Tuesday, April 10, 2012

days leading up to Boston

scared or excited to be on this ride?
I am scared.. and why I am scared? Because I am usually excited to "run" Boston Marathon, and this year I don't have that feeling of excitement, so its been replaced with a bit of fear. I lost that loving feeling... because that love of being able to run for hours and miles has slowly diminished throughout my training. Unlike the past 2 years, I ran the LA marathon in preparation for Boston, this year I barely could finish my 20 mile run that weekend. I was lucky if I could run 3 days a week for this training. Life is always busy, but it wasn't life as it was my body not allowing me to train for beantown (diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue). I was barely able to get 2- 19 mile runs in this training period (past training included 1- 22mile and 1- 26.5mile run prior to Boston).  About 2 hrs into the run, my whole body, especially my joints ache from head to ankles (including shoulders & wrists). No speed training this year either.. the faster I went, the more it hurt... so it's been all about keeping a slow and steady pace. I used to run with my running group, and there were a couple of times, I couldn't keep up and would lose sight of them. Physically & mentally it was painful. I used to keep up with them no problem, and hold a conversation the whole time. For their sake and mine, I decided to do my own training, on my own time, on my own routes. The routes I chose are easier than what our group does each weekend, but a bit more scenic so it helped boost my spirit of running.

run along the Hudson in NYC, not the Bryn Mawr hills.
I am very excited for the Boston Marathon. After running it for a couple of years, it becomes sort of a homecoming. I get excited to see all the friends and family in beantown! We'll bring up Philly cheesesteaks, hoagies, and pretzels for our Boston peeps! I get excited thinking about the route.. the start line (hill) at Hopinkton, then through the family town of Nattick, onto Wellesley screams, onto Newton, cheers up heartbreak hill, Boston College for a couple of miles, and then those last couple of miles... when I ask myself  "how many times have I ran 4 miles before" (5.5x's the very same day). I am really excited as this year my sister and my nephews are coming along for the ride and my support team! This is their first time ever in Boston, and first time mom & brothers of baby Gianna will be seeing the special Gianna shoes in motion! Road trip to Boston!!!
Road trip: Boston! First time??? Really? Yay!

Friday, October 28, 2011

2011 XTERRA World Championships... 5 years later

It was 2006,  I was at the top of my age group. It was my first World Championship, my first time in Maui, and I was hooked for life.
Its 5 years later & my 4th time racing Worlds. I wanted to do well, really well. But much like the lululemon bag manifesto "Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined on how you handle setbacks." My Success: make the trip to Maui after work, race Worlds, and return home safely. Setback: I am injured.. I sit here and my back hurts. Unexpectedly, the week of the race my lower back (sacroiliac joint) pulled on nerves and muscles to the point it hurt so much I would see stars and feel nausea. Tears in my eyes because of the pain. If I hadn't had so much money invested in this race (already paid for the airfare, race fee, & condo) I would not have made the trip. I made the trip, and glad I made it out there. Luckily my roomie & friend is a PT and she helped me loosen up a bit, but I honestly can say, I could not race the course. It felt more like a preview of the course. My back is ok when I am active, up and going. It hurts when I sit for a long time & when I am at race pace. When I race, I like to push hard, and every climb I would have to dismount to save my back, but unfortunately it was harder for my run. It was the hardest for my ego.
Its time to heal, re- evaluate 2011 and rejuvenate for 2012.
Recapping the past year, I ran Boston, LA, & NYC marathons & 6 triathlons: ITU Cross World Championships; XTERRA Richmond, DC Tri, USAT Nationals in VT, and 5150 Champs in Iowa, and XTERRA Worlds. It was an eventful year for sure! I was tired, very tired this year.
My Sports Medicine physician helped me finally figure out my lethargy. My ferritin levels were low. So I started to take liquid iron, and immediately saw the difference in a few days. It may have been a bit late on this diagnosis, as I pushed my body thru the lethargy too many times, where I locked up my muscles right before my main race. Or maybe I am just getting old and need to face the reality of racing, training, and balancing life. I am "signed up" for Boston Marathon & Ironman Lake Placid for 2012.
Don't worry, I won't abandon off-road racing ... I love it too much.. almost too much I want to do all the races on the global tour! The road stuff is good for base training.
Can one be addicted to XTERRA? Yes, I think so. (At least I am not in denial)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

