Sunday, March 31, 2013

In like a lion, out like a lamb

This weekend was pretty great, with a nice half century ride at Mapleview Farms on a lovely Saturday afternoon and a terrific Easter long run, despite the pouring rain.  Of course the 50 mile ride was a little tough on the backside and I have some soreness in my shoulders, but nothing too terrible - a pleasant surprise considering I hadn't done more than 30 yet this year.  And though my longest run going into Boston was today's 18 miler, we ran it about 5 seconds/mile under my goal pace, so I'm actually feeling much better about that too.  Hopefully this solid end to March will set the tone for the rest of the year, and things will start looking up!

Monday: 2 mile walk with Nicole
Tuesday: 20 minutes on the bike trainer and a bit of core work
AM - Easy run with Ellen (8M, 1:04:13)
PM - 40 minutes on the trainer with a few hard intervals thrown in
AM - 1200 yd swim, including 4 x 50 fast
PM - Third Fork Creek Trail with Caren and Karen (6M, 47:11)
Friday: Frigid (23 degrees!) tempo run with Ellen (9M including 2 x 12 minutes around 7:00/mile pace; 1:08:16)
Saturday: Sick again :(
Sunday: 90 minutes on the trainer with a few hard intervals throughout

Monday: 8M with Lora (1:08:56)
Tuesday: 6M with Sara (48:51)
Wednesday: 60 minutes moderate on the trainer
Thursday: 4M Pub Run with Tim (31:51)
Friday: 40 minutes on the trainer
Saturday: 50M ride with Bex and the BD team (3:12:11)
Sunday: 18M run in the pouring rain with Ellen, Sarah, and Caren (2:22:47)

March totals: 28:59:49
Run: 141.7 miles, 18:28:32, 15,783 calories
Bike: 7:22:11, mostly on the trainer
Swim: 2 miles, 1:19:00

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Publix Georgia Half Marathon

This race did not go as well as I'd hoped, so I am not thrilled about writing this report, but here goes...

Expo and packet pickup:
The race was sponsored by Publix, so there were a ton of free snacks and beverages at the expo.  It wasn't particularly crowded, and I picked up my packet without any wait and was pleasantly surprised by the race shirt (gender-specific, v-neck, and not hideous) and my corral assignment (1st corral out of 16, with preferential access).

We stayed at the Ellis hotel, which was only a half mile from the race start/finish.  Our room was ready early, the hotel and room were really nice, the rate was very reasonable, and the location couldn't have been better.  I'd definitely stay there again if I ever decide to attempt this race for a second time.

Race morning:
I didn't sleep very well, as is normally the case on the night before a race, and got up at 5:00.  Went through the usual morning routine and headed down to the race around 6:20.  Only corrals A and B were allowed to access the start via Centennial Olympic Park Drive, so I figured I'd have no problems but went straight over to check it out.  There was no crowd at all, and getting to the A entry was really easy, so that was nice.  I'm not sure how it was for the 10,000+ runners in C-O, but it was very well organized up front.  After another mile or so jog around the park, I found a spot in the middle of my corral between the 1:30 and 1:40 pace groups, thinking that I would shoot for something around 1:35.  The disabled athletes started at 6:55 and at 7:00 we were off.

The race:
My plan was to try to run around 7:15 pace, but after checking out the elevation profile and reading some race reports from last year, I knew that running an even pace might not work out so I decided to try to run even effort instead, hoping to stay at what felt like a challenging but sustainable effort and relying less on my Garmin than usual.  This seemed like a good idea until I passed the first mile marker at 6:43.  Even with the mostly downhill start, I knew that was way too fast so I reigned it in a bit and used the Garmin to settle into a pace in the 7:10-7:15 range.  I saw Monte just after the first mile, and he actually got some awesome photos (my vizipro orange singlet really does glow in the dark), but they were accidentally deleted.  It's too bad because I felt great at that point, but that feeling was soon to be forgotten...

We came through the first aid station around mile 2, and a drank a few sips of Powerade.  I guess I need to go back to practicing fluid consumption on my training runs, because from then on everything was sloshing around in my stomach and I just did not feel good at all.  I tried to distract myself from the discomfort by focusing on the runners around me (it was actually not that crowded for a pretty big race) and scenery, and it seemed to work temporarily though my stomach continued to bother me.  I ran through the 4 mile aid station without taking any water or gatorade, just hoping that I would finally absorb what was in there and go about my race.  By this point, I had slowed a bit, and it was all up and down, with very little flat, but nothing crazy either.  As we came through Inman Park, we had a really nice view of Midtown during sunrise, and I tried my best to appreciate seeing the city this way.

As the race went on, I figured it would not be wise or feasible to keep up my pace without drinking anything at all, so I tried a little more Powerade at the halfway point.  Shortly after that, the marathon and half marathon courses split, and we started on what I knew would be a fairly long downhill part of the course.  I am not a fan of hills, but running downhill definitely has it's advantages so I figured I'd push the pace a bit.  Big mistake.  Let's just say that red Powerade is not better the second time around.  Anyway, I thought at least I would feel better after that, and though the sloshing was drastically reduced my stomach was still not quite right.  It was really frustrating because I was not really breathing hard and my legs felt fine, but I just could not go any faster.  I thought about my mom, who had planned to travel to Atlanta to watch the race, and wondered if she was watching.  Not wanting to let her or myself down, I tried to suck it up and just kept plugging along, but I really wasn't having much fun anymore.

