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Posts Tagged ‘Santa Rosa Marathon’

“To B(Q) or not to B(Q)?” That is the question. If you’ve been reading along you already know the answer. If you’re playing catch-up with my Santa Rosa Marathon recap, here is Part 1 – Race Morning and Part 2 – the First Half.

When I reached the half marathon mark, I did a quick assessment. On track according to the pace band? Check. Body feeling okay? Check. My left hamstring had been mildly complaining at me for miles 1-10 but it miraculously loosened up and it felt good by the half. Breathing okay? Check. While it was definitely getting harder to maintain the 8:25-ish pace, I felt good overall, better than I had at the halfway mark at Mountains2Beach or Long Beach. I was really relieved that the mild cold I had caught from my kids the week before didn’t seem to be bothering my lungs at all. I had a bit of a runny nose but don’t we all while running?

At every mile mark throughout the race I did a check on my posture and running form. When I start to get tired, I’m terribly prone to hunching my shoulders, clenching my fists, and jutting out my chin. I made sure to relax my shoulders back and down, release my fists by pretending I was lightly holding a potato chip under each thumb, and draw in my chin (“shutting the drawer” as Coach Stephanie would say). I also made sure I was utilizing my core, tightening those muscles to help power my legs. This training cycle I really worked a lot on core strength and I could tell it made a difference. In the Long Beach Marathon, right around mile 17, there was a female spectator who was obviously an experienced marathoner. As I struggled on the relatively minor hills through the Cal State Long Beach campus, she called encouragement to me to use my core and run strong. That had stuck with me this whole time, nearly a year later!

Miles 14 to 16 (8:25, 8:28, 8:24)

As I ran mile 14, I started giving myself a pep talk. The mental game definitely began at that point. I knew I was on target to BQ if I could stick to my race plan. I told myself to prove each mile that I could do it. Just run 8:25 for the next mile. Prove it. Each mile felt like a huge success. At the same time, I started to break down the race into pie pieces. You’re halfway done. You’re two-thirds done. You’re three-quarters of the way. Don’t give it up now!

Somewhere around mile 15 I passed the 3:45 pacer, who still had a crowd of 10-15 runners clustered around him. Remember, I was targeting an 8:25 pace at this point and he was probably running a more even 8:30-8:35 throughout the race. So while I’d always had him in my sights, I finally passed him at that point. That gave me a boost of confidence and I knew as long as I stayed ahead of him I had a nice cushion on that 3:45 time (foreshadowing, much?)

Miles 17 to 19 (8:28, 8:24, 8:32)

There were times when I believed I could do it — I could maintain pace and BQ — and times when I did not know how I was going to keep up that pace. It got harder and harder each mile, especially during the ones that I stopped to walk through an aid station to gulp down some Gatorade and then I had to pick up the pace again to bring my average back down to 8:25. I knew though that if I didn’t keep up my fuel intake I would bonk at mile 18, 19 or 20 as I had in other races. I was super happy to see that 8:24 pace on mile 18, because it meant I hadn’t hit the wall and I could still run strong.

What surprised me is that my quadriceps started getting sore. Not cramping up or anything, but definitely getting sore, which is unusual for me during a run. Sure I get sore after, but during? Clearly I was putting in a lot of effort to maintain pace. That’s when I really had to dig deep. I started drawing on all the good wishes from friends near and far:

Your legs are more than ready. Your heart will do the rest. (Andrea)

You’ve put in all the hard work, now you get to enjoy the race! (Jen – Running Moves Me)

You have worked hard and … you will get to see your hard work pay off! (Kim – Day with KT)

Sending cheers and cowbells down the coast. (Geli – Run Oregon Blog)

I know you can do it! Sending you energy and good vibes! (Angie – Maybe Marathoner)

I know you have it in you. Stay strong and push through! (Sandy – Boston Bound Brunette)

It sounds cheesy to say so but I thought about all the people who believed in me, perhaps even more than I believed in myself! They boosted me up and motivated me to run as hard as I could. I knew my family and friends would be tracking me using the RaceTec Live Tracker (finally, a live tracker that actually worked!) and I wanted to reassure them that I was hitting my time goals and I was where I was supposed to be at miles 8.23, 13.1, 20.2 and the finish. I know I ended up worrying people a bit because the tracker showed gun time and not chip time (which was about 1:03 faster), so the closer I got to the finish, the less clear it was that I was going to make it. Either way it was going to be a “squeaker” for sure. Who knew the sport of marathon racing could be so exciting?!

