and everything I’ve tried to mentally muscle through for the last 5 hours, no 36 hours, actually 4 months takes over. I am at a point of hysterical crying that a volunteer grabs me, takes me to the side and hugs me telling me, “You did great Lauren, you did it.” I am so thankful for this volunteer but at the same time thinking, “Man, if you only knew.”

Done whimpering….I have survived.

I zombie shuffle through the maze to exit the marathon. I have a calm, collected weep going on, I’m tired but know if I stop I’ll never move again, I’m cold and I’m hungry. The sun is almost all the way gone. I talk to Daniel and when he finds out I’m not through the maze yet we change our meet up location to one closer to me. I get to the road and am looking for whatever street. I can’t function so I ask a police officer if I’m headed in the right direction. He says yes…but then asks, “Are you alright miss? Do you want me to come with you? Is someone meeting you?”

We end up taking the subway all the way back to Hoboken…the Uber fees are sky high and hey, what’s another couple miles of walking. Crammed in like sardines with a load of other runners crinkling in our foil blankets. Daniel thinks he’s funny complaining about how his feet hurt from spectate-ing, probably because he knows all the runners are too tired to punch him in his smug face haha.

I’m actually feeling better. Get home, shower, put some mousse in my hair and we all head out the door again back to the city for a dinner with my cheering section. Daniel can’t believe I am making it out the door again, but what’s the point of running 26.2 if you can’t celebrate. It ends up being a perfect night…everyone drinks too much, the food is amazing, we’re the loudest table in the place, and I’m pretty sure everyone of had tears in their eyes at one point from laughing so hard. It was definitely what I needed.

Given the fact I had just run a marathon and hadn’t actually sat down since 8 am….I look pretty good!

 

Just last week I had a friend ask me about the NYC Marathon because they were offered a charity spot to run it. It’s really hard for me to separate all the personal shit I was going through, and that affected my race from the race itself. I think the NYC Marathon was the biggest challenge I’ve taken on in my life. I was 48 hours out from my MIL dying, I didn’t have my husband by my side, I was emotionally and physically exhausted from international fights and hospital chairs, the torn labrum in my hip had caused me terrible discomfort throughout training and I knew that this had to be my last marathon. My headphones broke, I missed my goal time, and I walked. On top of what everyone experiences there- it’s ONE TOUGH COURSE! But hey, not only did I finish…I beat my Paris Marathon time.

NYC: 4:48:58

Paris: 4:54:38

Finding My Fast

So it might seem I’m abandoned all things running in the last few months (along with abandoning this blog)…I haven’t. Okay, December I definitely abandoned all things running (but I had the best intentions!). It’s true that after the Paris Marathon in April I pretty well quit running. I was doing more lifting and Les Mills classes at the gym, and would run maybe a couple times every fortnight or so. But I was burnt out and had a lot going on.

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Then, on November 2 I was in a cold sweat. I had to officially cancel my NYC Marathon entry (which I obviously wasn’t running but had this weird mind battle with officially cancelling) to ensure that I would get my guaranteed entry in 2016 (guaranteed WITH paying the $350+ AGAIN). Once cancelled, it was hard to ignore the fact that my next marathon was pretty much exactly a year away. I needed something to bring me back to running, but I didn’t want to do the same old run schedule that marathon training is and becomes. I needed something to motivate me but not let me get bored, antsy, or burnt out. Thus, I decided to train for my fastest mile.

I looked at and considered a couple different plan: this one at Competitor, this one on Women’s Running (intermediate), and this one at Nike. And ended up choosing the Nike one….I mean, who doesn’t need a little Bugs Bunny inspiration? It started with an out of shape timed mile- just under an 8-minute mile. And from there I set the goal of a sub-7 minute mile (which would be epic for me…I understand people run marathons at like a 5min mile pace for 26 miles straight…I am not one of those people) and calculated ideal pace times for the 5K (8 minute mile) and 10K (9 minute mile which I know shouldn’t be that much slower but leave me alone). Then I set out to do my work. The plan has you doing speed workouts 2x a week and wants you to do a long run on the weekend, and any other runs you want under 5 miles.

I was pretty diligent with the two speed workouts for 5 weeks. But I wasn’t doing any other running. In my defence, those 2 speed workouts a week really crushed me. My whole body hurt (a lot more upper body than I expected) and I felt so fatigued all the time. We would do the workouts at the only (level) track in Aberdeen at the Sports Village. One day was so windy, rainy, and icy that we did the workout inside on a treadmill. Otherwise the workouts would be late at night or E would drive up immediately after work and I’d meet him (hard to plan eating around), we could maybe get one lane, sometimes not even, and it cost £3.70 each time, for each of us (E was my pacer as he was the only one with a running watch at the time…and I’m rubbish at pacing myself). There is one other track in Aberdeen at Hazlehead park, a 500m track that goes uphill in one direction (and a nice downhill in the other) but it often has a lot of people on it and because it is pavement, becomes icier more frequently.

I had big plans for my speed work in America. I put in every workout on my calendar. I planned to use the gym and a treadmill mostly, but a couple runs I preferred on the high school track. As it turns out, when I was home I never put on my running shoes once.

 

Church.

Church.

Well I am proud to say that I got back on the Find Your Fast plan and started from the beginning the first Monday I was back here in Scotland. This time around I’m doing pretty much all of my workouts on a treadmill (at 1% incline). It’s not ideal, I actually hate treadmills. But it’s a short workout and saves the trouble of getting to (and paying for) the track, especially when I feel I can’t do track workout without E…I know I’ll puss out. He tends to tell me I’m slower than I am so I push myself much harder…. Oh well, gotta work with what I got. I am happy to say I haven’t been feeling AS completely knackered after these workouts so that’s good in a way, but bad in a way. Don’t get me wrong; my body still hurts. And I am getting in another 1-2 runs on top of that- at least one distance run- building up to 10 miles as I have a 10 miler race on March 6. I am trying to push myself and on my last couple of sprints do them at a faster speed….I figure that’s got to good to push it then when I’m already fatigued right?

We did manage to do minute long hill repeats outside this week. Of course on one of the windiest days in Aberdeen, Storm Frank I think, and I am running uphill directly into the wind. I’m not happy to say I didn’t accomplish 7 minute mile pace up hill, into the wind for a full minute. But I got the 8 and 9 minute mile paces (repeat these 3x each). Oh well, working on progress.

