Tag Archives: half marathon

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

Empire State Half Marathon Recap

3 Nov sharkeys-post-race

After two weeks of taper, a disappointing marathon, two weeks of essentially no running, and then 3 weeks of around 30mpw, I was feeling … out of shape.  I’ve gained a little bit of weight, I haven’t really felt sharp or speedy or fresh, everything has been a little blah.  It’s not a great way to feel, for one, but it’s also hard to plan for a spring race schedule and set some goals when you have no idea where your fitness is.

So I decided to race the Empire State Half.  The nice thing about hometown races is that it’s real easy to make a last minute decision to enter, albeit a questionable financial call ($85 for a half that goes through a park that I frequently run in?  Yeah.  That was a bit hard to swallow.)

I had no idea what to expect from this race.  I really thought anything from a 1:35-1:45 was possible depending on how I felt that morning… and then I saw the weather forecast.  40 degrees at the start and 15mph winds gusting to 26mph?  SWEET!  Especially brutal because, as anyone who has ever run/roller bladed/biked/walked at the Onondaga Lake Parkway will tell you (there is nothing to block the wind coming off of the lake and it is fairly miserable to be heading into it for what seems like an eternity).

The one upside?  We’d have a headwind for the first half, not the second.  Therefore my strategy was to run by effort and make it to the turnaround feeling decent – then lay the proverbial hammer down.

I met up with Laura right at the start – we chatted, complained about the weather, and tried to stay warm in the car.  She eventually took off to run a short warm-up; I opted out because my stomach was feeling unstable.  The nice thing about this race is that the parking lot is right next to the start line, so I was able to hang out in my car until just a couple minutes before the gun went off.  I scooted over to the start and quickly found a friend from my running group.  Before I knew it, we were off.

I tried to settle into a comfortable groove; my feet were frozen solid but otherwise, I was feeling ok.  We had a nice little group working as we ran up 370 towards the entrance to the parkway.  I saw my friend Megan cheering around mile 3; it was great to see her and it definitely gave me a little boost.  I knew the hardest wind section was coming up, so I committed to just keeping the pace honest but in control.

empire-state-half-marathon-y-runners

Running buds! Trying to stay calm and focused during the first 5k.

My feet started to thaw out around mile 3, but the sensation was replaced by what felt like the onset of a really bad calf cramp.  I remember thinking that it was like there were icicles in my feet that had gravitated upwards into my calves, causing them to feel cold, stiff, and sore.  I tried to back off a bit and make sure I wasn’t overextending myself by forcing a certain pace into the headwind.  Splits for mile 4 and 5 were a bit slower, but whatever the issue was, it started working itself out and I felt a lot better by mile 6.  (I think if I had actually run a warmup, this wouldn’t have been an issue.  Oh well.)

Somewhere around here I saw Laura on the turnaround – she looked so great!  Super focused and running well.  I knew it was time to buckle down and see what I had left.  I hit the turnaround and just started cruising.

The miles from 6.5 to 10 just flew by.  I felt SO good – I knew I was working but it felt smooth and in control.

I saw Megan again at mile 10 and tossed her my gloves and my GU.  My stomach hadn’t bothered me at all during the race but I was definitely feeling questionable before the start, and decided not to chance it.  I didn’t take any water during the race either, for the same reason. (Typically I’ll take a gel around mile 7 if I think I can handle it – not really sure if this helps or not.)

Right after I ran by the mini cheer squad, I started to feel the hurt.  I just reminded myself that the last 5K of a half should hurt and told myself to keep running honestly, no purposefully back off, and see what happens.  The last stretch on 370 is pretty lonely which didn’t help either –  no spectators and the runners were really spaced out at this point, so I was just humming along by myself.

Finally I made it to the mall and so started the series of turns that would take me to the finish.

empire-state-half-marathon-finish

Oh my god, both of my feet are off the ground. It’s like I’m actually running and not just crapping my pants.

