Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Day Will Come When I Can No Longer Do This…

Some of you know this story; some of you do not. Let me take a few to get everyone up to speed.

I have spent most of my living years driving people mad:
Parents, siblings, teachers, students, boyfriends (who soon became ex-boyfriends), strangers, enemies, neighbors, the list goes on and on...
I extend a special mention to my husband and to my friends/family, who have embraced the madness they have come to know as Muffin.
Please don't think that I am unscathed in this whirlwind of Muffin. I have driven myself mad. I like to believe that this madness has formed me to be the near-perfect individual I am. (insert laugh track here) Those close to me know my extreme passion for just about anything: I'm passionate about teaching, my job (no matter how much it's killing me), cooking, maintaining a messy car, blotting the oil off my pizza, my family...this list continues, as well.
About two years ago I started running for the sake of getting the near 60 lbs of baby fat off my body. This was as much of a motivator as the $110 I spent on shoes! Since this time I've lost the weight, and then some, ran numerous 5K's, 10K's, three half marathons, gone through three pairs of shoes and raised close to $1,000 for a charity dear to my heart. I've run two races in costume, got beat by a pair of bananas in one race and passed a lone banana in another. I love the adrenaline rush at the starting line; love the satisfaction of crossing the finish line. A few people ask if I'll ever run a marathon - a question that makes me cringe.
For two Biggest Loser seasons I have watched contestants run a marathon. Some of the losers go home vowing to run a half marathon...or a marathon...some of them actually accomplish this vow. Well, I've just about had it. It burns me up that I have been fairly regular with my running...through snow, rain, hills, whatever...and I haven't run a marathon. And anyway, if I was going to run a marathon it would be something prestigious like Boston or NYC. One small problem with that: I need a qualifying time or an invitation, or a blah, blah, blah...
Gus, being the silent genius that he is, told me to run a marathon. Really? In the summer? There aren't any good marathon's in the summer. With a glimmer in his eye he said, "who says you have to sign up to run a marathon. Just run 26.2 miles." This is exactly what I set out to do.
On June 14, 2010 I notified my friends and family that I would be creating a 26.2 mile route laid out with hydration stops. I solicited some friends to become a member of the hydration team – after all, I needed all the help I could get. I thought it would be a nice idea to order some shirts, ya know, make it look somewhat official. I planned the run for July 3, 2010 which didn’t leave me much time to plan.

My little event quickly spiraled into a huge deal. I spent a full hour trying to map the course to the best of my advantage and also cater to my hydration team. I wanted the stops to have adequate parking, room for kids to play and be somewhat strategically placed based on my refueling needs. It became a challenge to avoid hills, but this was my destiny; I had no option unless I wanted to run around the block for a few hours. Trying to be smart about my hydration I took a look at how the stations were set up for the Boston Marathon. So, um, for a 26.2 mile race, Boston has 25 stops…TWENTY-FIVE!!! I didn’t think I needed that many, so I felt confident with fourteen, including the finish. My friends Karen and Jeff felt that the tee-shirts deserved a good logo, so I was presented with a sprinting, cranberry-orange muffin wearing sneakers and a LiveStrong bracelet. I dubbed the event the ‘Muffin Madness Marathon 2010’. A prototype of the shirt was emailed out to my peeps with additional information on the marathon.

I tried to recruit some runners and even secured a marathoner to escort me during the last six miles. Jeff offered to bike most of the route with me; he would become my traffic blocker. I had a few runners respond with interest in joining me for a few miles. Based on all this information I would be running solo for about 8 miles, or so. Not a bad response.

I needed to take a breather from the event planning and focus on myself. I was unable to properly train for 26.2 miles given the timeline I developed for myself, so I needed to be smart about pre-race nutrition, hydration/refueling and my yoga. I did some research on marathons, for example: proper training, carbohydrate loading and what to expect during the race. Well, proper training was thrown out the window. My last long run was actually the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon at the end of April. I suck.

On to the next point, carb loading – an awesome feature to marathon prep. I didn’t want to fill up on empty carbs, so I perused the Runners World web site for recipes and planned my meals for the entire week leading up to race day. Based on my readings it sounded like most people hit the wall around mile 20. What was so significant about mile 20? Science states that in most people, glycogen reserves are depleted by mile 20. Simply stated, glycogen makes us go. There’s no more ‘going’ when the reserves are empty. Carb loading will add to the tank and consistent hydration/refueling during the activity will assist in keeping the tank from going empty. For race day I purchased gels, shot blocks, energy bars and the ever popular Lemon-Lime Gatorade. Normally, I don’t eat or drink anything during a run, but with the distance and heat I had to be smart.

I started to get nervous due to my lack of training/distance experience, so I shifted my focus back to event planning. Ahhh, denial.

I collected quite a few tee-shirt orders and some extra money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The owner of Digital Trust, LLC offered to purchase all the shirts for my hydration team. So, I guess you could say that I was sponsored by a company. My inbox was filled with supportive emails and questions about race day. Karen, my race-day coordinator, started receiving phone calls from other friends to secure details of my route. Things got hectic very quickly. I just tried to breathe.

Oh yeah, the yoga instructor had to remind herself to breathe…again. Coupled with my carb plan I focused on maintaining my flexibility and mental focus with daily yoga. Maybe I got a little overzealous with the poses; I’m not sure how necessary advanced arm balances are in the running game, but it was all in good fun.

Before I had a chance to get a grip on reality I was making my pre-race dinner, Whole Wheat Fettuccini Alfredo with garlic bread. I didn’t feel guilty about the pasta sauce, made with Greek yogurt, and the garlic bread was just too delicious to resist. After all, I’d be burning a lot of calories the following morning, so three pieces wouldn’t kill me. Right?

Following dinner I made sure that all materials for the hydration stations were in Gus’ hands. All documentation about the route was printed for the team, the race paraphernalia I planned to carry was laid out on the kitchen counter, the box of tee-shirts placed in the car and my alarm clock set for 4:30 am.

Time to hit the hay.