Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Super-late Vermont City Marathon Relay Race Report

I may have mentioned that I was doing a half-marathon in May. Well, May has come and gone! My co-worker Deanna and I teamed up to do the Marathon relay. I had been running with Deanna all winter on my lunch breaks and she suggested that we do the race together.

A couple of months before the race, I started training, running about 20 miles a week at first and then up to 30 miles a week. My goal was to run my half (13.1 miles) in under two hours.

Two weeks before the race, J and I headed off to Florida for a nice vacation. The day we got back, we had to pack so that we could move to an apartment across town the next day. The day after that was race day!

I was very nervous before the race and was running on very little sleep. The night before, I had kept myself awake by repeating "I must get to sleep" over and over in my head. I tried to eat some food, but my stomach was so knotted that I could only get down a grapefruit half and a small Cliff bar. I kept drinking water so that I wouldn't be dehyrated, but then I kept having to pee.

Deanna ran the first leg of the Marathon, so J and I and her fiance, Dave, saw her off at the starting line. There were so many runners! Still, we were able to catch a glimpse of her as she took off. The course looped back around to the start line, so we waited there until Deanna passed by again. Then, J and I caught a shuttle over to the relay exchange, which was just a mile and a half south of the start line.

Deanna looping by the start line (she's in the blue, next to the guy in red). Photo by her fiance!

I waited for Deanna at the relay exchange after stopping to pee for the millionth time. I had to stand on my toes to see over the other runners so that I would be sure not to miss her. Finally, she rounded the corner and handed me a little yellow wrist-band. I took off, running at what seemed to be a reasonable pace (but which I would later find out to be too fast).

The first mile of the second leg was on a narrow bike path by the lake and I got caught in a large group of runners. Thankfully, they were all running about "my pace", so I wasn't stuck behind anyone or blocking anyone's path! After the bike path, I had to run up the biggest hill on the course, which wasn't bad at all, since there were so many people cheering the runners on!

At the top of the hill, I headed out on a very flat, several-mile stretch through some nice neighborhoods. There were tons of spectators on that stretch and I was in pretty good spirits, not really noticing how tired my body was. Many of the residents on the course streets set up tables and handed out fruit and water and I stopped at every station for water, which I think was a mistake. By the time I was leaving the neighborhood stretch, I felt insanely full and sloshy and could barely drink water without feeling gross. I had read about hyponatremia before the race, so I decided to take it easy on the water. From then on, I only drank Gatorade, which made me feel a little sick.

Around miles 8 and 9, the course reverted back to bike path, and the last 4.5 miles or so were on a quiet stretch of path next to the lake. I thought that it would be the nicest part of the race, since the scenery was so lovely and the course was all downhill from there. I was very wrong.

At some point in the race, my body started to go into autopilot mode. I am thinking this happened around mile 8 because I distinctly remember running down a small hill and realizing that I couldn't seem to physically slow myself down. My quads were burning and when I tried to do anything but move that the pace I had been moving at, they felt very rubbery and unsteady.

So there I was, in the last 4.5 miles stretch, running simply because I couldn't really do anything else with my body. I was full of water and I was tired and for some reason, my brain was saying You're almost there! But I wasn't! I was still more than 4 miles away! And that's when that really stupid voice turned on and said Boy, you're really tired! You could walk a little bit...maybe just sit down. WOW! You're tired!

I hate that voice.

Instead of listening to it, which I sometimes do, I just kept running. I found a guy to chat with, who was running the entire marathon. He was pretty miserable, so I found myself cheering him on and encouraging him, which helped me feel a little better about my own tired self!

In the last mile, I tried to run a little faster because I really wanted to be done with the race, but I found that I couldn't. My body was really tired and completely unwilling to cooperate.

Me, in the final stretch. So tired!!!

As I rounded the corner toward the finish line, I tried, again, to run a little faster, but it just wasn't happening. I crossed the finish line and could hear Deanna shouting to me. She had to prompt the woman handing out medals to give me one!

The finish - wobbly legs.

I remember finishing very vividly. When I stopped running, I immediately became aware of the pain in my legs and in my hips. I felt very foggy and a little dizzy but I also felt insanely proud of myself. I was so tired and so happy and I had so many great people with me to see me finish.

After the shock of finishing wore off, I got some Ben and Jerry's ice cream and sat around with my friends in the shade of a school bus, replaying the race in my head and stretching.

J gave me the best hug after the race! Photo by Lisa Thompson.

After saying goodbye to Deanna and Dave, Jordan and I went to the pub for a cheeseburger. By the time the cheeseburger came, I was feeling rather ill and tired, so we just grazed for a bit and then headed home. I got right into bed and slept for a while - another mistake! I was so stiff when I woke up!
The next day, Deanna sent me the race results. I ran my leg of the race in 1:55:54, meeting my goal of running it in under two hours! Overall, we had a marathon time of 3:44:09, which is really fantastic! I ran the first nine miles in 8:30 miles and the last few closer to 9:00 miles, which explains why I was so wiped out at the end, since I'm used to running closer to 9:30 miles. Next race, I will slow down in the beginning and try to make the last miles my fastest!

J and I are currently training for my next race - the Leaf Peeper's Half Marathon. And next year, I will attempt to run the full marathon in May!

The Running Titles (our team name!). Photo by Dave!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Now a Full-Time Self-Desgined Student!

When I started this blog, I chose the name to reflect my major. I was going to create a self-designed major that integrated geology and biology so that I could set myself up nicely for a paleo program. In the end, that didn't work out, so I found myself as a bio/geo double-major working full-time and taking a couple of courses each semester. I did that for three solid years and it was exhausting.

This fall, I am returning to school as a full-time student! I gave notice at my job and my last day is August 27th. They may use me for 14 hours a week or so after that, which will give me some income while I live off of loans!

The lineup for this fall is: Prehistoric Archaeology, Sociobiology, Physics I and Field Geology. I have also enrolled in an Evolution course, but I think I will save that for another semester. Without that course, I would be taking 14 credits, which seems like plenty for a first-time full-timer.

I am so excited to have time to devote to school and feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity.