Tuesday, October 30, 2012

11 days + Sandy

Or 10 days? Let's think about this: I'll go to sleep 11 more times before the marathon, but I'll only actually be walking around and doing things for 10 more days. Whatever. It's soon.

Last year, the night before the MCM was spent lounging with Nick, building a fire, and drinking wine and eating ice cream. I want to say it was Twix ice cream. Last night, as Nick built a fire to keep us warm during our power outage, I realized we won't be able to have a pre-race fire/ice cream/wine night since we'll be in a hotel in Richmond. Boo. And Sandy? Although the storm made itself known heartily between yesterday morning and this morning, we were very fortunate. We lost power from 8 pm until sometime during the night. The only really bad part for us was that it got really cold in the house. Nick built a fire in the fireplace that I am hoping the previous owners bought as a joke. It's horribly ugly, plus the screen things on the front don't function well. Whatever. It kept the fire contained. That plus my mom's great suggestion to put sheets over the door let us sleep comfortably in the living room while the rest of the house got chilly. By morning, the heat was back on, the fire was out (we slept with the fire extinguisher nearby) and all was well. Last year, Hurricane Irene tore down LOTS of tree limbs in front of Nick's house. We were cleaning up for weeks and Nick purchased a chainsaw specifically for that storm. It was a mess. This time, there was very debris, and most of it just looks like sticks. Seems like all the weak branches were picked off last year!

11 days. Yesterday I ran 6.5 miles (1/4 marathon!) at a comfortable 9:30. I thought about bumping it up but I was happy where I was. Today I'm thinking Nick and I will brave an outside run, and maybe a swim and a bike later this week. This weekend we've got a 5K that my dad does every year on his birthday. I will continue chasing the elusive sub-25 and I assume Nick will chase that sub-20, but we both need to take it easy-ish to keep our legs fresh. It's getting real, yo.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Perfection plus Projected Pace

I am going to gush. Just a warning.

This training cycle has been perfect. Not in the "I did every single training run and got faster and stronger and never felt like dying" way, but in the "I ran with my best friend by my side and accomplished so much" way. It's 17 days until the marathon (or 16? is it how many days elapse or how many times you wake up?) and I feel... prepared? I know that taper crazies have yet to set in but I'm feel good right now.

Last night Nick and I did our last long run- 18.7 miles on the Indian Head Rail Trail. Running on the Rail Trail is definitely not the most exciting thing. There's a decent amount of people watching but no cars and no terrain changes. The reason we've run our last 3 long runs there is safety- we're going to be out after dark, for over an hour. We've finished after dark on the road before (and ran Ragnar in the dark) but we did less than 30 minutes of that run in the dark. Starting at almost 5 pm, in late October, means that over an hour of these recent runs has been done when the sun has set completely. That means we were tripping over large frogs (or turtles... still not sure) on the trail but didn't have to worry about getting hit by cars. That was nice.

The run last night wasn't ground-breaking, but it did make 4 18+ milers for me (18 on the treadmill, 18 outside with Nick, 19ish last week and almost 19 this week) and that is HUGE. Last year I maxed out at 18, I think, and even that was a huge struggle. These long runs haven't been easy, by any means, but they've been doable. The big differences between this year and last are 1) Iron and 2) Nick. He has gotten me out of the house or onto the treadmill so many times when I would not have gone otherwise. Knowing he's by my side makes achy joints, annoying fuel belts and neverending thirst seem more manageable. When I pulled the top off the Gatorade bottle with my teeth and it poured all over me and I just about cried at mile 6? He calmly took it from me, replaced the top, and gave it back to me so I could have my drink. He is so patient and encouraging, and I hope I have been able to provide the same support for him as well. I absolutely would not be here without him.

