Sunday, February 27, 2011

Confessions of a red-liner

I definitely don't have this kind of muscle tension right now.

I was going to entitle this post "recovery and adaptation" but that's boring and I don't want to start entitling my posts all with "this AND that". Plus, this title is much clearer: I have become a red-liner. What I mean is, I have been pushing myself to the brink and dancing on the edge of a very sharp sword for sometime. I think the only reason I don't go over is because I have a coach and his workouts kick my butt so hard I have to be judicious about my second runs and recovery miles. Since December, I have been running both faster (in my hard workouts) and slower (in my recovery runs). But oh whee, I have been burning since I started training for Houston. I feel strong, I feel fast, I feel light, I feel tired. My workouts are great, but the day after a hard workout I can definitely tell that I am dragging more than I like. As I mentioned in Friday's post, I did not wake up that morning feeling motivated. I listened to my body and ultimately it paid off with an awesome tempo run.

Yesterday, I woke up and again was not jumping out of bed, rearing to go. I only had recovery miles planned, so after a bit of lingering under the covers (it was cold out!) and a cup of coffee, the Baker and I headed out for a nice easy recovery run. I had all sorts of sore spots and various muscle aches but the miles generally felt good. I think my legs were more sore this week because I didn't have my usual Monday massage with Scott. No good! I need my weekly torture session! We had a lovely run, came home and enjoyed more coffee, oats and got ourselves sorted to enjoy the day. I planned to go out for another session in the evening while the Baker made dinner to get in some more mileage for the week.

It has been an interesting transition from ultrarunning to marathoning again when it comes to the weekends. No back to back 4 hour runs deep in the wilderness or in the Headlands. No hour of driving to get to the run. Only one long hard run per weekend. Since both the Baker and I are training for marathons right now (and he is in taper for Napa Valley) we suddenly have all this spare time on the weekend. It is freaking awesome! On Friday, I had suggested we hit up the Ferry Building farmers market, we both adore the market and seldom go because of the aforementioned ultrarunning reasons. But yesterday, we were determined.

Usually when we go to the market, we want to get there super early to beat the crowds of people. However, yesterday we banked on the predicted rain (or snow) and cold temperatures to keep the crowds at bay and made our way over there around 10:30.  I love the farmer's market!




We had decided to keep ourselves on a budget of $20 each so that we didn't go crazy over every delicious looking goodie at the market. It's a good thing too because I could have easily bought $20 worth of brussels sprouts alone. The Baker knows a lot of folks at the market including the one with the best kept "secret" there: Marianne Wiener, baker and owner of Anna's Daughters' Rye Bread. While everyone else is lining up for Roli Roti (which is amazing) or Blue Bottle Coffee (also amazing), Marianne is serving up the best cup of hot cocoa you have ever tasted. Seriously. I have tasted the sweet pure decadence and it is rich, creamy, chocolately but perfectly balanced. It took everything in my power to say no to a cup (since I am not doing dairy anymore or sugar right now).




Topped with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream, ah, heaven. One cup leaves you perfectly satisfied. Marianne is super sweet and we could have stayed there all day talking to her. Her rye bread is off the charts I hear, as well. However, we couldn't linger too long, we had an inspired lunch to make. As we wandered around the market, we each picked ingredients that caught our attention and slowly built a plan for a market inspired lunch. We grabbed Harissa spices, king trumpet mushrooms, spring onions, a mega bunch of kale, brussel sprouts and some lovely tulips.



We headed home a whipped up a spring onion scramble with Hungarian sausage and kale on the side. We wrapped it all up in some warm corn tortillas and it was simple bliss. I had fun taking pictures in the good afternoon light streaming through the kitchen window. So much for the predicted snowy dreary day!



