No, I don’t actually have those but I sure would like them. Can you imagine? That 8-chambered heart pumping oxygen through the bloodstream while 2 livers full of glycogen power big strong muscles attached to cybernetic legs that never tire. I’d have speed, endurance and never another case of tendonitis! But alas, a mere mortal human am I, and thus plagued by fatigue, overuse injuries and believe it or not unexpectedly broken teeth that throw a wrench in the works of your marathon training. Just temporarily though. There’s no way I’m letting anything short of my own death stop me this time. Like I said before, I’m tired of striving. It’s time to accomplish and get it behind me.
August started out fairly well. I’d been having some Achilles trouble so I amped up the stretching/yoga sessions and made sure not to do intervals or other intense cardio two days in a row. For example, I ran a 5 mile tempo run on Monday, August 1; did weight training the next day; yoga the following day; 40:00 of long intervals followed by abs and stretching Thursday, then more weight training Friday and finally a slow 14 miler on Saturday to finish the week before resting with a yoga day on Sunday. Pretty balanced, right? It was going great, and I had planned on passing the next 10 weeks in similar fashion. Then I broke a molar. It cracked off below the gum line and since it had already been capped and root-canal’d, it had to go. So I spent an afternoon in the oral surgeon’s chair on August 10 and was directed to immediately cease all forms of strenuous exercise for the next 7 days in order to prevent excess bleeding, dry socket, and other nightmarish consequences equally abhorrent to a dental phobic fraidy cat like me.
After my unintended week off, I returned to training mid-month and entered the Madison Mini-Marathon, a 13.1 miler, as my “16 mile long run” effort on August 20. Parking 1.5 miles away from the start/finish line tacked an extra 3 miles on to the total and, considering those as warm up and cool down miles, the outing worked just fine as a long run. It was a bit of a crazy day though. I got to the race just as it was starting but, having drunk a lot of coffee that morning, suddenly had this urgent need to poop. So I headed to the nearest porta-potty as the gun went off and got down to business. I took my time because I thought with a lot of people in the race and a wave start, I could fall in at the back of the pack as usual and not miss a timely start. Oh golly was I wrong! By the time I reached the corrals, they were empty. Everyone was off and running and race officials were frantically waiving me along as they closed the start line. For the first time ever I was the absolute last runner to officially cross, some 9 minutes after the gun had fired. Holy cow, was that a shock! I’ve started close to last. I’ve even finished dead last. But I have never had to run to catch up to the pack at the freakin’ start line before!
A nice paramedic on a bicycle followed along with me, amiably chatting me up for almost the first 5 miles, while I ran faster that I ever have before in a half marathon. There was no way I intended to be the last runner for an entire 13.1 miles. I managed to catch up with the pack around Mile 5 and then surpass them as the race went on. Now I generally start out slow and pick up my pace at the end so I am used to passing people in the later miles, but on this day I was so frazzled and desperate that I just ran like hell until I was at least halfway through and secure in the fact that I would be once again ONE OF the last ones but not the ABSOLUTE last runner to finish.
Overall it was a nice race, albeit pretty darn hilly, that featured plenty of amenities and wound through the beautiful college town of Madison, WI on an overcast afternoon. Once again I tried out my PBJ breakfast before, followed by Accel gel packets and sport beans during the race and was able to feel relatively energized throughout. I carry my own water bottle in one of those hand held hydration thingies and refill it at water stops, so I have water whenever I need it. Until I found Accel, I experimented with all kinds of stuff — cut up Clif bars, mini Tootsie rolls, Planters Nut-rition packets— and none worked as well. I’ve also tried Gu gel before but it’s way too thick and sweet for me. I still end every race hungry as a bear but at least I don’t have major energy dips during the 3-some-odd hours it takes for me to do a half marathon.
A couple of highlights I will always remember are (1) the Bacon Girl at Mile 10 that I swore was an angel because I had surely died and gone to heaven, and
(2) my final stats because I’d almost PR’d without even realizing it! My finish time was a mere 30 seconds slower than my very first (and fastest) half-marathon! I don’t really count as a PR the sub-3:00 I scored in Salt Lake City earlier this summer because that course was entirely downhill. This would have been an honest new record. Seriously if I’d known, I would have tried harder. Oh well, maybe next time.
So that’s it for August. I finished the month still following the cyclic pattern of yoga – run – lift as I continued to juggle good days/ bad days with the Achilles tendon, never giving up even as it slowed me down some. And the beat goes on…
September and The Fox Valley Fall Final 20 Miler