Now... how about pace and race strategy? Here's me after 13.1 miles at 9:09:

That was in May. Not that long ago! Although in running fitness terms it's a pretty long time ago. And in anemia terms it's been a while. Buttttt.... I know my body is capable of that. And the other day, before I turned my Garmin GPS off mid-long run, we were going ~9:30, which is well within the race pace +0:30 guidelines I've read about everywhere. My other data points are not so convincing- the other 3 18 milers were

Using online race calculators (because you're obsessive like me) and plugging in my 5K, 10K or half marathon PRs you'll see that I should be capable of somewhere around 4 hours. It's funny, my 5K PR predicts I'd finish a half in ~1:57, which is pretty accurate, but says I should be around 52 minutes for a 10K. Conclusion: I run 10Ks slower than I am capable. With this in mind, here are my official goals:

A Goal: 4:00:00 and not a second longer. Likelihood of this: < 20%, unless the stars align for great race day conditions.
B Goal: 4:20ish- this would be 10 min/mile, which is about what we've been running in training.
C Goal: Happy finish, happy me, happy Nick.

Race strategy- first couple of miles run conservatively, somewhere around 9:30, or slower if we're dodging people. Gu @ mile 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and maybe 24. Water or Gatorade every 2 miles. During last night's run I felt like I really needed Gu before it was time to have one

Annnd that's as far as I've gotten. More to come.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fe and Me

But first- a picture from Ireland:
This is Giant's Causeway, in Northern Ireland. It is probably the coolest place I've ever been. It's truly a geological wonder and it was so cool to go there. We also saw the Cliffs of Moher, which were neat but not nearly as interesting as Giant's Causeway. Go there now. Even 10 days after getting home, I keep starting sentences with "In Ireland..." and probably annoying everyone around me. I had a great time on that trip.

Iron. Anemia. My nemeses (nemesises? boo.). I've been up and down for the last year, and since October 5 I've been taking an insanely high dose of iron, plus a Vitamin C supplement, 2x a day most days. This would seem fine, like I've just returned to my normal dosing schedule from last year, but this dose is far higher than last year's. And it's been making me sort of miserable. I am nauseous after each dose and the Vitamin C gives me wild heartburn. I've been trying to separate iron intake from mealtimes and I think this is making the side effects of the supplements worse.

I know people take meds with wayyyy worse side effects. I know I'm lucky that this deficiency is so treatable (even if we still don't know the cause). But damnit, I hate taking pills twice a day that make me feel icky. Also, if I'm not super careful with keeping my veggie/fiber intake super high (like this weekend and in Ireland), things happen. Bad things. I'll leave it at that. Bonus- the only day the GI doctor could see me was Marathon Eve and I am not getting scoped the day before the marathon, even if it would make me feel all light and cavernous on the day of the race. I enjoy clean intestines as much as the next girl but not eating the day before 26.2 would be the dumbest decision ever. So I don't know when that'll get scheduled- she gave me a date in January but we're trying to find something sooner.

Nick and I biked over the weekend and had grand plans for a good 20some miles and then I got a flat 15 minutes out. We rescued the bike but I wasn't feeling running after that little outing and we were time crunched, so I said screw it. Pretty much a waste of an hour and a half.

And then- swimming breakthrough. Yesterday's 1.5 miles in 45 minutes felt unusually good. I felt strong and happy and sort of wanted to keep going. Let's hope that momentum carries me through 22 miles (last long run) today.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One more long run

Just one more. That's it? I'm pretty baffled by how that's even possible. Ideally, we should do our last long run this weekend, but since we did our second to last yesterday (Wednesday), I'd like to give us more than just a few days off. It means decreasing taper from 3 weeks to 2.5 weeks, but I really think we'll be ok with that.

Yesterday's run was... weird. We didn't leave work until about 3:45 (despite my "goal" to leave at 3... and then remembering I had a meeting at 3. arg.). That meant we got to our running site (the Indian Head Rail Trail, site of our last long run 1.5 weeks ago) and got changed and hit the road at 5pm. That meant the sun was already setting and it would definitely be dark for most of the run. The plan was to do 4 miles out and back on one leg of the trail, then 6 out and back on the other leg. Well... the best laid plans and all that. We did 8 and then the next 2 with no problems. Then Nick needed a break so I ran on ahead for a little. And realized how dark it is. And how isolated I felt... and then I started freaking out. In reality, the trail is practically in the back yard of lots of houses in the area, but it was pitch black (we were wearing neato Amphipod reflective LED vests... HIGHLY recommend for comfort and visibility) and cold and I was totally alone. So I turned around a wee bit before the 6 miles of that leg were up and met back up with Nick so we could head back towards the car and maybe finish 20 miles. Then things went terribly wrong. Not really. But I did get very annoyed.

