Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tired 2 weeks AFTER a marathon?

Lately I've been feeling completely exhausted.   I know it  doesn't help that we ran the Marine Corps, packed up our house, settled on a new house, moved into the new house, adjusted to a new neighborhood and a new commute to work  all within 1 week of each other (jeez, just writing that makes me tired).   Pretty sure right now I am feeling the after effects of a very busy few weeks.   Every night after work I attempt to unpack at least 1 box, but I can't find the motivation and don't end up doing anything!   Last night my mom and I went out to dinner and our plan was to come home and unpack so I could feel productive at least one night this week, but we ended up laying on my bed looking online for things I need to purchase for the new place and then I crawled into bed and called it a night.  *sigh*  I have to remember that the house will get unpacked........eventually.  In the meantime, I can't get overwhelmed (although the boxes and clutteredness are slowly killing me).

Anyway, so back to my google problem in which I look up answers for every question I have in life.   After googling 'post marathon exhaustion' I found a post on Runner's World from a girl who  said she ran her first marathon and after a couple of weeks of complete rest, she went to the gym and found she couldn't handle any more than 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise.  That is totally me right now!  The answer:  Running such a long way will have taken a fair toll on your body, and it will need between three and six weeks to fully recover.   And if you’re a bit low and directionless, running-wise, that’s normal too. For maybe six months your sole aim has been to run the marathon, and now you’re wondering ‘what’s next?’

YES!  Thank you, Runner's World for posting this answer that I've been searching for.  Lately I've been wondering why I've been so directionless when it comes to running and exercise - do I go out and do a short jog, do I run 4 miles, or do I listen to my body and just not run at all?  Apparently according to this answer, the way I'm feeling seems to be completely normal (phew!)   So basically, I deserve this rest and it's okay to be doing nothing after work (even if it means not unpacking and living out of boxes).  Glad that is confirmed.

On another, I can't believe we're approaching Thanksgiving and soon after that, Christmas!  This is always my favorite time of year and I can't believe it's here already.  This weekend is my 29th birthday and I'll be celebrating in Boston for the Virginia Tech/Boston College football game with my brother, and some great friends.  I'm really looking forward to if I weren't so freaking exhausted I'd be much more excited!  

I know our life will slow down sooner or later....we have a lot going on between now and the end of the year.  I am so looking forward to the beginning of 2013 when we have nothing planned (I say that  now!) and we can focus on making our new abode a home, I can get out of my tired rut and we won't spend every weekend on the road or on a plane.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jeez do I miss training...

Uh.....what?   Did I just say I miss training for a marathon?   Yes, why yes I do....I  miss the accomplished feeling I had when I finished a 3, 4, or 6 mile run after work.  Now it's cold and dark when I leave in the evening and I know I don't have to run, so I pretty much don't.  I've been out 2x since the marathon and each time I ran less than 2 miles (lol).  The other morning I decided to run early in the morning and check out our new neighborhood.  Well after I went down a few streets and back,  I decided that was enough.  Just like that I headed back inside.  

I remember after Brad ran his first marathon, he definitely had the blues.  The first week after it was over and he wasn't supposed to run but was he grumpy!  He finally told me just like post-wedding blues, there is also post-marathon blues.   I certainly don't have the blues but I do miss feeling so in shape and feeling completely sore and knowing that it was a good sore.  I always knew that when I trained for the marathon I'd have the bar set so high in terms of fitness and health and pretty much would never feel as good as I did for those 16 weeks.  Well, that is certainly true....I'm starting to remind myself that I need to put a cookie back as I grab 4 out of the cabinet and remember...I'm not running a million miles anymore!

I really wish I had the motivation of my husband (for just about everything in life..)  but when it comes to running, I wish I had the drive to go out there and run 10 miles just because.  Instead, I always need something that is driving me, or an end goal in sight.  I guess that's why I need to just sign up for another race here soon... Did someone say something about catching the bug? (note: not another marathon!  just a half or 10K...)

