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Walt Disney World Half Marathon Recap – 1:39:39

23 Jan

Initially I had intended for this to be a goal race but as is typically the case for me, life had other plans.  After two months of nursing a knee injury, only to then be walloped with a cold-turned-bronchitis, I was left with total uncertainty as to how this race would go.

The one confidence booster I had was a workout Megan and I did the week prior – 1 mile warmup, 3 @ MP, 2 @ HMP, 2 @ MP.   I hit 8:07, 7:59, 8:01/7:24, 7:23/8:10, 8:06 and felt pretty decent.  The 7:2x paces felt a little aggressive, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the 8ish paced miles felt.  Worst case scenario: squeak in under 1:45 and not completely embarrass myself.

Mostly I was excited to bust out of the frozen tundra for a while and enjoy a much needed long weekend with friends.

Megan and I hit the expo on Friday; our seed times put us in the A corral and we both geeked out a little over this.  Feeling fast is not something I’m used to.  We walked around the expo for a bit and then headed out to grab lunch and buy some throwaway clothes – we totally underestimated how cold it actually was in Florida!

walt-disney-half-marathon-expo-bibs

Cheesin’ at the expo. I really dig this quote.

Race morning came sooner than usual but thanks to my old lady ability to fall asleep unreasonably early, I was able to get around 6 hours of sleep.  For those who don’t know, Disney races start at the crack of freaking dawn and because you need enough time to get to the start corrals, it means freakishly early alarms.  Like, 2:45am style alarms.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen 2:45am sober before.

Race morning routine, same as usual.  Gulp some coffee, eat a Picky Bar, get dressed, stretch out a little, drink water.  We got to Epcot with plenty of time and hung out in the warm car for a bit while some other friends went to get their bibs.  Then we started the trek to the corrals.

It’s actually a fairly long walk to get from the parking area to the starting area, but there are tons of open porta-potties along the way and ample room to warm up once you get there.  Nice logistics, Disney.  +1 for that.

Finally it was time to line up and we geeked out a little more over the A corral business.  Before I knew it, we were off.

disney-half-marathon-race-start

 

The release of each new corral is signified by lighting off fireworks, and it was pretty cool to listen for them as we took off into the night.  Megan and I said goodbye and set off to do our own thing.  It was windy and my plan was to just run by feel until we got to the Magic Kingdom; it should be all tailwind from there.

The first five miles are kind of a blur.  I remember looking around a lot and trying to take it all in.  Then trying not to trip over people.  I wasn’t running very smoothly – I would start picking it up, then get nervous the pace was too aggressive and try to back off.  It took me a while to find my groove but I ended up settling in (7:39, 7:36, 7:34, 7:29, 7:31)

The course then goes by the Contemporary Resort and heads for the Magic Kingdom.  I wouldn’t consider myself a Disney fanatic by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have fond memories of vacationing there as a kid. Honestly, I feel lame for saying this but I got a little emotional running down Main St. and around the castle.  I thought a lot about my family – and my dad in particular – during this mile and I got all goosebumpy and teary eyed.  What a turd.

running-in-the-kingdom

Oooh look, a squirrel

I thought exciting Magic Kingdom would be kind of a let down, but it ended up being the opposite – I felt like the hard part was over and now I could cruise with the tailwind for a little bit.  I remember picking it up a bit because Shake It Off was blasting over some loudspeakers and that song is basically guaranteed to put me in a good mood.  I remember thinking how much fun I was having and just being very grateful.  This is all so uncharacteristic of me, I usually am hating life and mankind and myself and maybe even Taylor Swift by mile 7 of a half.

I kept plugging along in good spirits until about mile 10. (7:31, 7:30, 7:33, 7:29, 7:29)

That’s when the wheels started coming off.  We were running back into the wind for a bit and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I told myself to not wuss out but not kill myself either.  In retrospect, I think I could’ve pushed myself harder through these miles but in the moment, my inability to take a good deep breath was freaking me out.  Maybe that was justification for being a wimp, or maybe it was smart.  I’m not going to dwell on it too much. (7:43, 7:39)

Finally in the last mile, I could see my Garmin and realized I could squeak in under 1:40.  I also told myself to stop being a little bitch and actually run – there’s only one mile left.  Unfortunately, this seemed to be where the majority of the race photographers were located and daaaaaang do I make some ugly faces while I run.  This bothers me because hey – I’m running a race wearing a skirt for fuck’s sake.  Clearly I’m only doing this for cute race photos.

pain-face

I am screaming on the inside.

Finally I saw the finish line and boom, that was that. (7:29, 7:10 for the last .1)

Megan and I celebrated and cheesed it up a bit in our mutually delirious state.

walt-disney-half-marathon-medals

Hashtag precious.

We headed back to the car to celebrate a bit and revel in the fact that we were done for the weekend.  A few of our friends were running the Goofy and a few were running the full but us?  Yeah, beer us.  Immediately.

race-celebration

Hashtag precious, part 2.

