Thursday, October 11, 2012

Columbia Gorge Marathon - T minus 16 days

Well, I've gone and signed up for a marathon! It's October 28th, 2012 and is called the Columbia Gorge Marathon (CGM) <----that is also a link!

Am I totally crazy?
Yes, probably but I'm ready. I've made really great strides with stretching and the PT. My calf is tight but with everything I've been doing, it's been pain-free and my runs have been great! I know I can't do any speedwork right now though as my run on Tuesday was faster (9:10 ish pace) and I felt a little stiffness after that. Not a big deal though as my HM goal pace this wknd is 9:55, but I'm hoping to run 9:45 - 9:50 if I go for a PR.

Two weeks ago I had a decreased mileage week (21 miles) and then last week I ended up running more than I should at 29 miles, as I couldn't help but to run the last 8+ miles of the Portland Marathon with some of my training buddies. How amazing was it to run with them and see them finish? I'm so proud of those ladies!! Running with all those athletes out on the course the last few miles was really inspiring.

Will I be racing this run?
No, not at all. I'm not sure I'll ever "race" a marathon. Hah!

Do I have a time goal?
Not really, but I have a very rough goal of finishing under 5 hours and 30 minutes. Once I share the elevation profile you'll start to understand why! My first goal is really just to finish and I will be immensely proud of that.

Why not chose a flatter, easier course as your first marathon?
There is something about smaller, beautiful courses that really pump me up. The crowd experience can be really exciting, but so can running mostly on your own. The small race encouragement feels very genuine and personal. Besides the goal of just finishing it the course were flat I'd hope to finish close to where I trained this season, at the 11/min mile mark, which is under 4 hours and 50 minutes. I feel like I'd put too much pressure on myself though with something like that and the last thing I want to do is stress when I should be excited. (And oh my god, I am SO excited!!)

Maybe someday I'll be interested in running a flatter course, but who knows if I will even want to run another marathon after Big Sur? I found this race back in August and have been thinking about it since then. The stars aligned and it worked out!

Race perks?
Handmade finisher medals! Homemade soup and bread at the finish! Super cozy long sleeved technical shirt for $25. I didn't order it but they'll probably have one at the race I can buy. THE SCENERY!

Alright, so let's see this elevation profile you're talking about. How tough is it?
Let's just say Big Sur's total elevation gain is about 1100ft over the course of the run and Columbia Gorge Marathon is 2300ft. Big Sur has a steeper grade on Hurricane Point. Big Sur also has the possibility of a lot of wind, but I'm guessing the Gorge does too. Both look incredibly difficult. I like that. Here is the CG's elevation profile:


The last bit is going to be really tough. Especially the steep downhill grade at mile 25. Ouch!

Why this marathon? Why not just stick with Big Sur?
Well, I always said my first marathon would be a spectacular one and I'm certain that the CGM meets that criteria. Running through the beautiful Columbia Gorge on the Mark O Hatfield trail (paved and closed to traffic) among the fall foliage sounds so lovely. Thank you so so much to my dad for making this possible and supporting me along this journey.

Taper Time!
This mean's I'm in the first week of my taper! It coincides well because I am running a half this Sunday. Not sure yet if I'm going to chase a PR on it, but I'll see how I feel then and just plan to have a good time. I'd like to go run 4 miles that night on tired legs to stimulate more marathon training and my last long run, but not the longest run (the 22.4). I won't be worried if that doesn't happen though.

This week I've only run about 3 1/2 miles so it's been a good start. I plan to get out there tonight for another short run at HM pace and then rest Friday and Saturday before the race. Mileage for this week should hover around 22 miles, which is 80% of my avg weekly mileage.

Next week and the week after will both be lots of rest, extra cross-training (yay for the climbing gym!) and keeping up with stretching. Mileage goal for next week is 15 miles. I'm hoping to run an 8-10 miler (easy) that weekend and a couple short runs during the week. Mileage goal for the last week is just one easy run of 3-4 miles and then the Marathon on Sunday!!

The rest/taper is tough. I already know it's tough since I've had the cut back woes, but I am looking forward to this because it's a plan. I kind of feel like I haven't had too much of a plan and now I do. I can reap the rewards from my training, have a great race/experience, and then take a little bit of time off and then start to cycle back up the weekend mileage early December.

Time to carb on up!!

Some other exciting news:

I feel really good about this decision and today I've been on Cloud 9. A few other amazing things happened to me too!

Garmin Watch Replacement/Great Customer Service
I contacted Garmin again and they offered to replace my 405cx because of the really poor battery life I had been experiencing. I told them I would post a glowing blog review of their customer service if they made this right, and they did. Garmin apologized for the product quality and sent me an RMA right away. The new replacement watch will have a year warranty and be sent to me 7-10 business days once they receive my watch by UPS express!

The 405cx is a solid running watch but I couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting anywhere near the 8 hour battery life. I had called their customer support a few months ago and they told me because it was out of warranty that my option was to replace the battery, have 4wks+ of downtime and pay $80. Ouch. A new watch (right now) is $190. I paid $220 originally. Here's the thing though, I had taken really good care of the watch, never gotten it wet (besides I guess, sweat) and only logged 700 miles on it. There was no reason why I shouldn't be getting at least 6 hours of battery life still.

So thank you Garmin. Thank you for making this right and for replying to me so quickly. The customer service I received was wonderful and this is my shout out. I'll post more when I receive the replacement!

Possible New (Free!) Running Shoes
On another note, my co-worker told me that he was going to get comped Asics somewhere down the line because he was doing some work for them. He got my shoe size and it looks like I may be getting myself a pair of new kicks sometime soon! How exciting is that?? After Brooks, I am comfortable in most Asics. (I made sure to let him know I'd need a wide neutral pair) - yay!

This was quite a long update but I wanted to get this out there in blog land! I'll have more time these next few weeks to catch up with everyone and also write a bit. Hopefully the taper doesn't make me too cranky! The cool thing is my first marathon is after most people have run theirs and everything is fresh on their minds, so any advice I can glean, I will take!

Tips/Advice?
This was quite a long update but I wanted to get this out there in blog land! I'll have more time these next few weeks to catch up with everyone and also write a bit. Hopefully the taper doesn't make me too cranky! The cool thing is my first marathon is after most people have run theirs and everything is fresh on their minds, so any advice I can glean, I will take!

Do you have any good tapering tips? Whether how to "cope" or just what you did that worked or didn't work. Was tapering really tough for you or was it a positive experience? What should I be prepared to expect?

Have a lovely weekend to my friends and family!

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