Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

As 2012 comes to an end, it's nice to reflect on the past year.  There were many highlights, some disappointments, and many, many miles, including a nice (and thankfully knee pain free) 12 miler today in honor of '12.  All in all it was a good year, and I am looking forward to seeing what 2013 will bring!  Happy New Year, everyone!

Training

Running:
1,630 miles (1,291 in 2011; met goal of 1,500 miles for 2012)
224:55:17
175,244 calories

Definitely an improvement in volume and speed compared to last year!

Cycling (outdoor + spin)
648 miles
122:21:14

Swimming: 15:52:25

Strength Training: 52:25:00

Total time: Over 427 hours

Racing

Counting relays and my unofficial race at City of Oaks, I finished 32 races this year, including 4 marathons and 7 half marathons.  And though the fall season didn't end on the best note, I am coming out of the year with new personal bests in the mile (Magnficent Mile, 5:52), 10K (Cursa Bombers, 43:39), half marathon (Hartford, 1:33:01), and marathon (Paris, 3:28:22).




I also completed my first open water triathlons and finished two Olympic-distance races.  Considering I couldn't swim more than a lap without stopping 18 months ago, that is a pretty big improvement for me and I am glad I decided to give it a try!


Goals for 2013

The setbacks at the end of this year have not prevented me from setting some pretty aggressive goals for myself for 2013. Hopefully at this time next year, I can report that I have accomplished them all!
1.            Finish the Ironman Raleigh 70.3 in under 6 hours
2.            Run a sub-70 minute 10 Miler (likely goal race: ATT 10 Miler)
3.            Run a Half Marathon under 1:30 (likely goal race: Metro PCS Dallas)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Well, my running has been a non-story lately, but today I ran 10 without any knee pain, so hopefully that means I'm on my way back!

The break has given me a chance to spend more time on another hobby though, and I've been baking up a storm in celebration of the holidays.  On the flip side, I have also been eating my weight in sweets, so hopefully the training will be back in full swing soon... In any case, here are some pics of our holiday celebrations thus far!


Red Velvet Christmas Tree Cupcakes
Bull City Track Club Women
Share Your Christmas Wrapping Party
Chocolate and hazelnut Christmas Present Cake

Gift cupcakes

Some of my favorite running friends!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Palm Beaches Marathon


This weekend I went down to Palm Beach for the Palm Beaches Marathon, my replacement marathon for NYC.  Despite the recent knee injury and a bit of running apathy of late, I was bound and determined to run a marathon before this season was over.  First and foremost, I have to give a huge THANK YOU to my friend Caroline, who really helped me out with the logistics and let me crash her annual Palm Beach race trip.

(C - I honestly can't thank you enough for making this fall marathon happen despite what seemed like an unending barrage of obstacles)

After spending Saturday morning boating on the Intercoastal, we went over to packet pickup, stopped by Publix for provisions, had a nice carb-loading dinner at the condo and got to bed at a reasonable hour.  On Sunday morning I woke up a bit before my 4:00 alarm, showered, had coffee and a powerbar, and was ready to go before our scheduled 5:15 departure.  We left a little ahead of schedule and got to the race with plenty of time to spare, which was great because I was freaking out enough and it helped that we had plenty of time for porta potty stops and a quick tour of the start-finish area before the 6:30 start.  At that time the weather was pleasant, and it was nice to not be freezing while waiting to run.

We lined up between the 3:25 and 3:30 pace groups, listened to the anthem, and off we went.  Bill was going to run the first part of the race with me until the half and full marathon split, and though at first I was worried that I lost him in the crowded start, I was soon assured that he had my six.  My knee was a little stiff for the first mile, but it loosened up and by the second mile it wasn't bothering me at all.  I took this as a good sign and hoped that the 4 days of rest before the marathon had done some good.  

The course went north for about 3 miles before turning around and going back toward the start, both right along the water.  We passed the 3:25 group just after the turnaround, and saw Ron and Caroline just behind us as we made our way south along the waterfront.  We kept pace in the low 7:40s while watching a lovely sunrise over the water, and I felt really comfortable.  There was a pretty strong crosswind, but it felt nice and I thought it was definitely better than battling stifling humidity.  After 6.5 we continued south past the start, staying along the water and dealing with the wind the whole time.  It started to get warm pretty quickly once the sun was up, and I worried that might be a problem as the race progressed.  The good news, though, was that my knee still felt fine.

I opened a Gu at mile 8, and ate it a bit at a time over each of the next 3 water stops.  I also drank water at each of the aid stations, which were a mile to a mile a half apart.  Bill turned around at mile 9 to finish the half, and I continued along, trying to keep my pace in the 7:40s.  Around mile 10, my knee stopped cooperating.  At that point it was more of an annoying ache than pain, but it kept getting worse.  I decided I would keep going and hope for the best, but after crossing the halfway point I needed to make a bathroom stop.  For some reason it felt worse after the brief stop, and I realized it was going to be a long way back.  We continued south until about mile 16, passing through some lovely neighborhoods with homes that I could only afford if I win Powerball one of these days.  As we approached the turnaround we could see the leaders heading back, and I realized that there were only 4 or 5 women ahead of me, despite the pit stop and the fact that my pace had slowed to around 8 minute miles.  