Overall, I was thrilled with the way this race went.  Sure, I’ve got some work to do – but leading up to this, I was running 25 miles per week and most of those miles were 10 minute pace on a treadmill.  This is also the best I’ve ever run so early in the year which leaves me feeling motivated and excited for 2015.

In summary: this was one of the most positive posts I think I have ever written and it made me realize I am feeling very positive in general right now.  So strange, kind of love it.  Hope it sticks around.

walt-disney-half-marathon

Buffalo Half Marathon Race Recap – 1:39:30

2 Jun

Pre-Race

Last year, I woke up the morning of this race at 3am and made the 2+ hour drive to Buffalo.  While it wasn’t the worst (or craziest) thing I’ve ever done, as this year’s race day drew closer I was feeling less and less like that was a thing I wanted to do again.  Luckily, Laura was also wanting to avoid a super early wake up and our fabulous friend Britt volunteered to host us for the night prior.  Umm, girls slumber party?  Does not require much arm twisting.

sleepover

I drove to Rochester to meet up with Laura, saw her work and her new adorable apartment, and then we headed to Buffalo.  We arrived without too much incident and headed to the expo.  Typical girl shenanigans followed: carbs, more carbs, meaningless chatter, lots of foam rolling, beer, and wine ice cream.  We stayed up way too late and tried way too hard to get a futon unfolded.  It was everything you could possibly ask for in a pre-race evening.

All the pre-race essentials right here.

All the pre-race essentials right here.

Race Morning

Buffalo was originally my goal race for the spring, but after running well at New Jersey and wanting to turn my focus towards building my base mileage back up since then, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do … or what I would even be capable of.  I tapered for NJ and did not do so for Buffalo, so I really had no idea what to expect out of my legs.  I had decided that I wouldn’t start so slow that I might sabotage a PR attempt, but I also wouldn’t push too hard for it if the legs weren’t having it that day.  I wanted to put in an honest effort but not totally destroy myself, if that makes sense.

Britt’s apartment was very close to the start, which was perfect.  Laura and I ran the approximately 1.5 miles with Britt escorting us via bike; I remember my chest feeling very heavy and my breathing felt labored even though we were running ~9 min/mile pace.  Not very comforting.

I tried to shake it off; we met up with Laura’s sister who was running the full, said some good lucks and have funs, and then hustled our butts into the corrals.

Miles 1-3:  7:38, 7:22, 7:17

I find it amusing that my first split in every decent half I’ve ever run has been 7:38.  Apparently this is my magic “sorta hard but don’t go out too fast” pace?

I felt like I was working fairly hard, but I felt like shit during the first two miles of NJ as well so I told myself not to let up too much.  During mile 3, you could see the leaders on the turnaround and I spent my time looking for Laura.  This apparently was a very good distraction, as this ended up being my fastest mile of the race.  Note to self: run more out-and-back courses.

Miles 4-6: 7:30, 7:38, 7:27

WHY AM I SEEING ALL THESE 7:3xs.  WHY ARE THESE MILES TAKING FOREVER.

why-am-i-doing-this

It’s never good when you’re ready to be done at mile 5.  It’s also never good when your stomach is starting to feel a little off and you’re questioning why you didn’t make one last bathroom stop before the start.

Miles 7-8: 7:26, 7:33

The first .35ish miles of this segment was great – it was the last section of Delaware Ave and was relatively close to the finish, so the sidewalks were thick with spectators and hubbub and music and all that fun stuff that makes you forget how much you are NOT feeling this race.

However.  You then make a turn onto Niagara which is probably the worst section of the entire race.  This street was part of the old race course, but it used to be mile 1.5ish-2.5ish – early enough where you didn’t care that the street was shitty, the area looked rundown as hell, and there were no people around.  At mile 7 of a bad race, though … I remember purposefully looking for a street sign so I could curse it in an appropriate manner.  I grunted “Niagara Street, you are stealing my fucking soul right now” and some guy passing me gave me a dirty look.  I love making friends during races.

zero-fucks

The other fun thing about this section is that my mild stomach discomfort turned to a very distinct sloshing sensation.  I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN RIGHT NOW!!

Mile 9: 8:26

Ha.  Ha ha.  Ha ha ha.  The sloshing in my stomach persisted and all my focus went to determining if I could make it to the end or not.  At mile 8.52, a single porta-potty appeared directly to my left and I was immediately so happy to see it, I could swear it was glowing around the edges.  I darted in and tried to make it as quick as possible, but I ended up losing about a minute.  To be honest, I’m pretty frustrated by this only because it continues to be a theme in my races.  I should like, do something to figure out why this happens or something.  Hmm.

Miles 10-13.1: 7:33, 7:29, 7:28, 7:35, 1:06 (7:28 pace)

When I exited the porta-potty, the 1:40 pace group was directly in front of me.  This was probably the saving grace of the rest of my race.  I hopped out in front of them and kept telling myself “do NOT let them pass you.”  I wasn’t sure how my legs would react after the pop-n-squat and I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t cramp up or start refusing to cooperate.

