Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Post Challenge Thoughts and in the News Again!

It's been a little over a week since the Boston Marathon and the completion of the 50-state marathon challenge goal. I know what you're thinking... I said I'd continue my blog and I haven't written in a week. Well don't worry- I'm still blogging I just haven't been running. For some reason the more running I'm doing the more I like to write about running. Unfortunately my ankle was a little wonky after Boston (ok, ok before Boston but whatevs) and I've been resting it. REST?!? Yeah I know. I'm sure the rest of my body needed it too. 

Ankle Update!
What I'm feeling is sort of a REALLY bad bruise or a mild stress fracture of sorts on the inside of my upper ankle. It's its a really weird spot and doesn't actually hurt too much if I run (with good form) but I'm more afraid of making it worse. It's actually feeling much better with the central pain area shrinking down every day. I've been doing a ton of cross training to make up for it... including my 60 minute hill climbs on the stair stepper! 

I've been icing, stretching, and compressing as much as possible. But the real challenge will be this weekend...

Upcoming Race(s) 
This weekend I have BOTH the Nashville Country Music Marathon AND the Flying Pig Marathon here in Cincinnati. Talk about testing out the wonky ankle! But I figure... if I'm going to continue to train for Western States I have to get my mileage back up NOW! If I can't do it now then it's not going to happen. Let's hope ~1.5 weeks of non running training will cure my ankle! 

Post-Race... Crazzzziness
After completing Boston the party really started. The parentals rented out a room of our hotel for a post-50-states-challenge-celebration! It was great to have so many of my family, friends, and running buddies there. After we found 2 nearby bars to continue the festivities! 
I can't forget my favorite spectators! When I lost all my GU at starters village I was a little nervous. Lauren and Kyle found me at mile 4 and I told them I lost my GU so they went to Dick's picked up some, timed where I was going to be, and found me at 14. They're the best spectators EVER.... they're also pretty good friends ;) 

Look who else came! Elizabeth of "50 for Billy." Gotta love the bloggy/maniac buddy support! She came and supported me in Boston (which she is also planning to be her 50th state) and I tricked encouraged her into thinking a double marathon this weekend is a good idea!!! I love my bad influences!!! 

I think I mentioned last week that one of the local news channels had filmed me running and did a little interview prior to Boston. They were supposed to just air it during the live coverage of the pig but it turns out they actually aired it all day Monday! I had no idea but when I got to work a ton of people were telling me they saw me. It definitely spread the word. Here it is!!!...

Check it out when you get a chance!!!!

That's it for now. I'll update ya'll later on the ankle and see if I'm ready for yet another double marathon weekend!!!!

Happy Running,
50 State Marathon Finisher! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

50 States Challenge... Complete! Boston Finish!!!

Monday I ran the Boston Marathon and completed my quest to run 50 marathons in 50 states!!! It took about 2 years and 3 months to hit all the states (plus a few extra just for fun). The past 2 years have revolved so much around running, planning, traveling, etc just to get me to the finish of the Boston Marathon. I'm so excited to have finally gotten there. 

How did it go? I ran a 3:34. Not great but I was having some serious stomach issues.... the 10am start really throws your body off when you're used to 6 and 7am. Eating the day and night before as well as the morning need to be adjusted and I wasn't exactly sure how to make that adjustment. I heard from a lot of people that planning and eating is a common problem for Boston with such a late start. Regardless of the time it was an awesome experience. I could have run a 5 or 6 hour race and still have been unbelievably happy. Finishing Boston and finishing your 50th is such an awesome experience... having them combined was amazing!!! Esp when you have this waiting at the finish...

My family, friends, maniacs, and bloggy buddies have been SO supportive over the past 2 years. I'm incredibly grateful to have them and was so happy to have so many at the finish line. It doesn't end there.... my friends Lauren and Kyle were jumping the course and even went and bought me GU. I had a ton of other friends all along the course that managed to find me with those crazy head boppers I was wearing. Thank you all so much for coming out... it wouldn't have been the same without you!

