Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Post-race reflections

If you've been following along this summer, you know I ran the Zooma Cape Cod Half Marathon this weekend.  It was a beautiful course, and very well run race. Don't tell the folks at Disney, but I think I actually liked Zooma better!  Less pagentry, more camaraderie. 

Anyway, I PR'd by 1.5 minutes at Zooma.  On hills. Almost 800 feet of elevation. I was flying high at the end of the race.  Crying and yelling when I crossed the finish line. 

Then, Sunday, we had a bit of excitement at home and I barely noticed the day (quick summary: It's all good now, Hubby got dehydrated, and passed out.  7 year old called 911 for me, Hubby ended up in the ER, discharged 6 hours later and has been fine since. Side note: I ran 13.1 miles and peed within an hour of finishing. Hubby had a gigantic buffet breakfast and ends up on IV fluids. Just saying.) But Monday? Monday hit me hard!

Monday, I couldn't walk up or down stairs without grimacing.  I was told to take the elevator several times.  I replied with "I ran 13 miles, I am not taking an elevator" and continued to hobble.  I fell into chairs instead of sitting.  I wore flip flops with work clothes because my weird toe nail hurt. I had slammed the toe into a curb a few years back and the nail now grows up instead of out. Apparently, it was too long during the race and got banged up. It's now a pretty pale purple color and achy. 

Tuesday, got better.  I could almost sit and stand easily. Stairs slowed me down, but weren't painful. Toe got some more color to it, and a bit throbby, but I could wear shoes.

All of the aches and pains got me thinking: during the training runs, I was fine.  No long recovery times, no toe issues.  But, then again, it took me 2:40 to run 12 miles during training.  What was different about the race? 

I ran faster.  That's it.  I checked the elevation, my 12 mile run was 787 ft, the Zooma Half was 797 ft.  Let's call that even (and I was worried about the elevation change! I probably should have check my long run elevation before the race, not afterwards!).  The only different was I kept my pace and walked less. I also set a more realistic pace than in training (10:20-12:30 min/mile vs 8:50-10:20 min/mile), which made it easier to keep.

Going into the race, I wasn't even thinking PR. Heck, I was hoping for 10 minutes over my first half.  At one point, I was running with Michelle, and found she was aiming for sub 2:30.  I ran with her for most of the race.  She finished stronger than I did, and got her goal and PR.  I was right there with her, till mile 10.

Up until mile 10, I was on target for a 2:30 finish.

Right now, I'm afraid to actually aim for a 2:30 goal.  But maybe that's just the busted toe nail talking. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Zooma Cape Cod Race "Weekend" Recap

I figured I should write the recap while my legs are still achy.  Which means the pictures are still in Todd's camera (hey, we picked up our iPhone 5's yesterday, my photos are low on the priority list!)

Since I haven't been as diligent as updating this, let's back up a few weeks.  I messed up my schedule and only (ha! "only") ran 12 miles for my longest long run. And it took me 2 hours 38 minutes.  I panicked, I bombarded the internet for help and they all responded with "silly girl, if you've done 13 before, and you did 12, you'll do 13 again. Rest. Your body needs rest".  Fortunately, I listened.  Still panicking, but listening.  I did 8 the following week then 6 last week.  Ran 3 on Monday and Wednesday and fought the urge to go out Friday.  Which was probably pretty smart, since Wednesday afternoon I got vaccinated for Hep A, Typhoid and Yellow Fever (Peru trip in November).  Thursday, I was incredibly cranky from the vaccines, and convinced I just threw the race out the window.

Sarah and Dimity chatting.  You can almost see the water bottle
I won on the table
But Thursday night, I went to Another Mother Runner House party.  That was so much fun! I showed up a bit late because of back to school night. But made it before Dimity and Sarah started talking. I threw my name in the raffle bucket and won one of the first prizes, I super cleanable water bottle.  Now, I don't have to use a kid's party water bottle for my runs anymore :)  I was surprised that Dimity recognized me (well, my name) but it was pretty cool to realize that I really am "another mother runner". I also "met" a few woman I had chatted with on-line (which always feels weird, since you already know them).  Erica had asked if I wanted to run with her, but she was expecting to be a bit faster than me, so I declined.  I also met a new mom, who showed up solo.  Rebecca and I both sat on the couch and I think we were both in love with the color of Sarah's toes! (she took a picture, I didn't!)  Anyway, had a blast at the night, got home at decent hour, and slept well.

Then Friday, we drove to my father in law's house about 15 minutes from the Sea Crest Hotel.  Had a nice dinner, tucked in nice and early. Then, 10 minutes before the early alarm went off, Pete threw up.  Poor kid, he never gets stomach bugs.  We all managed to scurry around for 15 minutes, get back in bed and rest until the late alarm.  5:30 am and we're up, eating and puking again.  Change of plans, Pete is staying home with Grandpa, Brian - the night owl - is up, dressed and ready for the kids' race.  And off we go!

