Monday, October 10, 2011

20 Miles to Taper - The Day I Was Like Dean (Part 1)

Well, I made it, 20 MILES AND TAPER! Take that Marathon! ;) I'm not going to lie though, it was not easy to get there...let's just say I feel I have earned this taper.

Now, for those of you who want the full on report here is how I made it to TAPER TIME (can't believe taper time is here already).  Yesterday, I ran the Long Beach Island 18 miler (and made it 20 for the epic 20 to taper). I had signed up for this race back in August when I found out Keri and her dad were running it too.  Sure, I knew I would be hours behind her (that amazing speedy lady, clinched first in her age group and 8th female, amazing) but I could not help take on the challenge.   And a challenge it was.

First off, to actually run this race we had to travel from Boston to NJ and then to Long Beach Island, NJ.  It only took an awful 6 hours to drive from Boston to NJ Friday night and another 2 hours to get to LBI on Sunday. But enough of the driving and complaining.  Let's get to the race, which started yesterday morning at the awful time of 10:30.  Maybe 10:30 on October 9th is usually an ok time for a race, but yesterday it was not.  Because yesterday, as my dad noted, felt like a day in mid-August.  Long Beach Island, is in fact a beach and this race was one straight shot.  Literally, one flat paved street for 18 full miles.  It was not boring though, it had great fan support for a small race and a bunch of fun shops to look at and amazingly tons of butterflies (I think I counted 20 over the race - one for each mile).  The only problem was it was HOT - it was about 83 degrees out, but felt hotter given the fact that you were on the pavement, right by a beach, with absolutely NO shade.  Add in some wind and some salty air and you have a recipe for the disaster.

So what was the plan and how did I become like Dean? Well, besides the fact that I felt like I was running in Death Valley, I also had a complete support team and boy did I need it.  Aaron rollerbladed next to me. I love when he is able to do that as he encourages me, keeps me going, tweets for me, and of course provides me much needed nutrition and hydration!! My dad drove alongside in the car and would stop and give extra water and take tons of pictures.  It was a dangerous job, some jerk almost hit him.  But he told him, whats what - Go Dad! Thus I was just like Dean plus to add some good measure, I downloaded Dean's 50 by 50  book and listened for the first 20 minutes for my warm-up two miles.  Ironically, or in my favor, Dean talked about running a marathon on a very hot 80 degree day and the need to adjust your time - this absolutely helped me not beat myself up mentally later on in the run.

Ok, so finally, get to the point, Steph!  At 10:05, I was off (after lots of water, stretching, and too many bathroom stops),  my plan was to do 2 miles before the race and just have to do the 18 (just 18, you know) after, so off I went.  Before I knew it, two miles were over and I was at the starting line.  I saw Keri at the starting line and wished her good luck and moved to the back of the line, and then with a lot of hooting from the runners, the race began.  The reason Aaron and my dad could easily follow and help me was because the race was on one street that had two lanes on both sides.  Only one lane was closed to runners and with about 1000 runners, this was enough.  There was more than enough room for Aaron and my Dad drove along in various spots.  Thus, soon after we started, I saw Aaron, he just rolled up besides me and I was all smiles to see him.  The plan was to have water or nuun every 2 miles and a Gu or Shot Bloks every hour.  Seems smart, right?  Uh, not in 85 degree weather.

At the start, all smiles, for now

The first 10 miles were great!! I was all smiles.  My pace felt easy around 9 min miles and I was in my happy place. I realized that I just kept smiling and things were good.  I was wearing my Go Steph shirt and people loved it and kept screaming my name.  But they did not love my shirt as much as they loved Aaron's (and I can't blame them, this is my all time favorite good luck race tee-shirt).  Check it out:

Can you find me in this?? See my arm, I am totally drafting behind Aaron right now...

