Monday, March 31, 2008

The Day After

Some people have probably seen this before, but I couldn't think of a better way to describe how my body feels. And yes, I took the elevator to the 2nd floor, despite trying to take the first couple of stairs.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Race Report: SunTrust National Marathon

Its finally over. I'm glad to say I finished the National Marathon in a very respectable time, especially for my first marathon. I learned a lot from this race, both good and bad. But mostly, I learned that despite being (very) under prepared given my recent knee injury 5 weeks out from the race, I mentally pulled through. For many, the mental part is the most difficult. I learned that my mental strength is probably one of my greatest attributes.

And now, for the race details. I'm not going to go split by split for all 26.2 miles, but I will describe the first half and second half, because they were two completely different stories. And for those of you who need pictures to be convinced this actually happened, my personal documentarian has taken some wonderful pictures - here, here, here, and here. And a short video of my waddle to the finish line. Once the official race photos are released, I'll share that as well.

Miles 1 - 13.1
They put the half marathoners and the full marathoners in the same corrals based on projected pace time. I was in the 4th corral, which was 7:45 - 8:30 per mile pace (my projected pace I had to enter when I registered). As the race began, everyone shuffled to the starting line. Some began jogging slowly, but I wanted to run a little as possible over the course of the 26.2 miles, so I chose to walk to the starting line. We crossed the mat, I hit my watch, and began to run. Despite being in assigned corrals, the usual cast of characters who put themselves at the front of the race were clogging up the roads. I navigated around them and settled into my pace. My first mile split was 7:43. Crap! Must slow down. So I slowed down to a pace that (at the time) I felt I could run forever at. This turned out to be right around 8 minute miles, which was my training pace for all my long runs, including my last run - a 20 miler. Everything was going really smoothly, except for one thing I noticed. The website had advertised that gels would be available at each of the water/Gatorade stops, which were every 2 miles. Not so much. The first time I was given any gels was at the half marathon point. Fortunately, being the planner than I am, I brought 2 emergency gels with me. By mile 6 (after the first 2 water stops) I figured there wasn't going to be many gel stations, if any at all. So I opened gels packet number 1, shortly before getting to the water stop at mile 7 to wash it down. I had my 2nd emergency gel at mile 11, figuring its better to go with my nutrition plan as long as I could, seeing as the lack of gel availability might render my plan useless the longer I waited if I didn't start taking in calories. I picked up a "plain" flavored gel at the half marathon point and kept that for a few miles later. My split at the half was 1:42. And this was my internal monologue: "Holy crap...I'm on pace for...oh no don't start thinking about it...but thats sub 3:30 if you keep it up". IF I KEEP IT UP. Right.......so, not running for 5 weeks and I ran a 1:42 half, and I'm supposed to keep that up. I guess that was my bad. I thought it felt good, and it did, for the first half and change of the race.

By the way, plain flavor tastes like a sugar packet. Just thought I'd let you know that in case you are ever faced with choosing between plain and something else.

Miles 13.1 - 26.2
As I passed that half way mark, I was still feeling ok, but starting to feel the pain. The next couple of miles, my pace started to slip into the mid 8 minute mile pace and slowly started creeping closer to 9 minutes. By mile 17, I passed Rebecca and the rest of my fan club as I made my way south to the rest of what would be a struggle fest for the next 9 miles. The unanimous reaction of everyone was that while I was still running at a good pace, I basely acknowledged them. The only thing I did do was toss my gloves since I didn't want them anymore. I kept plodding along, as we passed the new Nationals Park, and went over the South Capitol Street Bridge into Anacostia for all but the last mile of the race. Once passed the bridge, I hit the mile 20 marker. At approximately the same time, my right calf cramped up, thus beginning 6 miles of continuous cramping. This was the point when I realized that 5 weeks of not running was getting the best of me. Aerobically, I was fine. My muscles just hadn't been stressed enough lately to handle it. I'd run a little, cramp up and go into walk mode, then run until I cramped again. At first, I was going 5 minutes running, 2 minutes walking. That didn't last long. Before I knew it, I couldn't hold a steady jog for more than 2 minutes without cramping. The cramping moved from both calves to both hamstrings. It was frustrating, but I was moving as fast as my body would let me. Never did I think I wouldn't finish, I just knew it wasn't going to be as fast as I would have liked. Around mile 23, the 3:50 pace group passed me. I kept up with them for about a minute, but another cramp kept me from keeping pace. I finally got to the bridge that took us back to RFK Stadium, where the finish was and I knew I only had a mile left. I made my way toward the finish without cramping, which was nice, because I really thought I was going to embarrass myself by doing that in the finish chute. Thankfully, that did not happen.

