Monday, October 21, 2013

I ran 3:07:11: Nick was worried when I didn't finish sooner

Nick still has nightmares about a certain race, where I had trained well enough to possibly run 3:20, but wound up running 4:15. (It was a very bad day, but one that I'm proud of.) Now if I miss the mark by even a measly 2 minutes and 11 seconds, he worries. He's so cute. After I finished the BayState Marathon on Sunday, he said to me "I was so worried!" With furrowed eyebrows and a smirk I replied, "I was only 2 minutes behind my goal of 3:05". To which he said, "I know, but I thought you'd be faster and when you didn't make it by 3:05, I thought you might be hurt." I actually thought this was really sweet. You see, Nick is ever the engineer. He's almost always logical and data driven. He's been keeping track of my training and really believed that I could and would run faster.

So does that mean I had a bad day on Sunday? No. It was a spectacular day. I felt good. The virus that has been plaguing our home seemed to lift Saturday, I've been getting a reasonable amount of sleep (6-7 hours), and there was nothing wrong with my legs. All great omens come race day. The weather was beautiful being sunny and 50-58 degrees during the race. The 3:07:11 time I posted is a 4.5 minute personal record, and I was the 3rd female finisher. Coming in 3rd really made the day. I might have been a tiny bit disappointed that I didn't go under 3:05 had I not had such a nice finishing place.

If I was feeling ready to go, the course was flat and fast, and the weather was cool, then why wasn't I able to post my initial goal? Well, it was probably a combination of going out too fast and a nasty headwind. My first mile was 6:52, which was good, but by the 8 mile mark I was averaging slightly under 6:45 pace. That was based on the race clocks not my Garmin (looking through my Garmin splits it reports some of my miles being in the 6:37 range). I didn't look at my Garmin at all during the race. I tried to run more by feel, but I guess I was getting a little a head of myself. I crossed the half around 1:29, which I didn't think was too too fast, but there was also a 14 mph headwind for a good stretch of the course. The course is a loop done twice, so there were portions with a tailwind too, but from what I've read the two don't cancel each other out. A runner doesn't gain the same benefit with a tailwind, as the deficit that is acquired with a headwind. You can check out the Daniel's calculator where you can enter headwinds and tailwinds and predict what times might have been. Using the Daniels calculator and guessing that roughly half course had a tailwind and half had a headwind, it seems I might lost 3-4 minutes there. That combined with running a little faster than I should have for the first half probably accounts for my finishing time. My legs were dead after about 17-18 miles, and by the time I hit 20 I was telling myself to "just keep running". Really the finish couldn't come fast enough. My two final miles were 8:10ish (and I was surprised they were that fast), because at the time it felt like I was running slower than 10 minute pace.

Now I would hate for anyone to think that I'm complaining. I am so happy! Overall, my race experience was great. There were a good number of men running near me, and they were all supportive. Guys passing would say things like "you're crushing this race" or "you're awesome". A few times I found myself in a group of guys, and they were always friendly. Spectators seemed excited to see the "3rd female". So as much as the last 8 miles were a suffer fest (which was probably my own fault), everyone was just amazing. My parents, Nick, and the kids were all at the finish. And I ran a 4.5 minute PR! It really was a great day.

Running the race also made me realize even more how great the Greater Lowell Road Runners (GLRR) are. (The GLRR hosts the BayState Marathon.) Technically I'm member of the GLRR, but I don't really participate. I just don't have the time right now (or my priorities are just elsewhere at the moment), but every single person I've met from the group is so nice. Some are fast and some aren't, but all of them are great.

Here are some post race pictures! I'm sure they're boring to you, but it's the first time I remembered to take some pics with my phone after a big race, so I'm excited to have them!

 Ahhh, family photo!

 Nana and Grampy get in on the action

 My ladies and me :)

And Nick and me

What's next you ask? Some rest and recovery for now. Then I have my sights set on Boston, though I don't know that Boston is the course for me set any crazy PR's, but a solid time would set me up nicely for another go of it next Fall. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Marathon Musings

It’s almost exactly 5 days to go time, and it feels surreal. Am I really running a marathon in just 5 days? This training cycle has just flown by, and I haven’t been thinking much about the race because we’ve simply been busy. I was reading Dani’s blog post yesterday, and reading it reminded me that I too have a marathon to run in a few days…then I remembered that I need to pick up more glide and gels before the race…

Am I uber psyched for race day? Well, to be honest, that’s generally not my style. It’s hard to get extra super excited to run as hard as you can for 26.2 miles. And while I’m being so very honest, marathon pace doesn’t feel “easy” to me. It’s not a pace that I can “run all day long”. I can run it for 26.2 miles (hopefully), and not much longer. Does this mean I have a bad attitude? I don’t think so. I’m simply realistic and generally aware of the difficulty of the task before me. Now some people like to ask me: “Why? Why do you do it? Why do you race?”

I guess it’s a fair question. I’m never going to be elite. I’m not going to the Olympics. I’m busy with children and work. Here’s the real deal though, I simply love running. I love training for a goal, and trying to chase that goal. I may be terrified of what will come on Sunday, but that’s all the more reason to do it. Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I am so behind because I only do something that scares about once a month.

Overall, I’ve had a great training cycle. 20 weeks, with 9 weeks being at 70+ miles. I’ve run five 20+ milers, three 18 milers, and several 16 milers. Two of my 20+ milers were fast finishes, where I ran the last 4-6 miles at 6:45 pace, which is a nice confidence booster. I just ran a reasonably good (for me) half marathon with no taper, which is also a nice confidence booster. I’ve done the training, and I’m as ready as ready can be. That being said…there are never any guarantees. That’s partly why race day feels so terrifying for me. All the hard work is necessary to having a good day, but it doesn’t guarantee a good day…

Getting back to the question of “Why?” Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote isn't really why I race. I revisit this question every marathon cycle. It’s a philosophical question, and while the why of running may change from day to day, the why I race stays fairly constant. See below…

That's going to be my mantra "Keep Calm, and Stay Fierce." I love it! Racing lets me stay fierce...whatever happens on Sunday...I hope to keep calm, and stay fierce.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Numbers Game

The Fun Part:
So I was bored, and decided to check some race predictors. You know, I have this marathon coming up, and I just ran a half, so yeah, it seemed like a fun thing to do. (Do you like how nonchalant I am?) I've only run two races recently. A 5K in 18:41 and a half marathon in 1:25:55. I used the half time for the predictors. Here's what I found:
  • I found this race predictor calculator over on Race Times, and really liked the predicted times it spit out at me. For one, based on my half marathon time it predicts an 18:41 5K time, which is exactly what I ran a month ago, so that's sort of interesting. And for another it predicts a marathon time of 2:59:08. Cool beans. 
  • This Race Predictor predicts an 18:51 5K and 2:59:35 marathon time based on my half time. (I like this one too.)
  • Another Race Calculator predicts an 18:26 5K and 2:59:56. Those are sweet times too (for me).
  • Yet another predicts an 18:42 5K and 2:59:07. This one is my favorite (for obvious reasons).
  • McMillan, on the other hand, is raining on my sub-3:00 parade with a prediction of 3:00:49. Boo, hiss, McMillan!
It seems only natural to find methods in which to predict one's marathon time. Especially once the taper begins. I mean, as the runner is forced to run less, we are also forced to go crazy. We tell ourselves that playing with the numbers is a way to keep us sane and mentally prepare for the big day to come, but in truth the numbers game really just displays our crazy for all to see.

Here, let me share an example. I was jauntily sharing with Nick how four of the five race predictors were predicting a sub 3:00 marathon based on last week's half marathon time. Rather than looking thoroughly pleased (as he should have). He looked really uncomfortable. Of course, I could tell what he was thinking. Race day performance is impacted by a variety of things like the weather and how one feels and a million other factors that play into having the "perfect" day. (Something I don't think I've experienced yet by the way.) Yeah, yeah, I know, but it's still sort of cool that some race predictors are predicting that I could possibly break 3:00, right? RIGHT!? (He pretty much continued to look uncomfortable until the topic of conversation changed.)