We get to the race and park in the Old Silver Beach lot.  We go to this beach a lot during the summer, but it looked so different with the bath house closed, the gray, pre-dawn sky and fall in the air.  I grabbed my goodie bag (ok, 1st of 2.5 complaints: 4 samples of rub on pain cream? That's it? I hope the girls who didn't do the mail option got better stuff. Although I do like the bag itself!)  The race wasn't as crowded as I expected (not even 500 runners, including the men), but I still didn't find Rebecca!  Ended up seeing Erica and Danielle and lined up a bit behind them.  Ok, I lined up at the 12 min/mile sign.  I was feeling pretty gutsy doing so, since I was expecting a 2:45 or under finish.

The start kind of snuck up on me.  I went out and kept my music and micoach low, since the roads were partially open.  I started talking to my phone, asking why I couldn't hear MiCoach Man talking to me.  Turns out, I had already hit my pace.  Ok, good.  Then the road starting turning and tipping left.  I chat during races, so I asked to no one in particular "Anyone else sliding left", and Michelle replied with a "Yes" that was obvious she wasn't thrilled about it.  Then we saw the Fast Girls coming back. Man, that was a motivating site!  We hit the turn around and then ran past the entrance to the hotel. I got a high five from Brian (and his juice box) and kept going.  Saw Dimity taking pictures around mile 2ish, fell in with 2 women who were calling me "Cute Skirt" thanks to my Hot Chocolate Happy Girl (thanks Dana for my early birthday present!) then noticed I was keeping pace with Erica and Danielle.  They were at the top end of my range, the end I didn't expect to see.  Things were going well until 3 miles.

We were running along the water, with houses on our left and BAM, shooting pain in my left knee.  My normal response to pain during a run is 5 more steps then react.  I slowed to a walk for a few steps, it went away immediately, so I started running again. This time I grunted and knew the pain showed on my face. I pulled over and did my IT band stretches (hey, I couldn't think of anything else to do!) then started back up again. It was lessening at this point and I was able to keep going.  Within a few minutes, it was gone.  Then we found the hills...

The first hill, we didn't have a lot of room, we were running on the shoulder.  We came around the corner and it was staring at us. But, there was a dad and 2 boys on the side of the road cheering. Turns out they were Michelle the Race Ambassador's family.  It was great, I was within a couple of minutes of her for the whole race (except the finish, she beat 2:30!!!!) and I got all of her overflow cheers!

I did pass her up that first hill! It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I just aimed for the street sign near the crest and ran.  After that, I was emotionally flying high!  I didn't stop to walk as often as during my training/regular runs.  I actually had to slow down to keep my pace in a good zone.  I kept hydrated and fed, but still, mile 12 sucked.  The hills, they looked a lot scarier on paper than they did in person.  The kids at the rest stops were wonderful, except for the cheerleaders at mile 8.5 yelling "You're almost there!"  I gave them the polite version of the response from "Train Like a Mother".  It went something like "Nononononono, there's 4.5 miles left. that is NOT almost there".  See, polite. No swearing :)

Mile 12 is always hard, the finish is so close, yet so far away.  Then it's up hill (ugh, I was done with hills) and in the middle, there was a detour down a side street.  It sapped so much emotional momentum from everyone, even those of us who looked at the updated map and saw it coming. (yep, that's complaint #2).  It reminded me of a side road on my regular long run route. The one that I'll skip about once a month and coming in 0.2 miles short that day but call it close enough.  I think that's why I walked back up the side road.  Then, I got a text from Todd. He'd been tracking me on "Find my iPhone" and thought I took a wrong turn.  Honestly!

Then the finish line was in sight.  The road was partially closed, so I was running on the right shoulder and had to take a left into the hotel.  As I coming up on the turn, a car starts coming up behind me.  There was NO way I was letting the car go, so the New Yorker in me came out and I stuck my hand out and cut the car off to take the turn.  As I did, I yelled to the cop and volunteers "What's the time?"  The cop replied "2:33" and I took off as fast as I could.  I crossed the line at a gun time of 2:34:06 which is still a PR. My chip time came in at 2:33:23! over a minute and a half faster than the glass like Princess Half!

I was (still am!) thrilled.  I hit the expo, but we couldn't stay long, since Pete was home sick. I shot off my "runner's high" tweet of "Hills? What Hills? I PR'd. Only 365 days to Zooma Cape Cod 2013" and I won! Of course, I don't know what I won, because I had to go to the finish line. And we were already home with Pete, who was feeling much better by then (complaint 2.5).  I'm going to assume it was another water bottle, since I just got one the day before.  If it's a free entry to next year's Zooma, that can be emailed, right? :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

AMR 10 Running-Related Personal Questions

Sarah and Dimity over at AMR decided September is The Month Of Asking. They never really said why, but I'm assuming because it's back to school, and those kids just never stop asking questions!  Anyway, since I almost never run out of things to say, here's my answers!

