Thursday, January 5, 2012

Has it been a year???

Has it really been a year since my last blog? I guess so! How do I sum up a year of my running adventures in one post? I won’t be able to do it justice, but I can tell you that I ran 6 marathons in 6 different states. That makes 19 marathons total in 16 states. While I am very proud of this accomplishment I think that 6 marathons in one year were too many for me. My fellow Marathon Maniacs and 50 State Club Members might laugh at this statement as many of them run 25 marathons a year or more. My body held up fairly well as I slowed my pace down in order to ensure I would successfully complete each one; however, I think the toll of training and traveling was just too much for me. I used to finish marathons in just under 5 hours; now I’m closer to 5:30. I had to re-adjust my time goals once I started running so many marathons close together. This strategy has worked as I’ve made it to the finish line of every marathon I’ve started. I should share, however, that I almost didn’t make it to the finish line in Savannah, which was my 18th marathon. But I’ll write a separate blog about that.

The marathons I ran this year:

April: Boston Marathon. What can I say? Boston is my favorite marathon by far because the crowds are simply spectacular. Being a Boston-area resident adds to the excitement. I train on the course many times so to see it transformed on marathon day is amazing. I knew it would probably be my last Boston for a while since I want to concentrate on finishing marathons in other states, so I went into race day with one goal: have fun from start to finish. And that is exactly what I did! I smiled from start to finish and took time to stop and greet spectators with hugs or brief conversations. I even posed for pictures along the way. My finish time was not important; what was important was that I was having fun!

May: I ran 2 marathons 6 days apart. The first one was Delaware. The special part of this race is that I got to share it with my 19 year old niece. We spent some of the race weekend together and she came to cheer me on at the marathon. That was awesome!! I was also excited that one of my students (I work with college students) came to the marathon and walked with me for a little bit (conveniently when I spotted him on the side of the road I was walking up a hill so we could easily walk and chat). Then 6 days after Delaware I ran the Fargo Marathon. I was very nervous about running marathons 6 days apart but it turned out just fine. I did have a little bit of a mental breakdown around mile 21 in Fargo because my knee was bothering me a little bit. However, just at that moment I came upon the famous Larry Macon (who runs 100+ marathons a year) and asked him for advice. He was so helpful and cheerful that I knew I would be okay. My childhood friend Peter accompanied me to North Dakota as he had always wanted to go to Fargo. We had a great time exploring the area and especially enjoyed the zoo.

October: I ran the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Maine. All I can say is this: SIMPLY SPECTACULAR SCENERY! This is by far the most scenic marathon I have run. It’s in the Acadia National Park area and much of the course runs along the ocean. Almost everywhere you turn is a beautiful sight, from the ocean to the mountains and the trees. The course itself is incredibly challenging due to the relentless hills (both up and down but mostly up). You don’t run MDI for the finish time; you run it for the scenery. I fell in love with Bar Harbor and am trying to figure out a way to get back there next year. They do have a 2-person relay and I’d love to convince a friend to do it with me.

November: I ran the Rock ‘n Roll Savannah Marathon in Georgia. This was my first and last Rock ‘n Roll race; the organization was pitiful at best. I had heard that the Competitor Group (which manages the Rock ‘n Roll series) had issues so I thought I prepared myself well for some disappointment. It was a cluster f**k! I won’t go into all of the details here but let’s just say I will never again run a race managed by the Competitor Group. The more important news from this marathon is that I got sick for the first time during a marathon and I freaked out about it. Around mile 21 I started to feel very dizzy and nauseous. This scared me. I had to slow down to a walk, and even then I was dizzy. I stopped at the medical tent around mile 23.5 and talked to a doctor. Unfortunately he had no equipment with him (one of my complaints about the race!) but he did feel my pulse and said it was regular. He said that as long as my pulse stayed regular I could keep walking. I walked the last 5 miles of that marathon to the finish. Around mile 24 I met up with a woman named Robin from Atlanta. She came along at the perfect moment, and we supported each other during our walk to the finish. I finished in 5:49 which was by far my slowest finish time ever, but I FINISHED!!

December: I ran the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL. This was a great small-town race and a good choice for Alabama. I ran it this year because I met a fellow member of the 50 States Club in Fargo and he is from Huntsville; he encouraged me to run Rocket City this year. So I did! Since it was my 6th marathon of the year I had no idea how I would do and frankly my only goal was to finish in less than 6 hours because they stopped timing people at the 6 hour mark. I was REALLY worried about running this race after what had happened in Savannah the previous month. If the 6 hour time limit was not in place I might not have worried so much. However, around the halfway mark I realized that even if I walked most of the 2nd half of the marathon that I would finish in less than 6 hours. This was a HUGE relief. The biggest relief, however, was that I did not experience the dizziness or nausea I felt during the Savannah Marathon. Any time I felt even the *slightest* twinge of “not feeling right” I just stopped to walk and that turned out to be a great strategy. I met a man named Graham from the Marathon Maniacs during the second half of the race, and he was a great inspiration. He is in his 60s and has run many more marathons than me. He and his friend kept me motivated. In fact, I credit Graham with pushing me to finish in under 5:30, more than 30 minutes faster than my goal. With about 4/10 of a mile to go, I was walking. Graham came up behind me and said “Let’s go, Marathon Maniac, let’s finish in under 5:30.” This was just the push I needed and I ran the rest of the way to the finish, getting there about 40 seconds before Graham.

After Rocket City, I took 2.5 weeks off from all exercise. It was exactly what I needed both mentally and physically. However, the break is over as training started this week for my next marathon! My 2012 marathon schedule has been reduced to 4 marathons. I ran 4 marathons in 2010 and it worked out well so I figure I will see if it works just as well this year. I set my PR in 2010 when I ran 4 marathons that year so I feel confident it’s a good strategy.

My 2012 marathon schedule:
April: Kentucky Derby Marathon in Louisville, KY
June: Utah Valley Marathon in Provo, UT
October: Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis, MN
November: Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, OK

I am hoping to keep up with the blog this year, so keep reading! 