Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Long Weekend, Long Run, Long Post

I love long weekends and this past one was no exception.  My holiday weekend started at 2pm on Friday when I escaped from my office early!  Friday night was spent with The Usual Suspects and a few others, celebrating a friend's new job.  The only draw back?  She'll be moving out of state. My workout for the day consisted of running up and down the stairs doing laundry in the late afternoon/early evening and then shaking my ass on the dance floor.  I assure you, I looked way cooler doing laundry.

Considering how late we got home (or should I say early since we didn't crawl into the house until the early hours of Saturday morning), we got a relatively early start on the mammoth task that is our yard.  When we bought the house almost 3 years ago, we inherited a weed-infested landscaping nightmare.  We've been slowly working to improve it over time, but there's only so much time, money and energy to go around, so it's been slow going.  On a positive note, we successfully planted some flowers and are planning on some serious grass planting next weekend (weather pending).  While we toiled in the yard, brats were cooking happily away (in beer of course) on the grill to reward our hard work.

After dinner, we both suited up to get our long runs for the week out of the way.  Word of advice: Don't try to run less than an hour after snarfing a bratwurst!  It's a recipe for stomach cramps and near expulsion of your dinner!

Distance: 6.05 miles
Time: 1:02:32
Avg. Pace: 10:20

The pace wasn't the best, but considering I spent miles 2-6 trying not to puke, I'll take it.

Sunday morning brought even more fun. the husband and I loaded up a cooler with a bunch of water, packed up some pb & honey sandwiches and hit the road to the northern reaches of Wisconsin to do a little hiking, a little waterfall viewing and a little rock climbing (probably more like bouldering, but hey...it's my blog and I'll call it what I want to!).

Long Slide Falls

 We got home pretty late on Sunday night, so Monday was a day of rest.  Most of the day was spent parked in a lawn chair with a book - my favorite way to laze away a day.  Naturally, I am now a lovely shade of lobster red!

Today was back to business as usual with the addition of the ever-annoying summer cold.  Ugh.  I swear, I sound like I'm hacking up a weasel or something.  I didn't make it out of bed this morning to run before work (wonder if I'll ever achieve that goal), so after riding a desk for 8+ hours I went out for 3 miles (finally getting back to mileage worth running).

Distance: 3.02 miles
Time: 30:10
Avg. Pace: 9:58

I would have liked to go faster, but since I was having trouble breathing through my nose, it just wasn't going to happen.  I'm really want this cold to go away soon, so in hopes of speeding my recovery I registered for another race!   More details to follow!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gimme More!

If all runs felt this good, you'd have to drag me off the road!  I ended up running after work today (in conditions very similar to those I experienced during Green Bay) and it felt good.  Really good.

Distance: 4.01 miles
Time: 38:10
Avg. Pace: 9:31

I was hoping to negative split the run (run the second half faster than the first) and that just wasn't in the cards today and I found that I really didn't care all that much.  I was just happy to be out running something longer than 2 miles!

Tomorrow's forecast looks spectacular!  Gimme more!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rain Delay

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just soft people" -Bill Bowerman

I was a "soft people" this morning.  I had every intention in the world of going out for 4 miles before work this morning, but when I awoke at 5:30am to the sound of rain beating on the roof, I made the executive decision to run later in the day...provided it stopped pouring rain.  I don't mind getting wet on a run if it starts raining after I'm already out, but I really hate getting drenched the minute that I walk out the door. Well...I didn't run after work either.  It was freezing cold, misting with intermittent rain showers and the wind was blowing around 25mph.  It was a "soft people" kind of day. 

I'm hoping that the weather is better tomorrow morning, or I'll be spending the entire long weekend making up for weekday slackage!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2 Miles? I'll Take It!

The heat wave has passed and the temperatures have returned to the high 40's/low 50's.  Everyone I know is complaining that it's too cold for the end of May. Me? I'm thrilled.  This is my favorite kind of weather to run in and run I did.  My recovery training plan dictated that I was only allowed 2 miles today, which kind of bummed me out, but I made the most of them!

