Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Miami Recap Part 1: Let Me Tell you a Tale of Carbs & Nerves

You know how the story ends (if you are my Facebook friend...or Twitter friend...which I am assuming you are if you are reading this). And the story has a happy, happy ending. But there is so much more to running a marathon than the race.

Not that I recommend training for 20+ months...but if you should find yourself in this situation, I can assure you that the experience will be far more than just the race-day itself for you. So with that in mind I am that I am splitting my tale into three parts.

This is mostly a self-indulgent exercise to simply to drag out the story-telling. But for future old Meredith who will look back at this fondly, this diary entry on the internets will serve to help me savor every last moment of what just occurred in my life: finally achieving my goal of completely a marathon.

And -- frankly -- I've got a lot of tips for any of you crazy kids considering running marathons. And not, like, Runners World tips. Rather I have "Let's get real" MeriG tips (which in my personal opinion) are far more valuable at the end of the day. You will find these sprinkled throughout in MeriG's signature purple.

And so I bring you the first installment: Before The Race.

As you recall, my sidekick on this adventure is Betsy. Betsy is a friend I met a couple of years ago, and quickly realized was a kindred spirits.

Betsy is the type of friend who will be "not impressed" with me in a cab...for no reason.

I was so happy to have her with me for the support, the encouragement and -- mostly -- for the after-party. She did not disappoint.

On Friday we had a 3 pm flight to Miami. I made B arrive at the airport about a thousand years in advance because I was still so nervous that something, somehow was going to happen to prevent this [still alleged] marathon from occurring.

I was in full carbo-load and hydration mode: chugging water and peeing every 5 seconds and devouring every bread-like-substance within arms reach.

MeriG Word of Wisdom: Carbo-loading and hydrating are not to be messed with. I attribute positive experiences on race day very much to the fact that I carbo-loaded and ultra hydrated starting on THURSDAY NIGHT. 

MeriG Word of Wisdom: Do not trying on your bikini during carbo-loading time.  

Sadly, alcohol was not in the cards. So I convinced Betsy to get a beer. In my honor. She complied with verrrrry minimal arm twisting. She was also so cute, telling everyone -- bartenders, TSA security offers, fellow passengers in waiting -- that I was running a marathon in two days. So cute. Like a proud momma.

MeriG Word of Wisdom: I drank up until Tuesday night and I was fine. I do not think you need more than five sober days before a marathon. Take that for what it's worth.

We arrived in Miami without incident, and Betsy's lovely mom picked us up from the airport. From there, we drove about an hour north to Betsy's hometown, Coral Springs.

After a lovely (yet sadly margarita-free) Mexican dinner, we headed back to Betsy's house for a relaxing evening of stretching, hydrating, and internal freaking out. Luckily B's parents have four cats so I felt right at home.

I made sure to get to bed early and get a full 8 hours of sleep before waking up the day before my Marathon. It was a very nice feeling to know the marathon was still on. A feeling I had never had before....

MeriG Word of Wisdom: I was told to get full, restful sleep for several days before the marathon and I did. They say you won't sleep the night before your race and you won't. I attribute a good amount of my success (sorry for the spoiler) to being super well-rested.

I consumed, nay, devoured, a big ol' breakfast (I think I was actually becoming a bagel at this point) you see a trend?

We then went to Publix. For the first time. [Yes, on a 4 day trip we did go to Publix more than once...]  PUBLIX IS GREAT as I expected it would be. Betsy and I bought enough snacks to feed a family of 6 for a week, because it seemed appropriate. We also bought two bottles of champagne: One for us to drink in celebration after and one for Betsy to drink while she watched me run the race. Because we are forward-thinkers.

I was introduced to Publix chocolate chip cookies which are all they are cracked up to be

Photo Credit (because I need to start doing them because I steal too many photos from the interwebs):

B's Mom was then so kind to drive us back to Miami Beach to drop our stuff off at the hotel before B and I headed over to the Expo -- handily located just down the street.

The hotel was simply lovely. We stayed at the Catalina, wonderfully centrally located, which included free beach chairs and not one, but two lovely pools. One of which was on the roof. More on that later.

We arrived at the expo and I was super duper excited!

But I had been to an expo before so I still wasn't going to let the fat lady sing (as it were). We pressed on.

I picked up my bib...

This is happening!

And Betsy made a sign...

Yay Blog reference!

Wonderfully, I ran into some of my Team For Kids teammates, which was so great and coincidental and unexpected! Seeing their familiar faces definitely gave me a confidence boost and helped calm my nerves.