Pretending Im happy at mile 11.5ish

Pretending I’m happy at mile 11.5-ish

At this point though, the chest-lung-breathing thing that I experienced during the warm-up caught up to me.  Every time I tried to take a deep breath, it hurt my lungs and I felt like I was going to choke.  I just tried to hang tough with whatever I had left, and stick to my mantra of “do not let them pass you.”  It certainly was not the fast finish that I had in me for NJ, but I can’t say I’m disappointed with the overall time.

DONE.  Finally.

DONE. Finally.

Overall: 1:39:30, 45/2110 females, 9/428 age group

 

garmin-splits-buffalo-half

 

I saw Laura and Britt immediately after I finished and I stopped in the chute to complain about my complete inability to breathe properly.  I was happy in a weird way to hear that Laura had experienced the same thing – we both realized it was pretty damn humid outside and neither of us have really had a chance to acclimate to the weather.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m just being a big baby, so when the girls with elite numbers have similar issues, it makes me feel less like I’m just composed entirely of wuss genes.

Here is the medal I got for my wussiness.

Here is the medal I got for my wussiness.

I realize this recap sounds like more complaining than anything else, and honestly, I’m rubbing myself the wrong way even as I type this (heh heh … TWSS).  This was my 3rd fastest half marathon ever, I should be nothing but happy – and again, it’s not really the time itself I’m upset with, more the actual race experience.  It wasn’t pleasant.  That being said, I am definitely grateful that even on a bad day, I can still come in under 1:40.  I finally really feel like “I’m back” after a slow, gradual build up of mileage and fitness over the winter.  I am excited to get back to my weekly routine, get back to speed work, and to not pin a bib on for a while.

A Very New Jersey Weekend

2 May

There was a lot of excitement this past weekend beyond that lil’ old race I ran.  In no specific order, here are some of the highlights:

1.  Going to Wawa

WaWa

Umm I think I was talking about this on Instagram for probably the entire month of April.  Dear Wawa, please extend your chain into Upstate New York.  Your coffee is the best gas station coffee I have ever had.  Love, Heather.

 

2. Going to Vincentown Diner

There was a lot of hype over this diner and I have to say, every word of it was true.  Typically when I go to diners I stick to breakfast food, but the menu here was really quite extensive and all of it sounded delicious.  I went with a Reuben, but also really wanted to try a few of their salads and burgers.  Next time, Vincentown.  Next time.  We all also gorged ourselves on dessert and basically waddled back to Hollie’s afterwards.  It was fantastic.

Sometimes we wear things that arent spandex.

Sometimes we wear things that arent spandex.

 

3. Meeting Hollie’s fiance aka Fueledbyfuel aka Mr. LOLZ

He showed up with a box full of red velvet cake.  Enough said.

In all seriousness, it was great to get to know Tim a little bit and I don’t think he was too offended by our ridiculousness.  Though we did ask him to take quite a few photos …

Setting out for a nice 6 miler around Hollies neighborhood.

Setting out for a nice 6 miler around Hollie’s neighborhood.

 

4. Learning about gypsies

There are some amazing shows on TLC.  I’ll leave it at that.

 

5. Going to yet another diner post-race

Get in my face immediately.

Get in my face immediately.

They put my eggs on top of my french toast and for some reason, I thought this was the greatest idea ever.  I’ll blame low blood sugar.

 

6. Spending time with two of the most fun people on the planet

Saying our goodbyes.

Saying our goodbyes.

Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before our next adventure.

 

Where was the last place you road-tripped to?  Do you love New Jersey diners as much as I do? 

New Jersey Half Marathon Race Recap – 1:38:05

30 Apr

A few months ago, Hollie talked me into coming down to New Jersey to visit and run this race.  Actually “talked me into” makes it sound like a lot of effort on her behalf- I’m pretty sure all it took was one Facebook post.  But I digress.

Originally I intended to shoot for about a 1:40 at this race, but after a handful of decent workouts in the past few weeks, I started to wonder if I was in slightly better shape.  Due to that, and to the fact that my fall racing plans impact my plan of making Buffalo my goal race (more on that later), I went into this race thinking that I would race it all out and let the chips fall where they may.

Laying out my race gear usually gets my mind in the game the night before.  I do this for about 2 percent of all my races.

Laying out my race gear usually gets my mind in the game the night before. I do this for about 2 percent of all my races.

Pre-Race:

I was trying to be enthusiastic, but due to poor logistics at the expo and realizing that the half started way earlier than I thought it did, I was sort of stumbling around Hollie’s house like a zombie.  I finally pulled myself together, procured a cup of coffee, and we all hit the road.  On the way there, I distinctly remember telling Laura that my main mission would be to find a porta-potty (foreshadowing! wee, fun!).  I also felt myself starting to get hungry, and ate half of a Picky Bar I found in my car (more foreshadowing! such fun!).