The Reality:
Do I really think I can break 3:00 on October 20th? I don't know. This is starting to feel stressful. Don't pressure me!!!

Seriously though, I have no idea. I didn't really train with a particular goal in mind. It's possible, but it seems (to me) if I am capable of breaking the big 3:00 mark, it would have to be a pretty darn good day. For one, I've never been able to run what the race predictors say I can run for a marathon. Realistically speaking, there's no evidence to suggest that this year I'll suddenly be able to run those predicted times. For another, though I haven't had a particular goal in mind, I've generally trained with a 7:03 marathon pace in mind, which is a 3:05.

Oh, also, I just started working full-time, which is definitely adding some unforeseen stress to this taper time. I woke up this morning at 4:50 am to run my 6 miles to find I had a sore throat and glamorously hacked out some thick green mucus before heading out on my run. On the plus side, I ran fine, so there's that. Am I worried? Hmmm, good question, I know I've been running well, and it would be nice just to feel reasonably well on race day, but I really have been more relaxed this training cycle. I have a lot going on, and other things that are taking priority right now, and that's just the way it is sometimes.

On a positive note, this was my last long run (yes, I'm still taking picture of Garmin and will use those pictures to console myself should I have a bad race day):

This "training" cycle has treated me surprising well. For this week, I'll embrace the taper, and focus on surviving work stress. Next week...well, let's not get too ahead of ourselves...

The Fun Non-Running:
We went apple picking again this weekend, and this was my favorite phone photo from the day. I love how my phone has a camera. I get to record these moments without any fuss or planning.

A Little Poll:
Do you believe in race predictors? Does anyone out there actually run the times that are predicted?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Providence Rock n Roll Half Marathon RP

In case you loath race reports and would rather not read every gory detail, I ran 1:25:55. That's about as short as it gets...

Oh you want some boring gory details? Thank you for humoring me. Thinking that someone might be interested in reading every aspect of my race saves my co-workers from having to listen to me talk about it, so they thank you too.

Pre-race week:
The week leading up to the race was fine, I guess. Everyone in the house has been sick, but not with anything serious. Just a typical start of school year virus. Still, it had made us all cranky and tired. It seemed every night just as I would fall asleep one of the kids would need me for something, and knowing that I had a race  AND that it was suppose to be a peak mileage week all this not sleeping irritated me. That's all fairly typical in my house though. Fall racing seems steeped in viruses...

Race morning:
I woke up at 4:00 am to drive myself to the race. I was really beginning to question how well I could possibly do. Usually I mentally prepare for races. I study the course. I usually taper. I think about the race and my goals. I didn't do any of that. I didn't even really know what I could expect to run with no taper. I was hoping that I could run 1:26:30, which wouldn't be a PR, but was what the race calculator predicted based on my last 5K time. I wound up at the race way too early, but managed to pass the time by sitting in a hotel lobby and visiting the bathroom every 10 minutes. Good times.

The start:
I moseyed on into my corral about 15 minutes prior to the start time, and found a fellow running buddy, Robin. The start was killing me. As 7:00 approached, the announcer states it will be a few more minutes. Then a few more minutes. They were killing me. Once I'm on the start line my race anxiety is at its peak, and doesn't start to dissipate until the race actually starts. I think it was only about 10 minutes late, but it felt like a long 10 minutes.

The Race: 
I don't know, the whole race was sort of a blur. I was the third place female for about 4-5 miles, then another lady passed me, and there was no fight in me to try to stick with her. My legs were just tired. Every time I ran up a hill my legs were burning. I managed to keep it at an average of 6:27 pace for the first 6 - 7 miles, but at some point after that I started slowing down. At the 10 mile mark I was at an average of 6:31 pace (according to the race clock), and then I knew I'd really like to break 1:26, but simply wasn't sure if I could manage not to slow down too much more. Around here another lady passed me. Again, I didn't even care. I also had a splitting headache, and mostly wanted to be finished, but there was still this tiny bit of hope that maybe just maybe I could break 1:26. The last 2.1 miles I was really making an effort. I was starting to catch up to that lady, but that wasn't my goal. At the 13 mile mark, there was a clock, and it read 1:25:10. There was also a hill. I knew if I could haul myself up that hill there was still a chance that I might break 1:26...and I did. 

Post Race:
I was super happy with my time. I PR'd. Only by four seconds, but a PR is a PR, right? There are few other reasons that I'm please with the outcome. For one, I hadn't tapered, and that does make a difference. My legs were definitely tired, and I had trouble mentally. For another, the course wasn't super fast. I don't think it was extremely challenging, but my marathon in three weeks is on a flatter course. And lastly, this is the first time I've ever run a half marathon faster than my last 5K predicted I would run. I'm generally a better at the 5K than half or full marathons...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sometimes I surprise myself

Marathon Training
Lately I've had a more relaxed attitude towards training. I'm still running workouts and putting in the miles, but I'm not stressing about running mega crazy or mega long workouts. I've also given myself permission to skip some of the interval stuff (which seems to stress me out for some reason), and simply focus on tempo runs (which keeps me more relaxed).

Why the relaxed attitude? Well, my mindset last year was a bit intense, and honestly I needed a change of pace. I can only be intense so long. Also, a lot is changing all at once: Kaylee just started first grade, I'm going back to work full-time in October, and Emily will be starting preschool in a few weeks. Really there's just more important stuff going on. So, when I embarked on my solo 20 miler early Sunday morning, I didn't have a firm goal in mind. I thought it would be nice to run around 7:35ish pace, but that was about it.

As you can see from the picture, I ran faster, and it was a huge shock to me. I can only guess that cooler temps played an integral role in my legs wanting to move faster. The run didn't feel harder than any of my other long runs, but those runs were done on warmer more humid days. But still, I was completely taken aback. Then I was wondering if I'd be sore on Monday. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a tiny bit stiff, but nothing was really sore, and I managed a 12 miler on Monday.

Now I'm left wondering what this means for BayState, which is in 5 weeks. My planned marathon pace was 7:03, and having just run a 20 plus miler at a faster pace, well, it seems as though my planned pace should change. Then I also have to wonder if I just peaked, and will be left at the marathon start line with no wind in my sails (and just this picture of my Garmin). But you know what, now that I'm thinking about, I don't even care. I'm sure my attitude will change as race day approaches, but for now I'm still shocked and excited that I was able to maintain a sub 7:00 minute pace for a 20 miler. That's good enough...for now.

Unrelated to running
Can I tell you a funny story? It's completely unrelated to running, but it's fun anyway. A few weeks ago Nick asked: "Can I borrow your crock pot?" I must have taken too long to respond because he followed up his question with: "Aren't you going to ask me why I want to use the crock pot?" To which I responded with raised eyebrows and, "well, I'm about 99% sure you don't plan to cook something..." As I'm scrunching up my face in what I imagine to be a look of suspicion, I add: "This doesn't have something to do with your RC truck does it? Because if you're planning to put chemicals in the crock pot, then the answer is definitely no." Nick suddenly looked shocked and amused and blurted out, "how did you know!" Then he laughed and started telling me how he had read that some people use crock pots to clean their RC truck engines, and while he didn't really plan to try it, he wanted to see what I'd say if he asked (as a joke). The moral of the story? First, wives are psychic. Second, crock pots are only for cooking.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I like to take pictures of my Garmin

I'm sort of marathon training. I write "sort of" because I don't feel the same fierce panic to run a mega PR like I did last year. I am training though, and when I go through my training log I can plainly see that I am running much faster than when I was training for BayState last year. I'm just going to assume that's probably good and leave it at that.

I don't have a "training plan" per se, but I have run 70+ miles six out of the last seven weeks. In that time I've also run a 17 miler, two 18 milers, and four 20+ miles. From the picture, you can see that I enjoy taking pictures of my Garmin after the fact. What you don't know is that I've done all my long runs on the track to make it look like I'm faster than I am. I'm joking! Maybe...

Hmmm, last post I mentioned a fast mile and two mile race on the track. That turned out to be a bust. It was fun though. I had the opportunity to see my old high school coach, which is always nice, but leading up the meet I had been ill and my asthma had kicked it up a notch. I wound up deciding to go and use it as workout. I wound up running 12:04 for the two mile, which was fine for a workout. The mile took place approximately five minutes after the two mile, and so the 5:52 I ran was okay. Not really race report worthy, but okay.