1. Best Run Ever: Sunday, December 4th, 2011.  I set out to run 9 miles in preparation for the Princess Half that coming February.  I was feeling really good at 4.5 miles on my out and back, so I figured "Another half mile won't kill me." and went to 5 miles.  Of course, that half mile was really a mile, but whatever, right?  Anyway, I'm turning the corner onto my street at 9.9 something miles and I can see my boys in their bedroom window.  They started banging on the window and cheering, like I was going for gold in the Olympics.  I made it 10.0 something miles and came home to the biggest, best welcoming ever!  Plus, I did a 10 mile run before my 39th birthday (which was the following week).  There's something about clicking over to double digits for the first time that just gave me such a feeling of accomplishment.

2. Three words that describe my running: Quiet, calming, motivating

3. My go-to running outfit is: Nike Be Bold knee length shorts (that they do not make anymore. So not happy about that!), although after this morning's run, I could see switching to Skirt Sport's Happy Girl skirt (7" inseam on those shorts is very anti-chafing), a tech t-shirt, headband for hair control and sunglasses if its day light hours (although if it's cloudy, they will likely be on top of my head)

4. Quirky habit while running: Wearing sunglasses on my head in the rain (see outfit info). It's New England, you never know what's going to happen with the weather!  Also, all of the fire hydrants have a reflector mounted on a 5 foot pole, so you can find them and dig out the hydrants in the winter.  I high-five the reflectors when I run past.  Especially the one at the top of the hill, when I don't stop to walk (he's super proud those day! :) )

5. Morning, midday, evening: Morning! It's my only "me" time.  I leave the sleeping house, drive to work, run, shower and have my first cup of coffee before the alarm goes off for the rest of the family.  Added bonus: I get to work before rush hour hits.  In the winter, I sometimes run in the afternoon, if I needed the extra sleep, or just want to see the sun for a change.

6. I won't run outside when it's: dangerous. I can handle smooth ice, I have my YakTrax for that. It's when it gets slushy then freezes overnight so the ice is all lumpy and just begging for a busted ankle.  I won't run on that. Or if it's below 25 or so.  I just can't get the clothing right when it gets that cold.  In the summer, I won't run in a heat advisory (unless it's Columbus Day, 90 degrees at noon and I'm signed up for a 10K. Of course I'll run then).

7. Worst injury -- and how I got over it: IT band/hip thingy.  Not really over it.  Found out sitting in my favorite spot on the couch aggravates it (think there's a busted spring and I'm listing).  I have my foam roller and that helps a lot.  Plus stretching before and during runs when its really bad.  I know I need to do my strength training though...

8. I felt most like a Badass Mother Runner when: I wear the shirt that says it! (Love that shirt!). After I ran my first half.  I bawled right after I crossed the finish line.  My family missed me finishing (rain jacket confusion and a delayed bus), but we met up afterwards in the family reunion area.  We went to Epcot for the day, and we all wore our finishers medals (the boys did the kids' run the day before).  At one point, we were just walking through the park and my then 6 year old stopped, looked at me and said "You did it Mommy, you really just ran a half marathon!" and hugged me.

9. Next race is: Zooma Cape Cod.

10. Potential running goal for 2013: Not give up running.  I don't currently have a goal or race scheduled for the first half of the year, and I'm the type of gal who needs one.  I've got my eye on a half that's a "hilly" race (you know the terrain will be interesting when they name the race after a mountain, no matter how small!) but I want to see how I do on a non-flat half first this month.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Always Pause the GPS During a Crying Jag

I had 10 miles scheduled for my long run last weekend, but due to the heat, humidity and a lack of water (I was literally sucking rain water off of the oak leaves), I ran 8 and then walked home the last mile.  This weekend, I rescheduled the 10 miles.

6 am on Saturday, the alarm went off.  I was tired, and hit the snooze button.  I was achy from laying crooked on the couch reading the night before.  I may have missed 1 or 2 work out sessions the previous week, which means I was super cranky (ok, maybe even PMS-y).  Hubby and I had been squabbling over unimportant things (I still really want that desk for the den!).  I had a Nyquil hangover from the allergy attack I gave myself on Friday by tearing my room apart looking for my running belt.  I still didn't know where the belt is, so I knew I was going to have to velcro a snack size bag of chewies to my arm band, which means I should drop them about 3 times over the 10 miles.  It was raining.  I had every excuse to stay in bed.  I didn't.

I thought ahead, and hit a bottle of Lemon Tea Nuun in the bushes that I would pass up to 4 times, depending on how I ran my loopy route.  It was mid 60s and drizzly, but being the good New Englander I am, I had my sunglasses perched on top of my head, just in case.