We got somewhat close to the race start at Monmouth Park and then boom!  Huge line of cars.  The volunteers at the expo had warned about this, and I honestly thought we left early enough to avoid the traffic but apparently we underestimated just how bad the congestion would be.  By the time we were able to park and I pinned my bib on, it was 6:30am – leaving only 15 minutes until the start of the race.

Let me spare you the agonizing details and just say that I had a choice to make: stay in line, use the bathroom, and fight through the hordes of walkers or get my butt to my corral and find out how long I could run before an emergency situation popped up.  I chose the corral.

Miles 1-2

As soon as the gun went off for the wheelchair start, I realized I didn’t have my Gu.  Typically this wouldn’t have been a deal breaker, but I woke up so full from the night before that I didn’t eat a real breakfast.  As I mentioned above, I did have half a Picky but I didn’t trust that could fuel me through a PR half marathon attempt.

I stood there waiting for my corral to be released and realized that having to poop and facing the almost certain bonk that was waiting at mile 10ish was probably not going to make for the best race ever.  I decided to run by feel and not force the pace.

I started just behind the 1:40 pace group and tried to hang with them for the first two miles.  I felt like I was working too hard to keep that pace.  I told myself, it’s just not your day.  Hang tough for as long as you can, and readjust your goal to 1:41-1:42.

Miles 3-5

The only thing I remember from this section of the race is the mental struggle to stay positive.  I kept my head down and did my own thing, not looking at my Garmin, and just tried to enjoy myself.  I got ahead of the 1:40 group at some point here, and thought about how funny it would be when they swallowed me back up later in the race.

Miles 6-10

At this point, I caught up to a handful of girls and one guy who was cracking the cheesiest jokes as loud as he could.  I stayed with him for a mile or two and honestly – he was the biggest difference in my mental game.  I was laughing out loud and joking back with him.  It was genuinely fun, and for once, my race photos actually reflect that I might actually like this silly running thing.

Dare I say ... Im enjoying myself??

Dare I say … I’m enjoying myself??

I eventually broke away from the funny guy and realized that I wasn’t feeling nearly as bad as I thought I would.  My lead-legs were gone, and my stomach – thought a bit uncomfortable – was not entirely revolting.  I was still worried about my lack of fuel, and was disappointed to have not seen gels being handed out on the course.  I told myself to keep ignoring the Garmin and keep the pace steady.

Miles 11-12

think it was around mile 11 where I saw the best cheerleaders!  I was so totally in a zone at this point that when spectators started popping up with more frequency on the course, it didn’t really phase me.  All of a sudden though, I thought I heard a familiar voice – and sure enough, Laura and Danielle!  I was so happy to see them; I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to see anyone out on the course because the rushed start led to somewhat uncertain logistics.

wave-hi

 

Seeing the girls put a spring in my step, all the way until the final turn onto the boardwalk.

At this point, it felt like you should be almost done, but my watch only read 11.8 miles.  The wind – although not terrible at around 12MPH – was now a direct headwind.  For some reason, I was still afraid I was going to bonk and told myself to just stay in the comfortable pace zone.  I think I was mostly just traumatized from previous terrible boardwalk finishes at races in Virginia Beach.

Miles 13-Finish

When I passed the mile 12 marker, I finally had the guts to look at my watch.  That was the first point I realized that I was close to a PR.  I was having a hard time figuring out how that was possible, but I knew with only a little over a mile left, it was time to push.

Somehow, even in the last mile of a race, on the  boardwalk, into the wind, I was still all smiles.  I don't even know who I am anymore.

Somehow, even in the last mile of a race, on the boardwalk, into the wind, I was still all smiles. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

When I finally saw the finish line, I knew it was going to be close, and I just tried to sprint as hard as I could. Unfortunately, I came up a little short.

This is my aw crap what the fuck face.

This is my “aw crap what the fuck” face.

My “aw crap” moment only lasted for about a second.  Even though I was 20 seconds shy of a PR, I honestly never expected to have this kind of race on that day.  I wasn’t sure that I could pull it off even if everything went smoothly pre-race, and obviously, not everything did.  To have run by feel for the majority of the race, while having fun, and turn in my second fastest half ever?  I’ll call that a success any day of the week.

nj-half-marathon-splits

California International Marathon (CIM) Race Recap

16 Dec

If you want time to move a little faster, train for a marathon.  It feels like Wineglass was yesterday, yet here I am, a week late on writing a recap of CIM.  Strange.

I won’t talk too much about the actual race itself – basically, everything I’ve ever read about it was true.  Tons of porta-potties, busses to the start were PERFECT, the course has the potential to be very fast if you don’t go out too hard, logistics of expo + race were great.  I would definitely go back and run it again; I had a great time.