My alumni meet didn't exactly leave me oozing with confidence, but that took place about eight weeks ago, and it seems at least some of my running mojo has been resurrected since. Two weeks ago I ran a 5K on the track. My high school was having a 5K track meet that was open to anyone. A 5K on the track is hard to pass up. It's so fast on the track. I get excited just thinking about it...Anyway, there were only perhaps three downsides: first it took place at 9:00 pm (when I'm generally in my PJ's thinking about sleeping...hey no judging), second my high school is about an hour away (meaning it messed up bedtime, yes that's a big deal in my house), and third I've been marathon training (you know, building a base, running long, not doing short intervals). The upside: it was on the TRACK! Obviously, I had to go. Also, it's nice to see my coach.

To make a long story longer, I wound up running 18:41. I would be lying if I wrote that I wasn't a tiny bit disappointed for like 10 seconds. For some reason, I had thought that it was (of course) reasonable to assume that I could PR with no 5K training late in the evening simply because I was running on the track. I mean, running on a track does make you super human. It seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. Once I really thought about it though, I realized my time was good for where I am right now. There was also the fact that I didn't come in last, which had been a real possibility. The meet had several heats and my heat was suppose to be for those who could run 18:30 or faster (no pressure). I'm proud to say that I was only lapped by two people, and finished somewhere in the middle.

Besides not coming in last, I'm also happy because I ran strong and didn't feel completely wiped when I finished. I did make a couple mistakes that may have slowed me down a little. The first mile was 5:45, and I felt awesome. I had tucked myself right behind a girl and guy. Like practically on their heels. I thought that was a good place to be, but after the first mile they started slowing down. I still felt great, but was hesitant to pass them too early into the race because it takes energy to pass people on the track and (I'm ashamed to admit) that I was nervous that I would pass them and die out before the finish. That's probably the one downside to running on the track. There were a lot of people watching and there was some self imposed pressure not to embarrass myself. By the time I did pass them, I had lost a lot of time. My second mile was somewhere around 6:10. By this point I still felt good, but I knew a PR wasn't going to happen, and think I probably mentally checked out of the race. My last mile was around 6:05.

In the end, it was nice confidence booster. Also, I wound up winning $100. The high school girl who ran about minute (or more) faster than me can't accept race winnings. Not great for her, but sort of cool for me. Besides the money, everyone who registered received a t-shirt, a $20 gift card to Marathon Sports, and a 20% off coupon to Marathon Sports. For a little race, that has to be the best swag I've ever received. The gift card doesn't have any fine print or minimum that you have to spend. It's just a gift card. Cool beans. The cost of registration was $20, so basically the gift card is the cost of the race.

In case you're wondering, yes my high school coach invented the terrific FRoller which can be found: Yes, I bought a FRoller for myself about a year ago (though my coach is so nice he probably would have given me one), and yes I use it everyday. I love it. It's awesome. Enough said.

Saving the best for last...who will be registering for Boston next week?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Running update: training for a 1 mile and a marathon

This might be a new record of silence for me. Nearly two months. Yikes. And here I am now wondering what I'll blog about...

Generally things have been good. Kaylee just finished Kindergarten. Emily is sort of thinking about using the potty. That might actually be wishful thinking on my part. This morning she looked at me and said "Mommy, I just peed. I need to sit on the potty." Then she sat on the potty for a micrsecond, and declared emphatically with hand motions "Nothing came out!" I tried to explain (in an upbeat manner) that it's easier to go on the potty if you haven't already peed in your pull-up. To which she simply smiled, gave me a hug, and ran off. All in good time, right?

That's not really why you stopped by though, is it? Hmmmm, what have I been doing on the running front? Not much really. I'm running. The last few weeks I've been building up my mileage. Last week I ran 73 miles. The week before it was 67, I think. You know, just building a base. I've decided that I do want to run the BayState marathon in October, and so I'm building up right now.

A couple weeks after my last post I ran a 5K, and it was a huge fail. I think I ran 20:20. The course was a bit challenging with the whole last mile uphill, but I don't know, I just didn't have it that day. It was a downer. My first mile was 5:57, but it went south fast, and I can't help but think that mentally I wasn't in the game. It went right past my street though, and I couldn't pass it up (due the convenience factor). Though now, I wish I'd skipped it. After that huge fail, I decided it was time to back off and run easy for a while. So that's what I've been doing. Running easy.

Last week I started to add some short fast stuff to the running mix. This is true Experimental Running fashion: add short fast intervals to build weeks. I'm sure no coach would ever suggest it, but I'm on my own program. It might not be smart, but it's my way. Why am I adding intervals to my base building? Well, I have a high school track alumni meet on July 15th. I'd like to run a reasonably fast mile. Though to be perfectly honest, I don't know what that means exactly. I mean July 15th is less than three weeks away, so it's not like I can actually do much training (and have it be beneficial). If I could crack 5:30, I think I'd be happy. It wouldn't be a PR, but under the circumstances it would be a reasonably good time. I have no idea if I can do that, however.

That's all that's been going on the running front. Besides running, I've been focusing on trying to strengthen my core a bit. I hate pushups and crunches though, so I've been rowing instead. I've also been reading about how everyone is working on pullups and planks. Just for kicks I tried to do some pullups when I took the kids to the playground a week ago. (I must have looked absolutely crazy. I was in a sundress, because it's cool and comfortable, and you know, doing pullups. I'm completely normal like that.) I was able to do two full pullups, which is good for me. I think I'll keep working on that when I go to the playground (in my sundress).

And lastly I've been working on eating better. When training for BayState last year I lost some weight. Not on purpose. I just felt sick all the time (that's normal too, right)? I was probably training too hard. At some point after BayState (when training for Boston), my body must have become accustom to the training because I stopped feeling sick, and was so excited by that fact that I started eating everything. The result, of course, was gaining some weight. I had lost about 8-10 pounds, and gained back about 8-10 pounds. Well, I've since dropped most of that weight again, but not because I feel sick all the time, because I'm eating better. Hopefully that will help my training a bit.

That's what I've been up to. How about you? Any good potty training stories? ;)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Boston Marathon

The Truth:

Sorry for going silent. Every time I sat down to write a post about Boston, I just couldn't do it. I'm not an overly emotional person, but writing about the my race seemed impossible when other people's lives were irrevocably changed forever. I think part of it is that I work in the same building as Captain Davis. Both Captain Davis and his wife were injured in the blast. His wife lost her foot. The week before Boston another co-worker had a heart attack. He had a bad reaction to a medication he was given and lost both his legs below the knees. Needless to say being at the office has been tough, and I just haven't felt like writing.

The Race:

Here goes...the race was a bit tough. From the start, I had a stabbing pain in my right calf. It was strange given that I had no calf issues going into the race, but you know, it happens. I can only hypothesize that standing outside for an hour or so prior to the start made my legs tight, but that's just a guess. I actually ran the first half at what felt like a very easy pace. My heart rate was low, but my calf continued to get worse. By the time I got to the hills, my whole right leg was having issues. And then I sort of just gave up, or at least that's what I thought at the time. I knew I wasn't going to make my goal. I knew I was having some major leg issues.  And so I gave myself permission to just relax and get to the finish. 

Once I had finished, I was grateful that I had taken a cautious approach because I didn't feel well. I was limping, cold, and nauseous. Sometimes when I'm running I don't really know how bad things are until I stop. The next day I took off my compression socks to find my lower calf and ankle all black and blue. It actually looked worse than it does in the picture, and even after 15 days my right ankle is still black and blue. After 10 days, I went to the doctor to make sure it wasn't a blood clot. She told me I tore some muscle fibers that caused the bleeding, and the bleeding seeped into my ankle. She doesn't think it's anything serious. I am definitely not fully recovered though. Besides my ankle still being discolored, I have trouble running much more than 6 miles. Partly I don't feel like running right now, and that's okay.