My fair-weather blog

Last post was in April and I'm just going to blame the weather for the lack of blog updates because It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a TV comedy show and when the weather is nice and warm you can find me (or can't find me) off training or racing somewhere... Amongst many other fun adventures.
So let's recap since beantown:
April 30 ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships in Spain: placed 3rd/ bronze medal in my AG. Raced on stir fried legs but so worth the trip to Spain with friends!
June: XTERRA east champs: 1st in AG and qualified for World Champs in Maui!
5150 DC Tri: 1st in AG and qualified for 5150 champs in IOWA

In the meantime, I'm deciding on many things like new bikes, new race wheels, and figuring out my chronic fatigue. The bikes and wheels can wait. The fatigue takes priority and may actually take me out of the game on some races this month?? Each day is different and each day I ask myself another question on what is going on. But as I read Inside Triathlon's article on blaming my doc on exhaustion (Augello p. 14) I may have to go to work and ask my docs how to liaison for Athletes because "we are not the normal range". I know some of the docs I work
with will take this as good material for the next joke. We love to laugh!
Everything seems to take more energy at a slower speed. But the left foot keeps following the right foot and I'm grateful for that and soon again I am hoping to return to my normal range as a Fastinista!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

2011 Boston Marathon

Too much of a gu thing is bad.

All went well til mile 16 when I took my 4th Gu (Roctane with 2x caffeine)... I completely lost power as soon as that Gu hit my stomach and my pace to 3:20- 3:23 ran ahead of me. There it went-  I saw 3:20 go down the road from me..and then I saw 3:23 really pull away from on those 3 big hills toward Boston College. I just took too many Gu's with too much caffeine with really flipped my stomach and took most of the blood from my legs to my stomach.
Should've, Would've, Could've:
I invested $50 in a full box of Roctane Gu's. I have been taking these Gu's since they arrived on the market in 07. I like them and find they work for me better than any other forced nutrition in a easy-ready packet. I don't think I realized they had twice the amount of caffeine of a regular Gu.
My plan was to take a Gu every 4 miles. I figured I probably burn 500-600 calories each 4 miles- and to replenish 100 calories every 4mi, because I was going to push my body on this day and I want the tank never to be under half full.
I should've skipped the Gu at 16 - drank water & gatorade -and waited til 20 for the next Gu.
I would've added variety to my Gu collection (ones without caffeine).
I could've kept a 3:20 pace if the blood stayed in my legs and not my stomach.

Lots of room for error over 26.2 miles...

So in the end, I finished 3:27, a personal record for marathon in Gi Wings! It was a beautiful day!
I finally made it into the 3:20's for marathon... do I hear the teens calling me now??
I age up next year with The big F word- eek! So I made the cut to be one of the early ones to register for the 2012 Boston Marathon. Thats pretty cool. Just not sure if I am going to register. Paris is calling.

Recovery the days after:
day 1: swim 45mins
day 2: swim 40 mins
day 3: a very light spin (I felt like laying on the couch after work.. but thanks to my friend and uber athlete Branden who got me on the bike to flush out the legs- while I waited for my pizza to be delivered)
day 4: 2hrs mountain bike ride (it was awesome- and the quads burned every hill, but well worth it)
day 5: swim & yogapuncture
day 6: 3 mile run, light spin on the single speed
day 7: swim & pack my bike
day 8: light spin & travel to Spain for ITU Cross World Triathlon Championships

Big Kudos to my BFF Brenda. She made the trip very fun for me.. videos to come! Our friends who we stayed with in Boston couldn't believe we're friends because we are so opposite in many ways... but we are very similiar in 2 ways... we love an adventure and love to have fun!! When we get together we act like we're 15 again- total goofy we were then and we still continue our tradition of goofiness!

post marathon celebration at "Pairings" in Boston

Friday, April 15, 2011

Who do you run for???

Gi Wings- Gianna's hairbows & signed and decorated by nieces & nephews.
This morning I ran my last 5k trail run before Boston Marathon. Mentally preparing on the race, and visually seeing myself through the race. This is the last race where I will be wearing my Gi Wings. After this race they are retired, and will be beside Gianna's crib at my sister's house. Below is a brief of the race report of the NYC marathon I recently ran in November, how the sneakers came to be.
Looking to make Gi Love made proud with a PR this weekend.

Race Report: 2010 NYC Marathon: Plaid shorts & Polka dot bows.

