One Month to Go!

The marathon is in a month.

The marathon is in a month!

I think I’m ready.

I ran my 27 miler on June 2nd and it was actually a really fantastic run. As soon as I got out onto the street that morning on my way to class, I knew it was going to be a great day. It was overcast and cool, but not cold. My preparation had paid off and I was feeling rested and energetic.

I opted to run with my pace group leader from last year using a 20s/40s split. We both had good reason to run a slow, conservative training run, so pairing up worked out really well for us. It was fantastic to get to run with him, since I haven’t had the chance much this year. We had a great time talking and laughing and catching up.

In some respects, though, the best moment of the run for me was when we got back to the Runner’s Edge. I had run 25 miles and had two more to go for my goal. I stopped and visited for a few minutes with the lovely people who had finished their runs or were waiting for others to finish. I grabbed an orange slice and a delicious chocolate coconut square and realized that I absolutely had 2 more miles worth of energy left in me. That was a really glorious realization to have. I felt strong, energetic and happy, so I filled up my water bottle and bid my friends farewell.

I took off towards home feeling pretty pleased with myself. After about 1/4 of a mile I even decided to switch my timer back to 30s/30s. My last two miles was more quiet and contemplative, but still fantastic.

When I got home I started into “recovery mode” right away. I scarfed down a chocolate yogurt and put my legs up the wall. Once my legs felt ready to go, I made myself a big bowl of gluten free pasta and enjoyed some well deserved (I thought) butt-time in front of the television.

The following day I was mildly stiff but not bad at all, and by Tuesday I was pretty much back to normal.

This week we’re still in recovery mode. Our class has a 6 mile run scheduled for Sunday, so I may go as far as 10. Then I start gearing up for my 30 miler, which will be on June 23rd and is our last long run before the marathon. I’m going to prep for it exactly the same way as I prepped for the 27, which I describe here except for one thing I left out. I read in Runner’s World a while back about the anti-inflammation properties of blueberries, so I’ve been trying to incorporate blueberries into at least one meal every day before a long run. I can’t be certain, but I really do think I’m feeling a benefit from it in terms of less soreness and quicker recovery.

And for the record, I am still loving my new shoes.

I’ve got more to blog about in the hopefully near future, so check back.

In the mean time, keep running happy!

Prepping for a Long Run when You’re a Nervous Nelly Like Me

First off, I have been a bad, bad blogger. I’ve been busy and honestly haven’t had a lot to say. But here I am and today I’m going to talk about some changes to my goals and my prep for a long run.

Shifting Goals:

You may recall that I had planned to run the Pengelly Double Dip this year. I’ve changed my mind and am putting it off until next year. My concern is that it is timed poorly for me with respect to the long runs scheduled for my class, and I would feel like a very bad Pace Group Leader if I injured myself out of the class at this point. I still do want to do the race very much, and hope that next year will be the right year for me.

Instead, I’ve decided to try to run the Blue Mountain 30K. It’s in October, so it will give me something to work toward after the Marathon, and it seems like quite the challenging race. It is a very limited race, though, so hopefully I manage to get a spot.

I’ve also decided to train up to 30 miles instead of just 26.2 this year. Jeff Galloway recommends training up to 29 miles for a speed boost, and since I really dislike speed training but feel really good about distance, I decided to give it a try. At some point I realized that I’d better just plan to go 30, because the truth is that I like round numbers as milestones.

Prepping for a Long Run:

Our Galloway class has a 20 miler scheduled tomorrow, and I plan to do 24, to stay on track with my training goal. I really am a bit of a Concerned Constance when it comes to these long runs. I tend to overpack my nutrition belt. I fret about what to wear, what to bring and so forth. I bet there are others out there like me, so I thought it might be fun to talk about.

For about 5 to 7 days before a long run I pay special attention to my diet and hydration. I make sure I drink plenty of water and limit my coffee and alcohol intake.  For about 4 or 5 days beforehand I also drink a bit of coconut water each day (I really don’t like sports drinks). Since I have a wheat sensitivity I take extra care with what I eat for the week before any run over about 15 miles. An accidental exposure to wheat would make a long run really miserable and potentially embarrassing.

This is my basket of goodies. What shall I take?!?

This is my basket of goodies. What shall I take?!?

Sometime during the week before the long run I take stock of my nutrition supplies and make a stop at Runner’s Edge to buy more. I nearly always end up with way more than I could possibly need, but I’m okay with that.

Wednesday, Thursday and part of Friday before a Sunday long run I make sure to eat plenty of fiber. Lots of vegetables, salad, fruit and so forth. Dinner on Friday is when I start to dial back on the fiber, but usually it’s pretty balanced. Saturday, however, is a low fiber day. Different people have different strategies to keep from having to make urgent bathroom stops during a long run. Restricting my fiber the day before seems to work well for me, so that’s what I do.

