Saturday, April 26, 2014

DC Rock n Roll Marathon

Why did I sign up for a spring marathon you may ask? Well, my dad qualified for Boston at the Des Moines marathon last fall and this was all the motivation I needed to train through the winter and try to get a qualifying time. We both ran Boston together in 2003. How wonderful would it be to be able to run Boston a 2nd time with your father… would be absolutely amazing of course!
My dad and I both signed up for the DC Rock n Roll marathon held on March 16th. I knew if I were going to do a marathon to qualify for Boston 2015, I would have to do it at the beginning of the year. Marathon training would not be conducive for me right in the middle of tri season.
After 70.3 Worlds last year, I was ready for a long break. I had trained hard all year for Ironman Mont Tremblant, suffered through Worlds three weeks later and my body was TIRED. I took over a month off from working out. Then I slowly started to add in running a few times a week and taught Body Pump and cycle classes at Gold’s once or twice a week. In December, I was mentally and physically ready to start training for the marathon. My training plan was to get in just enough fitness to get under 3 hours and 40 minutes. This training was quite interesting and was definitely the least amount of training I have ever done for a marathon! But, it didn’t consume my life and I worked out when I felt like it.
I do not advocate minimal training for marathons, but I figured why not experiment with some different ways of training. (Plus, I’ve had years of experience running marathons so my body is used to endurance training).
Here is a summary of what I did:
·     December was base building time (sort of).

·     I did not use my heart rate monitor from last September until the end of February. Most runs were on the treadmill until about mid February. Crazy cold and snowy winter this year! My heart rate is always higher when I run indoors since I get so hot but I know my body well enough to run by how I feel. I got outside mid January for my first long run of 13 miles.

·     I skipped several long runs on the weekends after that first 13 miler. I decided to experiment with two-day runs. I believe I did three of these two-day long runs getting in 12, 15 and 16 miles split up into six on the treadmill at lunch and then 6-10 after work.

·    This was the winter of snowstorms! I remember the day before Valentine’s Day there was a big storm and I was going to be gone over the weekend. So, I ran ten before the big storm and then 8.5 the next day with some good friends in the snow! (picture that was featured in multiple press releases below; one press release here) Now, that was a workout!

Alejandro, Trevor and I running in front of the Lincoln Memorial

·     After that storm, I finally got in an 18 and 20 mile run….then it was already time to taper ha!

·     I took Ron’s indoor off-season-cycle class on Saturdays in January and February. These classes were two hours long with some intense intervals. I know I gained a lot of fitness incorporating these classes into my schedule. Thank you sweetie for kicking my butt on Saturday mornings!

·     Weekday workouts consisted of a couple five-six mile runs with some intervals and a spin class or indoor trainer ride here and there. It was not uncommon for me to take two to three days off each week.

·     I have not uploaded anything to Training Peaks from my Garmin since last September! I would write some notes in TP, but otherwise I just kept it all in my head. I figured if I tried to look at my speed, HR and distance too much, I would psyche myself out since this was not the normal training schedule for me.

·     I made sure I kept up with my back/core exercises, became a foam rolling fool, went to the chiropractor once every week or two and finally the last five weeks before the marathon my PT did some dry needling (intramuscular stimulation). I know my body well and know when I need a little extra help from my chiropractor and PT to dig deep, stretch, rotate, strengthen and do some ART on my muscles.

My purpose for giving my training plan is to show that you do not always have to follow a plan exactly the way it is written. Sometimes, it is just more fun to go with the flow, not worry about all the data and listen to your mind and body. I have also been an endurance athlete since college so have figured out what works and what doesn't work.

The Race

My dad and I had a great time hanging out together before and after the marathon. The day before the race, we drove some of the course and then finally gave up on trying to drive the last ten miles because I kept getting lost and it was nearing rush hour. We both ran the half together last year so knew what to expect for that portion of the course. I had heard from several friends that the second half was pretty boring and didn't have too many spectators along the route. I usually don't run with my headphones in races (in most races this is prohibited) but knowing I would need some extra motivation that second half, I opted to bring my iPod with me. Disclaimer: I pay attention and am aware my surroundings when I listen to music while running. I'm not one of those people who will cut you off just b/c I have headphones in. I hate that! 

Pre-race selfie! Metro ride to the race

Our good luck bracelets from Sadie, my dad's training partner's daughter!