Final time: 3:57

At the finish, I found my family and friends waiting for me. I was truly thankful that everyone came out despite the cold (for spectating) weather. I posed for cameras and decided it would be best to go home. I was feeling ok, but having some issues walking very well. Fortunately, my dad drove my car home and we enjoyed an excellent celebration brunch put together by Rebecca. The best egg/tater tot/sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms casserole ever and a couple of mimosas and I was feeling much improved.

In all, a fine experience for my first marathon. Knowing what I was able to do, I am definitely intrigued to find out what I could do with a healthy training buildup. The biggest thing I learned about this experience is that I need to continue lifting weights with my legs while training. I had read various conflicting articles - some in favor of and some not - of lifting. And since I was usually recovering early in the week from my long runs and by mid week I was doing interval runs, I chose not the lift because I feared that my muscles wouldn't have time to ever recover. I just need to lift lighter weights with higher reps to maintain the muscle in my legs. I now know that my body's running style incorporates more hamstring muscles than my quads. This was the reason why I was having knee pain. After doing consistent icing and strengthening exercises, it seemed to rehab my knee in time to run the marathon. I never felt any knee pain during the whole race, which made me appreciate what I was doing. My biggest worry going into the race turned out to be a non factor. More so, this allows me to confidently continue running once my legs are recovered. I've been doing a lot of swim/bike brick workouts during the past 5 weeks, but I really need to be doing bike/run bricks to prepare for my upcoming triathlon races.

So with that said, bring on triathlon season!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

FinishThe National Marathon: Check

I'm back. I'm sore. I'm hungry. One long nap and several mimosas later, I'm starting to feel a bit better.

Just a short update from the race. I finished strong despite having not run for the past 5 weeks. My body didn't seem to like the idea of running a marathon, but what can you do? I pulled through.

Unofficial time from my watch: 3:57:43.

More details to come later. Must rest on couch.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Twas the night before the National Marathon...

Twas the night before the National Marathon
My heart was racing about
I couldn't sleep, eat, or think
But I knew that tomorrow would work out;

So I typed up this blog rhyme
To get bad thoughts out of my head
And stop obsessing about tomorrow
Its time to go to bed;

When I awake Saturday morning
And get into my car
To get up and run my first marathon
It will be a PR;

Good luck to anyone else running in the National Marathon!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Driving the Course - National Marathon

Yesterday proved to be another eventful day to cap off the weekend. Rebecca and I took a drive of the National Marathon course. ..thanks to her excellent navigational skills of reading off the turn by turn directions. I've run most of the 1st 13 miles through various training runs, but there are some areas of that part, as well as most of the 2nd 13 miles that I am completely in the dark about. I've been quite impressed with all the helpful maps they have had on their site, like elevation profiles and a detailed course map complete with water/gu stations. There are even a few Red Bull stations complete with the Red Bull Negative Split Challenge for the greatest negative split, but I'm not so sure about Red Bull while running a marathon. Over the past few days, I've been trying to get a better idea of the course. If at all possible I try not to run a course blind. Especially a marathon. Knowing where things are, identifying key landmarks, and getting a feel for the terrain really helps me get through anything. Driving the marathon course was just what I needed to get a better feel for the course. I mean, maps are great, but they only show so much.

