Monday, October 27, 2008

The big weekend finally arrived! We decided to take a road trip down to Virginia to visit the hubby's sister and family (we would be staying with them in VA and commute into DC each day for the expo). It was a really long but fairly scenic car ride from Toronto to Virginia. The leaves are still turning down there and it was a beautiful sunny fall day luckily.

We had a great time at the 3-day expo. It was great to finally meet a lot of our east coast customers and running skirts fans. For those of you that haven't been yet, the Marine Corps Marathon Expo is gi-normous. You could easily spend a whole day or at least 4 hours walking around all the armory checking out all the latest running products, foods, drinks and gadgets. We were so busy, I didn't have a chance to walk the whole floor, but I did manage to make it by the Lara bar booth to scoop a few of the new flavor samples (yum!) and pick up a cute red white & blue long sleeve race shirt, hat and warm up jacket. There were marines everywhere! Working, running and volunteering. It was great to get to meet a few of them and hear about their lives, where they came from and where they are stationed, etc. I made a point to thank every one of them for their services.

After 3 long 12 hour days at the expo I commenced my normal pre-race ritual, salmon & rice dinner with veggies, ice bath & warm shower and stretching. My dogs were definitely barking after day 3 (most of our expos are 2 days). I tried to keep up a postive mental attitude and do a little visualization when I though of it. I think I kept getting interrupted by the hubby or baby before I actually visualized my finish!

I told myself as I put my weary aching bones to bed that I was NOT going to do the usual pre-marathon freak out and not sleep. As soon as I lay down, the nerves kicked in. If you've ever run a marathon - you know the feeling..your stomach starts doing flip flops and no matter what you do, you cannot relax and fall asleep! Throw in a baby that wakes up 2-3 times a night when hes not in his own bed and voila.....2-2.5 hours of pre race sleep. Par for the course for me. The alarm clock went off at 4:15 a.m. I quickly showered stretched and put on my camo running skirt and brooks racers. I threw my wave riders into my race bag just in case I made a game time decision change. (This would be my first marathon distance race in the lighter racers.) I've already done 3 half marathons in them so I figured I could pull it off. The less weight I have to carry the whole 26.2 the better. I woke up the hubby and baby bear and off we went to the city. We were meeting Val and a few of her police co-workers at the Hyatt Capitol Hill and then planned to take the Metro to the Runners Village at the start.

We arrived promptly at 6:00 a.m. (ok val, so it was 6:03) and then headed down to the Metro subway. By the time we got through the crowd in the Metro and checked our race bags & hit the porta potties, we had just enough time to weed our way to the start line. Val and I made our way up the 2nd corral for the 3 hour ish marathon finish time. The next thing I knew the gun went off and so did we. My race plan was to stay on pace for a 3:05 for the first half and then pick it up on the back half if I felt strong. The race started right off with some rolling hills and then more hills and then more. Wow - I had always heard the MCM was a great first time course, etc. etc. and didn't look into it too much. But, there is some elevation in the first half. I don't mind the uphill too much as it was accompanied by equal downhill segments. I was cruising along just under my goal pace - around 6:45-6:50 per mile.

I saw the hubby and baby at mile 10.5 as planned and was feeling great. We had perfect running weather - cool and sunny! I reminded myself that I needed to stay on pace and slowed down a bit. I crossed the halfway point in 1:29 something and was elated at how effortless it was feeling. I was relaxed and not feeling exerted at all. The goal of a 3:05 now seemed a sure thing and there was a glimmer of hope at even breaking 3 hours. All I had to do was hold on to my pace. The hubby was at mile 16 also, but I didn't see him. I was trying to stay relaxed and concentrate and didn't hear him yelling my name unfortunately.
(val at mile 10.5)