My 5K splits are listed below. I know some will think that I went out too fast, but I don't think I did. My recent 18:34 5K and 1:25:59 half marathon both predicted a marathon time of 3:01. I purposely ran slower than that pace for the first half, but it didn't matter because my leg was simply having issues. And I'm okay with that. I'm glad I ran as well as I did under the circumstances.       
5K: 0:21:52
10K: 0:43:38
15K: 1:05:29
20K: 1:27:37
Half: 1:32:26
25K: 1:49:59
30K: 2:13:08
35K: 2:39:10
40K: 3:06:56
FINISH: 3:18:27

The Good Parts:

While there was heart wrenching tragedy at the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon, there were some nice memories before that tragedy struck...Some of the things I'd like to remember include:

I saw little kids so excited to hand out orange slices and give high fives that it was impossible for me not to smile. I did high five several little kids. They were so cute in their excitement. I saw one runner do a cartwheel because he was so pumped up by the crowd, and the crowd responded with screams of enthusiasm. I saw runners stealing kisses from the ladies in Wellesley, and it was adorable. My co-worker, Liz, swapped out my water bottles at mile 16, and her husband Steve jumped in the race and ran with me through the Newton hills. Steve has never met me, but was amazing. He'd urge the crowd to cheer for me by throwing up his arms and screaming "Let's hear it for Katie!" I remember running by Newton-Wellesley hospital, where I was born. My friend Ana-Maria jumped into the race for a bit around mile 19 to cheer and say hi. When I finished, fellow runners were giving congratulations, a volunteer wrapped a blanket around my shoulders, and another volunteer placed a medal around my neck. My parents found me in the crowd in the family meeting area and gave me a hug. When I got home I got a huge hug from Nick, and some big squeezes from my little girls. Those are some of things I'd like to remember about April 15, 2013...

The Reality:

It wasn't until Tuesday that I realized we were still within 300 meters of the blast when it happened. I was watching the video and race clock read 4:09. My parents and I were heading towards Fenway, where their car was parked. We had to pass by the finish and then by the 26 miler marker. I remember the 26 mile marker clock reading 4:30 and thinking it had taken so long to pick up my bag and find my parents...but we were on the opposite side of the road and crowd was so crazy thick there that we couldn't really see or hear anything. When we got to the car around 3:15ish, people were already calling and texting. We were lucky, but I still get choked up when I think about the people that weren't so lucky...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I am the worst blogger. I love reaching out to other runners, but as I get closer to an important race the less likely I am to blog about training or running or share what my goals are or other things that "normal" bloggers blog about. I love reading about all that stuff when other people write about it, but I like to make like a clam and close my shell. ;)

I don't think I mentioned this previously, but I was picked to blog about the Boston Marathon on I've done a few posts. My most recent post can be found here if you're interested...I found blogging on another site more challenging than I would have thought. I don't feel like I know the audience. I feel like most of the people who read this blog are probably people relatively similar to me, you know, running is just something we do (all the time). I'm not sure that's the case over on the other blog. Or at the very least, I just don't know what the general experience it. When writing posts I would find myself wondering if people would think an 80 mile week was excessive, or would they be really grossed out by the fact that I'm constantly losing my toenails? And for whatever reason, people can't seem to leave comments, so I have no idea what they might be thinking. 

I love when you guys leave comments. I think the best aspect of blogging is the dialogue that might come after a post. It's interesting to get other people's thoughts on various subjects. 

Well, Boston is 11 days away, so I guess I should mention the highlights. (If you're super interested in my training you can always see what I'm doing on DailyMile.) I'm in full on taper, and yes, also full on crazy mode. In true tapering fashion, my right hip started to bother me on Saturday, so I took Sunday and Monday off. 

During my peak week I ran 80 miles, last week I wound up with 53 (but had planned to run 60), and this week I'll probably wind up with 42-50 miles. All typical. My hip bothers me when I sit or lay down, but not when I'm running, which is also pretty typical for me. I'm so weird...

I have my ride to Boston with the GLRR all set, and my parents are picking me up at  the finish. My mom is so cute. I think she's been to the finish just to figure out where to park and such. I've been studying the course, and reading all kinds of "advice" for the Boston course, but honestly a lot of it seems random and not backed up by evidence or experience. I'm planning to call my college friend this weekend and get her take on the course. She's run there at least twice successfully. I'm predicting that when she eventually gets back there that she'll run sub-3:00. 

Feel free to throw in your thoughts on the Boston course (or if you'll be at Boston). One of the sillier things I read was to go out 25 seconds slower than MP for the first 5 miles...there was no explanation for this (other than you'll feel better at the end). I don't get it, though. It seems to me that it may actually take more energy to slow down that much if you're running down hill. Perhaps I'm missing something crucial.

I'll leave you with this gem from Calvin and Hobbes that Nick sent me last week. I'm not sure if it's Kosher that I copied it, but I got it from: It. Is. AWESOME! As an aside, Kaylee is a lot like Calvin sometimes. One day she asked me if she could pretend her pancakes were "grubs and slugs". 

Monday, March 18, 2013

New Bedford HM RR (1:25:59)

New Bedford wasn't on my racing plan, but the Hampton half was cancelled due to poor weather. Even then, it wasn't necessarily the next half I would have chosen, but it turned out my parents were running it. And I love going to races with my parents. Also, they bribed me with promises of a St. Paddy's day dinner at their place afterwards, and who could say no to that?

In honor of it being St. Patrick's day and all, I decided to paint my nails, which only happens for particularly special can see the result over on the left. (As a side note, I honestly don't know how people can paint their nails all the time. I do it maybe three times a year, and every time I find it extremely annoying.)

Race day was great. I met my parents at their place, and then we went down to the race together. I found one of my best running friends from college, Amy, almost by accident and was able to run a warm up with her and her teammates from Whirlaway, which was awesome. I find running a warm up with a group to be relaxing before a race. Maybe it reminds me of college cross-country. We finished our 2 mile warm up about 10-15 minutes before the start. We dropped off our layers and only waited maybe 5 minutes before the race started. This was a fairly sizable race, and we couldn't quite push our way to the front, but after about 400 meters or so we were moving at a good clip. We passed the first mile at 6:12. Too fast. A race start like this is difficult though. Sometimes it's almost better to go out a little faster, rather than going out at your designated pace where you'll spend more energy weaving around people. Somewhere around here Amy had to drop over to the side to tie her shoe. She eventually caught up to me (and finished a minute ahead of me). The girl is like the energizer bunny! Anyway, the first mile wasn't my fastest, so I don't think I necessarily went out too fast.

I never quite felt in control of the race though. You can see my splits below, and they're all over the place. Some of that has to do with the hills. I'm sure if you looked at my splits against an elevation map you'd find that that the faster splits were downhill. During some miles the wind was irritating, but then the course would turn down a road and the the wind would be gone. So it wasn't constant. After mile 7, I was really having trouble hanging tough. I vurped a few times...going off track here, but have you ever seen "Wreck It Ralph"?

It's a cool ode to video games movie. There's a go-cart racer in the movie named Vanellope von Schweetz. At one point she's getting ready to race and she tells Ralph that she's "so nervous she's thinks she's going to vurp, you know when some vomit mixes with a burp and rises up."

Somewhere around mile 7, I started vurping my gel, which has never happened to me before. I decided against taking a second gel. Also, I didn't wear my hydration belt, but I still can't actually get water from a cup into my mouth while I run. I did attempt it at almost every water station, and failed miserably. It's sort of embarrassing, and borderline ridiculous. Around here, I also wound up with a side stitch, but nothing that I couldn't run through. I'm not sure if it was poor hydration or poor spirit, but by mile 10 I was starting to wane. The picture to the right is a fair depiction of how I felt...

When I crossed the 10 mile mark I was running an average pace of 6:28. The next 3 miles were tough, as they always are in a half marathon, but I don't usually slow down so much. My mile 11 and 12 splits were awful. 12-13 was awful too, but there was a fairly long hill there, so I can cut myself some slack for that.

