Monday, April 23, 2012

All good things must come to an end...

I can't believe we head back tomorrow!  It's been an amazing trip and I'm sad to see it end, but part of me is ready to get back into my routine.  All of this delicious food and relaxation is certainly not helping my fitness or my waistline!

We finished our trip with 5 days in Barcelona, and have seen a lot of this beautiful city, especially on Friday and Saturday thanks to a 2-day open air bus pass.  My favorites were Parc Guell, sangria on the beach, and of course the 10K on Sunday.  The photos don't really do the sites justice, but here are a few!

La Pedrera

Casa Batllo

Casa Fuster (our hotel)

At Parc Guell

Once again, I don't have anything to report on the running/training front.  Other than the race, a lot of walking while site seeing, and two minutes of pretending to use the beachside elliptical trainer, I have done a whole lot of nothing.  That will soon change though... half iron training starts May 5!

Looking forward to getting back out on the ATT with my awesome running partners and back to classes with the Sync crew!  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cursa Bombers Race Report

Today I ran the Cursa Bombers (Fireman's Race) 10K in Barcelona.  This race is run annually and is one of the most popular 10Ks in Europe, with over 20,000 runners.  One cool feature of this race is that the race shirt has a number printed on it, and you wear the shirt instead of a paper bib, so there are thousands of people in the streets wearing the same thing.

The race had a late start (10:00), so there was no rushing around this morning and we made it down to the start/finish area around 9:00.  It was overcast with temps around 50 - another good day for running!  We went over to check out the corral setup and were looking at the huge video board over the start line when the camera man noticed us and zoomed in to give me my 5 seconds of fame, which was neat.  I walked around a bit with Monte, ran a very short warm-up, and headed to my corral.  As in Paris, the corrals were well marked and monitors were checking color-coded bracelets before allowing entry into a corral.  I was in the sub-45:00 group, and though my previous best was 45:04 I thought I could finally break the 45 minute mark today and hopefully run close to 44.

The video montage, live music, and cheering crowds leading up to the start were great and it was definitely the best start atmosphere of any race I've run yet.  The most impressive thing, though, was the live aerial view taken from beyond the start and shown on the video screen...  all of the runners lined up in their purple shirts waiting to run looked amazing!  Hopefully I can find a copy of that somewhere online later.

After a countdown from 10 in Catalan, the elites were off.  I made it across the start line with about 1:20 on the clock and ran through ticker tape and cheers as we set off on the race.  I wish all races had such a great atmosphere to start! 


The route was more or less a clockwise loop around La Ciutat Vella (according to the map), but other than a few monuments, I noticed very little because it was extremely crowded and I was concentrating on not stepping on anyone's feet, finding some space, and passing people.   My goal was to stay around 7 minute/mile pace, and I managed to do that through the first half of the race despite getting boxed in a few times, running into a barricade (the guy in front of me hopped out of the way with a second to spare but I did not react quickly enough...), and some congestion at the water station.  First half: 7:04, 7:06, 7:01; 5K in 22:13.

(I am on the right - women had a lighter color purple shirt - there weren't many around me so I stood out!)

Though I knew it would be longer to run on the left because nearly all of the turns were to the right, I got frustrated running in so much congestion and made my way to the outside of the pack.  Much better.  (And when it was all said and done it added 200 meters but well worth it)  With only a 5K to go and a little more space to work with, I tried to pick it up a bit and start moving up.  I saw Monte just after 6K, and that is always a boost.  For the first time ever, I was successful at running negative splits in a shorter race, with 4, 5, and 6 in 6:54, 6:52, and 6:45.  I tried to sprint to the finish through a still-crowded street, and made it to the line in 43:39, good for a PR of over a minute, and the second 5K (21:26) was only 3 seconds off my current 5K PR!  I usually go out too fast knowing it's a relatively short race and then blow up at the end, so it was nice to finally run a smart race and reap the benefits at the end.

Another Arc de Triumph, another fun day, and another PR!