Mile 16 is when the wheels started to come off the bus. I felt a slight twinge in my right inner thigh and remember thinking - hmmm - that's new. I though about stopping to stretch but decided against it. I managed to ignore it until mile 18 when suddenly both of my hamstrings seized up on me. I yelled out in pain and stopped & bent over to stretch them out. When I bent over to stretch the hamstrings out quickly, my quads seized and then went the calves. I was jumping around trying to stretch one part, then was a very bad predicament. I loosened myself slightly up and plodded along thinking - ok, I must need some more electrolytes. I also remember that I was feeling thirsty, which I've never felt before on a run when I have been hydrating ( I hit all the water stops as usual). At the next water stop I took both water and powerade and stretched some more and then forced myself to go another mile without stopping. Even after the water, another roctane gu and some power ade, the pain was getting worse. If you've ever had a charlie horse in a muscle you have felt this pain - only it was both hamstrings, both calves and both quads all at once. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. I felt so good and so strong! Then wham! I was a hobbling, moaning blob of gu. I realized at mile 18-19 that my visions of a sub 3 hour marathon were now history, I was still confident I would make it in by my goal of 3:05 or so. HA! The hits just kept on coming. I would stretch a bit, then walk for 30 steps and then slowly pick it up to a jog again, but after about 20 steps the legs would cramp up again and I would have to stop in my tracks, bend over and stretch again. This ugly cycle was repeated all the way to the finish line.

I was that guy - you know the one - the guy who is screaming out in pain and hobbling or standing stiff legged along the sidelines of a race. I always thought - oh, that poor guy - he must not have trained properly. Yep - I was that guy - talk about humbling! I remember at mile 24 thinking "how the heck am I going to make it 2 more miles like this?". At one point somewhere between mile 24-26, I remember that I had to walk dowhill backwards with my legs spread apart to keep from falling over. With all my mucsles cramped up I couldn't bend my knees and I had to wobble down the hill in reverse. I would laugh at myself, turn around and try again only to make it two steps and then there would be a stabbing dagger in the back of both of my knees, calves and hamstrings and I'd have to stop and turn around and put it in reverse again. I think I even scared some of those tough as nails marines on the sidelines.

I also remember at one point standing bent over at the waist stretching my legs trying to get them to release a bit so that my knees would once again bend enough to start walking and jogging again, some guy who passed by had the nerve to yell "suck it up"! Oh, that really got me going....I started jogging and yelling in pain and anger got me going for about 10 strides until I was stricken stiff legged again. By now the only thing I could think about was crossing the darn finish line in one piece. I was afraid I would have to stop and get my first DNF and at the same time I was scared of how much worse the pain was going to get. I don't recall seeing any medics or I would have asked them for help - at least to stretch out a bit so that I could move better. I also knew the hubby would be really worried too since he expected me in sometime around 3-3:05, I remember the 3:10 pace group passing by at one point when I was bent over stretching. Unfortunately their words of encouragement did nothing for the uncooperative legs. I was overwhelmed by the realization that things weren't going to get better at this point. I just had to get to the finish one way or another. This is when the walking, stretching, standing, jogging cycle began. My last two miles took me about 22 minutes! Somewhere around mile 25 one of my old fleet feet team mates from Sacramento passed by me and yelled "Hi Cindy!". I was relieved to see a familiar face...for a second...I yelled to her "I started cramping up really bad..." and then she was gone. (As I went through my own post-race mile by mile replay of what went wrong, it dawned on me that this friend was the very same girl my running partner and I hooked arms with and ran her in - overheated, dehydrated and all - to the Boston finish line with us so that we could cross the line together as a team. Hmmph!
(photo of cramped legs at finish line stretch - note the behind the knee/calf/hammy area - ouch!)

As I walked my way to the final stretch of the last mile, I could hear the roar of the crowd and still couldn't get my legs to cooperate. I was still doing the walk, jog, stretch routine. I jogged halfway up the last hill to the finish line (what a cruel cruel joke on this course) and saw my sister in law holding my little baby in the stands. I waved to him and he reached out to me with both of his chubby little hands as if he was saying "come and get me mommy - I'm over here! Why are you running away?". I smiled and waved again & mustered up one last stretch of an attempt to jog across the finish line - and then it was over! 3:20 something was my final time - I will post my splits when I reconnect with my garmin - they are pretty funny.

All in all it was a beautiful day and a challenging course, but a very well organized marathon event. When I reunited with my hubby at the finish - he was worried that I had suffered an injury or perhaps even something worse. As he embraced me and I recounted to him my demise after mile 18, he said "oh, you must have been so upset, were you crying?" I chuckled and said - "no, why would I be crying?" I thought to myself, at least I have my legs to hurt and cramp up. There were so many amputees and wounded soldiers that were participating or volunteering at the race, it was very moving. I remember passing by a girl pushing her boyfriend or husband in what appeared to be a jog stroller from behind. As I passed her I realized that he was another amputee. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank God for these soldiers who are out there laying it all on the lines for us all!

