Sunday, November 8, 2015

Race Report - Marshall Half Marathon

The Marshall University Half Marathon - my first, my PR race, my "hometown" half. The one I've returned to every year (returning to the scene of the crime, so to speak; returning to the race where the half bug bit me).

I had big plans for this race this year. Big plans to return to the land of finishing under two and a half hours (which would result in being able to be in a faster corral for the Princess Half, which would allow me the time to go slower and take pictures with all the fun Disney characters along the course. But that is another story, for another post (look for it in about 110 days)). 

I trained; I struggled and worked hard to bring my pace back down into the 11 minute mile range. (Important point to remember - pace is individual to the runner; what is slow for one is fast for another; what is fast for the other is slow for yet another.) And right now, it's fast for me. But I was confident that I could sustain it for the full distance. I could run hard and finish the race in under 2:30. It wasn't going to be easy, but this was the year I was going to embrace the hard work. As I said, I had big plans... 

But, you know what they say about "best laid plans."

I woke up Saturday morning feeling kind of crappy with a sinus headache and other body aches. But I wasn't giving up; maybe I'd feel better in the morning. So I went and picked up my race packet, I planned my outfit (which was difficult; wasn't sure what the weather would do), and I prepared to race on Sunday.
And woke up at o-dark thirty on Sunday, feeling worse than Saturday (with a slight fever to boot). But I went to the race anyway. I was going for it.  I could do this.

Mile 1 was ok; slower than I wanted, but ok. Mile 2 I got way too hot in the long sleeve shirt (and since my car was conveniently parked in the stadium lot along the course, I ran to the opposite of the street, safely ditched it in the back seat and returned to the race). Pace was faster, even with the slight detour. Miles 3 - 6 got progressively harder. I kept up with my 2 minute run intervals, but was slowing down - my body ached, I felt more tired than I should have. I made the decision to mostly walk the limestone path/Ritter Park section. I knew my goal was gone and I just wanted to finish in an upright position. So miles 7, 8, and 9 were mostly walking ( although I did manage a run for the photographer 😜)
Once out of the park, I started running through portions of my run intervals. It was slow, but it was a run.  At some point in mile 10, the first marathoner went flying by, making this whole running thing look way easier than it is (how DO they do that? So fast, so smooth, so seemingly effortless.)

After mile 10, I started having issues with my shoes feeling too short. So I imagine I was limping along for miles 10-12, running when I could, walking when I couldn't. I couldn't figure out if I was more hot or cold (weird being both at the same time, but I was), and I really just wanted to be finished. A couple more full marathoners passed me, and the ones coming towards me on their 2nd loop were encouraging, as always (runners are a good group of people).  

They helped me mentally through mile 13 towards the stadium; I think I actually managed to run the full 2 minute intervals for that last mile - I had people I had to pass (there's always at least one in a race that I arbitrarily decide I have to beat) on my way to the finish. So off I went, down the cruel little hill ( always painful, more so this year with my shoe issues) and into the stadium. I sped up a tad, passed a few other runners, and finished. Only 22 minutes later than I hoped and planned (and just 7 minutes slower than last year). But I did finish, and that's really what's important. 

The race didn't go at all as I planned and it wasn't the race I wanted - I was slower than i planned, I walked more than I wanted, I was sick with a sinus headache/body aches/fever, I ended up with some blisters on my toes, and I've got a toenail that's going a little black - but I finished. 

Race Stats
Marshall University Half Marathon
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Finish time: 2:52:31(garmin); 2:52:54 (official)
Place: 850 of 1,012; 464 of 589 women; 77 of 95 age group

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Race Report - Charleston Distance Run

Quite a few years ago, back in the days when I "wasn't meant to be a runner", in the days when my Dad was the runner and was running the Distance Run, I had a dream. Not the "I'm gonna work really hard, I'm gonna do this someday" kind of dream, but an actual while I was sleeping images in my head dream. I had a dream that I, a non-runner with no plans to ever be a runner, ran the Distance Run.  And not only did I run it, but I won it. And not won as in first woman or first in my age group, but won it won it, as in crossing the finish line first.