Total Distance: 2.30 miles (okay...I went just a touch longer than I was supposed to)
Time: 22:15
Avg. Pace: 9:39

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's run...as long as the predicted torrential downpours don't come and spoil all my fun!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Something Old, Something New

It's officially been a week since the marathon.  The medal is hanging on my bling rack.  My body has (mostly) recovered.  The logical question is: What's next?  Here's my (sort of) answer: A mix of the same old stuff and some new stuff! 

The next race on my calendar is The Warrior Dash in July (although a 5k or two may find their way onto my calendar before that).  This 3 mile mud run/obstacle course looks a little intimidating, but I'm determined to go into it in the best possible condition, so I'll be adding trail running to my repertoire along with some strength training.  To that end, the husband and I visited our favorite running store, acquired trail shoes and hit the trails the next day. 

My new trail shoes!
Adidas Supernova Riot
We ran together for most of the trail, but about a mile from the end, some residual muscle aches reared their head, so I sent his speedy tail on ahead and jogged out the rest.  Fortunately, there's no shame in being a little slower on trails (as opposed to roads).  It was nice being on a mostly soft (rocks and roots not withstanding) dirt trail and I enjoyed being able to watch trees go by instead of cars!

Total Distance: 4.78 miles
Time: 57:48
Avg. Pace: 12:05

So trail running is the something new.  The something old is yoga.  Tonight marked my return to yoga after a 2 week hiatus and it felt amazing.  Up until tonight I had seriously been considering giving up yoga for the summer, but after tonight's class I realized that yoga is probably a big part of why I was able to remain relatively injury-free while training for Green Bay and that it would probably serve me well to continue.  I am, however, planning to move up to a more advanced class in early July.  My current class is beginning to feel a bit repetitive and I think I'm ready for the challenge.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How Could I Forget?

I don't know how I could have forgotten to include this picture in my race recap, but here it is...The BLING!

As you may (or may not) have noticed, my site name has changed to Rabbits and Runs.  I've been contemplating this change for a while and figured that now that I'm done training for Green Bay, it was a good time to move forward.  So stick around!  I've got a bunch of fun races on the horizon this summer and I look forward to sharing them!

Green Bay Marathon Recap

18 weeks.
Hundreds of training miles.
Running through snowstorms, rainstorms and whatever else nature threw at me.

And it all paid off on Sunday, May 15th.  I finished my second marathon and eclipsed my previous time by almost 27 minutes. But, let's rewind for a moment.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Furball and I headed to Green Bay and the Lambeau Field Atrium so I could pick up my bib number and timing chip at the expo as well as browse the various booths at the expo.  When we arrived, it was windy and rainy and all I could think of was how much I really hoped that the rain and wind would let up by morning!  That evening, after we checked into our hotel, we walked over to the local IHOP where I indulged in my favorite pre-race meal of eggs, whole grain pancakes and hash browns - YUM!  I've found that breakfast food provides a nice mix of protein, carbs and fat and, unlike the traditional pasta dinner, doesn't sit like a rock in my stomach.  (I've also been know to consume pizza the night before a race if a suitable breakfast place isn't available.)

After dinner, we retired to our hotel room where I spent the time before bed surfing the internet, checking Twitter and obsessively checking the forecast for the next day.  By about 9pm I knew I was getting 50% of my weather wish from earlier in the day. No rain in the forecast, but they were predicting winds of 25-35mph with gusts up to 40mph!  So much for my shorts and tank top...I was going to be racing in tights and a jacket.  I laid out all my clothes, my hat, my gels (GU TriBerry, in case anyone is interested), my iPod and my Garmin and then did a couple of easy yoga poses to try to loosen up a little before crawling into bed to await my alarm at 4:30am!

