Countdown to Napa… Just Under 3 Weeks Away

20 miles of town and trail

The Long And Winding Road-20 miles
It was a daunting task to run the scheduled twenty miles on Sunday on this long and curly route. Twenty miles was on all of our (team Kick Ass’s) training plans. This marks the longest run we would do (together) before the Napa Valley Marathon. Last friday I did a five mile run. I felt great, and then, it hit me. Tiredness. I did nothing the rest of the day and was happy I wasn’t working. I worked on Saturday, my only rest day of the week and all day thought about how I didn’t want to run on Sunday. I don’t really know why I wasn’t psyched for the run. The week before I was chomping at the bit to go run nineteen miles. What has happened? Was it because I didn’t get a new Athleta outfit to motivate me like I had the few weeks before? No. And why am I so tired? One reason I suppose, besides the obvious fact that I’ve been training non-stop since last October (for the Vegas half in December and now this marathon) with no rest period, was that I was nervous about running in the new Super Feet Insoles I just got for my running shoes. Adding something new to your running three weeks before your first marathon is risky and I had only run in them two times before this long run. I felt great the first day. The run felt effortless. On the second I felt some soreness in my calf’s afterwards and wasn’t sure how my feet/calf’s would hold up after or even during the twenty mile journey. I was picturing that I would be stopping about halfway in and calling someone to come pick me up. And that thought was actually sounding okay in my head! I can’t believe I was fine with just quitting mid-way. Not my usual mentality. It’s strange really, because the week before when we ran nineteen miles I was happy and on a runner’s high for four more days! Then friday rolled around and boom! I was a lazy, tired sac on the couch watching back-to-back Lifetime Channel TV romance movies. Fast forward to Monday and I am still pooped.

view from the trail~china camp, marin county ca

The run was actually pleasant after the first seven or so miles. After pounding the pavement we hit the trails of China Camp State Park, where back in the late 1800’s a Chinese shrimp-fishing village thrived with about 500 settlers from Canton, China. This was my first time running this area. I hiked here once on a school field trip with one of my son’s elementary classes. This is also where part of the Marin County Half and Full Marathon will take place and while running it Johan and Shanna talked about running the race, early this April. I sounded in with a “me too”… but I may think on that a bit. It’s a little soon after this full…hmmm, maybe.

Speaking of Shanna. I love that she and her husband Maurizio are running this marathon with us. They are so competitive with each other. It’s hard to tell who is going to cross the finish line first. I think Shanna, but then Maurizio was out in the lead most of this run. They cracked me up this week both showing up sporting a knee band… on the same knee no less. My secret wish is that they cross the finish holding hands. I am a sucker for romance! (I did subject myself to Lifetime TV for endless hours the other day!)

the italian lovers ~ shanna and maurizio

Once off the trail and back to pavement we seemed to split off into groups of two. Shanna and I were running together and I was complaining that my toes on my left foot were feeling squeezed. I have athletic tape covering two of the toes to prevent blisters thanks to my friend Patrick for his savvy advice (so far no blisters using this method.) But, my toes hurt. I certainly didn’t want to stop, but the toes seemed to want me to. I talked to Shanna about it and she said maybe I should take off my shoe and see. I was going to… but I hated the idea of stopping. I wiggled them a bit, scrunching them in and out trying to get the blood to circulate and hopefully make the uncomfortable feeling go away. I said I would stop at the bench ahead, but when we got there we caught up to Sonja and I just said, fuck it. I’m going to push through. I thought of my ultra friend Andrew running 30 miles the day before with his foot pain and head pain and drew upon his perserverance which I knew I would be doing during some part of this run. This was the moment. He inspires me and it helped get me through that obstacle. It wasn’t more than a mile later that my legs felt like lead. Jeez! We still had four miles to go! I was dragging.

these are awesome!

I pulled out my Bonk Bar and devoured it. Peanut butter and jelly. So yummy! I gave a bite to Shanna. I think it’s a miracle bar because it didn’t take long after that that I wanted to just start sprinting. I was stoked that I felt this good. I had pre-cut them into small pieces and that made them easier to eat while on the run. I also ate a power bar (1/2 at different times) and a GU. I had water and orange Gatorade too. We stopped at Whole Foods around 3 miles from the end to refill our water bottles and I was thankful they had free cold water right at the front of the store making it a quick pit stop.

The remainder of the run was through the town of San Rafael and it’s historic fourth street. We dodged the lazy Sunday shoppers that dotted the store front sidewalks and even got a funny running comment from a homeless man. Sonja seemed to like this. Most of the group was way ahead of Sonja and I as she needed to make an urgent stop at the local Starbucks… no not for some coffee. he he.