Marathon Morning!
I woke up Sunday to MB reading (and crying over) an article about my marathoning from a local paper... this was going to be a long day. My parents took me to the buses, got some dunkin donut bagels and coffee, and they sent me on my way. MB said it was like sending me to my first day of kindergarten. 

I was nervous all the way out to Hopkinton and when I finally got there I was ready and raring... and had 3 hours to wait. lol. Luckily for me, I found Mel and Bethany and Ryan to keep me distracted from the chilly morning and the longest wait ever for a marathon start. 

Entertaining ourselves before Boston involved Mel and I finding water "sent from god" and us convincing Bethany and Ryan to reenact their proposal from a prior Boston Marathon. Awwwwww

The Race
Walking to the start of wave 2 was the most exciting few minutes of the race. I've never felt so much energy at the start of the race. The excitement was tangible in the air. This was the first time I took my sweats off and revealed my "50 States" outfit so a LOT of questions were asked and other runners were nice enough to congratulate me. The start of the race is almost completely downhill. That matched with the speed of those around you, it's hard not to get caught up going out fast. Starting from Hopkinton the celebration is in FULL swing with "adult beverages" already in the hands of the spectators.

It got more exciting with each new neighborhood we ran through. My favorite spot was Boston College. The students were crazy and SO excited for every runner. The all changed "USA" when I went by which was pretty cool. I was happen to discover I had a lot of friends along the way that I didn't even expect. They found me easily with my head boppers. The number of spectators along the way was amazing. From the start I had dropped my bag of GU but the spectators had enough oranges and twizzlers along the way to feed a 3rd world country for a year. 

Finishing the Boston Marathon
Warning: The following content is rated 'S' for sappy and 'D' for dramatic (I was in a creative writing mood). You've been warned...
The feeling of finishing your first Boston marathon is amazing. The feeling of finishing your 50th state marathon is incredible. Combine those?... it’s practically indescribable. But I’ll try just the same…

I was at the end of the 26th mile when I looked up and saw "Herford Street" and I smiled knowing just how close I was. We approached the only other turn at Boston, Boylston Street, and I could feel the weight of all the training, marathons, traveling, etc. falling on me already. I stopped and walked for a few paces to collect myself (I was NOT going to cry down the last stretch of Boston). Turning onto Herford and Boylston has to be the most intense feeling I’ve ever had. The noise is deafening. Perfectly good strangers are SCREAMING your name like you’re Kara Goucher. The sites and sounds are a sensory overload and looking up to see the Finish Line looming .2 miles away is almost startling.

Turning onto Boylston my mind exploded with blurred thoughts of every marathon, every state, every training run, injuries that were pushed through, and hard workouts that were completed. I heard my name,  glanced to the left and saw the Red Head and all the encouragement and friendships I’ve gained from my bloggy buddies flooded through my mind. I saw a maniac up ahead and almost lost it again thinking of the incredibly supportive group I’ve become part of. It was like my “marathon life” was flashing before my eyes. And let me tell you… 50 states+ worth of marathons and all that encompasses is a LOT of thoughts to cover in 2 tenths of a mile!

Then… silence. I crossed the finish line and in the 3 or 4 steps it took me to bounce out of my stride I swear it was like static silence in my head and all around me with the quite thought of “I did it.”  It may as well have been a training run. Silence around me and looking down all I could see were my own feet and the road. I heard MB’s voice yelling my name and it broke the silence…

(In a recent interview I was asked what I like best about running… why I chose this sport. I told the reporter that I love the fact that in marathon running you control your destiny. Once that gun goes off there are no coaches and no teammates to rely on if it’s a bad day. Only you can control how you run and what the end result is.

