10 Weeks! Proud, Cute, and Not-So-Proud Running Moments

Wells is 10 weeks old today!

Hello Mr. Personality! Ok, so he’s not a “little speedster” yet, but I have a feeling I’m going to have my hands full with Currie and this little guy. :)

Since my Turkey Trot, I’ve been a little exhausted. I recovered well from the racing, and even the long run (11.6 miles) with my brothers and husband 2 days later.

Husband Jeff, “little bro” Jason, me, big bro Josh.

But I am really far behind on sleep from all the family time and travel to see family. So my muscles are feeling good but my body is feeling pretty exhausted. My goal this week is get good sleep (and a nap!) at least 4 of the 7 days!

My proudest running moments of the week were:

  • Reaching 40 miles in one week. I’ve been increasing 5 miles per week and adding 1-1.5 miles to the long run distance each week and it has been a great gradual transition so far. I am thinking I’ll hold at 50mpw for awhile when I get there in 2 weeks. I’ve been having the desire to run doubles again which I’m not doing but I’m happy to be craving extra running.
  • Realizing my mental strength is still alive and well. I’ve had a few instances in the past 2 weeks where it would have been easy to throw in the towel mentally which would lead to physical decline. (Easiest one to explain is the pain train during my Turkey Trot, although my positive splitting was nothing to brag about, it could have been much more of a train wreck, but I held it together mentally even when my body was failing and finished strong.) I’m right where I want to be in the mental realm of my running.
  • Flexing my abs in the mirror and seeing the slightest hint of muscle! You know when you occasionally (or frequently) step out of the shower and flex your muscles in the bathroom mirror? Well, I discovered that if I flex ‘em really hard, I can see my abs again! They are there! Gonna be awhile till they look like this:

Karknocker 5k, Rochester NY

but I’ll get there!

  • Getting my sprint on! I’ve been doing strides at the track for the past 2 weeks and today, I felt totally normal and fast again. Sure, the strides are the WHOLE WORKOUT right now so it’s nothing to “write home about”. Yes, I’d usually be doing strides as a normal part of my warmup to an entire speed session. But, sprinting hasn’t felt totally normal until today. I was a little concerned on the few snowy days of running to see that my usual toe-running style was replaced by trudging along making almost flat footed prints. Today, I was up high on the balls of my feet with my stride extended so much I literally kicked my butt on a few of the turnovers. I felt like my normal self and that was something to smile about!

My “cutest sighting on a run” this week was:

  • Old lady out for a brisk walk using an old school walkman! You go granny!

My not-so-proud running moments of the week were:

  • Lack of sleep leading to another cold! Must change that this week!
  • Falling off the bandwagon with my strength exercises. While traveling for Thanksgiving, I missed a few days of my “at least one strength exercise per day” routine.

All in all though, I’m chugging right along!

Here are the 10 week postpartum pics!

10 Week photos taken by a hyper 3-year-old again.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend! Especially Heather and Laura as they run one of my favorite races, California International Marathon!

Questions for you:

Do you flex in the mirror daily, weekly, monthly, yearly?

What’s your cutest sighting on a run this week? Ever?


9 Weeks, First Postpartum Race

It’s been an exciting few days! On Wednesday, Wells turned 2 months old!

My little 2 month old

Kissing his sister for making him a 2 month sign after I forgot to pack his official 2 month sticker for Ohio!

On Thursday, we celebrated Thanksgiving with a Turkey Trot, my first race after having Wells. I ran 31:12 and beat my goal time of 33:00. More to come on this race later.

Jeff and me before the race

And today, Wells is 9 weeks old!

I’m going to sleep right through this 9 week birthday.

I only did 2 “workouts” this week, both were strides on the track. So, they weren’t exactly taxing workouts, more just getting my legs going fast again. Maybe that contributed to my 5:37 first mile in the Turkey Trot. Oops! And maybe THAT ridiculous first mile is why every mile got progressively slower, and I was getting passed like crazy during the race (last year no one passed me, this year, I passed no one!) More details of race in another post!

With no real workouts on the schedule last week, I just ran whatever I wanted every day and ended up hitting 35 miles for the week. This week I plan on hitting 40. I had my first easy run (4 miles) where the overall pace was sub 8 minute miles so that was exciting! Progress!

The mental side of my running was pretty good this week, even with the daily freak out session “I’m racing for the first time in 11 months this week! How will it feel? What kind of shape am I in?” On a few occasions, I had sudden feelings of all the blood draining from my arms and legs because I was so nervous (and excited!) to race again! Even for a low profile race, I get myself pretty worked up in the days prior and I like it because it helps me reach the perfect of amount relaxation by race day. It might seem a little crazy to someone who isn’t a runner, but I look forward to these crazy nervous feelings and love the nervousness/anticipation of race day. It was good to have a goal to look towards again! Race morning was everything I wanted it to be, and like I said before I’ll do a recap soon!