Official time: 43:39
5K splits: 22:13, 21:26
38th out of 3,182 "senior" women (20-34)

Here is the start video from Nike Running Spain!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quick trip update

We had a great few days in Geneva visiting friends!  Khristen and Rachid were the best hosts, and I can't thank them enough.  We ate a ton of delicious food, drank some good wine, got to see some beautiful places, and of course spend some time with good friends who we miss having around in NC!


Old Town at Night

Annecy, France

Yvoire, France

Though we've done a lot of walking, I've taken the entire week of from running and cross-training, and though I'm getting a bit antsy I do feel like the time off has helped and am feeling almost fully recovered from the marathon.  I would like to run tomorrow or Saturday but am not sure if that will work out, so I will probably race Sunday's Cursa Bombers 10K on a full week's rest.   Hopefully I'll be recovered but not too rusty - it looks like a good course and the forecast is predicting temps in the 50s-60s with a slight chance of rain, so I'm hoping to finally run a decent 10K... my current PR was 17 seconds/mile slower than my best half marathon, so hopefully I can at least beat that!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Marathon de Paris Race Report

It's been such a great day!  The Marathon de Paris starts later than most (8:45), so it was nice to be able to sleep in a bit more than usual.  I got up at 6:15, showered, had my standard power bar and two cups of coffee, and headed out for the Champs Elysees around 7:30.  I selected our hotel in part because it was very close to my start corral.  With a hour to spare, I said goodbye to Monte and headed into the corral.  My goal for today was to run a solid 22 miles, stop at the 35k wine and cheese aid station that I've heard about, then decide how to handle the last 4 miles based on how I was feeling.  Hopefully I'd end up with a decent time, but mainly I just wanted to enjoy this experience.  It was a bit cold (upper 30s) waiting around at the start, but would be mostly cloudy and in the mid-40s throughout the race - very good racing weather!

The color coded corral system for this race was done in 15 minute increments, and I was in blue (3:30).  Unlike the other races I've done, there were dividers between the corrals and someone was checking bibs to be sure that everyone went where they were supposed to, and this was very well done.  Once I was in, I saw that there were only 2 porta johns in the corral (one on each side) and got into the line.  The line didn't seem to move at all and I'm not sure why they would only put two for roughly 4,000 people in the blue group.  With about 10 minutes to go, I realized I wouldn't make it, and thought about squatting in the porta urinal.  But that had a line too.  Ugh.  Not the best note on which to start a long race.  I took a look at the huge mass of runners behind me and the Arc de Triomphe in the background and tried to take my mind off of it.

The elites went off on time at 8:45 and they delayed each additional wave a bit to allow for runners to spread out.  Our corral moved up and went out in the 4th wave, just a few minutes before 9.  This was the first time I've run a race where there were a ton of people around, both running and cheering, and it really was a great experience.  I saw Monte around the 1 km marker, waved, and settled right into my target pace.  I spent the first few miles trying to both enjoy the sites, spectators, and experience and also spot a porta john.  The map said that the water/aid stations would be every 5k, so I just had to make it another 3 miles... I stayed on the far left to have some space to run and also to be able to hop off the course once I found a place to use the restroom.  Went through the first aid station and nothing!  Fortunately I spotted one around 3.5 miles, and even though there were 2 people waiting I hopped in the line.  I lost about 2 minutes here, but it was certainly worth it to not have to pee anymore!  Since I've spent all of this time talking about peeing and porta johns, I'll say one last thing on the subject and move on (I promise!)... this marathon is usually 80-90% men, and I think it is organized with men in mind.  At one point we ran by a park and every tree (there had to be at least 20) had a guy peeing on it.  Same with the walls in the tunnels.  It's really not fair!  Fortunately, this is the last bodily function section of this race report - unlike Miami, I had no GI issues and there were no stops late in the race.  Thank goodness!