Betsy and I scored a lot of free stuff. And I bought a headband and a running shirt (because an expo begs you to buy a headband and a shirt...runners understand the compulsion here). And she tried a lot of samples. I was being stomach-scared so I unfortunately abstained from many of the fun goodies.

We also spent a bit of time tweeting at eachother with hashtag #INGMIAMI to get our names up on a big screen. It worked and we were waaaaaay too excited about it.

Read Betsy's tweet carefully. You will notice that her main concern at this juncture was how she was going to drink an entire champagne bottle on the street. This is why were are friends.
MeriG Word of Wisdom: Finding twitter friends who are running your race and trying to befriend them is fun. I did this and it was enjoyable being a creepy stalker.

After the expo, we went back to the hotel to hang out on the roof-deck and rest my tootsies.

I could get used to this...

We met up with my TFK teammates Erica and Joss who were also running the next day, and we had a DELICIOUS pasta dinner. At this point I was in full out internal panic mode but trying to keep it together. Betsy did a phenomenal job keeping the mood light, and wonderful texts and emails from friends and family kept me sane as well.

One absolutely wonderful, amazing surprise came from my friend Kelly. We've heard of Kelly's antics before (such as helping me drown my sorrows after the little "incident" last November...) but she really outdid herself this time.

Evidently before she left, she had given Betsy seven cards with instructions on the outside of when they were to be distributed to me.

Each included a note from her -- which basically spoke to the exact feeling she knew I'd be having when I opened it -- as well as really fun quotes. Each card had a really nice message as well, such as this one (that happened to be for #6: Pre-race!):

And I was! I really was!

Seriously. How amazing is that?

MeriG Word of Wisdom: Don't run a marathon unless you have seriously awesome friends and family. I mean, they won't be as awesome as mine...but if you can get a close second I recommend you try. Without them, your stupid running shenangians will be unbearable. 

I'm gonna get real real with you right now.

My biggest concern at this point was not my feet or my legs (they felt fine) or the weather (it was looking overcast for the next day and not too hot...and no hurricanes on the horizon). No, my concern was with the tummy. Because I was having trouble -- you know -- "going." Yeah, in that way. And honestly, I did not want to spend my marathon that I had worked towards for almost two years in porto-potties on the side of the road.

So I was freaking out.

Betsy handled me well, and we got real familiar talking about gastrointestinal issues real quickly. Runners will hear me on this concern and non-runners will think I'm disgusting but it is what it is.

MeriG Word of Wisdom: Don't judge me for talking about bathroom issues -- this is a very, very real concern!

That night I tried to get some sleep. I really, really did. But to no avail. I maybe got 2 hours of true rest before my 3 am (yes, you heard me) wake-up call.

Stay tuned for Part 2 this week: D-Day

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oh. My. Gawd.

I can't even contain myself.

In just over 24 hours, Betsy and I get on a plane from this:

To this:

I don't say this just to make you jealous.

Don't get me wrong, I do say it to make you  jealous. But not just to make you jealous. You too could have trained for a marathon for 19 months and then you too could be going to Miami.

Or could just be going to Miami.

So all I have to do now is get sleep, stay hydrated, stretch and rest up, pack and carbo-load! Sooooo simple right?

Wrong. WRONG.

Yes, I've done this whole "week before a marathon thing" before...but two things about that:

1) There was a hurricane. I did not do any of it properly.
2) I'm trying to forget that 2012 NYC ever happened. 2013 Miami was ALWAYS THE INTENTION! [That's my story and I'm sticking to it!]

So, we just need to pack for a simple 4-day trip to Miami, huh? Here's what Brooks recommends packing:

AND THAT'S JUST THE RUNNING STUFF. I still want to like, wear bathing suits and other clothes while I'm there.


And carbo-loading? Turns out it's not just this:

According to many resources, including Runner's World, this is crucial and can actually make or break a race. If you have a week stomach or are prone to GI issues (as I am...but have not yet really subjected my blog readers to hearing about..) this can be especially critical.

So it's not a hey day of carb-happiness, unfortunately.

Runner's World says:
You can't completely fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal, "which is why you should start carbo-loading two or three days before your race," says Ryan. Since you're running very few miles, the glycogen will accumulate in your muscles. At this point, 85 to 95 percent of your calories should come from carbs, says Katz. Ryan recommends eating about four grams of carbs for every pound of body weight (for a 150 pound runner that's 600 grams—or 2,400 calories—of carbs per day). During his research, Rapoport developed an even more precise formula, which runners can access at, that factors in variables including age, resting heart rate, VO2 max, and predicted finishing time. It's important to keep in mind that you're most likely not eating many more calories per day than you were during the thick of your training—it's just that more of those calories are coming from carbs.
So I'm doing what I can. Let's just say that I didn't train for 19 months to spend the race in a this is probably my biggest race-week / race-day concern.