Miles 20 to 22 (8:27, 8:33, 8:44)

I had told myself before the race that if I got to mile 20 and was feeling good, I should try to pick up the pace. My legs were quite sore by that point and they certainly did not want any part of picking up the pace! My calves started threatening to tighten up too. I concentrated on staying loose with a quick foot turnover, as fast as my mind could force my legs to go! I developed a new mantra, one that convinced me to keep running my hardest no matter how improbable a 3:45 seemed at that point:

It wouldn’t be Boston if it were easy.

It wouldn’t be Boston if it were easy.

It wouldn’t be Boston if it were easy.

Meaning, I shouldn’t get discouraged if I was struggling to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Of course I was struggling! If I weren’t struggling it would mean that I wasn’t putting in my absolute best effort. So I just kept repeating:

It wouldn’t be Boston if it were easy. Leave it all out on the course! Don’t give it away now!

By that point in the race the full marathon course had joined back up with the half marathon course on the greenway. Frankly, that was a little frustrating and discouraging. I do not mean to criticize this race or the half marathoners at all — this happens at a lot of races where the two courses converge at the end. Personally, I find it very hard to face the wall of half and full marathoners, many of whom are struggling at that point in the race (just like I have in other races). There were lots of walkers and slower runners. They weren’t blocking the path, but they messed with my perception of how fast I was going. I thought I was booking it (and it certainly felt like I was putting out a tremendous effort) when my pace did not always reflect that. I had to fight for every second, and remind myself to go by my watch, run my own race, and not key into anyone else’s pace (more foreshadowing).

Miles 23 to 25 (8:40, 8:48, 8:22?)

There was one person’s pace I needed to key into though: the 3:45 pacer, who snuck up behind me at mile 23. The sight of him really put the fear into me! I might not make it! By then, he did not have a single runner keeping pace with him. All those runners who had hung tight with him in the early miles had faded away, and I despaired as I watched him pull away from me, too. I literally gritted my teeth and determined to keep him in my sights. I went back to my old mantra: Prove it. Each mile, prove that you can hang in behind him. Don’t let go! I knew that I had a little bit of a cushion because he’d crossed the starting line before me, but I also knew that it was only a matter of seconds, not minutes. Precious seconds.

At some point during every race, usually in the last mile or so, I realize I’m not actually going to collapse and die right there on the course and I can afford to put on a kick with every last bit of reserves I have in me. I don’t know if that 8:22 split is accurate for mile 25 or not, because I kept hitting the wrong button on my new Garmin — hitting “stop” when I wanted to switch to the next screen to see the TIME/DISTANCE readout rather than my usual PACE/DISTANCE readout. Once that happened a second time I told myself to stop messing around and JUST RUN! At that point I was either going to make it or I wasn’t and I just needed to run as absolutely fast as I could without looking at my watch anymore.

Mile 26 and the last 0.2 — well, 0.36 by my Garmin (9:04, 8:23)

The course hit the streets of Santa Rosa again and I knew I was getting close to the end. I told myself what I always tell myself at that point in a race:

The faster you run, the faster it will all be over.

