Monday, October 31, 2011

Marathon Monday - Training for the NYC Marathon Last Update

There is less than one week to go.

It's time to pack and my foam roller doesn't fit into my suitcase. Perhaps the concierge will have one?  I mean what concierge doesn't have a foam roller :-)

Dinner reservations for Saturday and Sunday are made.

I've downloaded the NYC Marathon app and so has my step-daughter. She's my official tracker.  My bib is 52373 you can track me too.

My father-in-law and I made a plan for me to get to the start. We looked at the race map which is funny because I printed it on 8.5x11 paper and it's tiny - you can't read a thing.

And basically I'm in taper misery. Did my last long run on Saturday and volunteered at Miami Ironman 70.3 Sunday which made the marathon look like a walk in the park.

I'm pretty excited. Also, psst ...  I've been selected as an official blogger / tweeter for the Marathon that's fun too. They may have selected everybody who sent in their blogs - I have no idea but I'm taking it as a compliment.

I have so much to say it's hard to figure out where to start. So let's talk about weather.  I do hope it doesn't rain. Yesterday for the Ironman it rained and was windy all day long. It was miserable and still so many competitors completed the race. I was impressed by their determination.

I was thinking about how when I sign up for a race my imagination is all about easy running, new PR times and great weather. For the most part that holds up true. I've never done a race as an adult in horrible weather. But of course, it happens.  I've been to at least one NYC Marathon finish in the rain - so it happens. But I hope for clear skies on Sunday in NY I really do.

My kids love fireworks more than almost anything except trick or treating, their own birthday parties and Christmas morning. So, we'll be checking those out in the park Friday night. Also, I want them to see the finish line if possible because they will think that's cool.
The Expo
I am going to go to the Expo on Saturday. I'm not making my family go. I like to check it out and I have pre-race jitters so it makes me feel better. But my family hates race expos. The crowds stress my kids out and they want to buy every annoying blinking light plus my husband finds it boring. So they are doing their own thing. The kids are seeing a show.

Then I'll rest in the hotel - feet up.  

The start plan
So, my first marathon was Disney. I was at the start in 32 degrees for 3 hours before the start. I was miserable and I vowed to never to a race with such a start line ridiculousness again. Never say Never. I am booked onto the 7:00 am ferry to Staten Island and my start is at 10:40.

Say what? I know, it's crazy. I'm going to be waiting at the start line for about 3 hours. I may also be by myself for this time because so far none of my buddies have an orange start. I'm a big girl I can handle this. Remember my training mantra for this race was to run my own race. I won't forget that now. Really, I won't.

What are you wearing?
It's probably going to be 45 degrees at the start. Here in the tropics it's still 80. 45 is not that cold but I am not acclimated to that temperature. So, I'm going to be decked out in all my sweats  ( seriously I'll have on probably 2 pair )and I plan to bring a blanket and those warmer things for skiing. Plus I'm packing a Disney rain poncho. So watch for the photos of Amy the homeless person at the start line because none of these are matching pieces :-) All of these sweats, blanket and poncho I'll ditch just before the start into the donation buckets and leave just my long sleeve running jacket, hat, and gloves. Also, yesterday was a good lesson because I was standing for 5 hours and my legs were really tired so I'm going to make a point to sit / lay down if I can find a spot before the start. That may be impossible.

I'm in the Orange Start. There are 3 waves of the start and in each wave there are 3 colors for different groups (Blue, Orange and Green). I have looked at the pdf of the start village and I think I'm on top of the bridge. I hope I'm reading this right and I'm on top of the bridge but there's nothing I can do if I'm not so I'm not going to worry about it. I only want to be on top to enjoy the experience more see the views and such ... otherwise there's no difference.

The race plan
I plan to run 10 minute miles and repeat that 26.2 times. I'm going to sign up with the 4:30 pace group I've never done that before so we'll see how I feel about it then.  I will walk approximately every 4  miles or so through a water station  to take my GU with water. I want to keep these walk breaks to under a minute which should be doable. I plan to take in the sights and enjoy the day.

Look for my family after the 59th street bridge and also as we round Central Park South.

The finish plan
Cross the finish line. This is the only finish line I can visualize accurately in advance because I've been to this finish. Strike a cool pose. Repeat - cool, not dorky. Make it to Harry's apartment without collapsing where I'll meet my family.

