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Archive for December, 2009

This One’s for You

Monday, December 14th, 2009


My last marathon was in 2001.  I signed up for another in 2007 but a few weeks before the race, I contacted the race director and asked to be switched to the half marathon instead.  I just did not have the desire and excitement to do a marathon as I had in the past.  When I graduated from college, all I could think about was running marathons and qualifying for Boston.  From 1995 to 2001 I completed 12 marathons.  This may not seem like a lot to some, but I run every race, including marathons, giving my best effort and running as hard as I can.  By doing that, my body needs time to recover and properly prepare for each race.  By 2007 I figured I was done with marathons since I no longer had the desire to race that distance.  I just could not get excited about it.  I mean, I was satisfied with my 3:18:05 PR and the variety of marathons I had run:  Boston, Hartford, Paris, Disney, and Monaco to name a few.  So I decided to focus on races half marathon distance or shorter.


Then in March of this year I decided to focus on better nutrition to decrease my percentage of body fat and once my stress fracture healed, I vowed to train smart and not let anything like that happen again.  Sometimes coaches are not good at coaching themselves because they think they are the exception to the rules, but I won’t get into that here.  Let’s just say that I learned the hard way.  But, the important thing is that I did learn!


I spent the spring building a base, slowly and gradually.  I added a few tempo runs and raced a few times, but no speed work.  Then in the summer I raced a 10K on the beach on my birthday and placed 2nd overall.  That night Bepa (my grandfather) passed away.  The events during the summer that followed are described in more detail in my August 4, 2009 post titled “Starting Lines.”


I channeled my grief into my running both to exhaust those emotions right out of me and to honor Bepa by doing my best.  This summer and fall have been the most consistent, focused, and intelligent training I have done in a very long time.  I created a plan for myself, stuck to it, didn’t add any extra workouts, took the necessary recovery days, and remained focused.  While my cross training (weights, yoga, cycling, etc.) often gets neglected, my running workouts have been a priority.


All of my fall races have gone better than I expected when I first created my racing schedule.  I have felt more satisfied with my race results than I have in a long time.  Perhaps that is why I decided to sign up for the Disney Marathon.  Part of me wants to see what I can do in a marathon now, part of me just wants to qualify for Boston so I can run it again in 2011, and part of me wants to run a marathon for Bepa.  My grandparents accompanied me to the Boston and Hartford Marathons.  Those were incredibly special times having them there to support me, encourage me, and worry about me.


Now I am excited to race a marathon again.  My training and racing have been going so well.  I have finally convinced myself to stick to my own training schedule and not someone else’s.  I listen to my body.  I am nervous about Disney, of course, because I have not run a marathon in eight years.  I will admit I have forgotten the experience.  But with two good half marathons under my belt (Nov. 1 and Dec. 6) plus a 17 miler, an 18 miler, and three 20 milers, I feel confident that I will be able to complete the race and if I pace myself properly, achieve my goal of qualifying for Boston (I need a 3:45).  If I run faster, that will be amazing, but I am only focused on the BQ (Boston Qualifier) for now.


The Disney Marathon in January will be the true testament of the training and racing I have done the second half of 2009.  I will run it in honor of Grandma who is still adjusting to life without Bepa (as we all are).  I will run it in memory of Bepa – to honor his memory, to honor his speediness and love of running, and to make him proud of me one more time.  Bepa, this one’s for you.  Y

This Cramp’s Not Gonna Break My Stride

Monday, December 7th, 2009


When I sat down to write this tip about overcoming side stitches and cramps, the song “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder popped in my head, hence the cheesy title of this entry.


Yesterday I ran the Brandon Half Marathon and was feeling pretty great for the first several miles.  I went out at my usual conservative pace so that I could run negative splits.  This happened to be about 7:25 mile pace for me on this cold Sunday morning.  After a few miles I felt it was time to pick up the pace and dropped down to 7:00-7:15 pace and around mile 6 or 7 I felt a cramp in my right side.


A long time ago I learned an interesting tip for overcoming side stitches.  I rarely ever get cramps like this so I immediately thought it was from the Gatorade.  At the last water stop before the cramp, I had debated about drinking Gatorade or just sticking with water; this internal debate was caused by an interesting book I am reading but that is a whole other topic.


Anyway, I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and water at that aid station and took a sip of both.  I believe that was my only sip of Gatorade the whole race.  Overall I took in a lot less fluid than I normally do in a half marathon.  But, back on topic here – the cramp.


My cramp was on the right side so every time my left foot hit the ground, I exhaled.  This caused a dramatic change in my normal breathing pattern.  I was exhaling every time the left foot hit the ground so it was very shallow breathing but I tried to force the air out each time.  I continued this for maybe 20-30 steps then took a big exhale, blowing all the air out which resulted in a nice big inhale.  The whole process did not take much time at all, but after this change in my breathing, the cramp was totally gone.


I was so delighted that it worked and I was able to finish the race nice and strong with negative splits.


I am not saying this technique will work every time or for every person, but it’s worth trying.  The main thing is to change up your breathing pattern and try to get your diaphragm to relax in order to get rid of cramps.  If this does not work, you can always try massaging the area with your fingers, stretching, bending over, slowing down, speeding up, or whatever works, really.


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