Some backstory- my much beloved Garmin strap broke when we were in Ireland. I carried it during the 10K we did over there (53 minutes. Still not over that) and it was annoying but it worked. During the 10K, it was super irritating to carry the watch and I kept touching the bezel by accident and changing the screen. I had also used it during night runs a few times but still had not figured out how to reliably make the backlight turn on. So, between my sticky/sweaty fingers, carrying a water bottle, and fumbling with the watch to get the backlight to turn on so I could see mileage, I managed to turn GPS off. I realized this and promptly started whiiiiiiininggggg. I felt silly and since I'd gone slightly off the original plan, I didn't have a definite idea of "this is where we need to stop." I played with the watch a little, grumbled, and grumbled some more. After a little over a half mile, I figured it out and got GPS going again. I was irked though, because it started counting up from 16.1 miles... and I thought we were actually over 17. We ended up finishing at 18.5 per my watch, in 3:05. I think we actually did closer to 19.3, which would mean around a 9:33 pace which is amazing. It felt comfortable and I definitely wasn't breathing crazy hard. I think during our previous 18 I got pretty close to the much fabled "wall" that everyone talks about with marathon training. I definitely hit a point of thinking that I could not finish (which I never got to during the MCM last year). On the run tonight I certainly wasn't joyful or anything, but the last mile was not insufferable either. Good things. Of course, this run was after 10 days of reallly light running (just the 10K in Ireland and 4 miles on the tmill on Monday). So... who knows.

Anywho. 23 days until the marathon. One more long run. One 10K (the MCM 10K! Pretty excited to be back and NOT doing the marathon!), one 5K (same one I ran in like 85 minutes last year the week after the marathon). It's all passing very fast.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ireland- the teaser

Thoughts on Ireland-
- They don't have alarm clocks in most of the hotel rooms. Why? No idea.
-They use white pepper at most of their tables. White pepper smells like cow manure. Yeah, that makes for a fun morning when you're trying to figure out why your eggs smell like cow. I learned to stop putting pepper on things.
- There was a spider crawling on a bed one of the nights. !!!!! I know this is absolutely not the first spider on a hotel room bed, but it was a first for me. I swear I never considered that there could be a spider in my bed. Despite my best efforts to drink plenty of beer and wine and not care about the spider, it still kept me up.
-Do a race when you're traveling somewhere. I promise. I did a 10K (in 53:04 what whaaaaaaatttt) (my Garmin thought the race was only 5.95 miles though so take the race time with a grain of salt)
-Kayak when you're traveling somewhere. Seriously. Got to see the Kinvara Bay from the warm seat of a kayak. It was my favorite moment of the whole week.

I have wayyyyy more thoughts. And tonnnns of pics. I will update soon. Promise.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I hate having to combine words with anemia. I'm running out of options.

So... flashback to August- I was running great, feeling great. I went to a new hematologist after my current hematologist basically said "keep supplementing till you die of constant nausea." New hematologist said "ignore her. let's try not supplementing. be free of nausea!" Hemoglobin was 12.6 mg/dL, ferritin was 110. Living was easy.

Current day: I've been off supplements for 2 months. I went to the new hematologist again. He says "your blood is like, pale pink. Take 325 mg iron 3x a day... in other words, I'd like your blood oxygen transport to be A+ and your ability to eat to be nonexistent." Hemoglobin is 11.1. Ferritin is 25. I'm apparently bleeding from SOMEWHERE. Now I get to go get scopes stuck in various parts of my body until we figure out where the leak is. Hooray.

I'm frustrated. I strongly suspected that my numbers were below normal, since I had been feeling increasingly crappy the last month or so. He said I might feel some improvement before the marathon since I'm taking ridiculously massive doses of iron (plus delicious Vitamin C chewies. Yum). I'm not excited to be 27 and getting a colonoscopy, but it is what it is.