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Week 17 + reflections

Instead of telling you about my running this week, since it’s been what I’d call uneventful since it’s taper time, I’ll tell you what’s been on my mind. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this week in lieu of running a lot of miles. A lot of race-day visualization, self-motivation, and reflection on all that I’ve done to train for this. Just thinking about it when I’m in a certain focused mood can give me the chills. I got to thinking about the story of Kathrine Switzer that I had read about once or twice before, who really changed the history of running for all women, and how my story wouldn’t be possible without hers. Here is her story… but first, starting way, way back:

The first Olympic marathon was held in 1896 and it was open to men only. Women weren’t to be counted out entirely, however. A woman named Melpomene snuck onto the marathon route and finished an hour and a half behind the winner, but beat plenty of men who ran slower or dropped out. Women snuck onto marathon courses from that point forward.

Now fast forward to the year 1976 (when it was apparently widely accepted medical advice that running could make your uterus fall out). It is the Boston Marathon, which isn’t just any race… it is the world’s oldest annual marathon and had always been a men’s only race. A headstrong 20-year-old junior at Syracuse University named Kathrine Switzer entered the marathon under the name of K.V. Switzer and was given a number. Kathrine recounts in an article she wrote (which I’ve reduced and added a few notes to below):

“The day of the race was horrible. Sleeting, snowing, windy and cold…As I pinned on my number, the other runners around me noticed I was a woman and got very excited and supportive. They thought it was great that a woman was going to run Boston. We all lined up to go through the starting pen…More people were noticing I was female and congratulated me, all very supportive and excited for me. Arnie [Kathrine’s coach], my boyfriend Tom, John Leonard from our cross country team, and I were in a little group… The race starts and off we go.

Four miles into the race, the media flatbed truck loaded with photographers came through and we all had to get out of the way to let it pass. A bus followed the truck with the journalists and on that bus were co-race directors Will Cloney and Jock Semple. The photographers saw me first and started shouting, ‘There’s a girl in the race,’ and then slowed up in front of us and started taking pictures. By now, I’d thrown away my top sweatshirt and my hair was flying. I didn’t try to disguise my gender at all. Heck, I was so proud of myself I was wearing lipstick!…

Jock [Semple] was well known for his violent temper…He jumped off the bus and went after me. I saw him just before he pounced, and let me tell you, I was scared to death. He was out of control. I jumped away from him as he grabbed for me, but he caught me by the shoulder and spun me around, and screamed, ‘Get the hell out of my race and give me that race number.’ I tried to get away from him but he had me by the shirt…Arnie tried to wrestle Jock away from me but was having a hard time himself and then Tom, my 235-pound boyfriend came to the rescue and smacked Jock with a cross body block and Jock went flying through the air. At first, I thought we had killed him. I was stunned and didn’t know what to do, but then Arnie just looked at me and said, ‘Run like hell,’ and I did as the photographers snapped away and the scribes recorded the event for posterity. The rest is history.”

Since this whole scuffle happened right in front of the news trucks, the whole thing was documented on camera.

It wasn’t until 1972 – 5 years later – that the Boston Marathon was officially opened to women, and Kathrine Switzer was a huge part of making this happen. Since then, so much as been accomplished for women in running.

Sometimes it helps (and takes my mind off my upcoming race) to think about the big picture. Not just how I got to this place, but how women got to this place, and it hasn’t been an easy road. I can’t even imagine being Kathrine where on top of all of my training I am also going against the rules, social norms, and literally fighting (or having your boyfriend do it for you) to stay in a race where you wouldn’t be given an official time anyways. Today, female participation in marathons has been steadily increasing, and I’m so excited to soon be part of that growing statistic! So thank you Kathrine Switzer for setting the precedent and making this marathon training comparatively “easy” compared to what you had to go through. 🙂

P.S. Kathrine is truly dynamic to listen to, so if you want to, watch this short video of her describing her experience in Boston, I enjoyed it a lot.

P.P.S. It’s looking like it’ll be beautiful weather on race day! 5 more days!



Week 11 + “ice” bath

Saturday’s run was crazy – here is the good and the bad.