So let’s see how this one goes. 1 full month of training down, 1 month to go. Doing speed work I’ve never done before. Can I get a sub-7 minute mile?images

Ben Nevis

Yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary….here enjoy some photos from my favorite day of life:love this glatl0517 glatl0559 ohhhh but i also love this one... glatl1052 glatl1047

Last year for our anniversary we had decided on a weekend getaway to the west coast to do our first proper hike. We did the Pap of Glencoe.  Which wasn’t even a munro (a mountain over 3K feet in Scotland), but it was hard. Maybe it was because it was the first real hike, or maybe I was really out of shape, or who knows but it was hella hard. But we love the west coast (as does Stella girl) and really wanted to continue the anniversary tradition and head out there. We also know we might not be here next October (although, I am hoping we are) so we’re starting to think about our Scotland to-do and to-see list and getting things checked off. So we decided to head back on over to the west coast and take on Ben Nevis, which is the biggest mountain in the UK standing 4,409 feet.

From last year’s trip and the Cairn Gorm climb where we (either Stella or us) almost died, it would seem I’m a glutton for pain. But hiking is pretty rewarding, there is a clear start and end, and the views and scenery are amazing. And Stella loves it. Like LOOOOOOVES hiking. And it’s Scotland! This is what you do in Scotland. Had I ever really hiked in America? Nope. But I’m not in America. And if you’re signing up for expat life you have to embrace what your new home offers. And it’s hiking here! I got waterproofs and hiking boots and a head torch and rucksacks all since I moved here, and I aim to use them.

happy dog

happy dog

We did decide it wasn’t really necessary to take off any extra days. We headed to Fort William on Friday afternoon (its about a 3 ½ hour drive) and checked into the Lime Tree Hotel- a small place (about 10 rooms) with a good restaurant, breakfast included, and they are dog friendly. Bonus: it’s right in the center of Fort William and about 10 mins from the starting point of Ben Nevis.

Friday night we dealt with another 30 min drive from the hotel to the Clachaig Inn for dinner. Both trips we tried to stay here but they’re always booked! It’s alright because they were a little far from Ben Nevis, but definitely worth the trip for dinner. And of course, they’re dog friendly. Even the restaurant. E and I both had the Smoky Pork & Chorizo Chili and it was really, really good. I know a lot of people who have stayed and recommended it, and while I can’t say I have, if you’re traveling with a pup it’s a great dinner option at the very least.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the Lime tree and made our lunches, packed our bags and headed out to the hike. As I said it was about a 10 min drive, so easy peasy. There is a big parking lot (£3 for parking all day), the actual center that we didn’t go in, and restrooms- PH33 6PF. Definitely go potty there because the problem is not only are there tons of people on the hike, but also there is nowhere to hide to loo it up. Even for the guys…just too many people.

Okay so before we left for the weekend, but after we decided to do this and book the hotel and all, I really started freaking out about if I could make the hike or not. I mean it seemed pretty intense. They said it would take between 7-9 hours and the weather could change and be awful, and the top is really cold. I read about all these lists of things you should bring (compass and head torch and lighter and extra shoelaces) and really started freaking out because we’re really amateur hikers and kinda hacks. We packed the best we could…forgot the head torch, but had a lighter and a compass (not that we knew what to do with it), loads of layers, gloves, hats, LOADS of food and water for us and Stella, waterproofs…no extra laces but ya know.

the summit is up there somewhere

the summit is up there somewhere

I had also wanted to start hiking at 8 am since daylight is decreasing and I had visions of it taking 15 hours and getting lost and who knows. But brekkie didn’t start until 8am and I am not missing free breakfast. So we ended up getting the visitor center around 9ish and set off the journey. It seems 9 am is a very popular time to start, though there were some people who must have gotten there at 7 or 8 am, and then bewilderingly we saw some people starting off at about 5. And they didn’t strike me as epic hiking kings or anything. I hope they were prepared or didn’t attempt to do the whole thing.

So we started at about 9:15am and were done right at 5. But E’s little Garmin told us we only were active walking for 5 hours, 25 minutes, and 10 seconds. We had taken a couple breaks on the way up to give Stella water and/or eat a banana, but then we spent quite awhile at the top eating a full lunch, having hot tea (definitely bring a thermos of hot water up there!), exploring, and taking it all in. But yeah, we really kind of hauled ass uphill I think (thanks to my big booty) and definitely took much longer going down. Oh my old aching knees.IMG_1719

We lucked out with great weather on the hike. Although it was freezing at the top. Freezing.  We thought it was a cold so I started with a dri-fit tee, dri-fit long sleeve, and my waterproof jacket…but within a quarter mile took off the extra long sleeve. I kept the water proof jacket on because it was misting for the first bit and I didn’t want to get wet, but it stopping misting pretty soon and I rolled up the sleeves. At the top though…woah it was cold. I immediately took off my sweat soaked tee shirt and put on two long sleeve dri-fit tops, a Patagonia fleece and my waterproof jacket, a hat and gloves. But I still couldn’t get my fingers warm! I wanted to pour the hot tea on them. I also had a scarf that I didn’t end up using but what if I needed a homemade splint or something?! 🙂

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Kept Stella away from the cliffs

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I also used walked sticks for the first time on this hike! Maybe that’s why I thought it was an easier time up? And even though I still hated the journey down and my knees hurt…maybe they did help them to hurt less and make it easier? Who knows, but I think I would take them again.IMG_1738

The path is EXTREMELY well marked. You can’t miss it (assuming it’s not covered in snow). And we were there in the off-season and there were so many people…we rarely were on a spot where we couldn’t see others. I heard in the prime “summer” months its basically one long line trudging along (because there are parts where the path is slim). You do not need a guide if there isn’t snow on the ground. If there is snow…well hell if I know because I’m not hiking with snow. I do think you should make sure to have lots of layers and water and food, and of course proper attire and shoes. But I didn’t think it was that bad of a hike actually…and I’m really not a hiker. Nor am I in very good shape at the moment. So if you’re thinking about doing it….DO IT! Because then you’ll get to say you hiked to the summit of the UK’s highest mountain! #braggingrightsIMG_1775I hope next October we’re still living in Scotland and will be taking another weekend trip to the west coast to concur a new munro. Until then, I’m really looking forward to some friends coming in the early summer and heading to the Isle of Skye with them for hopefully great weather and gorgeous hikes. Get training Tracy and Brian!