It was very easy to get to the actual race site by metro. Finding the VIP area to drop off our bags and use the bathroom at the hotel was another story. Let's just say when we got off the metro I was turned around and led my dad on a mile long journey which should only have been a few blocks. This created some stress because I had to be at the start line 20 minutes before the race started. I had a surprise for my dad.....I was singing the National Anthem! My plan was to just walk up to the stage and tell him right before I sang. But, since we got to the VIP area a little late, I had to tell my dad that I was supposed to sing and that we needed to jog to the start line. Once we got to the stage, they let my dad stand on the side of the stage with me. I was honored to have been asked to sing again at a large event, but what topped it all of was having my dad right there with me! I didn't get a video this time so I'll just link to the video from when I sang at the Nation's Triathlon in 2011
We stopped to get a picture of the Capital when we were walking the wrong way to drop off our bags. 

With all the emotions from singing, it was funny to look at my HR before the race even got started. Maybe that's why my HR ended up being so crazy high for most of the started that way! lol 

My dad and I did not plan to run the marathon together. He knew he wouldn't be running as fast as me this race since his training was not where he usually wants it to be at for a marathon. Since he had his Boston time, his goal was to run nice and easy and not beat up his body too much. 

The half and the full distance runners all started together. It was very hard to not take off with all the half marathon runners. I kept telling myself to just run my own pace and try not to get caught up in a pace I knew I wouldn't be able to hold past the first 13 miles. 
I like that this course now goes through Rock Creek Park instead of having the long steady climb through DC on Connecticut Ave. However, for some reason I forgot about the steep hill on Calvert leading out of Rock Creek Park. Now that was a HR spike! Once I got up that hill, I didn't get back up to my marathon pace until I got my HR down. The crowds were awesome! My dad said he remembered the drummers that were on the course around mile nine and how they really pumped him up last year. They were there again! I smiled knowing my dad would enjoy hearing them again.

Next came the dreaded turnoff signs...'Turn here for half marathon finish' and 'Marathon course, turn here'. It did help a little that I was mentally prepared having run the half course several times. Even worse than running past the half finish turnoff was separating from the energy of all the runners and then all of a sudden running with a lot less people. It was crazy how quiet it got! My heart rate was actually pretty high for most of the 2nd half. It was reading high zone 3 into low zone 4. I didn't feel like I was working hard enough to be in zone 4 so I just focused on how I felt and tried to ignore my heart rate. I chalked it up to nerves and adrenaline.
Once I got to mile 19, that's when it started to get tough. The course went over a grated bridge that HURT the bottom of my feet. Once across the bridge, it was time to head into Anacostia Park. I had been told that it was  going to be reallllly boring and quiet during this part of the race. Let me just say that I was thankful I had my music with me. A guy was pacing off of me (which became a little annoying after awhile) and I just needed to zone out and try not to get distracted by anything. I didn't want to give into my muscles wanting to stop at this point. I did get to see my teammate, Mindy Ko, ahead of me who finished with a marathon PR!
I knew that I would have to be mentally tough the last six miles. I got through it, but I knew my body wouldn't be too happy with me after this marathon. I ended up running fast enough to get under the 3:40 qualifying time for my age group, finishing with a 3:35. Once I crossed the finish line, I got some fluids, tried to get a little bit of food in me and then went back to the finish to find my dad. When he crossed the finish line, I knew by his face that he was not feeling the best. I was just so happy to see him and so proud of him. My dad is one tough, determined guy! I ran up, gave him a huge hug and started to tear up. He told me he walked/jogged a lot once he got to mile 19 and felt horrible. My dad was pretty hard on himself, but he still got 4th in his age group! Serious props to my dad for sticking it out when it hurt and getting through his 22nd marathon (it actually might be more than 22....he will have to verify!)
After the marathon
After the marathon, it was nice to be able to go to the VIP tent to get our things, change, and eat some good food with some good friends. A big thank you to the Competitor Group for giving my dad and I the VIP access tickets for singing. Just singing the National Anthem is an honor and thanks enough to me!

Boston 2003


The week after the race, I could definitely tell that my recovery was going to take longer than usual! I was completely exhausted for two days after the marathon and my legs felt sooo sore! The muscle soreness stayed around longer than normal. I took that whole week off from working out. I typically take awhile to recover after long races, but I knew it was going to take a bit longer this time around since I didn't train as hard or as consistent as I usually do. That's's so worth it because.....

I'm going to Boston in 2015 with my Dad!

I am truly blessed and thankful to have been given the opportunity to run the Boston marathon with my dad not once, but twice!

Post race relaxation with Oreo

Delicious cake that Ron made after the took him about the same amount of time to make this as it did for my dad and I to run our race ha!

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