My calves were so, so sore during the last few miles and it felt like I was crawling.  I was trying to ignore my watch because I really didn’t want to know how much I had slowed down.  Once I could see the finish line, I just thew everything I had into it.  Making epic pain train faces like it’s my job.

empire-state-half-marathon-finish-line

What in the actual hell am I doing with my hand?

I won’t lie – I was a little disappointed to see the clock at 1:38:xx when I crossed.  I knew I had been running strong for the second half and I was in PR territory.  Unfortunately, I ran the tangents like a moron.  Nothing you can do about that except try to be more aware of it next time.  That disappointment quickly went away when I realized I still ran one of my fastest times on a day when I wasn’t even sure I could manage 8-minute pace.

Net Time: 1:38:24

14/714 females

2/107 age group

empire-state-half-marathon-splits

Pleasantly surprised that my last mile was the fastest, despite feeling like I was crawling.

After the race (which my incredible and amazing friend WON, by the way), we headed over to Sharkey’s to eat, drink and be merry.  The official post race party was supposed to be there – I say supposed to because it seemed like very few runners knew about it.  Which is a shame – not only is this one of my favorite bars, but they had a bunch of free food for the runners and plenty of space to hang out for a beer or two.  Hopefully the race does a better job of advertising this next year!

sharkeys-post-race

Stolen from Laura because I think it’s adorable.

All in all, it was a fabulous day and I’m happy with what I was able to do.  On to the next!

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.

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

Syracuse Half Marathon Race Recap

4 Apr

I will first of all admit that I was not highly enthused for this race.  Coming off a week of being sick (strep throat, a lot of fun) and then leaving for a week of work travel (which was actually about as fun as a work trip can get), my head was not really in “let’s go run hard” mode.  Waking up to discover single-degree temps and fairly heavy snow killed whatever inkling of excitement I had left.

Thankfully, I knew Laura was coming out to race and I figured it’d look real bad if she came all the way from Rochester to run and I bailed.  I’m pretty sure that’s an unforgivable offense, actually.  So I adjusted my planned wardrobe, brewed a cup of coffee, and headed out the door.

Photo shamelessly stolen from Laura.  My wardrobe was Running Snowsuit, aka wearing-four-layers-of-shirts-and-a-jacket.

Photo shamelessly stolen from Laura. My wardrobe was Running Snowsuit, aka wearing-four-layers-of-shirts-and-a-jacket.

The snow stopped by race start, but it snowed enough to cover the streets and there wasn’t enough time for the sun or DPW trucks to do anything about it.  Spoiler alert: running on snowy, icy streets sucks.

Going into this race, I was hoping to pull off a 1:45 with a moderate effort.  I met up with some friends from my running group at the start; they planned to run 8:15s and see how it felt after a few miles so I decided to tag along.  The only real hill in this race is in mile 2, so I knew I wanted to back off that pace if necessary to avoid killing myself at you know … mile freaking 2 of a half marathon.

Miles 1-6: 8:09, 8:31, 8:02, 8:01, 7:56, 8:04

The pace felt real easy during these miles; the most frustrating part was running in the snow and slush.  Not a single step I took felt stable and I was entirely convinced I was going to bite it.  Part of the problem here was that the road conditions made it tough to follow the actual course – the lead runners were largely running in any tire tracks in the road (I presume that was their intent, at least), and so, the mid-packers followed.  It was the best shot at not slipping, but it also was setting everyone up for terrible tangents as we were all running outside of the cones.

Race leader coming down a slippery hill.

Race leader coming down a slippery hill.