Shower - Ice Bath - Birthday dinner for my mother-in-law.

Pass out!

Fly home with my newest medal. That's the plan.

My next report may be from the MOP (middle of the pack) Mopette reporting from the Mop. :-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Awww nuts...

So my son is allergic to nuts.
He's pretty good about it and I only have one heart-stopping freakout per week.
This week he said to me that he was going to ask Santa to not be allergic to peanuts.
Awww...I had to turn away so he didn't see me cry. My heart broke a little bit.
Then of course, later I had to explain that Santa was more of a toy maker and his magic probably wouldn't fix his nut allergy.

I other news there are 9 days to the marathon - tapering is boring. Luckily we have a tropical storm nearby to occupy me.

Later, Amy aka the mopette

Monday, October 24, 2011

Training for the NYC Marathon - 2 weeks - are you kidding?

This will be my 4th marathon but this one has more hooplah to go with it than any other marathon I've ever done.

Pre-race jitters
It's enough to give me pre-race jitters. This week I obsessed a little bit about my 7:00 am ferry reservation for my 10:40 start time but then I just gave up and said (to myself) oh whatever. So, I'll sit on a curb with 60,000 of my running friends for 4 hours before the start. Whatever.

Luckily the taper which began last week but that week had 43 miles in it has actually begun this week. Which has many fewer miles. Which is good because I'm tired.

What I did this week
I did do mile repeats on the treadmill last week. That was awful. The treadmill is always awful to me. I was supposed to do 8 miles but I only made it 6.5 because I couldn't take it anymore. When I get off the treadmill I'm all woozy and dizzy. I think it's from the constant vibration of the treadmill but I'm just guessing. It's not pleasant. Does this happen to anyone else?

I also did my very first solo long run. 15 miles all by myself. Don't get me wrong I saw lots of people I knew along the way but I started and ran and finished all by myself. The best part was I got to do it all my way so it was a good race day test. The next best part was that I got to start from my driveway - that was excellent.

It was very dark when I started at 5:50. We have no street lights down in my neck of the suburbs so I mean it when I say it was dark. I was pretty confident that every palm frond that had fallen onto the sidewalk was a snake. The wind rustling the leaves the ficus bushes next to the sidewalk wasn't very reassuring. So, I was a little jumpy but there were no snakes. Two spiderwebs and one dead opossum but no snakes, or other tropical creepy crawlies that I saw.

Also challenging was the Old Cutler path which is uneven with tree roots that have grown under the asphalt so I took to holding my light in my hand so as not to kill myself. Then right around Cartegena Circle (aka Cocoplum circle to those who don't look at a map for the name) the sun came up. That was glorious. I looked East down the canal and saw the rising sun. Sadly for you, the reader I did not take a picture.

I ran into a peacock on Old Cutler on the way home. Not something I expect to see on the race course in New York - although you never know.
The weather was cool. (68 at the start probably maybe a little cooler but not much). I tried and failed to imagine what it will feel like to be out in 50 degree weather wearing my little shorts.

I tested my nutrition plan during this run. My plan is to run 2 miles and then walk up to a minute through a water stop. I figured out how to get my watch to do that as an interval workout. I know what you're thinking: Amy is a Garmin genius ... I agree. Every 40 minutes or so that will include a GU. I also tried the yummy cliff blocks this time but while I can easily slurp a GU in a minute I cannot chew up 3 of those blocks in the same time so they are out of my plan. Out with the blocks - out with the Stingers - GU all the way.

I kept a good pace and it didn't feel too hard so I'm encouraged for the race. I thought to myself could I hold this pace for 9 more miles and I answered myself with a solid, "maybe". Oh well that's as good as I'm gonna get before the race.

After the run I took the kiddos to breakfast with my running buddy Carol.  They had chocolate chip pancakes (yum) Carol and I had eggs (yeah protein!) Then I took a nap and then later that day we had my daughter's 8th birthday party. 8 year old girls are maniacs but that's a different story. Good day overall I'll say.

What's next
This week has only easy runs on the schedule. I plan to buy a new pocket camera to carry during the race mine is worn out. Races that are a pain to get to the starting line (like Disney) I usually don't repeat and this one while it is my dream marathon appears by all accounts to be a real pain to get to the start and also from the finish. The point is I'm going to photograph the day as it happens.