The mile 10, 11, and 12 splits are bothering me. Something wasn't right there. Either I went out too fast, something wasn't right with the hydration stuff, or I let myself give in...I'd like to study my HR splits, but I wore the Polar HR strap and I can't get my HR splits unless I connect to their site and download the data from my watch. I haven't been able to do that yet. It's a little frustrating because you can view your HR splits on the Garmin without having to connect it to a computer. Anyway, I'd like to get that information and see if I glean something from it.

I did get my average heart rate from the Polar watch, which was 162. The watch is claiming that 162 is 87% of what it calculates my maximum HR should be. So now I'm wondering what percentage of your maximum HR is one suppose to be at when they run a half marathon? (Feel free to throw in your 2 cents if you train by heart rate. I'd love to know what others think on the subject.)

While my 10, 11, 12, and 13 mile splits were bad, my last 0.1 was fast. I saw the clock, and knew there was still a chance I could break 1:26 if I hauled it in. My official chip time wound up being 1:25:59, which is a ginormous PR for me. And so, it was a great day. Not to mention that I got to see so many running friends, and many of them ran well too. Another college friend, Justin, ran a PR. My co-worker, Rachel, ran a PR. And, of course, Amy, who wound up with an official chip time of 1:25:01! And she stopped to tie her shoe!

The rest of the day was awesome. I ran back to find my parents on course, and ran with them to the finish. I wound up with 19.5 miles for the day. I had wanted to run 20, but we also walked almost a mile to and from where we parked the car, and I was standing from 10:00 to 1:30, so good enough.

Back at my parents place, Nick and the kids were waiting for us. We ate our corn-beef and cabbage, and whoopie pies, and just had a great time. Overall, a great day! Huge thanks to Nick for watching the kids all day, and to my parents for driving me to the race AND making dinner!

Now there's Boston to think about...

NB HM Splits
Mile 1: 6:12
Mile 2: 6:31
Mile 3: 6:44
Mile 4: 6:33
Mile 5: 6:17
Mile 6: 6:17
Mile 7: 6:08
Mile 8: 6:29
Mile 9: 6:30
Mile 10: 6:39
Mile 11: 6:47
Mile 12: 6:45
Mile 13: 6:54
Last .1: 5:40

Monday, March 11, 2013

A bone to pick with Hanson's Marathon Method

My thoughts on Hanson:

I've been hearing murmurings of this "training plan" that doesn't go above 16 miles for a long run. And hearing things like "Hanson doesn't believe in 20 milers" and "20 milers are excessive". Finally, one of my old high school assistant coaches started preaching the praises of the Hanson method, and I could no longer ignore all the hoopla. I went out last week and bought the Hanson Marathon Method book. .

I don't subscribe to any particular type of marathon training, but I will confess that 20 plus milers are my least favorite part of marathon training. Mostly because of the time requirement. When I have the opportunity to run with someone like AM, I find the actual run fun. But most of the time I'm relegated to running on my own, and being completely honest, I find it boring after 15-16 miles. The promise of only running 16 miles is appealing.

What's my problem with Hanson? First of all, Hanson believes that the 20 miler is an arbitrary distance chosen by many training plans with no evidence to support choosing that distance. The book points out that there is evidence to suggest that running longer than three hours doesn't provide additional physiological benefit to the long run (and it take many people longer than three hours to run 20 miles). The book also points out that when training for any other distances the general rule of thumb for a long run is 25-30% of a runner's total weekly mileage. So say you're running 40 miles a week, then a 20 miler is 50% of your weekly mileage...All of that sounds reasonable to me. And notice none of that focuses on only running a 16 mile long run. Except all I keep hearing about from other runners is how it's not necessary to run more than 16 miles for a long run! Of course, that could be because there are only two training plans in the book (beginner and advanced), and both only have three 16 mile long runs. The peak mileage for these plans is between 57 and 63 miles a week. It seems to me that there are enough runners out there that peak at 70-80 to miles a week that there could be another training plan in there, and THAT training plan would probably have 20 mile long runs, you know, because of that whole 25-30% of weekly mileage rule.

It could just be an issue of runners reading what they want out the book too. Hanson admits in the book that the elite runners in the Hanson project do run 20-22 milers, but they also run 100-130 miles a week, so it fits. I guess I'm more irritated that others have taken the program to mean that Hanson doesn't support runs longer than 16 miles, because it simply isn't true.

All that 16 miler business aside, I did like the book. The program focuses on cumulative fatigue. Basically when you run long the program is trying to simulate the last 16 miles of the marathon. As a result, you generally run your long runs harder than traditional plans and on tired legs. I like the idea. Though, I might like it because a lot of my training has been focused on the same idea. He outlines a number of different, but simple workouts, and has a chart for each workout to let you figure out what your pace should be based on what your goal marathon time should be. It's done well enough that you can create your own plan, which is what I like to do.

The biggest downside to the book (for me), is that it's focused on runners who run 3-4 days a week, and trying to get those runners to run 6 days a week. Essentially getting people who are running 35-40 miles a week to run 55-60 miles a week. Now I completely agree that getting runners to run 6 days a week and upping their 35-40 miles a week to 55+ will greatly improve their marathon times, but I've already done that. Since my body seems to be handling the slightly higher mileage of 70-80 miles, I don't think that I would decrease my mileage to follow his lower mileage plan (especially when he's not suggesting that one's overall weekly mileage should decrease, but increase).

Moving beyond Hanson, and jumping down the rabbit hole:

Deviating from the Hanson topic, I did notice something interesting when reading the book. I've run a number of workouts mentioned in the book (like the 6x1 mile repeats), and my paces are faster than suggested for my marathon goal time. This got me to thinking about how I have to train harder than suggested in many training plans to meet my goals...I really don't think I'm doing anything wrong. My workout paces simply have to be faster than suggested, or I won't be able to run my goal time for my race. I've noted this in the past, and have changed my training accordingly.

A few weeks ago, my co-worker's husband ran a 3:11 marathon. It was a significant PR for him. He's a recreational runner, and he's been running for at least 10 years. His training peaked at maybe 50 miles. He ran his long runs at MP, but didn't really run any structured schedule. He didn't do tempo runs or interval runs. When I ran 3:11, I peaked at 76 miles, ran tempo, interval, and MP runs. I know, I know, guys run faster than girls, BUT now I'm wondering about all these training plans out there. If you have a guy and a girl who have the same time goal, would you give them the same training plan down to the same paces for the workouts? Are most of these training plans actually designed for men? Should it not matter? Obviously in this case it mattered. There's no way I would have run 3:11 on his plan, and if he had run my schedule he would have certainly run faster. Maybe it's not necessarily a difference between men and women, but a difference in running potential? In either case, it brings up some interesting questions about training. It seems to me that cookie cutter training plans are probably only good for your first few marathons when you're trying to figure out what works for you. After that, you probably need to create your own plan or get a coach...

Any thoughts? Am I completely crazy?

On the homestead:

We went sledding this weekend in our backyard. It's funny we have two sledding tubes. Kaylee sleds the whole time, and Emily fills her tube with snow. She's quite happy just filling it with snow. And there she is doing just that...two year olds...they're so weird. ;)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Preparing a Ride to Boston

With 39 days until Boston, which is practically right around the corner, it's time to start figuring out how I'm getting to and from the race. I live relatively close by, but I don't want to drive myself, and I don't really want Nick to have to drop me off either. He would, but he'll be watching the kids, we don't know that specific area (that we'd be driving to) super well, and I know I'll be nervous. That combo will probably just lead to more stress for everyone involved. I'd rather take a team bus, where I can drive to a close by location and have them take care of the rest. It's much more care free (for me). Of course, that means I have to be a club member. In theory, picking a club/team should be easy. There's a running club in Lowell (GLRR), which is closest to me. I don't know anyone in the club though, so I have no particular allegiance to the group, but they're convenient. (And I'm sure once I meet them I'll feel some comradely.)