Ok, back to the race... we left the center of Paris, passing Place de la Concorde, the Louvre, and the Hotel de Ville.  After the pit stop, I had gotten behind my pace group and had to do a bit of maneuvering to get through a bunch of runners who were going a bit slower than I wanted.  I caught back up to the people running 7:45ish pace more quickly than I expected, and settle back in.  It was a very scenic route, and we passed Chateau de Vincennes around mile 7 where there were a bunch of kids high-fiving everyone, and (thanks to the personalized bibs) spectators cheering, "Allez, Car-Ah!" and "Bravo!"  I loved having the crowd support!  Speaking of crowd support, Monte really is fantastic about supporting me in all my races, and ran around Paris in the cold and taking the metro all over the city to see me.  I saw him for a second time a little before mile 8, as we made the turn to head back into the heart of Paris.  I ate a gu at mile 9, knowing the 3rd aid station would be coming up soon.  The aid stations were only on one side, so it was a bit of a pain to weave through all the people to get to the right since I was running on the left for most of the race, but I didn't want to miss any more.  They had small bottles so it was easy to grab one and sip on it over a mile or two, instead of trying to chug out of a little cup.  They also had oranges and bananas, and the peels were everywhere so it was a bit slippery and I saw a few people slip but thankfully I was not one of them!

The next few miles ran through parks and neighborhoods, and I was feeling pretty good as I hit halfway in about 1:44.  At mile 14 we passed back by the Bastille, which was the first of several landmarks I recognize in central Paris.  I stopped to take a picture of this and a few other sites, including Ile de la Cite (mile 17) and the Eiffel Tower (mile 18).  I don't think I lost that much time on these little stops, and since I didn't have a certain time goal it seemed worth it... the pictures came out really well considering I just took my little point and shoot, so I am happy with my decision!


It goes by quickly when you have views like these!

I saw Monte at mile 17.5 and he gave me an packet of chomps.  I ate these over the next couple of miles with water from the 30k aid station and started to contemplate what I was going to do at the 35k wine stop. Should I stop as planned or keep going?  I felt really good, and was on pace to come close to or even beat my time from Miami.  It turned out to be a moot point - I slowed down to investigate, only to find apple juice and cake instead of wine and cheese!  Not what I had in mind, and not worth stopping, so on I went.  I had slowed a little from miles 19-22 thinking I my "race" would be coming to an end with a glass of wine and an easy jog in, but now that I decided to run through it I picked up the pace again.   Mile 25 was my one of the fastest and I could not believe that I actually felt good at this point in the race.  In both of the marathons I've run previously, the last three miles were miserable... I could not keep my pace, was counting the seconds to when it would be over, and spent those last miles questioning why on earth I'd signed up for this.  But today was completely different.  My legs were tired of course, but no bonk, no cramps, no wishing for it to be over.  I was tempted to pick it up for the last mile, but held back until I had a half mile to go.  I ran the last mile or two behind a tall guy who was dodging around fading runners/walkers and I just stayed behind him.  Once we made the final turn I made a move to go by him and when he saw me he picked it up even more.  So a race to the finish it was!  Instead of dragging myself through the finish line, I sprinted (or at least ran at a pace that felt like a sprint at the time) and I think that may have been the highlight of the race.  I feel like mentally I've crossed a barrier now, knowing that it is possible for a marathon to be fun for the entire distance and not miserable at the end!  

1 - 7:45
2 - 7:46
3 - 7:48
4 - 7:49
5 - 7:44
6 - 7:41
7 - 7:44
8 - 7:44
9 - 7:45
10 - 7:53
11 - 7:44
12 - 7:47
13 - 7:55
14 - 7:48
15 - 7:53
16 - 7:46
17 - 7:47
18 - 7:57
19 - 8:05
20 - 7:57
21 - 8:01
22 - 8:01
23 - 7:48
24 - 7:49
25 - 7:43
26 - 7:44
.43 - 3:00 

Watch stats:
Total time: 3:26:24
Total distance: 26.43 miles
Average pace: 7:49
Calories: 2,996

Official time: 3:28:22

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Le Printemps à Paris

I haven't had much time to write... we have been doing a ton of walking and site seeing (Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Musee de l'Orangerie, Jardins Tuilleris, Conciergerie, Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame to name a few), eating (my favorites have been the crepes and chocolate truffles), and catching up on some rest!