There were soo many comments and reactions about this:
- Who's the b*tch - I pointed to me to answer, happened a ton
-What a great team
-You said it not me
-This is a family race (oopss?!)
-A mom covering a child's eyes 

On these last two comments, we always contemplate this shirt but feel those who can read it, know what the word is already and those who are too young to read it, are in the clear)

-Some people would also remark that Aaron on rollerblades was cheating - he would respond, would I be going this slow if I was cheating.  I was like haha, hey wait, what? that slow?!? HOW RUDE lol

The best was probably this crazy enthusiastic guys who kept walking and cheering me on saying "Come on you crazy B*tch, go go you crazy B*tch."  Ok I usually do not not like being referred to such a manner, but it was hilarious yesterday.  The only thing that was hard was that I kept having to walk, yes walk, and it is so hard to walk through people cheering you on.  There was also this woman I kept going back and forth with on the run. Whenever we would pass each other, she would yell come on Speedster Steph. Thanks lady, you rock!

Ok, so back to this walking.  Yes, I admit it and I am NOT ashamed, yesterday, I had to walk a ton. I had to do, what I had to do, to finish.  And that was that.  I know how hard to push my body (at least I think) but sometimes my body says Shut up you crazy B*tch, it is freaking hot as hell out here and we will have no more.  I think my downfall was not that I went out too fast but that I did not adjust early enough (like Dean warned me) for the heat.   Ooo Dean, when will I learn?  The plan of hydrating every 2 miles was also probably not great given the heat.  I first knew I was in trouble because by Mile 10, I was all salt and no sweat plus I had no need to pee (a clear sign of dehydration for me) - at this point I immediately started to drink more and add in nuun.  But it was too late.  And it just resulted in an awful side stitch for Mile 12-14 = lots of walking and a really bad right quad cramp (which I am hoping to deal with today via the elliptical and foam roller).  Some woman suggested that if I had a side cramp, lie down on the pavement to move things around.  I seriously considered this but then was worried I would never get back up, so I opted to just stick my arm up in the air and stretch till the cows came home.

Walking & Drinking lalala

For this part of the run, I kept with the walking and running as much as I could. I had Shot Bloks at an hour (which I cut in half the day before and swallowed them whole during the race, are you proud Dean? - its not a pizza, but almost?)  By 1 hr 41 mins into it (like how I can give you down to the minute), I knew I needed more and despite the fact that a GU sounded pretty awful in this heat, I wanted the nutrition and the caffeine so I tore open a Chocolate GU and went to town again with a bunch of walking.  Each time I would stop, I would feel pretty bad about it and Aaron's skates would come to a screeching halt, I felt defeated, especially when people were cheering me on.  Aaron threatened to take the Garmin away and I fantasied about throwing it off, but it helped me synchronize walking and drinking breaks.

Anyway by Mile 14, I had settled into a decent enough walk/run pattern.  The cramp in my side had settled, sort of, allowing me to do a bit more running or shuffling or whatever it was that I was doing.  At Mile 15ish, I told Aaron that I needed my running buddy's help.  He had been tweeting along the way and was very creative with his tweets.  I told him, tell her I am in trouble and need help.  She, of course, responded rapidly with take more shot bloks, walk through the water stops.  I listened.  Well, I tried.  By Mile 15, food and I were no longer friends (not a good thing).  So I kept drinking, tried a shot blok or two, and ran on allowing myself to stop and drink water and walk about every mile or so.

Then we made it to Mile 17 (for me 19),  the furthest I had ever been was 18, so success already.  But I had this.  We were sooo close.  I told myself that there was no way in hell that I was walking at all this last mile.  It was only a mile and I was going to get there in style.  I thought of Coach Cane's wife (yes I am a Ali On the Run Blog stalker) and how she pushed Ali, I thought of my mantras along the way - yesterday's were "20 miles to taper" and one from a cancer walk - "blisters don't require chemo."  I snapped my running bracelet to keep me going and I put one foot in front of the other thinking about my speed work and how I have done a mile a million times.  Before Mile 19, we just kept saying this is only a 10K, this is only a Squirrel Run (5 miler), this is only a PT workout at home, this is only an episode of the Kennedy's.  And finally we knew the end was near because of this...

Can you tell that this is the Grim Reeper - with a sign saying "The End is Near" haha

And also these bright orange cones rounded us through to the end.  Now the whole time this race was one straight shot, at the last 1/2 mile you make your first freakin turn.  All I can think is I remember being scared that I was going to turn into a hill, just like Falmouth Road Race, and then we turned, and I saw it . . .

Is this post long enough? If you care enough tune it tomorrow please :)

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