Monday, June 15, 2015

Utah Valley Half Marathon

I decided to run the Utah Valley half marathon for a few reasons.  The course profile appeared to be a solid net downhill, but not so much elevation change that it would shred your quads (*spoiler alert: that assumption was incorrect); I had nothing major on my calendar until fall; and visiting Utah's National Parks has been high on my bucket list.  The race also offers Clydesdale/Athena divisions (males over 200 lbs and females over  150 lbs), making it an even more attractive option for me. 

We flew out to Salt Lake City after work on Tuesday, picked up our rental car, and checked into a hotel by the airport.  Wednesday morning I went for a little 5 mile run with some 200m pickups to feel out how the altitude might affect my running.  It went pretty well and it was actually lovely to run without 90% humidity.  After a shower and breakfast, we made the 4 hour drive to Moab and visited Arches National Park.  What an amazing place!



Turret Arch - Arches National Park

Thursday was a rest day on my schedule (a what?!?), so we took the opportunity to head back to Arches for a sunrise hike to Delicate Arch.  We beat the crowds and made it back to the car just as it started to rain, so the early morning adventure was definitely a success.


Delicate Arch - Arches National Park
On Friday I did a quick little shake out run and then we ventured over to Canyonlands and drove through the entire park.  With the exception of one small hike, we mostly just stopped at overlooks to take photos and didn't do anything overly taxing.


View from Mesa Arch - Canyonlands National Park
From there we headed up to Provo for packet pickup.  I stopped by the information desk to find out if they were doing weigh-ins for the Clydesdale/Athena divisions (Hartford had a mandatory weigh-in prior to the race) and just happened to end up talking with the race organizer, who kindly invited us to the VIP dinner.  Dinner was great, we met some other runners, and I got a picture with Ryan Hall, so that all worked out splendidly.  Plus I figured eating the same pre-race meal as the American half marathon record-holder couldn't hurt!  After dinner we drove the course.  I'm glad we did - there were significantly more uphill sections than I'd envisioned, so I was happy to know that ahead of time rather than finding out mid-race.  It also helped to know that after each hill was a nice downhill, so I felt much more prepared mentally after the course preview.



Unfortunately I could not sleep on Friday night thanks to some serious sinus congestion.  I couldn't breathe through my nose at all and was hoping that the cold appearing out of nowhere wouldn't impact my race.  Not really ideal, but I was awake before my 3:15 alarm and went through my usual morning ritual without feeling rushed.  At 4:00 I left the hotel, and found the temperature outside to be quite pleasant.  I'd worn a light jacket that I planned to leave at the start but decided I didn't need it and might as well save it for my next cold weather race, so I ran back to the room and left it.  Now in just my singlet and shorts, I made the 10 minute walk to the buses at Towne Centre Mall and was on board and heading out around 4:15. We took a very round about way to the start, so though it was only 13.1 miles away, it took about 30 minutes to drive there. I was actually happy for the longer ride, since we had to be on the bus so early, and had a nice chat with the BYU student sitting next to me (side note: everyone in Utah was extremely nice!).  We got off the bus at 4:45 and it was FREEZING at the start. I figured it would be a little cooler at than it was when I left our hotel given the 700 foot elevation difference (starting at 5,269 and ending at 4,564), but it was very cold and I was wishing I'd kept that jacket.  Live and learn.

Around 5:30 I made one last porta-potty stop, did a short 15 minute warm up with some strides, and made my way into the corral.  There weren't any pace signs or assigned corrals, so I found the 1:35 pacer and figured that was as good a spot as any.  Before I knew it, we were off.

My primary goals coming into the trip were to run a new PR (my previous best was 1:33:01 in Hartford back in 2012 during my NYC marathon training cycle) and win the Athena division.  After looking at the race guide on Friday night, I learned that the course record for Athenas was 1:33:14, so that was an extra incentive to run under 1:33.  My stretch goal was 1:31:32, which is an average pace of 6:59.  I don't know why 6:59 sounds so much better to me than 7:00, but I really wanted a half marathon pace starting with a 6!