The good:

-I’ve recently started a new tradition that before my long runs I’ll go to Panera Bread and buy a pre-run bagel and a post-run bagel. My pre-run bagel is relatively simple, a whole grain bagel with regular cream cheese. My post-run bagel (and my motivation during some of those hard miles) is a cinnamon raisin swirl (or french toast bagel in this weeks case) with hazelnut cream cheese (or icing, as Matt calls it). It is literally like eating a delicious dessert. A-MA-ZING.

-It was about 56 degrees and beautiful outside! I was in shorts and short sleeves and my sunglasses.

-Two of the Gus I used (of the 4 total) were my favorite, Chocolate Outrage!! I won’t get into that, since I’ve talked about it a lot already so you should know by now how much I love it.

-That night I got to hang out with Matt, his youngest sister Jenna, and their cousin Sarah who was in town. The girls made delicious chicken tacos, homemade salsa AND guacamole. Mmmmm, it was heaven!

The bad:

-I was dragging the first 5-6 miles, I felt sooo heavy. I realized that the Gu I took before the run (Peanut Butter) doesn’t have any caffeine in it, and I need that caffeine beforehand!

-Since I was at UVA and part of my run goes by the basketball arena, I somehow managed to time it so that I was running through crowds arriving TO the game at the start of my run (mile 1-2), and then on my way BACK there were people overflowing the sidewalks and streets leaving the game (mile 10-11), it became sort of an obstacle course trying to get through! Next time I should check to make sure there aren’t any major sporting events I’ll have to run through, haha.

-Running by a Wendy’s around mile 16 – made me want to gag. I don’t ever eat fast food, but it smells ESPECIALLY bad when you’ve been running for 3 hours. People were sitting in their car eating their artery-clogging burgers and staring at me like I was an exotic animal they had never seen as I ran by. Some people are amazed/confused/amused(?) by me running with all my gear and intensity! 😉

…and the next category, the new:

Don't let the lack of ice cubes fool you, it was freezing...

Ice bath! Even though it was only one mile more than my longest run last week, my ankles were feeling especially tired. I told Matt I felt like I had baby ankles – I guess that means my bones are still forming and are hard to walk on and I would’ve rather been crawling – a bit of post-run genius right there. I knew that putting some bags of ice on them just wasn’t going to be enough, so I decided, for the first time I would try an ice bath. I did some googling of ice bath criteria and rules as Matt started filling the tub was luke-cold (his word, not mine) water. I went in to check the temperature and immediately made it colder because I’m a champion like that. One of things I read was that some runners like to sip hot chocolate or hot tea while in the ice bath to make it feel not as bad. So by the time the tub was all full of icy cold water, Matt started heating some water for tea. I was literally pacing around being all nervous as I waited for my tea and as the ice bath waited for me. Finally, I decided I need to JUST DO IT and get it over with. I did it with my clothes on to provide some (small amount of) warmth, so Matt came in as I stepped in and lowered myself into the tub while yelling things such as “IT IS SOO COLD, OH NO, SO COLD,” and the like. As I was all the way in, sitting up with my legs straight, the water was up a little past my waist and my legs extended straight out. Within about 15 seconds I realized it didn’t feel bad anymore. But it didn’t feel GOOD per say. It just felt strange. I could rotate my ankles in the water and they didn’t hurt at all like they did outside the water.

Matt started the timer (10 minutes) and went to get my tea for me. The ice bath was definitely a super strange feeling and I never really felt like I was the happiest child on the planet, but it did feel relaxing, I can’t deny that! After adding some ice cubes, sipping on some hot tea (great idea by the way!) and asking Matt “how much longer do I have?”, I finally finished my 10 minutes and slowly stood up. My legs were red, but they felt good, they felt totally cooled off right through the muscle. All in all, a great, great idea that I will definitely be doing again after my long runs, when frozen peas are just not going to cut it.

Oh, and one more thing to add to “the good,” I didn’t have work today so I got to stay with Matt another night AND it snowed yesterday in Charlottesville, beautiful! 🙂

47 more days till the big day! I am getting SO excited!