I tried to enjoy the scenery to take my mind off the worsening knee pain, but found myself just staring at the watch and thinking about how much farther I still had to go.  Shortly after the turn around, the 3:25 pace group passed me, and though they offered some words of encouragement as they went by, to me it was just a visual sign of my marathon goal getting out of sight.  That was depressing and I started to wonder if running through this pain was even worth it now that I knew I wouldn't hit my goal time or even PR.  By mile 18 the pain was bad enough that I could tell it was impacting my gait, and I decided that I should adjust my goal and just try to requalify for Boston - 3:35.  This seemed reasonable given the decent first half, but just after mile 20 the 3:35 pacer (who was by then running by himself) went by.  I guess I was obviously limping because he slowed down as he passed to ask if I needed a medical tent and offered to help get me a ride back to the finish.   Though I had been seriously considering this option, I told him that I thought I could make it and really wanted to finish, and he suggested trying some walk-jog intervals.  So I started to walk.  It helped a little, but even walking my knee still really hurt, and the thought of dropping out of the race was going through my mind on a loop. 

The miles went by soooo slowly.  Periodically I would start to jog, thinking even if it hurt more, at least it wouldn't hurt for as long.  But inevitably that made it worse and my little attempts at running were short-lived.  By then it was hot, even my back-up time goal was long gone, and I was pretty miserable.  There weren't many spectators on the course, and the few that I did see as well as the volunteers at the water stations were very cheerful, but their well-intentioned cheers ("Great job!" "Keep going!" "Looking good") almost seemed offensive.  One volunteer was sitting on a curb, and as I walked though the aid station drinking some water she said, "way to go, you look great!"  I think I actually laughed at that point and then told her that she wasn't a very good liar but I appreciated the effort.  I hope she didn't think I was being sarcastic, because I really meant it.  Another spectator was sitting on his lawn and told me I was the 16th woman.  Seriously?  This should have been a little encouraging, I think, but instead I just thought about how well I should be doing and that I would be finishing soon if I had not wussed out and slowed to a walk.

After mile 24 I knew I would at least complete the race, and took that mile to psych myself up to run the last mile.  So when I got to mile marker 25 I started to jog, and though it wasn't fast or pretty, I managed to make it to 26.  Shorty after that last mile marker, I could see the finish line and heard Caroline, Ron, and Bill cheering me on.  It's amazing what a little support from friends and the sight of the finish line can do!  That little boost was enough to help me pick up the pace for the last few meters, and I crossed the finish line in 3:48 and change - as Ron put it, a PW (personal worst).  



Based on the finish line photos, I think I might have a future in acting, because I certainly look a lot happier than I felt!  I was however, glad it was over, and tried to tell myself that finishing in itself was an accomplishment (sadly I still haven't convinced myself of that).

I would like to say that I was happy with my effort or learned something useful from the experience, but right now I can't say that is true.  It just feels like all of the marathon training efforts through the fall were for naught.  I've also decided to take a break from the marathon distance for a while, (though I am going to "run" Boston in April, I have no intentions of racing it) and my goal of running a sub-3:25 marathon will have to wait until at least 2014.  In the meantime, I am going to take a short break from running, until kicking of my half ironman training in January.  Hopefully by then the knee will be healed, and so will my spirits…

On a happier note... this marathon weekend was fun except for the running!  Good company, good food, lots of laughs, and the beach really help take the edge off a miserable race!


Thank you again, Caroline!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong"

Unfortunately I still haven't gotten over the running apathy that I've been feeling since the NYC cancellation.  To make matters worse, my right knee has really been bothering me and it's become more and more painful to run each day over the last few weeks.  This is discouraging for the obvious reasons, and the fact that this is my "good" knee (the torn meniscus, cartilage fissures, tendinosis, and Baker's cyst which ended my soccer-playing days and brought me to distance running in the first place are in the left knee) only exacerbates my frustration

Today's visit to Sports Med confirmed my suspicions: Runners Knee (aka Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome).  The recovery from this is to be rest and physical therapy, and the Doctor and Fellows had a good laugh over the idea of "fixing me in four days."  There is "good" news though... the doctor said that though it would be painful to run the marathon on Sunday, I could most likely do it without causing any permanent, irreparable damage.  And though he didn't seem to think running a marathon in 4 days was a great idea, he also didn't strongly discourage me from racing, and I am taking that as a green light.  That said, I will keep his advice in mind and if it gets really bad, "don't overdo it and wait to run a better day."


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Started today with a nice little "Turkey Trot"... the Skinny Turkey half marathon in Raleigh.  Bex picked me up at 5:45 and despite a construction detour we made it to Wakefield High School in plenty of time for packet pickup, a restroom stop (indoor bathrooms and a warm place to wait - excellent), and a short shake out jog before the 7:30 start.

The pre-race dedication, moment of silence, national anthem, and dance team routine seemed to take forever considering it was in the mid-30s, but eventually "The Final Countdown" (awesome) came on and we were off.  

I waffled a bit on a plan for this race... I haven't been particularly excited about running in general, my knee has been killing me since City of Oaks, and I have a marathon in 10 days so I thought it might be wise to take it relatively easy and run at or near goal marathon pace.  On the other hand, it is a race, Ellen and Allie were going to be running 7:20ish so I could potentially have company, and my dad said "if you're going to run, run hard." So I opted for the latter and decided to try to stick with Allie and Ellen.  

I checked my watch right after the start, and at a quarter mile I was running 6:20-something pace, so I figured running with the girls might not be an option after all.  I slowed a bit and fortunately they did too, and I caught up to come through the first mile in 7 flat.   After that we settled in to a comfortable pace fluctuating in the 7:20s and 7:30s, which seemed perfectly fine with me given the hilly course.

