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Archive for March, 2009

I just finished watching the movie Spirit of the Marathon, and it was so good I wanted to post about it right away. The film follows six people from totally different running backgrounds as they train for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. For a couple of them, it was their first marathon. Some others had been running for a while, and two of them were elite runners, including American record holder Deena Kastor.

It started off by introducing the runners and getting to know them a little. Interspersed throughout was a really interesting history of the Marathon, and competitive running in general. There were interviews and soundbites from a lot of famous people from the running community, like Paula Radcliff, Amby Burfoot, John “the Penguin” Bingham, and many others who’s names you would probably only recognize if you subscribe to Runner’s World magazine.

The movie followed the runners through 4 months of training in preparation for the race. It showed people doing their weekend long runs, some in groups and some by themselves. It showed Deena Kastor on a stretching table talking about how she thought she would be more sore than she was after running 145 miles that week. And yes, that is an average of over 20 miles per day. (!!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!!)

Then it was on to race day. They showed everyone lining up at the start of the Chicago Marathon. I kept an eye out for myself because I was running that year, but I did not spot myself out of the 35,000+ runners. I thought the coolest part about the race footage was getting to see a lot of the elite runners. Try and wrap your head around this for a minute. The first place male that year finished in around 2:07. That is a pace of 4:50 per mile. For 26.2 miles. Now picture a standard track at a high school. That would be one lap around that track in 1:12, something that I surely could never pull off. Thus, I can’t even dream of holding a pace for 1/4 mile that these guys hold for an entire marathon. It’s pretty incredible. Topped off by the fact that they make it look smooth and effortless.

The end sequence of the women’s race was a nail biter, and in case you want to be in suspense, I won’t tell you what happens. We got to see all of the other runners finish, and all of their emotions come pouring out. It is interesting how some people throw their arms up in celebration, while others are completely overwhelmed and just start to cry. I dare you to watch the finish line sequence and not tear up a little. It made me think back to finishing my first marathon and how awesome it felt. It was sheer exhaustion mixed with joy and relief. I threw my arms in the air, but I’m pretty sure I did that just so I could have an awesome finish line photo.

laura-alaska-finish

The movie really made me think about why people run marathons, and why I run marathons. I do it because I love to push myself, and push through my own limits. I love the feeling that comes with finishing something that most people cannot or would not do, and knowing it was only through my hard work that I got there. I love the community of people that are all there for their own reasons. Also, I love to eat, which is why I will probably always participate in endurance sports of some kind or another.

The cool thing is, though we all may have different reasons for running, on race day everyone is in it together. The thousands of people around you share in the hard work and dedication it took to get there. I don’t know these people, but we are a part of the same community. Running is in you, but it is bigger than you. And that’s why I do it.

If you have run a marathon before, especially Chicago, you will love this movie. If you are not a runner it will surely inspire you. If you have ever thought about running a marathon but doubted that you have what it takes, it will prove you wrong. And if you hate running and just don’t get why we do it, this movie will make you understand.

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Let’s start with this past weekend, shall we? I got in my 15 miler on Saturday morning, and it was craptastic. I don’t know what the deal was, but my legs had no energy. It was probably in part due to the fact that I ran hard 800 meter intervals on Thursday night, and my legs were still feeling it. I was also horribly down on sleep last week stemming from a midnight soccer game (yes it started at midnight) on Wednesday. I was also probably due for a less than stellar run. My training has been going freakishly well thus far, so I was bound to have a crappy run at some point. The crazy part was that I felt the whole time like I was averaging around 9:30/mile just slogging along. When I checked the garmin at the end though, my overall pace turned out to be 8:40 over 15.5 miles. This tells me that my standard natural pace is becoming faster. Yay! I have a 20 miler on tap for this Saturday, so I hope the weather cooperates and all goes well.

Saturday night Steve and I attended a casino night fundraiser for the WSC (Women’s Soccer Club) and Women’s Charities at Lakefront Brewery. It was fun, but more importantly I got to drink Lakefront beer. Yum.

Moving along to Sunday. Like most of the teen population of the United States this weekend, I watched Twilight. I will spare you a detailed review and just say that despite its obvious flaws (completely cheezy and badly acted at times), I swooned over Edward and will probably watch the movie over and over because I can’t help myself. In other Twilight news, this photo has been brought to my attention:

So yeah, if you need to find me on November 20th, you know where I’ll be.

Moving along, I am conducting an experiment this week. It is entitled wake up at the butt-crack of dawn, work out, and see how I feel. Here are the results so far.

Day 1 (Monday): I set my alarm for 5:30am and was in the pool at the Y by 6:05 (pats self on back). Believe it or not, this actually went well. We all know how much I dislike swimming, so it was nice to get it out of the way first thing rather than have it hanging over my head all day. It went by faster too, because I was thinking about the day ahead rather than thinking about how much I can’t wait to get home and plant myself on the couch for the evening. I also found that I was energized during the day and in no danger of falling asleep at work. Verdict: a success.