Anyway, Brad and I have been busy this week unpacking our new home while trying to make it our own.  It certainly is a process, and we've been living out of boxes and suitcases all week!  I'm looking forward to putting it together and seeing the end result!  So far we are really happy with the neighborhood, our new commutes to work (just about the same for amazing 12-minutes for B!), and the new neighbors we've met so far!  I feel so grateful to have found this neighborhood!

Finally, I found this little marathon thing that summarizes exactly how I felt the last 6.2 miles of marine corps....this couldn't be more accurate, as I often find myself reflecting back to those last 6 miles and despite the pain, I'm pretty sure I just zoned out entirely.  Although when I crossed the finish line and could barely walk....I knew I had become too tough to let all of the pain stop me from the happiness and cloud 9 that I was floating on. :)  I'll never forget that amazing day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Where to go from here

Well, it's been over a week since I ran in the Marine Corps.   Now that my training has concluded and my marathon is over, where do I go from here?  Do I continue my blog and if so, what do I write about?  Well, just because training is over doesn't mean I'm done with running.  I look forward to writing more about running, health, and exercise in general; all things that are important to me.  I also plan to sign up for future half marathons...and crossing my fingers I get into the lottery for the inaugural Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC on April 28, 2012 and am anxiously awaiting registration to open!   I will definitely have posts that are related to half marathon training.  Since running the marathon, I've been inspired to keep up my fitness and think signing up for more races will help me keep that goal.   

I went out for my first post-marathon jog on Saturday morning.  We are in the process of moving and I knew I'd be on my feet all day Saturday, but I had to get out there as it would  be the last time I'd run on part of the Rock Creek trail that was essentially steps away from our house.   I have so many memories on this trail - training for Cherry Blossom 10-milers, frustrations with back pain, many long runs most recently including our 16-miler for marathon training, long walks with Brad and our puppy, and just a lot of good times related to running and happiness.  As I was wrapping up my ever-so-slow 2 mile run, an older man started casually talking to me about his hamstring injury and before you know it one thing led to another and  we were both talking about our marathon experiences.  Turns out he had run the MCM the past 2 years and we were so excited as we exchanged stories on our experiences.

As I wrapped up my conversation and finished up my run for the last time on this part of the trail, I got nostalgic thinking about how much I'll miss it.  Yes, where we moved has trails (more like bike trails), but there's something to be said about the Rock Creek Trail that takes you into the city as you're surrounded by other runners who are also training for a race, and sharing the same interests as you.  

So going back to my initial question -- where do I go from here?  Well, I think Brad & I generally have a lot going on in our lives...I often get asked "Do you ever slow down?"  I've found that this blog has given me an outlet to share some of the happenings in our lives.  I'm excited to share updates on our new house and stories as we begin this next chapter!  I've been told by a few people that I've inspired them to get up and go for a run, or to sign up for a race, or just to be more exercise-conscious in general.  I LOVE hearing that!  I love that by spending just a few minutes every few days...I can actually inspire people to change something positively about themselves.

So that being said, I hope you continue to follow my blog because as long as I have a funny, sappy, ironic or interesting story to share, I will most definitely keep writing.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My marathon experience in words, feelings and emotions.

Well, hello there! I'm back to blogging after taking a few days off to soak in my post-marathon excitement!  It's been 4 days since I finished my first marathon, the Marine Corps, and looking back on the experience I am filled with accomplishment, happiness, confidence, and pure gratitude.  I've been thinking about how much detail I wanted to put into this marathon reflection post (because if you know me, you know I can often get caught up in EVERY single detail of every story....) but most importantly, I want to share some of the most unforgettable parts of running my first marathon that I think is worthwhile in telling.  I hope you enjoy this post and maybe even feel a bit inspired too.