Here are the 9 weeks postpartum pics and no, I didn’t race in buns. Too cold!

9 weeks!

Questions for you!

Did you Turkey Trot? How did it go?

Do you get worked up over races days (or weeks!) in advance or do you save your nerves for race morning? 


8 Weeks! Hills!

Wells is 8 weeks old today!

Love that little smirk!

We are headed back to Rochester for the weekend and I’m excited to do a few runs on flat paths and trails! I’m also looking forward to a long run with Laura and spectating Jeff’s cross country race with Victoria. The rest of my time will be spent hanging out with non-running friends. :)

I did my longest postpartum run, 9 miles, last Sunday. I did the whole run on hilly trails and I was pretty sore the next day. I also did a mini-workout of 6 x strides (working up to 95% effort) on Tuesday. The strides didn’t feel bad at all during the workout or later that night, but my hamstrings were crazy sore the next day. I think it’s because I did all the strides on hilly streets, going both uphill and downhill. My body is still adjusting to this hilly neighborhood! (I realize I overuse the word hill, but I grew up in pancake flat land, and have almost always trained in flat places so this is really new and difficult for me!)

The final item to note about my comeback is that I’m starting more strength exercises. I’m doing something strength related every day. This may be as simple as a set of planks. Or a few sets of pushups. Or it might include 6 different hip/butt/leg exercises. (Not up to the Dirty Dozen yet!) All of my strength work so far is either body weight or baby weight (holding Wells who is somewhere around 13lbs).

I have to be honest, I’m VERY weak right now. I’m usually a pushup queen and I had to start with 2 sets of 10. (Ok, I actually started with 20 wall pushups, then the next time moved on to the regular kind.) When I asked Currie how many pushups she thought I could do, she said “3!” Glad I beat her estimate! My balance and stabilizing muscles are really off as well. I tried standing on one foot and reaching for an object on the ground and I was wobbling all over the place. Also, I could only hold side plank (lifted, not on elbows) for 5 seconds per side without toppling over the first time. As I said in my last post, it will all come back, step by step.

So with that, here are the 8 week postpartum pics!

8 weeks!

Questions for you:

Do you run more on hills or flat? Do you prefer one over the other?

Are you racing this weekend? Spectating? Relaxing?

A Race Planned!

I’ve made a list of races I want to run in 2014. I’m so pumped to start racing again! Right now, there are far too many on the list and I’m going to have to make some cuts – lots of cuts! For now, I can tell you I decided on my first race post-Wells: Columbus Turkey Trot (a 5-Mile race)!

Columbus Turkey Trot

Pic from last year at the Columbus Turkey Trot. I was first female, 20th overall in 28:19 (5:40 pace). Construction background! I’m not the best at setting the scene for my pictures.

I’m terrified to run it – which is exactly why I’m doing it. It’s going to be 5 miles of STRUGGLE BUS. I will probably get at least four different 5+ mile training runs done before the big day, and will probably have a few 25-35 mile weeks under my belt by then. Wells will be 2 months+1 day old on the day of the race. I probably won’t be racing in buns. Or maybe I will… details, details…

I decided to race because:

  • I miss racing
  • It will be a good starting point and introduction into racing again
  • I’m looking for a good burn and that will definitely happen
  • I’m scared to death to race already (having no idea what kind of shape I’m in, knowing the pain of first race in awhile, knowing I’ll be a lot slower than last time I raced, this list could go on and on…)
  • I should run into a lot of people I know – motivation!
  • I took a twitter poll and every single person said some variation of “YES DO THE TROT!”
That’s the plan for now! I’m going to be starting up mini-workouts and am excited and a little nervous about it. :) Here we go!
Questions for you:
-Are you running a Turkey Trot?
-How do you know when you are ready to race?
-After a period of rest do you prefer to throw yourself back into racing or do you like to wait until you are in better shape?


Thoughts During Pregnancy – Fear

I’ll start with a few belly shots from this morning. Jeff took the first one, Currie took the second. I think Currie’s pic is more flattering, actually!

23 weeks pregnant

23 weeks, ready for a run! Photo by Jeff.

23 weeks pregnant

23 weeks, ready for a run! Photo by Currie, 3 years old.

Let’s get down to business. I can easily say the feeling I have most when pregnant is fear. Things that never bother me usually can really get me panicked during these 9 months.

I worry about running on my everyday routes:

  • “Is someone hiding in the bushes on the trails, ready to snatch me up?”
  • “Will a car come around the curve on a country road and hit me?”
  • “Am I going to find a place to pee where no one will see me?”

