Eat Drink Run Woman

Musings from a Seattle personal chef with a fitness problem

Archive for the ‘Beantown bound’

Published October 13th, 2008

Oops, I did it again

No beating around the bush this time — I’m gonna tell it to you straight.  I BQ’d at Royal Victoria with a time of 4:00:26 (33 seconds to spare — HUZZAH!)  I believe I ran the perfect race, although that’s not to say it was easy.  It truly tested my marathon mettle.  Everything they say about the marathon — that the race doesn’t start until Mile 20 (or that the halfway mark is REALLY at Mile 20), that it becomes a mental game at the end — was true for me.  There was no surging across the finish line yelling “I’m going to Boston!” like there was at the Tunnel Marathon.  It was more of a lurch with a look that said “Please someone grab me before I pass out.”  Hubby, alas, didn’t BQ, but we didn’t think he would given the horrible chest cold he’s been battling.

Anyhoo, I’ll be posting a full race report soon.  (I would have posted earlier but WordPress wouldn’t accept my password on my iPhone).


Published October 6th, 2008

It’s official

Today I received the email I’ve been waiting for:

This is to notify you that your entry into the 112th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, 2008 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.

I swear I started checking my email, mailbox and online bank statement several times a day within days of registering (the BAA said my credit card wouldn’t be charged until results were verified).  I saw the charge on my credit card on September 21, but had yet to receive the email.  Imagine my delight when I checked my iPhone to see this!

Now if you were observant — and I know you’re not considering I have to expressly point things out to you — you’d see something’s not quite right with the email from the BAA.  That’s right folks — I’ve been accepted into the 112th Boston Marathon — the one that was held this past April.  🙁  Can’t a gal EVER get a break?

(Obviously there was a glitch in the system as many people received the same email that I did.  It’s now been fixed, I’m listed on the 2009 entrants list and have received an updated email from the BAA.  Good thing too considering I’ve already reserved a room and booked my flight.  Now if my darling can just qualify and we’ll be set).

Published August 19th, 2008

Tunnel Marathon, part 2

A few weeks ago a fellow runner and I were talking up the Tunnel Marathon on a runner’s forum.  After reading the course description, another forumite commented, “Arrrggh, my quads!”  I assured him while there’s a 2200 foot elevation loss, the decline was gradual.  I’ve run the final five miles of the course several times, and felt it “wasn’t the quad-killer I anticipated.”

Obviously I was smoking crack rock when I wrote that statement.  (Actually, perhaps I should smoke it now; it may alleviate the INTENSE PAIN I’m feeling!!!)

Anyhoo, on to the report.

With North Olympic, my one and only goal was to BQ.  Looking back I wish I had come up with a couple of secondary goals as that may have spurred me on when the going got rough.  With the Tunnel Marathon, my bottom tier goal was to beat my North Olympic time, my middle tier was to BQ, and my top level goal was to run a sub 4-hour marathon. As previously mentioned, I didn’t feel my training was adequate in the weeks leading up to the race.  But during my taper a serene calm descended over me, and I KNEW I’d BQ.  Sounds crazy, but it just felt right (even though I probably broke every cardinal running rule).

As most marathoners do, I started checking the weather forecast 10 days out.  Seattle was hit with a record-breaking heat wave, and each day the projected race day temperature rose higher and higher.  Three days out they projected a high of 90 by noon; RASSENFRASSEN!  However, this ensured I took in enough fluids.  I probably drank about two gallons of water on Saturday, proudly updating my darling on the clarity of my pee.

Saturday night we dined on turkey burgers and spinach fettuccine with feta while watching the women’s Olympic marathon.  While the event inspired us, we were heartbroken to see Deena pull out and Paula run a less-than-stellar race.  But we were in awe of Constantina Tomescu-Dita; I thought there was no way she could hold on to the lead for so long.

After a relatively restful night, we awoke at 4:45 a.m. to the sound of thunder and the pitter-patter of raindrops.  Normally that wouldn’t be a welcome sound, but we knew that would mean cooler temperatures.  We ate our standard breakfast of steel cut oats and berries, each downing a couple cups o’ joe to get things moving through our systems.  I had hoped to be on the road by 5:45 in order to catch the 6:30 bus to the start, but we dawdled too long.  We pulled in to the parking lot at the finish just as the bus was heading out.  No worries — another bus was scheduled to leave at 7.