It was an all around great day. I truly enjoyed the luxury of having run 7 miles before breakfast and having the entire day to interact with the world and do some of my favorite things! As the afternoon crept on, I started to think about that second run I had planned. I hadn't gotten more into the idea over the course of the day (I hadn't really thought about it at all), I actually had a bit of trepidation. My legs were feeling pretty sore and dead. I just couldn't get into the idea of running any more miles at any speed. But I also felt guilty. I felt like *should* (bad word I know) do more miles, after all, this was a peak week for me for the LA Marathon on March 20th. I wanted to get over 100 miles for the week and if I didn't run again, even with today's long run, I wouldn't make it. Then I had one of those, hello don't be an idiot moments. I realized that I was being ridiculous, really freaking ridiculous and dangerously stupid. I had arbitrarily decided at some point that my peak road weeks would be over 100 miles (and peak ultra/trail weeks over 140) even with a complete day off from running. 100 miles of road training a week is brutal and I have been doing it hard since I started my training for Houston in December. I did 414 miles in December, 403 in January and only 3 weeks this year have been under 90 miles, which were the two weeks before Houston and one week after. I know better. I just didn't realize that I wasn't taking the whole picture into consideration. The way I was looking at it was Houston through LA training standing alone, as opposed to my training leading up to Houston and continuing towards LA as one. That kind of longer push deserves more cut back weeks. In my head I somehow considered race week and the week after Houston as cutback weeks even though that definitely isn't the case. I can't count a hard marathon effort and a taxing experience as a cutback week even if the mileage number says it is so. Duh Devon.

Needlesstosay, I didn't run again yesterday. I took an ice bath instead to increase the muscle tension in my legs for today's long run. I may take a while to figure out the obvious but I definitely don't think twice when I do. I also realized in my contemplation of how hard I have been working that I have been running my long runs potentially too fast. I don't need to try and do every workout at marathon pace or have that be my goal. When I set out today, I first consulted my training paces and aimed to be in the mid to slower end of the 6:37-7:37 range that is ideal for my marathon goal. I planned to do a fast finish and ultimately had an excellent workout. I worked really hard and had a great week without being needlessly overzealous about mileage. It was a good week and I was able to pull myself back from a pattern of potentially harmful behavior and see the bigger picture. Ok, time to get out of the confessional and help with dinner.

I leave you with Scream Sorbet at the farmer's market. Non-dairy ice cream (macadamia vanilla pictured) because everyone needs more ice cream (or similar) in their lives and an exception to the rules every now and again.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pen and paper


A phenomenal view from Mt. Tam. Definitely not today.

This morning when I woke up I was not motivated. My body was sore and tired. My mind seemed even less motivated than my body. It was a stark contrast to bounding out of bed on Thursday at 4:40am to go meet up with the Ninjas for our thursday morning run the day before. I then heard the driving rain pounding the window outside and I threw the covers over my head and hid. I knew I needed to get out there for a tempo workout, a workout while intimidating, in no way worried me enough to produce the complete lack of enthusiasm for running I had this morning. I worried for a bit that I might be pushing myself too close to the edge and burning out. I wondered if marathon training and its more tightly regimented nature was weighing too much on me. I decided that, whatever the reason, I was not going to run first thing this morning. The Baker came back to bed, sharing my lack luster enthusiasm, and quickly suggested coffee as a pre-run motivator. Since we don't routinely drink coffee before runs or even regularly, it sounded like a nice warming rainy morning treat. I was into it for sure. Anything to put off actually getting out there to run. The coffee was so delicious with a splash of coconut creamer and the caffeine perked me right up. I realized that I have been pushing myself damn hard and that if I can't get it together some mornings, then I need to listen to those messages from my body. If I ignore them and press through them, I really do run the risk of burning out.

Ultimately, the waiting paid off. I had a nice breakfast of my usual oats to power me up and the rain disappeared and I was able to have a nice sunny dry tempo run, knocking out 14 miles and hitting some great intervals in the mid 5 range, even on a really blustery day. I felt pretty good, even though my legs are definitely not as fresh as I might want them to be. When I was running, between tempo intervals, I was doing some thinking about my life and my career and my direction.

Back in 2009, I wrote a blog called "The Delicious Journey" it was a way to separate out my more personal thoughts from my running ones on this blog and my food ones on my fast foodie blog. Ultimately, I brought them all back together to this blog but have taken the observation that I can be "too confessional" under advisement. On "The Delicious Journey", I put it all out there, my goals, my plans and my struggles. Since eliminating that blog, I have hesitated more about the full on "wow, I can't believe you just put that out there" posts. I don't really think this blog is too confessional, I think it is reflective of my life and journey. It is personal, yes, but anyone who thinks it is confessional, probably doesn't know me, yet. I know this because when it comes to writing I am very judgmental of myself. I don't just put things out there without thinking them through. I am highly critical and try to always be complete.  Of all the things in the world that I see myself as, a writer is not primary amongst them.