The rainy run. If you look closely at the hills, you can see the fog heavy on the trees.
This was taken around mile 7 or so.
I head out, with all of those random, cranky thoughts swirling through my head.  Usually, at mile 1, I feel my shoulders relax and a big sigh just comes out on its own and I'm Running.  Yesterday, the thoughts kept swirling and the tears starting to come.  I didn't want to stop running, so I fought them. I tried ignoring the thoughts, but they kept coming.  I can't even tell you what they were, but they formed this black cloud that sat over me.  Finally, at the base of the first hill, I started crying.  I slowed down, choked back a few tears then started running again.  I felt like I bounced off a wall.  I just stood there for a second, and paused the GPS.  If the road wasn't wet, I would have sat down, instead I just squatted down, put my head in my hands and cried.

It was one of those silent cries, where your tears are streaming down your face. I sat there for a few minutes, until I was exhausted and empty.  I stood up, and looked around.  It was still raining, but seemed brighter.  I tentatively tried a few strides, it felt good.  I unpaused the GPS and ran up the hill.  And I kept going for another 8 or so miles.  I hit 10 miles as I ran up my driveway. I was smiling.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Olympic Heroes

Well, with the Men's Marathon completed, the Olympics are basically over.  I say "basically" because I still have all of Saturday on the DVR, so I haven't seen the Men's 5K, Women's Volleyball Gold Medal, and the Men's 4x100 Relay or Bolt's "humble" speech afterwards.  Unfortunately, the 2 weeks of Global Group Hug that is the Olympics usually fades by the time alarm clocks go off on Monday morning.  So, before it does, here's who inspired me the most this year:

Everyone Who DNF'd I can't imagine the heartbreak to stop by 2.2 miles (Des Davila) or 11 miles (Ryan Hall and Abdi) in The Olympic Marathon. But it's that whole "live to fight another day" mentality.  Sometimes, today is not your day, and you don't want to waste tomorrow.  The only potential exception: Taoufik Makhloufi.  It really, really looked like he bailed on the 800 so he could run well on the 1500.

Manteo Mitchell He ran a "slow" 400m (46.1 seconds) and half of that distance was after his leg broke.  Yeah, this is the exact opposite of the DNF'ers, but it was a relay race.  He had 3 other people depending on him.  It's one thing to disappoint yourself, but he didn't want to let down his teammates.  

Oscar Pistorius He fought for years just to run in the Olympics.  He made it into the finals twice (400m and 4x400m) and came home empty handed.  Heck, he finished 8th in the 400.  But he has got to be the happiest "non-winner" in the games.  I'm sure you know his story, but what impressed me the most was that even with the all of the fighting, all of the publicity, he's still very humble about it.  He hasn't become angry.  He just wants to run, and he's going to keep running.

Juventina Napoleao Who?  She's the marathon runner from Timor-Leste.  If you watched the marathon last weekend, you may have seen her during the start, but not likely during the finish.  Out of the 107 women who crossed the finish line, she came in 106 (Caitriona Jennings of Ireland came in 107).  Why is 106 more impressive than 107?  Because Juventina got a PR of 3:05:07 in the Olympic Marathon.  Think about this, here's a woman who qualified for the Olympics on the Universality standard (meaning in all of Timon-Leste, there was no one who could met an A or B standard).  So, she obviously trained, and trained and trained.  She wasn't training for a medal, she was training for herself.  And it worked, she PR'd. And in the Olympics!  She's 23, so I like to think she'll be back in 4 years, and run a sub-3 hr race.

For me, these people are what the Olympics are all about.  Competing in a sport you love, and doing your best.  And remembering we're human, so sometimes doing our best for that day is only 2.2 miles.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Resetting Expectations

Sorry it's been a couple of weeks.  Quick recap since my last post: Ran 8 miles for my long run last week (ok, it was 7.9ish, but I'm going with GPS margin of error) and I ran the fastest non-race 5K I've done in a while (just over 30 minutes).  I was ready for the Rindge NH Le Tour De Common 5K.  Sort of...

Last year, this was my first real 5K after completing Couch to 5K and the Warrior Dash.  I had zero expectations, well, 1 expectation: to not be DFL (yeah Dead F--ing Last).  My boys ran the kid race, and Pete (then 6) ran the first lap with the little kids, but still needed to do a second lap.  He ran by himself, with me pacing him and cheering.  I wandered off to the starting line and a few girls in their 20s started chatting with me.  The eventually confessed they were intimidated by all of the "real runners" and included me in that group.  They had JUST finished C25K and the fact that I "looked like a real runner" after only running for about 6 months calmed them down.  I had challenged my 9 year younger Brother-in-law to the race, winner gets bragging rights.  He had been in the army about 4 or 5 years prior, active duty in Afganistan, and had wanted to get back into shape.  To there was a lot of excitement over the race.

This was me, "The Real Runner" and my boys after the 5K last year.
We're dancing with the flash mob. Don't ask...