The end of the run is upon the horizon. I know it’s not much further than maybe a mile. Man, I am dragging. I am thinking of some of my favorite music. I pull out of my brain the lyrics from Flo Rida’s ‘Good Feeling‘ and reel the chorus over and over in my head. Then it dawns on me, even though about ten miles ago I was telling Shanna I wished that I had brought my shuffle (and she did too), that duh!!… I have my iphone on me with itunes on it…it’s in my ugly but functional tune belt, running my running app, Endomondo. I wonder if Siri will work for me, because the last few days she kept telling me “sorry Michele, there is a problem,” and I am praying she can hear me as I huff and puff along, cause I’m not stopping my slow poke momentum. I tell Sonja… I want to play some music. She says we can slow down to do it. I push the button and wait for the sound Siri makes and ask her to play ‘Good Feeling’. We wait, straining our ears over the noise of the passing cars unsure of whether or not she answered me. But then… I hear it… a faint strumming of the guitar and ta da!!! ‘Oh oh sometimes… I get a good feeling…’ Music and motivation. Let’s go!!

a strong finish!! thank you siri.

I love running to music and now I had a portable juke box wrapped around me. I wasn’t planning to bring my shuffle to the marathon, still not sure entirely. Napa doesn’t allow it and I have been running these last few long runs without the aid of it thanks to my wonderful team. But I will now be bringing my iphone in it’s ugly belt because this is going to be my secret (well not so secret now) weapon at the race. When it gets close to the end, I want to pull out the magic of music, get myself pumped to finish the race like I did on this 20 mile run. Check out that last mile pace!!! Sonja and I caught up to part of our group, Maili and Jack, passed them, were singing and Sonja (who was unusually quiet the entire run) was just crazy funny and whooping it up with cheers and laughter and we didn’t just stop when we hit 20 miles, but kept going another half mile until the song (Pump It, of all songs) ended. Maili and Jack caught on to our spirit and trucked on right behind us and eventually going about 50 yards further as Maili’s garmen hadn’t hit 20 yet. And Johan, Maurizio and Shanna had disappeared in the last mile on a different path rounding the final corner from the opposite direction just after we got there because their mileage was off. Isn’t it funny what slaves we are to our running devices and how everyone’s is a little different? Regardless of the exact mileage, we high fived and glowed in the bask of completing this run. It was a perfect ending.

team kick ass prevails!
my girls, me, sonja and maili

I love my running group, my new friends. We are all on the same page and run well together. I have only known some of these runners just over six months and the others only a couple or less, but I feel like I have made friends for life which is almost as wonderful as completing the daunting task of running a marathon. In this, we will share a common bond, a true test of who we are. A piece of our lives that only we can understand. A moment in our lives like no other.

Today’s tip via my SmartCoach: 
Don’t expect every day to be better than the last. Some days will be slower than others, and some days might even hurt a bit. But as long as you’re on the road, it’s a good day.

And it was! 🙂


5 thoughts on “Countdown to Napa… Just Under 3 Weeks Away

  1. Omg I’m Napa-bound and was dragging last week too! Literally hit my all-time low on the very day you posted this. Finally sent an APB to my running buddies, experienced marathoner friends and run coach friends asking what is going on bc suddenly I can barely hold marathon pace past 6 miles. The idea of going for 26.2 in 2 weeks seems rather improbable and I am freaking out. The feedback was: “don’t panic, you may be getting dehydrated from starting up bikram, so cut it out til after 3/4; and remember to take it easy these last 2 weeks.” that calmed me a bit. As part of mellow-out strategy I think I will spend a day in Napa this week or next and drive the NVM course. Have you scoped it out?

    1. I haven’t scoped out the course, but wanted to as well. I like to know what I’m in for! I asked a few friends about feeling unenthused at this point in the training. One, who has done an ironman and is an avid cyclist said it’s totally normal to feel like this. That we’ve trained hard and put our bodies through a lot. That affects our hormones and mood. And that is why the taper is so important. So, they said, don’t even think about the race, the hay is in the barn so to speak. Focus and embrace the rest, get sleep, eat right and drink more water. I was trying to do those things, but today on my last long run my calf got a sharp pain and I had to stop running. I am hoping it heals before the NVM. I’ve had calf injuries before and they took weeks to heal. I am pretty bummed today and have been icing it. No runs for possibly this whole week! I hope to race and maybe we will meet? Enjoy your taper!! You deserve it!

  2. I loved this post… brought me right back to the run, minus the pain 😉 Sonja’s flailing arms, singing and whooping got me giggling so hard at one point I almost had to stop running! So excited for race day 🙂 Get some zzz’s girl!

  3. Wow! Such a informative and entertaining blog! I actually got a little history lesson today! Loved it! Keep up the awesome writing AND running! You can do it! You rock. Im glad you have an awesome team of runners with you by your side the whole way!

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