I had just enough time to visit the port-o-potty to see the next bus pull up.  It filled within minutes and we were heading out at 6:50 for Snoqualmie Summit.  Approximately one mile from the summit (and three miles from the start at Hyak) we started hearing a beeping noise.  By now the bus was moving at a crawl and we all started looking at each other nervously.  Mind you, should the bus break down what better group to handle the trek than a busload of marathoners, but I personally wasn’t looking forward to a forced 3-mile warmup run.  However, we soon crested the summit and the beeping stopped (I think the bus had started overheating).

By the time we arrived the early starters had taken off, but there was still a group of at least 100 runners milling about, several wearing Marathon Maniac gear.  We picked up our bib numbers and drop bags for our headlamps/extra clothing for the tunnel (a volunteer was stationed at the end of the tunnel to collect our bags and bring them to the finish) and took one more bio break.  My darling thought it funny he was bib #13 (queue foreshadowing music).  At 8 a.m. the race director called us to the start line, reminding us about the self-serve water stations at roughly three-mile intervals, as well as the staffed aid stations at miles 13 and 21.  At 8:06 we were off.


Published August 18th, 2008

Tunnel Marathon, part 1

Okay, so where is everyone?  Given yesterday’s major news I expected a deluge of comments.  Don’t tell me you actually HAVE a life.  Obviously you failed to comprehend what I was slyly telling you.  But I’ll give you one more chance.  Go on — go back and reread yesterday’s post, paying particular attention to the last line.  Take your time; I’ll wait.

Oh for heaven’s sake.  Here you go:

P.S.  Oh my goodness; I almost forgot to mention!  Based on my performance today, I’ll also be running a race back East the third Monday in April.

So now you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s the significance of the third Monday in April?”  Could it be… Groundhog’s Day?  No, that’s usually in early February.  Easter?  No, that’s on a Sunday.  Taxes due?  No, that’s April 15.  Solstice?  Come on, that’s June 21!  No, the third Monday in April is an obscure holiday called Patriot’s Day celebrated in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.  As part of the celebration they hold a marathon starting in the tiny town of Hopkinton.  I know, I know — seems crazy for me to travel 3,000 miles just to race in such a tiny town, but I’ve heard it’s fun.

Okay — I’ll stop with the coyness.

My final time: 3:54:34.

(Gold stars to K80K, Angie, Leana and Running from 30 for figuring it out.  Nitmos receives only a silver star since he didn’t have a clue what the third Monday in April is).


Published June 7th, 2008

Inevitable, but surprisingly late

The marathon dreams, that is.

I expected them to come several days ago, but last nights’ was the first.  Fortunately it was a very good dream, although a bit weird as dreams tend to be.  I dreamt I crossed the halfway mark at roughly 1:58 (which would be great considering the second half has the hills).  My darling was running with me and when we got to the creekbeds at mile 16 — the ones I’ve been obsessing over — I looked at him and said, “That’s it?”  They appeared no more steep than the hills I’ve been training on.

However, I’ve heard the really steep one is at mile 20, so in my dream I asked one of the other runners about it while we were waiting for our relay team members to come in (yes, for some reason the race turned into a relay).   He said while it was indeed steep, I should have no problem with it.  I then ended up at a home; it wasn’t ours, but maybe it was (again, you know how crazy dreams can be) to go pee.  At the time I was thinking “Thank goodness we’re doing a relay ‘cuz I don’t have to worry about giving up valuable time to potty.”  I was concerned, however, about how they were going to add up our individual running times.  I wanted to make sure my total time was 4 hours or less.

Once I relieved myself I then had to wait for the shuttle to pick me up.  I began to get a bit nervous — perhaps my darling forgot to call them — but just as I was picking up my cell phone to call him I woke up.

I sure hope I get a good nights’ sleep tonight!