For those of you who are not on Facebook here are a few pics from our trip so far!

Eiffel Tower

Arc de Triomphe

And a few others...

As for running... I have my bib in hand, and am getting excited for tomorrow's race. Despite my good intentions, I haven't run at all since we've been here and it makes me a bit nervous to have taken 4 days completely off before a marathon.  Fortunately I had a great run with Caren, Ellen, and Lora on Tuesday,  I've done a lot of walking, and I guess I can count all the stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe as cross training? There isn't much I can do about it now, so I will just work on my carb load, try to get a good night's sleep tonight, and hope for the best tomorrow!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cary Duathlon Race Report

Today I went back to Thomas Brooks Park for the Cary Duathlon.  Initially I had signed up for the long course, but decided it might be best to switch to the short course since I'll be running a marathon next weekend and I have only gotten out for a handful of long rides this season.   I picked up my packet, set up my stuff in the transition area, and met up with Jenn L and Jenn D for a little warmup.  We headed to the start to find out that they were going to delay the short course start for 15 minutes behind the long course athletes.  The run is a 2.5 mile loop, which the short course does once and the long course runs twice, so I couldn't figure out why they would want the long course leaders coming up through the big pack of short course runners.  They also announced that there was no mat at the start, so there is no difference between chip time and gun time.  With technology the way it is, I don't know why any races would be done this way anymore, and it's a little annoying.  So I wished the Jenns luck and tried to make my way up a little closer to the front.

The run starts down a narrow greenway, and I like to have a bit of space, so I went out faster than I'd planned but still felt pretty comfortable.  We took the greenway out of the park and into a neighborhood before turning around to head back into the park.  Hit the first mile split at 6:38... oops.  It's not a terribly long race, but that was quite a bit faster than I'd planned so I made an effort to settle into a more reasonable pace.   Another U-turn then back towards the start, and I only counted 3 women ahead of me.  I do like out and back courses because you can see who is in front of you and who is right behind you.  The second mile was done in 7:08, got back to transition at 17:15, averaging just under 7 for the first run, which was quite a bit better than what I'd planned. 

I'm finally getting the hang of putting on my cycling shoes quickly, so I got out of T1 in decent time.  I may have to invest in some tri-specific shoes though, because running in road shoes with SPDs in definitely not my strong suit.  The bike course headed out of the park toward Jordan Lake, and was pretty uneventful.  A bunch of guys passed me, mostly on sweet aero tri bikes.  I wish I'd won that $640 million lottery, because that would have been my first purchase!  My goal for today was to work on my cadence, so I found my comfortable gear/pace and then went down 2 gears and tried to maintain the same level of effort.  I also worked on riding aero - I've only recently had the aerobars put on and I'm still not that comfortable on them, so it was definitely good practice.  The first half of the course was mostly rolling hills, and there was just a little breeze, so it was perfect. I managed to stay around 20 mph, which is good for me because my comfort zone in riding is 17-18. The second half was a pretty steady incline, and we hit a headwind that set me back a bit off my pace.  Around mile 13 I was passed by a woman with a 33 on her leg, so I knew I had to keep her in sight if I was going to catch her again on the run to win my age group.  I could still see her in the transition area as I pulled in, so I knew I'd have a chance. 

I took a little time in T2 to drink some gatorade and get my legs under me, and then headed out on the chase.  I felt much better in this second run than I did in Charlotte, so it seems the brick workouts are helping.  The faster cadence probably helped as well, and I caught up to the 33 before the first mile split.  I went through mile 1 at 7:22, so significantly slower than the first loop, but it felt much harder this time around.  I saw the 3 lead women on the out and back, and there were none within catching distance, so it was hard to push myself for the last bit of the run.  Tired legs, high heart rate, no time goal, and nobody to chase makes it hard to justify that uncomfortable feeling that comes with hard efforts.  I finished the second run in 18:52, and am a bit disappointed with that.  Mentally I need to be able to push myself even when there is no number on the clock to beat and no one ahead to chase.  