I’m inside a porta potta on Staten Island with over 50,000 people outside in the “start village” and on the back of the door; I see a big pink heart with a John Lennon quote across it reading:
 “Love is a promise. Love is a souvenir. once given never forgotten. never let it disappear.”
I read it once, felt a flitter in my heart, and knew its Gianna. “Gi Love, you’re here”. Then I read and repeated it out loud to memorize the words, noticing that the letter “L” in love were the only letters capped in this phrase.  I knew that was a moment, I had to remember. Reporting back to Team Plaid: Meredith, Michael, and Brian, I quickly told my team about the pink heart, heart-felt words… and told them it’s “Gianna”. Meredith and I had a laugh about how she reached out to me “in the lieu”. A bit embarrassed sharing the moment with the boys afraid they thought I was bit coo coo for cocoa puffs; my team was so supportive and listened attentively as I told them about the moment.  Each one of us was sporting tiny hair bows that Gianna once wore, on our sneakers for the marathon.  A little while later, Brian & Michael went to use the portas and came back to tell Meredith “there wasn’t any poetry in their portas. It was a sign from Gianna”. I lost my 2 (and a half) yrs old niece, Gianna, to the angels in heaven on November 1, 2010 and had attended her funeral the day prior to the NYC marathon. She was “our girl” and nicknamed her “Gi Love” because she communicated threw her love and affection. She talked to us with her eyes.
Team Plaid came together over plaid lululemon shorts, men’s wool scotch plaid pants, and shared memories of our dads. Our dads were well- known to “rock the plaid”. Although they did not know each other while living, we are sure they bonded in heaven as did all Team Plaid members did in NYC! 
I started in wave 1, and the rest of the team started an hour later in wave 2.   I am standing at the beginning of the Verrazano bridge with about 20,000 runners around me, and I am thinking of how many times I drove over this bridge in the past 10 yrs, and now I am finally trekking it on foot. I hear a man next to me compliment me on the bows on my shoes; he called himself “Red Dawg”. I told Red Dawg they are my niece’s hair bows, and then he asked me “which mile will she be cheering for you?”  I told him “every mile”, then turned my head away from him and looked in the air trying to hide the tears that built when I realized what I said, and the reality of it. He didn’t press me for further information, and the gentleman next to Red Dawg took out his camera and took a picture of my shoes.   I told the photographer, Josh, about the girl behind the bows, and how all my nieces and nephews signed the shoes and helped decorate them to support me on the run. There was never a discussion on whether or not I was going to run the NYC after the funeral with my sister (Gianna’s mom), it was more on what time will I be able to pull off.  My sister and I would’ve liked to see a 3:20something… but knew it’s a toss up- and let’s just see if I finish it.

Miles 23-26 Central Park. During the entire run, I felt like I was running into the wind. As we headed toward Central Park, I thought of my dad, and how sometimes looked like a 6ft tall Irish leprechaun in his plaid pants. He had a pair of plaid for every season, every color.  I thought of the Irish saying “May the wind be at your back and may the road rise up to meet you”.  We turned into Central Park, and so did the wind. This time, it was at our back, and the man next to me asked me, “Do you feel that wind pushing us?” I looked at the clock at 40k and it read 3:33. (My Dad’s birthday is 3/3/33)
Mile 26-26.2 Finish.  “Lets get this done” and then a man ran out and grabbed me by the arm, pulling me off the course. I was in disbelief and asking him what the bleep he was doing! He told me I need to exit the course. I pulled him along side of me (I am not about to stop) and told him to let go- He said I didn’t have a proper number. I told him I did (there were TP stickers on it) and to look at the chip on my shoe, to let him know I was a legit runner.  ..there was no crying as I crossed the finish line, just the question of “did that really just happen?” and well… you can take the full week prior to this point, and to this very day and that is the question I keep asking myself “did that really just happen?” And when the reality does set in about it, I go thru every emotion as I did in the marathon. Marathons are not about speed, but how to efficiently move through the pain of pushing my limits. “Just keep moving forward – you will do this!” is what the lady in the Bronx should shout to the runners! 

I ran 3:36 in NYC, I ran 3:36 in LA with the Gi Wings' - I never planned or tried to time it.. I just ran (forrest gump style)... but I have a goal this Boston Marathon: to run my fastest marathon time wearing Gi Wings.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Dog Days are over....

One week til Boston..place your bets!

Excited that the Boston Marathon is in one week! Now all I need to do is hydrate, check the weather, swim, foam roll, repeat. I will do a few light trail runs this week and hit the track on Tuesday for some 800s.
I am really excited for this race, as my bff Brenda, will be joining me for the journey! We will be staying with family friends in the Boston area.