I worry about my daily choices:

  • “Did I get enough sleep last night to provide for my little guy?”
  • “Is that cup of coffee a day going to hurt him, give me a horrible sleeper, etc?”
  • “If I let Currie have the iPad for 45 minutes while I nap, am I ruining her?”

I worry about the baby’s development:

  • “Is he growing the right amount?”
  • “Is he healthy?”
  • “Will he make it full-term?”
  • “Is my diet providing enough nutrients for him?”

I worry about petty things:

  • “Can I escape stretch marks, varicose veins, and other pregnancy woes?”
  • “Will I have a quick labor?”
  • “Will I be able to deliver without drugs?” (I don’t care either way. Had an epidural with Currie and would gladly do that again, but would like to try without too.)

And of course, I worry about future running. I worry about my life after having the baby. With Jeff starting a new job, I wonder if I will have time to do all the training I want to do. Will I have the energy with a toddler and a newborn? Will I have the motivation? Will I have the speed?

Most of the time, I think I will come back faster and stronger than ever. But some of the time, I let doubt enter my mind. I just read a Runner’s World interview with Desi Davila and they asked if she ever lost faith about coming back while she was healing from her stress fracture. Her response was basically that yes, she lost a little faith when there was so much uncertainty. Now she’s getting ready to toe the line for her first race since the Olympic Marathon and she’s super excited. Pregnancy is definitely a blessing and not an injury, but my running life changes a lot, just like during a long, painful injury. Speed is a thing of the past, aches and pains are a daily occurrence, center of gravity is off and I just feel really clumsy. It’s easy to feel really far removed from my former running self.

I think it’s good and healthy to have doubts, have the tools to squash those doubts and put them in their place. I CAN say that my first real speed session after having Currie was the best run of my life. I still remember, 3 years later, so many details about the run. I felt so free, so fast, like I was truly flying. The pain of the run felt so real and so right. And I knew I was going to do something special with it. Every time I wonder if I can do it, I think of how far I’ve come, all I still want to do and all the improvements I know I can make.

How do you handle fear?

Do you experience fear during down time from running: injury, pregnancy, forced time off?


Running with a Cold, Running Dreams, Running Errands

Whew! It’s been a long time since I posted! Currie had her third birthday:

Rochester Museum and Science Center Birthday Party

Happy 3rd Birthday Currie!

Rochester museum and science center birthday party

And then she held a snake.

I had a big work project (I woke from home), then I got a killer cold. The cold started in my sinuses and was so bad in the beginning I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. Everything hurt! It’s the kind of cold that will slightly affect my breathing (think phlegm in throat while racing) during hard efforts for another month or so. The kind of colds runners dread. I’m not one to take days off unless I really need it, and let me tell you – I took a day off, another day of 1 mile, another day of 2 miles… and so on. I’m still only up to 4.3 miles as it’s hard to breathe with all the “drainage”. Eww. It came at a bad time because:

  • My mother-in-law is in town and I like to get quality running and home projects done when I have help in town. That isn’t happening. I feel lucky that she’s been here to help with Currie though!
  • It’s time to get ramping up for 2013 races. The local races are piling up, starting with Syracuse Half on 3/24/13 which I planned on running but won’t be because we have an out of town wedding that weekend. Next up is the Flower City Half Marathon at the end of April. It is the USATF Niagara Half Marathon Championships this year and has a potential $1,000 on the line for the winner who also hits time bonuses. Oh, and another $150 for an additional time bonus for USATF Niagara members.  Pretty big payday potential! And this is just the beginning. More big races, more big money coming up as the weather gets warmer.

And right now I’m running 4 miles a day. But, I know it’s better to run short and easy until I’m 100% then to prolong the sickness and more training. Taking it in stride by…

oiselle run tee

wearing shirts that say “run” a million times.

oiselle lux layer

spending money on more running apparel. Hello Oiselle Lux Layer.

So, what else do I do when I’m not running much? DREAM about running! Or running friends. Anything running related will do. If you follow me on twitter (@jenbigham) you know I had a dream a few days ago where Oiselle‘s Marketing Director + Model, Sarah, was in a music video being shot here in a Rochester thrift store. It was produced by none other than Lauren Fleshman. I was in charge of wardrobe. Hey, it could happen.

Then last night, I had a dream that my younger brother and I were flying to a highly competitive race where there was big money on the line. The race director said they would pay his flight, lodging and food. Then they told me all they could offer me was a little kale at meals. What?! I don’t know where that dream came from and I woke up before I actually got to eat. Womp Womp… Looks like I need to work on confidence?