But there were two other possibilities as well. There's the Gate City Striders, which isn't much further than Lowell. I not only have a running friend from college in that club, but I met a number of club members at Derry, and of course everyone was great. Then there's the Whirlaway team. One of my best friends from college runs for Whirlaway, which makes it the most appealing option (because I hardly ever get to see her anymore). Also, if I was serious about getting faster, these ladies would push me there. I'd probably be the 6th runner on the team. That means when we raced, say a half marathon, I would probably be the 6th member of the team to finish (5 other ladies on my team and in my age group would be ahead of me). In my mind, the biggest downside to that is my stress level. I'm sure it would make me faster, but I'm comfortable right now doing my own thing, and not worrying about where I finish on a team, or if I'm letting people down because I didn't run fast enough. I think if I didn't have some specific marathon goals right now, then I would find the Whirlaway team too good to pass up, which probably sounds odd.

Let me explain. Right now I'm very focused on the marathon distance. I see that changing after October, but my racing right now is centered around my marathon training. And the marathon is such a mental suck, that I'm concerned a serious team will play games with my mind. When I let go of the marathon stress, I think team running will become more appealing, fun, and interesting. And it would be so much fun to run with my college friend again!

So I promised my friend that I wouldn't join any team without talking to her first, but I had already joined the GLRR club. Here's the deal though, you can join a club, but not necessarily the team. To score for the team you have to be registered with that team under the USATF. I'm not registered with the GLRR team, just the club, but I have this funny feeling that might change...I just received an email from the club asking which of us are running Boston. They want to select who will be registered to score for the team, but they also need to keep track for the whole bus thing. Given that I'm not a member of any team (at this point), it's probably going to be difficult not to join (since I'm in the club) if they ask. I'd be okay with that though. I'd love to run with my college friend, but I feel a lot less stressed about the seriousness of the GLRR team (hopefully no one gets offended by that statement). And it might be fun to be on a team that doesn't stress me out. Of course, I haven't mentioned my times to anyone and no one knows me, so there's also a good chance that I'll slip through without notice.

Thinking about running with and being a part of a running group is exciting! I don't see myself being able to commit to very many group runs right now, but after Boston I could see myself running long runs with the group. They often run on the BayState course. Of course, if AM decides to run BayState and wants to do some on course runs, I could be easily convinced to stray from the group. ;)

And just for fun here are a couple of phone pics:

 My little kindergartner. She'll be testing for her yellow belt in Kenpo in a couple weeks, which is sort of new and interesting for us. 

Do NOT be fooled. This one is crazy. Lately, she's been running around screaming, "Rawwr, I'm a headless horse! I have no head!" Really, I couldn't make this up if I tried. The other thing she does is chase Kaylee around screaming, "WOOOOoooo, I'm the ghost of the forest!!!" Which, for whatever reason, really freaks Kaylee out...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

No Race Report!

On Racing
I was suppose to race this past Sunday, but didn't. It totally wasn't my fault though. Totally. I'm pointing the finger at Mother Nature. Early during the week they started predicting snow. La la la la la, I can't hear you weather people. Yeah, I ignored all that, and continued my marvelous taper. By Thursday, it was getting harder to ignore. SNOW SNOW SNOW! By Friday they cancelled the race. Yes, the race was scheduled for Sunday, and cancelled on Friday. Anyway, at the time I was sort of happy they called it because I was able to run again on Friday, run 21 miles on Saturday, and then 10 miles on Sunday to at least get me to 60 miles for the week. The race probably could have happened though. Where I was it was snowing all day, but only three inches of accumulation, and when we went out for the dinner the roads were just wet. Oh well. I've registered for the New Bedford half, which takes place on March 17. My parents are running it with their running club and lured me into it with promises of fun times with other runner friends and corn beef and cabbage. My parents know me so well. How could I decline a St. Paddy's day race or corn beef and cabbage? 

Training has been going well. I think. This training cycle has been a little crazy. I've been running 60-70 miles a week, which isn't outlandish for me, but I've been doing some crazy workouts. Instead of running a ton of 20 milers this time, I've been more focused on running harder but a little shorter. I've run a number of hard 16 milers. They always have purpose though. What I mean is, I don't just go and run as fast as I can. I'll do things like start at MP and then do 3x5K with 2 minute "rest" jogs at MP. The end result is fast (for me), but not just run as fast as you can for as long as you can. In fact, I've been doing a lot of runs like that. One of my runs last week was a planned "easy" run, but I also wanted to run some surges just to get my legs turning over. It was a 9 miler, and most of the run was done at 8:00 pace, but I did a hard 600 meter every 8 minutes, which brought the average pace down to 7:15. If I've being honest with myself, that's probably not a super easy run. Part of me has been interested in how far I can push myself before I completely unhinge. The trick, I think, is to sense the unhinging coming and then back off. That's what I'm telling myself anyway. And I did just that on Monday. I had a 10 miler planned. Mostly easy with 2x15 minutes at 10K pace. As soon as I started the hard part I knew I should back off. My sinuses hurt, my glands were swollen, and my legs were trashed from my long run. I did slow down. But then I started throwing in random surges at 5K pace. In the end, I was really irritated with myself. Sometimes it's hard to deviate from the plan even when it's in your own best interest. I want to run 70 miles this week, and since I'm clearly feeling under the weather, I am going to try to take it easy for the rest of the week.

BayState Pictures
Ah yeah, BayState was last October. I never did post any pictures. They're all pretty bad, which in a way is a sign that I gave it my all. Also, I look like a beast....

 If you look really really close at my eyes, it looks like I'm turning into a zombie...don't worry though, I didn't.

 Thank goodness I don't look like this all the time. I'm terrifying!

This is probably the best picture...

Completely Unrelated
Nick built me a new computer. The RAM he used is called Vengeance. He's so sweet. Now I have my very own speed machine.

My computer is a beast too.  ;)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Relating my race to how training is going...

Some additional thoughts on Derry:
It's funny, I found running Derry sort of befuddling. I really wanted to somehow correlate my pace to either my marathon pace or half marathon pace, but just couldn't do it. Then it dawned on my that I wasn't attacking the issue from the correct angle. Runners are just different. Some are really strong on a hilly course or in the bitter cold, and some aren't. As a result, it's very difficult to find the correlation I was looking for.

What I was truly looking for though, was how my training is going. I do most of my runs on the treadmill. It's a combination of being a busy mom and trying to stay injury free. But TM running simply isn't the same as running outside, so how can I tell if my TM runs are on track with what I think my MP and HMP should be? Well, I did run a workout on the treadmill two weeks prior to Derry that was meant to "simulate" Derry as much as possible. I ran 16 miles. The first 8 miles were at a 1% incline. Mile 9 was at at 4% incline, Mile 10 was at a 5% incline, and the first 2 minutes of mile 11 were at a 6% incline. Then I thought my heart was going to explode, so I paused the TM, took a 2 minute breather, jumped back on and finished the rest with no incline. My average pace for this run was 6:50 (excluding the 2 minute break). If I factor in the 2 minute break (because race clocks don't pause), then my pace was 6:57. I climbed around 800 feet during this "simulation." Derry has total climb of about 600 feet. My pace at Derry was 6:53. So my pace at Derry was a little faster than my TM run, but the climb was less too. I know it's not an exact science or an exact correlation, but it's as close I'm going to get. I actually felt a lot better running Derry than I felt running the "simulation" on the TM. (Probably because the week I ran Derry was a cut back week, while the "simulation" was during a 70 mile week.) Now, at least, I feel like I know where I stand with my TM running.

More on the tread mill:
Now the TM is interesting because I don't believe that all distances correlate the same. For example, I've broken 18 minutes in the 5K on the TM, but have only run 18:34 recently on the roads. (I don't count TM runs for my PR's.) I was running with no incline at the time, so there's that, but I also know from my own experience that as the distance gets shorter (or the faster the pace) there seems to be more "advantage" time wise on the mill (at least for me). As the distance gets longer, the times start to correlate better (for me). Last year prior to running the Hampton Half, I ran an 8 mile workout on the TM at 6:40 pace (with no incline). At Hampton I wound up running 6:49 pace, which probably seems like the TM was off by more than you'd like to see, but when you consider that the TM run was 8 miles (versus 13), and that I was incredibly sick at Hampton, I think it's probably not all that bad. This last summer and fall while training for the BayState Marathon, I did all my marathon paced runs at 7:19 pace (no incline), and did wind up running 7:19 pace at BayState.