(source)
((also a great article about the race, go check it out))

 

Miles 7-10: 7:41, 7:53, 7:41, 7:51

My tangents were bad enough by this point that I tried to start manually lapping my watch.  This makes interpreting my splits kind of goofy so stay with me here.  Just after mile 6 we made the turn on to Court St and I got really annoyed at the wind, and annoyed with the snow, and decided I wanted to be done sooner rather than later.  I didn’t want to kill it because it was still early, but I needed to feel more like I was moving.  I held pace with a couple of girls who might have been on a college team?  Or a running club, possibly.  They were wearing matching jackets with a logo and had a coach on the course who ran with them a few steps, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the logo said.  ANYWAY, they were running a fairly steady pace for a bit until they started taking selfies and then would lag and surge.  I don’t really need to inject my commentary here.  It suffices to say that I was frustrated by this.

Miles 11-13.1: 8:06, 7:46, 7:45, 7:00

Mile 11.  Good ol’ mile 11.  This section of the course covers part of the Creekwalk in downtown Syracuse.  On a nice day, it’s a gorgeous place to run.  On a day where it is ~15 degrees and has been snowing?  It’s essentially a death trap.

I made the incredibly stupid mistake of trying to pass a girl, stepped on a 3″ sheet of ice, and did a wildly elegant one-footed slide/hop type move while yelling “shit.  oh shit!  SHIT! I am sorry, I am so sorry!!”  I thought I was going down, and even worse, I thought I was going to take that poor girl with me.  Somehow, I recovered my balance but I slowwwwwwed down like crazy after that.  It didn’t get any better – the entire Creekwalk was sheer ice.  I yelled “shit!” a few more times and chatted with the runners around me about how we were all probably going to break our legs.  I’m sure they appreciated it.

This section kind of took the spring out of my step and I started to let myself get negative.  Somewhere around the mile 12 marker, I saw one of the coaches of our running group who shouted some encouraging words which was honestly the boost I needed to not limp it on in to the finish.

Catching flies?  No but really, why is my mouth hanging open?  Also it's probably time for a haircut, that is one out-of-control ponytail.

Despite photographic evidence to the contrary, I did not run this race stoned. Also it’s probably time for a haircut … that is one out-of-control ponytail.

 

I had 1:45:22 for 13.24 miles, 7:57 pace.  I’m pulling the annoying blogger move and giving you Garmin stats because I knowingly ran the tangents terribly.  (Although, to be fair, I thought I’d see more along the lines of 13.4 on my watch by the end.  But it makes me feel better, so deal with it.)

Afterwards, I met up with Laura and some of my other friends and we ate, chatted, and complained about the race.  Ha.  I think everyone was a lot slower this year than last year (I didn’t run last year, so I don’t have a personal data point) and the general consensus is that your time was probably good for at least 2-4 minutes faster, if not more, on a day with better conditions.

Now, I know that everyone out there is running the same race – I am again pulling another annoying blogger move to make myself feel better because I was S.O.R.E. the next few days.  So I’ll give myself an A for meeting my goal time-ish, and a B for the effort – it was more than a moderate effort to achieve that time, but I like to think it was equivalent to a 1:42ish on a better day. syracuse-half-marathon-medal

All that complaining aside, it was a fun day and anytime I get to see one of my good friends at a race is A+ in my book!  And I had no regrets about not rolling back over and going to bed that morning … isn’t that how it always goes?

Redemption Run (ARC Half Marathon Recap)

10 Sep

It was fairly obvious that mentally, I was in bad form all week.

After my total suckfest at Virginia Beach last week, I knew I needed some sort of racing rejuvenation before heading into Wineglass. I personally think that at least 20% of the marathon game is mental, and I was afraid that going after my big BQ goal with that craphole race in my brain would sabotage my efforts.

I also knew that I wasn’t fully recovered from VB, and that 6 days was probably not enough to be able to go out and fully race another half marathon.

In the end, I took Laura’s advice and crafted a super secret plan. I figured if I could run 7 slowish miles, and then run the ARC half marathon at GMP (goal marathon pace), it would be a great workout and restore faith in my overall goal. I also thought about the fact that my Garmin is, more often than not, my enemy. Every single “failed” race this year has come from trying to hit splits that should be attainable – under perfect conditions – while failing to account for the actual conditions. I figured that by wearing my watch, I would run the risk of either seeing a fast split and trying to maintain pace, or seeing a slow split and beating myself up. Either way you slice it, it likely would’ve ended up with me burning out mentally and being disappointed in the result.

