Friday, February 27, 2009

another workout

so, I took an extra day off from walking yesterday. Today I went out and fartleked around. I was able to get some racewalking practice in... The pace got down to around 11mpm (6:47mpk). Not too shabby, I just can't sustain that pace for too long before my form starts to fall apart. All in good time. I just need to practice, practice, practice.

I'll walk 6 or 8 slow miles tomorrow, then the 5k is on Sunday.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

February 22, 2009 - training walk

Today was a good day to walk. It was kind of cool this morning, so I waited until almost noon to leave the house. I am choosing to follow the doctor’s advice and do most of my walking on the track at the school down the street from my house for now. The roads around my house are all cambered, and walking on that slanted surface has been contributing to the problems with my hips and lower back.

So, I walked to the track, and then continued until I had walked a total of 2 miles. At that point, I stopped my timer, stretched and did some flexibility drills. I started the timer back up and continued around the track (total of 34 laps in lane 5). I had walked a total of a little over 9 miles, and then I headed home.

Today’s walk was very productive. I was trying to see if I could push myself to walk at a fairly fast sustained pace for longer than 5 or 6 miles without my knee starting to hurt, or just feeling crappy in general and needing to stop. The first 9 miles were completed in 1:55:40 with an average pace of 12:51 mpm and an average heart rate of 150 or approximately 78%. I walked the last 1.22 miles very slowly, just to cool down so that I could stretch when I got home.

I am still not sure how the 5k I signed up for this coming Sunday is going to work out for me. I am supposed to send my heart rate from the 2 mile mark in the 5k to Dave so he can give me a better estimate of what my maximum heart rate should be set to. I am just not sure I can get up enough speed on these legs to get my heart rate up very high. We shall see…

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday, February 18

I will be doing a 5k on March 1. It may be a real joke for me to try and get up any real speed so soon after a 50 miler, but I am going to give it the old college try!

Got in a pretty good walk today. 5.14 miles in 1:09:00.05. I tried to do a little racewalking after I warmed up for 1.25 miles then stretched and did some flexibility drills. I ended up doing 7X100meters with 300 meter rests (if you can call them rests... they were really just my usual fast walk).

Tomorrow I might try to get back into a real strength training routine. Even if it is just isometrics and pushups...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The ongoing saga of my back...

So, the old retired osteopath called me this afternoon. I rushed right over to his office, which he still maintains in order to collect what is left of his insurance claims.

He had plugged in the heat pad warmer this time so he didn't have to adjust me cold. I had 15 minutes of intense heat, then the adjustment went very well. He can always put me back together in one visit. Now, why the chiropractor can't do that, I guess I will never know.

I only wish I had been able to see him before Phoenix and Rocky Raccoon... Alls well that ends well.

It didn't take all the kings horses and all the kings men to put Maryann back together again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

February 16, 2009 - Random Things

So, I haven’t been blogging regularly lately. The main reason for my blog is to track workouts, so that other interested parties know what I am up to in the workout department.

There hasn’t been much to tell the past couple of weeks. I took a few days to recover from my marathon on January 31, and then I did the 50 mile trail race on February 7. After that, I needed a few more days to recover. My legs were hurting a little after the 50, and I was contemplating changing my mind about the 100 miler in June. I even went so far as to tell my mom I wasn’t going to do it.

A few days passed, and Wednesday I went for a 3.19 mile walk. All right, I was feeling a little better. I walked 5 miles on Sunday, after a few more days of rest. I tried a little racewalking each day.

Sunday afternoon after I was finished with my 5 mile walk, I realized that the cutoff for early registration for the Mohican 100 was here. Either I was registering on Sunday, or I was going to pay $35.00 more. The prospect of wasting $35.00, and the encouragement of a lot of my online supporters, made me do it. When I told my mom I registered for the 100 miler, she said, I already called the family and told them we weren't coming. I told her to remember not to listen to anything I say immediately after I complete any race of 50 miles or more. She will just have to give me a few days to get my thoughts together.