…But we all know that’s not completely true. If you’re lucky before you even tie your shoes to walk to the start line you’ll have gotten already gotten encouragement from your friends in the form of a cookie basket, champagne, and a new pink sweatband. You’ll have been encouraged for weeks (sometimes months and years) by family and supported to go after any goal you have. You’ll have had amazing coaches and running buddies that have been patient through injuries and temper tantrums, and excited when your goals are met. When you run a marathon it’s up to you to move one foot in front of the other but I know I would never have finished a goal this big without my family and friends.)

Finishing the Boston Marathon was exactly like my general running career. I came to the finish by myself in silence but when I looked up there was all my family and friends behind me, supporting me and cheering me on. My whole family was there (parents, brother, grandparents, aunts uncles, cousins), my best friend was there, my FIRST running coach was there, and many more friends. I started crying before I could make the 10 feet it took to walk from the finish line to them. My mom hugged me til I stopped and everybody took (oh so attractive) pictures to capture the moment. 

I’m not ashamed that I hugged my mommy and cried… because 1.5 hours earlier Ryan Hall had a similar emotional embrace with his Daddy! If an Olympic caliber runner can do it, so can I! 

Mission Accomplished.... 
Well Steph's 50 Marathon Challenge is complete. So what now? Well I'm working on my WS100 training currently. After that I'm actually going to cut back on my marathon craziness and focus on SPEED... I have plans to PR at the New York City Marathon this November!!! What? Did you really think I was going to give up the marathon bug that easily? 

I want to thank EVERYbody for the amazing support I've received along the way. I started this blog as a way to keep my family up to date on my marathons and I never expected it to turn out like it has. I've made so many new friends over this adventure. Also a HUGE thank you to my family, especially MB who is my biggest fan. She will be finishing her own 50-states quest this coming March at the LA Marathon just in time for her 50th birthday!!!! 

Happy Running,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Boston Marathon... my RUNdown

My usual "RUNdown" gives a summary of the race- course, support, field, updates and news, etc. In this case... I'm not sure there is anything I can tell you about Boston that you don't already know. So I'm going to do a RUNdown of what's going on specifically at Steph's 50 marathon challenge! 

Inspiration Points...
Marathon #59... and STATE #50!!!!
1. 50th State! Folks, this is what we've been working toward for 2+ years!
2. Family Support! ... Almost my entire family is coming in from Albany and we even have our "groupies" (Jodi & Chris) coming all the way from Washington! Also, this will be the FIRST marathon my brother, Nick, has ever seen me run... maybe we can inspire him to take up running!
3. Friends/Bloggie Love! I have a bunch of friends coming to support me (including Lauren who is flying out with me from Cinci). There will also be a bunch of bloggie-runners with various events set for the weekend! This is the first time I've seen the amazing and wonderful Mel (aka Tall Mom) since Seattle last year. Good luck lady!!!

Celebrate Good Times C'mon!
This week has been full of events in preparation and in celebration of my 50th state marathons. 
1. Girls Night Carbo Load... I have great friends that are so supportive of my crazy running. They don't even complain (much) when I miss so many fun weekend night of debauchery! We went out for a little early carbo load the other night and they surprised me with an amazing basket of "50 State Marathon" themed cookie lollipops and a bottle of champagne. Surprisingly both are still intact! Thank you SO much Diana, Camm, and Kelsey!!! <3 <3 <3

2. In the News!... Yesterday I had two news channels doing stories on me. The first was in my hometown (Albany). I'm obviously not there so Fox News did a little slide show of pics they pulled from my blog and narrated my 50-state quest. The fun part? They even got my bloggie buddy Suzy (Running on My Time) in on the action. The first slide is a picture of the 2 of us at the 2010 HMRRC winter marathon where I made my first ever BQ!

While this story was airing in Albany, I was in front of my apartment in Cincinnati with News Channel 5 causing quite the commotion (I would find out later via messages from friends driving by). The Cincinnati local station is doing a quick story on me that will air during their live coverage of the Flying Pig Marathon at the end of the month. 