So: 13.1 miles on a slightly hilly course with no watch at perceived marathon pace. Let’s do this thing.

Course elevation profile.  Not the worst, but certainly not flat and fast either.

Course elevation profile. Not the worst, but certainly not flat and fast either.

My plan was to run relaxed at what felt like a low-8 pace until I was over the hill at mile 7, then just focus on picking people off the rest of the way. Concentrate on my breathing and effort level and try to keep it comfortably uncomfortable, if that makes any sense at all.

It was hard to not charge off at the start but I made myself hold back. I planned to practice race day fueling and since I had already done 7 miles, I took a gel at mile 1 of the half. I got some strange looks from other runners near me, but whatever. I ate it slowly, making it last for almost an entire mile – this worked really well for me. I didn’t have even the slightest sign of an upset stomach during the race.

The hills were actually not too terrible. That hill around the 6ish-7ish mile mark did seem to last forever, but I was talking and joking with other people around me as we climbed which was a pleasant distraction.

I took another gel, hammered through the downhill, and then true to my plan, just tried to focus on the next person ahead of me. I knew I was picking up my pace a bit and was happy that after the hills, I still had some energy in my legs. Miles 10 and 11 got a little rough because I was running by myself – couldn’t see a single runner ahead of me, and couldn’t hear anyone behind me. Finally though, the turn and the sight of the finish line – I couldn’t wait to see what the clock would say.

Once I was close enough, I saw a 1:42:5x and was extremely thrilled. I ended up finishing in 1:43:27.

At the finish.

At the finish.

Oh yeah – that guy came up out of nowhere and dusted me right at the line. Thanks dude, where were you when I really needed someone to push me a few miles earlier?!

All in all, I’m really pleased with the way the race went. The thought of running without a watch was scary but honestly? I enjoyed the race so much more because I wasn’t stressed out. My average pace (7:54) was a little faster than what I was targeting (8:05-8:10) but I didn’t sell out for it – I wasn’t too sore and seem to be recovering quickly. I ran a few cooldown miles after because I was still feeling good. I may not have PR’ed in the half this year, but completing a 22 mile long run with 13 miles at GMP-15 pace is a confidence boosting workout and one I will keep reminding myself of on October 6th.

Game on, Wineglass. Game on.

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.

Buffalo Half Marathon Race Recap

31 May

Sunday morning started with an unreasonably early alarm: the bzz-bzz-bzz on my Fitbit woke me up at 3am.  I pulled off the miraculous feat of throwing on the clothes I had laid out the night before, brushing my hair/teeth, putting in contacts, and heading out the door in exactly 15 minutes.  Bleary eyed, I went straight to the gas station for a giant coffee and a water bottle and headed down the thruway.

I'm doing this for fun?!

I’m doing this for fun?!

I had spent some time putting together an epic playlist for the drive out there which honestly ended up being a lifesaver.  It kept me awake and pumped me up for the race, which is no small task when there is nothing but moonlight, an occasional tractor trailer, and multiple deer sprinting across the highway during your drive.

I got to Buffalo by 6am which was perfect timing to go and grab my bib and figure out race day logistics (read: warm up and poop, not necessarily in that order).  A somewhat sad sight was the amount of security guards around the convention center – they had that place on lockdown, not even allowing non-runners in the building, or allowing anyone to use the restrooms.  This is not meant to be a complaint or criticism of the security folks or the race directors by any means – they all did a wonderful job to ensure the safety and security of everyone involved.  Rather, it was just kind of sad to see that this is what it has to be like thanks to the actions of two deranged and evil individuals …

boston

Moving on.  Since training for Wineglass starts next week, I didn’t want to be completely dead at the end of this race.  My only goal was to run hard but not max it out.  I hoped that type of effort would put me under 1:40, but I didn’t want to push so hard for <1:40 that I ended up injured or unable to recover quickly.