The day before the long run I also trim my toenails. I cut them as short as I reasonably can to keep them from rubbing in my shoe. My toenails have never actually bothered me during a run, but I’ve had some terribly sore toes after a long run when I forgot to trim them.

And as I’m sure everybody does, I check the weather forecast and decide on what to wear, based partly on how hot it is supposed to get. I might try running in a singlet tomorrow, which would make it the first time I’d run long without sleeves. Last spring was cold and wet so I never actually went for a long run in a singlet. This year is shaping up to be a hot one, so now is the time to try, though I worry about chafe. I’ve got a tiny tub of Body Glide as well as other chafe prevention I can bring along, so I should manage just fine.

I usually remember to charge up my watch. Today I also changed the battery in my run/walk timer since I couldn’t recall when I last changed it.

My Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13s. Aren't they pretty?!?

My Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13s. Aren’t they pretty?!?

For this particular run I’m also worried about my shoes. I’ve got a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines that I bought on 4/19 and have worn for all of my runs since then. So far, the shoes feel great and I’m very happy with them, but all the runs they’ve gone on have been short runs. It should be fine to run in them tomorrow. They’ve gone about 25 miles so I should know by now if I was going to have trouble. But, as I mentioned I am an Anxious Annie. So I made arrangements for a friend to hang on to my second choice pair of shoes in case I have a shoe-mergency during the run and need him to bring them to me. I think that is mostly just a mental security blanket, really.

The morning of the long run, I eat a filling breakfast. Not everybody does this, but I really dislike the feeling of being hungry during a run. It distracts me and makes me grumpy. For tomorrow I’m planning on a hard boiled egg, a small slice of gluten free bread with peanut butter and a little bit of yogurt with blue berries. I’ll eat as early as I can manage to, to give my body time to digest a bit before the run. I’ve had good luck with this method and it’s never caused me stomach upset. I will also be drinking a cup of green tea. Staying away from coffee is another way to prevent urgent bathroom stops or embarrassing accidents. I love coffee, but not the morning of a long run.

Look at all that! The tub on the right is a maybe.

Look at all that! The tub on the right is a maybe.

In addition to my usual water and nutrition I will have along some Body Glide, my phone, blister tape, sun screen, lip balm, and if there’s room I might bring a little tub that has a mix of bug repellent and a creamy chafe protector in it.

I really am a Trepidatious Tanya, and I think you can probably tell. On the positive side, though, I will be prepared for just about anything.

The Missoula Marathon is in 63 days and some hours. We only have a few long training runs left. Can I make it to 30 miles? Check back after our last long run on June 23rd to find out!

New Year, New Goals

Well, I did it. I committed to being a Pace Group Leader for this year’s Galloway Marathon Training Class. Class starts on January 27th and I’m really excited. I had such a great experience last year and I really hope I can help others have a great experience this year. I’m especially excited about any first-time marathoners in my pace group. I’m actually really pleased that I kept this blog during my own first attempt at the marathon. I plan to use it to help remember what it’s like that first time through, so I can be a better PGL.

I’ve been running more regularly than not, since my last post. I’ve missed a few runs here and there, but overall, I’m on track. And I know that being in the class will help as well.

As I’ve mentioned previously, my goal races for this year are the Pengelly Double Dip in June and the Missoula Marathon in July. In the mean time, I’m also planning to run the Snow Joke and any other fun races that don’t conflict with marathon training.

And before I forget, I should tell you that I accomplished something today. I actually ran a whole mile without a walk break! I’ve never done that before ever in my life! Now, to be fair, I haven’t actually tried to run without walk breaks in quite some time. I’ve been very faithful to the run/walk/run method because it really works for me. But this weekend I washed my Gymboss timer and I haven’t replaced it yet.

When I went out on my run today I was a little dismayed to be without my trusty “coach”. But rather than allow the situation to depress me, I decided it would be the perfect time to see if I could run a mile without a break. So after my five minute warm-up walk, I pressed start on my GPS watch and started out running nice and slow. As I kept running, I was really surprised and pleased not to feel tuckered out. When my watch beeped for 1 mile I was shocked! I wasn’t struggling at all. Just then a passing runner commented on my calf-sleeves, so we had a nice little chat until he pulled too far ahead. In all, I ran 1.25 miles before I decided that was enough for the day and went back to run/walk/run. I did my best to approximate a 30/30 split using my watch and counting my breaths. All in all, it was a great run.