(post 26.2 cerveza)

After a talk with my coach on Monday, we concluded that the 3 day expo work on my feet 12+ hours each day and being under hydrated and lacking electrolytes, surely the cause of the cramping. Lesson learned, all the training in the world won't help if you don't take care of your body in the days leading up to the marathon. I won't try to PR a race again after such a long week of travel and time on the feet.

(much needed ice bath...questionable toenail casualty on left foot)
Here are my splits: 6:57, 6:52, 6:32, 6:28, 6:41, 6:50, 7:08, 6:37, 6:49, 6:40, 6:51, 6:49, 6:50, 6:57, 6:58, 6:57, 7:05, 7:10, 7:12, 7:27, 7:43, 7:58, 8:10, 9:50, 11:06, 12:51.

Next up, NYC Marathon with Christy next weekend - yikes!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Toronto Marathon was a great event this weekend. We kicked the weekend off with the Health & Fitness expo at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto. We were thrilled to be located directly adjacent from the Yo-Pro booth (yummy healthy high protein frozen yogurt) and right next to the massage booth. I was joined in the running skirt booth by our super star personal trainer & uber runner Judika Klose who helps me out in the skirt booth for the Canada events. Judika is a super mom of 5 kids (yes, that's not a typo...5!) and a personal training business. After her 5th child she was over 200 pounds and now look at her (she's wearing the lilac plum outfit in the video from our marathon Relay team this weekend). She's such an inspiration and oh so fast (she runs around a 1:20 half!) Despite recovering from a serious ankle injury she was able to take on 2 legs of our relay and ran a 38 minute 10k - sweet! One speedy skirt for sure. Thanks Judika - you rock the skirts!

We had a speedy marathon relay team made of up Krista Boylea 1-10.1k, Judika Klose 10.1-20k, Agnes Ngunriji 20-25k, Cindy Lynch 25-30k, Antony Mwangi 30-35k & Josiane Aboungono 35k-42k, finishing in 2:42. Unfortunately Jamie didn't make it up to the first leg in time to capture Krista (she had the big hill in the starting leg 10k!) and was flying! Josiane & Agness and Antony were all coming down from big races the previous day at the Oasis Zoo Run (see story below)

Getting a nice congratulatory hug from womens running pioneer Katherine Switzer.

The last 3 women of our relay team accepting our relay award at the finish. The awards were all presented by Katherine Switzer.

Oasis Zoo Run
While we were working the booth at the Goodlife Toronto Marathon Expo, our speedy skirts Josiane Aboungono was racing the last race of the Canada Running Series, the Zoo Run 10k. Josiane had a great race, she was in the lead when she took a wrong turn on the course and had to work to get back on the course & catch back up with the other leaders. Unfortunately, while she was re-passing the lead female Lioudmila Kortchaguina, according to Josiane and the other lead runners that were in the lead pack, Liudmila grabbed the back of Josiane's jersey and pulled her close and then (get this!) gave her a sharp elbow in the ribs. Josiane fell back and fought the rest of the way to the finish and still managed to come in 3rd female overall....she was not happy with the sportmanship of Lioudmila. Josiane & her coach reported this incident to the race officials, and were told, since it wasn't captured on tape or film it was "part of racing" and there was nothing they could do about it. Wow - when I heard this I was really sad. It's very unfortunate that this type of bad sportsmanship and apparently running combat (or hand-to-hand combat as the Canada Running Series race report termed it) is acceptable by these race officials. After talking to some other elite female runners, this apparently isn't an isolated incident with this runner - she has pulled other similar stunts to other top female runners. Shame on you Lioudmila! Maybe if she wore a running skirt, she could be a speedy skirt that wouldn't have to resort to taking combat cues from her husband on the sidelines.

Photo of Liudmila at the finish line.

To finish this recap on a positive note. Josiane's top finish at the Oasis ZooRun 10k this weekend landed her the points to finish out the Canada Running Series in first place. Woohoo! Congrats to Josiane, Nicole and the other top female finishers in Canada Running Series.