Buffalo is a fairly large race (I think around 6,000 for the full and the half combined) and the full follows the half marathon course for the first 13 miles so the pacers had dual signs (i.e. 1:30 half/3:00 full, 1:40 half/3:20 full).  There was a sizable bubble of runners around the 1:30/3:00 pacer, but then got very sparse until back around the 2:00/4:00 pacer.  I lined up to the side of the 1:40 pacer, making a plan to stick with him until mile 6-7ish and then take off depending on how I felt.

The gun went off right on time and I hung off the back of the 1:40/3:20 pack for the first mile.  Nothing really remarkable, just trying to get a read on how I was feeling.  The first mile clicked off in exactly 7:38 – perfect.

I was trying very hard to run by feel and noticed I was pulling away from the pacer already.  I decided to just go with it, but sanity check myself once in a while to make sure I wasn’t pulling 7:1x’s.  I knew Laura was waiting for me at mile 3, and I didn’t want to accidentally throw down a crazy split or two out of excitement.  (P.S. Laura did an amazing job both volunteering and cheering on a handful of people!  She even had an amazingly number-nerd index card with estimated times, paces and mile markers of where to spot everyone.  It was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.)

7:26, 7:25, 7:24, 7:27, 7:26, 7:27  (WTF consistency?  I have no idea how I did that.)

I was all smiles through these miles – feeling great and having a wonderful time.  Also I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the world is ending, because I actually took one decent race pic.

WEEEEE! 7:25s are easy-peasy! I am having the best time ever! This Oiselle lux layer is so cozy on a chilly day!

WEEEEE! 7:25s are easy-peasy! I am having the best time ever! This Oiselle lux layer is so cozy on a chilly day!

Mile 8 had a couple of bridges that weren’t really a big deal, but my legs definitely noticed them.  Mile 8.5 – 9.5 had us turning directly into the wind at the waterfront.  My everything did notice that.  I tried to reserve energy so I could hammer it at the turnaround.

7:30, 7:37

2012131course

Mile 10 – did not reserve enough.  Also I am running by all these runners which means — oh fuck.  This course entirely doubles back on itself.  How did I not notice this.  YES I SO TOTALLY WANT TO RUN THE NEXT FEW MILES INTO THE WIND BRING IT ON jk jk someone kill me.

7:35, 7:47, 7:38

Ehhhhh heyyy I guess this is still kinda fun sorta kinda maybe

Ehhhhh heyyy I guess this is still kinda fun sorta kinda maybe

At this point I was entirely zoned out and I knew my form had gone to hell and I was definitely ready for the race to be done.  I remember running through some sort of highway underpass and seeing someone jumping around like crazy next to a bike.  Then I realized it was Laura again!  This was seriously a lifesaver at this point – I wasn’t expecting to see her out on the course again, and I was at mile 12.5 and mentally shot.  Seeing her gave me a burst of energy and kind of pulled me back together again.

When I had the finish line in sight, I saw a 1:39:xx on the clock.  SHIT!  Must. get. under. 1:40.  I became quite determined very quickly.  And ok, I know I said I wasn’t going to bust ass for a sub-1:40, but I also wasn’t going to stroll the last tenth of a mile to come in at 1:40:10 or something silly like that either.

7:43, 1:33 for the last .24 by my Garmin, 6:34 pace

I never look as intense as I feel in a finish line photo.  Mostly like I'm going to keel over while pooping myself.

I never look as intense as I feel in a finish line photo. Mostly just look like I’m going to keel over while pooping myself.