They call it Le Tour De Commons because within the 5K, there are 2 serious down hills and 2 major uphills (the first is 200ft in under a mile).  It starts off downhill and we were FLYING.  I dropped back after about a half mile, but me, BIL and another woman in my age bracket were jockeying for the lead the whole race.  Run, walk, run, walk. Uphill, downhill, uphill, uphill. The three of us went down the last hill with me in the rear.  She finished, 3 seconds later BIL, 5 seconds later me.  Then we stuck around for the awards.  The woman in front of me got a medal: 3rd place for Women 30-39!  Holy Crap, I came in 4th (out of 7, but still).  I wanted that medal!

Fast forward to this year.  I feel slower, but I can't tell if that's because I'm running longer distances or I'm transferring my slower pace to the shorter distance.  So I do what any good engineer would do, check my training logs.  Both year, my pre-race training runs are within 15 seconds. Third isn't out of my grasp!

Me this year, heading towards the finish line (my boys jumped in right after this photo).
Slower, but better dressed?

We get to the race.  The kids run plays out EXACTLY the same way as last year.  I start looking around and I see a large group of Modnadnock Region Milers shirts.  A running club!  I look for 30-39 year old women, and I see "real runners", women who have been running for decades.  I look for Third Place from last year, she's not around.  I look for walkers, ok, we got 4 of those, and a few old people, and that weird guy from last year who ran in jean shorts.  We start and I'm flying again.  The heat starts to weigh on me. The humidity.  I went out too fast.  Too much walking, but the air's so heavy.  Finally, the finish is in sight!  Pete and Brian jump in and run with me.  I'm too worried about stepping on them to appreciate it.  I'm hot, tired and I can see 33 on the timer.  I finish.  Thought my official time was 33:00, but it was 33:26  Check the standings: 10/10 for age group (67/82 overall).  LAST PLACE.  I was crushed (and dehydrated, but mostly crushed). 

The Start.
Notice all of the runners without shirts and with short shorts up front?
Those are "Real (fast) Runners".  See the orange shirt to the left of the pole?
 That's Hubby. I'm to his right.

The next morning, I planned to get 6 miles in to cobble together a 9 mile weekend.  I felt horrible and eeked out 3 miles, puncutated by a crying jag around mile 2.  Made it home and flipped on the second half of the Olympic Women's Marathon.  I remember a few things: the finish, Kara picking up Shalane after the race (made me cry), and Des stopping due to her injury (I was really rooting for her).

I finally looked up the final results for the Olympic Marathon and found another woman to admire: Juventina Napeleao from Timor-Leste.  She didn't meet the A or B standard, but made it to the Olympics on the Universality Standard (which allows every country to send at least 2 athletes per sport).  She got a personal best in the Olympic Marathon of 3:05. She knew she wasn't going to medal and yet came out and gave it everything and PR'd. That's a Real Runner.
I have 3.5 hours to finish Zooma.  The 5K time predicts a half finish time of 2:33, which I don't think I'll hit (I did 2:34 on a flat course in Feb), but keeps me at my "under 2:45 goal" (maybe I should make that 2:43 to line up with the B standard?). There are going to be a lot of women faster than me. And maybe a few women slower than me.  And if I come in last, I'll still finish. 

And I'm still a "Real Runner".

Friday, July 20, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again...

Yeah, occasionally, I sing old, bad country (or maybe it's good country and I sing it badly... you choose!). Anyway, the point is that I ran 7 miles this morning. 7 S.L.O.W. miles, but I did it. I'm seriously considering adopting a new speed philosophy: I need to be faster than the cut off time. Both the Princess Half and the Zooma Half had minimum pace requirements of 16 min/mile. I'm running in the mid 11 to low 12's, so that's faster than 16. Which is good! Mainly because if I'm not injured or barfing, I would really prefer to cross the finish line under my own power. That being said, I know I won't settle for aiming at 12ish, so I'm going to aim faster, but be happy with slower This morning, I remembered why I run. I woke up too early, considering I didn't have to go to work. I got out of bed, and flipped on the news (ok, it's 2012, I went on the computer), and saw the headlines about the shooting in Colorado at the midnight show of Batman. I didn't know how to react. I've been to midnight shows of geeky movie premiers (Star Trek in the early 90s, 2 of the 3 LOTR series), and my hubby seriously considered going to Batman. These were "my people" who were targeted, hurt and even killed. I cried a bit, hugged my kids a bit extra, then angrily pulled on my running clothes. I turned on the iPod a bit too loud and went out. At just over a mile, I felt it. That release when you can move past feeling helpless. Where you can be sad but not let it consume you. It's not really running away from life, it's more like running into life.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Color Me Rad "Race" Recap