Running a mile without a walk break may not seem like much to most runners, but for me it’s an accomplishment, and I’m very satisfied. Over the next several months I will probably continue to add distance on until I can run a few miles without a break. To be honest, though, I love run/walk/run and I don’t really plan to attempt any serious distances without it.

And here’s a bit of news that is specifically for the ladies who read my blog. I’ve decided to take the “Instead Softcup Challenge“. I’ve been looking for a better feminine hygiene solution for long runs and came across a blog post about the challenge at Slow is the New Fast. Friends have recommended similar products in the past, but I’ve never actually tried them, partly due to the expense of some of the options. I thought this challenge would be a great way to try out this type of product. I’ve just gotten my supplies in the mail today, so sometime in the next few months, I’ll be posting my review. In the mean time, if any of you ladies are interested in taking the challenge, check out the link. They’ll even reimburse you for your race entrance fees for one upcoming race, as long as you post your product review before the end of June.

I hope to post more regularly once class begins. I’ll actually have things to post about after all. I hope you’re all still running happy!

Running to Finish vs. a Time Goal, Which is Right for You?

This post is a part of my series, Tips for New Runners. It is based entirely on my own experiences as a new runner and may be missing a lot of information. This series is intended to help my readers find what works for them by sharing what worked or didn’t work for me.

During the Galloway Marathon Training class that I took, we got some very different advice on the “time goal.” Jeff Galloway is adamant that a first time marathoner should run to finish. Our class leaders also adhered to this approach. Several of our expert guest speakers, however, disagreed.

Ultimately you have to decide for yourself whether a time goal is right for you for your first race or any race you run. Some runners and run/walkers find that they gain motivation from the time goal. They are competing against others, or perhaps just against themselves and their own limits. Having a goal keeps them on track in their training and pushes them onward during the race. On the other hand, pushing yourself too much can make you more likely to become injured. So in that regard, it depends on your priority. How important is it to you to make it through your training and finish the race healthy enough to continue running afterwards, vs. how important is it that you run your race in a certain amount of time? Only you can make that determination.

I am not a competitive runner at all. I didn’t even start run/walking until age 37. I’m not fast and I don’t anticipate being fast enough to even win my age group any time soon, if ever. What I do want is to keep run/walking for the rest of my life. So for me, avoiding injury is much more important than any time goal.

In fact, I find that trying to have a time goal causes me stress. Toward the end of our marathon training class a particularly persuasive guest speaker told us how important it was to have a time goal in order to stay motivated during the race. Since I was completely inexperienced at running races, I took her advice to heart and tried to set a time goal for myself based on Jeff Galloway’s Magic Mile prediction formula. Whenever I looked at the difference between my suggested training pace (13:46) and race pace (11:46) it started to freak me out. I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to run 26.2 miles 2 minutes faster per mile than I was used to. Other runners advised me that races are different and I’d get a boost from the adrenaline and race energy and go faster without even realizing it, but I had my doubts. I actually found myself having bad dreams about it.

As the day of the race approached, much was made about how hot it would be that day, and how we needed to slow down to protect ourselves from the heat. I think that all the concern about the heat saved me from a lot of stress. As I once again let go of the idea of having a time goal, not really knowing what to expect from the heat, I suddenly felt much better about race day. My attitude turned from dread back to excitement.

The morning of the race, my pace group buddies and I chatted about what we wanted and agreed to run a conservative race and focus on having a good time. I am so pleased with that decision. We ended up running  very close to my training pace and the truth is, I had a great race that I will always be able to look back on with pride. It doesn’t matter to me that my finish time is just barely under six hours. What is important to me is that I finished a marathon and I had a great time doing it. It makes me want to run the marathon again next year. If I’d tried to speed it up 2 minutes per mile I probably would have had a very different race, and I suspect that I wouldn’t have come across the finish line as excited and happy as I did. I know myself well enough to know that if I’d hurt myself in the process, it might have discouraged me from running at all after that.

So when you are deciding whether or not to have a time goal, consider what is best for you. Will you be motivated by it? Will it help you get stronger and faster and be a positive force in your training? Or, will it cause you unnecessary stress and take your focus away from finishing and having fun? Your friends, other runners, teachers and experts can tell you what they think, but they can’t see inside your head and know what is best for you. Just do be careful about choosing your time goals at first. Make sure you’re not setting yourself up for disappointment. Be conservative. It’s probably better to set a conservative goal and meet or surpass it. At least, that’s what I think.

Happy Running!

Best Marathon I’ve Ever Run, Part One!