3. Race... Prep? ... If you don't already follow the ever crazy Elizabeth on "50 for Billy" you should go check it out. She's on her own 50 in 50 quest and it's to honor her father Billy who passed away suddenly in 2006. She's raising money for The Center for Grieving Children and has a spirit and enthusiasm that is contagious. As a local Boston chick she is "prepping" for my Boston run in her own way... Jello Shots and Blow Horns!!! She is going to be at Heart Break Hill waiting for me with these very important items. Don't believe her? Yeah she's already posted pictures of both on facebook! The great part? I often forget... I've NEVER met Elizabeth, however through blogging and the maniac/facebook community she's become a great friend and I'm looking forward to our many marathons coming up together including the Flying Pig and the Great Cranberry Ultra. 

Prepping for Boston!
1. Running Diva! I picked out a patriotic themed outfit with red shorts or "hot pants," a Blue tank that I'm putting white stars on and "My 50th State" as well as blue arm warmers with white stars. Oh and don't forget my american flag head boppers I wore at the D.C./Bataan double! Mojo Running of West Chester, OH (my Tues running group) was SO nice to get me Brooks podium boy shorts and get them screen printed with "MOJO!" 
Be impressed... I took this pic myself and I have SHORT arms!!!
Besides my red/white/blue theme I got a fun present in the mail yesterday. Endorphin Dude (I'm sure you've seen him) made me an official "Endorphin Dudette" and sent me a sweat band to rep the Endorphin dudettes while running Boston!
Also- I'm wearing my "Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston" shirt to rep the Boston Marathon before my interview. My Aunt Terri sent it to me for my Bday. I'm ready to go!!!

2. Ice Baby Ice!!! If you haven't been following I've had some shin splint issues for the first time since... well... ever! Most of it has gone away but the lower ankle feels like its either still hurting from that or just some mild tendinitis. I've been making dixie ice cups and taking lots of ibuprophen to help bring the swelling down. I don't think it will bother me for Boston but I have to be careful with WS100 coming up!!! 

Meet Up Info!!!
There are FAR too many but here are some of the big ones. If you're going or want to go and need more info LET ME KNOW!!!
-Zumba with Julie @ Curves for Women in Needham, MA
-Expo: noonish-2
-Bloggy Pre-Party meet-up 2-4pm
-Boston Beer Summit 5-9pm

-B.A.A. 5k & Bloggy Meet-up (not running) at the Library/port-a-potties at 7:30
-Bloggy Brunch at 10am. 
-11:30: Maniac Picture at Boston Finish line
-Expo Part 2 (bringing the fam)
-Family & Friend Pre-Race Dinner!!!

Monday: RACE DAY!!!
-Bus pick-up. I'm suggested to be there at 6:30-7.
-Runners Village... I'm in Wave 2, Corral 1! I'll have my phone so we can schedule some sort of meet-up!

AM: I MAY be running (most likely) early am if anybody at all wants to join. This will be an EASY jog for 10-18 miles depending on how the ankle is feeling. 

Ok, I'm packed and ready to go!!! See you in Boston! 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Last Coach's Corner & Taper... Whaaaa?

T-5 days til Boston! If you're the "tapering type" and not the "addicted to marathon running so I don't believe in tapering" you've already started to decrease mileage. You all know me... I normally think of a cross training day after my 2 long runs as a "taper" for the next weeks marathon. However, I've been good lately. I took a drop down LR last weekend and I've decreased my mileage slightly this week. WHAT? Yep that's right... for the first time since January 2009 Stephanie is doing an (almost) TRUE taper!!! I even said 'no' to a few marathon offers last weekend.

Am I sick? Nooo but I'd like to give my body a little rest before the big 5-0! 50th marathon state! I'm going to have a lot of people at the finish and I don't want to keep them waiting around for me ALL day. :) That and it would  be nice to PR. 
That's my take on this week. What does Coach Bob say? Well this is Coach Bob's last week of Boston advice and he's getting us through a thorough yet productive taper week. Let's listen in....