Fast forward a few years, to 2015. To the days when I was (am) a runner, and had (have) been for over 5 years. Fast forward to a time when, after a few years of thinking maybe I'll do it, but then wimping out and doing the 5k instead, I made the decision that I was going for it. I was going to sign up for the 15 miler. What better year to try to run 15 miles than 2015?

What was originally going to be a summer of running just for fun turned into a summer of training. A summer of being stronger than my excuses - which meant running in the pouring rain, running in the heat, running in humidity. Short runs, long runs, slow runs and "fast" runs. 

And when race day arrived, I was ready. Or as ready as I thought I could be.

The first two miles on the boulevard went by fairly quickly. I made it over the bridge, and up the long "Capital Punishment" hill with no problems. I cruised my way through the rest of the hills in South Hills and back down to the bridge. 8 miles down, 7 to go on the flats of downtown. But, the one minute walk breaks started to seem way too short, the one minute runs way too long. By about mile 10 and the Capitol complex, I was pretty much ignoring the beeping watch and walking way more then running. By mile 11, I wasn't running at all. My foot was hurting; I was hot; the water in my water bottle was warm.
forget the "...and Beyond" I was just going for the finish line
For a while there were some runners in sight in front of me and I could hear some behind me. But then the course made some turns. The runners in front were out of sight; I turned around and couldn't see anybody behind me.

And just like that, I was out there all alone. Hot, tired, sore, and alone. It was too much. I cried. I really wanted to quit, and I almost did.

What made me keep going? Practicality. It was around mile 13 and I thought to myself, "ok, you want to go home? Well, guess what - the car is at the finish line and you've got to get to it to get home, so..." Yep, it was the location of the car that kept me in the race. I figured I'd have to walk that 2 miles anyway, so it made sense to finish. Hey, whatever works, right?

It was hard; it wasn't fun; I missed my goal finish time; but I finished. 15 in '15 was done. Another thing I never imagined I'd be able to do accomplished.

For the record, the dream didn't come true. I wasn't anywhere close to being the winner, as in the one who crossed the finish line first. Nor was I anywhere close to being the first woman or first in my age group (unless 443rd (or 167th or 25th) means 1st in some alternate universe). 

But I did finish. I ran the same course, crossed the same finish line, as those who did come in first. And that's something to be proud of.

Race Stats
Charleston Distance Run - 15  miles
Saturday, September 5, 2015
Finish Time: 3:34:28 (garmin); 3:35:00 (official)
Place: 443 of 461; 167 of 185 women; 25 of 30 age group

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Race Report - CAMC Run For Your Life 5 mile run

I had a running plan for 2015 - I was going to lay off the races this year and just run for fun until fall.  I felt like I was putting to much pressure on myself to run a certain number miles or a certain pace, and all the fun was gone. Running had become a chore, and I didn't want it feel to that way. So I was going to take some time and just run for fun - no plans, no goals, just running to run, because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to.

Well, as plans tend to do in my world, it got pushed to the side. After a few months without a plan, running was feeling good again, but I felt like I was drifting. I was having fun running again, but something was missing. There was no challenge. Nothing to work for. So....  I found a race. A race with a challenge.  A race I'd have to work for. The CAMC Run For Your Life - a 5 mile run that goes up to the Spring Hill cemetery - hill being the key word.

Shortly after I registered, I started the Runner's World Summer Run Streak (run at least a mile every day from Memorial Day through the 4th of July) - which turned out be an awesome tool for extra training accountability. It's weird - I'll wimp out on a run if it's just up to me; but to miss out on a day of running followed by posting a pic on Instagram with the #RWRunStreak hashtag is just unacceptable for some reason. Weird how my brain works. 

Anyway - the running every day has made me feel stronger than I have in a long time. I'm starting to get faster - or more accurately, starting to get back to my fast (fast and slow being individual to each runner - my fast is another runner's slow, my slow is another runner's fast.) I've got a long way to go, but I feel confident that, if I keep working hard, I'll be ready to try for a new half marathon PR in November.

But what does that have to do with today's race? Everything and nothing. 