Today, for my longest run in over a week, I ran to the library. The library is just over 2 miles away, but the route there is along busy roads, especially during rush hour. I had a DVD (that I didn’t even watch!) that was due yesterday and I needed to get it back before the library opened to avoid a 25 cent late fine. I know, 25 CENTS! Must get that DVD back immediately!

I’m no stranger to literally running my errands, but I was hesitant because the route isn’t exactly safe to run during rush hour thanks to crazy traffic. I couldn’t drive it because I only had time for a run OR a trip to the library before my Currie’s gymnastics class and you know the running was going to win. I didn’t want a fine mostly because I feel like with anything in life, once you start giving up/letting things slip/not caring in general, it just makes it easier to do in the future. Kind of like dropping out of a race. Do it once, more likely to do it again. (On a side note, I have dropped out of a race and run many successful races after that. I’ve also finished dead last in a large race where I should have been a top finisher because I just gave up. You can overcome these things, but in general I’d rather not give in, no matter how silly the task.)

So, I ran to the library. I got the DVD in without a fine. I feel better than I’ve felt all week. And I made it 4.3 miles! Things are looking up!

Do you RUN your errands? Shop when you’re stressed/sad? Do you have crazy dreams every night like me? My dreams aren’t always about running, but have been running intense this week!

Surviving + My Spectacular Water Bottle

I’ve been on the treadmill the last 3 days. Not because of the cold – Jeff is out of town and that’s my only option. I know I could hire a babysitter, but I haven’t hit that level of parenting maturity. I’m proud of myself for hiring a babysitter so Jeff and I could both race at the end of 2012. That was a big step for me. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m ok to do it for a training run. The time will come, just hasn’t happened yet. So, I’ve been surviving on the ‘mill. Here’s how it went.

  • Day 1: PBS kids on TV. Craft table set up. Sketchpads and markers on the floor. Currie happily played for just over 30 minutes. I got in 4.1 miles easy. Currie could’ve survived with her activities longer, but I was looking for a way out on my first treadmill day. 4.1 was enough.
paint project for toddler

Thank you Michaels for cheap little ceramic items that can keep Currie occupied for 30 minutes, sometimes longer. Also, thanks to my in-laws for lots of washable paint!

  • Day 2: PBS kids on TV. I made a Twitter vow (@jenbigham) to run at least 5 miles. I set up one notebook and Currie sketched for awhile, then decided to play with her Wheelies Rampway and Garage which I thought she totally lost interest in until recently. Whatever works! I made it 6.27 miles, starting at 7mph and ended at 9mph. I counted it as a speed day.

treadmill workout

toddler draws people

Currie drew a picture of “a family” while I ran.

  • Day 3: PBS Kids on tv. And… when I was done running on Day 2, Salty tweeted me to listen to music. Well, there’s an obvious answer I didn’t think about!
So I added some music today and the run was more enjoyable. I kept a steady pace the whole time and made it 10k, pretty easy breezy. I was fueled by my “Boom Boom Pow” Pandora mix. Got some motivation from:



I made it through 3 days on the treadmill! Yes! Jeff gets home tonight (hopefully) and tomorrow should be back to outside running.

In Spectacular Water Bottle News check out my newest prized possession!

aquavation water bottle

Yes, that’s a 22oz. water bottle adorned with a picture of Currie! It’s made by a local company called Aquavation. I love the high quality picture (better than it looks in this iPhone photo!), slim bottle that’s easy to grip, and the leak-proof lid (since my water bottles always end up sideways at some point during the day). Some more cool features of the bottle:

  • 20% of the purchase price goes to a charity you choose during the creation process. (very cool)
  • Creating the bottle is quick and very easy – just 3 steps.
  • BPA free. Dye free.
  • Detachable wrist strap.
  • Can customize picture and add text
  • Production and shipping were incredibly fast. Not sure if this is always the case, or maybe since I’m a local customer, but I made this on a Tuesday around 10pm and it came in the mail on Thursday morning. Thumbs up!
aquavation bottle

The text on my bottle includes cues from my Believe I Am Journal

My only gripe with the bottle is it’s hand-wash only. I’m lazy and don’t like hand washing dishes or laundry! Other than that, I love this bottle and have been using it daily. I heard of these bottles through a friend who is doing PR for the company. I received a complimentary bottle, and will be purchasing a few more. The bottles are $20 plus $3 shipping. I just saw on their Facebook page that you can get FREE SHIPPING using the code WinHearts now through Valentine’s day! You can buy a spectacular Aquavation bottle here.

How has your running been going this week? What’s the most boring treadmill entertainment you’ve ever used? Tell me about your favorite water bottle! I don’t run with a water bottle in my hand but I carry one around all day!