Published June 6th, 2008

Pfitz, The Final Frontier (aka week 18, 29.95 miles)

Well folks, this is it. It’s almost show time. Hard to believe I began this journey back in early February. Where HAS the time gone? Oh yeah — in training.

Angie asked me what my most prevalent emotion is right now; excitement? Anxiety? Nausea? My answer: YES. I’ve experienced all three (and then some) many times over the past few days. But in the end I have to remind myself it’s just a race. I know I’ve done my best to prepare, yet you never know what race day will bring.

Despite my anxiety, this has been a very easy week. I’ve taken my last few runs slow, save for yesterday’s 7-mile “dress rehearsal” where I practiced my pacing strategy. My diet this week has been the healthiest it’s ever been, although I did allow myself a couple of glasses of wine with dinner the other night (not only did it taste fabulous with the grilled flat iron steak, it calmed my nerves). Stretching and a couple of massages have worked out the kinks in my right calf, and daily snorts of Zicam have held an impending cold at bay.

While the final test will be on Sunday, I feel Pfitz’s program is a good one for me. I made a few tweaks, primarily to work in a couple of races, but I’ve run more than 97% of the called-for mileage. I’ll definitely follow this program again when I’m looking to run in a specific time. In fact, depending on what happens on Sunday, I may turn to Pfitz again for the Royal Victoria marathon in October. But assuming I BQ at North Olympic, I may take things easy and just follow a plan to get me to the finish in Victoria.

I’d like to thank everyone for coming here and offering your words of encouragement and support. They really have meant a lot to me. Because North Olympic is such a small race, live tracking isn’t available. But my darling will have his iPhone and hopefully I’ll be able to post my results soon after the race (and of course I’ll write an excruciatingly detailed race report).

Here’s the final recap!

Sunday: since I signed up for the Runnersworld Online June mileage challenge I postponed my 13-mile run to today. I was shooting for a 9:30 overall pace, but wanted to practice my pacing strategy of starting out slow. However, my hips were a tad creaky so I ended up running a rather slow pace throughout (9:40 overall). I’m sure it was good for me.

Monday: I ditched my regular arm weight routine this week and concentrated instead on ab work and stretching. For the afternoon recovery run I used my heart rate as my guide with a goal of keeping it less than 70% of maximum. Overall pace: 9:33.

Tuesday: one of the best classes ever. We did a lot of warrior poses, which helped to stretch out my hip flexors. My dress rehearsal was scheduled for today but I opted to postpone it to Thursday and take a rest day from running.

Wednesday: more stretching and ab work; afternoon 5-mile recovery run (9:29 overall pace).

Thursday: 7-mile dress rehearsal. My target marathon race pace is 9:10, however, I plan on running the first 8-9 miles at 9:20, then the next 8-9 miles at 9:05-9:10. Assuming I feel good after that I’ll finish strong. For my dress rehearsal I practiced running two miles at 9:20, two at 9:10, and the remaining three at 8:55, 8:50 and 8:45 respectively. I ran the first four miles just a couple of seconds faster than goal, but a hill at mile 5 slowed me down to a 9-minute pace. However, I picked it up during the last two miles, running them at 8:36 and 8:34.

Friday: more abs and stretching. I’ll probably hit the pool for a few laps this afternoon, and may do so again tomorrow morning. My darling accidently scheduled a photo shoot tomorrow, so I’ll need to work off some pent-up energy while waiting for him to finish. We hope to be on the road by 2 p.m., which will put us at the expo about 5. We’ll then head over to the pasta feed, then hopefully get a full night’s sleep.

Wish me luck!

Published June 1st, 2008

Pfitz, Week 17 (27.11 miles)

Although technically my taper officially started a week ago, I feel my true taper started after my BUAL™ workout on Tuesday. It was one of the toughest runs of the training — only eight miles, but three were at 5K pace. I’m SOOOO glad to have the speed work over and done with. Other than a marathon pace “dress rehearsal” this coming week, all my runs are basically at recovery pace. Hallelujah!

Sunday: my darling and I took advantage of the glorious weather and walked to a local farmer’s market for pizza and ice cream. (And to appease you health freaks, we also picked up some Brussels sprouts and mizuna for our salad. Oh, and rhubarb, for, um, a pie).

