Monday, December 15, 2014

What Got Me Through 18 Weeks of Marathon Training

Don’t worry, y’all: we’re almost to the end of marathon-related posts (well, for 2014 at least).

I know I wrote a lot on here about my training leading up to my first marathon, but just as important as structured training were the little things that cushioned the days leading up to the big race.

So, without further ado, I present to you my list of my amazing saviors during marathon training.  Without these people and things, I might not have made it through 26.2 miles intact.  Cheers to all!

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I am a huge tv person, and these days, I tend to follow the binge watching pattern (recent binges include The Comeback, Scandal, and Pretty Little Liars).  I first watched It’s Always Sunny way back in 2006, when my dorm hosted a viewing party for residents (part of the show’s pilot was filmed on campus, which was my only real motivation for attending the screening).  I laughed quite a bit at the Season 1 episodes, but I didn’t recognize the true genius and insanity of the show until this past fall.
The Gang (and Dee) are completely bonkers, and their antics were always the perfect antidote to a long, stressful day.

It makes me endlessly happy to know that somewhere in Japan, kindergartners are learning the "Dayman" song.  Best music class EVER.

Also, Charlie Day is my spirit animal.

Shake Shack, Panera, Doritos and Trader Joe’s Mint Chip Ice Cream

It’s no secret that I love me some junk food, but my cravings took a slightly different turn during marathon training.  Out were my beloved Beiler’s doughnuts (oddly I did not eat any until the day before the race) and in were salty snacks, rich bagels and sinfully rich ice cream.  Of course I indulged in other treats (Chicago mix popcorn, s’mores, soft pretzels), but the aforementioned quartet were my true standbys for not-so-guilty-pleasure fueling.  I lost at least 5 pounds from training, so I can’t imagine what my weight would have done without these filling delights.

Carbs = the meaning of life
My Electric Blanket

I know, I know: you’re not supposed to heat sore muscles immediately after exercise.  But my body NEEDS warmth, and once the summer was over, my long runs in the cooler autumn air left me chilled.  To the rescue was my trusty electric blanket, the perfect companion for a post-run nap.

Trash Mags and

So many nights, my brain would be jumbled from an exhausting work-errands-marathon routine, I just couldn’t focus on heavier reading.  No, I didn’t grow any brain cells by studying US Weekly et al., but I sure did amuse myself with all the Hollywood false chatter (paper publications) and stunning inside scoop (BG).  Just so you know, EVERYBODY in Tinseltown is craycray.

Compression Socks

As expected (because really, who was I kidding?), I slacked off with the foam rolling and stretching throughout my training.  Compression gear was my easy out for relieving sore muscles.  I switched between socks and calf sleeves, as well as brands (I’ve tried ProCompression, CEP and 2xU), but each time I found much needed relief from tension and aches.  I wore compression calf sleeves during my marathon and socks in the two days after the race, and I am convinced that those garments helped me to recover quickly.

Family and Friends

Through it all, my family and friends were my greatest support system during training.  My family was not thrilled about me taking on such a physical challenge, but they cheered me every step of the way (especially my mom—and she did cheer quite literally along the marathon course!).  My running friends had words of wisdom to share, and even my non-running buddies put me at ease with movie nights, long chats and lots of snacking.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, my dears!!!

~Tomato Face

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Life Post-Marathon

Wow, it’s still so hard to believe that I am now a marathoner!  Just over two weeks ago I was a super fit athlete running 26.2 miles through my city, and already I am back to being a lazy blob.  I kind of like it!

The timing of the marathon was practically perfect (in every way).  As I was recovering and trying to refuel my body, I got to enjoy that filling and delicious holiday known as Thanksgiving.  I have so much to be thankful for this season, and my generous helpings of yummy turkey, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin pie only made the celebration sweeter.

This meal brought to you courtesy of Trader Joe's and the microwave.

I honestly had no deadline for recovery after the marathon.  I figured I would give myself the first two weeks completely off, but then my body decided that it was good and rested, and I did a cardio dance workout and a short run one week post-race.  Earlier this week, the weather was horrendous, and so I was not tempted to hit the pavement.

Even indoor workouts held little appeal: only the coziness and warmth of the couch, hot cocoa and television appealed to me at the end of the work day.  I also was dealing with a lot of stress in the past two weeks (hmm, stress was kind of the theme of 2014 for the non-running aspects of my life), but I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel (holidays always provide a nice reprieve).

Since the weather finally cleared up a little, I ran on Thursday and again today (except I got caught in the rain today, which was no bueno), and I returned to my favorite exercise DVD, The Butt Bible, on Friday.  This upcoming week I am slated to get in MILES AND MILES of walking, so even if I don’t do structured workouts, I will be keeping up my fitness.

I am quite enjoying this vacay.  For the rest of the December, I am going to keep the pressure off myself to do any particular training plan: I will run or work out only when I feel like it.  I can get back to a more disciplined schedule for the new year, but for right now I am going to relish the season and a month of no fitness goals (I also need to gain back about 5-10 pounds that I lost from marathon training, so you bet I’m going to savor any and all holiday treats).

For those of you that ran half marathons or marathons this fall, what does your recovery period look like?  How do you treat training in the winter?  I’m thinking I’m going to concentrate on short, intense running workouts to build speed and also focus on my strength training and dance.

~Tomato Face

Friday, November 28, 2014

Philadelphia Marathon 2014 Recap, Part 3

After 26.2 miles of delight (and I am actually not being sarcastic when I say that), I walked (completely stiff and sore at this point) through the finisher chute.  When I passed through the area, it was relatively open and speedy, and so I was able to collect my medal, Mylar blanket and snacks in quick succession.

My only complaint with the chute would be how incredibly long it was: there were no exit points until 20th Street, which was three city blocks away from the finish line.  For a sore or injured runner, that is a far distance to hobble.  Thankfully, my mom happened to spot me from the sidelines as I made my slow exit, and so I didn’t even have to bother with the family reunion area or our designated meeting spot on the Parkway.

The race area was mighty crowded by the time I was leaving, but it looked like people were pretty much able to find their loved ones without a major hitch.  This was a hugely positive aspect, especially compared to the finish line chaos of Broad Street.

My first marathon was absolutely an experience I will remember forever.  So many things went right leading up to race day: I have so much for which to be thankful.

I didn’t suffer any injuries during marathon training.
I didn’t suffer any injuries on race day (not even a single blister!!!).
I didn’t hit “the wall” during the marathon.
The weather on race day was (relatively) mild: no rain, snow or wind!
I finished the race and in a decent time.
Our course was safe and secure, and there was plenty of medical aid available should I have required it.

Although it will take me a while to decide whether or not I am up to running another marathon, I can safely say that my race experience was thoroughly enjoyable.  Seeing my city in all its race day glory made me so proud, and I was truly awed by the number of spectators who cheered us runners on.  And to top it all off, I got a high five from Mayor Nutter as I crossed the finish line!  

Course: B
Expo/Packet Pick-up: A
Post-Race Experience: B+
Event Organization: B+
Overall Grade: B+

Did you run any of the races of Philadelphia Marathon weekend?  What were your thoughts?

~Tomato Face