Once upon a time, that was not the case. Once upon a time, I was a writer. And let me tell you, if you think I am confessional now, you should try and get your hands on one of the many  100 page compendiums of poetry I wrote in high school and gave to family and friends as gifts for the holidays. Those were confessional. And teenage angst riddled poetry aside, I was actually quite a good writer. I loved it, which was more important and I did it without any hesitation or thought of whether or not it was good enough, worthy or some day would be considered something special (by someone other than my mother).

Through a series of unfortunate events, I stopped believing in myself as a writer. The particular death knell was my high school graduation dinner. Several family members rallied together and denounced my dream and goal of being a writer. As is usual at these events, my family asked "what are you going to do now? What do you want to be?" I told them, a writer. Their response was to completely and totally attack my dream, my goal, list all the reasons it was a stupid idea and stamp out the fires of my passion until not even an ember remained. They were successful. While I left mid-meal, fleeing the restaurant in tears dragging my poor best friend Erin with me, the damage was done. Just when I was taking flight into my future as an adult, my dream was taken away from me. I didn't understand at that time how powerfully that night changed me. It would be easy to think that I should just be able to brush it off, but it was injurious and I didn't address the wound it caused fully for a long time. The irony of that conversation was that I was on my way to college to study pre-veterinary medicine on a full basketball scholarship. Not exactly your typical, I am pursuing my dream of being a writer path but I was a very practical teenager, my mother taught me well. I KNEW that being a writer was something I could and would do no matter what my career was and I had other career interests. Being a writer was something I considered to be a personal passion that might someday take shape into something more. I wasn't banking on it or being impractical.

I can be much more timid than you think.

Ultimately, I didn't become a vet and did ultimately complete my undergrad in English, Creative Writing. However, even going through that program, I rarely wrote. I struggled with the words every time I set down to put them on paper. I wrote one brilliant undergraduate thesis under professor Linda Bierds who had, only a few years before, won a "genius" grant. It is the only time in my undergraduate career that I ever felt like a writer, the rest of the time, I felt like a pretender. Like someone would soon call me out on being an impostor. I had full on F.O.F, I was paralyzed by it.

From the television show Family Matters:


Steve: “You don’t wanna take that test because you have F.O.F.”
Carl: “What is F.O.F?”
Steve: “F.O.F is fear of failure. Even the most confident people have moments of fofnoscity.”
Carl: “Are you calling me…a fofnoficator?”
Steve: “When you’re feeling nervous, when you’re trapped in that emotional pit of doubt and despair, that’s when you dig deep into your character; and, peel away the layers of cowardice, self-doubt and nay saying until you get down to the raw steel of yes-can-do; and, then, you hot dip that steel, and fortify yourself.”
I never got back to the feeling of "yes-can-do". I saw my thesis as a fluke, a reflection of a time (my time in South Africa) which was so emotionally charged, I couldn't help but write. I kept it and value that body of work. But I soon gave it up completely and moved on. I don't write in a journal, I don't write short stories, poetry or books. 
Therein however, deep seeded and undeniable is the desire to write a book. Last year, I thought I wanted to write a book about my time in high school but realized that that was uninspired, that I didn't actually have any desire to write about that at all. But the feeling doesn't go away. Clearly from this blog it is evident that when I find my inspiration, I can go on and on and on.
For a long time, I have had this sense "I want to write a book" but every idea that comes to me, I freeze with terror before I even have the first paragraph written. I flash back to that high school dinner and I give it up "knowing" it is futile. How ridiculous is that? It has taken me a lot of mental energy to even get to the point where I can really even understand my fear. Simply, I developed this sense that if I am going to write, it must be a success, it must make it. I never start because the idea is never fully formed from inception and therefore my insecurities are fed. 
I do want to write a book. In the past few years, I have really decided that I want to write a cookbook. But like my business, I was sitting back and waiting for things to unfold on their own. I was waiting for my big break but was doing nothing to create that reality. And that is backwards anyways. I want to write a cookbook, so hell, I should just write a cookbook. I don't need some publisher to give me the go ahead, I don't need my family to tell me it is ok, I don't even need to care if it ever exists except to myself. Its not a vague idea I have, it is a concrete one. I believe in my food and I believe in my desire to want to share it. So why not try?
I am going to try. I am going to pick up pen and paper (ok, I'll type) and write. I think there is a place in this over-saturated world for my voice too. I think runners and athletes who want to eat healthy but gourmet food would love a cookbook designed for them. I think people trying to bridge the "eat real food" with "ok what do I eat then" would love my recipes. And even if no one does care, I surely want to remember the amazing things I am throwing down in the kitchen (clearly I cannot be trusted just to blog them). I feel driven and motivated to not let one night define this part of who I was and who I am to be. I feel that I want to foster my own courage in life by defeating my biggest foe and biggest fear.
No more fofnoficating.
What are you a fofnoficator about?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Back in the saddle