It was my first marathon, so that title might only be funny to me. But it was actually a great experience. Saturday night I went to bed as early as I could make myself. I set two alarms for 3:00am and read for a bit in an attempt to calm my mind and fell asleep around 9:30pm. I did not sleep soundly, though. My mind was too active. I was nervous and excited and a bit concerned about the heat. At about 2:30am I gave up trying to sleep and got up. I fussed around for a while, ate my breakfast of two eggs and a banana with peanut butter on it and headed out the door a few minutes later than I meant to.

I arrived at the shuttle buses right on time, thankfully, and hopped right on the lead bus in the line for the full marathon and off we went. I wasn’t with anyone I knew so I listened to the commentary around me. It was really nice to hear the people from out of town express their appreciation for Missoula and for the marathon organizers. Many of them were experiencing our area for the first time so I heard a lot of comments about how gorgeous it is here. I was really excited for them to get out on the course and see how gorgeous most of it is.

We arrived at the starting area and a volunteer hopped onto our bus to give us a rundown of helpful information. Once we all piled off the bus we were greeted by more volunteers, music and an announcer giving us more instruction. The atmosphere was very festive. Having never run a race before, I was mentally prepared for some confusion but honestly, things were so well laid out and organized that I had no trouble at all.

While wandering around the starting area, I came across one of the ladies from my Galloway class pace group. While we were chatting and asking each other if we’d seen any other classmates, an older gentleman (in his 60s maybe?) gave us quite a chuckle when he began to sing along with the song playing over the PA while he rushed frantically about. The song was “Call me Maybe.” After I put my gear bag away, got myself situated and used one of the many porta-potties, we got into the chute together with another lady from our pace group (yay!) and waited for the race to begin.

I was a little bit shocked when the fireworks started to go off, as we charged over the mat and out of the chute. Nobody had told me about that. But it was really cool and it was the first of many things that day that made me feel a little bit emotional.

The group starting at 5:00am was technically the walkers group, with a 6:00am start for runners. But as we started on our journey it was very clear that many of the people in our group were run/walkers (not necessarily Galloway style) and shufflers.

The night before the marathon, our class had been invited to a special pep-talk with Jeff Galloway. In addition to encouraging us and building us up, he cautioned us about the heat. Particularly, he advised us not to push harder in the beginning, even though it might seem like the thing to do, to get out in front of the heat. He strongly recommended starting out at a slow, easy pace and conserving our resources for the latter portion of the marathon when we would need them most. Given this advice, the three of us decided to use our training interval of 30 seconds running and 45 seconds walking.

Along the way we got to watch the sun rise over the mountains in the east and it was gorgeous. Before long, we started to pass a few folks out to cheer on their family members as well as the rest of us. In particular I was struck by a mom and her toddler son, waiting for someone special to run by. The little boy was adorable and had a little cowbell that he clearly loved ringing. I’m also fairly sure that the person they were cheering on was behind us or not very far in front of us for the first 2/3 of the race, as we saw them again a few times along the course.

We heard the fireworks go off again when we were a couple of miles down the road and checked our watches in confusion. It was only 5:30. I wasn’t sure how long it would take the runners to start overtaking us after their 6:00am start, but I was actually pretty excited about it.

Along the way, we chatted with the walkers and run/walkers that we passed or were passed by. That is, until Negative Ned (not his real name) came along. At our pep-talk the night before, Jeff had mentioned that some people approach marathons with a positive attitude and other folks are negative and whine. I’m not sure he had anybody like Negative Ned in mind, but it felt a bit like a prophecy coming true. See, Negative Ned is a run/walker as well and has been for quite some time. But he disagrees very strongly with Mr. Galloway’s approach and was happy to tell us all about how wrong Mr. Galloway is and why.

Now, I believe I have a healthy amount of skepticism and I don’t take every word Jeff Galloway says as gospel or anything like that. But here we are, three ladies who are really only able to participate in this marathon because of the Galloway method and Ned wants to tell us all about how it’s wrong? It was quite negative and unwelcome, but we were polite and nice and tried to chat with him in spite of our frustrations. But he just kept right on explaining and it didn’t seem like he would be open to changing the subject any time soon. So when Ned stopped off to make a pit stop at an aid station, we sped up in the hopes of gaining enough distance that he wouldn’t find us in the crowd, and began to joke and laugh and regain our positive attitudes.

It will be no surprise to anyone who knows me to learn that I drastically over-prepared for my nutritional needs during the marathon. My belt holds 4 water bottles. I filled one bottle with plain water and into the other three I mixed two gels each. I also packed 5 extra gels and 5 packs of gummies, in addition to my sunscreen, phone, blister tape and leatherman micra. This is especially hilarious considering that there were aid stations with water and sports drink about every two miles along the course. I’m just one of those people who would much rather have a bunch of things I don’t need than to be missing one thing I do need. But in my defense, I was concerned with the heat and how I was going to deal with it.