As for my actual race execution?  Well.  To be fair, I had no idea what to expect.  I’ve been a little shady over the past several weeks on the various injury issues that have been plaguing me.  Mostly because I’m embarrassed.  Currently, I have bursitis in my left hip, a VMO (vastus medialis oblique) muscle strain, excess fluid and bruising (but not a stress fracture!) in one foot, and extreme tightness in both calves.  Ridiculous, right?  I feel like either an idiot or a huge wuss.  I can’t help but think that maybe the aches and pains I feel on the reg are the same aches and pains that every runner feels and is able to fight through to do great things.  On the other hand, I took a look back through my training logs and realized I haven’t taken more than 6 days off from running in over 2 years.  So, the best way to fight a nagging soft tissue injury is probably not to continue to train through it.  For years.  Got it.

All that was a long-winded way of saying that I knew I wasn’t in perfect shape going in to this race, and I was truly ready to expect anything from a 3:40-4:40 finish.  I really just needed to finish one.  Stubborn.

Totally stolen from Laura because I am a dirty thief.

Totally stolen from Laura because I am a dirty thief.

It was very cold at the beginning, and really, throughout the entire race.  I ran in shorts and I’m wondering if that was possibly a mistake.  I never felt warm and had goosebumps for a good portion of the morning.

The water stops in the beginning were a mess.  Water was spilled everywhere, with no sunlight and 25 degrees?  It was an ice skating rink.  People were slipping, falling, coming to dead stops.  The volunteers couldn’t keep up (I don’t blame them, they were basically standing in the cold on the ice.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it).  I didn’t actually get any water until the stop at mile 10 due to the chaos.

Between the lack of water and the cold, I was cramping very early on.  My left calf felt tight from the very start, but by mile 8 or so, I was cramping in both hamstrings and my right hip flexor.  I knew it was trouble.  I ignored it and pressed on.

I had tried to stay with the 3:45 pacer, but realized (too late) that he was a bit fast.  Nothing awful – he was running 8:25s instead of 8:35s – but I think it took its toll on me.

I hit the half at 1:51:49 – right where I wanted to be.  Unfortunately, I knew I was only going to slow down from there, rather than pick it up.  I told myself it was time to put on my music, plug away at it, and just try to keep the pace around 8:35 as long as I could.

Severe cramping started at mile 15.  I was literally laughing out loud at how ridiculous I felt.  My lungs and my brain were ready to party.  My legs were having nothing of the sort.  I started walking through aid station.

THIS SMILE IS A LIE.  I WAS NOT HAPPY.  NOT AT ALL.

THIS SMILE IS A LIE. I WAS NOT HAPPY. NOT AT ALL.

I hit mile 20 and knew that I would finish this thing, even if it meant walking 6.2 miles.  I took walk breaks when I needed, for however long I needed.  I had some really strange shooting pains up my hamstrings that would cause my legs to buckle if I kept up a run for too long.  It was kind of hilarious.  Around mile 23, I struck up a conversation with a really nice girl who was also taking a lot of walking breaks.  It was her first marathon and her luggage had gotten lost on her flight in.  She had to buy a new pair of running shoes at a local running store the night before, and they didn’t carry the kind she had been training in.  Her feet were killing her, but she had a pretty good attitude about the whole thing.  We both laughed and stumbled our way through the next mile.  Eventually we lost each other; I hope she finished strong and will be back again to tackle another marathon.

I remember seeing the guy dressed up like Jesus with a “the end is near” sign, and I realized I was almost there.  I managed to run my way into the finish and was so unbelievably happy to be done.  4:02ish.  Slowest marathon ever.

Happy, but also in pain.  A lot of pain.

Happy, but also in pain. A lot of pain.

This has been the year to run personal worsts, I guess.  I am not disappointed with the time, or the race – I really meant it when I said my only goal was to finish.  Is it a bit disheartening to look back on this year and feel like I’ve gotten slower?  Sure.  But I know that what I need is to rest.  Work on cross-training, stretching, strengthening.  And then come back and kick ass in 2014.

All in all?  I got to go to California with a really good friend, have an amazing time, and run a marathon.  How can you be mad about that?

California Knows How to Party

7 Dec

It’s been less than 24 hours since I touched down, but I’m already having a great time in California – despite the weather reminding me a lot more of upstate New York than I’d ideally like.  Also, I may or may not have had California Love stuck in my head for the entire day.  I will probably be singing it during the race tomorrow so um … you’re welcome, people running around me.

I showed up late last night early this morning to the best welcome message I have ever received in my whole entire life.

Yeah, those are swedish fish.  Related: Laura is the best.

Yeah, those are swedish fish. Related: Laura is the best.

Today involved a 3 mile shakeout run, hitting up the expo, and a lot of food.  Which are pretty much the staples of any really good day.  Sacramento is really a beautiful place.

Palm trees! Sunshine!

Palm trees! Sunshine!

 

old-town-sacramento

Heading into Old Town

 

Down by the water.

Down by the water.

 

Oh crap, I'm running another marathon

Oh crap, I’m running another marathon

 

——————————————————

Race Goals

After a stress fracture scare during taper, and not giving myself a chance to fully recover from hip bursitis, I really only want to finish this thing feeling strong.  I do think I am pretty close to running a BQ, but it won’t be this race.  I am going to go for a PR, and I hope that I will be able to prove to myself that my fitness has improved since March.