Some Snowy Runs

I only had 30 minutes to run (outside) today. 30 minutes exactly. I was in a little bit of a grumpy mood about it, as it was the first day where the snow was decently melted in my neighborhood, the sun was shining, the wind was minimal and everything was pointing towards a nice outdoor run.

Of course, within minutes of being outside, the grumpiness was gone. Sunshine (even if it’s 27 degrees) plus outside running will do that to me. I decided I might as well get in as many miles as I could in 30 minutes. So after the first 1.5 miles at 8 min pace, I did pickups for the rest of my run. I got over 4 miles in, which was great considering the slow beginning and few icy patches where I had to go slow. So, grumpy Jen crisis averted.

rochester snow

Going to retrieve my daughter after a snowy run a few days ago.

Speaking of crisis averted… I’ve been running on snow and ice every day since December 27th and I haven’t had a fall yet! This says nothing for the future, as I know I could slip the second I walk out my door, but this is very impressive. Especially considering I’ve been running on sheets of ice in my neighborhood the past 6 days. What’s my secret? Lots of REALLY SLOW RUNNING! I’m ok with that. Because honestly, I love winter running and enjoy running in snow. I don’t exactly love running on ice, but I get through it. I think I like running in snow because:

  • I go slow. Snowy running forces a change of pace. There’s no “fast running” in the snow so it’s one time of year I’m on a guaranteed break. I think my body needs the break each year. It’s just a time to build miles and enjoy the beauty around me. If I had a big race coming in February or March, things might be different, but I usually don’t race any goal races until May.
  • Spring racing is even more fun. I know eventually all the snow/ice will melt, and we will be blessed with warmer weather and near-perfect racing conditions. It feels even sweeter after running in the elements.
  • I feel tough. Every time I run in crazy winds, snow, ice, etc, I tell myself how tough I am. The more times I tell myself how amazingly tough I am, the more I believe it and it translates to my racing.
  • I’m used to it. I’ve been running in snow for 18 years.
  • I have some good shoes for it. I’m currently running in the Saucony Peregrine on the worst snowy days and I love them. They really grip the snow/ice better than any other shoe I’ve tried. Thanks little bro for getting these for me! (I also have Yaktrax but rarely use them because if I hit a patch of paved road they bother my feet.)
saucony peregrine
  • It’s gorgeous. Snow is just plain beautiful. Snowy runs makes me appreciate nature and the world we live in.
  • Warm body, frozen cheeks. Snow can’t come without freezing temperatures. I LOVE bundling up for winter runs and feeling super toasty everywhere except my cheeks. Maybe no one else can relate to this feeling, but it’s my favorite. I adore the feeling of frosty cheeks coupled with a warm body. That feeling is followed by stepping inside my warm house as my cheeks melt. ahhh…

Snowy running isn’t for everyone. But I sure do enjoy it! I’ve realized a few things on my snowy runs lately.

  • We make a lot of snowmen, but mine are highly inferior to the ones around town. Seriously, there are some elaborate snow creations around here. We keep it pretty basic.

Our first 2 snowmen of the year, with apple eyes and clementine mouths.

snowman with leaves for eyes

Another snowman with leafy branch eyes, nose and mouth

  • Most people think I’m crazy for being out in this weather so it doesn’t matter how ridiculous I look. Why not add a face mask?


  • When I run outside, even in the bad weather, I’m running for the love of running. I’m enjoying myself. I’m happy that I’m outside. Every single time I’ve debated treadmill vs. outside, I’m so thankful I chose outside within minutes of starting the outside run. When I’m on the treadmill, I’m running just to get the run done. Almost no joy. I have a little joy because getting some running in makes me happier than none, but treadmill runs are my least enjoyable ones.
  • And finally, Nuun bottles are very helpful when trying to write words in the snow. Just fill one up with water, add maybe 10 drops of food coloring, and you are golden.
food coloring in snow spelling 2013
I’ve heard a lot of chatter about runners hating the snow. Anyone welcome it like me? How many times have you slipped on ice so far this winter? Do you make the best snowmen in town or just the average kind like me?


Reindeer Run 5k 2012 – Race Recap

Jeff, Currie and I all took part in the 1st ever Reindeer Run 5k in Rochester, NY. I have a feeling this race is going to stick around as there were 1278 finishers today. What a great turnout for a new race! Jeff was 4th overall, I was first female, and Currie ran her little heart out. We had a great morning!