It would be nice if my experience at Houston reflected this cool, fluid shot from my finish. I had a fantastic last 3 miles of the race and kicked in signature style. Unfortunately, the other 23 miles of the race were not as fantastic, did not feel as good and were not as pretty. No, they looked much more like this or certainly at least felt like it:


It took me a few days to recover from Houston, physically. It took me more days to recover mentally. After a bad race, it is easy to be hyper critical of not only your running but also your life. I realized that my race was not a product of poor planning or training, it was just a fluke day and that I would just have to get back on the horse and try again. But when I turned and looked upon my life and questioned whether or not I was working hard enough, planning or training right to achieve the goals I wanted, I was faced with an answer I did not want to hear. I was not, unlike my training for Houston,  doing things that scared me or preparing in case my chance came. I was wishing and hoping and thinking and praying but not planning or preparing or creating the reality I wanted. I was caught in a life rut, a mental vortex of self-doubt, lack of direction, not sure what to do. When it came to my working life (which is what I am talking about here), I realized I was apathetic. And as an introspective, reflective person I find this absolutely weird. The positive side effect of this larger (and maybe more depressing) realization was that I was able to fully accept that the race was just a bad race and I was able to emotionally move on and set myself passionately on the next goal (more about that later...)

Last week, we watched a movie that my bestest everest friend Jonathan had given us for Christmas. It is called Happy, which is about the science of happiness and though I have read/heard/been exposed to most of the concepts in the movie, for some reason it was like a light switch was flipped. I woke up the next morning and all of my apathy was gone. I had motivation and energy and passion to take my business to the next level. Suddenly, it was as if I could suddenly see the path I wanted to take concretely were only vague shadows had been before. I could see my path and what I needed to do. Suddenly, I was as empowered by my working life as I was about my running life. In my running, I don't sit back and wait for things to happen, I go out day after day and make them happen. I control the part I can control and hope my preparation will move me towards my goals. I woke up last week and realized that the way I run is the way I can work. I don't need to shrink back into the shadows and take a desk job for security, I don't need some gigantic stroke of luck to fall in my lap, I just need to get out there and do what I am good at. I have never felt so excited about work before in my life. I feel empowered, I feel inspired, I feel excited. Momentum quickly builds when you get your energy behind it.

Momentum

Momentum is also something I am trying to keep in my running. After a bad race, it would be easy to lose it. It would be easy to be demoralized, to go back to the drawing board. But, as I mentioned above, I was able to shake off my Houston experience pretty well and pretty fully. I had a smart recovery, have listened to my body diligently and allowed myself some comfort and some exceptions. But I also still have the strong driving desire to pursue my Olympic Trials qualifier. I know I have it in me and though the reality may be that I will never make it to the Olympics, the opportunity to try, to be a part of the race that determines it, is absolutely not something I am walking away from. I am going for it.

The week after the marathon, I was looking at every possible race there is this spring to make another attempt at. I went a little marathon sign up happy for fast races this year, but none of them are soon enough to satisfy me. I am hungry now, I am ready now. Finally, I decided on my next attempt and I am very excited to race the LA Marathon on March 20th. I have 5 weeks until race day which means, with last weeks good training, I will be able to continue to capitalize on my great fitness leading up to Houston. I also have the added bonus of having the Houston experience. I was severely lacking in fast road racing experience going into Houston (hadn't done a road marathon in 2 years!) and even just this one experience helps me get closer to my goal and helps me better understand how to race a marathon. I am very very excited about the LA Marathon. I look forward to the training, I look forward to reflecting and sharing the journey towards this goal and I look forward to achieving my dream: seeing a sub 2:46 on that finishing clock.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I like food

Nathan's stop photographing my food and let me eat face.
Just kidding. Lunch at Pok Pok in Portland.