Being that this course in almost in my back yard, it would be a shame for me to not know the whole course ahead of time. So, here are a few things I didn't know before driving the course:

- Once past the big climb from Constitution Ave up to Adams Morgan (Miles 4-7), the next 6-8 miles are relatively flat or downhill. There are a few small steep up/down hills, but mostly flat.

- Running down North Capitol St is very scenic, with the big dome of the Capitol Building in clear view.

- The Nationals new stadium is almost finished. Mile 19 goes right past it. I wish I could stop in a grab a beer and some peanuts. I guess I'll have to wait till the Saturday after next, when Rebecca and I are headed to a game in their first weekend afternoon game.

- Miles 20 - 23 are going to very challenging mentally. While running along the picturesque Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is nice, I know very few people are going to be out there cheering on the runners because it is far more isolated than other sections. Its like the National Marathon's version of Haines Point, which is a tough portion of the Marine Corp Marathon. This is going to be a tough part.

- Miles 23 - 25 are going to suck. While there aren't too many hills throughout the middle of the course, miles 23 - 25 look like some tough rolling hills to have to deal with toward the end of the race. Not looking forward to that part.

- Even though I live in DC, I feel very patriotic any time I see the memorials, of which there are tons to pass by throughout the course. I never take it for granted that I live in a truly unique place.

I just want to get through and done with this race. All this holding back because of fear of injury is getting at my core and making me itchy to get moving on this race. I'm counting down the days to get it on!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mmmm...Bike P0rn

Today, Rebecca and I went to the Bonzai Triathlon Roadshow. The Triathlon Road Show brings in all the big vendors and they show off all their "toys". Lots of bike porn to be seen. Unfortunately, I was too busy focusing on things discussed below to take any pictures. We got to see the oh so pretty pro Cervelo frames and the new Zoot running shoes, just to name a few. It was really nice to float around and see all the cool new gear.

Last year, we went there and picked up some much needed tri clothing and some solid shwag from the various vendors. This year, we kicked it up a notch. I was there shopping for bikes. I've test rode a few bikes so far, so today was to be my final test before deciding on the big purchase. I test rode a Trek Madone 4.5 and 5.1 previously. Today, I test rode 3 bikes: Orbea Onix, Felt Z35, and Kuota Kharma. It feels like the bachelor. I walk into this room with all these beautiful bikes, all staring at me saying "Pick me, pick me!". Well, there's only room in my heart for one of ya. You're probably wondering which one I got...I'll save that for another post (group sigh) once I take some pictures of my new sweet ride sitting in my living room for the full effect.

To top off the day, Rebecca made her next step into becoming a serious tri-geek...she went wetsuit shopping. After trying on one wetsuit (and prancing around the store in it), she knew she had to get it. So now that she has a wetsuit, she's ready to step the triathlon training up this year. But I'll let her do the explaining of what that entails.

Lastly, we finally became TriCats. Can't wait till the weather gets a bit warmer so we can get going on lots of group rides.

PS - I'm sorry this post was misleading with the heading...I hope I didn't cause anyone too much "excitement" - So look out for a future post with more details on the bike. I know I'm a tease.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

It seems as though I'm the big winner recently. 2 big wins in the same week!

First, I was the male winner for the B-Fit B-Day Challenge (thanks to everyone who voted!) for February. I am very excited to get some awesome Rudy Project sunglasses and a sweet looking helmet. I'll keep you posted once I receive them in the mail. Definitely going to make me FEEL faster out there this season by rocking out in style if nothing else, so stay tuned....expected delivery is in about 2 weeks.

Second, Rebecca and I finally were able to make it to one of the TriCats meetings. We've been to a few of their events and one meeting, but really hadn't been able to make much else due to travel and other schedule conflicts. We are finally looking forward to joining a local Tri Club and racing with some great people. One of the benefits of going to this meeting was that they were raffling off 4 free entries for the Luray Triathlon. Rebecca did this race last year, and I had a blast watching it. I also pre-rode the course, so I know all about it. Anywhoo...yours truly was the recipient of one of those 4 free entries. After I won, they asked that I pick the next raffle ticket out of the bag. And sure enough, the number I read was Rebecca's! So now we've got another race to add to the list. Can't wait!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Please Vote for Me!