1st  Josiane Aboungono      Milton, ON      130 points   $2500
2nd Nicole Stevenson Toronto, ON 121 points $1500
3rd Lioudmila Kortchaguina Toronto, ON 105 points $1000
4th Nancy Tinari Coquitlam, BC 96 points $750
5th Lisa Harvey Calgary, AB 90 points $500

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I can't believe the Toronto Waterfront Expo is here already! What a great marathon event - the course is known to be flat and fast and last year Daniel Rono ran the fastest marathon in Canada on this course.

Here's a great shot of Jamie & baby admiring the marathon trophies at the expo last weekend! I can't believe he will be 11 months old next week - crazy how this year has flown by.

Last year I was 8 months pregnant and ran the 5k with Arma who was 7 months along at the time. It was cool to hear all the comments as people stopped by the booth and it was nice of everyone to ask how the babies were doing, etc.
This year Arma and I were both planning to run the half marathon as part of our marathon training programs (she's running Columbus in 2 weeks) and I'm running Marine Corps in 3 weeks.

OK - on to my race report. We had a very busy weekend at the expo - with the new camo skirts and the mini dot running and athletic skirts back in stock, it was a skirt frenzy! I barely had a chance to snack on anything, but managed to keep hydrating at least. I did have a few lara bars and bananas on hand thankfully.

Saturday night after the long day at the expo, we had my husbands high school reunion. It was the 50 year anniversary for the high school so all the graduating classes for Richview Collegiate were invited to attend this giant celebration. The hubby was super excited to go to the event and see all his old buddies and classmates. By the time we got back to the hotel and cleaned up it was 8:30p.m. I was dragging my feet on going since I was already exhaused from working the booth the last 2 days, but I knew how excited Jamie was so I "took one for the team" and mustered up a little energy to get showered, dressed, do my hair, etc. (When I secretly just wanted to take my traditional pre-race ice bath, hot shower, stretch, have my pre-run salmon & rice and go to bed!) The reunion party was awesome - I even got to meet the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper (Richview Class of 1978) see photo below. He used to run on the cross country team at Jamie's school.
He seems like a great guy! (I was so glad I decided to venture out to the reunion instead of staying in and going to bed early.) I even indulged in one glass of red wine, but followed it up with several glass of ice water. I pulled the running a marathon tomorrow card and pulled a Cinderalla, sneaking out around 11:30 and catching a cab back to the hotel with hopes of being in bed fast asleep by midnight.

These hopes were all shattered (at least the fast asleep part). There was a bachelor party going on in the room across the hall from us and - get this - a bachelorette party 2 doors down. It was party central on our floor until 3:30 a.m! I finally got some sleep at 3:30 for about an hour before the little guy woke up at 4:30 for his early feeding. I had just drifted back to sleep when my alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. I had to get to the start early since I realized I had forgotten to get my chip activated. I jogged the half mile to the start line and knew I was going to be in for a challenging race. My legs didn't have the bounce in them that they should have!

I managed to work my way up to the front of my corral for the race start and spotted my coach in the crowd who gave me a nice 2 thumbs up gesture. As the gun went off, I found myself sucked in by the lead pack and I was berating myself when my garmin gave my first mile split of 5:54 mile. Uh-oh, I said . I immediately slowed down to my planned pace and plodded along waiting for the heaviness in my legs to ease up. Normally after working the expo for 2 days it takes about 5k to work all the lead out of the legs and get warmed up. Well, this never happened for me today. Even after my first roctane gu - I never got that energy boost! At the halfway point, I was trying to hold on to my pace and very nervous about my level of exertion already. I did everything I could to hold onto my pace, but I could feel myself slowing down each mile. It was sure mind power that got me to the finish line this legs had nothing in them. Here are my splits: 5:54, 6:28, 6:38, 6:42, 6:42, 6:59, 6:41, 6:42, 6:53, 6:42, 7:05, 6:49, 6:40. I finished in 1:29:09. I have never been happier to see a finish line, but didn't have the normal kick left to sprint across with a smile. I was completely drained this time. Definitely, my day of reckoning. Lesson Learned. Don't try to PR when you don't take care of your body and get adequate sleep & nutrition. All in all, it was still a great race for me and landed me 3rd place a/g and a cool mirrored plaque award.

I'm proud to say that our "speedy skirt" Josiane Aboungono came in 3rd woman overall in 1:19:24.