I plan on starting with the 3:45 pace group and sticking with them through at least mile 11.  At that point, if I’m feeling like it’s a cakewalk, I’ll start picking it up.  I am trying hard to run a solid negative split and feel strong during the last few miles.  I won’t lie – the closer I can get to 3:40, the happier I’ll be overall – but I’m really not tying the success criteria of this race to an overall time.

I am going to go out and have a blast running a marathon because I’m lucky enough to be able to.  See ya on the other side!

 

 

New York City Marathon Part 1: The Adventures

14 Nov

How annoying is it for someone who didn’t even run the marathon to break up their recap of marathon weekend into two posts?  SUPER ANNOYING.  But I’m doing it anyway, suckers.  There was just too much awesome to try and consolidate.

—————————————

Friday:

Laura and I piled into my car armed with pretzels, chocolate chip cookies, water, and Diet Coke.  All the road trip essentials.  I don’t remember much about the drive down because we were chatting up a storm the whole time.  Excitement was running high, and I couldn’t wait to actually get to our hotel and do this thing.  Whatever ‘this thing’ was.

We finally got to our room around 8 or so, and after laying our things down and surveilling the small tiny space, decided to go out and hit the town.  A quick look at the MTA website got us a transit plan and soon we found ourselves in the heart of midtown Manhattan.

No shame in our tourist game.

No shame in our tourist game.

Unsurprisingly, Times Square at 9pm-ish on a Friday night is a total zoo.  It was kind of cool for a few blocks and then we both kind of looked at each other with the “omg get me out of here eyes.”  We turned up a random street to get out of the crowds, and just like that, accidentally found our mecca.

Rooftop bar on a temperate November night?  Not packed to the rafters?  40+ beers on tap?  AM I HALLUCINATING?!

Rooftop bar on a temperate November night? Not packed to the rafters? 40 beers on tap? AM I HALLUCINATING?!

A couple beers and a delicious appetizer and sandwich later, we started to turn into the old ladies that we are.  It was time to call it quits and rest up for our long run adventures the next morning.

—————————————

Saturday:

Our loose plan was to start running around 9, head over the Queensboro Bridge and to the park, and then just circle the park for awhile until it was time to head back.  I don’t think either of us really understood how sneaky the bridge/hills in Central Park are, however.  I remember gloating at the beginning of our run, during the portion where it felt like we were stopping ever 30 seconds at a cross-walk, that this would be “the easiest 18 miles ever!”

Before I was hating life.  It was basically the most perfect morning of all mornings.  The reservoir  is freaking gorgeous.

Before I was hating life. It was basically the most perfect morning of all mornings. The reservoir is freaking gorgeous. #nofilter #seriously #hashtaghashtag

We had agreed that we were going to be huge tourists and just take pictures the whole time, and that pace/distance wasn’t really a concern as long as it was a reasonably long run.  I started to struggle somewhere around mile 7, which is like … really mentally defeating when you’re staring down 10+ more miles of relentless hills.

Oh look, the finish line!  You know what I never want to do?  Run a marathon on THESE FRIGGIN HILLS >:|

Oh look, the finish line! You know what I never want to do? Run a marathon on THESE FRIGGIN HILLS >:|

I will admit I was glad to hear that Laura was struggling too.  It’s not that I wanted her to be having a crappy time – just that I already felt so bad that not only do I run a lot slower than she typically would be under the best of circumstances, but it was going to start getting even slower.  The fact that she wasn’t feeling it at least gave me some mental relief and by mile 11 or so, I started to just look forward to the post-run party.

Stolen from Laura, mostly because I'm amazed at how cute we look when I know both of us just wanted to keel over.

Stolen from Laura, mostly because I’m amazed at how cute we look when I know both of us just wanted to keel over.

At a certain point, we just got excited about stopping to take pictures.  Rocks are cool!  Let’s stop and take some rock pictures.

Again, we just look like we're having much more fun than I think we were actually having.

Again, we just look like we’re having much more fun than I think we were actually having.

We both agreed that A) we were going to be satisfied with 16 miles on the day and B) we were going to crack a Guinness the second we were back in the hotel room.  It was truly the thought of Guinness and my cold scrambled eggs that powered me through the last few miles.  That and putting some ice on my angry knee.

central-park-run

 

After lounging for a decent amount of time, Laura and I got ready and took the train back into Manhattan; this time, Battery Park was our destination.  The Statue of Liberty, a street vendor lunch, and Starbucks were high on our to-do list.

Stolen from Laura.  The first time I kicked my leg up, I was shocked at how not-far-up it would go.  WTF hamstrings.

Stolen from Laura. The first time I kicked my leg up, I was shocked at how not-far-up it would go. WTF hamstrings.

Sadly, neither of us realized that you needed to buy advance sale tickets to get on the boat to Liberty Island.  Boo hoo.