The majority of the climbs in the race are in the last 4 miles, and at mile 9 we started up a hill that lasts until about 10.5.  Though I had been thinking "I feel great cardio-wise and my legs are not even tired!" to that point, by about 9.5 that last consoling thought was long gone.  A bunch of runners around me started walking, and though it seemed like a really fabulous idea, I knew that if I started to walk it would be really hard to get going again, so I made some calculations and realized that if I could keep my pace under 8:00/mile I could still break 1:40.  I think I looked at my Garmin about 100 times from that point until the "1/2 mile to go" sign.  So much for not using it.  But I had to think about something other than how bad I was feeling, so I put all of my focus on keeping that number under 8:00.  I felt like I was barely moving, but somehow I managed to keep it in the 7s.  As we headed up the final hill toward the finish, I tried to kick it in but it all just felt really pointless and disappointing.  Final time: 1:38:32.  

Only a year and a half ago, I would have been thrilled with this finish time (my half marathon PR was 1:45:00 until October 2011) and I finished 78th out of 4,954 women (top 2%) despite all of the setbacks of late, so I have been telling myself that I should be satisfied but it's just not working.  It was definitely a very draining race, both physically and emotionally, but hopefully I can get it together enough to get through Boston.

Highlight of the day: Post-race St Patty's Celebration

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Off to Atlanta!

Well, two-race Saturday went pretty well considering my level of fitness and level of effort (more than a training run but not all out like an A race), but I just don't know what to expect in this half marathon on Sunday.  I've been reading race reports and it sounds like the course is quite hilly, with the majority of the climbs at the end of the race.  But I've done what I can, and all I can do now is hope that will be enough to at least come out of this with a respectable time.  

My other concern is the emotionality of it all... my mom and Alan had planned to travel to Atlanta for this race, and knowing that they should be there but I won't see her smiling  face and hear her cheering for me along the course really makes me sad.  I am hoping I can take those thoughts and use them to channel my energy into running faster, but sometimes I just burst into tears uncontrollably and that will obviously not help with my race experience or finish time.  So for now I am just telling myself that she may not be there but she will still be watching, and hopefully that will help to get me through this one.

This is really my only 'race' of the season, even though I have quite a few things on my calendar.  Boston will be just for fun, I'm pacing a friend at the Tar Heel 10M, and the goal for both the Tour de Cure 104M ride and Raleigh Ironman 70.3 triathlon is simply to finish.  So I really have no excuse to do anything other than leave it all out there and give my best effort, and that is exactly what I intend to do.

The weather forecast looks pretty good - Saturday night low of 52; Sunday high of 72; Partly sunny with a 10% chance of rain and 70% humidity.  A bit warmer than I'd like, but the race starts at 7:00 and sunrise is not until 7:45, so hopefully I'll be finished by the time it really warms up.

Georgia Half Marathon Goals:

Level 3 goal (what I think I can do): 1:37 (7:25)
Level 2 goal (what I hope I can do): 1:35 (7:15)
Level 1 goal (best case scenario, PR): 1:32 (7:05)

Training update:

Monday: Swim 1K with 8x25

Tuesday: 6.3 miles with Ellen and Sarah 
8:04, 7:34, 7:32, 7:30, 7:26, 7:36, and 8:10 for the last .29.
2 mile walk with Nicole

Wednesday: BCTC Track - 14 x 400  (95-96-95-94-92-93-95--91-92-95-94-93)
Was supposed to be 10K pace, but each was in the 6:09-6:22 range, which is faster than my 5k pace.  And I was still the track workout caboose.  Oh well... 
1500 pull swim

Thursday: 8M with Sara (64:12)

Friday: 3.5M with Ellen (26:25)
Due to time constraints, this run was shorter than planned. Middle 1.5 at 7:05.

Sunday: 10M with Jason K (1:15:48)
Joined Jason for the last part of his 22 mile training run.  My schedule called for goal pace + 20 seconds, so we did exactly that (7:35).  

Monday: 4M Rise run with Ellen, Sarah, and Jeff in the morning (30:41 - once again not the easy recovery pace I was hoping for) and another 4.5M with Sara in the evening, including a test run of Laurel Hill, which is included in the upcoming Tar Heel 10 Miler (36:24)

Tuesday: Easy run with Nicole around campus after work (3.1M, 28:53)

Wednesday: 8M (62:12) including 5 800s with 400 recovery jogs.  It was supposed to be half marathon goal pace (7:15, or 3:37 per 800), but they ended up a bit faster - 3:27, 3:26, 3:27,  3:32, 3:30.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Double the races, double the fun?

Two races in one day... a 10 miler in the morning and an 8K in the afternoon.  It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Florence Forth 10 Miler
11th Female
3rd F30-39

Run Green 8K
37:48 - just for fun!
34th female of 1,338

Friday, March 1, 2013

Trying to get back on track

Taking a few weeks off while I was home with my family, eating too much take out while renovating my kitchen, and struggling to find motivation to go out in this cold weather has me feeling fat, slow, and blah.  The good news is I'm starting to get back into a routine, my kitchen is done, and the weather will hopefully be getting better soon!

That said, I dove back into running upon my return to NC.  Thanks to my great running friends who came out to keep me company and help with my crisis in motivation, I was able to knock out 38 miles in my first week back.  Most of these were at a pretty slow/comfortable pace, with the exception of 4 miles in the freezing rain when I did my best to keep up with Sarah and Ellen (despite agreeing to an easy run, they seem to pace in the 7:20s), and I've just been easing back into things.  Wednesday marked my first track workout in a while, and though the team had a good workout on the schedule, I realized my fitness was just not where it should be and decided to run mile repeats instead.  Not breaking any records, but stayed pretty consistent (6:49-6:46-6:46) around what I figure is probably my 5k pace.  Could be worse.

I also managed to get in a few swim workouts, a little cycling, and some yoga.  Though I am nervous about being the last one out of the lake in the half iron, I am feeling less concerned about the prospect of drowning, so I guess that's good...