Somewhere into mile 2, the lead runners were coming back at us already, and we cheered for Bex as she went by in 3rd place for women.  A few seconds later I realized that didn't seem right - the turnaround was supposed to be just before mile 3.  As I wondered if they'd changed the course, we came into a traffic circle where the lead pack had gone around and headed back and a few people began to shout that we needed to go right.  So right we went, realizing all of the leaders had followed the cyclist's error and would be a couple miles short of their 13.1. 

Thankfully we stayed on course, through some really nice neighborhoods and over way too many hills.  My knee had really bothered me for the first few miles, but was feeling a bit better on the uphill and flat sections.  We made it to the second turnaround at mile 10 just under 1:15, and started down a fairly steep hill.  The knee pain got quite a bit worse at that point, and though I really wanted to speed up with Allie and Ellen for the last 5k, I just couldn't push myself to do it.  Once there was a little space between us, I was pretty much on my own, tired, with very annoying knee pain, and just ready for the race to be over.   The nice part of the out and back parts of the course was that I was able to see several of my other friends who were also out running, and their encouragement, plus seeing Monte at mile 12, really helped that last part seem less lonely.  Though I wasn't able to speed up, I did manage to not slow down, and finished in 1:38:25 (7:30 average pace).  With the top few women DQ'ed because they were sent the wrong way, Ellen ended up 3rd overall, Allie was 4th, and I finished 6th.  I'm sure B will have more on that in her race report!  


Cutest medal ever
All in all it was a good day, and I have to say I am really thankful for many things, but since this is a running blog, I feel I should give a special shout out to the BCTC and my training partners.  Your support, inspiration, motivation, and encouragement mean so much to me, and I would not want to do this without you!  Thank you!!!


BCTC!

Happy to see Crit back out there!
Santa wished me a Merry Christmas on Thanksgiving :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blah

The cancellation of the NYC marathon has really taken a toll... I think the race that wasn't really took a lot out of me, both physically (between the taper and a hilly replacement marathon) and mentally.  I am trying my best to get excited about the race on December 2, but I am struggling.  At least I'll be at the beach :)

In the meantime, I have to figure out how to recover, rebuild, and re-taper.  I had a decent week running-wise considering I completed a marathon last weekend, but I am feeling a bit unfit after the long taper.  That feeds into the feelings of apathy toward racing and lack of confidence that I've had of late, and is not helping matters at all.  Maybe this is the running equivalent of post-partum depression?  Whatever it is I need to snap out of it.

Tuesday - 5.5 mile recovery run with Sara; 46:50 (8:31)

Wednesday - 3.75 miles with Bex, including 6 x 400s  at 93-97 secs; 30:09 (8:03); 20 minute pull swim

Thursday - Easy run with Sara (4M in 32:33) in the morning; 
Brooks nightlife run at Bull City Running Company in the evening (3M in 24:15)

Saturday -15 with B, plus cameos by Ellen and Allie; 2:01:16 (8:05)

Tuesday - 20 minutes elliptical, followed by the Duke vs Carolina vertical climb challenge (5 minutes on a treadmill set to 30% incline; left in 5th place for females with 361 feet)

Wednesday - 7.5 miles on the ATT chasing after Bex for 10 x 400s (1:02:44)

Thursday - 6 miles in the dark with cold, rainy weather.  Thank goodness for Bex, because I totally would have skipped this if left to my own devices.  47:04, averaging 7:40 after the warm up (thank you B!)

Friday - Finally stuck to the pace plan for a progression run.  6 miles with Ellen, Bex, and Jen D; 46:47 (splits 8:24-8:05-7:32-7:18-6:50-8:34)

Two weeks until the Palm Beach Marathon... hopefully by then I'll be excited about running...

Monday, November 5, 2012

A bittersweet 26.2

Given the disappointment of not running NYC, I decided that I would not be mentally ready to race this weekend and signed up for the Palm Beaches Marathon on December 2.  Sara's brother, who is an amazing triathlete and runs a coaching business, was nice enough to send me a 4-week plan to go from tapered to race-ready.  The suggested run for this weekend was 23 miles, so I decided to pace Lora at the City of Oaks marathon instead of going out for a long run by myself.  I was fortunate to get a race bib from a friend of a friend who had signed up but couldn't run, so I didn't feel like a bandit and was able to get water on the course rather than wearing the belt.

Lora picked me up at 5:30 and we made it to the race in plenty of time to make it through the restroom line and jog a short warmup.  I was a bit worried about the weather when I woke up to a thunderstorm at 4:30, but it turned out to be a perfect day for running.  We stayed in the 8:15-8:30 range through the early ups and downs of downtown Raleigh, and came through halfway at 1:50.  



After the loop through downtown Raleigh we headed out on a nice greenway, which was downhill and then mostly flat through the turnaround until mile 20, which we hit around 2:50.  I decided to pick up the pace for a bit, since I really had only 3 miles left to my training run, and attempted to run it at goal marathon pace (7:40-7:45).  It did not help that miles 20-24 are all uphill, but I managed 7:50s.  Do not believe the website - "faster and flatter" than the old course does not mean "fast and flat"!