I was never so happy to see the finish line before in my life! Except the finish line gun time clock also came into focus, and I saw it said 3:45:XX! I knew then that I would have to run my heart out and hope for the best. I heard the finish line announcer call my name and that gave me one last surge of energy to cross the timing mat. I crossed it, and I didn’t even smile. No arms up in the air in victory like I had pictured when I envisioned getting a Boston Qualifying time. No sobbing of happy tears. I was completely and utterly spent, like a big balloon that had started the day all inflated and happy and had slowly leaked air until it lay like an empty, limp shell on the ground. I must have looked stunned because the guy handing out medals asked me if I was okay. I nodded numbly, accepted my medal, and glanced down to check my Garmin. 3:44:25. I had done it. I had qualified for Boston. My official chip time was 3:44:26. I had 34 seconds to spare. Precious seconds.

Looking back, I realize that at the time I didn’t quite believe that I had pulled it off, that I had really gotten the BQ I had been training for ever since I ran my first marathon in 4:02 nearly two years before that. I felt like someone would come up and tell me it was a mistake, that I hadn’t really qualified, and they’d take it away. Partly too it was that I knew that if I let myself believe it, I really might start to sob right there at the finish line. Slowly throughout the rest of that day, I let it start to sink in, and eventually I wanted to tell anyone and everyone who asked: “I qualified for Boston! Finally! Fourth full marathon, first BQ!”

So now you know all the crazy thoughts that go through my head before, during and after a race. When you run 26.2 miles, you spend a lot of time in your head and it’s always interesting to see what thoughts go through it and what you end up taking away from the experience. This time I took away a sincere gratitude for all the encouragement and support I had received during training and during the race.

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We interrupt this Santa Rosa Marathon recap with the least original thing said after a marathon, ever: I am so sore. It’s been 48 hours since the race ended. I feel pretty good if I keep walking around, but as soon as I sit down for any length of time, or worse yet, sleep? I can barely get moving again. My quads are so sore that it took me three tries to get up off the couch this morning. Finally I succeeded by doing a newborn giraffe move involving spreading my legs wide and using my arms to press myself up to standing.

If you missed the thrilling first installment of the race recap — Earthquake! Axe murderer! — you can read Part 1 here. I left off at the starting line.

Start: 6:03 a.m.

You might recall that one of my goals was to go out slow, up to as much as 40 seconds slower than marathon goal pace, in the hopes it would help me keep from bonking later in the race like I did at Mountains2Beach when I went out too fast. I had written up a marathon pace band starting at 9:10 for mile 1, 8:50 for mile 2, 8:40 for mile 3, 8:30 for mile 4, and 8:25 for every mile after that. Assuming I could run the tangents well enough to run 26.4 miles total (just 0.2 over the plotted course), that would bring me in at the finish line at exactly 3 hours 44 minutes. The night before the race I decided I couldn’t quite bear going out 40 seconds slower, but I would try to go 15-20 seconds slower for that first mile, and then ease into marathon goal pace over the next three miles.

Miles 1 to 3 (8:43, 8:33, 8:32)

I loved starting out at an average 8:43 pace for the first mile. My legs felt fresh from taper but I didn’t make the mistake of going out too fast because of that. I found that I wasn’t huffing and puffing, and the first mile felt like a nice warmup. The whole field of runners set off in harmony and I easily settled in without having to dodge around other runners as is often the case at larger races.

The first 2.5 miles of the race wound through the city streets of downtown Santa Rosa. It seemed like a lot of turns but it went by quickly as I focused on running the tangents (running the most direct route possible). I knew that those 2.5 miles would help spread out the field of runners so that when we hit the narrower greenway path at 2.5 miles it would not bottleneck and back up. Thank goodness that was indeed the case. It didn’t feel crowded on the greenway and I didn’t feel any frustration with my position in the trail of runners. I did worry that at some point I would want to pass the 3:45 pacer and the pack of runners clustered around him, but — spoiler alert — that didn’t happen until mile 15 when we were out on the road.

The greenway is just that: green and beautiful and mostly flat. Note that for safety reasons, runners are only allowed to have one earbud in while they are running on the greenway (that was the 2014 rule anyway). I choose not to listen to music while I race. I can listen to an audiobook during training runs, but during a race I like to focus on my surroundings, on how my body feels, and on my pace and form. I don’t mind if others listen to music as long as they are aware of others around them.

