Running, Half-Marathoning and Galloping with Drunk Otis

Inside Out Disney PixarAnother week of Hansons Marathon Method Training in the books! BOOM! POW! HOORAY!  I ran a lot. A real, whole heck of a lot of miles. What I really “ran” was the gamut of emotions that comes with getting way the hell out of your comfort zone. Doubt. Anxiety. Angst. Discomfort. Fear. The whole kit and emotional caboodle. I am pleased to report that although last week’s training left me stressed, I neither cried nor threw in the goddamn towel. Instead I used to it wipe the sweat from my GIANT SATISFIED SMILING FACE

I am noticing that with each passing week, my confidence creeps up ever so slightly. This whole Colby’s Marathon Training Weekly Recap thing is good. It’s keeping me honest and holding me accountable. Bear with me, Poodles! Here’s how the EPIC week went:

Monday: 6 miles. Easy pace. Except it was 91 degrees. Not so easy, now. Is it? Ick. 

Tuesday: 7 miles. Intervals. Sweaty, god-forsaken intervals on the treadmill. 8 x 600m (7:57 pace), with warm up and cool down. I almost threw up. Instead I forgot where I was and belted out Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ at the TOP OF MY LUNGS during my last one. As you can see by the text exchange between my Beloved and I, I was foul-mouthed and salty from the start. See actual text below. This love note was sent with one interval to go. 

LOML

Now that’s love. That text was followed by this exchange in the ladies Locker Room.  #truestory.  For the record, I did not direct my Salty Pirate Speak at Little Miss No Antiperspirant.  I laughed. Right in her absurdly dry face.

Wednesday: {Cue trumpets.} REST DAY. Ahhhhhh. And what did I do? Absolute zero. Well, zero running. I weeded, mulched, edged beds, gardened, walked Our Zoo, then planted my ass on the couch and binge watched Botched on Bravo. Don’t judge. It was my rest day. I can zone out on over-filler-inflated lips and deflated breast implants if I want to.

Thursday: Tempo Run, 8 miles total. The Dreaded Tempo Run executed at Zero Dark Bullshit. My first early morning tempo run before work. This is what caused me the anxiety. And? I did it. I can’t believe it. I lived to tell. Relive the glory HERE. I still need to work out eating super early in the morning, before running, so I can avoid feeling like a busted can of biscuits after EATING ALL THINGS upon finishing. Because I am starving.  Baby steps, Colby. Baby steps. 

Even Drunk Otis was smiling.

Even Drunk Otis was smiling.

Friday: 6 miles. Easy. Legs were tired. But basically a non event. Wasn’t that nice?

Saturday: 6 miles WITH DRUNK OTIS! Drunk Otis and I hit the road this time, instead of his beloved trails. I am pleased to report that he is GREAT running on leash. It was unseasonably cool out, which is why I even brought the Brown One to begin with. So many businesses around town leave dog bowls outside, it’s awesome. There’s water at every corner. It would be awesome-er if Drunk Otis actually drank from a public dog bowl. He’s a germ-o-phobe. Perhaps even a snob. He’ll splash in it. Dump it over himself. Or even take a sip from a putrid puddle teaming with giardia. But drink from a fancy ceramic bowl with paw prints hand painted on it? NOPE. Not gonna do it. He will instead pick up a dead squirrel along the route, and carry it in his mouth for a few strides. You know, just cuz. He’s a mess. But I love him.

Courtesy of Suze @ Suzlyfe

Drunk Otis. Courtesy of Suze @ Suzlyfe

Sunday: 13.1 miles. It was supposed to be 10 miles, at an “easy” pace. Instead it was 13.1 hilly miles as fast as my tired legs would allow. It was the (Formerly) Dreaded Fairfield Half Marathon. I say Formerly because for the first time in 7 years it was not a half marathon run on the surface of the sun. It was actually cool out. The torrential rain cleared, and cool temps and humidity rolled in. I’d take that weather any day. I did not miss the sun. As a result, I had a kick ass race. My fastest in 7 years of running it. And I’m 7 years older. And ran it on dead tired legs. I actually teared up as I finished. Got a little mushy even. All week long this training program intimidated me- especially knowing I had this race on Sunday. My legs hated me yesterday. But they didn’t quit. To have run well made ME well up. A qualifying time for Boston seems a million miles away. Or maybe just a couple of hundred thousand this week. 🙂Fairfield Half

Do you run a particular race every year and regret it every time? Do you pre-register for races, giving ZERO care to the weather? Do you ever run with your pup?

