Eisenbahn Marathon Recap (I Didn’t Die)

Phew! It happened; I ran a marathon. It was an experience and somewhat different than what I had expected. After a long day, I am home with my husband (well, sort of – he’s playing hockey right now) and the dogs. Let’s start from Saturday night…

Mel, Tim, and I stayed at Mel’s parents’ house in Fredonia. They are both from England and have the most amazing accents; I often found myself saying words with an English accent on accident. A popular drink in England is Pimm’s, so Mel’s mom made us a cocktail of Pimm’s, sparkling water, gin, cut-up fruit, and Stevia.

Mel’s mom made us the perfect pre-race dinner: pasta with meat sauce, garlic bread, and salad. After this, the three of us forced ourselves to stay awake until 8:30pm and then called it an early night. My allergies were acting up, so I laid in bed and read an issue of Runner’s World to psyche me up. After talking to Brody, I fell asleep around 9:00pm.

Because of the expected heat for the marathon, the race officials moved the race’s starting time from 6:30am to 5:30am. I guess this is one of the benefits of running a smaller race. When that option was suggested to the Madison Marathon race officials, they explained the logistics of changing the times of everything were impossible.

Before going to sleep the night before, I had set out everything.

Mel’s mom woke up early to drive us to the start and saved us from needing to arrive at the finish line at 4:15am for the bus (it was a point to point course). Isn’t her mom amazing? We ate our breakfasts in the car and arrived with about fifteen minutes to spare.

I was ready to go. I felt awake, strong, and not very nervous. I had all of my gear: Spibelt with my iPhone, chapstick, five GUs, iPod, knee band, and Garmin.

A runner sang the Star Spangled Banner, and in lieu of a flag, apparently it is appropriate to face the east. The sun, which would later become my arch enemy, peaked over the treetops. Then, the horn blew and we were off.

At some point during the first half of the race, Mel and I chatted about how some bloggers are able to provide mile by mile recaps; I cannot do that, but I can provide a review of chunks of time and miles.

Mile 1 – 3: Mel and I felt good. There were only 116 people running the marathon, and the path is relatively narrow. For the first mile, it was kind of crowded, but then people started to spread out. I had one headphone in for music, but we mainly chatted.

Mile 4 – 5: We ended up running alongside a woman for a while, and she finally broke the ice. This was Cindy’s second attempt at a marathon; she was one of the many who ran a portion of the Green Bay Cellcom Marathon (which was called off after three hours). At one point, I asked her what she did for a living. When she said she worked for Pierce, I almost couldn’t believe it. My dad, who passed away almost nine years ago from cancer, worked for Pierce for twenty-some years. When I told her my dad’s name, she said, “I knew your dad! He was such an awesome guy! We even have the Al Wenzel award.” How insane? I had already decided to think about my dad when I was struggling, but to have this happen just blew my mind. As Mel said, it was meant to be.

Mile 6 – 8: We said goodbye to Cindy, and the course took us off the path and onto county roads. There were two killer hills in this section, but Mel and I both dug deep and ran both of them. Around mile six I saw a deer in the field that ended up crossing the road behind us only one hundred feet away. I attempted to get my phone out in time to take a photo but wasn’t fast enough.

Mile 9 – 11: Getting back on the trail felt great, as the trail was packed gravel and much nicer on the joints. We took a quick bathroom break, said hi to Mel’s mom and dog Louie, and continued on. Around this point, I took a picture of us running. We were feeling great, chatting about lots of random stuff, and maintaining a ten minute mile pace.

Mile 12 – 14: The course again took us off the trail and onto pavement. There weren’t any big hills in this section but lots of open road. A tractor pulling a trailer of manure passed us, and poor Mel was gagging on the side of the road. Around 7:45am, we passed the half marathon mark with a time of 2:15ish. Towards the end of this jaunt, we ran through a subdivision that had absolutely no cover. We fueled again (as we had at mile 4.5 and 9) right before getting back to the trail because we knew there’d be a water station there. We stayed cool during these miles by holding ice cubes in our palms and putting them down our backs.