The last few days, I've made a big deal out of the hill, posting this pic to Facebook, with a caption stating my goal was "to not die on the hill":

I was feeling strong but hills intimidate me; no matter how many I run/walk/struggle my way up, they suck the life and the confidence right out of me. So I was afraid of the hill. I knew I'd be ok before and probably after, but I had no idea what I'd do on the climb.

I set the Garmin for 1:1 run:walk intervals, and set off at the start with a start:
  • Mile 1 was on the flats of downtown, and I cruised my way with an easy- feeling pace to an 11:25 pace for that mile - faster than I've been training.
  • Mile 2 held the dreaded climb to the cemetery. I took the Dean Karnazes quote above to heart - I ran when I could (which was not much), walked when I had to ( which was a lot - all of the uphill). Up and up and up. But, I am happy to report, there was no crawling and no giving up. Pace for mile 2 was 14:05
  • For Mile 3, the course wound through the cemetery, with some rolling little hills. The view from up there is spectacular, but alas, I took no pics. I ran some, and walked more, with pace of 13:07.
  • Mile 4 was back down the hill. Since I had pretty much been ignoring the interval beeps on my watch, I just kept right on doing so, although this time I kept running. Down and down and down. At the bottom, I started following the intervals again, so was back to 1:1.  Pace for mile 4 was a speedy 10:38.
  • Mile 5 went back through downtown to the levee and the finish line. My legs were tired from the downhill, so some of the run intervals felt really hard, but I ran them to the lovely beep that told me I could walk. Pace was 12:14.
Knowing how I am with hills, when I set my goal for today, it was highly conservative - a finish between 1:05 and 1:15. And I was honestly expecting to be closer the the 1:15; 1:05 was a dream. Or so I thought.  Turns out, I'm stronger and faster than I think. I was faster than 1:15; I was faster than 1:10; I was faster than 1:05. Yep- I was faster than than "dream" goal, with a finish time of 1:03:02 (unofficial)

There may be something to this training thing. I am stronger than I think. And since I'm looking for challenges, 2015 may just be the year I do the 15 mile Distance Run.  15 in '15 has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Race Stats
CAMC Run For Your Life
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Finish Time: 1:03:02 (Nike +); 1:02:57 (official)
Place: 173 of 196 overall; 82 of 100 women; 19 of 28 age group

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Race Report - Disney Princess Half Marathon

Another February has come and (almost) gone. There was a time when February was just another winter month - cold, dreary, sometimes snowy, always just kind of there; the second month of the year where nothing much happened. But in the past few years, that's changed; it's become a month to look forward to, with some pretty awesome events. In addition to my husband's birthday (which I've been celebrating with him for 12 years now), February also holds the Disney Princess Half Marathon, which, back in 2013, was supposedly going to be a once in a lifetime experience. It's turned into a yearly event for my friends and me - this year was our 3rd and if the conversations we had after are any indication, it's not going to be our last.

So how did it go?

Disney Princess Half Marathon - Sunday, February 22, 2015
There's one problem with a race like a half marathon in February - winter weather can make it really hard to train. Between cold temperatures, rain, snow, etc. it can be really hard to make it out on the training runs. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, a treadmill could solve those issues; but I'm not a big fan of feeling like a hamster in a wheel, expending great amounts of effort and literally getting nowhere.) Weather issues and a general lack of motivation once again led to arriving at race day slightly unprepared. But, as I told myself, if I could finish the Biggest Loser Half, with the monster cemetery hill in the middle, I could handle the Princess. It wouldn't be pretty and it definitely wouldn't be a PR for the distance, but I could do it. It's Disney; there's extra magic there.

Until getting on the bus on race morning, I think Becca and I (Jen ran the 10k the day before) were planning on starting in our own corrals and running our own races. But as we sat on the bus, with the moment of going our separate ways getting closer and closer, I didn't want to do it alone. This year, I didn't really care about or need to get character pictures or to finish in a fast time; I needed my friend by my side. So we stayed together.

reflections of Space Mountain
I won't go into details of each mile - suffice it to say, some were good, some not so good, some horrible. And we got through them all, step by step, one foot in front of the other; pulling each other through the hard parts; celebrating the good parts; stopping briefly for a picture or two with the wonderful, inspiring scenery.