Day 2 (Tuesday): I once again set the alarm for 5:30am. This time I got up and had a cup of coffee before I headed to the Y for some mile intervals on the treadmill. I do not run without coffee. I was on the treadmill around 6:15. After a slow mile warm up, I moved into the intervals. I got through the first three ok, but by the fourth I thought I would die. I actually had to HOLD ON to the treadmill hand grips to complete the workout. I felt tired and a little sick. Right now (10:15am) I do not feel energized. However, I am glad to have it out of the way. Verdict: still out. We”ll see how I feel for the rest of the day, but I suspect I am not cut out to run hard that early. 

One last thing. I have recently discovered the show Weeds. We started getting Showtime not too long ago, and the show is through season 4. I joined Netflix this month just so we could watch it from season 1. Let me just say, I can’t believe I had never seen it before. It is so addicting that not even three weeks have gone by, and we are already up to season 3. It is absolutely hilarious, and the characters are great. If you can’t tell, I would highly recommend watching it.

That is all. Please carry on with your Tuesday.

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The cheesiest

I officially registered for the Wisconsin Marathon. Bring on the cheese!

And now for the real reason I picked this race.

Best.Finishers medals.Ever.

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Today could have been ripped straight from the pages entitled “summertime in Milwaukee.” It was complete with glorious warm sunshine, bustling activity on the lakefront, and thanks to St. Patrick’s Day, drunk people stumbling around the city. I ran in shorts. I met my husband for lunch and enjoyed a warm breeze coming in through the open windows. Oh how I long for hot days spent lounging around on the boat drinking beer. I even called to book summertime campsites this morning. Is it July yet?

Wait, who am I kidding? My summer will be spent logging countless hours on the bike, running my ass off, and I guess swimming will have to fit in there somewhere as well. It’s going to be tough to balance training with summer activities, but I am confident it can be done. I don’t want to give up my entire life to Ironman.

Speaking of Ironman, my training schedule officially kicked off yesterday. In honor of this, I made my triumphantreturn to the pool. Any and all swimming fitness I gained before the half-ironman last year is totally and completely gone. I am most certainly back at square one. It sucks, but it is what I expected after my little seven month hiatus. Something about the pool at the Y just makes me want to puke. Maybe it’s all of the dirt and band-aids that have comfortably settled into the bottom corner. Maybe it’s the chlorine so thick you can almost see the fumes rising up off the water. Maybe it’s the fact that the temperature is like bath water. Maybe it’s the fact that I suck at swimming. Maybe it is just because it is mind-numbingly boring. I need to find a way to like it, or I will never get through the next six months of having to swim 2-3 times per week.

On a brighter note, I smoked my 18-miler on Saturday. I kept an average pace of 8:48/mile, which puts me about on pace for a 3:50 marathon. There is no way I could have held that for another 8 miles on Saturday, but I still have a while to get there. The next four weeks will be the most important weeks training wise, with two 20-milers in there and some longer tempo runs. I’ve gotta say, I am feeling pretty darn good about this race right now.

With that, Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

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Mother nature, you are such a slutty whore. You bring us temperatures reaching 60 degrees with actual sun at the end of the week, and you piss all over us ALL weekend. WTF? I think you need an attitude adjustment, and you need it now. A little bitch-slap perhaps? We want spring for crying out loud!

Ok, now that that’s out of my system…

I had to do my long run on the treadmill Saturday once again due to the miserable pouring rain. Luckily this was somewhat of a “rest” week, so it was only 13 miles. I wanted to run at race pace this week just to get the legs moving a little faster. What is race pace? I’m not exactly sure. My goal for the Wisconsin Marathon in May is to PR. I went into the Chicago Marathon last October with no goal, and I was pissed at myself because I know I could have run faster. My current PR is 3:57:03 at the 2006 Lakefront Marathon. Out of 7 marathons, that is the only one in which I broke 4 hours.

I was thinking I would be really happy if I could hold an 8:45 pace and run a 3:50. Then I had two really fast runs last week, and now I am wondering what might be possible. Last Thursday in the warm weather I cranked out a 10-miler in 1:23, or about 8:20 pace. I was in shock when I looked at my Garmin at the end. I was working hard, but not killing myself, and I felt really good. Then my 13 miler on the treadmill ended up just under 1:50, or about 8:26 pace. Had I been running an actual half-marathon, I would have PR’d. Now we all know that anything can happen during the second half of a marathon, but I am really encouraged by my training lately. One thing I will say without a doubt, my weekly speed-work sessions on the treadmill are definitely paying off.

Speaking of training, Ironman training officially begins next Monday. I am taking this week to enjoy my last few days of not swimming. Next Monday I have a date with the pool at the Northside YMCA. Blech. I need to find a way to like swimming. Any ideas?

Back to the weekend. My brother is on an assignment in Michigan, so he drove in for the weekend. Saturday we celebrated my dad’s birthday, and Sunday we had a big family gathering at my mom’s house for lunch. We don’t get to see Mike very often, so when he visits, we tend to have big parties. I didn’t snap any pictures this weekend, so I give you a gem of a photo of us circa 1985:

1985-583

Cute, no?

After the big lunch yesterday, Steve and I headed home and took up residence on the couch. We napped and watched movies on and off for the rest of the day/night. Something about the gray sky/freezing rain-turned-snow just makes you want to do that sometimes. On the bright side, we set the clocks forward and it will be light out one hour later. This makes me happy, and reassures me that someday we will see spring.

Hear that Mother Nature??

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