As a finalist in the BFit BDay Challenge, I'm asking for your vote. Click on the link, and vote for me (Adam Lesser) on the left side toolbar. The polls should be closing soon and there are some great premiums at stake, so vote now! If you haven't read my report, please give it a read...I encourage you to sign up too...its a great way to spend your birthday!

Thanks!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Please Share the Pool

Hello water aerobics class! Yes, we love how you take up half of the swim lanes on any given day. Yes, we love how you play such great music hits as Y.M.C.A. We swimmers, who you know...SWIM in the pool...can deal with that. I'm WAY past that.

What I can't deal with is the fact that your time in the pool starts at 6:30, not 6:15...not 6:20 or 6:25. Just because you are going to be doing water aerobics in the 3 lanes on the end does not give you the right to jump in...cannonball style, mind you...into the lane before the class starts. Before the pool people remove the lane dividers. I was in a lane 2 over from the end. This woman decided that she could just jump into a lane with a swimmer in it, so that she could get some pre-aerobics cannonball action. Memo to water aerobics lady: You can jump into the water AFTER the lane dividers have been moved. NOT before.

So can't we all just get along and SHARE the pool. Come 6:30, the pool is all yours. Until then, if you want to get into pool, you better be prepared to share with the rest of us.

Runner's Knee - Part 2

As a continuation of my last post about the Runner's Knee problems I've been having, I figured I'd post about the problem itself and what you can do to prevent/hopefully get rid of the problem if you are dealing with it now. I found several useful articles through some quick Goggling, so these are by no means comprehensive. Just a few I found helpful. For anyone considering bumping up their mileage in training for a marathon/triathlon, I'd recommend giving these a read through.

http://www.runnersrescue.com/Running_Knee%20Pain_Strain_Injury.htm

http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_5/194.shtml

http://www.time-to-run.com/injuries/thebig5/runnersknee.htm

Hopefully they will help you prepare your body and the equipment you use to support it (ie shoes) for the challenge ahead.

Runner's Knee

So...among the many recent successes I've had in my training so far this season, I have been dealing with some pretty painful knee tendinitis for the past week. More specifically, I have Runner's Knee. I took off from running all last week and gave some time to ice multiple times daily, while continuing to swim and bike (which does not bother my knee). The knee was feeling better by Saturday and I decided to give it a test run on Sunday. The first mile felt good, but then the next couple were kind of painful, so I decided to turn around about 3.5 miles into the run and not risk further injury by running to far (hoping for 10 miles) on a bad knee. After the first 5 miles, my knee started feeling better and I finished my 7 mile run strong, with an average pace in line with my typical training runs. I could still feel the pain, but I felt much better than I had been. Not sure where that puts me.

Walking into work today, I can feel some pretty painful knee movement. So I guess that means I really need to cut back on all running and give running a rest for longer than a week to see how my knee responds. The troubling part is that I am in the final month countdown till the National Marathon. I believe I have done all the hard work I need to succeed in the marathon (including one 20 miler), but I had planned on doing another. Given this knee pain, I'm not going to risk further injury before the race. I'd rather go into the race being under trained, than over trained. The pain comes and goes. Some points during the day, I forget I am having knee issues. Other times, its pretty painful. The truth is that I can deal with the pain while running (it actually hurts less if it is acting up when running than it does when it acts up while walking). I'm definitely not going to run on it in the short term in the hopes that it all clears up sooner rather than later. Either way, I think I am starting my marathon taper a bit earlier than planned.

So that leads me to my next question - I plan to keep cross training with less impactful sports (ie swimming and biking) that don't irritate my knee. But do I even bother trying to run on my knee before the marathon?
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