With 5k to go, I waited for Lora and we finished the race together.  The last few miles were definitely not easy, but I was happy to have done the 23 I was supposed to in about 3:15.  So despite an emotional marathon weekend, in the end I finished my 26.2... just not in the time or place that I'd envisioned.


Big thanks to Lora for the company, and congrats to all my BCTC teammates and friends who ran the full and half today.  And a special congratulations to Jennifer, who came back from NYC to run a 2:55 on a really tough course!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mixed emotions

My journey to the New York City Marathon started in March of 2011, when I decided that my goal for that fall would be to run a half marathon fast enough to qualify for the 2012 race.  After months of training, I qualified for guaranteed entry in October, and signed up as soon as registration opened on January 2. I've continued to train throughout the year, focusing solely on this race for the last four months.  Over these last 15 weeks, I've run over 600 miles, made reservations, studied the course map, visualized how amazing this race would be, and spent hours discussing all things New York City marathon related with my teammates and friends who also had "November 4 - NYC" on their calendars.  

And then came Hurricane Sandy.  It has been awful to see footage of the disaster and hear the stories of those most impacted by the storm.  Yet the decision was made that the marathon would go on, and that brings me to today.  There has been so much backlash against the marathon, and understandably so.  However the race will also bring millions of dollars to the city, along with many who are bringing donations and offering time and money to help relief efforts.  So what to do?  I am not remotely concerned about the actual running part, as it would be quite simple to stay home and run the City of Oaks Marathon instead.  But will throwing away the money I've already spent on flights and accommodations have any positive impact on the city at this point?  I really doubt it, but I also have no desire to run through a city that doesn't want me to be there.  A huge part of the reason that I wanted to run NY in the first place is the famed crowd support, with people 10 deep and a deafening roar as you come off the Queensboro Bridge.  If we are going to hear silence or hostile words, is it worth it?  I've struggled with this for the past few days, and decided that staying home is not going to do any good.  So I will do some shopping, dine at restaurants, and bring extra clothes to donate at the start.  Hopefully in a small way that will help.  And hopefully all New Yorkers do not share the view of those posting such negative comments about the race, but can embrace the event in the same way they embraced the return of baseball after 9-11.  Everyone cheered on the Yankees seven days after thousands were killed in the September 11 attack, citing the return to the field as a symbol of resiliency and offering a welcome distraction from the devastation.  I can only hope that Sunday's race will at the very least serve that same purpose. 

Update: 11/2/2012, 8:27pm

Well, as you may have heard, the race has been canceled.  I think it is probably the right decision, but it is incredibly disappointing after finally having made a decision and come within 36 hours of the start.  They should have canceled much earlier, rather than waiting until so many people had already traveled to the city.  Though I was not going to fly out until tomorrow, the rest of my teammates have already battled hectic airports and crazy traffic to get to NYC.  To not only have something I've been looking forward to and training for taken away at the 11th hour, but also lose a significant amount of money on non-refundable flights and the $255 registration fee, really makes me sad.  Of course this does not compare to what has been lost by the residents hit by Sandy, but that does not make it any less disappointing.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The countdown is on!

Not much left to do from here on out... the work is done, so I just need to trust my training and hope for the best!

Monday - 15M in 2:02:12 (8:11)
Double out and back on the ATT with company from Ellen and Sara.  Mostly an easy, comfortable run with 4 faster miles (7:30s) sprinkled in at 8, 10, 12, and 14.  Last "long" run done!

Massage at Randori Bodywork.  I highly recommend this if you are looking for a (very) deep tissue massage.

Wednesday - 6.7M in 55:26 (8:20)
Met Donna at the Duke track for some speed work.  2M easy warm up followed by 10 x 400s (95-98 sec) with 200 recoveries and a short cool down.

Friday - 5M in 39:29 (7:53)
This run was scheduled for Thursday but I couldn't find the motivation to go out in the dark solo, so I bumped it to Friday in order join some of the BCTC ladies.  It was supposed to be a very easy (8:30ish) run, but miles 3 and 4 were in the 7:30s.  Not exactly what I had planned, but that is slow for my speedy friends and I decided it was better to run faster with company than run slowly by myself.  

Saturday - 10M in 1:16:34 (7:40)
My schedule called for 10 miles at goal pace (7:40-7:45) so I figured I'd run the American Tobacco Trail 10 miler to practice pacing and nutrition/hydration at race pace.  I went out a little too fast at the start but reminded myself that this was not the end game, and settled in to my planned pace, running mid-7:30s on the downhill sections and mid-7:40s on the uphill sections (not really "hills" but not really flat either).   

The other upside of using a race for my last training run was that though I've practiced nutrition and hydration on our long runs, it was at a slower pace or during gu breaks.  So today's goal pace run was a perfect opportunity to test out my strategy of taking gel across two water stops, taking half just before the aid station and drinking on the move. I really didn't want or need it, but I took half a gel just before the mile 4.5 water stop and the other half when I passed that aid station again after the turnaround.  It felt like too much at once and my stomach felt a bit unsettled, so I think I'll divide it up across 3 miles/water stops in NY instead of 2.  Hopefully practice makes perfect...  

Overall I felt fairly comfortable, but it definitely wasn't quite as easy as I'd hoped.  A volunteer on the course around mile 9.5 said I looked like I hadn't done anything, so I guess that's good!  And despite sticking to my pace place, I still won my age group!  Woot!