Fairfield Half Recap

 

Last year’s Fairfield Half recaps were all about running on the surface of the sun. Well, the headline for this year’s Fairfield half is “We Didn’t Melt!” As Colby reported, it was the coolest weather this race has had. EVAH! Yippee! The race was good – amazing crowds, great course, incredibly well organized by JB Sports. I had a good, though not mind-blowing, time, and felt strong throughout. It was a fun and drama-free race, so I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow recap. But I will share a few thoughts…

  • You can run the same race every year and yet run a different race every year. This is the only race I have run 3 times, and it has never felt like the same race. At all. The first year, I had just gotten over Fifth’s Disease (given to me by one of my resident vectors) and thought I was going to need medical attention. I probably should have stopped and sought medical attention. But it was only my second half marathon, so I just figured that it was not uncommon to feel like you were dying while running a half. I now know that I was wrong and probably on the verge of heatstroke. Oh, well. Live and learn. Last year, I was healthy, but it was so freaking hot out, I kept thinking I had slipped onto the Badwater course by accident. This year, the temps were great (for June), the humidity low (for June), and I was free of childhood viruses. The race wasn’t a cakewalk -it was still 13.1 miles – but it was fun. Same race, yet a totally different race each time.
  • There is a fine line between running on air and running lightheaded. Around mile 9, I truly felt like I was running on air. It felt great. I’m in the clouds! I could run forever! Then I realized I was running on air but not in a good way –  in a dizzy, time-warping kind of way. Turns out my happy buzz was the product of dehydration and a desperate need for an energy boost. Grabbed 2 Gatorades at the next water stop and came back down to earth. Kind of reluctantly, but I knew it was for my own good.
  • I have to start races closer to the front, because no one else seems to line up based on pace. I thought that the unwritten rule of racing is that that people are supposed to line up generally by their pace, even when there aren’t markers. Maybe the rule needs to be written and repeated, because I started in the front third, and had to work my way around some walkers within the first half mile. I am not kidding. Walkers. At the front. And yes, they were walking three across. Yes, they were. I don’t even care about my time as much as not ending up in some kind of 5-runner collision. And yeah, I do care about my time a little, too. Yes, I do.
  • Almost a year into our relationship, my Garmin and I are still frenemies. I think my Garmin is embarrassed of me because I don’t know how to use it. I’m the worst Garmin user ever. I forgot to hit start when I crossed the starting line, and turned it on a few blocks later. Then I realized that was stupid, since I had no idea where I turned it on so couldn’t keep track of distance anyway, so I turned it off and then turned it on again at mile 2. For the remainder of the race, I had to do math every time I looked at my Garmin. I hate math. And yes, after running 8 miles in the sun, even counting by 2’s can be hard. Next time I think I’m leaving it at home. This is the 3rd race where I have forgotten to turn it on at the right time and I don’t think I have ever remembered to hit stop when I crossed the finish. And I swear I’m not usually a dingbat.
  • Running on hot pavement for 13 miles is killer on the feet. Dogs were seriously barking by the end.
  • Whether it’s your first race or fiftieth, a great race or a difficult one, long, short, hot, cold, there is nothing like the thrill and relief of crossing a finish line. Nothing!

Shout out to Spartan Shawna, who ran the Fairfield Half for her first half-marathon! In kids’ Nike Frees with no socks! And not much training!. Amazingly, Spartan Shawna finished with a good time and no injuries. Though she be but little, she is fierce!

(We will, of course, get her set up a little better before she tackles the Hartford Marathon in October A little training, here, grown up sneakers and socks, there – it’s all good. Fear not, Spartan Shawna, we’ll hook you up!)

