Sunday, October 18, 2009

Long, Slow Training Day: The Duke City Marathon

Today I did my first marathon.

T told me to go slow.
He signed us up by telling me that this was to be a training day. No racing, just training pace.
That was easy to do.

I was so tired when I woke up this morning, that I was almost unable to get out of bed. As I reluctantly fought my way to wakefulness, I had this feeling of deja vu--then realized this was the same feeling I used to have when I was young and would stay up too late. As I gained consciousness, I realized I felt young again. How funny is that?

For a number of reasons, I haven't slept well in days.
Combine this with being ill last week, not giving myself enough recovery time so that I became ill again this week, 3 days of total rest this week (Mon,Tu, Wed), then working out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday--and, yes, I was tired.

Not only was I tired, but I woke up sore.
I had gone for an easy ride on the flats the day before, but the wind made it difficult. Plus, I had ridden low and aero for practice, and my hips were letting me know they could feel the difference.

So I groaned my way out of bed, telling myself that Time marches on and soon the day would be over.

I found it funny that at 6:00 am, as one of the first people to arrive, some yAhoo had to use his horn in the parking garage. How fast do you have to go to get to nowhere?

The race started at 7 am, so it was nice to be out of the cold in the "warm up" area in the large banquet hall in the convention center.

We picked up bags for the clothing drop off early, which allowed us to drop off our warm clothes fast 5 minutes before the start.

It was nice not to care where we seeded ourselves. Time didn't matter today--except in my case, I just wanted it to pass.

We started out slow and easy. T took off after a few blocks. I felt pretty poor for the first mile, then settled in. Sort of. I was far more hydrated than I realized, since usually I'm coming off a swim and a bike beforehand. I used every portopot available, and had some uncomfortable miles in between, eyeing every bush and wondering if I should use one. My hands were so frozen by mile 5, that "clothing management" was difficult and I couldn't get my shorts to "unroll" after clumsily trying to pull them up. I always think of Misty and her inhaler vs. the portopot incident, so I was slow and careful--even though I didn't have any pockets--so probably my brain was frozen, too.

The nutrition went easy. Water initially, with a little Gatorade for the first hour, a gel at the first and second hours, a 2X caffeinated gel at mile 16, and an extra sodium with no caffeine gel with 5 miles to go. I kept the fluids to primarily water, with some Gatorade as I neared the top of each hour. It worked well. What didn't work well was the banana that they had at the turnaround. Clunk. Like lead in my stomach. Brown and icky. Probably chopped the night before and left out on a counter somewhere. Really bad. So, now I know at least one of the reasons why people develop tummy troubles during big/long events. That one took several miles to get over.

I spent an inordinate amount of brain power trying to figure out what "training pace" was. All the way out to the turn around--when I finally got tired of the whole "slow and easy, I'm going to be out here for days" pace, and decided to pick it up a bit. The problem was I knew my training pace for an easy 9-12 miler, but had no idea what my training pace was for a marathon--since I'd never run the distance before--and especially not when my body was that tired.

So I booked it back in a negative split, passing all those poor people who'd gone out harder than me and were now walking, and trying not to be competitive, because 1) T told me not to, and 2) at this point, what would be the point? I knew I might pay for it later, but it felt good to stop worrying about my pace. My miles were completely consistent--same time for each mile (slow) all the way out, and same time for each mile (slightly faster) all the way back. Add in innumerable potty stops, and walking each aid station, and I had a finish time of 5 hours and change. The best part was finishing with a strong pace and finding out that running a marathon is doable. One day, I think I might actually want to run one for real and find out what my marathon time would be. But, for now, with no taper, sore, recently ill, and tired--it's 5 hours and change--and that's good enough for me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Just a Thought

Some years back I owned a tiny Toyota Corolla station wagon. Cute as a button. The engine came from a Corolla sedan that had been rear ended by a truck--engine good, rear trunk bad--and I found the body from the comment of a passing stranger who said his neighbor had a shell of the same kind of car sitting in storage in his garage --body only, no engine, perfect.

As an aside, and just in case your wondering, the sedan was $35, and the station wagon body cost $90.

I owned that car for several years. One time, I went out to the car and it had two flat tires, front and rear on the same side. Another time the engine died and I and a friend had to push it up a hill (it was a tiny car). By the time I was done with it, it had an over-heating problem, and I had to drive with the heater on (use the defroster if you have to do this, to keep the hot air out of your face), in the dead of summer, and keep the speed under 55 mph, just to cool the engine enough for a one hour drive.

The engine was simple. No computers, electronic ignition, or fuel injection.
I used to do my own basic work. Oil, filter, pan, wrench. Feeler gauge, distributor cap, rotor, etc, spark plugs, wires sometimes, wrench, and rag. Blow the air filter out with the compressed air at the gas station.

I remember one day doing a tune up.
Finding TDC and setting the timing.
I mentioned this to a friend of mine.
A day later he showed up at my house with some electronic gizmo that I had never seen, heard of, needed, or wanted, to check my timing.
Me, being who I am, I let him do it. I remember thinking why does this guy have to rely on a machine to figure out if the timing is right?
He told me he was checking the dwell. Huh?
Then I remember him looking either surprised or sheepish, probably from relying on that unnecessary gizmo to tell me what I already knew, that my timing was fine--just a whisper from where that machine said it should be.

I was young and I thought my friend was kind of an a**, but not enough to do anything more than let his actions pass.

* * * * *

A few weeks ago, I started work with a new client. To get to his house you drive up a long, narrow easement, bordered closely by fencing on either side, past two houses, and park in a small space that doesn't allow for a turn around. The first time I got ready to leave, the men of the house came out with me and made several comments about people having difficulty backing up and running into the fence. Since I work from appointment to appointment, I was in a bit of a hurry to get to my next house. But the men kept hovering, commenting about the difficulty of backing down the long driveway. I tried to make placating, polite "I'm going now" noises, but then, as I felt pressed for time, and in an effort to move things along, I finally said, "Well, let's just see how I do" (an unexpected phrase for me), got in the car, and took off. At a fairly good rate of speed. Dead center. Nary a scratch. Backing up just a bit faster than expected, partially to allay their doubts but probably more just to show them.

* * * * *

Yesterday, T and I went for a bike ride. Somehow I dropped my chain going flat and slow over the Alameda bridge. So, I got off the bike, replaced the chain, and just as I was spinning the crank to make sure the chain was set, T pulled up and said, "Hey, that was fast." To which I replied, without thinking or hesitation, "You know, sometimes you guys treat us women like we're imbeciles." Really. I said that. And T laughed. Which is a good thing, because those words even surprised me.

But they got me thinking.
And I remembered years back to the car tune up.

And, after all these years, I finally wondered, do you think if I had been a guy doing the tune up, would this other guy have brought over his gadget, unasked, to check my work?