*****

Of course my baker's cyst has chosen marathon week to act up, and I am starting to come down with a head cold.  UGH.  Hopefully ice and rest can take care of the first problem, and I've been loading up on Emergen-C for the second.  Scheduled for a short easy run this afternoon, a little speedwork tomorrow, and an easy run on Thursday, so at least it will be a restful week.  Fingers crossed that I'll be knee pain-free and feeling well on Sunday... 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Short and sweet

Week 1 of tapering went pretty well... lower mileage, but thanks to a couple of short races this weekend, still some good pace.  Two weeks to go!

Monday - 4M with Sara (33:49 - 8:27)

Tuesday - 11M with Amy (1:28:45 - 8:04)

Wednesday - 6M with Bex (47:55 - 7:59)

Thursday - 5k with Sara (26:45 - 8:29)

Saturday - Oktoberfest 8K (35:41 - 7:10)

Originally my plan was to run this as a tempo run rather than a "race", and with temperatures in the mid-70s combined with running in a costume, I figured that would put me somewhere in the 7:15-7:30 pace range.  But they had an awesome glass boot for fastest female in a dirndl, so when the first 2 dirndl-wearing runners went out I decided to try to hang with them for as long as possible and see what happened.  I kept up with them around 6:30 pace for about a mile and a half, but unfortunately that is well under my 8k pace and I could only ignore that fact for so long.  Once they put some space between us, I slowed to 7:20s and 7:30s, and though I was disappointed to not be able to push through and take home the boot, I did win my age group, got my free beer, and enjoyed a nice afternoon outside with my hubby.  The course was pretty hilly and the 3pm start meant warm temps with little shade and only two water stations, but I liked the festive atmosphere so I'd probably recommend it.  And I do want that boot, so I plan to give it another shot next year :)



Sunday - Ramblin Rose Half Marathon Relay (6M, about 47 minutes)

I got the lucky draw for our relay, having to only run the short and relatively flat 2 mile middle leg.  I did a easy mile and a half from the start to my relay exchange and stretched and chatted with the other runners while I waited.  The pace cars came by and Laura was leading the race by a pretty good distance, so it was exciting to cheer for her as she sped by.  Sara came in a few minutes later, maybe 7th or 8th overall, handed off the race belt, and off I went.  I passed a couple of runners, and each seemed quite relieved that I was running the relay!  Other than those few runners and a few spectators and police officers, it was a pretty quiet and solo run, but the 2 miles went by quickly and before I knew it I was handing off to Ellen.  My goal was to stay around 6:30 pace, and my garmin has my average at 6:34, so I am pretty happy with that.  I ran a nice 20 minute cool down back to the start, where I met up with Sara, Monte, and Caren in time to cheer in Laura (who won by over 6 minutes!) and Ellen, who finished fifth overall and first among relays.  Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see everyone I knew who ran the half today, but congratulations to all!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

ING Hartford Half Marathon

Monte and I flew up to Hartford on Friday after work, and met up with my stepsister Erika and her family to go pick up our packets.  Though listed as open until 9, a lot of vendors had packed up and left by the time we got there around 8:00.  But we got our numbers and shirts, headed back to the hotel, snacked on some pretzels, and went to bed reasonably early.

Saturday morning I got up early, even though the race didn't start until 8:00.  I had some coffee and a power bar and at 6:30 I jogged the .75 miles down to the start/finish area in Bushnell Park for the weigh in required for award-eligibility in the athena division (for women 150+).  The temperature was a little under 30 degrees, and I worried that I would freeze but it actually didn't feel that bad and I warmed up pretty quickly even on my short jog.  After weigh-in I went back to our hotel, drank some water with nuun, and did a little stretching.

We waited as long as possible in the hotel, and jogged down to the start line about 20 minutes before 8. Got into the seeded corral without any problems, and it was much less crowded than the rest of the 13,000+ field, so that was nice.  My goal for the day was to try to run a 1:35, or about 7:15 pace.  I figured this would be comparable to the PR of 1:34:16 that I set last fall, since that course was all downhill and flat and this was more rolling.  I thought that might be a struggle though, because I've been doing more distance training and less speed work than I was last year when my A race was a half marathon rather than a full.  But after the disappointing race I had at the XC festival, I decided I had to just go for it, and if my legs fail me then so be it; but I was determined to not let mental weakness get the best of me this time around.

After the anthem, the corral moved up and we were off.  I tried not to get carried away and go out too fast, but the garmin beeped for the first mile split and I looked down to see 6:51.  Oops.  I slowed a little, deciding to see what would happen if I kept the pace closer to 7 than the 7:15 I'd planned.  Normally for a race that long, I would try to pace "comfortably hard" but after the last disappointing race I realized I needed to just suck it up and take the "comfortable" part out of the equation and embrace the discomfort.



The course was slightly rolling, with no major hills, and I just concentrated on the people in front of me, my form, and maintaining my pace.  I honestly remember very little about the course, which is unlike me... I guess I really was focused on the run this time!  Since 7 minute miles is my 10k pace and not my half marathon pace (or so I thought), I was sort of waiting to hit a wall or have the wheels come off.  But it never happened.  I just kept moving along, focusing on one mile at a time and all of a sudden I had made it 10 miles in 71 minutes.  What?!  I could see the Hartford skyline coming back into view and tried to pick it up a little.  That didn't work, but I also wasn't slowing down.  Once we made the final turn, I could see 1:32 on the clock and gave what I could to get in under 1:33.  Stopped the garmin at 1:33:03 for a 13.22 miles, averaging 7:02 and I really couldn't believe it.

