Thursday, October 27, 2011

I pick things up and put them down

This week I’ve been working on getting back into lifting. I totally forgot how badass I feel after a good heavy lifting session. I am all excited about this now, but tomorrow morning when I can’t get out of bed due to over doing it on legs today will probably suck, major.

I have a real hard time going easy on leg day. Legs are powerful! Legs are important! Legs need to run faster, stronger, better!!! yea…. totally not going to be able to walk in the AM. Already my calves and glutes hurt so good.

I’m really hoping to make some serious progress this winter so that I can be even speedier next year. I have big aspirations. My mother asked me for christmas gift ideas – they will pretty much all be running themed! I can’t help myself (or afford these things myself, haha).

We had our first snow today here in Albany. I really didn’t expect it to snow here. The weather was predicting snow in the area, but we aren’t in that high of an elevation, so I anticipated just cold cold rain. But, after an all day training session in a window-less room at work, we emerged to the beginnings of accumulation. Luckily, I have three decent long sleeved running shirts. I’ll be breaking one out for a long-ish run on Saturday (assuming, of course, my DOMS isn’t so horrible as to last two days – entirely possible).


Random inspiration time! If you didn’t see on fb or twitter, here’s the link to an article featuring my great Aunt Marathon Mary!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Half Marathon #2 Race and Training Reflections

Yes, I realize it’s been nearly a week and a half since this race. I had to take some time to really digest everything.

How’d the race go? Overall, it went pretty well. However, I walked away kind of disappointed, and that feeling is still sort of lingering.

I started the race with Sara. It was good to start the race with her, and realize I wasn’t the only one nervous! We chatted about how nice the morning had turned out, other races, nervous stomachs. Shortly after the race started she peeled out, she was hoping for a sub 2 (and nearly made it!!!), while I was aiming for sub 2:30.

I started out way too fast. There were not a TON of half marathoners, so starting too close to the front was way too easy. Despite my constant attempts to slow down I hit the first two miles well below 11 min/miles (I was aiming for a pace of 11:12). Anyway, I pretty much felt great. My dad chose a few awesome spots in the park so I got to see him 4 times and then he and my mom were both at the finish. I was buzzing right along feeling fine.

Now, you may remember that the two weeks prior to the race I was having a lot of right leg/ITB pain. I’d taken some extra rest during taper, and spent a lot of time focusing on foam rolling, stretching, and heating that leg in the days prior. Race day morning it felt totally normal!

Then… dun dun dun… at about mile 4ish my left hip cramped up! I was SO angry. My left hip/ITB has been a problem for years – with the real ITB issue flaring each time I started to try out running. However, this training cycle, unlike my first, I’d had absolutely NO left hip pain at all. Quite amazing really. So for it to flare up, out of nowhere, DURING THE RACE, was extremely frustrating. I stopped several times to stretch it out, but the pain was pretty bad and resulted in some compensating in my stride. This flared up some old random toe tendonitis in my right foot (what a lame injury), and some left Achilles pain – which was a bit nerve-wracking, because that is not an injury that I want.

Anyway, as I’m sure you suspect, the pain did slow me down, so I didn’t get my A goal – 2:26:34, and I just missed my B goal of sub 2:30. My ending time was 2:30:12. At the time I was really bummed. But, I soon got over it (mostly). I had shaved 6.5 minutes off my half marathon time in 4 months. Additionally, I’d just run 2 half marathons within 13 months of “becoming a runner.”

After I got over my initial disappointment with my time, and recognized what I’ve accomplished I tried to give myself some time to reflect on my training cycle.

This time around I increased my volume a fair amount. During my first training cycle I had maybe 2 weeks of 20+ miles. This time around, I hit 20 miles/week within week 3 of the training plan and stayed steady/and built on that slowly. Overall, I think I held up well with the higher mileage. There are still lessons to be learned:

  • I need to put more emphasis on core, strength, and cross training. This shouldn’t be hard since these things got virtually no attention this time around.
  • More time needs to be spent recovering properly. I skimped on stretching after workouts on the regular this cycle. I also didn’t foam roll as much as I should have, and when I did it was reactive. Paying attention to the recovery of both legs equally is important, even if one isn’t “hurting.”
  • Diet: this needs a lot of work – it’s a certain focus of the off season.
  • This wasn’t really a set back. My initial reflections on my performance were that I’d failed, but I didn’t – I improved, I did a great job, I ran through the pain and pushed through to the end. And I learned some lessons, which will only make the next race better

I have big goals for next year – four half marathons, and to continue my quest to a sub 2 hour half marathon. The off season is strength building, weight loosing, and base building.