Well, everyone has trained hard and smart for Boston.  Some are going for a PR while some are going to just enjoy the whole experience.  I wish you all the best of luck!  I will be hard pressed to do much teaching on April 18th as I will be watching my computer screen checking out the splits of many runners all day!  Here are some last minute suggestions for training this week.

1.  Tuesday I would suggest you do a quick 6 miler.  First 2 miles as kind of a warm up, the next 3 as marathon pace and then an easy 1 mile to warm down.
2.  Wednesday I would suggest this.  1.5 miles easy then 4 x 3:00 minutes hard with 2:00 min recover between with 2.5 miles very easy
3.  Thursday I would suggest an easy 6 miles total.  One of those recovery runs to let the legs recover.

From here it depends on your flights or driving times...........

4.  Friday I would suggest an easy 4 miles with two 1 min surges in the middle miles.  The legs still need to feel the pace and be reminded of what marathon pace feels like.
5.  Saturday either off if it is your travel day, or I still always find a way to run.  3-4 easy miles when you arrive will help you sleep as well.
6.  On Sunday, I would still do an easy 3-4 miles just taking in the Charles River if you can.  Your legs and body will be fine.

A couple of last notes: 
~HYDRATE on the plane.........I don't mean alcohol, yet!  You need to keep flushing your system especially while you are flying.  You can be a quart or two low by the time you arrive in Boston.  Keep the fluids going.
~Make sure to lay out all of your running and racing and throw away clothes before you leave for the airport, if flying.
~Check and double check the weather!  You can buy extra clothes when you get there if you forget something, but you will be more comfortable in your own stuff!
~Stay POSITIVE and have a great time!  It is BOSTON!  What else can I say?

~Luck to all!

Coach Bob

Thanks so much Coach Bob for all your help the past few weeks! Good luck to all you Boston runners this week and remember to have fun!

Happy Boston Marathon Week!

Monday, April 11, 2011

T-1 Week Until 50 Marathons in 50 States!

I started this blog 2 years and 2 months ago as a means to stay true to my goal of 50 marathons in 50 states by Boston 2011. Since then you have all followed as I've completed 53 marathons and ultras in 49 states & D.C and (initially) struggled to make a BQ prior to Boston registration. With the 5 marathons prior to 2009 that is a total 58 marathons! 1 Week from right now I'll be on the bus to Hopkinton to finish this crazy quest and complete one of the biggest goals of my life... I'll be heading to the Boston Marathon for my 50th state!!!

Could I be any more excited? No! Could I be anymore nervous?... also no! I'll have a ton of family, friends, running buddies, maniacs, and bloggy buddies at the finish that I'll keep in mind every step of that 26.2 journey because without any of you there is no way I would have made it through these crazy 2 years. Between now and then I have a crazy number of posts that I still owe you...

1 Coaches Corner
3 or 4 Race Reviews
1 Boston Marathon RUNdown
Updates on WS100 Training (although that is taking a backseat this week for Boston)

Don't worry I'm not going anywhere yet. I have at least 6-7 marathons and ultras lined up before WS100 as well as the actual 100 miles from hell planned. Also-- hello!!! Remember I qualified for the NYC marathon? I'll definitely take you all to and through that experience. All in all I'll be running THREE majors this year... Boston, Chicago, and NYC. Also-- sorry folks but my 50 state adventure won't be complete until I get all sub 4-hours in all the states. So, nice try but I'm not that easy to get rid of. More to come throughout BOSTON MADNESS WEEK!!!!
This has been going around FB... but in case you missed it!

Happy BQ Running,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Patriotic Double Part 2... Bataan!