This is as close as we're gonna get, Lady Liberty.

This is as close as we’re gonna get, Lady Liberty.

We mulled over what to do from there; we were too far away to meet Hollie and her fam for dinner on time and didn’t want to mess with her schedule, so we decided to head uptown instead and meet up with some friends for drinks.

friendzzz

 

(Strangely enough, my best friend also happened to be in NYC for the weekend, entirely unrelated to the marathon.  My other good friend from college lives in NYC, so it was pretty great to have a mini-reunion – it had been probably 6-7 years since the three of us have all hung out together.)

Laura and I were both a little lame since all the street vendor food had done a number on our stomachs.  We sat out the booze on this go-round, and just spent a half an hour or so catching up.  I was really grateful Laura was game for this – it was great to see my friends, but I know it wasn’t much fun for her to sit there with people she didn’t know who were all essentially reminiscing.

After we said our goodbyes, we headed back to our hotel to sit down with some takeout and start planning our day of spectating the marathon.  And that’s where the fun really starts …

Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now

29 Oct

Planning, planning, planning.  Sometimes I think I actually enjoy the planning and anticipation of events (be it races, vacations, holidays, etc) than the actual events themselves.  I love seeing a busy calendar and the promise of adventures on the horizon. Needless to say, I’ve been in a state of perma-giddiness over the past week or so as Laura and I have been texting back and forth trying to get our plans for NYC settled.

I’m not sure when we floated the idea, but over the entire summer at the very least we’ve been talking about going down to cheer on Hollie in the NYCM.  Weeks of “can’t wait for NYC!” turned into “holy shit, we should probably like … book a hotel or make some sort of concrete plans.”  And now, here it is, our plans mostly finalized with nothing to do but get through this work week and get ready to have a friggin’ blast.

On the list of activities?  A long run out to and around Central Park, doing all the mandatory cheesy tourist stuff, making epic race signs and figuring out a spectating plan, hopefully meeting up with a college friend of mine, eating all the food, cheering all the cheers.  If you’re going down for the marathon to race or otherwise, I hope to see your lovely smiling shiny face there.  SO excited.

upstate-goes-downstate

Here’s where I’ll come clean and say this isn’t the only reason Laura and I have been texting fervently back and forth to solidify plans…

 

We’ve been on the run
Driving in the sun
Looking out for number 1
California, here we come

 

(All credit to Laura for the Phantom Planet relate, but since she posted it, I a) can’t get that song out of my head and b) have a really strong desire to watch season 1 of the OC.)

upstate-goes-west

YES.  CIM 2013, we are coming for you.

I have no idea what this marathon attempt will be like.  It’s not really about trying to take another shot at a BQ (3:35).  In fact, a whole lot of things would have to go perfectly over the next few weeks for me to even think about going for a PR (3:45).  I just really feel like I need to run a strong marathon, and get the bad karma off my back.  I could honestly care less about my finishing time at this point; if the race was tomorrow, I’d probably shoot for 3:50-3:55 and be nothing less than thrilled if I finished feeling great.

Maybe it’s stupid to fly cross-country to not even “race” a marathon.

It probably is.

But, you only live once.  And I know that there is no possible way I will ever regret going to California and running a great race with a great friend, no matter what the time on the clock says at the end.  So game on, CIM.  Game on.

 

Will you be at NYCM? CIM? Tell me!  As my friend Lauren would say, I want to touch your face.

(Jk jk I won’t really touch your face … probably.)

Rock N Roll VA Beach Half Marathon Recap

5 Sep

I’ll just be upfront about this: I’d rather stab sticks in my eye than relive any part of this race.  I guess part of the whole “you have a blog where you talk about running” and “you can’t improve if you don’t honestly look at the races that went wrong” things are convincing me to address it.

I’m pretty sure everyone and their brother knows I went down to Virginia Beach last weekend to race the Rock N Roll half with Hollie and Laura.  (Side note: I felt almost sick to my stomach over the fact that as I was heading down to one of their races, Flotrack reported the Competitor group’s decision to pull all elite support and funding for their future races.  I won’t address that now, but I do have some thoughts I would like to share in the future.)

Pic stolen from Hollie.

OK I know, I know, photo reuse violation … I just think it’s a cute picture

I knew it was going to be hot and humid, and that a PR was probably out of the question.  I did, however, intend on racing.  I decided I wanted to try and keep the pace between 7:30-7:40 and see if I could squeak in under 1:40.  I would have been happy with anything <1:45.

I went out and settled into my race pace, pulling the classic idiot move of trying to run splits instead of listening to my body.  I remember seeing the turn and the finish chute for the 5k and thinking man, I wish I was done right now.

Yeah.  Here’s a prime piece of advice for you: if MILE FREAKIN’ 2.5 of a half marathon has you feeling like you already want to quit, you probably went out too hard.