I ran the tangents horribly and I knew it.  Regardless:

Official time: 1:39:35
40/1786 Females
6/1784 AG

Best part?  Hardly sore at all!  I felt great after the race, ran a very short cooldown and walked around for a bit.  Met up with Laura again and chatted, then walked around some more until I decided to take off.  The next day my calves and shins were a bit sore, but I chalk that up to wearing my flats for the longest run since umm … last September.  Even still, that soreness dissipated after a day or so (compression socks are like comfy squeezy bandaids for sore calves, seriously the greatest invention).

Worst part?  They wouldn’t give me a medal at the finish.  I had read on their Facebook page that you could switch from the full to the half at packet pickup.  That turned out to not be the case.  Because it was the same exact course, the volunteer at pickup confirmed what I assumed – just veer left instead of right at mile 13.  At the finish though, the medal-hander-outer lady shook her head as I reached for a medal, pointed to my bib, and just said “your bib.”  I didn’t try to argue because it’s really not that big of a deal … but then I felt bad after – did I break some sort of race etiquette that I’m unaware of?  Did they think I was a bandit?  That’s mostly what I’m worried about.  People of the Buffalo Marathon!  I paid 90 american dollars to run your race.  I would not take advantage.

All in all?  Wonderful race, would run again.

Lake Effect Half Marathon Recap

28 Feb

The was the race I had mentioned earlier as being featured in Runner’s World as the race of the month.  Despite that, I was a little scared to be toeing the line … after last year’s experience, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do it again.  (I won’t dwell on it, but if you’ve never raced in 30 degree weather against 37mph headwinds, well, consider yourself very lucky.)

Before making this post all about me, I’ll say that the RD has done a fantastic job with this race.  Last year, as an inaugural event, it was pretty good – but got a bit overshadowed by the weather.  This year was even better.  The logo redesign is great,  the awards are nice and the age groups are deep, the volunteers are super friendly and encouraging, and everyone out there is just as crazy as you are – which makes for a fun event.  The only downside was the mile markers in the second half of the race were ~.8-.9 miles off.  Which, isn’t a huge deal for people who run the parkway regularly and therefore have a pretty good idea of how far along they are based on other landmarks.  It does, however, mess with your mind a bit – especially when you’re hurting and it’s really nice to think you only have 2.1 miles to go when in reality it’s more like 3.

Bib + medal.  Cute tagline, Syracuse skyline, just overall really well done.

Bib + medal. Cute tagline, Syracuse skyline, just overall really well done.

As for my own performance in the race?  I’m not so sure what to say.

My goal was to incorporate it as part of a long run, so I got to the park early and ran 4 easy miles as a warmup.  Everything felt good, and I thought I was ready to roll.  My original plan was to try and run approximately goal marathon place – I figured it’d be a good long tempo, and it would help me gauge how realistic my upcoming marathon goal is.  I was looking for a 1:46-1:47ish finish, and to not be sore the next day.

When we started, though, my legs seemed to have a different idea.  My first mile clicked off at 7:50, then 7:30, 7:35, 7:35.  In my mind, I knew I “should” slow down, but it felt comfortable so I stupidly continued.

I thought if I could break 1:40, I’d consider it a win for the day.  I’d deal with some residual soreness if I could put forth a solid effort.

Then, somewhere around mile 7, my stomach decided to say hello.

Before everything went to hell.

Things are starting to turn on me.  I’ll blame my stomach for the heel-striking as well.

Things quickly got unpleasant.  I ended up making 2 bathroom stops, a first for me.

Uuuggggghhhhhhh

Uuuggggghhhhhhh

Yeah.  So … yeah.  That happened.  What am I left with?  Not a time I’m terribly displeased with, but a time that I am not happy with based on the effort.  I worked hard, harder than I originally intended, and didn’t end up with a time that I think matches the effort.  So, I’m not sure what to make of this.

Never been happier to see a finish line.

Never been happier to see a finish line.

All that said, I enjoyed myself much more than last year, and at least I’m making progress toward my resolution of racing more.  Cheers, Lake Effect Half, I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other soon.