Let me start with Saturday night.  Typing my blog post the night before the race, I was a complete MESS.  My stomach was filled with butterflies, my heart was pounding out of my chest, my palms were sweaty, and I probably got 3 hours of sleep.  The alarm went off at 4:15am and I was excited and ready for the day to start.  Surprisingly, I must have slept away the nerves because the only emotion I felt when I awoke was pure excitement (combined with a little bit of anticipation).  Brad and I woke up (Brad was clearly in race mode...he doesn't do much talking and is VERY focused when it comes to race mornings), so it was a quiet morning as we got ready, ate our oatmeal and banana, and made our way out the door by 5:30.  We drove to Arlington and hopped on the metro to the Pentagon.  First of all, I couldn't believe the energy and excitement on the metro at SIX IN THE MORNING....what started out as feeling completely exhausted turned into feeling completely pumped when I saw the entire metro filled with runners who were also about to run and do something just as crazy as me.
Unfortunately we got off the metro and had about a mile walk to the start.  The whole time the only thing I was focusing on was the weather and whether or not it was going to rain.  I was going to have family and friends cheering us on and the last thing I wanted was for them (and all the other spectators) to stand out in the wet and cold all day.  As we arrived to the runner's area we did the normal pre-race routine....porter potties and bag check.   Then we made our way to the starting line and it felt like what began as a 20-minute countdown quickly turned into us crossing the starting line.  I honestly don't know what was going on in my head as we started.  I felt all sorts of emotions - but out of all of them, I think I was mostly in denial that what I had been training for for 16 weeks was finally about to start.  I also kept telling myself that the only way to get myself through this race was to take it: (and thankfully this worked throughout the entire race).  You should never count down and think about how many miles are left.

The first 5 miles just flew by.  I was running at an 11:30 minute pace and felt GREAT.  No knee pain and just basically floated through the first few miles, taking in all of the amazing energy and loving running next to Brad the whole time.  Knew our first wave of spectators would be on M street in Georgetown, where I would see 2 friends from work and my dad.  My dad ran the MCM in 2001 and has been a HUGE support system for me during this training.  It meant so much for my dad to be there for me during the race and I could honestly feel how proud of me he was...and that was enough to keep me motivated throughout the whole race.  We made our way through Georgetown at around Mile 9 and I turned to Brad and said, "This is amazing...I truly feel like a celebrity."  The energy in Georgetown was my favorite.  There were bands, people everywhere cheering on runners, and seeing my 2 work friends and my dad (our first spectators) was just so amazing.   The next stop was at mile 10 where we would see my mom, Aunt Helen, and Brad's parents who came into town from Pittsburgh to watch the race.   Just like in Georgetown, I made sure to stop and talk to everyone and give everyone a hug and say thank you for coming to watch us.  I wasn't worried about my time and I wanted to be sure to thank everyone because it meant so much to have them there.  At mile 11 were Christine and Jason, friends who drove to DC all the way from Baltimore.  Christine has been such an amazing friend as she has supported me through the good and bad times of marathon meant so much to have her and her husband there with huge smiles and awesome signs.

We entered Hains Point, which every runner in DC knows for its awful reputation of being unscenic, quiet, very few spectators, and pretty much never-ending.  It was mile 13 in which I had a moment during the race that I'll remember the rest of my life.  Brad and I were running behind an old man who was hunched over.  Everyone was patting him on the back and telling him what a great job he was doing.  On the back of his shirt read Korean War, 1950.  It occurred to me that this man fought in the Korean War which would make him somewhere in his 70's right now.  I started to think about how much this man has been through in his life and it was right in that moment that everything was put into perspective.  Here is me, running 26 miles, and I think I have it tough and that this is hard?   This man must have been through so much more than the majority of all of the runners on this course combined...and to think that at his age he would continue to challenge himself and run a marathon....I was so inspired.  My eyes filled up with tears.  I tried to get it together, until...

