Friday, February 24, 2017


     I know it has been a long time, but I hadn't had a whole lot to say about Irish dance. If I had written a post about dance a month ago, it would have had a different tone. But as far as Irish dance goes, do you ever have a time when everything starts magically falling into place? Well, that was sort of this month for me. But that story will have to wait until later. First, here's a recap of the marathon.
     Training for the marathon really started getting rough about the last time I posted. I was up to the 14 or 15 mile long runs, and I think I may have already shared about having to ease up on my training. I was using Hal Higdon's Novice 1 plan and was feeling so good that I switched to Novice 2, but it was just too hard on my body, so I went back to Novice 1. I completed my first marathon with Novice 1 anyways, so I knew it could still work. Another thing I did was I actually ASKED FOR HELP! This is a BIG deal for me, because sometimes I'm just too embarrassed and try to figure things out on my own. My brother-in-law has run several marathons though, so I got some advice from him about nutrition and speed work/pace training. Because of the switch from Novice 2 to Novice 1 and the chaos of the holidays, I ended up with an extra taper week, and I missed a couple of workouts, but I had accepted that I did the best I could.
     Armed with a new belt-pouch thing for my running fuel, and some energy chews, we headed to Florida on January 6. It was awesome weather, but they were predicting a cold front. That night, we were walking around Disney Springs waiting for our table at Raglan Road (yes, even on a trip for running, I couldn't get away from Irish dance/music...we were too late to see the dancers, but they had a great Irish band). The news broke that the half-marathon had been cancelled! Never was I so happy to be running the full marathon. It ended up storming in the wee morning hours, so I guess it would have made run set-up a nightmare and could have been a dangerous situation with thousands of runners headed out to the start corrals so early in the morning. The runners made the best of the situation, and we even cheered on some runners who gathered to run the 1-mile jogging trail in front of our hotel the next morning as a makeshift half marathon. While we were at the running expo, the lines were insanely long as people tried to either get a gift card in exchange for their cancelled run registration or switched from the half to the full marathon (I can't imagine training for a half and suddenly switching to the full, but I don't blame them...I would have done it if I was in that situation, even if I had to walk the last 12 miles or so). It started raining and turned cooler as the day went on. I had a two-mile jog planned for the afternoon, so it would give me a chance to test the temperature and my gear.
     My gear. Ha ha! I live in the south and was traveling to Florida for the marathon. They say to do a long run in what you will think you will wear on race day. The warmest clothes I had done a long run in was a short-sleeved shirt with yoga pants. I ran on the treadmill when the temperature dipped below the 50s. My yoga pants were wide-legged, so I didn't want them dragging through puddles, and instead opted for capris. My husband had created some makeshift arm warmers out of old socks (I don't have the money for the fancy ones!), and it turned out I forgot to pack any long-sleeved running shirts. I added an old hat, and I was fine for my 2-mile jog. Actually, I got a bit warm and took off the gloves and hat I was wearing. But then, the temperature dropped even more.
     On the bright side, it was a clear day on marathon morning. The rain had moved out, but it was in the upper 30s. When I went to catch the bus from the motel, the feel was so different than during my previous marathon. People were sitting around the lobby, or hanging out in the restaurant, whereas last time there was a line for the 3:30 (yes, the 3:30 am!) bus. I walked right on, which made me even more nervous. I told myself to calm down though, I was just going to a marathon after all. I've been to Iraq, and here I was getting nervous about a marathon.
     I looked ridiculous. I was wearing black workout capris, with 2 layers of short-sleeved workout shirts (one tight-fitting, and one a unisex souvenir race shirt). I had one old pair of socks on my upper arms, and one on my lower arms, along with a pair of gloves. I wore a hat and in my fanny pack was a ear-warmer headband (I thought I might toss my hat to my husband when I saw him at mile 16 and switch to the headband...that didn't happen). I also brought an old high school sweatshirt that I planned to leave in the start corrals.
     Well, at least there was a lot of camaraderie among the thousands gathered to run in the cold. I met a couple of nice ladies near one of those portable heaters (it was off, but everyone gathered around as if it was the placebo effect). We chatted until I stopped at the port-a-pot on the way to Corral G. A couple of things about this race: You are assigned a corral based on a 10 mile or longer race completed more that 2 months, but less than 2 years, prior to the race. Also, you end up having to get there way early and standing/sitting around for a while. I got off the bus a little before 4 am. They let us in the corrals around 4:30, the race didn't start until 5:30, and Corral G didn't start until about 5:55. It is really hard to get warm and stay warm in those conditions, unless it was like last time, when it was in the low 60s at race start.
     I had been so angry I got in Corral G. I really thought I should be in Corral F, based off my last marathon finish, which was just under 4 hours, 14 minutes. Corral F was for 4:09 to 4:23. Corral G was 4:23 to 4:38. 4:38! There was no way I wanted to run that slowly. They based my placement on a half marathon I did at the beginning of October, toward the start of my training. All my pre-pregnancy races were either too short of distances or too long ago. I wasn't sure what to expect for my finish time, though. I really wanted a personal record, and of course I would have loved to get it under 4 hours, but 4 years had passed, and I had a baby since my first marathon. I wanted to run with a 4:15 pace group, but they were nowhere in sight, probably up in Corral F, which started 3 minutes before I did. Last marathon, I finished with a pace group, and it was so great, having a couple of experienced runners encouraging you and keeping you on track, and I had wished I had run more than just 6 miles or so with them. The one advantage of Corral G was that at least there was a trailer next to it that helped block the wind. Corral F didn't have that.
     Finally, we moved up to the start line. I was so sad to leave my sweatshirt behind, but I knew it would get too sweaty if I didn't. I could go on and on about my race experience and what I was thinking at any given time, but I will try to be brief. It was quite cold. I had put the ear warmer headband around my neck so I would have room in my fanny pack for my water bottle and ended up leaving it there for the first 10 miles or so, long after I threw the bottle out in the start corral. I ditched the top set of arm warmers in Tomorrowland, and took off my gloves for a little while, but later I ended up putting the gloves back on. It was coldest right as the sun was coming up. I was super-excited to see my husband and my smiling son, bundled up in his stroller, right before the 16 mile marker. By mile 17, I started getting warm, but that was short-lived, as the wind picked up on some open stretches of highway around mile 21 or so. I hit the wrong button on my watch in the pre-dawn hours, so I wasn't exactly sure how I was doing, but I suspected that I was not going to PR. Still, the clocks at the mile markers seemed to indicate I was going a steady pace.
     I was overjoyed to see the finish line at last and was overcome by the emotion of finishing the run, finishing the training, overcoming the recovery from childbirth, the 51 pounds or so of weight loss, the juggling of mommyhood and training, and the support of my family. I later found out my husband and son arrived in the finish line area a couple of minutes before I crossed the line and saw my big smile as I finished. When I came out of the runners' area, they were waiting for me, not just with the sweatshirt I asked them to bring, but also with a rose they purchased in front of Epcot. <3 I later found out my finish time was 4 hours, 22 minutes, and 28 seconds, about half a minute under the Corral F cut-off. Told ya I would finish in less than 4:23! :)

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