I began taking in nutrition early in the race, switching between gummies and honey-waters, with some plain water thrown in for good measure. At each of the many aid stations we came to, we were offered sports drink and plain water by a host of helpful, happy volunteers. After a while, I began taking the water, even if I didn’t strictly need it, out of a desire to keep from disappointing too many volunteers.

Somewhere between 6 and 8 miles into the race, the lead runner overtook us. Keep in mind that he also started an hour later. As he passed, we cheered him on. He went on to win the marathon with a time of 2:32:39. That just blows me away. Not too long after him, the ladies leader passed us as well. She went on to set a ladies course record of 2:57:44. Compared to my 5:58:09, that is smoking fast! And it seems funny, in a way, but it was exciting to be passed by the lead runners. I think starting at 5:00am was a great choice. I got to see both of the lead runners as well as lots of other runners, including friends. Granted, they were passing me, but that’s okay. I wasn’t in the race to achieve any sort of competitive time. I was in it to have fun doing something that most people never do, and I did.

I have much more to say about my fantastic marathon experience, but this blog post is getting quite long and it’s late. Come back soon for the rest of the Tale of the Nerd Girl Who Ran the Marathon!

 

One More Day, a Heat Related Update

The race is tomorrow and I’m pretty nervous, but that is to be expected. Thanks to the Galloway training class I took through Run Wild Missoula, I know for a fact that I can go the distance because I already have. It’s just the heat that worries me.

Due to a rise in temperatures, any loose time goal I may have had is going right out the window. My only goal now is to finish healthy and happy. I’m really glad I signed up for the 5am start!  Our forecast is calling for an overnight low tonight of 57 F (13.88 C) and a high of 97 F (36 C) tomorrow. For some folks those aren’t terribly intense temperatures, but this has been a cool, wet spring & early summer for us, so I am not acclimated.

In a message we received from Jeff Galloway yesterday, he recommends reducing pace by 30 seconds per mile for every 5 degree increase above 60F. Based on my observations over the last few days, I rather expect that the temp will hit 65 around 8:00am, so I should have about 3 hours before I have to slow down.

I am also adjusting my nutrition plan based on the heat. I’ll be taking in more of my honey gels (in water, as always), plenty of gummies and I’ll be bringing some other electrolyte sources along with me in case I feel like I need them. I’ve been hydrating all week, eating pretty well over all, and also eating bananas and drinking coconut water, so I think I’m in good shape.

In a couple of hours I’ll be heading out to the Expo to pick up my race packet and join in the fun. I plan to be in bed around 8:00pm tonight so that I can get some sleep before getting up early enough to leave the house before 4:00am. Since this is my first marathon and my first race, I want to catch the first bus to the start in the morning, to give myself plenty of time to get things figured out without any undue stress.

I’m still planning to tweet some locations to my jinmontana account to help friends keep track of my progress. I don’t have twitter sending anything back to my phone, though, so I won’t see any replies until later. It is likely that I will tweet specifically about the “loop of sadness” at Bonner Park. If you look at the map you’ll see it start at 23.9 miles and end at 24.8.  I call it the “loop of sadness” because when we approach the aid station at 23.9 miles, we can see the 24.8 mile aid station JUST A BLOCK AWAY, right across the park. Some folks, upon realizing that they have to turn away and go south before coming back around to that second aid station, get very sad. I think I’m mentally prepared to make jokes about it rather than be sad.

I’ll talk more about this after the marathon, but in a lot of ways this race is the culmination of 13 months of working to improve my fitness so that I can feel better and live a longer, healthier life. It’s also a huge symbol for me, of how far I’ve come from the bad place I was in this time last year, and just how much better and happier my life is now.

I’ve used the magic of my spreadsheet to adjust my location chart for the heat.  Below you’ll see a 13 minute mile pace version and a 14 minute mile pace version. I’m hoping that the 13 minute mile version is closer to how my race turns out, but as I said above, my goal is to finish healthy and happy and I’m not going to worry about my time during the race.

I have just under 18 hours until the 5:00am start of my first official marathon. I do not plan for it to be my last.

M/pace  13 min          14 min
1      5:00-5:26      5:00-5:28
2      5:26              5:28
3      5:39              5:42
4      5:52              5:56
5      6:05              6:10
6      6:18              6:24
7      6:31              6:38
8      6:44              6:52
9      6:57              7:06
10    7:10              7:20
11    7:23              7:34
12    7:36              7:48
13    7:49              8:02
14    8:02              8:16
15    8:15              8:30
16    8:28              8:44
17    8:41              8:58
18    8:54              9:12
19    9:07              9:26
20    9:20              9:40
21    9:33              9:54
22    9:46              10:08
23    9:59              10:22
24    10:12            10:36
25    10:25            10:50
26    10:38             11:04

See you at the finish line!