And of course I have to give a shout out to the songs that motivated me most during the race:

1. Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” Yes it is overplayed. Seriously overplayed. And yes, we are all kind of over it and its bazillion memes. But it came on and of course, I thought about how happy I was. Happy that it was not too hot and humid. Happy that I am healthy and can run a half-marathon. Even happier that I was running a race on a gorgeous course with friends – old and new – and that we were all gathering afterward to hang out, share war stories, and bask in the thrill of the done. A wonderful way to spend a summer Sunday.

2. Led Zeppelin’s “Misty Mountain Hop.” At mile 9, it was time to get the Led out, and this is one of my favorite Led Zep songs. Given its psychedelic lyrics, it fit in nicely with my lightheadedness- I certainly was enjoying my own groovy trip along with the crowds of people in the song sitting there with flowers in their hair…. at least until I realized I needed a Gatorade and a Gu. Cue the end of the happy half marathon trip. So sad to see it go.

3. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Because I will never get sick of hearing it. Ever. And Dave Grohl’s drumbeat is awesome and perfect for a run.

Tomorrow, “Where in the World is Colby?” heads to NYC and I’ll get to take Colby running in one of my favorite running spots in the world….Central Park!!!! Stay tuned…

Fairfield Half Marathon. The (Final) Recap.

Heavens to Murgatroyd.

Here’s what MY recap would read if I were allowed only 3 lines.
It was hot.
It was humid.
I KNOW it was my last Fairfield Half.

Tina wrote an excellent recap of the FFH (and yes, feel free to insert the f-word and ‘hot as balls’ into that acronym as you see fit. ) You can read Part 1 of our recap here. We decided since this Fairfield Half was our swan song, we would write the recap in two parts. Double your pleasure!

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The Course.

I want to state for the record, that the Stratton Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon is brilliantly run by JB Sports. They do a hell of a job with all of their races- they are always well run, well marked and well supported. Fairfield has everything a half marathon should- a spectacular rolling course through a beautiful shoreline town, a great post-race party right on Jennings Beach, bands along the course, an ample number of water stops, and a boatload of spectators cheering wildly. It’s a great race. Honest. But, ya gotta love the heat. It’s usually the third weekend in June which means that no matter what the forecast is the week leading up to it, figure on it being 90 degrees, 0.5 mph wind, with 100% humidity. I’ve run this beast 5 years in a row. That’s been the story every year.

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5 years of Fairfield Half Marathon Medals!

And yet, I still run it.

5:30AM. Rise and shine. Pad into the kitchen and make coffee. Debate on making a coffee slushy instead. I’m thinking ahead. Anything to lower my core body temperature. Opt for a cool shower. Should have taken a pre-race ice bath. Eh. Live and learn Colby. Live and learn…

6:00AM. Out the door. Get gas. Contemplate feigning a pulled hammie and bailing while filling up. I wonder if this would be acceptable to Tina. Somehow I believe Tina is also planning an exit strategy of her own. Somehow I’m sure that we would never do any of that. It’s already 79 degrees.

6:45. I get to Tina’s. We have our philosophical discussion regarding why we decided to do this. I swear my lip quivers ever so slightly. I think her eyes tear up. Toughen up Buttercups. We’re doin’ this. I steal Tina’s Glide. Grab Gatorade. Out.

7:30. Park. Look up at the sky. Ball up fist and curse at the heavens. Cloudless. It’s well into the 80s.

8:15. Waiting in line at porta potty in a lava field. Squeeze the last sips of liquid from our water bottles and crawl to the start. I pull Tina to a sliver of shade. We are standing next to ‘Tan Mom’ in Nike Frees. Booty shorts, aviators and 17lbs of hair and extensions cascading down her back. No pony tail. What the?!? I gasp. Tina cringes. We scoot away. Far, far, away from all that hot hair.

8:30 – We’re off. I am SO not thrilled. When is it over? This ain’t good.