Bring it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Empire State Marathon and Half Race Review

Or alternatively titled: A Tale on How to Organize a Race.
On Oct 16, 2011 I ran the inaugural Empire State Half Marathon in Syracuse, NY. I PR’d my half marathon time by 6 and half minutes from my previous time set in June 2011, for a final finish time of 2:30:12 – just shy of my B goal from my previous post.
I’m going to start by reviewing the race itself- my personal performance and reflections on this race and training cycle will be reserved for a separate post.
For the first year of this race I was totally impressed with how well the whole thing went. Even if it had been the 50th year of this race the whole experience was just so superbly put together.  Registration was a breeze, the medals are super nice, the atmosphere was great, their facebook presence and emails were super personal. Just wonderful overall.
They had a weekend-long expo that had approximately 20 vendors there. This was super exciting to me because none of the other races I’ve been to had a “real” expo! They also had lecturers at the expo and the pasta dinner (which I didn’t go to). But seriously, pulling all that together on the first year of a race? awesome. The bib pickup was perfectly painless, the tees were long-sleeved TECH shirts! Awesome. They also had cotton tees for sale. And goodie bags full of fun stuff!!
Race day: The marathon started a half hour before the half. I got there early enough to see the marathoners (and marathon relayers) take off. I stood around with my dad, absorbing the race day atmosphere. I heard the bathrooms were super nice, though I didn’t use them (I should have.) I ran into Sara just before the start so we were able to start off together. The weather was perfect! sunny, cool, and no wind! There had been a wind advisory until 7pm the night before, so we were worried about the wind along the lake course – but no worries!
The course was super super flat. The water stops were decently planned out, and manned. There were a LOT of portapotties along the half marathon course – always room to stop (why didn’t I? I had to pee the whole race). They handed out water, some sort of gatorade or vitamin water, and gels at most of the water stops.
One of the most awesome things about finishing this race (besides the fab medals) was the sponsorship they secured with byrne dairy – bottles of chocolate milk right after the finish line! There was tons of food and water at the finish too. A real celebratory atmosphere at the finish!
There were a few things I did not like about the race:
1. A general pet peeve: the  course was long by .2 miles. In this day in age of garmins etc, I just don’t understand courses that are measured long. But that’s more just me – I’m sure there’s a good reason for it.(**Update: This first complaint was written before I came to the realization that wrist Garmin's aren't freaking magical. They work on tangents, not perfection. The course is certified, its exactly a half marathon. My apologies for being a run-douche).
2. The first water stop was just after mile 1. That was too soon (though it was well placed for the way back), but the next water stop wasn’t until just after mile 4. That’s too far. I skipped the first water stop because I didn’t need water a mile in. But my mile 4 I was in real need – that giant gap also sucked on the way back.
3. The turn around. The turn around for the half marathon veered off of the paved path in Onondaga Lake Park to an unpaved path – this in itself is fine. However, it was very narrow and very congested. You couldn’t pass anyone without running into “oncoming traffic.” Granted, this wasn’t a very long stretch of the course, but it was a bit irritating.
4. Miles 9-13. Not just because they were miles 9-13, but there were virtually NO spectators. when you’re coming down the parkway, and the bridge just isn’t getting any closer some spectators would help in curbing the creeping fear that you’re certifiably insane for doing this to yourself. This could easily be solved by putting in another water stop somewhere in there. Two birds, one stone.
That’s really it. The finish line volunteers were fantastic. I am one of those people who is incapable of making basic decisions (besides finding water) after running a half marathon, so when some volunteer swooped out of no where to “crown me” (hehe) with my medal I was most appreciative. In the park, for the most part, there were tons of spectators and it was awesome. I was really truly impressed with how well this race came together, especially considering they got a turn out of about 2500 runners in their first year! Spectacular race, and a spectacular running community.
Way to go Empire State Marathon and Half!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Race Goals

This Sunday I'm running the inaugural Empire State Marathon - well I'm running the half. This will be my second half marathon this year/ever.

It's pretty crazy to think that 13 months ago was my first organized race ever in life. I've attended a bunch of Dad's races, but never really run one of my own. Thirteen months: one 5K, four 10Ks, one 5miler, and 2 half marathons. Damn.

I'm fully prepared to PR this half marathon. I've only run one before ever, and that course was SUPER hilly (Lake Placid), and this is super flat (Syracuse NY, well... mostly Liverpool NY - go 'pool!)