Mile 15 – 19: This chunk of miles was difficult for me. I became very crabby and had to keep talking myself in to running. Because of my earlier encounter with my dad’s former coworker, he was definitely on my mind. I kept telling myself, “Your dad battled cancer, had surgery, radiation, and chemo; you can keep running.” This kept me going for a while, and I tried to keep most of my negative feelings inside. I thought that expressing them out loud would make them real. When I did share little bits of my negativity, Mel would offer some encouraging words to keep me going.

Mile 19.5: I told Mel to leave me. I needed to walk. I had hit the wall, mentally and physically. I was sad.

Mile 20 – 21: I walked an entire mile and a half at an eighteen mile and hour pace, sipping water and Powerade. There was no one around me. Thankfully I had my iPod, so I tried to keep my mood upbeat by listening to good music and sometimes singing along.

Mile 22 – 24: These four miles were pretty evenly split between running and walking. I’d run a half to three-fourths of a mile and then walk for another half a mile. I walked through all the water stations, taking Powerade, water, and ice. The trees offered very little shade now, and it was getting hot. Many times I cursed the sun aloud. With the water stations about two miles apart, I was always ready for more fluid by the time I arrived. I knew at this point that I would likely not come in under five hours, and I remember not caring.

Mile 25 – 26.2: Another runner and I played a little cat and mouse game for a bit until 25.5 miles when I asked her if she wanted to run the rest of the way together. Chatting with this fellow runner kept my mind off of the heat, my swollen feet, and my salt-crusted body. We crossed the finish line around 5:05.

I saw Brody first and then heard everyone else. They cheered for me loudly as I crossed the finish line. Brody came to me, gave me a big hug, and told me how proud of me he was. I got a little misty-eyed because he was sweet, because I did it, and because it was over.

It was over. I loved training. The short weekday runs, the long Saturday runs with Mel and Tim. It was so much fun! I didn’t finish with a time I had wanted, but I am proud of myself for finishing. Steven Tyler says, “Life’s a journey, not a destination,” and he is a smart man.

Now the pros and cons of the race (from a first-time marathoner, who in the grand scheme of things, knows very little about running):

PROS:

  • Fantastic volunteers: Because there were so few people running, when you went through the stations, you had personal attention. They cheered for you and were very good about handing you fluid. Police officers were standing at all intersections of the trail and roads and also offered encouraging words.
  • Lots of water stations: I think there were sixteen throughout the course. They always had lots of cups filled by the time you came through. I believe they had GUs at three different spots, but I never took any.
  • Early start time: This was KEY in the race going as well (at least for the first half) as it did for me. The temps and the sun were still low.
  • Porta-potties: I had read reviews from years past that said bathrooms were an issue. There were enough at the start and a handful positioned throughout the course.
  • Cost: The three of us signed up June 3 and paid only $75.

CONS:

  • Signage: There were no signs in Eden of where the start line was. The maps were not very clear, and it was thanks to Mel for suggesting we go towards the Eden Community Center that we found the start. Brody also said he had a difficult time finding the finish line by the West Bend YMCA.
  • Little shade: This isn’t something the race organizers can really control, but it was a factor in my performance. In particular, the section that went through the subdivision was so exposed.

The big question: Are more marathons in my future?

Answer: Probably not any time soon.

Maybe in years I would do another (but DEFINITELY in the fall, like the Haunted Hustle or Tyranena), but for the next few years I’ll probably stick with half marathons and anything under.

This was an amazing experience, though, and I am very proud of myself, of Mel, and of Tim. I could not have done it without them, and I am so thankful to have gotten to know them better over the last four months. As Mel put on my Facebook wall, “I’m going to have Angie withdrawl,” and I feel the same way about her. So Mel, if you’re going to run the Haunted Hustle marathon this fall, expect a training buddy for some of those miles.

So with that ridiculously long post, I’m calling it a night. Brody will be home any minute with Salvatore’s pizza and this computer chair is a little hard on my sore butt. Until next time…

Peace out, friends.

Summer Break, Marathon Anxiety, and One Lovely Blog Award

Happy Friday, friends!

This girl, as in me, is done with school for the year.

This was actually taken on Thursday which was the last day with students for the year. I am not driving, so don’t worry.