E & Stella dog, contemplating deep deep thoughts

E & Stella dog, contemplating deep deep thoughts

LifesCycle Edinburgh

I have now been to LifesCycle Edinburgh twice and I can’t wait to go again. It’s definitely review worthy and worthy of spreading the news to Scottish expats and Scottish people alike.20150221_103529 (2)

The first time I went to LifesCycle, it was the week after Valentine’s Day. E and I went to Edinburgh for the night for some good food and a good sweat the next morning. I was beyond excited for a proper spin class. So excited, I was doing it the day before my 16 mile run {my furthest then and was uninjured at the time- I swear they aren’t related.} We woke up and had some breakfast {porridge, always porridge for me before working out} and checked out of the Hotel Indigo and drove to LifesCycle. Must admit, we drove past it twice and decided to park knowing it was somewhere around there. Then we walked past it once! Definitely a discreet and underassuming doorway.

We were early because they advised every first timer {with previous spin experience or not} to attend the intro session.   An earlier class was just letting out and loads of people were milling about, talking, having coffee and sweets. And there were a few dogs hanging out- that always makes my day.

We met the owners, a super cool couple, Andy and Jeannie. They were welcoming and kind, and seriously, just gnarley. That’s the adjective I would most like to use for them. Especially for Andy. We did the intro with a couple other first timers. I wouldn’t say it’s totally necessary if you’re familiar with spinning – but hey, it can’t hurt. A nice little warm up and I got to ask Jeannie a few form questions I had always pondered.20150221_105310

Soon the rest of the class was pouring in. Not an open bike in the house. Including the 4 bikes they managed to scrunch in on the top podium with Andy leading as instructor. There were all walks of life. Some in full cycling kits, some {like myself} in a t-shirt and capris. Big and little, male and female, young and old. And I mean, some really old.20150221_105713

The ride itself was fantastic and strives to feel like a ride on the open road and not just a ride on a stationary bike. And that’s a big deal hear because most spin classes don’t do that- they are just a spin class and generally a pretty shitty one as far as spin classes go. The music is in line perfectly with your climbs, your coasts, your headwinds….and it’s not music you’ll grow tired of…these aren’t top of the pops or the latest charts, but they keep you energized and excited about what’s next. That along with the utterly weird shit playing on the projector- if you’re pushing your ride and need a distraction from the work and pain in your legs- there’s plenty to distract you. Totally. Weird. Shit. But that just adds to the charm.20150221_110233

The entire studio is in to it and a believer- you can tell. There’s a lot of talk about riding together as a pack. And times when Andy yells out who’s with me and everyone cheers or when he says “One Life” and everyone answers with “One Life Cycle”….this is some meta stuff people. And when asked if we wanted to do one more song before we cooled down- it was an overwhelming yes.

When Megan was in town, we went in on a mid-week, mid-day ride led by Jeannie. And it was a really good, difficult ride- even though it was 15 minutes shorter and there were only 5 of us in the room. If you can have a good ride with 5 people in the room- I think that’s amazing! Though I am still baffled at the fact that they can’t get more people on a mid-day ride. They just started offering these classes in the summer and they aren’t well attended. Where are the yuppy stay-at-home moms in this country?! All day, every day, Shred415 classes are PACKED in Chicago….waiting list packed.   And there’s only 5 people in this spin class at the ONLY designated spin studio in Scotland, in the biggest city….what is the cultural difference here…are there no ladies of leisure looking to get svelt? I digress…

The place itself- it might throw you for a loop. It certainly did me. As I mentioned, it’s unassuming and you’ll probably walk by it- I even did the second time with Megan. There are a couple toilets and then a men and women’s room that has 2 showers each…but these are pretty barebones showers and I wouldn’t really recommend planning on getting dolled up after. There are some cubbies along the wall, or you can leave your stuff on a sofa. It’s a very laid back atmosphere in general, but everyone is there for a solid workout.

So whether you are a spin fanatic or never tried it before- you should check this place out next time your in Edinburgh. You’re going to have a good ride. You’re going to smile a lot of the time. And you’re going to feel totally welcome regardless of your ability.IMG_0018

Baby Steps to Interval Training

Remember when I used to run all the time {and spin and lift}?! Yeah, me neither. Sad face….

I’ve gone on some occasional runs {sadly, my goal of recording all of my running miles for 2015 is a failure as I haven’t recorded any of my runs post marathon since they’ve been so erratic}, a handful when Megan was in town since she’s marathon training, 1 or 2 run clubs, a couple trail runs to explore my new hood….nothing really concrete or with any goal in mind despite declaring I was going to run a trail run {turns out now I’ll be in Croatia} and a half marathon in October {really don’t see that happening but….}.

So it’s time to start getting my shit together. Trying not to overload myself especially since there are plenty of things/guests/trips fighting for my time. But let it be known- I ran 2 days in a row! Baby steps, I know.

But maybe you’re like me and looking for some baby steps as well?

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Despite getting through the Paris Marathon without stopping to walk, I am having a hard time running without stopping. A lot of times it’s at the top of the hill, but sometimes I just burn myself out and want to stop. And that’s outside. On a treadmill if I run more than 15 solid minutes it’s a miracle. I don’t know what it is but it’s just so damn boring. But sometimes you have to run on a treadmill! Due to weather, or time commitments, or location. So I decided I needed to start doing some intervals to:

  1. Burn some more fat
  2. Keep me amused on a treadmill
  3. Stop me from taking mid-run breaks

And so, here is my first crack at an interval workout. My active recovery is really slow, which is nice and what I need to keep moving. It might feel a little too easy in the beginning, but you should feel it by the end if you’re at my fitness level….which is not totally out of shape, but pretty far from in shape. So if you’re taking baby steps, I recommend this one.

 

Minutes MPH KPH Incline Notes
0:00-5:00 4.0 6.4 3 Warm up
5:00-6:00 6.0 9.7 1
6:00-7:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
7:00-9:00 6.5 10.6 1
9:00-10:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
10:00-13:00 6.5 10.6 1
13:00-14:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
14:00-16:00 7.0 11.3 1
16:00-17:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
17:00-18:00 8.0 12.9 1
18:00-19:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
19:00-20:00 9.0 14.5 3
20:00-21:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
21:00-23:00 6.5 10.6 3
23:00-24:00 4.0 6.4 1 Recover
24:00-27:00 6.0 9.7 3
27:00-30:00 4.0 6.4 1 Cool down

Race Recap: Baker Hughes 10K

My Jog Scotland Thursday running group

My Jog Scotland Thursday running group

On Sunday I took part in what I think is really the only race actually in Aberdeen: the Baker Hughes 10K. A description of the race:

The course is based around Aberdeen beach and harbour area and has some spectacular views of the North Sea and the famous Beach Ballroom on the route. The race started as a marathon and in 1987 changed to a 10K which it has been ever since with a number of different courses.