I slept surprisingly well.  Usually the night before a race I toss and turn for hours and get maybe 3 hours of sleep in total.  Not this time!  I got a solid 5.5!  When the alarm went off, I stumbled to the shower and then into my race clothes.  Mr. Furball accompanied me back to the Lambeau Field Atrium (all of a half mile from our hotel) and the starting line.  Of course I couldn't resist posing at the base of Vince Lombardi's statue on the way inside!
Once inside, I quickly found some open space, stretched out, and kissed Mr. Furball goodbye before heading outside (and over a railing) to the starting area.  Once in the start corral, I quickly located the 4:45 Pace Leader, introduced myself to a couple of the other runners in the group, and by that time someone was warbling the national anthem over a loudspeaker and the gun went off.  It was time to run a marathon!

Thanks to the pace leader (Tom), I went out at a much slower pace than I normally do.  I have a bad habit of putting the pedal to the metal early and then I end up walking.  Not this time!  Before I knew it, the first 5k was behind me and Mile 4 (and a potential Mr. Furball sighting) was coming into view.  Then the strangest thing happened.  My Garmin showed that I had passed Mile 4 a full quarter of a mile before we reached the mile marker!  I consulted with Tom who was just as confused as I was.  He doesn't run with a GPS device, but according to his pace calculations, we should have been at Mile 4.25, not approaching Mile 4. Oh well, nothing to do but keep running!  Mr. Furball managed to navigate his way to an area just past Mile 4, which gave me an extra little lift (and he snapped this picture).

Miles 5-9 passed without much fanfare, although the wind really started to make things interesting as the pack thinned out a bit. Tom & I were both mystified as my Garmin readings and his pacing still didn't jive with the course markings, I chatted with a few of my fellow runners, and the sun actually started to peek out around the clouds at times, which made the wind feel almost like air conditioning at times.  Somewhere around Mile 5 I ate my first GU of the race.  I like to refuel before I really need it.

Around Mile 10, another runner in the pace group (Jen - who was running her first marathon) and I determined that Tom (who was running his 192nd marathon) was our Wingman and in true Top Gun form, we decided that you "Never, never leave your wing man."  Yeah, I know...kind of lame, but what do you want?  We were 10 miles into this thing and it amused us! Around Mile 10 I also inhaled my second GU of the race. Just past the 10 mile marker I spotted Mr. Furball for what I assumed would be the last time before the finish line (based on how the course was laid out it didn't make sense for him to try to watch from further on).  I was feeling great!

(Me in blue, Jen in the dark green jacket, Tom in the neon green singlet)

At Mile 11 the half marathoners took a left and headed for a lap inside Lambeau Field and the finish line and the marathoners turned right, into the wind  and out onto some country roads.  As we approached the half marathon mark, the wind switched to our backs and propelled us up one of the few big hills on the course.  I hit the half way point in 2:23:53 which is a couple of minutes slower than my half marathon PR, but I was happy with it since I still had half of a race in front of me.

Mile 15 or 16 (can't remember which) was a tough one.  It was a very long, very steep bridge over the Fox River and the wind was roaring right in my face.  I later found out that the wind gusts on that bridge were around 40mph.  I just glued myself to Tom's shoulder, kept hitting repeat on my iPod (He's A Pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean seems to be an epic bridge-climbing song) and just kept telling myself that it wasn't "that bad".  Fortunately when we came off the bridge we turned into a more populous area, so the buildings helped to block some of the wind.

Miles 17-22 were run on a recreational trail next to the river which made for a nice break from the wind as well as some pretty scenery.  At Mile 17, suddenly my Garmin, Tom's pace and the mile marker all matched up again...crazy!  Mile 20 brought the infamous Wall.  Hitting 'The Wall' is a well known phenomenon that usually occurs around Mile 20 of a marathon.  It's the point where your body is pretty much out of fuel and the race becomes as much about mental endurance as it is about physical endurance.  Jen was hurting pretty bad and ended up dropping back a bit. I was sad to see her go, but I still felt pretty good, although my knees and IT bands were starting to ache a little, so I stuck to Tom's side and carried on.

Mile 22 was a beastly one.  One minute you're running on a nice trail, the next minute you're turning into gale force winds!  It literally blew me sideways and I had to fight to stay on my feet.  After that, it was a nice jaunt through a park, up an incline and up over another (much shorter and easier) bridge.