I am also registered for a 5k on March 1. I won’t try to racewalk the whole 5k, but I will do my level best to make a good showing. My 5k pr is 35:25, and it would tickle the heck out of me to best that. I am not sure I have it in me, 3 weeks after a 50 mile trail race, but we shall see.

Rambling on, I am walking a half marathon on March 29 and a full marathon on April 26. This is all in training for the Mohican 100 mile race on June 20.

Bad thing: I never got any relief from my three visits to the chiropractor before my trip to Phoenix. My retired doctor had asked me to report back after seeing the chiropractor, so I called him. Good thing: The retired doctor is going to see me one day this week. I thanked him very much, and reminded him that I still feel like I am imposing on him. He said, “You are.” I told him it wouldn’t feel so much like I am imposing if he would let me pay for the treatment. I guess I’ll see what happens.

I guess that’s all for now.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

just checking in

Just wanted to say my recovery from 50 miles is going along ok. I am having a little pain down the outside of my right leg (ITB?), so I have taken it easy this week. I will have to get out on the track and start building my speed back up because I signed up for a 5k that has age group walking awards. It's not a judged racewalk, thank goodness, but there aren't many 5k races that give age group awards to walkers.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rocky Raccoon 100/50 mile Trail Race, Huntsville Texas

All right, I guess it is time to get to the details.

Friday – Feb 6. I left work early so that I could get to Huntsville early enough to avoid rush hour traffic. I had to take my daughter to run a few errands, so I did not get to leave home as early as I had planned. I put my bags into the car, packed the cooler with essentials (sweetened espresso and skim milk), and left Sealy at 2pm. The drive to Huntsville is a nice one when you take the back way, which I did. There is no driving anywhere fast if you go near Houston on a Friday afternoon. As I got to the last stretch of road, saw the remaining distance to Huntsville, and looked at my odometer, I realized Huntsville is almost exactly 100 miles from Sealy. Then I started to think hmm, maybe I could have walked. All right, I am just kidding.

Packet pick up at Huntsville State Park was well organized. The race shirt is a nice, heavy-duty embroidered sweatshirt. They were using a chip system I have not seen previously. The chip was attached to an ankle strap, so that you did not have to fool with reattaching it to a second pair of shoes if you had the need to change during the race. The race director, volunteer coordinator and the person in charge of race timing had a pre-race briefing at 5pm. They gave out a lot of good information and answered questions from the race participants. The pasta dinner started at 6pm. The food was great, spaghetti, tortellini, salad and garlic bread with a choice of lemon pound cake or chocolate cake for dessert. I ate dinner with a couple of first time 50 milers and a veteran of the 100 and his wife. After dinner, it was time to get to the hotel, shower quickly, dress in my race clothes (that is for you, Beth) and try to get some sleep. Motel 6 is cheap, yes, but it was not a quiet, peaceful place to sleep.

Saturday – Feb 7. The alarm went off at 4:30 am and I was ready to go. All I had to do was fill my fuel belt bottles and go. Starbucks was not open yet, so I had to resort to an old standby for breakfast – McDonalds. When I got to the park, it was organized chaos and the 100 milers were checking in prior to the race start. I set up my gear in a spot near the finish line and checked in after the 100 started at 6 am. I had to wait for the 50 to start at 7 am, so I sat in my chair and acquainted myself with my neighbors who had set up their gear near me. There was a woman who was crewing for her father-in-law (50 miles), her husband (100 miles) and her two teenage sons (50 miles); a man who had done a number of marathons but this was his first 50 miler; and a group from Fort Bend Fit who were doing their first 50 miler.

