a solid half

Yesterday was my marathon dress rehearsal. I ran a half marathon on Staten Island, which also happens to be where the full NYC marathon will be starting. I was up at 5 am, out the door on my way to the Staten Island Ferry by 5:40, and on the island by 7… which turned out to be a bit early since the race didn’t start until 8:30. Oh well, the waiting was probably good practice. (On marathon day I will arrive earlier and start a lot later – not until 10:40!) Plus, we had time to flag down the official NYRR photographer and get the photo above taken – it made it to the event website! (From left to right: Sarah, me, Brian, Becca.)

Even just a day later, it is hard to remember exactly how the race felt. If I wasn’t so sore, I would probably have already forgotten how much I pushed myself. The race traveled along the water and under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, with Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. I ran with my friend, Lauren, and we wanted to try to improve our time. Our last official Half was in August in the Bronx and we completed it in 2 hours 30 minutes (about an 11:30/mile pace). This time we started off trying to keep up with a couple of our faster friends. We didn’t manage to stay with them, but we were pretty pumped at around mile four when we realized we’d been running 10:20 miles. We decided to try to stick with that pace… It got difficult for me at around mile 10. My hips were oddly sore. (I blame the high heels I wore on Saturday.) Lauren was a super motivator and stuck with me, even when I was dragging at the end. Check us out “sprinting” it in at the finish line…

Lauren is urging me to go faster and I am grinning like a crazy person even though I was hurting. Our friend, Sarah, took the photo. She and Brian were cheering for us at the end (having finished about 30 minutes earlier, those speed demons). It is hard not to smile when you have friends cheering you on!

We ended up finishing in 2:16:23, a 10:24/mile pace. That is a really strong pace for me, especially for that distance. It felt like an accomplishment! It isn’t a Personal Record, since my younger self already conquered all of these distances, but we could call it my old-lady PR. I don’t think I can run quite as fast during the full marathon, but I am still aiming for under five hours – that truly would be a PR!!

Only 26 days until the main event!

marathon of yesteryear

I know this blog has been Running Central lately, and I apologize if I have gone overboard on the exercise-theme. I had wanted to scan the pages from this old scrapbook, but my scanner was sacrificed in the move to NY, so I took photos instead. They are a little wonky, but will have to do. I am running out of time before my current marathon adventure will be ending… so, without further ado, let’s travel back in time to a marathon long, long ago…

2010 marathon scrapbook cover

It was the year 2000. I was 19. I had just finished my first year of college and simultaneously trained for a marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training. My friend Jody joined the team with me. Well, I think I actually joined it with her…

We went to college in Lamoni, Iowa, but the closest TNT team was in Des Moines, over an hour away. Jody was kind enough to drive us there for our meetings and Saturday practices. That is us above at the very first info meeting on February 17th, 2000. (Fun fact: There is a bag sitting next to me in that photo that I still take to practice today!)

These are photos from our first 20 mile practice run on April Fools Day, 2000. I ran with a woman named Carrie at most of the practices. My 19-year-old self thought all of the women on the team were so old… ugh. They were probably all younger than I am now…. teenagers are so judgemental!

On April 29th, 2000, we ran the Drake Relays half marathon. I think that was the best race of my life. I finished in 2:07 (you can still find my results here under Rachel Lamble) and got 5th in my age group. Nice. Then, on June 3rd, we left for San Diego for the Rock N Roll Marathon!

That year, Team In Training raised $12.5 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. (I just learned that the NYC marathon team alone has raised over $1 million in 2010.) The pasta party the night before the race was inspiring!

These are photos from the morning of the race. All I remember is being extremely nervous and not wanting to finish a full bagel because it had too many calories… but I did it anyway and ate a banana. I was so dumb when it came to food. I don’t think I ate anything at all during the race…

I carried a disposable camera with during the race – a disposable FILM camera. (These were the days before digital. I didn’t even HAVE a cell phone.) I was so glad that I had the camera with me, though. I remember being blown away by the number of people in the race. The group of runners stretched for miles! (There were 21,000 runners in that race – there will be twice that number in the NYC marathon this year!) We ran along the ocean, on the highways, and through Balboa Park. It was beautiful.

This is my bib and official portrait. I carried a photo of Travis with me while I ran (we were so in love!) and people thought he was my honor patient…

Finally the finish line. I had broken down at about mile 22. I stopped and cried and had to walk. It was disappointing. One of my teammates found me (I can’t even remember his name now, isn’t that awful?!) and we ran the rest of the race together. Having a team out there with you really makes it so much more fun. I don’t know if I could do a marathon without Team in Training.

It was so awesome to cross the finish line! They give you medals and blankets and bags of loot. I remember I was most impressed by the giant size bottles of Fiji water that they were handing out. (Designer bottled water was new to me.)