Last items to obsess about appear to be - where to eat Saturday Night. Oh and not getting sick. Both my kids and my husband have a cold. I have or think I might have that tickle in the back of my throat so I'm making chicken soup as I type because that would be a big gigantic bummer. And packing but I'll leave that to next week to obsess about.

Off I go - to the kitchen. Amy, the mopette.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Amphipod hydration belt product review

I actually bought this Amphipod Hydration Belt over the summer. I hadn't reviewed it because it's a fuel belt and really what is there to say. But in the last few weeks a few people have asked if I liked it and I realized I do have something to say.

First some history. This is not my first fuel belt. As it turns out I collect these like strollers. Luckily for my budget I don't need anymore strollers. Fuel belts are more affordable. My first was a belt that holds one big bottle on your back - the bouncing is annoying. Then I bought a camelback - they are hard to clean. Then I bought a series of Nathan fuel belts. They were fine but mine only held 2 bottles. I have 2 of these for some reason (red and pink).

For the summer training I was in the market for a 4-bottle belt. My local running store now carries 90% amphipod. They really endorse it.

What's good about this belt. Well they have made the belt out of stretchy stuff so it fits snuggle on your hips and it doesn't slip and need to be tightened every few miles.

Also good about this belt is that the bottles are a little bigger. And actually you can get larger bottles if you want.

Now for things I don't love about the belt.

The bottles snap into their spots. This has some drawbacks. The first is that you cannot freeze the bottles or they won't snap in. Bummer. Next is that I am always dropping these bottles. Seriously about 8-10 times in a long run. It's majorly annoying. Could be user error but still annoying.

Next, the bottles leak. This is a pain. One of the features is that you can have the bottles either up/down or sideways. Whichever you like. But in my experience if you put your bottles sideways they leak.

Last thing I don't love. The pocket is not big enough. This is a 4 bottle belt it's made for long runs but I cannot fit more than my phone and 4 Gu packs. Even that is too snug and I actually popped the zipper which is a bummer. It has these elastic straps that are meant to hold the Gus but they are to big. I tried them on a long run and I dropped 3 Gu's immediately. Luckily my buds had extras or else I would have been in trouble.

So I don't love it or hate it. I give it a solid "meh" take it or leave it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Training for the NY Marathon - 3 weeks to go

First let me get it off my chest. The excitement of the upcoming marathon is kicking in. There I said it.
Gratuitous image of a fantastic sunset. Has nothing to do with my training :-)

The week in review
Most mileage in one week ever. 49.45 miles. Was supposed to be 50 but on Friday I accidentally went right instead of left out the driveway and did the 5 mile loop instead of the 6 mile loop. It was early. I was sleepy. What can I say?

This week included a Yasso 800s workout. So the deal with Yasso 800s is that if you can do 10 of them at your goal marathon pace its a good predictor that you'll finish the marathon in that time. So, my goal is 4 hours and 30 minutes. If I can do 10 800s in 4 minutes and 30 seconds then that's a reasonable goal. Well, I didn't pull it off. Actually only 8 800s were on the schedule but I thought there were 9 so I did 9 800s. The first 3 were under 4:30. The other 6 were between 4:40 and 4:50. So according to Mr. Yasso my time will be more like 4:45 - he's a smart guy - he's run a lot more than me so he's probably right.
Yasso 800s are hard. I was just finished and was trying to climb into my ac vents in the car. Also I go immediately for a large diet coke at McD's across the street. Lots of ice, please.
Buuuuut ....

I was, of course, doing my track workout starting at 9:30 in the morning. So it was about as hot as the surface of the sun. I'm exagerating. A little bit. It was 91 degrees when I finished. So there is a piece of me that is hoping that I can still pull off a 4:30 what with the heat effect. I do fear that I'm putting too much faith in this "heat effect."

The other runs this week were 3 easy 6 mile runs and the long run.

The Long Run
The long run was ... really long. Twenty-two miles. From all the weekly mileage my legs were tired at the start. I was actually expecting that from the last time I went from 18 to 20 week to week. So, my plan was to get it done. That was the whole plan. I wasn't worried about walk breaks or keeping a tempo or going strong at the end. Just finish 22 miles.