It’s kind of funny because Aberdeen was trying to get a marathon this summer, that got pushed back to next summer, which got shot down. But now that I’ve run the 10K, there’s a lot left to be desired in a marathon or half marathon. I can definitely say I wouldn’t be signing up had it gone through…

On to the recap!

Cost

£22 pounds for me, £24 for E. I got a £2 discount for being a Jog Scotland member. In Conversion, this is pretty close to a standard “big” race in Chicago…but for that price in Chicago you generally get a pretty good t-shirt, a beer, and some carbs. But I’ll get into all those specifics later….that being said I felt it was a little steep. The Aviemore Half Marathon and 10k for a few quid more and the Fare Challenge 10K for a quid less….and those are all much more scenic, and I know at least the latter has better swag and goodies. C

Registration

I’m not sure what they’ve done in the past…but I know this year was new for them. They were shipping everyone their race tshirt and bib #. I’m not totally sure if they did that before and this year they just used a different carrier this system? Or if the whole thing was new. I LOVE the idea. I hate taking a trip and paying for parking just for packet pickup. Unfortunately- there was an issue. I never received my packet. It was kinda strange since E got his and I registered us both under the same ticket. They sent out an email saying there were issues, but assuring everyone would get their bibs by Saturday, but just in case…you could get a new # the day of. Well of course mine never came. Besides that, it seems a lot of people got crumbled balls for bibs…hope their chip still worked.

So on race day we headed down extra early to deal with whatever incompetence await to get a new bib. It was actually very seamless, and they updated my info ASAP because I still got a text after the race with time result of my new bib number. So a slight fumble, but overall it worked out just fine. And I was the only person I knew (out of about 20 running) that didn’t get their bib. I’ll let this one slide. A-

Parking

Because of aforementioned missing bib, we arrived super early and got to park on a street (free on Sunday) before the roads were closed. If you didn’t get there super early before the roads were closed, you were pretty much screwed. I mean, if you know parking in Aberdeen, you know it sucks. This is no exception. We actually drove our friends and their kids back to their car that was parked all the way across town….good for them as it started pouring and they would have had a miserable 30 min walk with wee ones. C

Bathrooms

I thought there were plenty of port-o-potties when I needed em. Again, I was really early and got in two nervous poos without anyone even in a port-o-pottie near me. Then I had to wee right before the race…and there was this epically long line for the bathrooms. It was huge. And it seems everyone was just standing there waiting in one line for the 2-3 potties in front of them?! What was that? Normal protocol is a new line every 2-3 potties. I just walked through this line and went to the far end and went wee. It sounds like I’m a jerk…but I’m telling you there people at the front of the line couldn’t even see those potties because they were in a L shape. But that massive line was so weird….I imagine if everyone lined up like normal runners I might have had to wait 2-3 minutes. But not really my problem. I guess maybe they need some potty marshals? But I can only say my personal experience was A+ no wait.

Timing

On the bib, just how I like it. I’m really confused because I know at the 5K mark I ran over a timer…and yet they are not posting your 5K times….odd. A-

Course

Only picture I grabbed of the course.  Big sky, eh?

Only picture I grabbed of the course. Big sky, eh?

Ehhhh. Aberdeen is not a gorgeous city. No offense, but you’re not going to walk downtown and fall in love with Aberdeen. Fall in love in Scotland- yes. Not so much actual Aberdeen. So they made a race trying to utilize a pretty bit- the long stretch along the beach. Unfortunately you have to add on at the front and end running around what seems to be Section 8 housing and seedy harbor businesses. And even when you’re running along the beach…on your other side is Pizza Hut and ASDA (Walmart for those not in the know). I mean, I can’t really fault them. It’s the only race in actual Aberdeen and they worked with what they had. Oh but that hill at the end blows. B

Goodiebag

Well there was a tech shirt. But they only offered men’s sizes and the front is completely white (weirdest thing ever). From the ones of the past I’ve seen, it seems every year is white. They need to shake it up. And really- too cheap to have something printed on the front? Now I understand why everyone at run club on Thursday was gushing over my Chicago Spring Half Marathon shirt. When you crossed the finish line you got a bag with some pantene shampoo samples, some paper, and a tea bag. You could grab a water bottle and a thing of concentrated water flavorer. No bananas. No bagles. No dry toast even. CIMG_2169

Competitors

It was my {new} hometown so I knew quite a few people there. Only one situation wasn’t great when turning a corner and a man was pretty aggressive with his arm up and shoving me over. Seemed a little unnecessary at 1K in buddy. A-

Medals

You got one! People wear them! Again, if it’s your thing- it’s there. I did like the pop of color and the date engraved on the back though.

Time

57:47 – a personal best I think? And again, I’m so damn fat. Must lose this weight. And further more- great considering my hip is still buggered up and I have only run 4x (most 5 miles) since the marathon.

Would I run it again? Um, maybe. I guess probably. I do like big races and this is the biggest I’ve experienced in Scotland with 3,900 runners (I know Edinburgh and Glasgow have large races- just saying.) But it’s really nothing to write home about – it’s a race. It forced me to lace up my trainers probably much sooner than I would have post marathon so for that, I am thankful.

Me and E pre-race

Me and E pre-race

Post Marathon Physical Check In

I thought I should share a little update about where I was at physically after the Paris Marathon. It’s now 3 FULL weeks past. And unfortunately I haven’t done much in terms of physical activity until this morning. I thought I just needed a week off, but I was really still feeling like shit…getting worn out very easily, fatigued, and feeling really neauseaus. And now finally 3 weeks later I’m feeling normalish. Biggest issue was getting headaches every day or so…I can’t tell if it was residual from the race or if it’s the abundance of Scotland sun (don’t laugh).

Anyway- looking back on all post race issues:

I was lucky to have put on sunscreen, but I missed the back (or front) of my calves and they got a little pink- but it wasn’t anything too severe. But I guess the lesson there is sunscreen everywhere.