Alright, so the packing, the carbs, the resting (trying to get 8-9 hours of sleep last night, tonight and tomorrow night to make sure my beauty sleep is at its max).

The rough itinerary:

Fly to Florida
Hang out with Betsy and her Mom and be totes chill

Go to Publix for the first time ever
Eat a sub at Publix
Eat Publix cookies
Check into South Beach hotel (what what!)
Go to the expo
Eat carbs with Betsy and TFK team-mates Erika and Joss
Listen to pump up music in our hotel room
Go to sleep

A trip highlight to be certain

Wake up at 3 am to eat (evidently you need to eat 3 hours before race start?) [sorry Betsy...]
4 am shuttle to the start
6:15: RUN A MARATHON [maybe]

Monday and Tuesday:

And going here:

I'm so excited. And I just can't hide it.

As far as the race goes, if you're interested in tracking me, here you go!

Text messages: 
Or follow me on the map:

My bib# is 31415.

See ya on the flip side!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Home Stretch (Again!)

If you are my friend on The Facebook, by now you may have seen my new cover photo:

Did I change this in Powerpoint from a Kourtney & Kim ad? Yes, yes I did. And I'm damn proud of it.

Since my last update, I've continued to have The Plague. It's been not so great. I've been able to get some workouts in, but they are mucus-filled, wheezy workouts. Suffice it to say, I've been super cute.

I think -- though -- that it's ok. Would I like to be snot free? Sure. But my little condition has actually kept me properly tapering. I'm running slower than I would and less miles. Which is precisely what I should be doing. It's weird to say, but it's actually difficult to keep yourself tempered during this taper time. The schedule says an easy 4...but the training has made your body primed to run a fast 7. 

That's how you know you're ready I guess.

But the words of wisdom I have received and talked about in my last post are true. You really only have downside at this point in the process. No incremental workout is going to help...but one could hurt you.

So The Plague -- perhaps -- is my guardian angel.
This is a stuffed animal "Common Cold." He looks happy and like a decent guardian angel who is reminiscent of Lilo's pal Stitch. Sidebar true story: In college when I had mono a friend got me a yellow mononucleosis stuffed animal. Allegedly. But then we looked at the label and it turns out he got me a stuff Hepatitis A. The end.

But I digress.

In 8 days I get on a plane in 10 days I will be [allegedly] running a Marathon. 

Let the stalking of the 10-day forecast....COMMENCE!

People keep asking if I'm nervous and, no, I'm actually not that bad [yet]. I'm trying to stay positive and not freak out about all the could-bes and would-bes and should-bes. 

And I WILL NOT keep considering all the things that could still go wrong (although I have a fabulously messed up list in my mind) to continue my streak of training-for-but-not-running-marathons.

It must feel like the classic film Groundhog's Day to you, dear reader, as you listen to my "one week to go!" rant once again. Exactly 10 days away from the NYC Marathon that wasn't this year, I wrote this gem and it was an ignorantly blissful article about how the tapering was making me crazy.

Oh, you wanted to see crazy, MeriG? You had no freakin' clue what was to come. I'll show you crazy.

So, again, 10 days away, I'm trying to keep away the crazy as much as possible. I want to maintain the Excited (I'm going to my first Publix in just over a week, how could I not!). But I really want to keep the doubting, worried, and truly Scared part of me under control by trying to under-schedule, over-rest and to just be zen. What will be, will be. 

We don't want this on our hands:
Television genius

Instead I want to try to channel my inner Running Zach. Without the undertones of ignorance and racism.

In closing, as we enter my final week of marathon training & tapering [again], I leave you with this powerful quote from one of the great lyricists of our time. I hope you enjoy it and reflect upon it as I have:
Here I am in the place where I come let go 
Miami the base and the sunset low 
Everyday like a mardi gras everybody party all day 
No work all play okay 
So we sip a little something lay the rest the spill 
Me an [Betsy] at the bar running up a high bill

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Don't Panic! Everything! Is! Under! Control!

Pictoral representation of earlier this week

Pre-Amble: Don't be scared. This post has a happy ending. Sorry for ruining it for you and not letting you get there yourself naturally, but I thought I'd just say that upfront because Run MeriG Run has had a lot of drama over the last 18 months. I'll let you know when the s**t really hits the fan, don't worry. This isn't it. Carry on.