We started at 4:40 AM. Okay we actually met at 4:40 and left at around 4:50 but still it was super early. Luckily for my my running buddy Melissa had put the cooler out this week so I was in bed early. But I didn't sleep well. Then again who sleeps well the night before the long run?

My running buddy Carol had taken her speedy pills that day and she pushed the pace fairly early. She'll deny it but it's true. When she gets in her groove she is fast. She pulled away at the downhill of the bridge and all I could do was watch her speed away.
Carol finishing her 22 miles. Looks super strong, right?

During miles 16 and 17 I was spent. I stopped in the park to visit the restroom and I walked maybe 3 minutes - maybe more. I had been doing an experiment where I was trying to drink from my water bottles without stopping to walk. I am not good at this I must swallow air because I was really uncomfortable due to an air bubble in my belly. So, I won't be trying that on race day.

We had all gotten split up during the run but luckily I reconnected with Melissa at our secret water cooler. We ran a few miles together and that was great.
Meli finishing her 20 miles!
The good news is that without even trying I did hit a few miles at marathon goal pace during this run. One of those was the 21st mile. Once I got that air bubble out of my belly I felt much better and I was faster coming back than going out.

Also on the good news front my nutrition is working well. I stuck to lemon-lime gu and plain gu alternating. I would stick to just plain but it has caffeine and 4-5 in a row of them makes my stomach do flip flops. So, that's what I'll do on race day.
22 miles in the bank. Woot! Woot!
More important things I'm obsessing about
So, at some point I was asked by the NY Marathon peeps to select start transportation. Due to what can only be a lack of oxygen to my brain I selected the 7:00 am Staten Island Ferry. Seems reasonable if I was in the 8:40 start. But I'm not in the 8:40 start I'm in the 10:40 start. Good grief that's going to be ridiculous. I know one person who lives on Staten Island ... Stanley get ready because I might be coming over for breakfast.

Daylight savings. Just to make this year's race fun we change our clocks Saturday night. Ha! How many people will be early to the start. :-) Better early than late of course.

Also I'm trying to decide what to wear and what to pack in my gear bag. Here are the pertinent facts I'm trying to keep in mind. I have to be dressed to not freeze to death for the 4 hours before the start. Also I have learned that after the finish it will take me about an hour to exit the park.

Did I mention that it's still in the high 80s here everyday. So it's hard for me to comprehend what I'm going to want to wear for a run that might be 55 at the finish. But my working plan is to wear everything I own on the ferry. At the gear check I'm going to check one pair of sweats and a hoodie (a la target purchase in Minnesota) I'm going to be wearing between the gear check and start my running outfit and over that tossable sweats and a hoodie.

The big question is: do I plan to run in shorts or capri pants. I train in shorts but it's going to be cold. Will I be too cold in shorts? Try to take me seriously as an intellectual even though I'll admit this ridiculous question is keeping me up at night. Shorts or capris? Capris or shorts?

More later - Amy a/k/a the Mopette

Friday, October 14, 2011

A new first --

Tomorrow is my longest run before the NY Marathon.

22 miles.

While up North runners are experiencing perfect cool running weather we here in the almost tropics will still be a bit warmer.

I try to follow directions. It's helpful when assembling childrens toys (not so much IKEA furniture). So, the NYMarathon race committee sent out a tip today ... a tip I'm going to ignore. The tip was to start the run at the same time the race will be run. It's good advice if you aren't in Miami. But I'm in Miami where the high tomorrow might be 86. Because we're in the tropics (almost) we hit the high temp at about 10 am ... okay 9 am.

On race day I'll be starting at 10:40 (probably more like 11 when I cross the mat). But tomorrow I'm starting at 4:40.

Yes - AM.

4:40 AM. At that time it will only be about 75 maybe 78 still. It will also be dark (hopefully not raining) and when we run through South Miami and then Coconut Grove the bars will just be emptying out of the last of the late night party hounds. That's always funny.

I know, I'm crazy. But it's just too hot later in the day to run 22 miles.

So, for the first time since my kids were born I am probably going to bed before my kids. I think this because I'm in my pajamas and they are still chilling on the couch watching tv with their dad. Don't get me wrong I'm actually looking forward to it because I'm tired. But it did occur to me that it's a little funny.