Last we left off fellow Maniac, Dave, and I were in 1st class flying to NM from DC on our Patriotic Double Marathon weekend! We didn't get into El Paso until after 9 and we didn't get to the hotel until after 10:30 (12:30 EST). Considering we were up at 5am I was pretty spent! I fell asleep as soon as I laid down. Traveling cross country while trying to recoup between races is not an easy task. There are some things to do to make recovery easier while traveling. This is what I recommend...

~ Nutrients! Within an hour of your first marathon finish it's very important to get as many nutrients back in as possible. I suggest getting something with carbs, proteins, and electrolytes. I brought powdered Accelorade with me to dump into water so I could have a quick drink to get everything I need. 
~Water! Start drinking as soon as you start the 1st race and don't stop until you complete the 2nd.
~Salt! Runners have a lot of issues with water/salt retention. Electrolyte drinks usually help but try to eat something with salt as well... esp in the morning of the 2nd race. Without salt, you'll retain all that water and it won't get into your system properly. 
~Compress and Lift! If you can find compression socks, get them on asap (esp for flying). Also, your legs should be rested and elevated as much as possible. This is hard on a plane, but as soon as you can try and get those tired legs up! 

Race Morning~The Start
Two years in a row I've stayed in Las Cruces before the race. It's about a 20 minute drive from the missile range and the closest town. Another option is to stay on the base in bunks (no thanks!). When we got up and went to the car if felt like perfect weather... still and warm but not hot. 

Then we drove to the base. On the way out I felt the wind pushing my rental car. The short drive brought us up a pretty good climb then down into the valley around the start. It also brought so MAJOR wind! Not only that, but the wind was cold! What happened to the warm weather just 20 minutes away in Las Cruces???

We found a group of maniacs to take a picture and huddle together to stay warm!

Lining up for this race isn't like any other. They pay tribute to the vets that were present for the historical death march... who by the way also happen to be there! They go as far as doing a roll call for the vets that passed since the prior year. After, the Bataan vets are walked to the start first followed by the amputee soldiers. The rest of us fall in line behind them and we're off. Since they honored vets are placed first at the start, the first half mile or so is a little bit clustered. Weaving and bopping is needed but everybody is so lively and supportive of each other it feels good. 

The first few miles were fine as we were partially blocked by the buildings and going away from the wind. However, we would turn toward the wind for a tenth of a mile at a time and I knew we were in trouble on THE hill. I was told that because of the way the valley is built the wind comes up OVER the hill, meaning I was going to be on marathon #2 for the weekend, facing some of the most challenging climbs I've ever done and oh yeah... let's throw 30-45 mph winds just for kicks!

The Hill!
I counted down the 7 or so miles until we started the climb. Below is the elevation chart Dave got from his garmin running that morning.

The hills themselves weren't bad at all! I remember the climb being a lot worse, but I've been doing a LOT of hill training for WS as well as some tough trails. The wind, however, was pretty bad. I would be pumping my arms and legs as hard as possible and sometimes I would get pushed backward!!! 

Being tired and a little run down from the day before, the hard wind was very demoralizing. I finally got through the climb then began the roller coaster downhill portion of the race. At this point I was passed by one female and stayed with her until about mile 20 when I was just too worn out to go any harder. 
Running my my patriotic outfit!
The final few miles include the "sand" portion of the course which is just kind of annoying to wade through, as well as a few turns that brought us back into the wind. This is definitely not one of my easier marathons. I was able to pull through with a 4:01:58 to give me 2nd place. Combined double marathon times... I've dropped about 40 minutes since my last double!!! On top of that I know I could have gone much faster if I wasn't on such a tough course. I'm really looking forward to the Nashville/Flying Pig double to see what kind of times I can get! 

A great race to be proud of however I had really hoped to go sub-4 at this race. It also would have been nice to take first at one of my favorite races! Next year I won't be running as part of a double marathon weekend or part of a team. 3rd times a charm? Let's hope! 

Happy Running,