The 1st 3 miles were mostly flat/very slight downhill with a couple of little hills just after the first mile. I had to do a little dodging around other runners at the outset, but I found myself running along with only a few people in no time.  Much of the first half of the race is on curvy roads, but with only one or two runners near me at a time I was able to stay very close to the measured distance and my Garmin splits were almost right on the mile markers.  Concentrating on the tangents and looking ahead through each curve also made the initial miles go by very quickly.

I didn't know how the altitude would affect me, and my coach had warned against going out too fast, as it would be hard to recover from oxygen debt at altitude, so I was cautious to keep things in check, especially up the hill in mile 3.  Overall I felt great, and the only issue was my sinus congestion.  Though I don't necessarily need to breathe through my nose when I'm running, I realized that it is very helpful to be able to do so when trying to drink gatorade while running through the aid stations.  But things were going well and I wasn't going to let a little thing like lack of air slow me down. 

Miles 1-3: 6:51-6:52-7:07

Miles 4 and 5 each had moderate hills with gains of about 100 feet over a quarter mile, but the rest was downhill, with some relatively fast descents and a net loss of almost 300 feet over these 3 miles.  I tried to increase my cadence up the hills and lighten my footfalls on the way down, while also being cautious to avoid red-line territory.  To my surprise, even with the hills, mile splits well below goal pace continued to pop up on my Garmin.

Miles 4-6: 6:50-6:36-6:40

Other than a short and relatively steep hill leading up to the 7th mile marker and a matching descent, miles 7-10 were all a very slight decline and a pretty straight shot out of the canyon.  Somewhere in these miles my legs got heavier, and I had a feeling I might have to pay for the too-fast miles I'd run so far.  But PRs don't come without taking risks, and my mental math told me I could run 7:10s and still hit my goal time, so I stayed pretty positive despite the slower mile splits.  I got an added boost when I hit mile 10 in 68:??, which would have been a significant 10 mile PR and was my first time getting running that distance in under 70 minutes. 

Miles 7-10: 6:48-7:02-7:01-7:08

Mile 11 was mostly on a slight incline/false flat, similar to the section of the ATT leading to Scott King Rd. When we drove the course, I had mentally prepared myself for this to be my most challenging mile.  Though the earlier hills were much steeper, I knew that at this point in the race even the slight incline was going to feel pretty tough, as Scott King usually does at the end of my training runs.  

Mile 11: 7:19

From mile 12 to the finish is a straight shot on a modest decline (loss of 50 feet over 2 miles) but I was really starting to feel fatigue in my legs and struggled to get the pace back.  Thankfully I could see some of the larger buildings in town, and having the finish line in sight was really helpful.  I really felt like I was pushing myself to my limit, but I just could not get those 6s back.  More mental math, and I knew I had a PR and the Athena course record in the bag, but that I had to keep my pace right around 7 if I was going to get in under 1:31:32.

Miles 12-13: 7:06-7:03

As I approached the finish line I heard Monte cheering for me but was completely focused on the clock and the finish line.  I gave it everything I had left, and crossed the line with 1:31:31 on the clock.  By my watch I ran 13.17 at an average pace of 6:57, and my chip time was 1:31:25 for an official race pace of 6:59.  Not exactly crushing the stretch goal of 1:31:32, but I did it!  


1st Place Athena and a new Athena Course Record
Just missed top 10 females, finishing 11th out of 1,005
After the race we spent the day in Park City and then caught the red-eye back to NC.  My quads are killing me, and I'm still sick and exhausted, but it was worth it.  

16 states down, 34 to go!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Spring training

Though March started with a run in the freezing rain at a temperature of 33 degrees, the remainder of the month brought some pleasant and (finally) springlike weather, which has made training a lot more enjoyable!  I'd almost forgotten how nice it is to run with shorts and even with the chafing and sunburn that accompany warmer weather running, I am definitely not going to complain. 