Miles 4 to 6 (8:30, 8:27, 8:24)

Aid stations popped up every 2 miles or so on the course. They were well stocked with Gatorade Endurance and water. (Only once did I suspect my cup of Gatorade had been watered down a bit. The lemon-lime flavor that tastes like liquid gold when I need it tasted more like Gatorade-flavored water that time. Overall though the aid stations and volunteers get a big thumbs-up from me). The best stations were the ones that had water on the left side of the course and Gatorade on the right. That made it easy to grab the correct cup from the volunteers. I also saw volunteers handing out oranges, bananas, and gels at aid stations later on the course. I did not carry any fuel with me and I relied solely on the course aid stations. I had practiced this at the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon in May and on interval workouts during training. I knew I needed to get 6-8 ounces of sports drink at each aid station, which meant asking for two cups and taking about 8 gulps as I walked. I burn over 3,000 calories during a full marathon and I wanted to take in at least 1,000 calories on the course. Ten minutes before the race I had gulped 16 ounces of Gatorade (enough to prime the system, taken in close enough to the race start that it did not make me have to stop at a porta potty along the course. There were plenty of those but I’m grateful I didn’t need one).

Miles 7 to 9 (8:24, 8:22, 8:28)

Just after mile 8 the course leaves the greenway path and hits the road. There are some rolling hills, never more than 30 feet of elevation gain and loss. Any potholes were marked with yellow spray paint around them. The course was marked in green sticker arrows and white chalk (blue arrows for the half marathon). I never had any problem navigating the course.

Miles 10 to 12 (8:23, 8:25, 8:27)

Around mile 10 the course veers into beautiful DeLoach Vineyards, one of the sponsors of the race. That’s the one hiccup on the course — you have to run on a very short section of dirt road, just a few hundred feet. I wouldn’t have minded it but the runners ahead of me kicked up a lot of dust. The reward for running over that stretch though is getting to run through the barrel room at the winery. Watch out for runners stopping to take photos at this point and of course if you are one of those stopping to take a selfie, remember to be considerate and step all the way to the right to stop. The course heads back out past the rows of grapevines. The vines were dripping with full clusters of grapes at this time of year. Some of the trees on the course were already starting to blush with fall color even though it was only the end of August.

Mile 13 and 0.1 – The Half Marathon Point (8:30)

At the half marathon point by the distance shown on my Garmin, my time said 1:51:05. The race timing mat at the actual half marathon point registered my chip time as 1:51:48. That was just 3 seconds slower than the target time I had written on my pace bracelet: 1:51:45. Things were looking good, but I knew from experience that the race really starts for me around mile 18. Only then would I know if I could break through the proverbial wall and run on pace to qualify for Boston with a 3:45 or less. And now, Part 3, the thrilling conclusion!

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The night before The Santa Rosa Marathon I set two alarm clocks, one on my phone for 3:45 a.m. and a backup one on my Garmin Forerunner 10 for 3:50 a.m. I turned off the lights for bed at 9:20 p.m. and I had surprisingly little trouble falling asleep. Race jitters used to keep me up and anxious the night before a race, but I seem to have conquered those. I still get terrible jitters in the days leading up to a race, and the morning of, but sleep is such a precious commodity in my world that I have learned to drift off to sleep by reassuring myself that all the work I could have done is done, and my only remaining job is to sleep! I slept very well until 3:20 a.m. when I felt one of my children jump into the bed. But then the bed kept rocking and rolling, and I thought it must have been my two indoor cats fighting. But the rocking and rolling continued, and I woke up enough to remember where I was – alone in a hotel room bed, sans kiddos and sans cats. Earthquake! By the time my addled brain registered that fact, I thought for sure the rocking and rolling would stop any second. It lasted so long though that I really ought to have vacated my room on the second floor of the hotel (regardless of the fact that I didn’t have any pajama bottoms on). So much for my survival instincts!