Miles 1-3. Despicable. Come on lungs, breathe. Zero rhythm. I am moving. But I don’t feel good about it. Rolling course, lots of turns, lots of hot, stinky, sweaty people. And ps: If you REEK at mile 2, you have an issue. It may be glandular. Either that or you need a new high efficiency washing machine or a bonefire to burn those stank ass shorts. Actually? Just strip down and throw them on the black top. They’ll ignite in a few. It’s in the 90s now.

Mile 3. Sirens. Ambulance. Runner down. Oxygen. You are kidding me. Why am I doing this? I send telepathic messages to Tina. ABORT! ABORT! {Pause.} Nothing. Run on.

Miles 3.5-6. Contemplate The Meaning of Running. Decide I still love it, despite how badly I want to cannonball into Long Island Sound. Also decide I am not running this one again. I’m miserable. The heat is EPIC. Every. Year. I see the Boomslangs, Tina’s son’s band. They ROCK! I dance by, fist pumping, screaming like I was on fire. Oh wait. I think I am. Consider stopping, then run harder.

Miles 7-9. Shade? Shut. Up. It’s minimal but I’ll take it! I am melting. Fall into a great familiar rhythm. (Well, that only took 7 miles…) Fear I really am a distance runner. Smile wildly at the notion.

Mile 9. Lean runner down. Fit. Oxygen. Whole shebang. Shit got really real. That’s two. This blows.

Mile 9-12. Calculating how far I have to go with every step. It’s excruciating. Glance at my Garmin. Not bad considering I’m running through fondue. Decide I’m finishing in 2 hours. Shake a leg Colby.

Mile 12-12.5. Realize I’m running next to a Marine holding an American flag. I’m amazed how anyone can run holding anything. People cheer loudly for him. I wave as if I’m part of his entourage. For a second I’m Miss America. I’m blowing kisses. I am certain I have heat stroke.

12.5- 13.1. Sweet Baby Jesus. The Finish. Down a dirt path. Huge crowd lines the gravel runway. Sand kicks up. I swear I see a camel. I’m hallucinating. Oh no I’m not. The finish line! Mission accomplished! I hijack a pitcher of water and stagger off to find Tina. We laugh at how we REALLY ran the same race- mentally, physically and emotionally. We pinky swear we’re not doing this again.

Who are we kidding?

I finish at 2:01.
It must have been the kisses.
I’ll take it.

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Fairfield Half Marathon. The (First) Recap.

I know that Colby is writing a recap of the FFH (the second F and H stand for Fairfield Half – I’ll let you decide what the first F stands for), but since we’re pretty sure that this was our last Fairfield Half, I think we can write 2 recaps. Right?

Here’s what my recap would read if I were allowed only 3 lines:
It was hot.
It was humid.
I think it was my last Fairfield Half.

But of course, there was so much more than that…

Like Vermont Covered Bridges, the course is beautiful, winding through great beach neighborhoods and along the Long Island Sound coastline. Whereas Vermont Covered Bridges showcases the quaint, small-town rural beauty of New England, the Fairfield Half highlights another beautiful side to New England. We got beaches, baby!

But both were hot, and alas, I did not fully get to enjoy the beauty of either course. I was instead focused on how to finish without avoiding medical attention.

6:45 AM. Colby arrives. Door opens and a blast of already hot & humid air follows her into my house. We have a philosophical discussion regarding why we are even doing this. Do not come up with an answer. Just laugh. Nervously.

7:15. Out the door. My son and his band are playing on the race route between miles 4-5, so we get him ready, chat a minute with the parent of one of his bandmates who is taking them to set up, and we are off.

7:30. Park the car and take a hot, steamy 1-mile walk to the race area, which is on the beach. Get bibs, check bags, hit porta-potties a million times. Start to overheat in the relentless sun. Instantly reminded of the fact that there is NO SHADE at the beach.

8:20. Line up for the start on a road with NO SHADE. Wait for start under a relentless sun. Sensing a theme?

8:30 – and we’re off. Excited to start so I can finish. Not the best attitude for a long race.