I made my way through the finish chute and met Monte, who had just missed my finish because I was ahead of the schedule I'd given him.  I went over to the results tent where you could type in your number for results and it came up 1:32:00.  The wheelchair athletes had started before us, so I thought maybe that was the difference from the finish clock time and the computer time.  It turns out that the computer was just wrong, and the official results have me listed as finishing in 1:33:01.  Of course I wish I could have gotten in 2 seconds faster, but it is still over a minute off my PR and I honestly could not be happier.  I didn't feel horrible, but I also pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and am really pleased with my effort.  What a difference a few weeks can make!



Erika also had a great race, running well under her 2 hour time goal to finish in 1:51! I am hoping at some point she'll get hooked like I am and we can race together more often :)





6:51-6:59-7:06-7:04-7:17-7:03-7:01-7:06-7:06-7:03-7:02-6:58-7:03-1:25 (.22)

Official time: 1:33:01
1st place, Athena division
10 / 534 F30-34 
35 / 3324 Female
228/ 5953 Overall

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Karanukkah and 5-Year Runniversary

The idea of Karanukkah (8 days of food, drink, desserts, and presents) occurred to me last weekend, and somehow my wonderful husband agreed to go along with it, so it has been a fabulous start to October!  I don't think this week's miles even come close to balancing out the gluttony (including stops at Maple View Farms, Moonberries, Tomato Jake's, Sullivan's Steakhouse, Noodles & Co., and Piola; plus cake, donuts, ice cream cake, and cupcakes), but it was worth it.  I'm registered as an Athena for next weekend's half marathon anyway, but after that I'll be much better about my diet and will hopefully lose a few pounds before NYC.  In the meantime... stretchy pants.


I also hit a milestone of sorts today - it has been exactly 5 years since my first race!  On 10/7/07 I ran the Anna's Angels 10-miler, which at the time was the longest I'd ever run.  Five years, a few thousand miles (3,485 since I bought the Garmin in May 2010), and 80+ races later, I must say thanks to Jenn P for talking me into that despite my protests that running 10 miles was just crazy!

As for training this week, it's had some highs and lows, but today's long run went really well and was exactly what I needed with NYC only one month away.

Monday: 1500m pull swim

Tuesday: 10M in 1:19:50, including 5 x 1M
Very humid and then rainy run on the ATT with Sara.  It felt tough, which I am going to blame on the not-so-pleasant heat and humidity, and having run over 20 miles two days ago.  Not super consistent with the splits (6:41-7:03-6:56-7:04-6:55), but with the long gradual up and down of the southern section of the trail it seemed like a pretty even effort and I'll take it.

Wednesday: 6M in 51:36
Nice recovery run through Colvard Farms on another ridiculously humid morning.  

Thursday: 6M in 46:36
Crazy humidity, take three. Where is fall?!  Middle 4 miles around goal half marathon pace (7:22-7:16-7:19-7:14).  The pace felt great for the first mile or two and fairly challenging after that, so I'm not sure how I can hold it for 13 if 4 is a struggle.  I'm hoping that a day or two off and cooler temperatures will help.

Friday: 8M in 1:03:01; Sync Cycling
Lovely, less humid run on the ATT with Ellen. 2M warm up then 6M averaging 7:46.

Sunday: 22M in 3:04:09
Lora, Caren, Ellen, and Allie were sweet enough to join me for my birthday long run, starting from my house and heading south on the ATT.  My plan was to run easy (around 8:30 pace) and though I went a little faster than planned, I resisted the temptation to try to keep up with my speedy friends.  Thanks to Lora for hanging back and keeping me company.  I can't imagine doing these long runs solo, especially in the pouring rain!  I felt great after sticking to the plan, so when I hit 20 miles I decided to pick it up and try to get one faster mile in.  Made it through the 21st mile in 7:18 and then slowed back down for a cool down mile.  Though one fast mile is not going to reap any physical benefits at this point, mentally I am happy to know that I can run relatively fast (for me) after nearly 3 hours.  Top that off with bagels, coffee, and mimosas with my lovely running friends, and it makes for a pretty great Sunday morning!

Weekly total: 52 miles

Sunday, September 30, 2012

September summary

Total time: 34:52:50
2 Swim workouts
4 Cycling classes
4 TRX classes

Running time: 26:41:16
Distance: 198.35
Calories: 20,587
Average pace: 8:04

Highlight: 
Mile PR (5:52) at the Magnificent Mile

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tales from the back of the pack

So tonight I ran in my first ever cross country race as part of the Bull City Track Club women's team.  I knew going in that I would most likely finish last on my team, and just hoped I wouldn't be last overall (the other teams included college cross country B/JV teams, small college varsity teams, and a few other clubs).  



Long story short, I went out too fast and just didn't have the mental or physical strength to power through the tough parts. The course was (as expected) more challenging than the average road race, but really wasn't terrible.  I just couldn't will myself to keep pushing my pace when I felt bad/tired/winded.  My watch was a bit off because I didn't reset it after the warmup, but I finished in 21-something, and I think the average was somewhere close to a 7-minute mile but I'm really not sure.  So for me that is certainly not a terrible 5k, but it was frustrating to feel like I didn't represent my team with the best effort possible.   And to be honest, in comparison to my teammates I feel slow, fat, and lacking in mental toughness, and that is not an awesome feeling.  Yes, I know that in the grand scheme of things I am probably none of those things, and my teammates (and everyone I've met through the BCTC) are always very positive and supportive, but I am just a bit discouraged.  I am really thankful to Jason for giving me the opportunity to run this race and with the team in general, am grateful to my incredibly talented teammates for sharing their experiences, training tips, advice, etc; and I know that running with the BCTC has contributed to me becoming a better runner... but I really walked away from this one thinking "What the hell, why am I not getting faster?!" (though less polite language was used when talking to myself). UGH.  I am just hoping to have a solid 20 miler on Sunday, stay on track with the training, and come away from my next race (the ING Hartford Half Marathon) feeling much better than I do now. 