I had applied Run Guard on all my crevices and tried to put it everywhere my sport bra came in contact…I would not have bloody nipples damn it. But I apparently didn’t lube right at the top (neckline) of my sport bra. So I’m left with these chafing marks- not too bad though as chafing goes!

My only chaffing!

My only chaffing!

Right after the marathon, I mean right after crossing that start line, my initial thoughts were, “oh my legs might give way” and “holy hell my lower abs are killing me.” When we got to the flat, I laid around for an hour or two (eating chocolate, watching Bravo) but didn’t want to nap because I feared I’d never move. E on the other hand napped hard – spectating as Beeker…hard work. I managed to shower and get dressed but was far too tired to blow dry and straighten… I felt tired, but not dead. But my hip pain was aching, and I really thought I was totally back to the worst point of my hip injury. Even so, I was overall feeling much better than I expected….other than the lower abs. Seriously, so sore. Had no idea!

I had trouble sleeping that night from pretty terrible hip pain. I roll a lot while I sleep and every time I did I woke up in pain. Monday was a whole new level of pain. I mean…it was just a really ridiculous fatigue and soreness in my legs (and of course, lower abs). That doesn’t sound too bad I know, just saying I was tired and sore. But it was to an insane level of soreness that cannot be described unless you experience it. It would take me a long time to get my legs moving after we stopped at anytime and when we got going, I was just a bit awkward. I felt all jelly-like from my knees up and had to be careful my legs didn’t give way. Luckily there were lots of us hobbling around the city and I think people knew what was up as handfuls of us walked sideways down the metro stairs. The worst was the hour and a half plane ride followed by walking down the little metal staircase once we landed…but again there were a few of us on the flight.

Monday (the day after the race) was the worst by far for pain. And I was super nauseous; I felt I was going to puke on our drive to pick up Stella once we got back.  By Monday night I kind of realized that my hip wasn’t all that injured. So that’s good!

Tuesday I felt loads better in terms of pain and my overall legs and was almost handling stairs like a normal human on Wednesday. But both days I was extremely nauseous and had killer headaches. I guess maybe everything in me was just so depleted. And trust me- not pregnant. I’ve been trying to stay off my feet (only getting about 3K steps Tuesday-Friday) to rest. On Friday my hip hurt worse than it had previously…but I think I just need to stretch. Because I hadn’t done that since the morning of the race. Whoops.

Since then I’ve gone on some decent walks and started easing into some ab stuff but it wasn’t until this morning I went to a bootcamp that I had even run- and that was just around Duthie Park (maybe like a quarter mile?).  But I actually miss running for the first time ever- so that’s promising.  My mom’s been here the last 12 days and I was just hanging out with her a lot.  One day I did wake up early to run but it just didn’t happen.  It’s hard to keep schedule with guests.  Anyway, the rest of bootcamp was a full body circuit using just body weight and some core work- I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow!  I’m pretty happy that it seems I didn’t totally screw my hip by running the marathon though- hurrah! Still, I have a lot of work (mainly getting a good core) to prevent it from happening again. And stretching, stretching, stretching.

Stretching with a partner is always more fun.

Stretching with a partner is always more fun.

But I’m excited to start figuring out where I’m going with my workouts and goals next. In the meantime, I’m signed up for the Baker Hughes 10K on May 17. What’s a little 10K compared 42?

Race Recap: Paris Marathon

I AM A MARATHONER!!!!

I did it!

I did it!

So most Paris Marathon recaps that I’ve read include all kinds of selfies and photos. This is not one of those recaps because I couldn’t be bothered to fish my phone out of my spibelt for pictures. So you want to see pictures of the Paris Marathon course or LB running selfies- you’ll have look elsewhere.

Here is my marathon recap and experience. I’ll try and include the points I normally cover in race recaps.

Cost

€99 which is almost exactly $99 right now. I paid an additional €12 for cancellation insurance (that as I said I did not do for flights and accommodation). Really not a bad price since I got charged $347 for the NYC Marathon, Chicago is going at $185.

Registration

I woke up early on registration day and kept trying to register and kept getting booted out of the page and it wouldn’t load until finally my husband got through and registered me- this was unnecessary. It was quite a few weeks before they closed off registration at capacity. Not sure if it will the same case in 5 year, but next year, no need to set the alarm early.

The expo was open on Thursday from 3-8pm and pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday.  We headed there on Thursday and it was a real easy train ride and the expo was steps away from a stop.  You MUST have your medical certificate and convocation (has your name, bib number, and corral on it).  Right away they look at your medical certificate and then stamp your convocation (no wait at all) and then you head on over with the paper to get your actual race bib (short wait).  Then you got your bag (see Goodie bag) and the rest was just expo. Asics was the apparel sponsor so they had a huge section of Paris Marathon branded stuff. I would have gotten a few things actually but limited myself to this long sleeve than I’m obsessed with.IMG_1886

The rest of the expo had about 200 vendors. Everything from Brooks, Puma, Mizuno, Gore, Skins, Hoka, Sketchers, and New Balance- to UK brands I was unfamiliar with: Odio, Kalenjii, Zsport, Dix40 and Anita Active. Loads of different races were there from around the world. Tons of nutritional stuff, most I have never heard of but there was Cliff Bar, Gu (WHERE THEY HAD MY PRECIOUS SUPER HIGH CAFFEINE RASPBERRY CHOMPS!), Power Bar, and Vita Coco. The odd thing was that there were barely any free samples or coupons being handed out. Every expo in America seems to have free swag everywhere and people lined up around the block for it. Unfortunately, I’ve had the joy of working expos with free samples…

IMG_1757

Wall with all the runners names.

it's me!

it’s me!

IMG_1758 IMG_1766 IMG_1764

The downside was a lot of people didn’t speak English. And ya know, no free stuff.

Overall though, I thought the expo was good- although huge!   But it was really easy to get there and get my bib etc….and there were bathrooms!

Goodie Bag

IMG_1882

Pretty good bag. Only one or two coupons/slips of paper. Some gummies (Haribo was a sponsor – see these people love their gummies), Pistachio, your sleeveless plastic bag for waiting in corrals, a Tag Heuer water bottle, a Dr. Scholl’s sample, Tiger Balm sample, luggage tag, and little running waist pack. I wasn’t about to change up my routine and stuck with my spibelt but I did see quite a few runners running with it. I already have one walking pack, but otherwise this would be great to use while walking the dog, etc.