One Week to Go

Today was our final class run. A short six miles with the gang. There was a lot of chatter about race week strategy, eating well, getting hydrated and getting plenty of rest. Many runners are experiencing different aches and pains, so there was also a lot of discussion of how to manage or mitigate them.  I’m thrilled to have made it this far with only a minor IT Band issue that is easily managed through the use of my foam roller. I will probably spend the week being extremely careful so as not to get hurt crossing the street or on the stairs at work or anything. I don’t want anything to get in my way now!

The big race is Sunday. I know that I can do it, since I’ve already run that far. I imagine it will be warmer, so that will be a bit of a challenge, but since I’m starting at 5:00am, it won’t be that bad. The main difference for me is that I won’t be running with my buddies. I’m starting at 5, along with a few other people from my class, but most of the Rogue Pace Group will be starting at 6:00am. And frankly, even if we were starting at the same time it is a race, so ultimately, we’re all on our own.

I’m planning to bring along roughly the same nutrition that I brought for the 26 mile training run, perhaps with just a bit extra to be safe. I’ll also be bringing sunscreen and water. There are 19 aid stations in 26 miles.  Each aid station will have water and an electrolyte drink and three stations will have gels. However, I haven’t tried the specific gels or drink that the aid stations will have, and my guts get very sensitive on long runs, so I’m going to keep using what my guts are used to.

For those of my friends who are in town and might want to cheer me on once they’re up and about, I’ve done the math using my Magic Mile prediction to see roughly where I’ll be on the course at any time. I honestly feel that I will probably run more slowly, but so many people swear by the Magic Mile that I admit that I may be wrong. And in addition to my Magic Mile based prediction, I have decided to tweet from a few locations, later in the race, which should help my friends adjust their plans accordingly. The course map for the marathon shows where the aid stations are and shows the distances that they’re at. On the right hand side, the aid stations are all listed. I will be saving draft tweets in advance, with some of the aid stations and tweeting them to my jinmontana account. At the bottom of this post is a chart estimating my time for each of the 26 miles.  These are estimates and are intended as a first guess for when my friends should be at whatever spots on the course they’d like to be at. I couldn’t quite manage the tenths of seconds in my spreadsheet calculations, so my final time is 3 minutes short of my actual race prediction time, which also doesn’t account for heat or bathroom stops. Using this information as a starting point and my tweets to refine it, should make it easy to find me, if anybody wishes to.

If I run the pace that I tend to run when I’m by myself, add 2 minutes for each mile prior to the mile you’re interested, for a rough estimate. But we won’t really know that until we compare the times of my tweets to the predicted times, which is the whole reason I’ll be tweeting, really. It might seem silly, but I think it will be fun.

I’m as ready as I can possibly be at this point. This Wednesday is a national holiday (Independence Day) and I’ve got the day off, so I’ve opted to take Thursday and Friday off as well. I’ll be getting as much sleep as I can and really controlling my nutrition as best I can, so I can be at my best for race day.

Chances are, I’ll be too tired to post much beyond “I did it” after the race, so look for the review of my race experience on July 9th or 10th. I’ve got 6 days and 17 hours to go and I’m getting really excited, and a bit nervous.

See you at the finish line!

Mile 1 — 5:00 to 5:11 am
Mile 2 — 5:23 am
Mile 3 — 5:35 am
Mile 4 — 5:47 am
Mile 5 — 5:58 am
Mile 6 — 6:10 am
Mile 7 — 6:22 am
Mile 8 — 6:34 am
Mile 9 — 6:45 am
Mile 10 — 6:57 am
Mile 11 — 7:09 am
Mile 12 — 7:21 am
Mile 13 — 7:32 am
Mile 14 — 7:44 am
Mile 15 — 7:56 am
Mile 16 — 8:08 am
Mile 17 — 8:20 am
Mile 18 — 8:31 am
Mile 19 — 8:43 am
Mile 20 — 8:55 am
Mile 21 — 9:07 am
Mile 22 — 9:18 am
Mile 23 — 9:30 am
Mile 24 — 9:42 am
Mile 25 — 9:54 am
Mile 26 — 10:05 am

14 Hot & Hard Miles

Boy the heat sure does make a difference. Today started out warm and just got warmer and that heat made it a bit harder for me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m so glad I had such a great group of people to run with today, because they kept me going and kept my spirits up. If I had tried to run alone today, I think I would have had a miserable time.