I like food. I promise. I admit it, I have left out the foodie part of this blog for some time now. Today, I was trying to figure out why.  I haven't been baking any great new muffin creations, but I have been cooking up some hugely creative meals. While you may miss my muffins (note: you can buy all your favorite gluten free muffin mixes from me here), I have been focusing my eating on all sorts of amazing vegetables and creative recipes that don't really include that much grains. I am actually surprised I haven't done a better job documenting all these eats because frankly I have been impressed with myself. I think that my kitchen confidence is coming from working more and more as a personal chef. It is all in the practice and I am in my groove. So why no food blogging? Well, I think the answer is, at least partially, day light. You see when I bake things, I can take beautiful shiny wonderful shots of the food in the afternoon light or even evening light. It makes a big difference. Since I make dinner around 7pm and its winter, there is not much light to be had for good photography. Believe me when I say, those shots of beautiful looking food you see all over the internet are not done in a dark kitchen or under florescent lights or using a flash. When I go out to eat, I am getting lost in the moment and enjoying myself and my experience. I don't want to be the person that makes everyone wait to eat and have their food get cold while I get a good shot of it.

Delicious treats from Ken's Bakery in Portland.
But not for this gluten free lady!

Whatever the reason, I have not been making you drool nearly enough or sharing the foodie side of me. This is just an acknowledgement of that. Whenever you do need to drool, head over to my recipe page and have at it.


Anyways, one thing I was inspired to share (again) is my kombucha. I have been brewing kombucha for almost 6 years now and I love having my own supply on hand. I would love to just go hog wild and start making enough to sell, along with other fermented goodies; I love fermentation. Everyone seems to be on the bandwagon these days with kombucha but I've been here all along. I posted my kombucha recipe on my blog 3 years ago (here). Check it out if you want to know how to brew it. My kombucha recipe is very simple and has a great flavor profile. I don't mess with a good thing by using herbal teas or flavored teas. I think it is easiest and safest to flavor after the fact.

A beautiful healthy kombucha culture.

Enough about the things I haven't been doing, I need to get out for another run and start work on another delicious dinner.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Houston Marathon Race Report



Houston, we have a problem....


I am having a hard time being inspired to write this race report. It is weird. Yes, I am disappointed in my result but it is not because of that that I am uninspired. I am clearly very able to be inspired to right about disappointing days. I think that it was an uninspiring race in general and my uninspiring performance just means that the way I usually write a race report is not as applicable. My race reports are usually an emotional journey, I like being a story-teller and carrying you through the journey with me.  Houston was a very short story in a lot of ways. I did however, learn a great deal and I think that is much more of what I want to focus on and share. I didn't meet my goals, any of them, with the exception of the most basic one: whatever happens, just don't quit.

The story


Race week didn't go as planned. I had to fight off a virus/cold/flu (so I didn't miss my 4th race in 2 years because of illness) and took down heavy doses of vitamins. After seeing Dr. Maderas at Marin Natural Medicine for a immunity boosting IV push, I was feeling pretty darn good and was just a of a lingering tired feeling from the virus. I got it early enough in the week that I was hoping it wouldn't affect the race. I traveled to Houston on Friday, brought along a bunch of my own food and tried to stick to my own "safe" foods before the race and not start adding back anything too drastic, while still getting in my carbs before the race. But my stomach felt off Thursday, Friday and Saturday was a mess. I attributed it to a case of nerves, this was after all my first road marathon in over 2 years and I was looking to PR bigtime. I attributed it to the rice I ate with lunch since I hadn't eaten rice (or any other grains) in two months. By bedtime Saturday night, I was feeling ok and just figured that a bad race week usually meant a great race day. 


It is what it is ultimately and I didn't get too stressed out over how the week went. It is the breaks of the game. I was happy to have made it to race day, excited to see if I could achieve my goal of running the OT standard and just get back into marathoning. I am especially thankful for the Terranovas as they gave me a place to stay both Friday and Saturday night, let me follow them around like a puppy dog and comforted me after the race. Not to mention Paul was pacer extraordinaire for the 2:39 pace group!