Currie and Jen Reindeer Run 5k

It was chilly, around 30 degrees, but no snow so no complaints from me! It was really good racing conditions for December in Upstate NY! We arrived at the race with about 40 minutes until race time. We got Currie and ourselves bundled up then went to find our friends who were going to watch her. We found them 15 minutes before the race started, dropped Currie off, and started our warmup. We only did about a half mile warmup before stripping down to our racing gear and heading to the start line. I didn’t want to run more than 5 miles today so this was fine by me!

I’ve never done a Christmas-y run, so I’ve never attempted running in antlers. I got the only antlers I could find at the store yesterday and they were quite bulky as you can see in the pics. I thought it was going to be really fun and not bothersome at all. Turns out, I ran almost the whole race arms above head, holding them on. (On that note, I think only my arms will be sore tomorrow!) I would have taken them off within the first quarter mile, but the first male and female to cross the finish line wearing antlers won a pair of Saucony Kinvaras so I was going to keep those darn things on the whole time, even if I had to hold them there the whole race. Afterall, winning shoes (or money for shoes) is my “thing”. I always say my race winnings support my running shoe purchases and they really do. I NEEDED those shoes.

The gun went off and I took off into the first female position. Sprinting felt strange, but good. The mile marker came quickly and I hit that about 5:40. My spot didn’t change much the whole race. I passed a guy, he passed me back, I passed him back. Besides that, I was always in the same spot. The second mile seemed to take awhile, but at the same time, I was shocked to see the 2 mile marker so quickly. I think I was just getting annoyed with the antlers at that point. The last mile went by quickly and before I knew it I was heading into the finish line. I ended in 17:55, 9th overall, first female. I got my gift certificate for my free shoes and my “toy trophy”.

awards at reindeer run

Blurry iPhone pic of me accepting awards.

reindeer run 5k awards

My trophy with a transformer (I think?) on top

reindeer run awards

I told Currie she could have my trophy. She was excited!

After our 5k, it was 2 year old Currie’s turn. She begged to sign up for the half mile race yesterday, and of course I said yes! She did great! She ran, hopped, pranced the whole way and came in towards the back of the pack. I have to say, I was proud that she passed at least 5 kids in the last 1/4 mile! :) Way to finish strong little lady! Jeff and I took turns running beside her and taking videos/pics. Here’s a little snippet of her finish:

Right when she was done, she said “Is there another kids race? I want to run again!” Do we have a distance runner on our hands?

Currie at the museum of play

Posing with the reindeer after the Reindeer Run!

fleet feet mascot

Posing with the Fleet Feet Mascot!

Just under 2 weeks past California International Marathon and I’m feeling good. Now the races are slowing down for the winter and so am I. Back to easy running, 4-5 miles a day, continuing the marathon recovery.

I’m definitely glad I raced today and the whole family could join in the fun! Great day for all!

CIM Recap, The Real Deal

Let’s get right down to it. It’s gonna be a long one. For lessons learned, etc, scroll to the bottom:

I woke up at 3:45am on race morning before my alarm went off with this cheesy message: “Let’s DO this!” Despite the forecast for the worst, I knew it was going to be a great day. I braved the wind and rain to get my coffee at the Starbucks on the corner of our hotel. The Starbucks was set to open earlier than usual for the marathoners, 4am, and when the employees saw the long line of people waiting in the rain for their cup of joe, they opened 10 minutes earlier. THANK YOU STARBUCKS EMPLOYEES!

Back in the room with my Tall Blonde, I ate a plain bagel with almond butter and drank a bunch of water. When I got dressed, I noticed the Oiselle tattoos I applied the night before were destroyed. That’s what I get for applying tattoos on lotion-y legs. Darn!

Jason and I left the room just before 5am so we could head over to the Sheraton, just a few blocks away, to catch the busses to the start. The marathon starts in Folsom and ends in Sacramento. It’s about a 45 minute bus ride to the start.

On the way out, we took another elevator mirror pic.

We got on the 4th bus in the big row of busses. They were playing Christmas music. Jason and I started singing along, then went to cracking jokes and laughing hysterically. We talked the whole way and kept the tone light. I had maybe 2% excited nervousness, 98% happy-go-lucky.

bus to start of CIM

The busses were really hot and I was layered up in Oiselle outerwear so I had to slide my arms out of my funnel neck top and pull my pant legs up to my knees. Ahhh, much better. Time for another sibling pic! Jason seriously looks how he did in middle school in this photo!

After the blinding camera flash in the dark bus, I decided to check the weather at the start line. I took a screen shot. I don’t think I need to explain anything. You know we were going to be running into the wind and the race started at 7am…

california international marathon weather 2012

When we arrived, we walk/jogged through the rain looking for the elite tents. We found them after 4 failed attempts. They had a lot of tents around, it was dark, and in the rain and wind, it was much harder to find than it would be on a clear morning. We went straight into the porta potties where the toilet paper was so moist it was swollen. Made for a soft, slightly damp wiping experience though, so that was cool…

When I got into the elite tent, and boy was I happy there was an elite tent, I noticed my Raynaud’s problem was starting.