Somewhere just after Mile 23, Tom really started picking up the pace and I hit my personal Wall. The achy knees and IT bands that had been a background presence for the last 3 miles started screaming.  I knew I had to stop and stretch them, which meant I'd have to leave my wingman. Major bummer.  I pulled off to the side, did a couple of downward-facing dogs, stretched my IT's and started running again.  Unfortunately, my legs didn't like that too much.  I kept up a steady run/walk pattern for the next 2 miles, but at least I didn't quit and walk it in.

As I approached Mile 25.2 I was shocked to see Mr. Furball standing there!  I hadn't expected to see him until the finish line! It really helped me to see him.  I felt better, even if just for a moment. I took the opportunity to peel off my jacket and gloves, listen to some last words of encouragement, and headed into the tunnel at Lambeau.

As I was running into the tunnel at Lambeau, Tom was coming out and he yelled that I wasn't far behind and to keep going.  That motivated me through the players tunnel and out onto the legendary Lambeau field.  While I'd love to tell you that running out onto the field gave me an amazing surge of energy, it didn't.  First of all, they were playing Elton John's 'Rocket Man' over the PA (apparently other runners got Ke$ha and Lady Gaga), which didn't really inspire much from me.  Second, I was dog tired.  Third, I was hurting. Fortunately, as I rounded the last corner on the field some awesome spectators were hanging over the railing, screaming like banshees and that did give me a surge of energy.  I high-fived a couple of kids and headed back into the players tunnel.  As I was coming out of Lambeau, I saw Jen (who I hadn't seen in 5 miles) heading into the tunnel, so I shouted the same encouragement that Tom had given me and then I headed toward daylight and the finish line.

As I rounded the final corner, the crowd was loud, raucous and their energy was infectious.  I dug way down and began my closing kick.  I remember seeing some random guy leaning over the barricade and screaming, "Go! Go! Go!" And I did. I closed that race at the highest speed I could manage at that point and as my foot hit the timing mat I realized that my dream had come true.  I had finished my second marathon.

I made my way through the finishers chute, collected my medal and my t-shirt and a bottle of water and ran into Tom, whom I thanked for being such an awesome pacer.  As soon as I got out of the secured area, Mr. Furball was waiting with open arms for my weepy, happy, sweaty self.  My official finish time at that point was 4:49:26.

When I say 'at that point', I mean at that moment.  On Monday afternoon I received an email from the race director that the course had indeed been mismarked somewhere after Mile 3 and that caused the race to actually be 26.35 miles long instead of 26.2 and they would be posting adjusted marathon times on Tuesday afternoon!  What?  You mean I technically (very technically) ran an ultra-marathon instead of a marathon?  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  Cue 24 hours of nail-biting while I waited for my real official finishing time.  Finally, around 3pm on Tuesday my wait was over.  My true marathon time was


I may have been moving around like someone's grandmother on Sunday night.  I may have been achy (and loaded with obscene amounts of ibuprofen) at work on Monday.  On Tuesday, I was back on top of the world! 
I spent the first 3 days after the marathon grousing because I couldn't run (my post-race training plan demands complete rest for 3 days) and had to be talked out of signing up for another marathon this fall (it's Mr. Furball's turn to run one). 

Yesterday, my wait was over.  I was finally cleared to run 2 measly miles and I couldn't have been happier!  Mr. Furball joined me and we covered those two miles in about 20 minutes.  I was overjoyed.  I felt pretty good - some residual soreness, but nothing unmanageable.  Now I'm on my butt again until Sunday, but I already can't wait to run again!

And I can't wait to share my next adventure with you!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Less Than 48 Hours

In less than 48 hours I will be running my second marathon.  GULP!  How did race day get here so fast?  Wasn't it just January a week ago? 

I'm not making any predictions for the day itself, just that I WILL finish.

In the mean time, I'm doing all of my usual pre-race/pre-travel prep.  Cleaning like a maniac (bunny sitter will be here while we're gone), running last minute errands, prepping playlists, and trying to convince myself to drink a ton of water!