We didn’t do a whole lot in the days leading up to the marathon, other than eating carbs. I’ve been to Paris 3x prior (lucky girl) so we didn’t need to run around looking at things- just enjoy the season.  Even still, I was getting about 17K steps in on Thursday and Friday, but managed to stay off my legs more on Saturday with only about 12K steps. On Saturday we had a great carb-o-licious brunch at Laduree. Touristy? Yes. But amazing brunch. We of course opted for the full €60 package that included champs, French toast, fruit, juice, 2 sandwiches, croissants, macaroons, pain au chocolat. The works. Worth every penny. I’d do it again. Make sure you make a reservation. Every other night we ate at Italian joints to carb it up.

carb loading at laduree

carb loading at laduree

Carb loading Laduree

Carb loading Laduree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite not sleeping fantastic for months leading up to this marathon, the night before I slept better than I have EVER slept before a race. Had some Pukka nighttime tea and a xanex and didn’t stir until the alarm went off at 7am. That’s the thing about euro-races- they start late. I mean, I was in the last corral and my start time was 10:05! How fantastic. I ate my porridge, stretched for 30 mins, watched my motivational movies, applied run guard and sun screen. Sat around anxiously… By the time we left the flat it almost felt as though I slept through the race, as the streets were eerily quiet. We stayed down Kleber Ave, about 1K from the Arch de Triomphe. The start line is down the Champs my corral entrance was pretty far back by the arch.

The day was warm. No clouds and almost 70 degrees. The warmest it had been for training was about 50- so a huge difference. And I hate the heat! The sole reason I never signed up for the Chicago Marathon was summer training!  The £5 ASDA (UK Wal-Mart) sweats I bought to wear before the start were completely unnecessary. Luckily, I had always planned on wearing a tank and crops for the race and I remembered my Oakleys.   I did wear my little plastic bag for the initial walk, but took it off when I entered the corral- too many bodies.

Resistance band around my knees

Resistance band around my knees

Walking up to the Arc and in the circle around it- that’s where you’ll find the most port-o-loos. I brought toilet paper because I don’t like to drip dry (and heaven forbid I poo) and was glad I did because they of course had none. I even shared with the next 2 gals in line but kept the roll and put in back in E’s “Lauren Emergency Supplies” backpack (extra socks, a shirt, sunscreen, gum, gu chomps). This is critical.

I then walked down to the corrals. I waited until 9:35 and entered the corral. The whole time I wore my resistance band around my knees and did my physio exercises to hopefully keep my glutes engaged. Then we started moving forward. I drank my Gatorade Prime I had brought with me. We passed a port-o-loo every 500 feet or so as we walked towards the start and there were ladies lined up about 5-10 deep. There were quite a bit of men peeing everywhere- but to be honest, E & I have peed on the street in Paris before and not before a race….I mean, Paris always kinda smells like pee, that’s part of the charm(ha!). I’ve read so many other American recaps that really play up this peeing everywhere….I don’t think it was that dramatic. Men in corrals also had these little 4-man stand up port-o-loos where they are totally outside and if all 4 cells were full would be touching noses (practically) peeing. It’s a damn good invention America should get on at sporting events, festivals, etc.

E walked along with me on the other side of the fence. And then we stopped for another little bit. And that’s when I realized, “Oh no….I think I maybe, kinda have to wee.” That was followed up by 5 minutes or so hemming and hawing over if I should get in a loo line. I told E my dilemma. He ran ahead to see if there were any loos with no line but told me to get in the line closest to me. I stood there waiting for what felt like an eternity. E had given me some more TP (ALWAYS BRING TP TO A RACE) and I was half about to pull my pants down right next to the loo. But I held my dignity, while barely managing my anxiety, as it seemed like every single person walked past and went to start the race. Finally got to go- made it to the start and weaseled my way up. I was still pretty much the back of all 50 thousand people, but not dead last. But really, looking back…that pee was 100% necessary and I am so glad not only for my own TP, but for stopping and going one last time before the start. I didn’t have to go again until about 3 hours post marathon. Thanks dehydration!

Okay and we’re off. About 1K in I see a little old man running and it just say “RAY” in huge letters on his back and I thought, well I’m going to make it. I felt I was going a bit fast initially so then I picked one guy and paced with him for a while. When all of a sudden the 5:30 pace group was right behind me?!?! I totally freaked out. I wasn’t supposed to make a goal time (being as it was my first marathon) but I had made a sub 5 hour goal that seemed to me, totally, 100% doable. But when I got injured, I really started to doubt the goal and worry that I would even finish. And I tried to say I would be happy regardless of my time, but in my heart of hearts, I wanted sub 5. So somehow I was by 5:30 pace and that wasn’t going to cut it…so I picked it up.  I kept thinking I was on pace throughout the race but at random points I would be by the 5:30 or the 5 hour pace group and they’d pass me and I was just so confused.  It took a lot but I had to just let it go and trust my own math (and pace)…as it turns out E later told me that the 5:30 pace somehow finished before the 5 and they must have just started way earlier than I had….whatever, the pee was worth it.  So lesson learned- unless you start with a pacer, don’t let them freak you out.

I had trained with my hydration backpack, but knew I wouldn’t run with it. I didn’t want to really carry anything. But I started with a small, plastic, water bottle so that I didn’t have to stop at the first water stop. Water stops were every 5K I think without fail. And you needed the hydration since the entire run was pretty much in the sun. At every water stop they were giving small Vittel bottles. Sometimes the caps were off, but they couldn’t really keep up with that so most times the caps were on. I didn’t think this was a problem and I actually carried the small water bottles most of the time running, I liked having water but I liked knowing I could throw it away at any time. Overall, I really liked the small Vittel water bottles- way better than cups!  Bravo Paris!

Also at every water stop was sugar cubes (no way), raisins (and maybe other dried fruit but I never looked), orange quarters, and half bananas. The banana peels and orange peels…it was pretty damn slippery. Again, not as traumatic as every 2013 & 2014 review would lead me to believe…but it was a little dangerous. Only at about 25K did I have half a banana. Otherwise I just stuck to water. There was supposed to be a couple stops with some sort of goo (a brand I didn’t know) but I never saw it…only at 30K was there a sports drink (same brand I didn’t know) and I didn’t take that either.