I'm excited to run at home again - part of this race course will be along the same lake side path that I ran my very first 5k ever. And my dad will be there, and know everyone involved (of course), and be able to tell everyone that he's passed the running torch to me. Now that I saw Marlene did the Syr 70.3 as a relay, I'm gonna have to get my dad swimming so we can do that next year! 

Ok, so race goals. Lake Placid Half Marathon time/first half marathon/instant PR = 2:36:43

As always, I'm hoping to finish the race, upright and smiling. So that's a baseline goal. I really don't feel it's possible, barring disaster, for me to *not* beat this time. I know it sounds a bit arrogant, but I'm in much better shape, my training was more intense and structured, I've noticed tons of improvement this summer, and all my long runs indicate I can beat this.

Goal C: PR - 2:35:xx

Goal B: 2:30 or better.

Goal A: Now here's the kicker: 2:26:34. Based on my most recent 10k PR -Sept 25, 2011 - Brock Trot (also super hilly)- McMillan running calculator thinks I should be able to run a half marathon in this time. I think it's doable. My last long run was 2:17 and change for 12 miles. This is a super duper flat fast course. Out and back, 6.55 miles each way which is helping with my mental game. 6.55 miles can be run on a Tuesday before work.

What do you think, folks. Can I knock 10 minutes of my half marathon time?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Well That's Over.

In my last post I was burnt out. I had some leg pain, which still persists. And I was anxious to get this race over with so I could mentally rejuvenate.

The race is this Sunday 10/16, and I am no longer "burnt out". I've got a fire. I want to, and will PR the sh*t out of this race. I'm sick of this stupid leg issue. It's not horrible, but it's annoying. Things are tight and strange. I'll make sure to warm up well and do some yoga pre-race sunday. I've had to really back off the last few weeks so as to not make it worse, which I think is where this "fire" is coming from (that itch that comes from a lack of running). But also....

I've been inspired. I watched the Ironman Kona finishers cross the line and it was seriously unreal. I read Ryan Hall finished Chicago in 2:08 - not his best, yet he was still pleased. He seriously has the best attitude ever. I spectated Natalie's second marathon and watched her PUSH through a nagging calf issue that's been bothering her lately (and reared it's ugly head a mere 10K into the marathon). The day got hot, fast. But she finished strong! My great aunt ran this year's Twin Cities in 4:29:xx. She's 65, one of THREE women to have run all 30 Twin Cities Marathons. And it also happened to be her 175 marathon ever. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIFTH!!!! She started running at 35. That's 5.8 marathons a year. un-freaking-believable.

If you aren't inspired by that, I think you're a robot. I saw this tweet the other day from @McMillanRunning: "Fitness is built over time. Period. It can't be wished for or rushed. Patience grasshopper. Build toward the future." It made me think of my dad who is always harping on the importance of patience (and was a seriously, seriously bad ass runner in his heyday, and is now working on being a ridiculously awesome cyclist). But, what I really got out of this was that I'm just at the beginning. If fitness is built over time, I am good to go down the line. I've only got a year of "being a runner" under my belt - maybe big things will happen for me too - watch out, Ryan Hall.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Burnt Out

I am burnt out folks. Ugh. I’ve been half marathon training pretty much since Feb of this year. A little over a year ago I hadn’t done a single truly athletic thing in my whole life. Training is starting to drag on, it’s feeling chore-like. And, physically, my body hurts. I know it’s supposed to. But, I’m pretty sure something is wrong with my right leg. At first I thought it was an IT band issue, but this feels very different. I’m trying to take it easy, but mostly I’m trying to ignore it. Bad choice? probably, but the race is 8 days away. then I can relax

I’ve rested a LOT this week. In fact, I’ve only run twice. Monday I think I’m just going to cross train and try to loosen up the leg. fingers crossed.

I’m still excited about my half. I’m also excited for it to be over, but I’m also excited to run it. According to McMillan, based on my most recent 10K PR, I should be able to shave about 10 minutes off my Lake Placid Half Marathon time. I’d be happy enough with six minutes off – both goals are totally attainable, I think.

Tomorrow should be a fun day – Natalie is racing her second marathon, and I’ll be spectating my first! she’s going to do awesome! It’s a nice, flat, fast course running from schenetady to albany. I know she’s gonna rock. It’ll be a huge PR for her anyway you look at it. GO NAT!!!

I’ve asked a friend to help me develop a strength training routine for the winter months. Shaving some pounds and building some muscle should help to rock a bunch of races next year!

In the mean time, I’m gonna take it easy and hope this leg pain goes away. Good luck to all of you racing this weekend!! Run hard, run fast, run strong! Smile