Lessons from Color Me Rad Boston
1- Baby wipes are excellent at smearing the color around, but not that good at actually removing the color
2- They spray you with liquid color, which will soak through your shorts and create a really odd tied dyed pattern on your underwear
3- Your snot will be multicolored (or at least a weird shade of blue) for a good 24-48 hours
4- Wear a bandana around your nose and mouth (yeah, like a "bad cowboy"). It will limit the amount of horrible tasting stuff you inhale. It will not prevent Colored Snot (see item 3).
[Edited: Item 5-7 don't matter! Once you wash the clothing, all of the color comes out!  The only exception was on my husband's shirt. You can see in the photo where he sweat through his shirt, those areas kept the color. If your kids really want a souvenir, buy a tie dye kit and tie dye the shirts after the race.]
5- Soaking the colored clothing in vinegar, followed by ironing will fix the color, but will also turn what few white parts left on the clothing to an odd blue-green color. Use a spray bottle of vinegar if you want to preserve the pattern as is.
6- Wait until the clothing is completely dry after the vinegar soak and shake off the excess powder before ironing without steam.
7- When you iron the damp clothing or use steam during ironing and transfer the dye-vinegar paste to your iron, take a stack of paper towels and wet them, then iron the wet towels until your iron is clean again.

A very colorful family, post run. They may not look it, but they had fun!

All in all, it was a fun day. The race was short, as it was only 2.5 miles instead of the advertised 5K, which was a bit of a bummer. We had to get the boys up at 5 am, to get to the race at 630 for check in. It worked out well, as we got right into the parking lot and really didn't have a wait at the check in. Instead of waiting for the 830 heat we signed up for, we just jumped into the first wave, which worked out really well. I'm super proud of my boys (ages 5 and 7) for running the 2.5 miles in 37 minutes.

The course was in a mall parking lot, so it was not a very scenic course, but since we were there for the coloring, it really didn't matter all that much. We let the boys set the pace, and it was interesting seeing kids trying to run in a road race. Apparently, they can't run in a straight line yet. There was one near crash, but no one actually got injured, which was wonderful!
A few suggestions for the folks at Color Me Rad:
  • If you bill it as a 5K, make it a 5K. Otherwise, just call it the Color Me Rad Run.
  • Don't hide the whole "you have to pick up your bib the day before" in an attachment in the reminder email and in the FAQs. Announce it very clearly on the home page, the registration day, etc. And if you're going to have bib pickup the day of, say that as well. I had to find the info for same day pickup in a comment on the Facebook page.
  • Don't have people register for a wave, if you then tell everyone to show up 45 minutes (if they got their bib or 90 minutes if they need to get their bib) before the first wave. Then completely ignoring all the waves and have starts every 5ish minutes just adds to the frustration. Just be honest, and tell everyone to get there between 630 and 8 am for check in, last person can cross the start line at 9.
  • Tell the volunteers to aim for clothing not faces. The handful of blue dust in my hair and ear really didn't contribute to the cool tied-dyed effect on my shirt.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Taking It Easy Ain't Easy

So, I am not currently out doing 7 miles, nor did I just complete 7 miles. I'm not terribly thrilled about this, but considering my hip hurt while I was sleeping (or least attempting to sleep), I'm assuming I'm doing the right thing.

Now, I'm starting to get worried. At what point will I not be able to catch up before the race? Don't worry, I realize I can't just start at 10 miles next week, but I want to complete at least one 10-11 mile run a week or two before the race. We're 10 weeks out from the race now. Assuming I can start at 7 miles next week, I have zero slack to get to 13 miles by Labor Day. I can probably move my last big run to the 9th of September, to give me one more week, but still...

Yeah, this is what I do with the time that I can't run. I obsess over running. I guess that's good, and means I want to get back to it. But it's mentally exhausting.

Let's look at the positive side. I'm resting today so I can do the Color Run 5K with my family tomorrow. It's going to be our first 5K with all 4 of us in it. It's not timed, and the boys are still young (5 and 7), so it will be a slow, but fun, run!

But, it's been a week. I guess that means Monday I need to call a doctor and make sure it's nothing serious. Well, nothing serious enough to impact more than my running, and subsequently, my mental health.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bad Race: It's not you, it's the course?

71 Days to Race

Last we chatted, I had a blinding migraine. I have a draft post about my post-migraine run (which was a hilly 3 mile run that I managed to run into an oak branch at mile 1.5 and my ponytail exploded cause me to do my Medusa impression), but it seems a bit dated now, and I just summarized the best part anyway. 

I was recovering from the migraine and ready to do my 7 mile run last Sunday, when my hip seized on my Saturday night.  I had been in the car for 3 separate 1.5 hour trips and on the 3rd one, I felt like I needed to pop my hip, but it wouldn't pop.  And it hurt. A lot. 

After a few google, Web MD and running website searches, I self-diagnosed IT band issues.  Of course! So I hobbled to the local running store, which sent me to EMS and I bought a hand held foam roller. (Honestly, the running store didn't carry foam rollers. They had The Stick, but recommended the foam since the pain was in my hip).  Between the roller, copious amounts of Advil and rest, I'm doing pretty good, and able to run the TWO 5Ks I have this week.