I hit my splits perfectly for the first 5k, then started to fade almost immediately.  I couldn’t cool down and I felt unbelievably thirsty.  By mile 5, I decided to walk the water stops and try to keep running around 8:05-8:12 pace.  I figured if I could finish it out at goal marathon pace, I could still call it a good workout.

I forced down my Gu at mile 7.  That was probably my second biggest mistake of the race.  Between the excess water I was drinking (two cups at each stop, the stops seemed really far apart and I was worried about dehydration) and the fact that even on a great day, my stomach doesn’t necessarily handle fuel well, I was just an overheating mess of indigestion.

My stomach was sloshing, I was dizzy and slighty incoherent, but I just kept moving forward.  We turned into the base at some point and I just remember it getting unbearably hot.  I slowed to a walk just after mile 8.  A girl ran a few steps by me and shouted “aww hope you’re ok – I’ve been pacing off of you.”  She started to slow down and I warned her, “it’s gonna get real ugly from here.”

Then I threw up.

Then I suddenly had a volunteer next to me with a water bottle.  Apparently, there was a medical tent nearby, I think he came from there?  I honestly don’t remember. He made me stop and finish the water bottle before going on.  I didn’t stop my watch, but I was also incapable of doing math at that point – I could have sworn I was there for almost 10 minutes, but reviewing the splits on my watch, it was definitely only about 4 minutes.

At that point, my mind had given up.  I stopped to walk whenever I felt like it.  I still felt dizzy and my legs felt like lead and jello at the same time.  I would alternate between telling myself I didn’t give a fuck about this race or running or anything, and telling myself that I completely fucking sucked at running.  My brain was throwing itself quite the pity party.

I am absolutely shocked that both of my feet are in the air here.  Thank you race photographer for capturing the rare moment where I was actually running toward the finish.

I am absolutely shocked that both of my feet are in the air here. Thank you race photographer for capturing the rare moment where I was actually running toward the finish.

I turned onto the boardwalk, looked at my watch, and basically knew a personal worst time was a guarantee.  I had no fight left in me.  I think I started walking before I even officially crossed the line.

Pretty sure I'm glaring at everyone and muttering all the curse words at this point.

Pretty sure I’m glaring at everyone and muttering all the curse words at this point.

1:51:22 was my finishing time.  A shiny new Personal Worst.

——————————

So here I sit, days later, entirely unsure of what to think.  At first I thought I just went out way too fast.  But this wasn’t a case of me picking numbers that I wanted to run.  The Boilermaker in early July was 73 degrees at the start with 89% humidity, and I ran an average 7:33 pace.  The temperature at the start of this race was 75 degrees with 94% humidity.  Yes, it was worse, but not by much.  And I’ve had almost two months of training on my legs.  Was it that unrealistic to expect to run a similar pace?

I don’t know what this means for Wineglass.  I can’t imagine backing off of my BQ goal.  I am considering running another half this weekend as a confidence booster … but it has the potential to do even more damage if I bonk again.  I’m also not sure I’ll be fully recovered by then.

What would you do?  Race the half or sit it out?

How do you get your brain to shut up when it’s making you doubt everything?

Virginia Beach Renewal

2 Sep

So.  I’ve been kind of ignoring this blog thing over here.  My running has been so up and down and with it, my emotions.  I am seriously in that mental train wreck of marathon training that is, well, familiar to me at least.

That said, you may have heard on various sources of social media that I went down to Virginia Beach this past weekend to hang out with this girl and this girl.  So it would be remiss of me to not talk about it.

The race itself was a disaster (for me, at least).  The flight home was even more of a disaster.  But getting to spend a weekend with friends?  Totally worth it.

Pic stolen from Hollie.

Pre-race pic stolen from Hollie.

Also, being back at the beach was not awful at all.

Virginia Beach Mayhem

Virginia Beach Mayhem

Laura and Hollie are seriously two of my most favorite people ever so getting to just bum around with them for a while was awesome.  The future is a bit uncertain in terms of get-togethers (except for NYC Marathon weekend, when Laura and I will be the best effing cheerleaders you have ever seen) so I’m really glad I was able to go.

IMG_2128

Best part of the race: getting in the ocean after.

Honestly, I’ve been in a bit of a running funk.  It’s not that I haven’t been getting the runs in, it’s more that I’m getting discouraged about pace, the way my legs feel, and how dehydrated I feel constantly.  I’ll recap the race soon but spoiler alert: I ran a PW, felt like shit almost the whole time, and am unable to figure out why I can’t get my racing shit together this year.

I will say though – having two friends who are so unbelievably fucking tough is an inspiration.  And I hate saying “inspiration” because it sounds so bloggy fake but really … there are no other words to capture it.  So yeah.  I had a terrible race.  Ran a personal worst.  But also ate amazing food, had super fun girl chats, ran around on the beach, splashed in the water, and got to explore Virginia with two awesome people.  So how can I complain?  This weekend has me feeling refreshed and renewed – ready to chase down the next couple weeks of training and bring it on home for a strong marathon in October.  Let’s go.