While this has NEVER happened, I went in to school today done with all of my grading.  All I needed to do was be there, clean up, and wait until a certain time to leave.

Students needed to have their lockers cleared out yesterday, and the custodians were going around opened all the lockers to be checked and fully cleaned out.  Being the garage sale loving person I am, scrounged the lockers for worthwhile items; I came “home” with brand new notebooks, a pair of scissors, copies of books (including two that I teach), and a pretty photograph from an art class.

My colleague became the winner when he found a plaid suit.

I have two pictures of him in this suit, and he is striking this pose in both. Who knew this is how you needed to stand when wearing a hideous, fabric plaid suit?

On the running front, I’ve been trying to avoid freaking out about the weather.  Mel, Tim, and I will be dealing with similarly hot conditions this Sunday for the Eisenbahn Marathon in West Bend.  I complained about it on DailyMile and Bridget said something I’m going to adopt as my mantra: Embrace the heat.  I do hot yoga and used to do Bikram yoga six times a week – I like the heat.  Now I have to like the heat while running 26.2 miles.

Also, my anxiety has been heightened due to a very sore, scratchy throat.  It started Tuesday night and has continued through today.  Besides gargling warm salt water and sucking on cough drops, I’m at a loss.  However, I did just wake up from an hour and a half nap, and it is feeling better.  Per Mel’s suggestions, I am downing four Emergen-C packets today and will use the neti pot after I type this post.

Months ago, I clicked on a link to another blog in the comment section of Hungry Runner Girl.  It was Southern Fit Foodie, and early on, we recognized some of the similarities between us.  She was sweet enough to nominate me for the One Lovely Blog Award.  This is my first blog award ever, and I am honored.  Thanks Natalie!

Here are the guidelines for the award:

  • Link back to the blogger who nominated you
  • Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere
  • Share seven facts about yourself
  • Nominate some other blogs you like for this award
  • Post a comment on each of your nominees’ blogs telling them about the nomination

Seven Facts About Angie

1. I used to record what I wore to school every day on a calendar in my bedroom.  I also wrote down what I did, if I had practice, or had to work.  Below you can see a calendar from what I think was my freshmen year of high school; we toilet papered Mariah’s house two nights in a row apparently.  

2. Last Friday, Brody and I went to the Verizon store for my anniversary gift: an iPhone!  It is fantastic and so great for taking pictures.  I love not having to carry a camera around, which I was never good at doing anyways.

3. My gift for Brody finally came yesterday.  I went out on a limb and bought him a watch.  He used to wear a Swiss Army one every day, but it broke down and he never got it fixed.  Plus, he thinks it was a knock-off.  He really likes the one I picked out for him, which is a real Swiss Army watch.

4. We leave for Switzerland and Croatia in less than a month.  I am very excited about the trip but nervous about the long plane rides.  However, my friend Jena just took a trip to Italy and popped a Zanax (sp?) at the beginning of the flight.  She slept for eight hours!  Hmmm…

5. My feet are shot from training for five months.  They are callused beyond belief and nasty to look at.  I will for sure be getting a pedicure next week.  Let’s hope I don’t lose a toenail on Sunday.

6. I made pancakes with Kodiak Cakes for breakfast this morning and then had half a donut at school.  I’m an expert at carbo-loading.

7. For dinner tonight, we are having pulled pork.  A pork shoulder is currently cooking in my slow cooker, on high, in root beer.  It will be shredded and mixed with chopped banana peppers, jalepeno peppers, and pickles, and of course, barbeque sauce.  This makes the best sandwich, especially with a little melted cheddar cheese on top.

I would like to pass this blog award to a few friends I know personally:

Bridget @ Type A-Frame Personality

Mel @ Life, Scraps, and Ink

Claire @ Design Chalk

I probably won’t be checking in again until Sunday afternoon, so wish me luck!

Weekend Recap

Is it really Sunday night already? I tend to scramble a little every Sunday night: laundry, dishes, baking, grading…all things I could’ve done in the last forty-eight hours but didn’t. My excuses, though, are credible. Want to hear them?