Last night was the first one.  Technically, it's a 3.5 miler; it's the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge Boston.  This is also the first race I ever ran.  I ran it 3 years ago (the day Michael Jackson died, funny how you remember things), and it wasn't chip timed, it was self-timed.  Based on my Nike + record, it took me 46 + minutes to run the 3.5 miles.  Now, that is insanely slow (13 min/mile is still technically "running", right?), but this is probably the slowest race ever.  They allow 12,000 people in the race, and it tends to hit capacity.  You cannot run for the first 2 or 3 blocks.  This picture was taken a half a block into the race (yep, after the starting line)

Ok, please believe me this was at the start, in spite of the fact that all you can see are Finisher shirts.  You get them before the race, and, well, people wore them.  I know...

Anyway, I had what I feel was a crappy race.  3.5 miles in 40:49 (11:39 pace).  If you look historically at my 5Ks, my times range from a PR of 28:38 (that was a nice flat course) to 31ish (for my "Anywhere 5K").  So I'm trying to figure out if it's the crowds (look at the picture again!), my injury (I'm achy today, but it doesn't feel painful like it did Saturday-Monday), or I just didn't push myself. 

I'm an engineer, so when I have a problem, I review the data.  I pulled up my micoach results and I've analyzed the pace, my recollection of the crowds, water stops, pinch points in the road, and I've got nothing.  So of course that means I didn't push myself, since the external data isn't showing anything atypical (this is when part of my brain screams "Look at the picture again, it's ATYPICAL!"). 

I told my mom (who's one of my top supporters!) that I'm bummed and she reminded me its a slow, crowded race, and so did a (non-runner) co-worker/friend. Maybe it's just the mood I'm in, but that just sounds like the old "It's not you, it's me" speech.  But, there is some good news, I did beat a few coworkers, including 2 younger women (like 10 years younger!! Wait, that means they're not in my age group. Damn it!) and my director (he's my boss's boss).  So, I think I'll focus on that part :)

Anyway, I need to get past this and get mentally in the mood for a long run tomorrow.  I missed my 7 miler last week with the hip issue, so I need to get about that in before we pick up the boys. But I am doing the less hilly loop instead of the hilly out and back just in case the hip protests.  Then on Sunday, we have the Color Me Rad run with the boys (ages 5 and 7), so that should take us about an hour to go 5K. Wait, can I call that a run? Eh, it's a recovery day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Listening to Your Body

I admit, I suck at listening to my body.  Technically, I'll listen to whispers and sit out when I could/should keep going, but I'll ignore the yelling.  So I do hear it, I just don't react correctly.  Sometimes, I don't have a choice.

I did  my long run last Thursday, and I totally read the thermometer wrong.  It was a comfy 72 degrees in the house, not outside.  Outside, it was a toasty 78 degrees and a wee bit sunny (it was 1130 am or so).  Luckily, my long run was only 6 miles (hey, I still have 12 weeks!), but I hit the hills since Zooma will be a hilly course.  I charged up the first one, and did pretty good out till mile 3, since it was mostly down hill.  Coming back was painful.  I must have looked like hell, because at the bottom of the steep hill, I was given a bottle of water from a gardener.  I survived, not too sore, and even did 6x30 sec intervals the next day.

Then yesterday came.  I was going to do 6 miles with a buddy.  He was running late, so we set out along the (flat) course along the Charles River at 6:15 or so.  About half way through, the humidity was weighing me down and I told him I was only going to make the 4.5 mile loop we normally do.  Since we were running late, and I suspect his weekend was still clinging to him, he agreed.  We started across the Mass Ave Bridge and a garbage truck passed us.  I was so overwhelmed by the stench, I started gagging and almost threw up over the bridge.  Fortunately, for both me and the poor girls rowing on the Charles, I didn't lose my cookies.  I made it back to the office, and in the middle of coffee, it hit. I had an ocular migraine.  The picture here is pretty accurate for what I was seeing, except mine are off centered to the right.  I took my excedrin, drank my coffee and closed my eyes.  It went away, then the pain started.  Yep, full blown migraine.  I managed to work the full day, pick up the boys, and make dinner, all before falling asleep on the couch at 6pm.  Needless to say, I slept in today and did not do strength as planned. 

The sucky thing is, summer is the worst time for my migraines.  It's the temperature shifts (hot and humid outside to icy cold AC inside) and it just sends my poor brain into chaos.  This is my first summer really running, so it's going to take a while to figure out they whole hydration and heat thing.