Week 8

This week wasn’t anything unusual – in fact, everything went pretty smoothly. My weekday runs went well, except for some low-motivation on Thursday. For my 15-miler this week I was at home instead of in Charlottesville and I felt like I hadn’t done a really long run here in awhile. Saturday I got up, had breakfast, relaxed, then went to Panera Bread to get some “fuel” for my run. I had a delicious cinnamon raisin swirl bagel with cream cheese about half an hour before my run (as well as half of a Gu Jet Blackberry gross, this flavor didn’t do it for me), then I was ready to go!

The weather was BEAUTIFUL, it really doesn’t feel like January (in fact, last weekend was the only weekend so far in my training that has actually felt like winter). It was around 50 degrees, I was on short sleeves, shorts, and sunglasses! I wanted to finish around 3:00 (3 hours), and finished in about 2:40, which to be honest was a little on the fast side in terms of  my own personal pacing. It’s interesting when people ask me how long it took me to run a certain distance, because I always want to preface it with the fact that I wasn’t RACING on these long runs, and I could run faster than that if I was racing/had to run away from a wild animal. But when you’re training, you’re supposed to run at a pace of around 60 to 90 seconds slower than your race pace per mile, that way you get your body used to spending that much time moving on your feet and that many miles before trying to run the distance for time. (Finding your race pace is calculated based on past race times and tells you how hard you should train for other distances to get better and faster while avoiding doing too much too soon and probably getting hurt in the process.) I won’t bore you with any more statistics or anything, but moral of that tangent was that, I am trying to train smart so that I can get to the marathon start line without injury. Anyways, I digress…

An additional short side note though, the Gu I tried, Chocolate Raspberry Roctane (with 2x the caffeine) was pretty darn good! I had it at around 1:50 (hour and 50 mins) into my run, and it honestly tasted JUST like the delicious raspberry brownies that my boyfriend’s dad makes! Mmmmm! I had a flashback to eating one (or two, or three…) of those brownies at their house not too long ago. To be honest, I’m sure the Gu tasted extra delicious because I needed the nourishment at the time, so I’m sure my judgement was a little clouded at the time! If I had to choose between a raspberry brownie or the Chocolate Raspberry Gu for dessert, you bet I’d choose the brownie, I’m not stupid! 🙂

After my run, I had another delicious Panera bagel, that I had gotten that morning – I’m so sneaky, I had gotten two bagels – this time a whole grain bagel with hazelnut cream cheese – mmmm! Oh, and a glass of chocolate milk, of course! 🙂 My legs started to feel tired (not sore, not hurting, just tired) by the end of the run, but I definitely felt like I could’ve kept going if I wanted to. In fact, I always end up finishing my weekend long runs with the last mile a little faster than all the others, mostly cause I’m so pumped for having just run that far. As long as I make sure I don’t overdo it (and compromise my training pace too much), I’d say I deserve this little “victory” portion of my runs from time to time!

And as a look ahead… this coming week will be the halfway point of my 18-week training plan! According to the training plan, I should be running a half marathon this coming weekend, and this technically means a race, not just run 13.1 miles. Since there aren’t many half marathons happening in Virginia in February (since it’s SUPPOSED to be cold…), I’ll most likely just be doing my own personal time trial race 0 and after that, bring on the increasing miles!!!

Week 5

Nothing very eventful happened this week – just went about my workouts as usual. Unfortunately the TVs in the gym were broken on all 4 treadmills which was sort of a bummer (I’ve been loving watching Law & Order while running, it makes me forget I’m even running). So Tuesday and Wednesday’s treadmill runs with no TV – I tried watching a movie on my iPad on Wednesday while running, but it just wasn’t working – I needed my music too (normally I watch the TV with captions and listen to music). Without the beat, it was hard to keep a good rhythm.

On Thursday for my 3 mile run, I decided that since it was only about 47 degrees outside after work, that I’d try out my head lamp that I got for Christmas! It worked really well! I definitely got some looks, but luckily it was dark so it’s not like anyone would’ve been able to see who I was. I think I would’ve liked it a little more if I had a running buddy, since in general running when it’s getting dark isn’t all that… heart-warming. But I stick to populated areas with heavy traffic, so that was good, but I’m not sure when I’ll be doing that again next – maybe the next time I’m at my parent’s house where it’s more residential neighborhoods.