My plan was fuel every 5 miles or so. And I actually ate too much on the run. I mean, your brain kinda doesn’t work to its full capability. And I can’t even really remember what I had and when, but here’s my best guess.

  • 5 miles: Gu chomps
  • 12K: E handed me a very small container of Gatorade and I had that – had carbs as well as electrolytes since it was hot.
  • 10 miles: SIS gel
  • 25K: Half a banana
  • 28K – Gatorade from E
  • 20 miles: Gu chomps
  • 23 miles – 2 paracetemol (pain pills) with caffeine , half an SIS power snack bar

At one point, after 28k (when E joined me), I pulled out my iPod to skip a song and realized it was all sticky and covered in goo. I handed it to E who proceeded to lick my iPod clean. Turns out the iPod corner had punctured the extra gel in my pocket. Whoops. Thanks E for licking all the sticky goo off my iPod- best spectator award!

I saw E at 5K, 12K, 17K, and 28K. He wore his massive Beaker head to make sure I could find him- which worked brilliantly. He also knew at 28K he was to hop in and run with me. At 28K I was feeling great. I hadn’t stopped but once to tie my shoe and I really was feeling great. But I told him he might as well run with me.   He held the Beaker head as we ran and chatted, and people kept coming up to him to high five him and say “hi!” because they had seen him at all the other places as well- he had his own fan club! I told him to hang on until 20 miles where I was anticipating “the wall”…but I hit no wall at 20 miles and kept on moving. At mile 21 I was getting a little tired, so I told E to hang out until 23 miles. At 22 miles I really tuned into my iPod and had stopped chatting. E also took over carrying my water. At mile 23 I thought I would dismiss him, but were in the middle of some park and he really couldn’t go anywhere but down the course so he stayed with until almost the very end. I really felt like crap starting at mile 23. It wasn’t a “wall” as I had originally imagined it. But I was over the running thing. The last 3 miles were awful, the last 2K a death march. I went to stop and walk twice but each time I took one slowed down step and my legs nearly collapsed. I knew if I stopped running I would never start. So I just kept (slowly) trucking on. But it was hard. This is where the audio files I had made of my motivational movies really came in handy. “Stop running from your pain. Embrace your pain. Your pain is going to be a part of your pride. A part of your product. I challenge you to push yourself!” I think it was extra hard because you could NEVER see the finish line until you were pretty much crossing it. I needed to see it in the distance, but there were twists and turns…and the French are quiet cheerers…it felt as if I would never see the end.

But I did. And it wasn’t as emotional as I thought but I was oh so happy to be done running. Joyous people were all around me. It was a bit sad because I was quarantined with other runners and I didn’t know any other runners…so it was a bit lonely I had no one to celebrate. I got my t-shirt and bling and got out of there ASAP to rejoice with E.

So some other notes:

Bathrooms

I saw 3-4 banks of port-o-loos throughout the course. When you run past the zoo at the first big park, there are zoo bathrooms on your right hand side (you don’t need to go in the zoo) but if the line is long, there are port-o-loos at about 15k.

Course/Crowd Support

It’s almost entirely in the sun. But very flat. I mean, I guess not Chicago flat, but I thought it was pretty much that flat although many people talk about how its not pancake flat LIKE chicago.  Maybe it’s just the training on bloody hilly Scotland trails? The Bois de Vincennes (first large park) doesn’t have many people cheering at all. Same with the park at the end. When there are people, they don’t really say much. No cowbells, not many signs, a lot of standing in silence. Also, a lot of dodging people clutching baguettes under their arms crossing the road. The firemen did pull out their trucks and sit on the extensions over the course cheering- that was nice. They also brought out firehouses to create a mister in about 4 different places on the course. I tried to look around and take it all in, but most often when I did that I would drift in to someone. Whoops. The course does go all around Paris, but I didn’t think you could really see a whole lot of Paris. There was the big tunnel (that so many people complain about) that I thought was well lit with 2 video spots set up showing some of the marathon and some of Paris. It was perfectly fine.  When I ran through the first set up, there were just the Mona Lisa’s eyes starring down at me which is kind of neat.

Medals

The bling is fantastic.IMG_1887

Time

4:54:38 – Really slipped the last 3 miles. The last 2k took me 16 minutes! And right around the half-marathon point I know I stopped to look at the time and that it was a lot more congested- hence my slow pace for that 1 KM.  But hey, it was my first marathon, it was hot, and I hadn’t run more than 16 miles due to the fact I took a complete 2 weeks off being super injured and barely walking.  I think it’s pretty damn good.Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 8.19.07 PM

Overall

It was fine for me because I know and have seen Paris before and will do so again. But if you’re coming to the Paris Marathon and you’ve never been and might never go again- I think it would kind of suck unless you get there way in advance or stay much later. The course was fine, but I don’t necessarily think it was the best course ever (at least for me) or the most beautiful. But not a ton of spectator support and lots of miles on end with pretty much no one.  And you didn’t get to see all of the landmarks or get a huge taste of what Paris has to offer. Would I do it again? Definitely would do another marathon, but not Paris. Although I think it worked out well for my first marathon.  I prefer my Paris to have a lot more wine and lounging on the various lawns and parks across the city, getting tipsy sitting along the Seine, and maybe peeing under a bridge.  Until next time Paris…au revoir!

Paris Marathon 2015 Finisher and Beaker

Paris Marathon 2015 Finisher and Beaker

The Marathon That Almost Wasn’t

Before my full Paris Marathon Recap (spoiler alert: I ran it, I accomplished my goal, and I lived to tell about it) I thought I should look back to last Wednesday when I was up against yet another obstacle to running this marathon. Thinking, “What the hell am I even doing?! What does all this mean?!”

Don't look too shabby considering this is minutes after running 26.2

Don’t look too shabby considering this is minutes after running 26.2

So when I was injured and barely walking and thinking there was no way in hell I could finish a marathon (See my despair here) I actually had half decided that I was going to cancel the marathon. When I first signed up I bought the race insurance so if I was injured I could get my money back. But when I looked into cancelling, I realized I didn’t get trip insurance. I couldn’t get my money back from the flights (or even credit to be used later) and I would only get 50% back of my accommodation I had already paid for (with AirBNB). And I hate wasting money.