The good news is, my feet didn’t swell during the run and haven’t swollen much yet either.  I wore my calf-compression sleeves and put them back on after a quick shower, in the hopes that they’ll help keep my feet from puffing up like they did after the 26 miler.

This is only the second double digit run that we’ve had in heat. Our 23 miler started cool, but got pretty warm by the end. I have to say, I really love people who leave their sprinklers out to water their lawns on days like this. In the past, I was always a bit irritated to see the waste of water that comes with watering on hot days, but I’ve officially changed my stance on that. Now, I get as excited as a giddy 5 year old when I see a sprinkler that I can run through. So thank you to all those folks who leave their sprinklers out on our running routes. You’re the best!

The other change I made today was to go straight to a local coffee & tea shop and get myself a chocolate creamsicle milkshake after our run. Many people swear by chocolate milk and/or chocolate milkshakes, and I’ve seen some suggestions lately that it’s best to get that first dose of protein and carbs in within 10 minutes of finishing your run. It’s supposed to promote muscle refueling, and since the Marathon is in 13 days and 15 hours, I thought now might be a good time to give it a try.

Finally, for a while now I’ve been meaning to link to a blog being written by one of my pace group members. Little Sister Sole at SisterSoleBlog is a really great person to run with and I always enjoy reading her blog. She’s very upbeat and very encouraging and I missed her on today’s run, since she is out of town. Please check out her blog.

No more long or medium runs before the big one. I’m as ready as I can be now!

Crazy Train

Last week we ran 26.2 miles. This week we ran 3.5 miles. It might seem weird, but it’s all part of recovering and being ready for the big race on July 8th. We were actually scheduled to run only 3 miles, but the extra half came in when we had to detour around a train that was rather strangely parked at an intersection. We ran a few blocks down and did the loop through the park backwards. Fortunately, the train was gone by the time we came to that intersection again.

Class was sparsely attended this morning, unsurprisingly. It’s Father’s Day and I think folks may have squeezed in their 3 mile yesterday or at some convenient time today on their own. We did have a new runner in our class today, though. A local newscaster came to run with us and will apparently be doing a story on the Galloway Training Method. She’ll be running the half marathon as well, so I assume she’s been training on her own or with her friends. Thankfully it was too early to bring a camera person along, so she’ll be getting film at a later time and I won’t be in it!

My recovery is going well. My legs are loosening up and feeling good. I mowed a very thick, overgrown lawn last night so I’m feeling that a bit, but I don’t think it’s going to cause me much trouble.

Our class leaders have decided to offer us a 14 mile run next Sunday. They thought having such a long break between our last long run and the marathon might be mentally difficult, without a mid-length run in between. Our long run should ideally have been today, but having the 26 miler scheduled for Father’s Day presented its own problems. I think this is a reasonable compromise and I’m looking forward to the 14 next week.

We also learned today that our wonderful pace group leader will be volunteering at the finish line. As much as I wish he was running with us, I am still thrilled to know that he’ll be there to see us finish. Throughout our class he really made a point to educate us and share as much of his experience and information as he could. On our long runs he would always keep tabs on us and make sure we were feeling alright. And of course, his super-awesome mobile aid station was an absolute life saver on our long run last week. I feel so lucky to have been in his pace group and I’m really glad I decided to stay, even after my magic mile time improved enough for me to move up a group.

I still feel confident about running the marathon in 20 days and 18 hours. I believe I mentioned that I’ve signed up for the 5:00am start time, with the walkers. Since we haven’t had much of a chance to acclimate to running in heat yet, I really think that was the best choice for me. I will miss my pace group buddies who are starting at 6:00am, but races are different than training classes anyway. We’re all on our own in the race, really. Starting with the walkers should help me keep my pace slower, too, rather than starting off too fast and using up too much energy too early on.

26.2 or The Flat is a Lie

A quick recap for those just joining us: Our pace group decided to go rogue and run the full marathon course rather than the out & back that the main body of the class had scheduled yesterday. Because of this, we had to arrange for our own support for the first half, which turned out remarkably well.

It wouldn’t be 100% accurate to say that yesterday’s run was the best ever, even though looking back that’s how I feel about it. We arrived at our starting point a little after 8:00 am and started our journey in very chilly, wet weather. Most of us were at least slightly underdressed and some of us were pretty seriously underdressed for the conditions. Before long, the steady rain had us drenched through. For the first several miles it seemed it was a bit of a struggle to keep our spirits up, even for those who are usually the most cheerful and optimistic. But we kept talking and joking and laughing, even though it was a stretch, and forged on ahead.