One minute to the start, so I make my way to the back, and we are off. This race starts and finishes all on trail. The only time you have to walk on pavement is to cross the road a few times. My plan was to take it easy, so I watched my HR pretty close the first lap. My goal was to keep it under 70% so that I could finish. I just wanted to have fun, and I did. I dilly dallied at every aid station, thanking the volunteers and eating what turned out to be the right combination of junk foot to get me through 50 miles. I was somewhat tired after the first 16.67 mile loop, which I finished in 4:34:??. I realized I was not drinking enough electrolytes, so I forced myself to empty the fuel belt totally in each of the last two loops. I knew the Garmin battery would not last for the whole day, so I took it off; to save it for the last loop when I knew I would really need to watch the hr, as I would be getting tired. I was reasonably sure of my pace on the trails by now. I took a restroom break, drank some of my espresso and skim milk, (the break lasted about 30 minutes) and then headed out for the second loop. I felt better a lot better after the latte!

The thing I love the most about ultra distance races is the atmosphere among all of the participants. Everyone is so supportive of each other. Every time you meet someone on the trails, you say, good going, good job, looking good, etc. You get the same back from everyone else. As a walker, I feel more a part of what is going on than in any road marathon, half-marathon, 10k or 5k I have ever participated. Of course, smaller races are different, like the one I walked in Arizona last weekend; that one was one of the best, although one of my more difficult marathons.

Loop number two was just as much fun as loop number one. The course had been changed from previous years runs, and there were no out and backs. The course looped back on itself in a couple of places, but that was great as you got to meet up with a lot of other racers on the trails. The only difference between the 50 mile course and the 100 mile course was one place where the 100 milers had 10k between aid stations, while the 50 milers had 5k. The rest of the aid stations were anywhere from 5k to 4.5 miles apart. At one point in the second loop, I guess I looked like I was having a little too much fun at an aid station, and someone asked me if I needed a little help leaving. He politely took my arm and escorted me out, all for my own good. I finished the second loop in about 5 hours… remember I took a 30 minute break after I crossed the timing mat at the end of the first loop. My pace was holding up pretty well. The total distance at the end of loop number two was 33.34 miles. I was now walking into the unknown, every step I took. I had never walked past 50k before. I made sure to drink the second dose of iced non-fat latte, and then went to the restroom. It was going to be getting dark soon, so I readied my headlamp and was preparing to drop my skirt and put on my leggings, to keep the calf muscles from cramping up from the cold air. It was only going to be in the 50’s, but the course passes by the lake a few times, and it was windy. The nice woman who was crewing for her family offered to help me. She held a jacket in front of me so I would not have to change in front of everyone, but I was prepared to do so if I had to. I do wear underwear, so there would not be reason to be embarrassed. I wish I could remember her name or had gotten her email address so I could thank her again. She helped me with my shoes and socks, then her older son came sprinting to the finish at the end of his first 50 mile race. Wow, that was a sight, and I still had another loop to go.

I put my Garmin back on to monitor my HR, and off I go, out onto the trail for the third loop. Remember, I am still just having fun. As I progressed, a couple of the 100 milers passed me, and then one decided to hang with me for a while. I was still walking at a consistent 16 mpm or so, and he told me he just needed to average 18 mpm to finish his first 100 mile race in less than 24 hours. He was planning to celebrate his birthday at midnight on the trails. I was happy to help him. I never dreamed I would pace someone at this race, even if only for a few miles. We made it to the first aid station, and again I stuck around for about 5 minutes before I headed out. So, the birthday guy headed out before I did. I did not see him again. Walking in the woods after dark was a very new experience for me. Thank goodness, the moon was full. I know I was getting tired because I began to trip on the tree roots more often. I ate a chocolate GU and got a little help from it. The rustling noises in the woods were also very interesting. I was hoping the noises were just armadillos, not the alligators that are supposed to be in the park. Then a runner met me on the trail and told me to watch out for armadillos on the trail ahead. That was a relief. The rest is kind of a blur, because it was getting late, and I was getting tired, but yet, still keeping up my pace. The last time I tripped, I was on the last 4.4 leg of the race. I thought I had broken my great toe, or jammed it up pretty badly. I limped along for a few paces, and then the pain subsided. I started to chant, PICK UP YOUR FEET, to myself and avoided the tree roots for the rest of the race.