The nicer weather also brought the opportunity to finally test out the new Zipp 404s and Powertap on my tri bike.  Between the new wheels, a more aggressive bike fit (thanks, Durham Cycles!), and the many winter hours spent on the trainer, my easy-ish ride averaged over 17 mph so I am feeling pretty optimistic about the coming race season!


March totals:

Swim: 10.2 miles
Bike: 184.2 miles
Run: 118.5 miles
ElliptiGo: 27.5 miles

Total time (including strength training and yoga): 51:16:02

Total miles: 367.45
Total calories: 26,179


Cooper River Bridge Run 10K: 15/1999 Female 35-39 (44:13)

April totals:
Swim: 8.6 miles
Bike: 263.8 miles
Run: 100.4 miles
ElliptiGo: 16 miles

Total time (including strength training and yoga): 43:16:07

Total miles: 388.8
Total calories: 27,050


Footprints in the sand: Training run in Turks and Caicos


Tar Heel 4 Miler: 3rd Female Overall (29:10)
May totals:
Swim: 10.6 miles
Bike: 346.4 miles
Run: 104.6 miles
ElliptiGo: 22 miles

Total time (including strength training and yoga): 54:50:25
Total miles: 506.4
Total calories: 28,372


Cary Duathlon: 3rd Female Overall
2.5 mile run (17:00)
18.3 mile bike (53:29)
2.5 mile run (17:19)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night...

Mother nature did her best to make things difficult this month, following a lovely 70 degree weekend with some snow, then ice, then another snowstorm.  In addition to making running difficult, the winter weather led to several closings and delayed start days at the pool, so I missed out on a few swim workouts.  Thankfully I have the bike on the trainer, and despite the weather issues was able to average about 92 minutes per day through February.  My running fitness and speed are not returning as quickly as I'd hoped, but I do feel like I'm making progress on the bike and I am definitely getting much stronger in the pool.  221 days to go! 



February totals:
Swim: 8.25 miles
Bike: 224 trainer miles and a spin class
Run: 81 miles
ElliptiGo: 19.3 miles

Total time (including strength training and yoga): 43:35

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

And so it begins...

December brought a gradual post-injury return to running and the holidays brought a hectic schedule and extra insulation due to cookie consumption, so I was definitely ready to get the ball rolling in 2015!  Total training time is averaging somewhere between 8-9 hours a week and I am running without pain in the first time in recent memory... so far, so good!



January totals:
Swim: 10.9 miles (personal record for most miles in a month)
Bike: 234 trainer miles and a spin class
Run: 85.5 (including the Bahamas Half Marathon)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 in review

All in all, it was a great year.  I didn't accomplish all of the goals that I'd set for myself at the end of 2013, but I had experiences that I hadn't imagined at that time and am so grateful for how everything worked out.




Training Summary

Running: 1088 miles
Cycling: 2756 miles

Including swimming, cross-training and ElliptiGo-ing, I spent just over 400 hours exercising in 2014 and covered over 4,000 miles.  Total calories burned (as calculated by garmin): 260,961... that's a lot of beer and cupcakes!

Race Summary



Half Marathons: New Orleans, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Phoenix, Tobacco Road, Ottawa, Covered Bridges (VT), Rock and Roll Raleigh, and Chicago

Marathons: Boston and Berlin

Duathlons: USAT Long Course National Championship and ITU Long Course World Championship

Goals for 2014
1. Sub-3:20 marathon (success!)
2. Sub-1:30 half marathon (fail)
3. Sub-13:00 Ironman at Beach to Battleship (deferred)


Goals for 2015
1. Sub-12:00 Ironman at Beach to Battleship
2. Age group podium at the Patriots Half Ironman and B2B
3. Sub-1:30 half marathon

Despite ending the year having accomplished only 1 of my top 3 goals for 2014, I am happy with the year as a whole.  Running a sub 3:20 was my #1 priority, and I accomplished that.  My goal of becoming an Ironman was pushed back a year when I decided to add Powerman Zofingen to the schedule, but I have zero regrets about racing for Team USA, and though it wasn't 140.6, that race was significantly longer than anything I'd ever done, so I am still calling that a win.  Plus, now that I've checked off my marathon goal (for now) and have the experience of finishing an ultra-distance event, I will be able to work through the year with the goal of racing B2B, rather than just finishing it.  Not that I expect to be "fast," but my time goal has dropped significantly and I would like to be in contention in my age group.  