Unfortunately, I don't feel like the TM builds confidence for me. I feel like it's "fake" running. When I input my runs into DailyMile, I feel like reporting those paces is cheating. I will admit, that once or twice I've added a couple minutes to a TM run when I reported it on DM. I know some of you are looking at my DM stuff, so 99% of the time, I am totally honest, but there have been maybe a half dozen runs over the last 2 years, where I ran a huge PR on the mill and just felt weird about it, so I added some time to the total. Part of the issue might be that I often keep one hand on the TM when I run, and I feel like that's cheating too. But running hard is sort of scary on the TM, and I've promised Nick that I'll be with him forever. Keeping that one hand on makes me feel less like I'm going to get thrown across the room if I stumble a bit. I do try to make sure that I'm not "hanging" on the machine in anyway.

I'm trying to get over my TM hangups. The truth is, that it's not exactly like running outside, but it almost doesn't even matter. It's a training tool, and there are things you can do with the TM that you can't do outside. If you have an elevation map of a course, you can sort of "simulate" that course like I did with Derry. You can train your body to know what a certain pace feels like. My workouts heavily rely on using the specific pace (or slightly faster) than what I'm training for. You can put the TM on that pace and just rely on it to maintain it for you. That's huge for me. When I'm outside by myself, it's so easy to just give in. For me, it's a lot easier to slow down outside, than it is for me to touch that minus button...It's almost like having a training partner or having someone pace you. I also found this interesting article on TM running. Basically it says running on the TM feels harder, but is actually easier due to lack of wind resistance. It was interesting to read, because most of my paces do feel harder on the TM (well all except 5K pace, 5K pace feels easier on the mill to me).

Derry Pics:
Remember how I mentioned the the Greater Derry Track Club (GDTC) did a great job organizing the race? Well, they had Nuvision Action Image do the photography. And guess what!? You can download the full resolution image for free! No strings attached! Apparently the cost of the photography is covered with the race registration fee. That's pretty cool. Derry's registration fee was $50, and I have to say it was worth every dollar. Okay, so here are a few pics of me at Derry. Note that I looked pained AND I'm slightly heel striking (so I was probably tired too). To be fair, there were a number of pictures where I wasn't heel striking, but I didn't like them as much as these...

 My Stride is a lot longer than I thought...oh, and yes, I am wearing arm warmers over my jacket.

 Those are the CW-X tights I mentioned last ugly...yet so awesome.

 So my arm swing always crosses my body, which is bad, but I can't seem to fix it...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Derry Boston Prep 16 Miler RP

This is a race that runners tell horror stories of. While I was waiting in the bathroom line prior to the start, I was listening to the ladies talk. Most had run the race several times, and they all had a tale of horror for each year they ran. I didn't hear anyone say, "Well, when I ran in year such and such, the weather was great!" And to be completely fair, I think the weather is pretty awful every year. This year it was 14 degrees at the start, but with 14 MPH winds the "feels like" temperature was about 2 degrees. From what I've heard, the worst year was run in the snow. I'm not sure I would have run if had been snowing. Knowing what I know now about the course, I can write without a doubt that I wouldn't run in the snow. There are some steep downhills that I cannot imagine running when slippery...but I digress...

I arrived at the gym about an hour early to collect my number. I quickly found Raelyn and her running group. Everyone was very nice. Everyone was also very nervous. It seems that runners both love and hate this race, and almost everyone I spoke to was calling this a "training" or "tempo" run. I really didn't know what to expect. I mean I knew the course was challenging. I knew miles 9-12 were suppose to be ridiculously hard. I knew the last 4 miles were suppose to be mostly downhill. I knew it was suppose to be cold. But I had no idea what that would mean for me. I had told Raelyn that I was thinking/hoping to run around 6:45-6:50 pace, but that was really a shot in the dark.

I actually felt a lot better when I saw that everyone else was nervous too, though I'm not sure why because it probably should have made me more nervous (given that these runners were all Derry veterans). I was most nervous about the cold (and so were they). I had run an easy run earlier in the week where the "feels like" temperature was -5 degrees, and it was just miserable. Dressing for races can be tricky. When it's cold everything needs to be covered, but you also don't want so many layers that you start to sweat and get colder because you're sweating. Did that make sense? Anyway, I was having trouble figuring out what to's what I started with.

Running Ninja

I told Kaylee I was going to be a running Ninja. She replied, "Momma, ninjas wear black." That kid is way too serious and literal sometimes. So, while it looks scary and silly, I needed to have something to cover my face for at least the first few miles. I have asthma, which hates hates hates running hard in the cold. Breathing through something for the first few miles helps.

After everyone finally figured out what they were wearing, it was time to head to the start. My first impression was that the cold didn't feel too awful. We only had to wait on the line for 5 minutes, so we didn't freeze while waiting. I think the cold felt worse while running. I was breathing through my makeshift mask, but it was getting wet from my breath, so I'd take it off, then the air would feel to cold to breath, so I'd put it back on. I did this on/off thing constantly through the first 5 miles, then I mostly kept it off, but really the air was just too cold to breath. My impression of the first 5 miles was something like, "yeah, this is hard, but not impossible." and "I wish the air wasn't so cold."

I was really waiting for the dreaded miles 9-12, and they didn't disappoint. They were some pretty tough spots, to which I just kept telling myself, "just keep running, just keep running." (Insert Dori's sing songy voice from Finding Nemo.) Around mile 10 or 11 Raelyn found me. I should probably mention that I ran this race completely alone. The first 5 miles or so I could see people, but at some point I couldn't see any runners at all. I had this awful feeling that I was going to get lost. Really I could see no one. So, when she came up and started running next to me, it was a huge relief. We sort of ran near each other for a mile or so, but she was just ready to go, and I couldn't hang on to her.

After the super hard miles, the last four miles were suppose to be much easier. It was sort of a joke though, because we turned the corner towards those "easy miles" and ran straight into a ridiculous head wind. It was just miserable. After 12 miles of running, I was still cold, my chest was tight, and this head wind was just making everything more uncomfortable. But what's a runner to do? I don't think running slower would have helped. I still would have been cold and miserable. The only real option is to hang on...

With about a mile to go, I was completely alone again. I couldn't see anyone in the distance. ANYONE. I was completely panicked that I wasn't running on the course anymore. I just kept going and eventually I hit someone directing traffic. A couple of turns later and I was done! Phew.

My official time was 1:50:20 (6:53 pace). I finished first in my age group, but Raelyn was completely robbed. She beat me by at least 30 seconds and placed second in her age group. I think the competition was fierce this year.

My thoughts on this race? Hmmm, I have no idea what to think. It was a good training race for Boston. It was definitely hard. The GDTC organizes this race, and I have to say they do an excellent job. The race starts at the middle school. They open the gym to the runners, so there's no waiting in the cold, and there are real bathrooms to use. There is someone directing runners at every single turn, so as long as you don't start taking random turns you won't get lost. That's a big deal. These people are standing out in the freezing cold for hours! They also had results kiosks in the gym. I was able to look up my official time right after I finished, which was awesome. We got long sleeved tech tops and a nifty pair of running gloves too. I didn't stay for the awards, but I've heard they have chicken soup and coffee. Really a great race. Now, will I run it again? I would love to say YES! Of course! It's well run. It's challenging. The runners and volunteers are all great. Unfortunately, the price I paid for running 16 hard miles in the cold was steep. My asthma was bothering me the rest of the day, and today though my legs aren't sore my chest and back are very sore (I think from breathing so hard). And given that this race is notorious for its difficult weather conditions, I will probably have to pass.

For anyone interested, my Garmin splits are below. The orange highlighted miles were the miles with the most uphill, which is probably obvious given the slower splits. You can tell where there's lots of uphill and lots of downhill based on my splits. Except mile 14. That's a slower split without a lot of uphill (just a lot of headwind).