Last year I ran the Boston marathon in 3:31. I was a few pounds lighter than I am now... (I was sick a month prior). I ran 2010 NYC marathon in 3:36, as it was the day after Gianna's funeral & I ran 2011 LA marathon in 3:36, about a month ago (in a monsoon- under push- pace). I have a goal for this year's marathon, but what finish time would you place your money on???

This past weekend was a mile marker for the Wayne lululemon run club- they did 10 miles- and for most of them, it was their first time!!! I am so proud of them.. mostly for staying on track of the training plan! I knew they would achieve this goal, as long as they stuck to the plan. And everyone did! They made the sacrifices, baby-sitting arrangements, and "weekly runs".. one of the runners told me that she remembers signing onto the plan she had never ran 4 miles and today she ran 10! She also told me that she looked forward to these runs each week- this just made my day.
Sadly, I won't be there when they run their race on May 1st- but maybe I will be the voice in their heads ("eat, drink, run- celebrate").
10 mile training run - Rocky Style finish!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Keys to my Karma

Thank you lululemon athletica for including me to be part of your blog featuring the lululemon ambassadors from all over "on the road to Boston Marathon".  I love being an ambassador for lululemon athletica in Wayne, PA it has been such a positive experience! And the lemons asked me to be an Ambassador again for this year! It was in my fortune.... fortune cookie that is.

the lululemon 8 mile smile!
Our run club at the Wayne store is training for the Broad Street Run- 10 miles. This is a sold- out and a very popular race in Philadelphia. Its a great group of people! Stoked for their finish line experience. I enjoy sharing tips on the "run". I love working with people who want to achieve a goal. Its all in the training.. its ALL in the training. I remember the phrase, "practice makes perfect" when growing up. Practice, timing, and experience makes for Phenomenal! - is what I refer to now. (Have you read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers - I highly recommend it if you are looking to be successful at anything)

Ok.. so let me share some of my "out of the norm" training tips from my Marathon Training (can be applied to Broad Street or Half Marathon). This is not take away from the greats of trainers out there.. just dare to be a different, add balance to your training, and do whats works BEST for you!

The Run portion:
I am a believer of 3 days during the week, and one long run on the weekend (if you work on the weekends.. your long run can be switched) The mid-week runs are just as important as the long run. One of those mid-week runs should be a speed workout or hill repeat workout.
The other days should include cross training... swim, bike, yoga, weights, or what ever you love to do in addition to running. Be flexible & don't throw the towel in if you miss one or 2 runs.. pick it back up where you left off in your last run- same if you become ill)
Typical week: Tues: speed/track workout =30-45 mins; Wed or Thurs: 60-90min run; Friday: 30 min tempo run; Sunday: 10 miles (depending on where you are during your training) For your long run - I am believer of throw your watch away, and just complete the mileage on the schedule & its very important to make sure your run route has food, water, and bathrooms.
Me? I would eat a non-fatty meal the night before. Get up, drink green tea, glass of water with electrolyte tablet & eat a banana. About halfway thru my 16 mile run (mile 8), I make a quick stop at a gas station and get an apple juice - 240 calories- contains potassium, some sodium, & Vitamin C- it quenches my thirst & tastes better than gatorade or a 100 cal gel packet-I always have at least one gel on me during my runs.
The long training run- some people never peak over 20 miles during marathon training. My longest run will be at least 24 miles (with the gradual training program leading up to 24 miles that includes a couple of 20 and 22 mile runs). I personally think 6.2 miles is a long distance to introduce to your body on marathon day!

