Muscle Up Buttercup

I knew before I even left the house, that this run was extremely likely to go downhill. And not in the “whee, this is a fun hill to cruise down” kind of way. 

I mean like spectacularly awful crash and burn. 

Yet, with only 6 weeks until the Adirondack Marathon, it had to happen. 

The schedule called for 18 miles. And I planned out a route that had some really good training hills and a loop through a local park with a menagerie of animals (not quite a zoo) we’ve always called Goat World. 

Nothing. And I meant NOTHING went according to plan. Lol

It was 70 and 95% humidity when I headed out. By mile 2.5 I was already starting to drink my water. I had my buddy h2o, which only holds 10 ounces.  But that’s okay, because I knew there were a couple fountains along the route where I could refill. Or so I thought.  

At mile 6, I noticed a whole bunch of orange cones and one of these signs…

Hmmm this could be a problem. I’m fairly sure that race starts at Goat World. I may need to change my route. 

Of course, since I’ve taken to carrying my iPod instead of phone, I had to wait a 1/2 mile until I got to a wi-fi hotspot to confirm. And sure enough…I was on the course. A 1/2 hour before it started. 

I was also out of water by now. And the first  water fountain I knew of? Was turned off. Damn. 

Enticed by the idea of going by and seeing all the 5k runners, trying to figure out where I could get / buy water, and knowing that if I turned around where I was thinking to, I could end up SO in the way of the race, I headed towards Goat World. 

And…like a gift from the running gods, encountered a water stop. Those awesome race volunteers took pity on me and left me fill my water bottle, and wished me luck. 

A 1/4 mile later, I encountered the most aggressive dog I’ve ever met on a run. A large German shepherd, barking like he wanted to eat me and coming across the street at me. So, I stopped. And faced him. And he backed down and went home. I said out loud to him “what the hell was that?” And continued on and up. 

I was in the hilly section now, and the sun was shining. And I was starting to get nauseous. I had to stop for a minute to calm myself down. And then headed past where the runners were gathering for the race. 

Man I love being surrounded by runners. The energy is just contagious. I smiled at a few, wished a couple luck, and then encountered the mother of all downhills. 

The kind of downhill that makes you seriously question if you can make it down without falling headfirst. But, this was important for Adirondack. Because I know there’s a couple of those in the first half of the race. 

I reached the bottom at mile 10. Stood in the shade to open a gel, and seriously questioned myself.  I kinda wanted to call for a ride home. I was trying to figure out if I could call it at 12 and save the 18 for next weekend. 

I was miserable. Really miserable. But I was not going down without a fight. Time to muscle up, buttercup.  Because we don’t train just to make the race easier. We also train to learn how to embrace the suck. 

I did, however, decide that this was now going to be for time versus distance. And that I could likely pull off 16 miles in the time 18 should have taken. 3 hours. 

I stopped to buy a bottle of water. Where I of course forgot to stop my watch. This led to a horribly skewed time for that mile, so I don’t really know what my average was. Lol but that’s okay. It was slow. 

Because again, I was starting to feel ill. And stopping constantly to drink water. And I was SO gritty that it hurt to wipe my face and neck. 

And then I got my second gift from the running gods at mile 11. Sprinklers!! A low long line of sprinklers. And I probably stood there for 3 full minutes with a smile on my face. 

Slightly rejuvenated I continued on, and opted to run/walk the rest. Hopefully more running than walking, but I didn’t even care. 

I stopped for a second if I needed to. I walked when I had to. And I just kept moving. 

And found this cool fungus!

And at mile 14, when I finally found a recycling bin to toss the empty water bottle I’d been carrying for a mile (cuz I just can’t litter), I noticed the address I was standing at. 

Same as the area code for the Adirondack marathon. #runningsigns 

And I thought back to 2015, the last time I ran Adirondack. And I remembered how hard those last few miles were. And that I never gave up.  

So I continued on. Suffering but moving. Hoping that by powering through now, it will teach me to better handle it if it happens again next month.  

By mile 15.6 I was making deals with myself. I was near my house and walking/sprinting the tiniest intervals.  Unbeknownst to me, the hubs had seen me, and told me later he’s never seen me look like i was fighting so hard for every step.  I usually look like I’m having fun. Lol

But I finished. And saw him out in the yard with Gus. I waved, and slowly hobbled up. 

How’s it going babe, he asked. Not good, I replied. Then I laughed. Because 16 miles had never hurt that bad. And it suddenly became hilarious. 

I grabbed the lightpost next to me, hugged it for dear life, and then handed him my iPod. I needed a picture. One where I can look back and remember that even when it’s bad, it’s all good. 

Hello August…

The worst part of fall marathon training is that most of it occurs in the summer.

I don’t like the heat. I mean, you probably wouldn’t know because i’ve been doing my share of mid-day runs along the river…outside…in the heat and sun. But it usually involves stopping at ALL the water fountains during the second half.

And sure, I did do three races in July…but none of them were quite as good as earlier in the year when the weather cooler.