My story begins where it left off after blogging on Sunday night:

I slept happily, blissfully, ignorantly that night and awoke Monday morning to some ankle pain. Just a lil' pain. No big deal.

I went to work at my big fancy job and -- while there being very busy and important -- started feeling a little sick. Flu-like sick. Whilest CNN reports that everyone and their mother has the flu. Egads.

The ankle went from bad to worse. I don't know if it was real pain, or if it was my mind playing REALLY MEAN tricks on me, but I felt like I could barely walk. My right achilles tendon (and to preemptively answer your question, that's the other ankle than from last time) was swollen. It actually creaked when I rotated the ankle. Sexy, huh? Creaky ankles?

I turned to the interwebs.

And then I got upset, promptly left work early and went to ice the foot and pray for a miracle.

That night I iced off and on, took some IB profin (to reduce swelling). I talked to Roomie Jen (who is running the Disney Marathon on Saturday! Holla'!) and emailed Team For Kids teammate Erica. Our [abridged and edited] correspondence was this:

Me:      Yes! Xoxo.

I made sure to keep the ankle elevated all night even while I slept.
Archie, why you gotta be so creepy?

And I continued to pray.

Tuesday morning I woke up and pain. The cold? Full blown. But we can deal with that by buying CVS out of to-go tissues, zicam, Emergen-C and Tylenol Cold. This is the Common Cold we have on our hands, folks. As long as it's not the flu? We're good to go. And it's not.

The ankle, though....That could have kept me out for the long haul.

I did a short little test run Wednesday and so far so good. The cold is still knockin' me down, so lots of soup and TV and mouth-breathing for me right now and not as much running as I'd like. But that's okay. As many wise people have said to me, I've done -- at this point -- all I can do. Any incremental workout CAN NOT help. It, in fact, could only potentially hurt me.

Why did my ankle freak out on Monday? Who knows. Yes, I ran 20 miles on Sunday. And yes, perhaps this was just my body being like, "WHY DID YOU DO THAT!?!?!" but you'll have to trust me when I say that it hurt more than normal post-stupid-long-run pain. And that it has miraculously gone away. :::shrug::::

Why, yes! This IS a poorly rendered image of the Lord saying "you're welcome" to me. Glad you like it. Or have labeled me as blasphemous. One of the two.

Is it the ideal way to start the taper? No. But I'm hoping that my nostrils will clear enough for me to do some miles with the TFK girls this weekend.

Who nose!


I kid. As optimistic as I truly try to be, I also want to be real with you, faithful Run MeriG, Run reader.

Marathon ridiculous. And kind of a bad idea. If I had to give a thesis for my blog at this point, that it is. If I ever change my header from the Barney Stinson quote, it will be to that.

New proposed header for Run, MeriG. Run.

You can train and train and train and train for months on end and a rogue "ankle" or "hurricane" can end it for you.

And the same goes now for Miami. We've lost some good men along the way. Miriam blogged today that she is out of the running and one of the other girls I've been training with was benched for several weeks due to the flu and doesn't know what she's going to do.

As Miriam so eloquently wrote, "
I think that by remembering the joy I find in running and the relaxation it brings is a healthier way to approach the hobby and the lifestyle that I enjoy"
So true. Ultimately I've learned that, and I've written about that before. The Marathon may be something you do, on a particular day, to push yourself. But really it's about the process that got you there and all the heartache and the good and the bad and the ugly that comes with it. You do what you can to stay healthy and to stay strong...but sometimes even that is out of your control.

Which is why I am not guaranteeing y'all a marathon until I'm at that starting line. Until the gun has gone off. And then I'll be like, "okay, cool, I'll run a marathon today."

And -- after all these trials and tribulations -- is it so much to expect that this is going to be the end result?:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Calming Down and Gearing Up

Okay, so I feel MUCH better after today's run. Back in NY, with some of my Team for Kids ladies, on familiar terrain, on an unseasonably warm [read: 40 degree] sunny day, I found some sort of redemption over the embarrassment that has been winter running for me the past couple of weeks. I ran 20 miles and it went okay.

I feel okay.

From here on out, again, it's taper time! Last time I tapered I went a lil' nuts. We'll see what these next three weeks hold in store.

So what does taper mean exactly? Well, I ran my longest run of the training season (ahem this most RECENT season) today. This week I'll do several runs and cross-training sessions, culminating in 12-13 miles this weekend. Next week I'll do even less and run about 6 miles on the weekend. And then the third week I'll run hardly at all and be all healthy and such leading up to the big race.