I've also added that elusive 1:30 to the list again.  At this point, it seems unlikely to happen this year, as my training and focus are all on B2B, but I have a mostly downhill summer half marathon and the 5:19 mile I ran this year shows that gravity is my friend, so I am not entirely ruling it out.

Special thanks... 
To my husband for supporting me, taking care of all of the things I don't have time for when I'm training for hours and hours a week, standing outside at races for hours just to see me go by for 2 seconds, and for everything else!

To my family.  Thank you for your endless encouragement and support! I love you guys!

To the best group of training buddies I could imagine.  You inspire and motivate me every day, listen to me go on and on about my training/racing/goals/setbacks, and really make this journey more enjoyable than I could have ever envisioned. 

To my coach for working around my (maybe slightly) crazy schedule and still getting me to the Powerman finish line in one piece and to my coveted 3:1X!

To Bull City Running Company and the Bull City Track Club - y'all have definitely made me faster!

To Esprit de SheNuun, and Honey Stinger for the Ambassadorships.  

I am excited to see what 2015 will bring!!  Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My European Adventure

A recap of my month in Europe in (more or less) one photo per day!


September 5
Arrival in Zofingen, Switzerland
September 6
Race check in and opening ceremonies
September 7
Team USA at the Long Course Duathlon World Championship
September 8
Lucerne, Switzerland
September 9
Full day of sightseeing in Lucerne
September 10
Train ride through Austria and arrival in Vienna
September 11
It was a rainy, dreary day in Vienna, so I decided to visit the zoo.
I LOVE zoos, and koalas are my favorite so it worked out perfectly
September 12
Sightseeing in Vienna with Adam
September 12
Arrival in Mikulov, Czech Republic, for the start of our bike tour
September 13: First day of cycling
We rode from Vatice to Mikulov on mountain bike paths
After days of rain, it was all mud and I was way out of my element!
En route from Valtice to Mikulov
Lednice Castle
September 14
Rode from Znojmo to Vranov nad Dyji
This is all that remains of the Iron Curtain
September 15
Telc, Czech Republic
Rode 29 miles from Vranov nad Dyji to Slavonice before taking a train to Telc
The beginning of our 26 mile ride from Telc to Jindrichuv Hradec
September 16
Jindrichuv Hradec
September 17
Trebon
September 18
Sunrise in Trebon before riding the 36 miles to Cesky Krumlov
September 18
Cesky Krumlov: The end of our cycling adventure

September 19
Sightseeing in Cesky Krumlov before taking the bus to Prague
September 19
Prague
September 20
Adam left and Monte had not arrived yet, so I went sightseeing solo.
By my estimates (based on later runs wearing my Garmin), I think I walked about 14 miles
September 21
Monte arrived in Prague
September 22
Toured Prague on the hop on hop off bus
September 23
From the top of the astronomical clock
Sunset in Prague
September 24
Arrival in Dresden, Germany
September 25
Adventures (and comical mishaps) in sightseeing
September 26
Arrived in Berlin and visited the race expo
September 27
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
September 28
Berlin Marathon
New PR of 3:17:51!
September 30
Munich, Germany
Celebrating the end of the race season at Oktoberfest
October 1
Met up with Sarah in Munich
October 2
More Oktoberfest! Giant beer, giant pretzel, repeat.
October 3
Train ride through Austria
Celebrating my birthday at the Bayern Munich game and Oktoberfest!