On a more positive note... We won!  



Huge congrats to Jennifer for the win, and to Rachel, Kristina, Bex, Alicia, and Ellen for great races.  Maybe one year I'll be able to contribute more to the team... I guess that will be yet another thing to work for!

Update: Official time 21:48; finished 29th/56. *sigh*

Sunday, September 23, 2012

16.67% Ironman

Finish Strong Half Iron Relay
13.1M in 1:38:54 (7:33)

After withdrawing from the 70.3, my friend Crit asked me if I'd take her spot on a relay team since she hasn't been able to run lately.  Not one to turn down an opportunity to race, I obviously said yes!  I went out to Vista Point at 6am to get body marked, chatted with some friends who were racing, watched a beautiful sunrise, and watched the race get underway at 7:10.  




Danielle and Trine did great on the swim and bike, and I headed out on the run at 10:50.  My plan was to try to stay a little under goal marathon pace, so I set out shooting for 7:30-7:40s.  The race was a double out and back, basically up and over a hill, turn around, go back, and then do it again.  I am not a fan of hills and rarely run them, so I knew it would be really tough for me.  I always feel a little bad in relays, passing people who've been working hard while I was just sitting around waiting, so I was sure to offer encouragement to everyone I saw and point out that I was just starting.  




After a fairly flat first mile (on target at 7:30), the second mile was all uphill and I slowed a bit deciding even effort might be a better strategy than even pace given the course.  Made it up and over around 2.4, and then turned onto a gravel road for the much-anticipated downhill section.  Hit the turnaround and then had to go back up the gravel hill, and this was about as fun as I expected.  At mile 4.7 I started going back down toward the start/finish, and tried to make up some time with the help of gravity.  I ran by Monte and my teammates and felt pretty good as I made the second turnaround, so I decided I should try to run a bit faster this time around.  That was pretty short-lived, and my pace slowed considerably when I hit the first hill.  Though I did luck out with the weather, by this point it was almost noon and temps in the 70s felt a lot warmer when running uphill with full sun on my face.  The second lap was much like the first, and just what you'd expect... slower up, faster down, slower up, faster down, and a little sprint at the finish.  



Checking the garmin, the uphill splits were mostly in the 7:40s, with an 8:07 at mile 11, which was entirely uphill and on gravel.  On the bright side (and only good side of hills), the downhills ranged from 7:05-7:19 even though I took them as an opportunity to run easy, get my heart rate and breathing under control, and remind myself why I enjoy running... 



This race was a good wake-up call for a number of reasons.  First, while reminding me how much I hate hills, I also realize I need to work on hill running more.  Second, the June half ironman is going to be incredibly hard.  The run today was tough, and I hadn't even done anything yet!  Despite marathon training, 13.1 is still a pretty long way to run, and mid-day sun is probably unavoidable so in addition to tired legs there is heat to contend with.  Seeing miserable looking people walking up hills did not make me super excited!  Finally, I think it was a good indicator of where I am fitness-wise.  I would like to run closer to 7:20 pace in the Hartford half next month.  Hopefully cooler temps and a flatter course will make this feasible, but it's going to be tough.  As for the marathon, I am not sure if 7:45 is a reasonable pace goal... I have a lot of work to do over the next 6 weeks!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

10 miles a day to keep the doctor away?


A decent amount of fast-ish running this week.  Hopefully it will pay off in November!

Monday: 10M in 1:18:46 (7:53)
Some goal-pace running with Sara on the ATT.  First 3 easy (8:10) and 7 at 7:45.

Wednesday: 10M in 1:18:15 (7:50)
Met Sara for a little speed work at the UNC track.  Once again we put our two workouts together - she was scheduled to run 10x800 and I was supposed to do 20x400 so we decided on 5x400-5x800-5x400.  2M warmup, 5 400s @ 95 seconds (6:20 pace), 5 800s @ 3:25 (6:50 pace), 4 800s @ 93-97.
It didn't feel as easy as last week's track workout and my legs felt really heavy despite taking a rest day on Tuesday, but we stayed on target pace-wise and the last 400 was the fastest of all (93s) so at least it ended on a good note!

Thursday: TRX, Sync Cycling

Friday: 9M in 1:09:25 (7:43)
What was supposed to be a progression run turned into another all-over-the-place tempo-ish run.  Hit the ATT bright and early with Ellen and Laura, and the chatting once again got the best of us and we didn't really pace according to plan.  A couple of miles easy, then 7:30, 7:05, and a few more in the 7:30s.  My foot started bothering me during cycling on Thursday, and was still pretty tight and painful.  Hopefully nothing that will persist...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Magnificent Mile

I ran this race for the first time last year, and it was the first mile I'd raced since high school.  I thought it was really fun and definitely wanted to do it again, but I was a little apprehensive because I haven't been doing much fast running lately and was doubtful that I could run as fast.  Getting slower just seemed like it would be discouraging, even though I know full marathon training is much different than half marathon training.  But I decided to go ahead anyway, and told myself that I could just do my best and attribute my slower time on yesterday's 20-miler.  