Ahead of me was roughly a quarter mile of Marines lined up in uniforms and holding American flags. Underneath each flag was a poster with a face of a fallen soldier; most likely these soliders were husbands, sons, brothers, friends, cousins, or someone related to a runner.  Well that was all it took for me to completely lose it all together.  I ran alongside these posters and looked at the faces of each of the fallen soldiers, and read one name after another.  It was mile 13 and there I was, balling my eyes out while running, and trying to hold it together so other runners wouldn't think I had completely lost control of myself.  But the truth was, I couldn't keep it together because at that moment I had never been so moved and felt such a sense of patriotism and pride.  I looked at each solider who had died for our country and quietly said to myself, "Thank you for all that you have done for us.  God Bless You."  (I'm telling you...these emotions will stay with me forever...I have tears welling up in my eyes right now as I write this).

After I got through this emotional patch, the next thing that happened was all physical.  My left upper quad started to cramp.  I was able to ignore it or stop and stretch and have it feel at least a little bit better until mile 16.  At 16 we saw our parents again and my awesome mom who also happens to be a Nurse. She spent about 3-4 minutes massaging the crap out of my quad and it felt better after that, so we were on our way.  We hit mile 19 near the U.S. Capitol and the IT band/gluteal muscle completely spasmed out...completely out of my was as if my left quad was convulsing and I didn't have the slightest idea of what to do about it because it hurt like a bitch.  I told Brad he needed to massage it just like my mom did...and that worked for the time being.  Once we started running again, it hurt, and it hurt a lot.  There really is nothing left to say besides how hard the last 6 miles were.  I know everyone says that mile 20-26 are all mental, and yes they were mental for me too, but I also had some excruciating leg pain to go along with it.  Turns out, after talking to other runners, I most likely subconsciously changed my gait (aka, my running form) due to my right knee injury and overcompensated by putting everything into my left leg.   However, this time I knew the difference between the pain I was feeling compared to the pain I felt when I injured my knee during the 20 miler.  I knew this time it was a cramp and that I just had to run through it and KEEP GOING so I could finish.

During the last 7 miles I was grateful to see so many more friends - my wonderful friend from work and her 5-year old son who ran with me for part of the race, 2 of my best friends Liz & Jenny who surprised me (I knew they were coming but had no idea which miler-marker they would be at!), and another one of my favorite work friends and her husband (who is also a runner) at mile 22.5.  Then as we approached the finish I saw my mom, Liz & Jenny again, and my Dad, who was at the top of the hill right before I crossed the finish.

Honestly, I could keep typing all night...that is how unforgettable and amazing of an experience the Marine Corps was for me. Beating the bridge after mile 20 and mentally making it from 20-26 is something I never really want to remember (yes, it was that bad).  But surprisingly, for as bad as those last 6 were and for as much pain as I felt because of the cramping the last half of the marathon, I hardly remember any of the bad stuff.  The stuff that I remember when I look back on running a marathon is:  seeing my partner and my coach run beside me for 26 miles. (Here come the tears again!)  I mean honestly....Brad is a competitive runner.  His best time is 3 hours and 28 minutes, and he spent 2+ extra hours running beside me and didn't leave my side once.   There was even one time when a Marine was yelling at him and saying, "Come on Brad! You can run faster than that!"  (I know that probably killed him inside....)  But you know what...that didn't bother him.  Would he have wanted to go faster, and did the photo ops and a million hugs that I was giving out to all of my spectators drive him crazy?  Of course it did!  But did he ever for one second, tell me to go faster or to stop enjoying myself and to take it more seriously?  Not a chance. He wanted me to finish this race and for my first time marathon experience to be just as good as all of his marathon experiences.   There were times when I told Brad that I just wanted to stop running or that my cramp was so painful that I needed to walk.  He supported me every single second of that race, and that is something that I will always remember.  I am truly blessed to have run next to someone during my first marathon who happens to be my coach, my #1 supporter, my husband, and my best friend for life.  I couldn't have asked for a better experience.  I am so happy that Brad convinced me to sign up for this race and offered to run with me as an incentive.  It worked. :)