When I woke up Sunday morning, I was very happy there was no lightning. They said that there was a high chance of thunderstorms and that would have meant the race would have been cancelled or delayed or stopped and restarted. We started on time, but the weather was not fantastic, it rained a pretty constant drizzle, there was a heavy downpour at one point and it was very very humid. Before the race I ate 2 bananas with peanut butter and hoped that my stomach problems had worked themselves out. I drank a cup of coffee and we headed to the elite starting area. I felt calm, ready to go but not exactly how I wanted to feel. My body didn't feel that energized. But I also reminded myself that I am in completely uncharted waters here. Heck, as good as my training was and it was very good and hard and on point, I was trying to run in a way my body had never really done. Go hard from the start, be uncomfortable and keep going. Ultras I am very comfortable, marathons are a whole different ball game.


What I really was hoping for was what Ellie Greenwood dubbed a "Devon day". I trained to have one, I am the fittest I have been that I can remember, I even achieved my goal race weight. I was ready to not only make the 2:46 standard, I was ready to push the limits and get close to 2:40. Or so was my thought, hope, prayer. As I warmed up, it started drizzling and my legs didn't feel like wild horses so energetic I needed to rein them in. They felt just fine. And then we were off into the early morning light, splashing in puddles, dodging raindrops but not lightning bolts. 


I ran a 6:18 first mile. There was an overpass about 200 meters in and the little climb kept everyone honest. Paul took off at his prescribed 2:39 pacer duties pace and I knew right away I wouldn't even try to hang on. I scooted ahead of the 2:46 pace group (6:18 pace) and ran my next mile in 6:00. From there, I ran virtually alone for the next 11 miles. Through the non-descript streets of Houston. We were in neighborhoods still sleepy with the early hour. We ran past Rice University. There were fans but when you are running alone, down (painful) concrete roads, it is lonely and hard to keep your own time. Which is why pacers are provided and why they are important. I was in the nether realm between the two OT qualifying standards pace groups. I knew if things started going wrong that I could slow up and hitch my wagon to the 2:46 pacers and cruise in with them. There were suppose to be two of them, one for the first half and one going the full distance.

I hit my splits pretty well for the first few miles, still feeling comfortable around 6:07-6:12 pace. I didn't feel like I was pushing too hard. I knew I would need to start challenging myself but one thing I couldn't figure out was when? When do I go? When do I push myself into the uncomfortable place and hold it? Pretty quickly there after, I had an answer, but it was not what I really meant. My stomach had felt disquiet but manageable during the first 5 or 6 miles. I hit the 10k at 38:45 which is 6:14 pace. But then my stomach started to go. I was drinking water but the disquiet became barfing. Not projectile, sweeping heaps but the small contents of my stomach, mostly liquid. I'd struggle to keep pace and my stomach would object. I had to utilize my ultrarunning skills and barf and run. Didn't even get it on my shoes. I was forced to back off. I was upset, I knew if I couldn't get my stomach under control then I would not be able to let me legs do their job. From mile 6 until 10, I tried to maintain but started to slow into the mid 6:20s and even 6:30s after mile 10. Just before the half way mark, the 2:46 pace group caught me. The pacer told me to jump in with them and I replied, "I've been waiting for you guys!" I was very happy to see them because I felt that I could just switch off my brain and tuck in and run the pace set by others. We ran through some bigger downpours but it stayed humid which I am sure didn't help my stomach.

We hit the half in 1:22:49 and the first half pacer peeled off. There was a pack of 8-10 ladies and we all looked around for the other pacer. No where. Not to be seen, no one had seen him at all that day though the day before he had introduced himself to all of us. Within a half mile the group obliterated and try as we might to hold ranks, the group fell apart. Only 1 out of the group made the standard. Let me tell you, running with a pacer really helps. The race provided pacers for 5 different elite women's speeds (3 of those speeds were basically personal pacers for the top 3 women) and it makes a difference. That is why I chose to do a big marathon, I wanted company. I didn't want to run alone (into the wind) like I did in Boston.