And such is the exciting life of a middle of the pack marathoner.

Speaking of middle of the pack. I think I am giving myself a new nickname. The Mopette. (prounounced mop-ette) Get it Middle Of the Pack -ette.

Let me know what you think. Don't steal it. That's bad karma. But let me know if anybody else has already had this idea. Occassionally things I think are crazy original are really common. It happens.

-Amy aka the Mopette off to bed

Monday, October 10, 2011

Marathon Training -26 days to go EEEK

As of today I have 26 days until the NYC Marathon. Eeek.

I ran 42 miles this week. Which is my second 40 plus mile week. By itself that is pretty exciting. It should have been slightly higher mileage but life got in the way.

Time Trial Troubles
So I did my third mile time trial this week. For my first 2 I had run them in the neighborhood and trusted the Garmin for the distance and of course time. 8:12 and 8:15 were the results. This time I headed to the track for an honest measurement. I did a 1 mile warm-up and then hit the track. I was manually hitting the lap button. I gave it all I had. Sadly it was a little depressing because the Garmin measured the time at 8:38 and the distance at 1.12.

I ran 4 times around lane 5 so I'm pretty sure it was 1 mile almost exactly. So that was disheartening because if the distance is off then the pace measurement is also off.  That pace estimate is what I've been using for my mental goals. Also unhappily (mighty unhappily) the time was 8:38 and I was hoping for more around 8 based on the 2 previous trials.

I was initially befuddled because I had been watching my pacing throughout and seeing 7:50 and numbers like that. Remember I was shooting for an 8 minute mile. So I was very confused about how the total could be 8:38. But I figured it out. The watch was giving me an instant pace (which was what I requested) not the accumulated pace for the mile and then when it hit the mile mark it just kept counting until I hit lap. Now I have it showing me my lap pace which I think might be more helpful.

So I was bummed. Then I did some research  (reading DC Rainmaker, googling and asking fellow runners) and some thinking. Apparently Garmins can be fooled a little bit by running around a track. And also they do apparently need to be reset or the distances can be off. And just generally I made peace with the fact that I think my Garmin does measure the distance a little longer than it should. One running buddy ran a measured 20 mile course and her Garmin reported it as 20.6 miles. It probably averages out over time for the most part. What's a girl to do?  In the end it's just a tool. So having honest data is good for me setting honest goals.

In the end even though the number was higher than I was hoping for it was I believe faster than the 2 others I have done which I'm choosing to feel good about. 

And I have reset my trusty Garmin. I meant to do a soft reset but it turned out to be a hard reset so that's a pain, but whatever.

A good workout
On the good news front. I did a 9 mile - mile repeat workout on Wednesday and that felt great. It is a little cooler which is very nice. I did trust the garmin for the distances because it's the best option. But I turned off the autolap so that I could see the averages of the 2 mile chunks together.

It felt good. The whole way. The mile repeats were hard especially at the end but it felt good.

The long run
I ran 20 miles. Started at 4:45 am - that's very early. There was a chance that I would be running most of this in a total downpour which would have royally sucked. So I was lucky it was not raining for 99% of the run.

 I took some photos during the run.
The South Miami Hospital where we start is all decked out in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness.

It was very dark for almost half the run. Here we are meeting up with Mel who we couldn't see until we practically ran into her. She's those reflective strips.

My chin with Carol - running buddy extraordinaire.

My trusty cooler that I set out for us.

It rained all weekend except during the run. But this happened as I was driving to breakfast. I can't believe how lucky we were.

The other fun thing about this is that I did run this training run 23 minutes faster than the previous 20 miler.  Now to be honest this time gain is probably all in not stopping for water and chatting and whatever but still it makes me feel good.

As a random fact somehow I managed to get chaffing on my back during the run. What? It was apparently from my sports bra but seriously that is kindof weird. It is seriously one of the only places I didn't put bodyglide - I practically bathed in the stuff before I started.  How I'm gonna get that stuff on my back without waking up my husband is a good question :-)

Looking forward
This is the highest mileage week of the plan. 50 big ones. I'm gonna give it my all. Wish me luck. I'm also going to buy new shoes this week. I thought you'd like to know.