Mile 1: 6:55 
Mile 2: 6:41
Mile 3: 6:04 
Mile 4: 6:29
Mile 5: 7:12
Mile 6: 6:32
Mile 7: 6:44
Mile 8: 6:42
Mile 9: 6:53
Mile 10: 7:29
Mile 11: 7:29
Mile 12: 7:49
Mile 13: 6:57
Mile 14: 7:07
Mile 15: 6:51
Mile 16: 6:23

Monday, January 21, 2013

A new book, a race, and random

Something cool:
I recently discovered that a new pregnancy book focused on fitness will be released soon! Kristina wrote this gem, and you can find it here on Amazon. I'm so excited for Kristina! And also excited that there will be a newer good book that tackles pregnancy and fitness. I ran through both of my pregnancies. With Kaylee, my first, I was nervous about running and basically stuck to about 35 miles a week of running (even though my doctor said it was fine to keep doing what I had always been doing). I also used the elliptical machine and stationary bike. With Emily, my second, I found "Exercising Through Your Pregnancy", which made me feel so much better about running while being pregnant. During that pregnancy, I averaged 45-55 miles a week, and ran 8 miles the day that I wound up giving birth. "Exercising Through Your Pregnancy" is a decade old though, and I've been wondering when a newer book would be written. And, well, here it is, "Fit & Healthy Pregnancy"!

Hearing about this new book got me thinking about being pregnant and running while pregnant. It would be great if we could get a whole slew of non-pregnant people to read a book like this. The important people around me supported me while I was pregnant and running, but there were still many people who felt the need to make comments insinuating that I was being irresponsible by running. You know, the old: "Is that safe for the baby?" The comment that clearly indicates that they believe it is not, in fact, safe for the baby. The sassy me always wanted to say something snide, but usually I stuck with something like, "Well, my doctor tells me it's safe, so I think it's probably fine..." And then I would be furious for the rest of the day. Those people really need to read this book! Right!? Anyway, you should really check it out, and spread the word!

I have a race this weekend:
Maybe two weeks ago I randomly decided to register for the Derry Boston Prep 16 miler, which is this upcoming Sunday. I am ever so slightly nervous. Like just a tiny bit...It is a notoriously challenging course, run in notoriously difficult conditions. But whatever, I've already registered...

Okay, I'm being a little dramatic. But when you read race reports entitled "practicing death one hill at a time" you start to wonder what you've gotten yourself into. The truth is though, I need this race. I've been running almost all my runs on the treadmill, which I believe helps keep this injury prone runner, injury free, but the fact is the treadmill isn't the same as the road. Since I will be running Boston in April, this race will give me a good idea how well my training is going. I have no idea what to expect for a pace, but I'm planning to find Raelyn and let her teach me a thing or two about the course. I met her on the start line of BayState. She ran about two minutes faster than me at BayState, and she's won Derry in the past, so I'm pretty sure she knows what she's doing. That's my race plan. Stick with Raelyn...There's not much else to say about that. The last two weeks I've run 70 miles (per week). I've had some good workouts, but I'm a bit tired. This week would have been a back off week regardless of the race, so that's good. I hope to run 55-60 miles (including the race).

I think my kids are fairly normal, but from time to time we find them running around pretending and yelling about the oddest things. Kaylee has (on more than one occasion) run around yelling that she's "hunting". Around Thanksgiving she was constantly pretending to "hunt" for turkeys. She even built a turkey trap with Nana. It was so weird, because we don't hunt or know anyone that does. We do eat turkey though, and we have wild turkeys in our yard all the time, so maybe that's where she gets it from. Yesterday she was pretending to hunt deer...When you add Emily to the mix, things really start getting crazy. We have this soft castle that includes a little princess, knight, and dragon doll. The other day Emily pointed out the knight and said "that's me, that's Emily". She pointed at the princess doll and said, "that's Kaylee", which is sort of funny because when they play "rescue" Emily is always "saving" Kaylee. Anyway, Kaylee heard her and  furiously yelled "I'm not a princess, I'm a bounty hunter!" Just for the record, the bounty hunter thing is a Star Wars reference. Kaylee has seen the original Star Wars Trilogy (once), and has several Star Wars books. But still, it was funny and odd to hear her yell it out like that. Of course, five minutes later they were fighting over who gets to wear mommy's powder blue scarf, so it's not all hunting, knights, and bounty hunters, but you know, they do keep it interesting. So I'm wondering if anyone else's kids pretend crazy stuff?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I have a confession...

It's not always rainbows and lollipops over here at experimental running. Don't get me wrong, life is good, but I am fairly certain that I am constantly on the hairy edge of becoming injured at any given time. At first, I thought this was a reminder that I'm not a natural. And I'm definitely not a natural, but the really really talented runners are also always on the hairy edge of becoming injured. Over the summer, I read an article on the Americans running the Marathon in the Olympics, and at the time, nearly all of them had some type of injury concerns. That's when it really hit me that nothing makes you immune to injury, and getting faster means higher risk of getting hurt.

So how do I stay injury free? Well, the fact is, regardless of my routine, at some point I'll get injured (and I've been injured many times). I don't mean to sound negative, I'm just assuming that eventually I'll have to take some time off due to running a lot (a.k.a. overuse).

Though I tend not to write about it, I do have a routine "to help" keep me healthy. I'm not trying to be sneaky Raina! I just find writing about preventative maintenance a bit boring. And my husband is always telling me I shouldn't tempt fate (jinx it), by writing about it. Because now that I've written about it, next week I'll probably be posting about how my legs fell off. Stupid legs...

Anyway, I was writing about preventative maintenance. It's probably easiest if I just make a list:

  1. I use the FRoller after nearly all my runs. I love it! My high school coach invented it, and really, it's great. The FRoller is a new toy that I bought myself before Christmas. It's a little like the stick, but you freeze it.  Before the FRoller, I was rubbing my legs down with 4-6 ice cubes after almost all my runs. Using the FRoller is better. It's like a cool message. I know AM! Icing might make the muscles weaker rather than stronger, but I swear by this, and I'm not even sure if you can call this icing. It's nothing like throwing an ice pack on for 20 minutes or submerging yourself in an ice bath. My legs feel a whole better since I've started it.
  2. Now that it's winter time, I wear CW-X compression tights after hard runs (at night). They are expensive and ugly, but I have to say that they help. My legs always feel better in the morning. I only have one pair and I've had them for four years now, so I'd say that they're worth the cash. 
  3. I do most of my hard running on the treadmill. Actually lately, because of the snow, I've been doing most of my running on the treadmill. I believe the treadmill is much more forgiving when running hard. It's definitely not fun. And it doesn't quite correlate to road times (I can run faster on the TM than the roads), but honestly the point is to get a good workout and run hard without getting hurt, so as long as I keep my expectations in check on race day the TM is a good option for me (not for everyone). Trails are also an excellent option (and trails with big hills make for a great workout), but not realistic for me at this stage in my mommy hood.
  4. I take my vitamins. Yes, I have noticed a huge difference since starting to take vitamins. Besides a typical multivitamin, I take extra vitamin C and D (I think this has helped my immune system). I am much less sick than in the past. I also take flaxseed oil and glucosamine, which is something I started doing a long time ago when my knees started bothering me, and it works. (Note: Old people take glucosamine for their joints. Yeah, that's right, I'm an old lady.) More recently I started taking a magnesium supplement. I was having weird muscle aches and being oddly irritable during my last marathon training cycle. I read somewhere that magnesium might help. I sort of think that it has helped, but to be completely honest I'm not super sure. 
That's it. Nothing too fancy or crazy. I'm ashamed to admit that I do no strength training at all. I'm a huge advocate of core body work, but since Emily has been born I have been lazy. I also almost never stretch. I'm not against stretching. I've just never noticed a difference one way or the other. And Yoga makes me feel sick, so I don't do that either. Okay, that sounds crazy, and it took me a number of times of doing Yoga to realize it, but I get nauseous every single time I do it. I think I must have an inner ear issue, or something, really I don't have an explanation. I know it sounds ridiculous... 

Here's a picture of my new coach trying out the FRoller. She gave it her stamp of approval, and she's one tough customer to please. (Though I feel compelled to add that she used it on her head and stomach too, so she might be a bit confused as to what it's supposed to be used for.)

Do you have any recovery or "stay healthy" rituals that help you get through a training cycle in one piece? Please share! I'd love to hear what other people do!