Final time: 1:34:59, 1st place in my age group.  I had hoped to finish in under 1:40, so I did accomplish that, and overall was pretty happy with my effort on the bike.  It's just going to take a lot more practice and a lot more miles to really get better, and I am looking forward to putting the time in over the summer.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Weekly Recap

This week started with what was supposed to be an easy 12.5 mile loop pacing Val at the Umstead 100.   Since she was doing 100 miles, the pace would be slower and we planned to walk up the hills, so I figured it would be a piece of cake.  We started around 6:20 pm, the weather was pleasant, and the 3 hours passed pretty quickly.  I felt pretty good and decided to do a second loop, so around 9:45, off we went. Halfway through the second loop a thunderstorm rolled in, my feet and shins were aching, and I was ready to be done... on top of that I felt like a total wuss for feeling tired when the other people around me had been running since 6 am!  By the time we finished the 2nd loop (Val's 6th!) around 1:20 am, and I had solidified my belief that I will never need to run 100 miles!  I've also had my fill of hills for a while:

Sunday Monte noticed a tear in one of my bike tires, so I haven't been able to ride all week.  It was a good excuse to take the rest of Sunday off though!  The new tire is going on tonight, and I'm looking to logging a lot more miles on the road after this trip. 

On Tuesday I attempted a tempo run with Sara.  I just wasn't feeling very fast and couldn't seem to get it going so we ended up doing a steady-state run rather than a tempo.  I think there were some lingering effects of the 6+ hours in Umstead, and the 3 middle miles were around 7:35-7:40 rather than the 7:20 I was hoping for.  

Fortunately I was able to shake out the lead a little on Wednesday, meeting up with Ellen and managing 6 x 88-92 second 400s.  It's a little disturbing to think of how much faster I could run that distance in high school, but I am twice as old now so I guess I'll take it.  

Thursday Jennifer L joined me for a quick jog after our 5:45am class and then after work I met up with Jessalyn and Mark for an hour of easy running on the ATT.  So two days ago I was complaining about my tired, heavy legs after 25 hilly miles and here is a guy who ran the entire 100 (in 14 hours!) out running again already without a single complaint.  Yeah... nothing like chatting with a really fast ultra runner to make you feel like a slacker.

Sunday: Umstead Pacing run (25 miles)
Monday: Cycling & Strength Training
Tuesday: Cycling & Tempo run with Sara (4.5 miles)
Wednesday: Strength/Core Training (abs are still sore!)
               Speedwork with Ellen (4.5 miles including 6x400)
Thursday: AM / Strength Training, jog with Jenn L (2 miles)
               PM / Easy run on the ATT with Mark and Jessalyn (7 miles)
Friday: Strength Training

Totals for the week:
Running: 42+ miles, 8:49:05
Cycling and Strength Training at Sync Studio: 6 hours
Total: 14:49:05

So basically 15 hours of training... maybe I'm not very good at tapering.  
But I guess there could be worse things to suck at.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nervous ramblings with 10 days to go...

Our trip to Europe is fast approaching, and I am getting a bit nervous about going into this marathon so under-prepared.  For both of my previous marathons, I had a training plan, stuck to it, and felt confident that I'd put in the mileage.  But the last few months have been pretty unfocused... sort of getting into triathlon training, sort of training for the Tobacco Road Half, and sort of training for Paris.  Other than the 6-hour, 25-mile pacing effort at the Umstead 100 last weekend, I've only put in one legitimate long run since Miami (18 miles in 2:30 two weeks ago).  I'm guessing the lack of long training combined with a much lower total volume (28-35 miles a week) probably doesn't bode well for me. On the upside, the lower mileage did give me more time and energy for cross-training, so hopefully my general fitness can carry me through this one.  Well, that and the wine and cheese stop at the 35K mark!