Funny thing, I expected to be emotional at the finish of my first 50 mile race. I must have been dazed and confused, because I calmly accepted my medal, had my picture taken in front of the race banner and just went to sit down in my chair, clean my feet and put on dry socks and clean shoes. After a little while, I ate some hot chicken noodle soup and drank a cup of hot coffee. I really wanted to hang out and encourage the rest of the runners, but I just did not have it in me. I started to feel chilled through, so I walked to my car and turned on the seat warmer and heater and fell asleep. I slept until about 4:30 am. I really wanted to stick around for the breakfast and the 100 mile award ceremony, but I decided to go home. I had to walk back to the start, pick up my gear and carry it to the car. Not too difficult, considering I just walk 50 miles.

I stopped at IHOP and ate pancakes, eggs and bacon, drank some coffee and headed for home at about 6am. It was difficult going, and I had to stop about half way home and sleep in the car for about 30 minutes.

I would like to give this race 5 out of 5 stars. I would highly recommend it to anyone for a first attempt at 50 miles. The aid stations are fantastic, staffed by ultra runners and their families. They take very good care of the race participants.

Once I was at home, I thought about all the encouragement and inspiration I get from all my online friends. I would not be where I am today if I had not found you all. Thank you so much!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Desert Classic Marathon, Surprise AZ; World Class Racewalking Clinic, Mesa AZ

Friday - The day before the race, I drove out to the race site from my Aunt’s house. Phoenix is really a lot bigger than it appears to be on the map. I took me 2 hours to get to Surprise, AZ from Sun Lakes, AZ at about 10 am. Then, it was another hour and a half drive to the World Class Racewalking Clinic host site. I knew it wouldn’t take me that long to get there on race day, given that I was starting at 6 am. This was probably the smallest marathon I will ever do. I didn’t find out until today that there were only 75 entrants in the full marathon and about 125 in the half marathon. They also had a 5k and a marathon relay.

Anyway, back to my story. I met Dave McGovern when I went with the clinic host, Lauri from AZ, to pick him up from the airport on Friday. We made our way back to Lauri’s house and I got ready to be videotaped. We got started and I soon found out that I have not been racewalking. I knew I was flatfooted in the rear of my stride, but seeing it on tape was really an eye opener. After the quick video review, we went back outside, and I learned a thing or two. I really felt lucky to get some one on one coaching, and as soon as I “got it”, my pace dropped to right around 10 mpm. Dave warned me not to try to “racewalk” the whole marathon, but just to use it a little to keep my average pace where I wanted it to be. I probably would not have finished the marathon at all if I had tried to racewalk the whole thing. The difference from the walking I was doing before was striking, and now I have a real foundation to build on. It’s going to take lots of technique work to undo all the damage I have done by trying to learn racewalking on my own.

Lauri cooked a nice pasta dinner for all of the clinic participants, and they started to arrive at her house as Dave and I were finishing up looking at the second part of my video. We all introduced ourselves had dinner together. The pasta, salad, garlic bread and vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies were delicious. There were locals from the Phoenix area, folks from all over the country, and even someone from Canada attending the clinic. Everyone was very nice! Oh, I almost forgot, I met someone from the US Centurion list. I will be corresponding with him in the near future to see if he can offer me any new information I can use on my quest to become a Centurion myself. It was time for me to head home and get ready for the marathon and everyone wished me luck.

Back at my Aunt’s house, I made a pbj sandwich for the road, got my race gear ready including mixing my electrolyte drink and filling my fuel belt. I talked to my mom and my Aunt and thought I had talked them out of meeting me at the finish line because it was so far for them to drive. I put my race clothes on (yes I sleep in my race clothes the night before a big race), these clothes don’t wrinkle, and remember, I am just going to walk 26.2 miles in them anyway.