Since we were out on our own, without the support of the main body of the class, I was feeling a bit paranoid about water and nutrition so I packed quite a lot with me. It turns out that I didn’t have to worry after all. I think it was around 4 miles in that we first came across our pace group leader who is unfortunately injured, but is still going way above and beyond in supporting us. He brought his RV out so that we could have a bathroom break since there wouldn’t be a public restroom on the course for quite a ways. He also brought water, gels and ibuprofen. Since we were the last group to start the regular marathon course, after we left his awesome, mobile aid station he drove on down a few more miles and met us again. In all I think he provided us with 3 stops, though it may have been 4. My memory is fuzzy. Another aid station on the first half of our journey was provided by another injured pace group member. I think it says a lot about these folks that they’re still supporting us, even though they’re injured and won’t be running the race.  They’re quality people!

If I recall correctly, the rain started to abate sometime around when we started up the hill on Big Flat Road. Don’t let the name fool you. The road is neither big, nor flat. It’s narrow, winding and and provides the Marathon’s only significant hill, about halfway through the full course. It’s also one of the reasons we chose to run the full course, so we would have a better idea of what to expect on race day. I can’t speak for anyone else in the class, but I got a boost out of conquering that hill. Additionally, part way up that hill is where our pace group leader kindly provided a dry shirt for our most drenched and cold runner.

After we got down the other side of the hill we joined up with the half marathon course and the aid stations provided by Run Wild MIssoula for our class. I was especially excited to get “into town” and run through more familiar areas. Also, sometime on our way down the hill, a former member of our class who opted to join the traditional running class after trying the Galloway method, came to cheer us on and surprised us by meeting us quite a few times during the rest of our run to cheer us on and take pictures. It’s honestly amazing how much that can lift a person’s spirits on a long run.

As we went along we remarked on the milestones we usually remark on, such as passing the 10 mile mark (double digits!), the halfway point, the 20 mile mark and then the 23 mile mark, which was our previous longest run distance. Early on, our group spread out quite a bit, though we never really lost sight of the leaders, but about 20 or 22 miles in we grouped back up and stuck together for the rest. And around 10 miles I opted to do a little “sprint”  when I saw our mobile aid station ahead, because it’s been so effective in stretching out my IT Band in the past. It worked like a charm.

After the rain stopped and we began to warm up, our spirits also lifted, so the last half of our run was much more pleasant than the first half. As we approached the finish I got more and more excited about the fact that I was actually doing it. I was actually completing a marathon distance run, albeit slowly. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that I’m doing this, since I was never a runner before that night in November when I discovered how much I liked the Galloway run/walk/run method.

As we turned onto Higgins Avenue, we were on a walk break. My timer went off just as I started up the bridge and it was at that point that I let the excitement and adrenaline takeover and decided not to take any of the rest of my walk breaks. As it turns out, I don’t know exactly where the finish line of the race is, so I just kept on going until I got to Front Street, where I waited for the rest of my pace group and exchanged many high-fives, fist-bumps and words of congratulations. We even started back along the bridge after a pace-group member who had dropped behind, but then we discovered she wasn’t very far behind at all, just on the other side of the street.

Looking back at my first marathon distance run, I feel really positive about it. I finished strong and happy, which is what I set out to do. Our time was 6 hours and 18 minutes. With the amount of stopping and waiting we did at the aid stations, I feel pretty good about that. My predicted time, according to Galloway’s Magic Mile based recommendations, was 6 hours, so I think the prediction was probably pretty darned accurate.

Me, after running my first marathon length training run. I’m so happy!

After the run I went to hang out with my dear friends who made me delicious homemade mac and cheese and let me take a cold bath in their tub. They also took this picture of me when they picked me up.

Interestingly, my feet didn’t swell much during the run. Whether that was due to my compression sleeves or the cold weather, I do not know. But when I got into the cold bath around 7:30pm they were HUGE. I will say that delaying the cold bath does not seem to have decreased its effectiveness, either. I’m a bit stiff today, but not unreasonably so, and I’m really not very sore at all. 

I’d also like to say that the Feetures Elite socks that a friend recommended to me were really fantastic. Even with soaking wet feet the only blisters I got were one in a spot where I had put blister tape not quite far enough around my toe, so it came loose and rubbed, and one where the back of my shoe pressed the seam of my compression sleeve against my leg. I strongly recommend these socks and will be buying myself a few more pair. Of all the socks I’ve tried so far, these are by far my favorite.

The marathon is approaching fast! Just 26 days and 10 hours according to the countdown clock. But now I know that the nerd girl CAN run the marathon, and that’s a pretty cool feeling.