Thursday was Brody and my fourth wedding anniversary, and to celebrate in style, we went out to dinner at Ruth’s Chris. If we want a good steak, we normally go to Delmonico’s or The Tornado Room, but we had a gift card for Ruth’s Chris.

It was delicious! We both started with a salad; the Ruth’s chopped salad for me and a special salad with arugula, bacon dressing, prosciutto, and orange wedges for Brody. For the main course, I had the petit filet and Brody had the ribeye. They offer family-style sides, so we shared the potatoes at gratin and sautéed broccolini. We were planning on sharing the cheesecake when our waiter informed us a dessert would be on the house in honor of our anniversary – score! Brody and I had a great time enjoying wine, dinner and each other’s company.

Saturday morning I had my last long run before the marathon on Sunday. Yes, I was “here” two weeks ago getting ready for the Madison Marathon, but because of the cancelation, my sights are now set on completing the Eisenbahn Marathon.

My confidence took a major hit after the half marathon, so I needed a good long run…and I got it. This run felt amazing: strong legs, easy breathing, and beautiful scenery. I ran down State Street, along Lakeshore Path, through campus, and around Monona Bay. Here are a few pictures I took (with my new iPhone!!!).

20120603-215055.jpg
I made a pit stop at the Union for water and got to see the blue chairs for the first time.

20120603-214353.jpg
I love running by water.

20120603-214446.jpg
Last time I ran on John Nolan, I was not doing so hot. I made peace with John on this run and forgave him for being such a jerk last weekend.

The rest of the day included Chipotle, the dog park, an hour and a half nap, and some reading on the back patio. We had a charity event to attend in the evening, so it was a late night.

Bridget suggested I take a yoga class to help get me out of my head – she is a genius. My last class from the Groupon I bought for The Studio was used up today unfortunately. Luckily, it was a great class and I sweat out the toxins, both physical (wine) and psychological (doubt).

Sunday afternoon included grocery shopping, the dog park, and grading. The baking I mentioned in the beginning will be explained tomorrow with a link to the recipe.

So you see why I was a little frantic Frannie tonight?

Now I am off to bed where I will likely be asleep a minute after I close my eyes. Goodnight!

I Don’t Trust The Taper

For months, I built up my endurance, watching the miles accumulate on DailyMile. At the beginning, I could not fathom the idea of running twenty miles, and then something crazy happened: I did it. Not only did I do it, but I liked it! There is proof of my happiness – a photo of Mel and I crossing the finish line of the Monona 20K (we ran 7.5 miles before it) with goofy grins on our faces and arms raised in triumph.

After the longest run of training, one prepares for the big day by tapering. I ran nine miles the following Saturday and eight the next Sunday. The next long run should’ve been the full marathon, but that didn’t happen.

I was then faced with what to do for the next two weeks before the Eisenbahn Marathon. Many people recommended just repeating the last two weeks of training, and this is what I’ve been doing. I ran three miles to shake out my legs on Tuesday (I was quite sore from the half on Sunday) and five miles this morning. On Saturday I plan on running anywhere between eight and ten miles.

Here’s the problem: I don’t trust The Taper (capitalization of The was purposeful). If the marathon had been the weekend after the twenty mile run, I feel like I would’ve rocked it. What if I peaked already? How can I trust The Taper when I haven’t run more than 13.1 miles (which I walked more of than I would’ve liked) in almost a month?

All marathon training plans include two to three weeks of taper, so I hate to doubt the running gurus like Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway…but I do. I recall a healthy living blogger with a shirt that read “I’m tapering. Don’t talk to me.” Is what I’m feeling about The Taper what this shirt references?

If I were to guess, The Taper allows your body time to recover and recharge before the big day. This is all fine and dandy for my body, but what about my head? As I learned on Sunday, I can turn into a basketcase during a bad run and psych myself out. I do not want a repeat of the Madison Half at the Eisenbahn.

I am in a better place than I was on Sunday when I wrote about the self-doubt I was experiencing. This post might not demonstrate that, but I am. There are stirrings of butterflies in my stomach when I think about crossing the finish line after four and a half (or more) hours of running. But I still don’t fully trust The Taper.

Question:
Any runners out there – did you feel like this when training?