On Saturday after dropping my boyfriend off at the train station, I got ready for my 12 mile long run. It was about 56-60 degrees outside, sunny, a little bit breezy – just perfect spring weather… in January… hmmm, well, I’m all for it! Since I’ve never trained for anything during the winter I can’t say for sure BUT, I feel like this has been a lucky training season so far for me with this great weather. I was worried in the beginning about training through December, January, February – but December is already gone, and I’ve gotten one week of January out of the way too and I haven’t frozen on a long run yet!

I tried Gu again today, this time I tried Tri-Berry – it was decent, but I definitely like chocolate better. I don’t think I’d buy Tri-Berry for myself, but I would eat it if it was the only thing available. Next week or the week after I’ll probably try either the Vanilla Bean or the Espresso 🙂

In other beauty news, I have acquired a lovely blood blister on the inside of my arch on my right foot. [Picture at the bottom – don’t look if you don’t like runner feet! Who does, right?!] It’s not particularly painful, just annoying. You can also see a regular blister forming in the exact same spot on the opposite foot. Hmmm… I’m going to have to figure out what is going on here. Some possible explanations: I need new shoes (worn down cushioning), my socks are not tight enough, my socks don’t have enough cushioning, or my running form was slacking (causing my foot to slide) – those seem to be the big ones I can think of. I’ve used the same shoe – Mizuno Wave Alchemy – since I started doing races, but I’m on my second pair right now. I wore these shoes (the older model) when I did my half marathon and didn’t have any issue with blisters (but I did lose a toenail…) so it’ll take a bit of trial and error to figure out the cause and how to alleviate it. Hopefully I figure it out before they start to hurt or get worse!

Blood blister... boo

Close up

Next week is “cut-back” week which means my long run isn’t as long, allowing for my body to rest up and recover – looking forward to it!

Week 4 + Happy New Year’s Eve!

WARNING: This post might make you hungry… for chocolate.

It was another pretty flawless training week! Yesterday I made the mistake of eating way too much candy – I’m like a little kid – and was nervous I would still feel gross for my 11 mile run today. I even took the risk of trying some Gu gel for the first time from my sampler pack – I decided to go for one with caffeine in it (there are some without). I’ve heard mixed things about the Chocolate Outrage Gu. My parents have both tried it for long bike rides; my mom thinks it’s too sweet, like eating icing (that doesn’t sound too bad to me…), but my dad likes to just eat it real quick and wash it down and it’s like a treat. I LOVE chocolate, so I figured, let’s try it! (Funny that I decided to try the chocolate after getting a stomach ache from eating too much gummy candy yesterday – my mind works in mysterious ways.)

In theory, you’re supposed to have the entire packet of Gu at once and have multiple packs on you if you’re running for a really long time. You are supposed to have one pack 15 minutes before you start, then another one every 45 minutes. Since I wasn’t sure how it would agree with my stomach – some people don’t do well with it – I decided to sort of divide the packet up into thirds – I had one-third 15 mins before, another third halfway through (one hour into the workout) and the last third 45 minutes later. YUMMY. So the chocolate Gu was great because, it looks so simple, like this…

Standard and unassuming...

But it tastes like this…

Yummy, yummy, yummy...

As I was eating it, I was thinking to myself… should I really be indulging on such delicious, fatty, heavenly goop while RUNNING? The answer was undoubtedly: yes, yes I should be! 😉 I was able to finish the run feeling great (I’m sure it was the caffeine, I will NOT take this experience to mean that I should just eat chocolate bars while I run, I’m not that silly!)

…And if that wasn’t enough of a treat for the day, this is what I had when I got back from my run, a cold, tall, delicious glass of… chocolate milk 🙂

Life doesn't get much better than tons of chocolate

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone! I hope everyone had a great 2011, and may there be much happiness, health, and chocolate in 2012!