Other people suggested, well just go and enjoy a weekend in Paris? Um no. There was no way in hell I was going to Paris on marathon weekend and not run the marathon. That would be rubbing my nose in it. I would go insane and be angry and bitter and probably trip every runner I saw. Because I’m a hater like that…

So it wasn’t an option to cancel. And that’s when I decided come hell or high water (that’s the saying right?) I was at the very least starting the marathon. I would give it my best and hope I didn’t need a new hip at the end. Pain be damned. And I resumed with my very jacked up, re-vamped training schedule.

Well, on Sunday at 11pm, 4 days before I was to arrive in Paris, my AirBnB got cancelled. It was really strange because I had paid for it months prior and was texting the owner of the house over the weekend about picking up the keys, and then at 11pm on Sunday she just cancelled on me?! I texted her immediately but she didn’t reply. I called Air BnB furious that someone could cancel on me, but I couldn’t cancel without them taking half my money. They sent me new places to stay but I didn’t really like any. We stayed up until about 1am looking for a new place and I had emailed a couple of Air BnB people to see if they were available. E started looking up hotels and microwave shops in Paris. I had wanted to stay in a flat for more space (since we wouldn’t be doing much sightseeing) and for a full kitchen so I could have carbs on hand and be able to make my porridge breakfast on race day.

Finally on Monday I was able to book an a new Air BnB place. Not as good of a location or place, and somehow more money, but it was booked. Sadly, it ended up that the original owner’s account was hacked and they were trying to get me to re-book and steal my money. What a mess and I feel awful for her and me.

Then comes Wednesday at 3pm. I’m on the phone with my client and I get an email letting me know my 11:40am flight on Thursday (less than 24 hours away) is cancelled. There’s a strike in France of course. I get on the phone right away and manage to get the only other flight I can on Thursday: 6 am. So we have to take the dog to her ‘boarder’ that night and run around like crazies to get everything settled.

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So, I get injured (1) and want to cancel. I can’t cancel because I’ll lose all my money from accommodation and flights. So I don’t. But then my accommodation (2) gets cancelled and then my flights (3) get cancelled. So I had to deal with 3 things trying to stop me from running this marathon. So the rule that bad things come in threes was out of the way….But I just kept thinking, what does it mean? The 2 things that stopped me from cancelling now came true?! What the hell!

Another hiccup was the fact that I realized in my last week of training that I really prefer Raspberry Gu Chomps instead of Clif Bloks, mainly because one serving has 40mg of caffeine.  And ya know, the more caffeine the better when it comes to doing anything.  Unfortunately, it seems they are illegal in the UK due to that amount of caffeine.  So I ordered some from Spain and of course on Tuesday found out they won’t arrive in time.  Luckily, I had a contact in Chicago that knew someone that was running Paris and I was able to hunt them down and have them pick up my precious Gu Chomps for me.  Then of course, at the race expo….Gu was there with them.  So on every level crisis averted, but it was just one more frustration.

Anyway, obviously I overcame it all…probably got some grey hairs (good thing no one has seen my real hair color in well over a decade) but I made it. Maybe I shouldn’t look too deep into things…. 30fd68cbe6a9927deead6aac838203f1

Running thoughts

My last post before the marathon!

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My brain is pretty spaztastic when I run. I spend a lot of time “writing” multiple full blog posts in my head that will never see the light of day. Play out a lot of different conversations. And do math.  Any kind of math that crosses my mind. I will try and figure out something, be it pace, distance, or other random crap that requires me to do math. Because I’m really bad at math. Thus, it occupies a lot of time in my brain.  And this is considering I have run all my long runs with people!  Now I’ll be running 26.2 miles solo (well, with 49,999 other runners, most of whom do not speak english) without chatter and idle talk…I can only imagine what’s going to go through my brain.  I’m assuming a ton of curse words…

But on my shorter solo runs, I’m all over the place.  Two weeks ago I tried to grab and remember the most prevalent thoughts that came across my head:

Alright, here we go. Get out the kinks.

Why do I always start uphill? Scotland is uphill both ways, I swear to God.

I have to drop my arms and shoulders.

I should bring a garbage bag and collect rubbish on my runs ala David Sedaris.

Why do I need such bad music to motivate my run?

Ow, that hurt.

I’m kinda hungry.

Crap, that actually hurt bad. Am I injured? Does it still hurt? It hurt when it happened but I don’t think it hurts anymore.

How am I going to carry all this food with me during the marathon?

E better figure out where he’s going to be standing with Gatorade for me.

Drop my arms and shoulders.

Glide, glide, this is easy.

There must be something I can take to make this easier?

If I cant just do this and get through Paris… and then I can figure out NYC marathon after.

This sucks.

Oh this is my Jam.

I mean really, there’s got to be some drug. Maybe cocaine? Maybe I should try cocaine before the marathon?

I really should have lost weight before I pursued this. Next time. Next time I’ll lose weight first.

There is SO much horse shit on these trails.

I’m so hungry.

God, I hope I don’t have to pee.

I wonder if I will ever be able to run again without pain?

Maybe coke’s a bad idea. Speed might be better. It is called speed afterall. Why didn’t everyone think of this? I’ll just take a bunch of speed before the marathon. That should be easy.

I look like such a douche with all this Lululemon on.

Good thing only 5% of the population has ever heard of Lululemon here.

Why won’t this mile enddddddd.

Marathon training would be better if Scotland had Dairy Queen.

Crap, I need to order more mole skin for these blisters.

Seriously, Paris can NOT be as hilly as Scotland.

UGGGGH, I HATE GETTING PASSED.

Real impressive passing me dude.  Oh you’re running 5 miles.  I ran 15 yesterday asshole!

Why did I sign up for this torture?

I’m totally going to wear my medal the whole day and the flight home the next day. I don’t care if that’s uber American.

I effin’ hate this hill.

I eat hills for lunch.  Go big booty, go!

Man, finishing a marathon is going to be freaking awesome.

I’m going to cry embarrassing amounts.

I should rent Chariots of Fire to get me motivated.

I should figure out some damn good mantras to get me through this shit.

Why do I do this to myself?

Why does every run feel equally hard?  When does this get easy?

I need a nap.

I can’t effin move over any more jackass!

Children can run so fast and care free…what happens to adults?

If I was badass I’d totally wear tiny shorts and compression socks.

And write mantras…mantras all over my body.

Seriously, I just need to finish this marathon.  It will all be worth it.

But maybe I should look into the speed thing….