Monday: my gym was closed for Memorial Day so I got to sleep in. Ran a 7-mile general aerobic run in the afternoon with eight 100m strides (8:50 overall pace).

Tuesday: I know I’ve said this before, but I today’s yoga class HAD to be the worst day in terms of flexibility (as in, I had none!). It still felt good afterwards, but I sure was groaning a lot. My darling joined me for my BUAL™ workout; I started with an easy 2-mile jog, then ran my first 1-mile sprint at 7:52. Took another easy mile, then ran a 7:32. Followed that with an easy mile, then ran a 7:41. Finished with an easy mile. Overall pace: 8:58.

Wednesday: rest day for running, but spent a little over an hour at the gym doing my arm weights and ab exercises.

Thursday: decided to sleep in again, and although I intended do my 5-mile recovery run with strides that afternoon, I decided to rest some more. I’ve been feeling on the verge of getting a cold, so I figured it would do me some good.

Friday: made up for the previous days’ sloth by running 6.75 miles. It was supposed to be a recovery run (9:30 min/mile or more), but I felt too darn good. Overall pace: 8:51.

Saturday: normally this would be my long run day, but on a whim I signed up for the Runnersworld L&O June mileage challenge (north vs. south). Since I’ll be tapering and recovering this month, I figured I could use the extra miles and postponed my long run to Sunday. However, I took a VERY easy 5.36-mile recovery run (overall pace: 9:44). With that run, I racked up another 200-mile month! But the best part? The 1 1/2 hour massage in the afternoon. She primarily worked on my legs this time, but when I go back on Thursday she’ll work more on my upper body. Pure heaven!

We’re getting close folks. I’m already obsessing over the weather (it looks like we’ll have some rain, which I actually prefer over heat). I’ll continue to take things slow this week and will make sure I’m eating properly. Although I really wanted either a martini or glass of wine last night (okay — so I wanted both), I refrained. But you can bet I’ll be imbibing after the marathon — BQ or not!

Published May 25th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 16 (43.9 miles)

Many runners get anxious during their taper period as they’re concerned all gains in fitness will be lost. Who knows, perhaps I’ll feel that way over the next two weeks when my mileage really starts to decrease, but this week was all about taking care of myself, which meant cutting a couple of runs short.

The biggest thing on my mind was my Thursday appointment with the boob smasher. It was a call-back, so I was just a tad nervous. Interestingly, my anxiety was much greater the day of the call (as I was leaving from my previous boob smashing, the nurse said I’d receive a letter if everything was fine, a call if they found something). I was pretty calm while driving to my appointment, but my anxiety returned as I lay on the table getting an ultrasound. Wouldn’t that be ironic: just when I was feeling the most fit of my life, the big C hits.

My anxiety was short-lived, thankfully, despite hearing the doctor say there is a spot that is “most likely” benign. Having a biopsy is certainly an option if I’m feeling nervous about it, but his recommendation is to come back in six months (as well as do self breast exams). Since breast cancer doesn’t run in our family, I’m going with the doctor’s recommendation (and yes, I already have my appointment).

Of course, when I told my darling the news his inclination was to tell me to have it biopsied. I understand where he’s coming from; every time he has a seizure I want him to get an MRI. He has epilepsy, but there’s always that thought in the back of my mind that perhaps it’s a tumor after all (Ted Kennedy’s diagnosis certainly hasn’t eased my worry). Fortunately his meds keep things under control and it’s been a couple of years since he’s seized (every time he has the slightest twitch I blurt out, “Did you take your Dilantin?”)

Enough of this downer cancer/tumor talk. Sheesh!


Published May 17th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 15 (64.32 miles)

“T” is for “Thank God! My last long run is done.”
“A” is for “Amen! My last long run is done.”
“P” is for “PHEW! My last long run is done.”
“E” is for “Egads! That was one helluva run!”
“R” if for “Rejoice! My last long run is done.”

Put ’em all together and what do they spell?

“TAPER TAPER TAPER — Save me from this hell!”