Thank goodness we did not seem to have any injuries or serious damage in Santa Rosa, and we didn’t lose power like much of the Bay Area did. Turns out the earthquake was a biggie, a 6.1 centered not far from Santa Rosa. Just my luck I would be up north for the largest earthquake in 25 years!

There was no going back to sleep after that so the morning routine continued apace (ha, a little running pun there). For pre-race breakfast I had coffee with skim milk, oatmeal with a dash of sugar to make it palatable, a banana, and 16 ounces of Gatorade. I tried to finish all that by 4 a.m., two hours before the race was scheduled to start at 6 a.m., but I didn’t quite succeed. I then hustled into the race gear I had laid out to make Flat Angela, and I taped on my pace bracelet. I packed my phone, sunscreen, hotel key, and another 16 ounces of Gatorade and I was ready to go by 4:45 a.m.

As I pulled out of my parking space at the hotel, I saw another runner starting to walk the two miles to the starting line. I didn’t want to scare her but I took a chance and rolled down the car window. “Do you want a ride to the race?” She was stunned but quickly judged that I was not an axe murderer and she gladly accepted. I think I got the better end of the deal because Yara turned out to be a very nice person who kept me company until it was time to part ways right before the race. We parked in the parking structure at Sears ($3 and very convenient) and walked a couple blocks to the starting area. We hit the porta potty lines twice (I guess ladies do like to go to the restroom in packs!) and then I headed off to strip off my sweats (compliments of the Goodwill thrift store in Santa Rosa) and check my bag. The weather was great, 55 degrees at the start and yet the humidity took a little edge off the chill. I made it to the race chute with 15 minutes before the 6 a.m. start. Santa Rosa is a smaller race with 1,235 full marathoner finishers so there were no corrals; people placed themselves by the pacers or wherever else they wished to be. The race started on time, just as the sky began to lighten. I crossed the timing mat at a slow jog and hit “start” on my Garmin Forerunner 10 (my 110 died a week before the race, but that’s another story). We were off! Click here for Part 2 of the Santa Rosa Marathon 2014 recap!

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My goals rarely change for a full marathon. They’re pretty standard this fourth time around:

My “A” Goal: Qualify for Boston with a 3:45 or less.

B Goal: PR. My previous personal best is 3:52:42 from the 2013 Long Beach International Marathon (recap).

C Goal: Don’t bonk. Fuel properly.

D Goal: Enjoy the privilege of running on a beautiful course at Santa Rosa!

I know I’ve got my “D” goal covered. I think if I can accomplish “C” (fueling properly) then that will lead to “B” (a PR). Reaching my “A” Goal of qualifying for Boston would be icing on the race cake. [I wrote these goals down before I caught the cold my kids brought home from school. So far it’s a headache/sore throat cold and not a stuffy nose/chest congestion cold. Fingers crossed that it gets better and not worse by race day!]

You can follow along with the fun on Sunday morning starting at 6 a.m. PDT by plugging my bib number, 1573, into either the mobile or desktop RaceTec Live Trackers:

Mobile RaceTec Live Tracker

Desktop RaceTec Live Tracker

It should post results at five points along the course: the start, 8.24 miles, 13.1 miles, 20.2 miles, and the finish.

Wish me luck!

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Four days and 13 hours to go until my fourth full marathon, The Santa Rosa Marathon on Sunday, August 24, 2014. I’ve reached the point where my stomach does a little nervous flip-flop when I think about the race. As usual, it’s ridiculous, and I wonder why I put myself through this. (Answer: The sense of accomplishment after every finish line and every workout).

Taper is going well. I knocked out a 6-mile tempo run on Sunday with five miles at an 8:00 pace. Monday I biked 15 miles and did 30 minutes of core work. Today is a rest day. Tomorrow’s speed workout is just 4 x 200 m with 200 m rest intervals, for a total of three miles with the warm-up and cool-down. Thursday is a rest day, Friday is 10 minutes of drills, Saturday is a rest day and Sunday is the big race day!