I finished the marathon in 5:09:11. (You can search the official results here.) I was disappointed because I had wanted to get in under five hours, but finishing the race still felt like a huge accomplishment!

So… that is the story of my first marathon. In some ways it feels so long ago, and then in other ways the memories feel so vivid. It was definitely one of the most exciting experiences of my life. Just thinking about how much fun it was makes me feel even more excited about running the NYC marathon!

break through

new running shoes

Running is a mystery. At times it is the worst punishment in the world, and then at other times it is a miraculous moment of peace and triumph. Triumph is probably too strong a word, especially if you could see me run. I am so slow and so non-athletic looking. The good news is that I actually think I may be getting better! (Have I said that before? Well, this time I really mean it!) I had a great time at our speed and hills practice on Tuesday (amazing because those practices usually fill me with dread) and yesterday I had the most awesome solo 6-mile run. It felt great. I had new shoes (see above), the weather was perfect, and I felt strong for the whole two loops around Prospect Park! I think this week has been a break through in my training…

I didn’t want to write about my long run on Saturday because immediately following it I felt totally discouraged… again. We ran 16 miles and I was in pain for a good portion of it. (The video above was taken during the good, pre-pain time at about mile 6.) I was so mad at the end! I was thinking, why must this continue to be so hard?! I was also angry that the long runs wipe me out for the whole day afterward and take forever to recover from. I took an ice bath just to cover my bases, but was resigned to the fact that I was going to be sore for another week. BUT, then something pretty cool happened. I felt better on Sunday! Travis and I took our trip to Queens and I walked around a bunch without trouble. Nice. By Monday I was feeling totally fine! Miracle!

Training is truly getting hard at this point. We are tackling a lot of mileage and many of my Team In Training members have been nursing some injuries. At practice this week a friend asked how I have kept from getting injured. I think a lot of it is luck and my lack of ambition when it comes to my pace and time, but I joked that it was because of my thick and sturdy legs. I come from solid and hearty lineage… and man, have I fretted about that my whole life. Probably every day of my existence, I have wished for the long, lean limbs of a super-model (how pathetic is that?!), but maybe I should cut myself some slack. My “sturdy” body has taken me this far and I plan to use it to do a lot more cool stuff in the future!

This Saturday I am going to attempt to run 18-20 miles. I really hope for 20, but I want to be flexible in order to avoid injury. On October 10th, I’ll be running the Staten Island Half Marathon. I have never been to SI, so I am looking forward to checking it out. I am also looking forward to the “short” 13.1 mile race! Then, I will attempt one more super-long run (20 miles, I hope), and then it’s time to taper down my mileage… the marathon is just 40 days away! wow!

Team in Training Brooklyn

This photo is from two weeks ago after another tough 16 mile run. (I even had to walk a bit at the end of that run. ugh.) I was dead, but so happy to be hanging out with my team. It is so much more fun to share the suffering and successes with others.

(p.s. You can still help support my marathon adventure and help find a cure for Leukemia & Lymphoma at the same time! Donate to the cause via my Team In Training fundraising page. Your support truly means so much and I will be thinking about all of my generous donors as I pound out 26.2 miles on November 7th!)

encouragement

Sometimes I can’t even explain how wonderful the community on Swap-bot.com can be! This little doll was sent to me as a surprise gift from Swap-bot user, Jazza. It is a dotee doll – a popular craft item that is swapped on the ‘bot. It looks like me in my running gear and I posed it on top of my race bibs for the portrait. I love it! It was sent as a thank you for creating Swap-bot and also as a bit of encouragement and support for my marathon training. This wonderful handmade mail made my day and came at a the perfect time…

I have been feeling discouraged in my marathon training. My runs have not been going very well lately and I have been very sore for weeks. I feel down on myself because despite my commitment to the training schedule, I don’t feel like I am getting faster, or stronger, or even skinnier!! ugh. But Jazza’s gift reminded me to stay focused on my real motivation for doing the marathon – helping the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society find a cure for cancer. And even if I am not the best runner, I am healthy enough to do it and that is a blessing.

The Swap-bot community has been a major supporter of my Team In Training fundraising mission and I have not thanked them enough. I have sent out over seventy-five Swap-bot swag packs to Swap-bot members who have donated $5 or more to the cause. I have been blown away by their generous response!