My poor garmin is getting dusty because I refuse to have digital proof of how awful my paces have been. I mean i’ve actually been eying this training shirt. LOL

But i’m 54 days out from the Adirondack Marathon, which means its time to really get serious. To decide if I have a PR goal, or merely a course-PR goal.

You see, that sucker is HILLY.

And while the first half is crazier hills than the second, the last time I ran this my goal was to beast the hills. And I did, and then the wheels came off by mile 17 and the ‘rolling hills’ in the later miles felt harder than the spikes.

So I plan to spend August ramping up both the strength training (adding a 3rd day a week), the hill training (wherever I can) and, as usual, distance (August’s schedule includes a 16, an 18 and a 20 miler). Dusting off the garmin so I actually know how fast (slow?) I’m going. And hoping that August is mild (yeah, I know….likely not happening).

I’m also going to up my hydration game (my running buddy h2o is about to get in some more miles) and maybe go back on the music (my single-ear sports bud isn’t getting its exercise either). Might be a good month to run to Zac Brown and Jimmy Buffet. oooh – virgin pina coladas in the h20 pouch? LOL

So, if you need me this month…i’ll be out running hills, feeling tropical and thinking fall.

Hello 2017…what’s next?

When you already get your first marathon of the year done one week in, its both comforting and confusing.

Because, where do you go from there?  Don’t most people start easy with oh, like a New Year’s 5k, set a big goal for Spring and then work up to it?

I mean, when you run a big race that early, then what.  Guess I need to set some goals for the year.

2016 was an AWESOME year.  I ran for the cycle (5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2,  (bonus:ultra), I got a 5K PR (25:20) and a distance PR (44.1 miles). I ran less miles than the year before (1,505) and less races, but had at least as much fun.

So, here I sit with 11 1/2 months in front of me.  What can I accomplish?  What shenanigans should I get into?  Here’s a few things i’ve got in mind.

  • Knock another state off my marathon list
  • Register for Dopey 2018
  • Run a 50-miler
  • Run for the cycle again
  • Get a marathon PR
  • Run more with friends

I’ve already got 2 piece of the cycle complete (5k & marathon in Disney), tho it should have been three.  (Next year I’ll make sure Pudge got his peanut butter sandwich!) so I just need to find a half-marathon and a 10k.

I’m already thinking to do the Level Renner 10k again this summer.  That one was a lot of fun.   And I need to find a nice spring half-marathon that fits my training for my May marathon.  Hmmm…wonder if I can find one the weekend of my Birthday.  (you know you’re a runner when you’d rather run a half than party all night.  LOL)

The first on my list and the last on that list will hopefully be the same race.

Next up for me is the Maine Coast Marathon in May.It looks so fun and scenic and will give me my 5th marathon state.  While i’ve done 11 marathons (wow – how did THAT happen), I tend to run the same ones over and over.  Time to branch out.  🙂

I also am hoping to PR that race.  Its not going to be easy and I know it means that i’m going to spend the next few months doing a LOT of speedwork, and work in general, but its good to have goals.

Its also VERY weird for me to a) only have one registered race right now and b) nothing registered/planned in the next four months.    But, Dopey registration opens in February, so that will fix that.  And I will hopefully find the perfect fast and flat half for corral placement FOR Dopey (and get my Dopey brother to do the same).  See my brother will become Perfectly Dopey next year.  And i’d love for him to be able to start in his fastest corral ever this year.  But that’s on him….  I’ll just run the fastest half I can so i’m not holding us back.

As far as the 50-miler?  Its something i’d like to do, but doesn’t necessarily need to be this year.  Just a bucket list item.  Because my other thought for this year is a rematch with the Adirondack Marathon.  That course really got the best of me in 2015 and I want to try it again now that I really know how challenging the first half hills are and can train accordingly and manage my pace better.  I have unfinished business there.

The final one?  I want to run more with my sole sisters.  Whether its racing or training, i’m lucky to have two amazing mother-runners in my circle and I KNOW I need to log more miles and smiles with them this year.

Also – can I say how odd it is to write a non-Disney blog this week?  Oh well, that will resume in the fall i’m sure! #dopeyorbust

So…. how about all of you?  What’s your BIG Goal for the year?  Another state?  Another distance? Another PR?  I’d love to hear from my readers. Lets all have an amazing year!

 

 

 

Adirondack Marathon – run ALL the hills

Sunday I ran the Adirondack marathon. 

The race bills itself as “the most beautiful 26.2 miles you’ll ever run”. And they are right. What they forget to tell you is that it’s also the most challenging 26.2 miles you’ll ever run. 

I’ve completed the second half of this course three times. And it’s not easy. There’s a lot of rolling hills. And not much shade the last six miles. But I’ve done okay. 

This year I thought it was time to see what’s on the other half of Schroon Lake. It was….impressive. 

And makes for a good story.  So let me tell it. 🙂

The race started at 9am in downtown Schroon Lake NY. 

  
I headed up early with Kevin & Gus to get our usual prime parking space. And spotted a set of portapotties with a very short line. While we waiting we heard a loon. Cool! Had to be a sign right? 