Alright, so I’m jumping the gun. After all, this post is about LAST week, and my taper doesn’t start until this week. But I’m just so thrilled to finally be there. Besides, I said I’d try to make this post more entertaining than the last one.

Even though this was a killer week, I feel remarkably refreshed. I started off with a bang with my stellar performance in the Kirkland Half Marathon, and just finished with a satisfying, albeit tough, 22-miler. My elation over seeing my half marathon time translating into a sub 4-hour full was short-lived, however, after boasting about it on the Runner’s World forum. A few of the more experienced marathoners were quick to say McMillan typically isn’t accurate unless you’re putting in at least 70 miles per week. Although my mileage has been high, it’s not at that level.

But after reading their comments, did I pout? Did I stress? Did I start second-guessing myself? DUH! Of COURSE I did. 40+ years of low self esteem doesn’t just disappear overnight, ya know. But fortunately I took it as “constructive” criticism and came up with a game plan that hopefully will allow me to go back in three weeks and proudly (and maturely) claim, “NEENER, NEENER, NEENER. I TOLD you I could do it, you dummy-dorks.”

Since it’s close to show time I wanted to use this week to test my race strategy: how to fuel during the race, what to wear, how to pace myself. Although I know it will be difficult to do, the key will be to start off conservatively, saving my energy for the second half. The average pace for a 4-hour marathon is 9:10 min/mile. My goal is to run the first 9 miles slower than that (9:20), then pick it up to a 9:05-9:10 pace through mile 20. Assuming I’m feeling good then I’ll really pick things up for the last 10K. As long as I can average an 8:55 min/mile over 6.2 miles, I’ll have a sub 4-hour marathon (my BQ time is 4:00:59, but I wanted to provide a bit of a cushion).

For my fueling strategy, I’ll stick with my tried & true ClifShots (and perhaps a packet of ShotBlocks). I’ll carry those on my fuel belt, but will rely on the water and electrolyte drink (Heed) provided at the fueling stops. I’ve even tested out the Heed to make sure I can stomach it. (It works great, although neither I nor my darling can say the name without invoking the Scottish dad, played by Mike Meyers, talking about his youngest son in “So I Married an Axe Murderer:”

“Look at the size of that boy’s heed. I’m not kidding, it’s like an orange on a toothpick. That’s a huge noggin. That’s a virtual planetoid. Has it’s own weather system. HEED! MOVE!”



Published May 15th, 2008

Pfitz, Week 14 (mini taper — 28.94 miles)

Oh dear; it’s already Thursday and I haven’t posted last week’s workout! How on earth you’ve been surviving, I’ll never know.

But really, there’s not much to tell that hasn’t already been said. You already know about my dismal 10K on the 10th (although the race director would NOT accept my DNF. I told her she needs to apply for the position of RD for Boston as I could really use her leniency there), as well as the less-than-stellar run leading up to that race.

Here’s, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story”:

Sunday: a whole lotta nuttin’

Monday: typical morning weight routine; 9.25 mile BUAL™ workout w/five 600m sprints. I must say, they’ve been feeling less like a “barf up a lung” workout and more like a “my quads are on fire.” But MQAOF is just too darn hard to say.

Tuesday: I don’t know how my yoga instructor does it, but she often has an uncanny sense for what I need. Today it was hip openers (get your minds out of the gutter). While the class was challenging, I felt incredible afterwards.

Wednesday: morning routine; 6-mile recovery run in the afternoon (9:19 average pace)

Thursday: stretching/PT in the morning. Afternoon was supposed to be an 11-mile run, but I could only muster up 7 1/2 due to a tight calf. Average pace: 10:07

Friday: Played hooky from the gym, but ran my 10K race that afternoon.

Saturday: Rest day in preparation for the Kirkland Half Marathon.

Once again you’ll see my weekly mileage does NOT follow the 10% rule, but again, it’s due to moving my long runs to Sundays when appropriate. I do, however, follow the hard/easy rule (making sure I follow a hard run with a rest or recovery day).

So that’s it for this week. I promise next week will be much more entertaining. (Boy, nothing like putting the pressure on, huh?)