Sometimes I get extremely discouraged by the difficult aspects of trying to run an online community… alone… from my home computer. Of course, there are difficult people and problems to deal with, just like in any other job or community, but the good, and wonderful, and creative, and generous FAR outweigh the bad. My marathon dotee doll is going to hang right beside my computer to remind me of that fact everyday. xoxo

today

ice bath recoveryToday is a Saturday, which means it is long run day with Team in Training. You may not believe this, because I barely believe it myself, but I ran 18 miles today! It was about four hours of running, jogging, water re-fueling, more jogging, and eventually hobbling, but I completed it… and even had some fun in the process. We ran through Brooklyn down to the water near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island. Running all over the city has really helped me come to appreciate it more and more, and I couldn’t help but think about how amazing it is that I have the extreme luxuries of both health and time that allow me to take on this challenge. I am very grateful. (I am also grateful for my sweet husband who set me up in a recovery ice bath to sooth my sore muscles!)

Today is also September 11th, which makes it heavy and sad… but also hopeful. Not that I intend to, but you can’t really ignore 9/11 in NYC… Many of the fire stations here (if not all) have permanent 9/11 memorials, but one we ran by today had a special memorial with framed photos set up outside for the anniversary… I can’t really even write about it without crying, and I am not very eloquent anyway, but even through the sadness there are infinite reasons to be hopeful. The love in people far outweighs the hate. That is where I put my faith. That is my religion.

Battle of Brooklyn

Running the Battle of Brooklyn 10 mile race

Despite my crazy-person smile seen in the photo above, today’s “Battle of Brooklyn” 10 mile race in Prospect Park was killer. I think it may have been my worst long run of the season, and I have only myself to blame. Travis and I took a lovely trip to Rhinebeck yesterday for our friend, Sarah’s, birthday party. (Happy birthday, Sarah!) We had a great time, but I definitely did not eat the correct pre-race foods (instead I had a lot of delicious food, like ribs and cake) and we stayed out very late – getting home well after midnight.

The trip was totally worth it, but I woke up groggy and sore this morning. To make the run even less appealing, it was overcast and rainy out. I am trooper and I made it out to the park anyway. As usual, my teammates were a great source of encouragement. I ran with my friend and running doppelganger, Lauren, and I managed to make it around the park for the full three loops. It rained on us, I was stiff and sore, my previously most trusty pair of shorts caused chaffing issues, and my pace time was the slowest of any of my races so far… ugh. But thanks to my husband and dog cheering section and the encouragement of my coach for the last half mile and my team at the finish line, I completed the run. Thank goodness.

The icky-ness of today’s race really reinforces the importance of race preparation in the days leading up to a big run. Nutrition, hydration, and sleep definitely make a difference. I have recommitted to staying vigilant about those things in the future — especially for the marathon!!

Look at this awesome team:

Team in Training Brooklyn

I have received so many generous donations from friends and family for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through my TNT fundraising page, but there is still time to help me reach my $5,000 goal! Help us find a cure for blood cancers and support families struggling with the diseases.

back in the groove

TNTconeyisland

Above is a photo of my Team In Training group in the ocean at Coney Island last Saturday. (I’m smack dab in the middle in the white tank top.) That run was so much fun and also a big accomplishment for many of us. We did our long run and ended it at the beach where we all jumped in the water in our running clothes. (Unfortunately, I also jumped in with my now dead iPod in my pocket.) It was the first time I ran ten miles this season, and despite the heat, it wasn’t all that bad. I was motivated to make it a good run since I left for vacation the next day…

I had half-heartedly planned to run while I was in Florida, but it really wasn’t possible. The amount of time we spent walking the theme parks at Disney World was its own kind of endurance training, I figure. We spent at least eight hours on our feet each day and much of that time was spent in the hot, hot sun and terrible humidity. I don’t feel like the vacation set me back too far in terms of training (if you don’t count all of extra sugary treats I consumed), but I did really miss my team. I only missed two group practices, but I look forward to them and rely on them for my motivation. My teammates are so fun and funny and kind – running with them is much more enjoyable than running alone!

So, today I hit the road alone for my first run after eight days off. I ran about 4.5 miles and actually felt quite good. I tackled the big hill at Prospect Park without trouble! Not bad, but I am really looking forward to tomorrow’s group practice. We are doing a tough hill workout, but I don’t even mind — I just can’t wait to see my team!

p.s. There is still plenty of time to show your support and donate to an amazing organization, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, via my TNT fundraising page. I love donations and your support means so much to me. xoxo

Central Park road race

centralparkraceMy marathon training is still in the beginning stages, with fairly low mileage runs and lots of cross training, but tomorrow the team (the Brooklyn LLS Team In Training) is participating in our first organized road race of the season. We will be running the 5-mile Achilles Hope & Possibility Run in Central Park. The image to the left is the race map – we’ll travel through much of the park. I am really excited to be running a race in central park, but five miles is still a loooong run for me. I will not be running it at any kind of race pace. If I can get under 11-minute miles, I’ll feel cool. I have a sore left foot that I really can’t explain, so I want to take it easy.