Post Long Run
Cool down walk with my dog, Recovery shake, Shower, Foam Roller & Hot Tea. In that order (sometimes the recovery shake is in my hand as I am walking Vinny)
Cool down Walk- or Jog is important after long. Its very bad for your heart & legs to just "stop", and then sit for a while. Vinny, my dog, gets super excited to see me after my run because he knows "its a walk in the park" time.
Recovery Shake: Whey Protein (20g of protein), 1 banana, handful of frozen berries, 1 cup of coconut water or rice milk.
Shower: I have been training in the winter.. this helps normalize my temperature and feels good on the muscles. No ice baths for me. I prefer the pool or just a salt bath if I am that sore.
Do I wear compression socks? no, I wear skinny jeans. Seriously.
I feel that a pool or doing a handstand would make for a better recovery on my legs. This is my gut feeling. I am sure there are many studies to tell me otherwise. But I worked in healthcare for 20 years now (listening to doctors' teach about their specialties is my job) and compression leggings are used after cardiac caths & compression sleeves are for cancer heroes with lymphadema. Athletes are healthy individuals.. and there is a reason that our own bodies need to recover naturally & on our own time. My 2 cents worth there.
Foam Roller: Every runner must have one of these! My friend Sharon gave me one about 3 years ago. She said to me: Wake up, Foam roller, brush teeth- everyday. She has personally saved my ITB & upper back.
Hot Tea: I prefer tea over coffee, and I prefer non-glued green tea bags. (tea will have its own seperate blog).
Pedicure- O.P.I's color "keys to my karma" & Vinny- my cool down dog!
Phenomenal Effects- the keys to Karma - Self Love portion of training:
Ok lets face it.. some people think running 10, 16, 20, 26.2 miles is crazy and sooo hard on one's body.
It is, especially if its on concrete, paved roads, and extreme temperatures.
So every good runner (athlete), needs to truly learn "self love". Your body is the most valuable piece of real estate on earth. Take good care of your body, and it will take good care of you.
Please don't let anyone tell you that you are being selfish or "pampering" yourself when you are running, working out, training, or any of the following things I am about to list because this is about your wellness, preventitive medicine, maintenance for life, and taking care of yourself... because only you hold the key to your karma- no one else.
Take it to the trails & enjoy the scenery.
Go off-road-  run on a trail- gravel, mulch, or dirt path- take a path that is not paved. This will work your muscles more than your joints when you run. Your joints will learn how to "spring" rather than pound on the run. You will have fresh air (no cars)  that will enhance your breathing and a scenic route to mentally let go. Always go with a partner or a few people when you run on the trails.
Pedicures- will help you keep your toe nails & feet pretty. Ask for an extra 10 mins for $10 on the massage portion. The tendons around your feet need this attention as it will help keep them flexible. Flexible ankles make for faster times, and better strides. Go for the mani too... especially if there is a special! ( I often skip the mani and get the extra 10 for budget sakes). When to get one? After a run is often best- but not if you have any open blisters on your feet- wait til it heals. To keep your toe nails. Cut your toe nails yourself before the pedi, and keep them short (no white length).
Massage- find yourself a "sports massage therapist". Ask your local running store or lululemon for names. During marathon training, you should have one at least every 2 weeks as you get into your 20 mile runs. This helps keep the ITB loose, less pain on the knees, better recovery, and helps you relax.
Swim- don't know how to swim? learn. Just another reason you should get into the pool. Being submerged in a pool elevates your muscles, helps reduce any inflammation by cooling your entire body, easier on the joints, and is a life-saving sport. Swimming and yoga are runners' saviors.
pigeon posing
Yoga- will strengthen and lengthen your muscles- ALL areas. And there are so many poses that help runners stretch out their legs for a better run stride, and better run posture. Besides everyone needs to go into savasana!

Naps- Sleep is the bodies' natural way of recovering. Siestas should be mandatory or I need to move Spain. America frowns on naps or resting.. and we work hard. we are very active and so much stimuli in our environment. Our bodies need to stop, re-charge and the nap is a natural drug prescription for healing (w/out the cost of a pharma ad) But no one will tell you this.. as it may conflict "Tired?- here take a pill, or drink this...", no one will say "take a nap"- unless you're an athlete. Most professional athletes will schedule naps into their training as "business meetings". Ryan Hall is one of these athletes. 8 hours of sleep is recommended.
Something to Look Forward to at the Finish Line: This is entirely up to you... but some of my favorite things that help me get to the finish line is that thought of a cold drink, brunch w/ mimosas, ben & jerry's, or a kiss and a hug from my man. Whatever you desire- make sure you get it when you finish! You derserve a nice treat for achieving your goal!

Marathons need a Veuve Cliquot bar at the finish line (Paris 2012?). Sushi is my pre-race meal for marathons & triathlons.

Are you asking "when am I going to find the time do these things or take a nap or run 20 miles?" 
Well, same as you find the time to grocery shop, pump gas in your car, take a bath, and put money into (or withdraw from) the bank. Starts with a want to do something for your self, self love. Create the time. Practice what you want, timing is everything, and you have the experience to pull it all together... Just Go For It! Its your Karma.