Saturday - I got up at 3:30 am and was on the road by 3:45 am. I ate the pbj at about 4:30 am and arrived at the race site at 5 am. The check in tables and the chip and packet pickup were ready by 5:30. Love the tech fabric race shirt! I walked back to the car and deposited everything I didn’t need for the race, jacket included (it was about 40 degrees), and headed for the starting line for the early start at 6 am. It was really dark outside with no moonlight, only starlight and the headlights of the occasional 18 wheel truck whizzing by, and I was really wishing I had brought the headlamp. By the way, the entire marathon was on the shoulder of a 4 lane divided highway headed directly west out into the desert from Surprise AZ; 13.1 miles out, 13.1 miles back.

Now, I was wishing for my jacket and gloves, because as we headed west out into the desert, the temp dropped from the comfortable 40 at the start down into the 30’s. I ended up using my bandana as a hand wrap and switching hands every so often. I was really glad I chose to wear my Sunmart long sleeve shirt, but also glad I didn’t wear layers when the sun came up. More about the course… it is a gradual incline for the first 9 miles, then a little steeper downhill the next 4.1, then a turnaround and 4.1 miles uphill, 9 slightly downhill back to the start.
I was doing really well the whole first half, using a little racewalking, but mostly just walking fast. I was right on pace for my 5:30 full and finished the first half in 2:42:13 with the sun and the wind at my back. I ate my Clif bar, little bits at a time during the first half, and I had 3 GU for the second half.

Now for the second half. After the turn around, the sun was in my face, so I put my shades on. We were headed east now, DUH! The wind was also blowing in my face now. The course was going up hill, but things were going down hill for me. I know I started out too fast in the first half, because the second half was just too hard. There is just nothing else to say about it. I tried to racewalk a little, but not much. Even though the going was tough, I really was having a good time! I love small races because people really try to encourage each other! I got several comments about being from Texas because of the Sunmart shirt.

The first GU went down well, and I got the expected burst of energy. I continued on with the race plan, 4 oz of electrolyte and 4 oz of water at an aid station, then just GU and water at the next aid station (they were spaced at about 2 miles apart). After the second GU and drink of water, nothing went south like it was supposed to. I felt like there was a large brick, or maybe a water balloon in my stomach. The discomfort grew with every step. I tried small sips of the electrolyte, hoping the sodium would help. I was getting close to 24 miles into the race and feeling like total CRAP! I was supposed to take the chocolate GU, but my stomach would have surely rebelled. My cell phone rang, and since I was feeling so miserable, I went ahead and answered it. I was moving as slow as molasses in January anyway. It was my DH calling to see how I was doing. I told him remember I’m racing right now. He thought the race was on Sunday. I told him I just might have my first race puking story to tell in a little while because I was sicker than a dog. He suggested I take it easy, and I said I couldn’t take it any other way right now. Funny thing is, as soon as I hung up the phone, the puking feeling passed, things that were in my stomach, stuck, were passing along where they belonged. I was able to take the chocolate GU and drink some water so I could finish strong.

Remember, I said there wouldn’t be anyone waiting for me at the finish line? There is a little hill right before the last 200 or 300 meters to the finish. When I crested the hill, I hear my name, Maryann… Maryann… Maryann. To my surprise, there was my mom and my aunt and uncle waiting for me at the finish line. Members of the local racewalking group were also waiting and cheering me to the finish. Thanks, Ellie! My official finish time was 5:44:13; not 5:30 (dream goal) but still a 5:06 PR at the marathon distance. When I realized during the second half I wasn’t going to make the dream goal, I backed off the pace a lot, and the near puking incident didn’t help matters, either. There was no sense in killing myself, especially when I am racing 50 miles a week later. I hung around for a little while to wind down and eat a banana before I headed back to Lauri’s house to continue with the racewalking clinic.

I realized something on the way to Lauri’s. After the 50 miler at Rocky on Feb 7, I am eligible to join the Marathon Maniacs for completing 2 long distance events in 7 days! I’ll be joining a real club for crazies! Do you all think I will fit in?

All right, this is enough for now. I’ll tell you all more about the racewalking clinic after I finish Rocky. I really need to go to bed so that I can go to work tomorrow.

Sorry the post is so long, and I still have lots more to say...