Miles 1-3. Horrible. Trying to shake off the overheated feeling from standing in the sun for an hour. Course is not easy. Hills, lots of crowding, barely any shade. Cannot get a good rhythm. Hope I at least make it to mile 4.5 so I can see my son’s band. Contemplate dropping out there and pretending that I just thought they needed support. Contemplate how much easier my life might be if I was someone who would ever do that.

Mile 3 – hear sirens, see fire truck making its way through the runners. As I get closer to mile 3.5, I see a very fit looking woman down by the side of the road getting oxygen. Scares the bejeezus out of me. Stop and take a drink of water from my water bottle (as if it will help). Wonder why I run – not just this race, but ever. Yes, it was that miserable.

Miles 3.5-5. Meh. Still don’t feel great about this race. Hot, feel like I am running through hot molasses. At mile 4.5, I see my son’s band and they are KILLING IT!! The runners all love them, and seeing them up there boosts my spirits for sure. As I am waving my hands wildly toward them, my water bottle holder loosens and my hands are so sweaty that I cannot get back on tightly. Stop by side of the road just before mile 5 and adjust. Mother of one of my son’s bandmates comes running up to take my picture, notices me by the side of the road and looks scared. Reassure her that it is a “wardrobe malfunction,” not a medical event, complain briefly about heat and move on.

Miles 5-9. Better!! Running crowd has thinned out a lot. Course is flat at this point and there are some (though not enough!!) pockets of shade. Seem to have shaken off of the heat from standing in the sun and at least the movement of running has generated a hint of breeze for me. Start to feel like I am in a groove. A hot, miserable groove, but a groove nonetheless.

Mile 9 – see another extremely fit person – this time a man – receiving medical attention by the side of the road. Get a little bit ascared again. Stop and drink from my water bottle (as if it will help). Pop a few jellybeans into my mouth (as if it will help).

Mile 9-10. Feel like hell. Check to see if I’m still sweating. I am. Profusely. Arms look like I have baby oiled them up 1980’s-style. This is good. I keep going. Two huge hills in this part of the course. Want to cry but don’t want to waste any of the minute amounts of hydration left in my body. Think about the people who run Badwater and wonder how they do it. Hallucinate a bit and wonder whether I am in fact running Badwater at this very moment and look for a white line to run on so my sneakers don’t melt.

Mile 10. Relief. I am going to finish this race soon. Rest of course is flat. Now I start noticing time. Decide I want to finish in under 2 hours (which I decided on the spot is my new goal for miserable hot half-marathons). Push a little.

Miles 10-12.5. Feel pretty good, considering. Think about how I always feel so much better in the last half of a race than the first half. Wonder if this will help when I run a marathon. Hope and pray that it will. Decide that I actually do like running after all. Just not in the heat.

Mile 12.5. Almost there. See the big “Fairfield Half Marathon” banner across the road. Remember from last year that the banner is NOT the finish line. Finish line is around ¼ mile past it, where there is a humongous American Flag hanging. See people start running hard toward the banner and wonder if they will regret it as much as I did last year.

Finish. Hello, Giant American Flag! Never been so happy to see you. Kick it up a notch and finish strong at 1:57 and change. Am oh, so happy to stop. Head directly to water table and raid it. Commiserate with fellow runners. Keep walking to avoid cramps. Find Colby and shake our heads at why we just did what we did. Make a pact to remind each other not to sign up next year.

Because I HATE being a Debbie Downer, I feel I have to write down a few things that I like about this race. The crowds are AWESOME. There are tons of people lining the race route and lots of enthusiastic kids. There a million sprinkler stations, courtesy of the fire department and friendly neighbors. The race is well run –especially with water stations, which are frequent and well organized. I should know – I stopped at almost every one of them. The bands were fabulous, especially the Boomslangs at mile 4.5. The course truly is beautiful. Much of it actually is on one of my long running routes, and it is spectacular in cool weather, when you can breathe enough to take note of the beautiful neighborhoods and Long Island Sound. Even the killer hills aren’t so bad when you can take a full breath.

But the weather. THE WEATHER! Ugh.