A few years ago, I "wasn't meant to be a runner". Then one day, totally out of the blue, I had a Forrest Gump moment and just felt like running. 

Then I got the wild idea that I wanted to do a half marathon. 

In November 2011, I ran my first. 

In February 2015, in Disney World, with one of my bestest friends by my side, I ran my 10th.
Race Stats:
Finish Time: 3:33:24 (garmin); 3:33:18 (official)
Place: Overall - 16,594 of 20,182

(remember back at the start of this post when I said this race wouldn't be a PR for the distance? Well, it wasn't. But it was a PR for the race. Yep, best Disney Princess finish time yet. Woo hoo!!)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Race Report - Winter Series 2015

Oh my poor neglected blog - usually I do my race reports close to the day of the race, but I've been a bit of slacker on the writing front lately. But enough of that, let's get to the races.

Winter Series 5k - December 7, 2014
This was the race where everything went wrong - I forgot my earbuds; I forgot my Garmin. I thought I was doomed from the start. But I improvised.

I decided I would play my music anyway and share it with the other runners; as a friend said, if they didn't like it, they could just run faster (for the record, it wasn't very loud and I doubt too many others heard it). And without my Garmin, I had no way to keep track of run/walk intervals. So with my Christmas music playing from my phone's speaker, I decided I would run when I could and walk when I had to.

I ended up running more than I thought I would. Yes, I was slow and miles (minutes?) away from breaking my 5k PR, which I set at this race way back in 2011, but it went better than I expected.

And someday, someday, I'll set a new PR. Don't know when that will be, but probably won't be until I actually start seriously trying to train to do it instead of whatever it is I'm doing these days. ;-)

Race Stats:
Finish time: 32:44 (Nike+); 32:56 (official)
Pace: 10:32mpm (Nike+);
Place: 256 of 342

Winter Series 8k - January 4, 2015
Slightly rainy weather + no training = another race where I should have been doomed from the start (although I did have the gadgets with this time). I managed to run my run intervals at a decent speed and my walk intervals were slow enough to recover, but fast enough to not slow me down too much overall. I kept a pretty consistent pace and was happy to cross the finish line in under an hour, which was something I didn't think I'd be able to do.

Race Stats:
Finish time: 59:32 (Garmin); 59:37 (official)
Pace: 11:49 (Garmin)
Place: 266 of 317

Winter Series 10k - February 1, 2015
Weekends in February mean one of the days needs to be a long run day to get ready for the Princess Half. Therefore (when you've worked for lawyers, legal-speak sneaks into normal writing every now and then), I needed to get in a double digit run on one of the 2 days of this weekend. It didn't happen on Saturday, so I planned to break it up with a few miles in the morning and then the race on Sunday afternoon. That didn't happen either.

So I got to the race early and squeezed in 3.25 miles before it started. Thankfully, it was one of those "the longer I go, the better I feel" days, so the 6.2 miles of the race went really well. I came really close to negative splits on every mile, which is awesome and something I haven't done for a while. Not gonna lie, it was hard, and I pushed myself harder than I have in a long time to do it (which caused some concern for my mother (ever the mom and ever the nurse) when she decided she needed to check  my pulse after I finished; I felt fine but, well, she's my  mom (and a nurse) so... ;-) ) Anyway, I managed my 2nd fastest 10k time.

Race Stats:
Finish Time: 1:12:29 (Garmin); 1:12:41 (official)
Pace: 11:38mpm (Garmin)
Place: 231 of 281

Series as a whole
As you can see, the theme of this year's Winter Series was apparently "Races I signed up for but  neglected to train seriously for." The 10k was a little better training-wise, because being in February, it falls into the "OMG, the Princess Half is coming up fast!" training panic time frame that hits about mid-January and makes me start taking my running a little more seriously. (Still not seriously enough, but that's another story.)

Apparently I have enough of a fitness-base to pull off these races by the skin of my teeth, but I know that if I'd just work a little bit harder, they could go so much better. Maybe 2015 will be the year that I re-find my motivation and drive to do better. Hopefully.

Series Stats:
Finish Time: 2:45:14
Place: 177 of 221

I do it all for the hoodie...