This evening, Travis and I are eating baked potatoes so that I can fuel up with some healthy carbs, and then I hope to head to bed early. I’m not exactly worried about the running tomorrow, but I am nervous about having to wake up so early and make it to the park in time. Subways are unpredictable on the weekends!

(This is where I once again remind you that in addition to training for the NYC marathon with Team In Training, I am also helping to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Your donations will help me get through those 26.2 miles, but most importantly, it will help those with cancer in their daily journey and push us closer to cures that will save lives. You can donate right now online! Special bonus: if you donate now you won’t get bombarded with future emails and letters from me! Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who have already donated!)

Team In Training update

TNTstretchWhew. I just completed my first 5 mile run of the season at this morning’s Team In Traning group run in Prospect Park. (This is a photo of me after the run doing some stretching. I look like a dweeb, but I don’t mind.) It was actually much more doable than I was expecting. Before starting this training, I hadn’t run over three miles in a few years. I know I have a lot further to go to work up to the marathon in November, but I am glad that I have been able to tackle this beginning mileage so “easily.”

Today while I was running, I was thinking about turning thirty. I’ll be thirty in February and I just keep thinking how wonderful my first 30 years have been and how lucky I have been. I feel so blessed to have always had such good health and I don’t want to take it for granted. Training for the marathon with TNT helps me with that in two ways: 1- by keeping me active and fit, and 2- by helping to raise money for medical research and care. (…Of course, that leads to the part where I ask for your support… If you would like to help me fight Leukemia and Lymphoma, please check out my TNT fundraising page!)

It feels good to be taking care of my body. I have always been active, but I am so happy that I decided to challenge myself with the goal of another marathon.

NYC Marathon here I come!

sandiegomarathon2I am a terrible athlete. Absolutely terrible. I can’t throw or catch a ball, bench press 100 lbs, do a yoga handstand, or even run very fast… but that didn’t prevent me from joining the cross country team in high school. Ever since then, running has been the most effective form of exercise for me.

My enthusiasm for running has varied over the years, but it has always been a part of my life. In every place I have lived, running has helped make it home. It has been my way of exploring my neighborhood and making it my own. In Kansas, I ran the safe streets and bike trails around my parents’ suburban home. In Iowa, I ran the gravel roads around the farm land and waved to the Amish. In Oregon, I ran the forested hiking trails of Hendricks Park and Skinners Butte. And, In Brooklyn, I’ve finally felt at home while running the crowded city sidewalks and Prospect Park trails.

Ten years ago, when I was just a freshman in college, I signed up for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training with my friend, Jody. We both enjoyed running and I guess we thought it would be “cool” to run a marathon. We were attending school in Lamoni, Iowa, and in addition to our individual training, we had to wake up at a terribly early hour each Saturday to make the over-an-hour drive to Des Moines to do our weekly training with the TNT group. It was intense and I truly can’t believe we did it. In June, we both crossed the finish line of the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon – a full 26.2 miles run by two 19-year-olds far from home. It was more challenging and more fun than I can describe! The 21,000-person crowd running the marathon went on for miles on the roads of San Diego and the number of spectators was even larger. It was such a wild party atmosphere for the entire five hours it took me to finish. (Jody finished much faster and actually placed in our age group!) The experience of that marathon is one of the most vivid memories of my life.

So… why did it take me ten years to do another? Well, it is mostly because of the training. Marathon training is demanding. I have attempted to do it on my own in the past and failed miserably. I know that I need a group to help motivate me to complete the hours and hours of running that is required to prepare for a full marathon, and… I am extremely excited to announce that I have joined The Leukemia and Lymphoma Soceity’s Team In Training (TNT) program for the second time and I will be training for the New York City Marathon on November 7th, 2010! Getting into the NYC Marathon is not easy – people from all over the world apply to run in it – and I feel that running it with TNT is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am excited, can you tell?!

Part of being a member of TNT means raising money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. There are many different charity endurance training programs to choose from now – many more than when I first discovered Team In Training in 2000 – but I chose TNT again because of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s commitment to research, education, and patient services. Seventy-four percent of every dollar raised goes directly toward these activities. I have set a daunting, yet exciting, $5,000 fundraising goal for myself and I plan to meet it. Click here to visit my TNT fundraising website. I would be more than thrilled if you would consider making a donation. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a wonderful charity that not only provides funds for cancer care and research, but has also made a huge impact on thousands of lives through TNT. I am proud to be a part of it.

I plan to improve my TNT fundraising page over the next few weeks, and also write weekly blog posts about my training experience. Please check back to follow along on my adventure!

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