Gradually slowing down. Calming down. Gettin' DOWN with my bad self.

While meanwhile gearing up. Or so one would hope.

Right now, weirdly, I'm having trouble getting truly keyed up about the race. Maybe it's because I've -- you know -- thought I was racing before. Self-preservation might prevent me from having the same advance GUSTO, as it were, beforehand. Or maybe it's that I just have so many other things to be excited for that weekend.

I'll be in Miami with friend-extraordinaire Betsy. My wonderful team-mates and friends Erica, Merri and Joss are also running as will be the lovely Miriam. Also in Miami will be a myriad of people running the half-marathon, which is the first part of the course (including new blog friends!)

[Side-bar on the Half and Full being together: I'm a little worried about how mentally I'm going to be when at mile 13 a bunch of people are like, "wheeeee I'm DONE!!!!" and I'm like, "Cool guys, I'm just gonna, like, do that whole thing again..." Not cool, Miami course. Not cool.]

Betsy and I are staying on South Beach and it's gonna be awesome. We're arriving Friday evening, I'm running (allegedly) on Sunday, and we get to stay through Tuesday evening. Just being straight baller the whole time (if I can walk, of course).

So, clearly, I'm excited.

Which is why, when I SHOULD be preparing and thinking about some things....I'm actually thinking about others. Let me demonstrate.

What I SHOULD be thinking about:

Versus what I am ACTUALLY thinking about:

Should consider:
In fact am considering:

Should focus on:

Am very really focused on:

I'm pumped, y'all. Real pumped. I'm proud of my teammates and of me and of all the other people who -- despite the 2012 NYC Marathons debacle -- ran other races in November and December and/or trained for ones in 2013. That's something to be proud of, despite whatever tsunami or terrorist invasion causes 2013 Miami to not happen.

I know I shouldn't kid, but c'mon.

As my friend Meghan said to me tonight, "What would the world be if MeriG wasn't training for a marathon!?" Seriously. And is that the type of world you want to live in? Ask yourself that.

But in the meantime, I'm going to spend some dedicated time thinking about how baller it is that my race is -- once again -- in three weeks and that the worst -- once again -- is over.  And I'll spend some time thinking about how -- ironically -- I'm not upset that this all happened again. Because somehow I think it was meant to be, because otherwise I wouldn't have this fun vacation coming up! And everything, they say, happens for a reason. That's what they say.

And, of course, THIS:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Resolution Time

"I don't live in either my past or my future. I'm interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you'll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we're living now."                                    - The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

I love the message in that quote from The Alchemist, a book I fiiiiinally got around to reading when I was at home (after a very long stint on my "to read" list!)

And that quote, right there, is my New Year's resolution for 2013.

I've realized that so very many of my "issues" stem from living too much in the past or in the future.

Discontent with friends or family? Well that's living in the past. Things happened that weren't ideal or that plain ol' SUCKED. True. But, I need to stop griping about what was and focus on what is. I can't change yesterday, so what can I do to make today as positive as possible?

Money stress? That's living too far in the future. It's fantastic to plan and to be responsible, but it's very easy to get trapped in negativity of your own making by worrying too much about what is too come.

Should I have eaten cake and the entire large burrito from Blockheads this evening? PAST. And will I have to go to work tomorrow after what feels like weeks of being out of the office? FUTURE. Worthless to fixate on.

That burrito kind of is staying with me in the present though. So I guess that's a gray area.

Right now I am listening to the 10th Anniversary Les Mis soundtrack (seriously, check this out, this is a link to the full concert!). And I am blogging to you fine folks. And I am going to be asleep by 10 pm. And I am happy with all of these things. Right now. Real time. Burrito belly and all.

2013, to you I resolve to stop regretting the past and to stop worrying about the future. Today I live in the today.

And I resolve to do so with my running as well. Yeah, so I didn't run the NYC Marathon. [Cough, cough, twice.] Whatever! It's in the past, girl, move on!

And, yeah, I'm a little worried (to under-state slightly...) about Miami because of my last two weeks of horrid long runs. But that's the future, and I've done what I can do and what will be will be.

Today, I live in the today.

I'm going to focus as much as I can on -- for instance -- seeing my runs not as preparation for a race in the future but as a run I am enjoying now, in the moment. The goal can simply be to run for the day. To feel strong, good, healthy, accomplished in the now. 

Improving upon the past and striving for future goals is important and it's wonderful and it's grand. And I absolutely won't stop doing that. But it's the now that I really want -- and that I really will -- start to enjoy more. To be present.

So, what's YOUR 2013 Resolution?