Also from my marathon experience, I believe that running one makes you a stronger person.  When I was at mile 19 and my leg was spasming so bad and I physically, emotionally and mentally didn't feel like I could run anymore, I relied on the last thing I had to get me through -- faith and prayer.  Honestly, I prayed, and I prayed hard.  I asked God to give me strength to finish the race.  And that He did.  And for that, I am truly thankful.  Why do I believe running a marathon makes you a stronger person?  Because I believe that when you've depleted yourself of everything that you have left inside of you, that you can still push through and surprise yourself by how strong you really are.  I kept telling myself that I would get through the pain and I would finish and get my medal.  My mind proved my body wrong.  If I was capable of pushing myself through that kind of pain and made it to the end, I think I've proven to myself that I have the ability to take on more challenges in life than I am probably aware.

As I made my way up the last 0.2 miles (completely uphill), I crossed that finish line and I was wrapped in the arms of Brad.  I cried...I cried because I was so relieved, in so much pain, and so happy to be finished.  The great part of this story is on the MCM website, you can watch yourself cross the finish and sure enough, Brad and I were LAUGHING as we crossed the finish...I am so relieved to know how happy I must have been even though all I can remember is crying.  I guess you could say it was a combination of laughing and crying, all at the same time.  As we crossed the finish, we lined up to receive our medal from a Marine.  This is another moment from the MCM that I will never forget.  It was in this moment that I could barely walk, just wanted to lay on the ground and die, yet a Marine placed the medal around my neck, saluted ME for what I had just accomplished, and I have never felt so proud.

Brad's parents, my parents, my aunt, my best friends...everyone waited for me and Brad as we made our way to the family meet-up area...and I was greeted with so many hugs and received so much love.  I limped around (got ice to calm down my leg spasms) and I hobbled around the city with the help of my friends who held me up the entire time.   We celebrated with beer and pizza at a local restaurant and the night could not have been more perfect.  I felt truly blessed for the love and support of so many friends who honestly couldn't have been happier for me and for Brad. 

I've spent the last 4 days since the MCM on a high...wondering when I'll sign up for my next race.  I didn't know if this experience would be a one-time thing, knowing that I crossed it off my bucket list, or if I would catch the bug and want to do another.  Personally there have been so many positive things that have come out of training for a marathon, and finishing one too.  A marathon is so different than a half marathon - it requires so much more mental ability, focus, and determination.  It requires 16 strict weeks (or more) of training.  It requires strength - mentally and physically.  Now that I can officially say that I'm a marathoner, I know I want to do another sometime in my life.  I certainly do not want this experience to be my first and my last.  I want to experience all of this again one day.

Finally, I am filled with gratitude.  I've had so many people show genuine interest in the race and be so happy for my accomplishment.  I feel like I have so many amazing friends and family in my life who made last Sunday a day that I will never forget.  I felt so loved, and am so thankful for the amazing people in my life.

So, that just about sums it up. I did it. My mom thinks I need to change my blog title to, ""  But I can't change the title of my blog because the great thing about it is that it works both ways...I married a marathoner...and so did Brad.  :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

26.2 Recap

Hello my fellow blog readers!  I  know, I totally owe you a 26.2 recap from the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday and I promise to get to it very soon!  I've been spending the past few days hunkering down during Hurricane Sandy, recovering some VERY sore muscles, trying to soak in/process all of my first marathon experience, and focusing on another big thing we have going on in our life right now - buying our first home!  I do just want to say that Sunday was truly an unforgettable experience and I can't wait to share all of the details!

Check back shortly!  In the meantime...I think this picture captures just how pumped up I was for (most) of the race and I am still floating on Cloud 9!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Twas the night before MCM...