My stomach wouldn't settle. I would take nips of gel when I could, drank water but nothing helped. I got slower and slower. Once the group obliterated and I started hearing that I was on more than a 6:20 pace and slower and slower, I had a hard time convincing myself to do anything but run at a pace that didn't disturb my stomach. From miles 15-23 I pretty much just did everything in my power not to quit. I didn't push, I just ran. I just resolved to have pride and not step off the course despite being sick and not being able to achieve my goals.

I saw Meredith at mile 20 and I told her not to wait for me at the finish line and to go with Paul since I wouldn't be just a few minutes behind him. She cheered for me and I remembered that she had given me salt caps before the race to deal with the humidity, which up until this point I hadn't taken. After I ran by her, I decided, what the heck, I downed some salt caps with a swig of water. And then something weird happened, around mile 23, I started to feel a bit better. Not great but I was able to drop my pace back down to the 6:20 range instead of the upwards creeping 6:45, 6:50s I had seen in there. And I got my pride back. Damnit Devon, I said, even if you can't get the standard (I calculated quickly in my head), maybe you can still PR (my PR is a 2:49:51). I focused on the girl I was running close to and put a move on her. Then I focused on a guy ahead and reeled him in. I pushed and pushed and could tell by how easily my legs responded that it was clearly not my legs that had failed me on this day, it was my energy, it was stomach.

As I pushed the last miles, all those tempo workouts, all those track workouts proved their worth in gold. It felt effortless to push the pace, with the exception of the now intense gusts of wind that was hit us full on in the face every 30 seconds or so. I cranked and my stomach held. I couldn't do the exact math but I figured I would be close to my PR and would at least finish with my pride. I knew I would have to run nearly sub 6 to realistically make it but ran as hard as I could, without looking at my watch.

I hit downtown and spotted a string of 6-7 guys scattered various distances ahead of me, each looking tender footed and hurting. I passed them with such conviction not a single one of them even had a chance to try and keep up. I came down to the final turn and hit the home stretch. There was one more guy I could get. The announcer was calling marathon finisher's names and he recognized that I was in hot pursuit. "Andrew, andrew" he said to the guy in front of me, "Watch out Andrew you are about to be passed by a girl". I flew by him crossing the line in 2:50:55. My second fastest time ever in the marathon. I was 18th woman overall and have to be proud of my effort on a day that didn't unfold as I liked.

I was escorted back to the elite area, met up with Paul and Meredith, commiserated with my fellow 2:46 hopefuls who didn't make it and headed back to the hotel room. It took a long time before I could eat anything and my stomach refused to settle for days afterwards. I headed back to San Francisco that evening and am now considering the all important question: what now?


Checkpoints5k10k15k20kHalf25k30k35k40k
0:19:160:38:450:58:321:18:341:22:491:38:281:59:112:20:452:42:00
 Start OffsetPaceProj TimeOfficial TimeOverallGenderDiv
-0:06:32 2:50:5560188



Lessons learned

  1. Sometimes it doesn't matter how well you are prepared, your chance will come when it comes. Good days don't always fall on race day.
  2. Running at the edge of red line is very hard. It takes practice to know how to handle it. I am thankful for this race in that it gave me experience with feeling out my body at that speed.
  3. I need to get a flu shot and stop getting sick before races.
  4. Concrete hurts. Humidity sucks. Flatter is not always better. And everything is funner with another runner (pacer!).
  5. You can be thankful that lightning doesn't strike, but still get caught in the storm.
  6. I love love loved my training for this race and my nutrition plan too. I feel very fit and feel like I am moving in the right direction.
  7. Ultimately, missing a goal is not the end of the world. I have more chances to get there and it is still an adventure to see if I can do it. 
  8. Even when things aren't going your way, adjust and take pride in your effort. I would have felt a hell of a lot worse about the way things turned out if I had wallowed in things and slowed down or given up. Don't give up, unless of course they are putting an IV in... and even then, don't give up, just listen to the doctors orders.
  9. Remember it is suppose to be fun. The reality is that I am unlikely to make this or any Olympics (statistically speaking and realistically as well) and so I can set goals and pursue them whole-heartedly but also remember that this is my passion, my love and I am not defined by it. (And the same is true even if I do make the Olympics).
  10. There is always a next time. And the next time and the next time.

video

Watch on the right half of the screen, light blue top as I sprint past a guy and chick him 10 feet before the line. I am not very nice :)

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