I'm a bit disappointed I got slammed by the migraine, but better now then during the race, right?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Half Marathon Training Schedule

So, here we go. I'm going to pre-publish my training schedule and you can hold me accountable.  Or what's more likely, I'll feel horribly guilty if I don't do a workout, even if I only ever get one page view (yep, I got 1 already, whoo-hoo!).  It's June 29th, so everything for the month of June is What I Actually Did!  July through September is What I Plan To Do.  Anything highlighted in yellow is making me nervous. As you can see, it's summer and there's other races, activities and holidays planned.  Summer Days are bonus days off from work :) Sorry about the weird cropping on June.  I'll try to keep you up to date on where I am in the plan and how far a veer from reality.  Maybe I'll post an updated calendar the end of each month. Hey, look, we have an updated June already!

My schedule is based off of Train Like a Mother: Half Marathon - Finish It! plan, with a little bit of 2:30 half marathon plan thrown in to account for my "I can't really work out 6 days a week" schedule. TLAM's plan is in their book, or you have a free copy of it if you registered for a Zooma Race.  It's a great book! And I'm not just saying that because I got quoted in it (it's 2 words, but still, I'm published! :) )

Also, if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Sorry about the weird cropping. It's the whole Word to SnagIt to PNG file thingy going on here... Why can I just attach a document?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Doing it all again

Days To Race: 88

This past February, almost on my "runiversary", I ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  When I started training for it, I really had no clue what I was getting myself into.  I started running (again, but honestly, the first time was more walking quickly than running) in February 2011, did a Warrior Dash in June, a regular 5K in August (and came in 4th for my age group! full disclosure: there were 79 people in the whole race), then I signed up for the Tufts 10K for Women in October.  We decided to go to Disney for February vacation, and the last day of our vacation was the Half.  After much cajoling, I convinced my Hubby to extend our vacation the extra day and I signed up for the race.

I was lucky considering I trained in MA in the winter.  We had a relatively mild winter, plus they plow the path around the Charles.  I made it to 13 miles a few weeks before the race, and was able to finish in 2:34:49 including a potty break (for the full race report check out my other blog here). But, there were a few less than wonderful runs including the 10-12 mile run that I tried turning into a 13 mile run but ended up being an 8 mile run when I called home, in tears, asking for ride from a Dunks 5 miles from home.

So after a spring of drifting around aimlessly in the running world, getting two or three 3 miles run in a week (or 1 run... yeah, it got that bad), and doing another Warrior Dash with less than sufficient strength training, I decided I needed to get back to some serious mileage and I needed a good goal. After the Tufts 10K and the Princess, I've kinda got a liking for the women centric races, at least for the longer distances.  The ZOOMA Half in Cape Cod seemed to fit the bill.  It's the inaugural race at this location, and the start line is right next to Old Silver Beach, which is where we take the boys most weekends in the summer.  My father in law lives about 15 minutes away, so I've got a place to sleep the night before and the boys can actually watch me run/finish (unlike Disney, where they got stuck on a bus...). Plus it's a small race (1000 people, heck the whole race is smaller than my Disney corral!) and instead of a finisher's medal, you get a finisher's necklace, which I'll probably add the charm to my "running charm bracelet". 

So, why the new blog? You would think that I've done this before, so I can do it again.  Yeah, I know that if I work at it, I'll be able to run 13.1 miles (hell, I walked ~13 miles a day for a week, ran 13.1 miles, then walked another 7 or so miles that day). But I still remember Mile 10 and the damn on-ramp; Mile 12 and my premature speed burst that lead to too much walking (note to specators: do NOT say "you're almost there" unless it is less than a half mile to the finish line); getting picked up 5 miles from home; sitting on the side of the road, half way up a hill, in tears when a cop stopped to make sure I was ok (I told him "the hill beat me", he responded "as long as it was just the hill". Lesson learned: chose your words carefully when talking with the police.).  So, I figured if I started writing down everything, there would be enough good stuff to re-read to pull me through the less good stuff.  I'm also going to post my training calendar before I actually run it (ok, run a lot of it, I've already started) so I know that the "Interwebz" is holding me accountable.

So far, I've signed up the for race (Step 1!) and did a speed workout, a "long" run (5 "hilly, humid, near home" miles) and eeked out a pathetic 3 "flat, work" miles and a few strength sessions (yeah, it's after the Warrior dash, but I now have definition on my arms, and I'm keeping it!). 

Not "Just" A Half

Before I get into the meat of this blog, I wanted a little intro on why I chose this name.  Granted, part of it is the lack of names still available :) but since I was writing about training for a Half Marathon, I thought the title should reflect it.

I follow two Bad Ass Mother Runners: Dimity and Sarah over at Another Mother Runner. I love their books, and love the community that has grow up around their books.  I honestly don't remember where I read it first, but Dimity was talking about working the booths at race expos and asking the women which race they're running.  She often got "I'm just doing the half".  She then went on to explain that it's not "just" a half, it is 13.1 miles and you've trained for months to be able to run just 13.1 miles. 

She's right.  And it's not only applicable to race distances, moms tend to qualify everything. We all need to drop the just and be proud of our accomplishments.