I’m busy worrying over a few things:

1. Weather — the race day temperature still looks favorable with the 6 a.m. temperature starting at 54 degrees and not going above the low 60s by 10 a.m. The problem is that in the early morning hours the humidity is nearly 100%, a “dripping fog” as local organizer and legendary ultrarunner Arthur Webb puts it on his very helpful blog. Here in SoCal I train in bone-dry, drought-ridden conditions. I guess it’s a good thing my last long run was in the high 80s and so muggy it felt like I was running through the pool locker room at the gym.

2. Tapering — While I still regret running 18.25 miles of speed workout just 10 days before the race, I am consoling myself with the fact that 9.25 of that was at 10K pace, 2 miles at easy pace, and the rest was walking. I also did a bunch of reading and research on carb loading, and in reading Matt Fitzgerald’s book Runner’s World Performance Nutrition for Runners: How to Fuel Your Body for Stronger Workouts, Faster Recovery, and Your Best Race Times Ever, I saw that he said:

I always recommend doing a final longer run [15 miles] about a week before longer races (half-marathon and up) for maintenance of endurance adaptations.

(p. 131). Bless you Matt Fitzgerald for easing my mind a bit!

3. Health — My three girls started junior high and elementary school last week and two of them have already managed to bring home cold viruses. I find that marathon training revs up my immune system and I rarely get sick during training (knock on wood). The one exception is during the reduced workouts in taper. I am going to be very disappointed if I show up to the starting line with a cold.

4. Bonking a/k/a Hitting the Wall — If I want to come in at 3:45 or under, I need to maintain a steady pace of about 8:30 per mile over the course of 26.2 miles. I looked at my last two big races, the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon and the Long Beach International Marathon, to see how I did on pacing. In the half I did a good job of pacing (especially in light of the hills), with an average of 8:10 pace and a 7:54 for mile 13. No problem there. The concern comes when I get to about mile 18 of a full marathon. While I wouldn’t say I hit the wall in Long Beach (I didn’t have to spend time in the medical tent like I did at Mountains 2 Beach), my pace dropped off after mile 18. I averaged 8:30 for most of the race, then 8:59, 8:28, 9:06, 9:31, 9:41, 9:50, 9:57, 10:04, 9:41 and the last 0.2-mile sprint at 8:48. Not exactly the strong finish I’d like to see at Santa Rosa. Now, rest assured, I’m not just crossing my fingers and hoping for a better outcome this time. Here are four things I have done or will do to power myself for an even pace at Santa Rosa:

1. Strength training. My core is much stronger now than it was almost a year ago at Long Beach. I know I can draw on those muscles to help maintain good form throughout the race.

2. Carb loading. I’m paying particular attention to what I will eat over the next three days, increasing carbs to about 70% of my daily diet. That translates to 10 to 11 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight.

3. Starting slow. It’s been a hard lesson for me to learn, but now I understand that going out even a handful of seconds too fast at the start of the race can cost whole minutes at the end of a race. I plan to start slower than marathon goal pace and ease into it over the first four miles.

4. Not carrying my fuel with me. This is the first full marathon where I will rely fully on the aid stations on the course. By not carrying that extra weight with me, I can shave a few seconds off each mile (which, granted, gets balanced out by stopping to walk every two miles through the aid stations). I practiced this at my last half, and I practiced it on my 18.25-mile speed workout. I’m still worried about not getting enough fuel at each aid station, but I have calculated that I need to get 6-8 ounces each time and that seems manageable.

Anyone else have a race coming up soon? What have you done differently during your last round of training?

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1. You have the most interesting set of tan lines (especially if you are from SoCal). I have an inch-wide ring around my ankles that marks the line between my running socks and my leggings. I have a very distinct line on my thigh from my Under Armour compression shorts. I not only have a watch tan line but I can see tiny tan spots on my left wrist from the small gaps in my Garmin wristband.