I had cotton throwaway gloves but knew they would be soaked before the gun went off. Thankfully, I saw a box of latex gloves sitting on the table. I put them on over my “throwaway” gloves and ended up wearing them the whole race. It was the best my hands have ever felt during a race! Perfect temp! (Though I did rub my under-eyes raw during the race without knowing it. With the rain I was constantly wiping my eyes and I guess latex and sensitive eye skin don’t work well together.)

Ok, onto the real deal. Time to race!

I planned to run as much of the marathon as I could with my friend Mason. Mason was in incredible shape, but I figured I could stay with him for 16 miles and after that he would probably cruise along to a great finish as I survived the final 10 miles. That was the plan in my head anyway. When I went to the starting line, we immediately spotted each other, gave some “let’s get pumped up!” hugs, hand squeezes, etc, and got our game faces on. I also saw my Oiselle teammates Allison, Stacy, and Marci on the starting line. We all looked cold, wet, and focused.

The race was off and the first mile went by with no problems. (Other than the rain, which felt like sharp pellets in my eyes even though it wasn’t sleet or hail. It was knocking my contacts down each time it landed on them and I would blink to push the contact back in place. This continued the whole race.) I wore my Garmin so I could have splits post-race, but decided I wouldn’t look at it. With my training and the weather, I was just going to run by feel. The miles clicked by, Mason a step ahead of me most of the time. Sometimes we would run side by side, and maybe there was a mile or two where he ran behind me, but for the first half, we just ran, exchanged words, shared Nuun bottles, and enjoyed each other’s company.

I couldn’t help but feel so thankful for all the volunteers out on the course. What we were doing was EASY compared to their day of standing in the wind and rain, helping us achieve our goals. THANK YOU CIM VOLUNTEERS AND SPECTATORS! I also couldn’t help but feel thankful for Mason. His presence made me feel relaxed and comfortable, exactly what I needed the first 13.1.

At the half point, I looked at my Garmin for the first time. I saw we were right around 1:25:40, EXACTLY where we wanted to be. My calves started cramping, tightening, showing the first signs of failure at mile 11, but other than that I felt good. I was optimistic. Then I had a problem grabbing my “special needs bottle” at mile 13.3 followed by a problem picking up a GU from a volunteer and lost a good 10 seconds (I actually stopped trying to get both items and in the end, the GU flew off the course into the grass and I didn’t get it anyway.) I had a quick thought of pity for myself. I knew I would need that GU soon and I wasn’t sure when the next one would be available.

I snapped myself out of my pity party and continued on. Alone. In fact, other than passing a few people and a few passing me, I was alone the rest of the race. I usually had no one 20 meters on either side of me. I was alone with my thoughts.

On the flight to Sacramento, I had read Duel in the Sun and remembered reading about Alberto Salazar’s faith. He mentioned praying on flights, in the car, on his daily runs. Though I don’t remember ever praying on a run in my life, I spent many of my marathon miles talking to God. The prayers gave me strength, passed the time, kept me hopeful. I also thought about where my little brother was on the course. I imagined him running strong through the same elements I was facing. It filled me with joy. I had a feeling he was feeling as good as me. (Turns out, he was doing great!)

I don’t remember when I found the next GUs after missing the one at 13, but I think it might have been around mile 17. It was vanilla flavored and I had to stop at the table, ask a volunteer if they had any, and wait for her to get one and give it to me. A few seconds spared there were more important than minutes spent after a bonk. She gave me a vanilla flavored GU, and just like the one I took around mile 9, I took it without fluids. I just put a little squirt in my mouth, opened my mouth to the rain until it formed more of a liquid and swallowed it.

At mile 20, they had a brick wall poster on both sides of the street, like we were running right through the wall instead of hitting it. I was ecstatic to not have any feelings of hitting the wall. Around mile 21, volunteers were handing out GU again. I took 2 by accident. One was Espresso Love, the other was Strawberry Banana. I went with the caffeine and put the other in my back pocket. At this point, I knew I was going to make it. I knew I was going to be sub-3 (my goal) and I was feeling better than I have ever felt at that point in a marathon! The pain in my calves was getting more intense, but I knew it wasn’t enough to stop me from finishing happily.

The last few miles were just maintaining, trying to keep myself under 7:30 mile pace. Usually, by the end of a marathon, my pace slows drastically (hello 8:30 pace) and I just wanted to keep my miles as steady as possible, no slower than 7:30. I checked my watch on a few of the miles and saw I was just over 7 min pace and I told myself to just keep pushing.