The Magnificent Mile is an afternoon race in downtown Raleigh.  I really love the setup of the course - about a quarter mile up Hillsborough St, counter-clockwise around the Capitol, then back down to the finish.  It's basically flat, with a slight incline right at the start and corresponding awesome decline on the way in to the finish.

Monte and I arrived at the race around 1:30.  Packet pickup was quick and easy, but I was really disappointed that despite registering way ahead of time, they did not have a shirt in the size I'd selected.  Oh well.  We walked around and chatted with a few friends, watched the men's race at 2:00, and then I did a very short warm-up before heading to the start line around 2:15.  

I found Alicia and Caren near the 5-6 minute/mile sign, and hoped to at least keep them in eyesight.  Last year they seemed to do a very good job of making sure that people were in the correct corrals, but this year there wasn't much organization and there were at least a dozen little girls in a group right in front of us.  This made for a lot of swerving and dodging for the first bit of the race, and I didn't want to go out too fast so before I knew it Caren and Alicia were well ahead of me.  Tried to run was felt fast but relaxed, and hit the first quarter in 1:28.  By first turn, I'd cleared most of the kids, focused on Caren, and settled in for the middle half (1:30-1:32).  



I tried to pick it up through the last quarter mile and felt like I was gaining a little, but could't close the gap on my Bull City Track Club teammates, though I was able to pass the one woman in between us and put some distance on the runner who'd been on my heels for a while.  I felt tired but not completely exhausted when I crossed the line, despite running the last quarter in 1:22, so I am a bit disappointed that I didn't run the my best possible race... In fear of going out too fast, I ended up leaving too much in the tank.  But... official time - 5:52, and first in my age group!  I was shocked to break 6 minutes last year, and I was just as surprised to PR this time around!  It was pretty exciting to finish right behind Caren and Alicia, who are awesome and super-fast!

Big congratulations to Caren, who finished in 5:47 and is now the NC USATF masters champion in the mile!  

Boston-bound!

When I first started running 5 years ago, I thought finishing the 10 mile race near my house was a pretty crazy goal, and couldn't believe that I actually did it.  At that point, running under 8 minute miles or finishing a marathon had never crossed my mind, so registering for the Boston marathon this week was a really exciting event for me, and a good reminder of all the progress I've made over these last few years.  It shows that anything really is possible if you're willing to work for it!  My calendar is now marked for April 15 :)

I also registered for my first 50K - the Frosty 50 in Winston-Salem on January 5.  Combined with the Raleigh Ironman 70.3, it looks like the first half of 2013 will be very busy!

In more current news... the cooler temps are amazing!  The same distance and pace that we were doing a couple of weeks ago feels exponentially easier without the 90 degree temps and 98 percent humidity, so it's been a great week!

Monday: Sync Cycling

Tuesday: 8.5M in 1:06:20 (7:48)
Legs were feeling a little heavy from last weeks relatively high mileage, so I was dreading speedwork.  My schedule called for 7x1000s and Sara's was for 2x800 and 4x1M, so we decided to mash them together into 2x800-3x1000-2x1600.  All of the 800s and 1000s were in the 6:40-6:50 pace range and both mile repeats were just under 7 minutes.  Surprisingly, we were able to chat for almost the entire time, with the exception the last 200m or so of each repeat, and I felt pretty spry and energetic when we finished the workout.  I am certain the much-improved weather (mid-50s) is responsible for this, but regardless I am still shocked by how "not miserable" it felt to be running at a pace that started with a 6!

Wednesday: 5.5M in 43:41 (7:57)
First solo run in a long time... definitely not as enjoyable as it is with company!  It was a nice cool morning though, and I bought some new music for my ipod so it wasn't that bad. For each big race I try to find one song that to play over and over in my head.  By the end of a half or full marathon, I am pretty sick of it, but is does seem to help me stick to my even pace plan.  For this marathon, it looks like the go-to song will be "Let's Go" (Calvin Harris).  The tempo seems to put me around my goal pace, and the lyrics are certainly race-appropriate:
It's not about what you've done, it's about what you're doing
It's all about where you're going no matter where you've been
Let's go!

Thursday: TRX, 7M in 57:30 (8:13)
Averaged 8:08 from the three hilly (mostly uphill) miles from my house to the West 94th St Pub and then did an easy 4 with Rachel on the Third Fork Creek trail.  The plan was to run home as well, but after standing around talking for a bit I decided to take a friend up on her offer of a ride.  

Friday: Sync Cycling

Saturday: 20M in 2:51:06 (8:33)
It was supposed to be a step-back week for my long run, but since I have a half marathon next weekend I switched next week's 20 and the 15 I had on the schedule for today.  Lora met up with me for the middle 16 miles and we did a nice leisurely out and back on the southern sections of the ATT.  They have made a lot of progress on the Durham section of the trail, and I'm really hopeful that at least the section from my house to Chatham will be finished soon!

Sunday: Magnificent Mile in 5:52
I didn't think I'd be able to run faster than I did last year, especially not after Saturday's 20-mile run, but I set a new PR!  More details in the full race report to come later...

Weekly Total: 42 Miles in 5:44:32