2. You bruise easily because you have a little more muscle and a little less padding than usual. I currently have bruises on both my knees and I don’t even remember bumping them.

3. You have set aside your race day running outfit, right down to your lucky underwear. (What? Doesn’t everyone have lucky running underwear? Mine have cheetah spots, because, well, cheetahs run fast!)

4. You start every morning by checking the weather forecast for race day. Santa Rosa is looking good, baby!

If this weather forecast holds, it will be in the high 50s and low 60s for the entire time I'm on the course.

If this weather forecast holds, it will be in the high 50s and low 60s for the entire time I’m on the course.

5. You start seeing “signs” about the race location. I had friends who visited Santa Rosa on vacation last week. The Ragnaritas team I’m on for the Ragnar Napa Valley relay race in September has been talking about staying at a house in Santa Rosa after the relay.

6. Friends start wishing you well for the race. I saw another runner friend at school drop-off this morning and she was kind enough to offer me encouragement. Thank you Yvonne! (It took me a second to process what she was talking about because we hadn’t spoken recently about this race, but duh, I have this little old thing called a blog, where I kinda talk about my upcoming races a lot!)

7. You eat everything in sight, partly because you’re nervous and partly because you are used to eating an extra 1,000 calories per day at the peak of your training. I’m trying to be good about making sure what I am eating is not junk. I find it’s easier to eat well during taper because each time I put something in my mouth I ask myself, is this a good idea?! Will this help me or hurt me on race day?! That makes me sound a little obsessed about my food intake but I promise I’m not. I’m just letting you in on the crazy things that run through my mind right before race day.

8. You read back issues Runner’s World magazine and watch Spirit of the Marathon for the umpteenth time. I like to pretend I’m Deena Kastor. She’s only two years younger than I am. And she only runs the marathon 1 hour and 33 minutes faster than I do! 😉

9. You’ve trimmed your toenails, not too short and not too long. Maybe you’ve even painted them bright pink, just for kicks. Come on gentlemen, no one will ever know!

10. Your emotions swing wildly between “I can’t believe the race is coming up so fast!” and “Let’s do this already!”

Eight more days to go!

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Yesterday I completed the final 20 mile run in my training for the Santa Rosa Marathon coming up in three weeks. It was particularly important to me that the run go well, given that I cut my previous 20-miler short at 18 miles due to the heat here in SoCal that day. I am trying to be smart and not overwork my body just to check off the mileage on the training plan. That’s major progress for me because I get a lot of satisfaction from crossing off those workouts!

The weather yesterday did not offer a lot of promise — 75 degrees when I started at 6 a.m., and so humid that it reminded me of running in Hawaii but without the gorgeous views to inspire me. In fact it felt more like I was running through the pool locker room at the YMCA, it was that humid and uninspiring!

I determined to do my best and to fuel properly to avoid bonking. Gatorade is the sports drink offered on the marathon course so I’ve been practicing using that on my long runs. I carried a full two liters of Gatorade in my new Nathan Intensity 2L Women’s Hydration Race Vest:

(Happy early birthday to me! Thanks Mom and Dad!)

I drank every single drop of that two liters of Gatorade by the time I reached home 3 hours and 16 minutes later, and I didn’t bonk! That’s 20 miles with an elevation gain of 1,300 feet, completed at an average pace of 9:50 per minute. To give myself that extra boost of confidence I so desperately needed, I completed the last mile at 8:55, proving that I still had something left in the tank after a solid run. The only bad news was that I sweated so much in the humidity that the sweat pooled in my new shoes, and when I got home, I peeled off my socks and wrung out about a half cup of sweat, much to the amusement and disgust of my 9-year-old!

I celebrated the successful run by having some friends over for a pool party and potluck lunch. One of Mike’s and my high school friends came into town from Ohio and we took the opportunity to gather seven classmates together, 25 years after graduation!

How was your weekend? Did you exercise?

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