With 2 miles to go, I knew I was going to be way under my goal of sub 3. I got excited. I joyfully ran the last few miles and couldn’t wait to see how Jason and Mason finished. Right when I crossed the finish line, Mason was waiting and we hugged! It was such a good feeling to know he had a PR (2:51!) and I ran my 3rd fastest of my 8 marathons (2:54!).

I was given a medal, offered chocolate milk (which I declined-lactose) and given the finishers blanket. Some people started asking Mason and me about the course. He, in a better state-of-mind having finished a few minutes earlier, knew we were being interviewed for TV. I had no idea until about a minute in when I saw the microphone. I assumed we were talking to race volunteers. I blame the marathon haze effects on the brain.

I found my brother in the Sutter House where they had the elites and found he placed 4th and got $1000! Woohoo! He took a picture of Mason and me.

Jason forced me to eat from the breakfast buffet they had for us and I’m glad he did. Though I wasn’t hungry, I think it helped me recover quickly. After I changed out of my wet clothes and had breakfast, we got sibling massages. PAINFUL sibling massages. Nothing was fun about this, but we figured our muscles would thank us later.

After the massages, we went to our room to shower and hang a bit, then went to the elite room for some more food and drinks. An hour later we attended the awards ceremony where Jason was awarded with his check. He is pictured below with 5th place finisher, Nick Arciniaga.

A few points of interest, things I learned…

You know, I never wanted to run a marathon. The only reason I ran my first in 2004 is because I wanted to impress my new boyfriend who is now my husband. We both ran Seattle as our first marathon. I was more into heavy weight lifting at the time, was running 3 days a week, and said I’d never run another. Well, I did run a few more, as this was my 8th marathon and it was my favorite because I felt good the whole time. I’ve always felt like a mid-distance girl who is forcing marathons. Now I truly feel like I have a future in the marathon.

At first, I was shocked to run so fast given my short buildup and my half-hearted training, but thinking about it, I’ve been running all year so I was only lacking in workouts and long runs, but I had a great base. And I was in awesome shape last year which I know means something.

This marathon gave me the opportunity to do new things like fuel the way I have always wanted to – the way that always scared me with my sensitive stomach. I ended up taking a GU with caffeine 15 minutes pre-race, another GU with caffeine around mile 9, a GU without caffeine around maybe mile 17, and a GU with caffeine around mile 21. I drank a few sips of Nuun at 4 locations, took powerade and/or water at every station except the last one (so 16 stations) and my stomach felt great.

My mile splits were the most consistent they’ve ever been. Yes, they consistently got slower, but I never completely fell apart as shown below:

  • 1:   6:09
  • 2:   6:15
  • 3:   6:10
  • 4:   6:15
  • 5:   6:20
  • 6:   6:22
  • 7:   6:29
  • 8:   6:35
  • 9:   6:42
  • 10: 6:34
  • 11: 6:34
  • 12: 6:29
  • 13: 6:31
  • 14: 6:37
  • 15: 6:34
  • 16: 6:25
  • 17: 6:30
  • 18: 6:45
  • 19: 6:49
  • 20: 6:55
  • 21: 7:03
  • 22: 7:17
  • 23: 7:08
  • 24: 7:10
  • 25: 7:00
  • 26: 7:07
  • 1:49

People always say don’t do anything new before the marathon. Well, here’s my list of old, normal things:

  • Oiselle racing kit
  • Shoes
  • Brand/amount coffee
  • Breakfast
  • Healthy
  • Confidence
And here’s my list of NEW things for this race:
  • Fueling during race – I will continue this in the future!
  • Crazy weather – I would prefer nicer weather and a tailwind! :)
  • Friend to run with first half of race – I would love this for the future!
  • Stayed in a hotel night before – This was nice, but I like my own bed.
  • Raced against super elites (there were big names, super speedy people running. I never felt so slow with a sub 3 hour marathon!) – Want to do more of this!
  • Training – Would definitely like a longer training cycle next time!
  • Actually got sleep, 10 hours 2 nights out, maybe 8-9 night before. – This was great!
  • Ran last half of race totally alone – It worked out ok but it’s nice to have people around.
  • Lots of laughs, much more than usual in days leading up to race – Would love to spend days leading up to marathon with my siblings for future races!
  • Completely cut out dairy in 3 days leading up to race – I will definitely do this in the future!
  • Latex gloves over throw aways – I will do this in the future!
  • Travel east coast to west – Loved the time difference. Getting up at 4am (7am) was easy!
So there you have it! A recap of the marathon that made me feel like a true marathoner! I can’t wait to see where I will go next with this distance!