Hung out in the car for a bit after, finishing my large pumpkin coffee and watching the runners. (Runners so make for great people watching. We’re such an odd breed). 

Then – time to head to the start. Where we met some fellow cairn lovers who of course had to pet Gus and talk dogs. 🙂 And was a welcome distraction from my nerves. 

I lined up, strategically placing myself ahead of the 4:30 pace group. I had a goal of between 4:30 and 5:00. And knew that what mile they passed me at would determine what my chances were. 

We took right (exactly on time!) and headed north.  For about two miles before the turn across the top of the lake.  And down an impressively steep hill. My first thought? Reminds me of hopkinton. My second? That’s gonna hurt later. 

Crossed a little bridge and was just overwhelmed by how beautiful it is. 

Around mile 3 we turned at a farm onto a gravel road through field and trees. Yep, they weren’t kidding. So pretty. One of those races you just want to keep stopping to take pictures. 

I knew the hardest stretch of the race would be miles 4-12. So I wasn’t surprised when we hit the first hill. 

What surprised me was how easily I got up it. (Hill training does pay off!)  and every hill had at least a short level section where you could recover. 

Around around mile 6(7?) was an incredible long downhill. In the forest. No cars, and only a few runners. Peaceful. I was cruising and smiling and thinking “I just want to run this road forever”.  Singing the ‘I love downhills’ song Karen invented (sole sister shoutout. Lol) Followed by “uh-oh. The further down I go, the higher I have to come back up”

And I shared my thought with a runner who pulled alongside me. Who was thinking the exact same thing. We kept each other company and chatted until the next water stop, where she grabbed a drink and I kept going. 

And sure enough, the next hill came. And I was up and over and back down. And again. Refusing to walk no matter how steep it looked. Because I knew at the top I’d get a chance to recover. 

And I was charmed by how much the locals come out for this. The group blasting “born to run”, the elderly man playing “feeling groovy” on an organ, the teenagers lining the course cheering and screaming. 

And then…mile 11.5ish? Godzhilla’s father. And I dug down and headed up. And an older gentleman to my left said “I’ve been waiting for this one.” And I had to laugh because I knew exactly what he meant. This was the hill your mother warned you about. This was the “man or mouse” hill. And I was not going to walk it. 

And I didn’t. I kept moving, feeling like I was running in place but somehow making progress. And I got to the top. And tried to keep going and realized if I didn’t walk for a minute, I wasn’t gonna make it. 🙂 So I walked, for just a moment, to the Taiko drummers. And then continued on. 

To the downhill that I knew lead to where the half started. The “harder” half was over. And I’d met my goal of slaying those hills. I crossed the 13.1 marker in around 2:14. 

And knew that I had a few miles of flat, and should have been able to just chug merrily along. And yet my legs? They had other ideas. 

Around mile 15 my legs started to feel heavy. The lack of elevation changes actually worked against me. My legs were beat. And I needed my brain to convince them otherwise. 

So, I gave them a 1/4 mile walk break. And it helped. Some. And I just kept going. And walked the hills if I had to. 

And around mile 17.5 I entered the Word of Life campus. You want to feel like a total rock star? How bout a hundred kids all screaming your name and handing out high fives and telling you how amazing you are. 🙂

At mile 18 I walked through the water stop. And got passed by the 4:30 pace group. And realized it so didn’t matter. And while they all told me how much they loved my skirt, one guy in the group declared me “most stylish runner of the day”. Awww thanks dude!

And I found it in me to keep running. Past the timing mat checkpoint and back into the main road. And the rolling hills that would continue until the end. 

And I ran along and took short walks at the water stops, now hitting them all and alternating water and powerade because I was hot and getting dehydrated. 

And the sun blared down. And the road kept winding and when I hit mile 20 I looked at my watch. And I knew I could pretty much walk the rest and still be under 5 hours. And I also knew that wasn’t going to happen. Because I’m a runner. It’s what I do. And I was going to run what I could. 

So I ran the downhills. And flats if I could. And walked the water stops. And the uphills. And thanked the volunteers. And encouraged the other runners. And smiled and tried to take it all in. To remember the race. 

And at mile 24, I saw two runners stopped and pointing at a tree. I asked what they were looking at. It was a bald eagle. Wow…magic. 

And shortly after the 4:45 pacers passed me. And that was okay. Because they were run/walking too. And if I kept them in sight, I had this. 

And then my friend from back on the hills passed me with a “you got this” and I yelled back “see you at the finish”

I ran up to where the bridge was that my friends had stood at last year.  And then walked a bit, past the group of Taiko drummers and the 26 mile sign to the gazebo and the turn to the finish.   

And said to myself “you can do this” and started running. 

I spotted Kevin and his uncle sitting on the bleachers and waved as I passed by. 

Crossed the mat that gave the announcer my name, raised my arms in the air, and then kicked to the finish. 

  

 Got my medal, a Coke and a brownie, and headed for the lake. 🙂

 

So stats…4:46:12 finish. 8th marathon. 4th state. 5th in my age group and 137th overall. 

And those hills? One of a kind. 🙂