This is it.  I am less than 12 hours away from lining up at the Marine Corps Marathon starting line and rocking this thing.  Tonight I was sitting at dinner reflecting on how I can't believe the day is here.  October 28th never actually felt like something that was realistic.  Now it's the night before marathon day and I couldn't be more nervous.  Something that I have trained 16 weeks for, a huge goal that I have been focused on since summer is here.  I felt calm and excited all day...until an hour ago when it was 8:00 and I realized that in exactly 12 hours I'll be starting in on this adventure.  I've got knots in my stomach, my heart is already beating out of my chest, but I'm trying to keep it all in perspective.  I'm glad I got a solid 10 hours of sleep last night because I don't anticipate much happening tonight.  I can't wait to see the 30,000 other runners who have trained for this and have been equally as focused on obtaining the same goal.  I can't wait to be completely inspired and to run next to thousands of Marines.  I can't wait to be on Cloud 9 from this entire experience and to cross the finish line right next to my Coach, my husband.  At this point, the weather can't stop the amazing energy that will be present on the MCM course tomorrow morning.  There's nothing that a trash bag, shower cap and glide stick can't fix.

Yesterday we went to the expo and can you tell that this clearly wasn't Brad's first expo experience and I was just a tad more excited than him? :)

#1772 and #21211 :)
Best sign, hands down.
We carbo loaded at Cosi for lunch and "ate clean" (as my mother in law says) for dinner.  Suz is a wonderful cook and made us an amazing carb-filled meal of chicken picatta over egg noodles, asapargus, and butter sage ravioli (and homemade apple crisp + ice cream for dessert).

I got my outfit ready, my GU and shot blocks packed into my belt, my clothes to change into after I'm SOAKED...I am ready.  So tonight, while some of my friends are out partying for Halloween and there are a handful of other things I could be doing with my Saturday night and 5 hours of my Sunday morning tomorrow, I'm focusing on why I signed up for this race in the first place.  Nothing will compare to the feeling of crossing that finish line tomorrow.  I am ready to say that I personally challenged myself to finishing something as difficult as a marathon.

Of course, I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who followed along with me, cheered me on, supported me through this whole training program, and who provided me with confidence through an injury and to finish this race.  From the text messages, to cards, to thoughtful gifts, to asking about my long runs, to simply just caring, every single little thing has made a difference.  You might not know this, but your support has gotten me through this and this certainly isn't something I could have done on my own.  I can't wait to see so many of you tomorrow!!  And for those of you who I don't personally know who have also followed my blog, you have inspired me through your own marathon experience and have given me hope that I can also do this!

Every marathon I've been to as a spectator, I've stood on the sidelines cheering on my husband thinking, "wow...I wonder what it would be like to run this?"  Over time from watching all of these races and from being so inspired by Brad, I finally decided to give it a try.  Tomorrow may be one of the hardest and most challenging goals that I ever accomplish.  But I've learned that relying on training, being focused, having faith, confidence, and support, I'll get through this and I will reach my goal.  I'll no longer have to wonder what it feels like to finish a marathon, because I will be a marathoner.

"I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible."

Let's do this.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why am I doing this???

I'm not gonna lie.  2 days out from MCM and I am consumed with self-doubt.  I haven't run a long run in 3 weeks and I'm questioning myself and doubting whether I have done enough training.  Why am I doing this?  Why do I think I have trained enough to finish this?  How will I ever get through 26 miles?  These are the little voices going through my head today.

Tonight we're going to the expo and I hope it brings me back to a state of being focused and excited.   I've always had a competitive spirit and I have never signed up for a race and not loved it.  (well that's a lie....there was a 10K on Thanksgiving morning in 2009 that was 6 miles of hills and I went out wayyyyy too fast) but besides that I have always been on Cloud 9 after races.   I need to keep telling myself that I GOT THIS.   However right now, I feel like I'm going into something that is totally out of my comfort zone.  What if my knee starts hurting at mile 6 and I need to stop?  What if I don't finish?  What if I hit the runner's wall?  What if my nerves get the best of me and upset my stomach so much that I can't run?  Do you see how I am making myself crazy?

Right now I'm nervous and fearful.  I'll get through it.  I just need to refocus and remember why I am doing this.  I'm looking forward to being excited again and really hoping tonight's expo visit helps!