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!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

I know, I know, no blogging in a month! Don't worry I haven't given up running for another hobby or sport, though I do have a strong interest in learning Kenpo, but that's a story for another day. I'd also love to be proficient at knitting (you know something other than a scarf), but I lack the patience for such a skill. I think I'm straying off topic here....


We celebrate Christmas, so the last month has been filled with lots of Christmas crafts and celebrating and music. Here's the brief list:

Our Merry Christmas card! This is the first time we've used a family picture (versus just a picture of the kids). The picture was from Thanksgiving.
 We visited LaSalette, which is really the best place for Christmas lights around our way. We also went to a place called the holiday festival of lights at the Nashoba ski place, but it was like a creepy B horror movie (in my humble opinion). The kids liked it though, so I'm glad we at least gave it a shot, but I don't think I'd go there again. (The picture is from LaSalette.)

We made these snow men out of old socks for Kaylee's teachers. Yeah, I know, I'm wicked nice right? So giving and thoughtful by giving away our old socks. Well, we also made them peppermint bark and gave them a gift card, so it wasn't completely lame. All kidding aside, the little snowmen were easy to make (essential for an un-crafty, inpatient person such as myself), and really did wind up being cute. I'm new to teacher presents. I'd be interested to hear what others do. I liked the idea of a gift card, because then they can get what they want, and I think some sort of homemade yummy treat might be okay too, but I'm guessing three dozen homemade crafts or mugs filled with candy gets old (so maybe we'll skip this craft next year).

We also made wreath ornaments for the grandparents and aunts and uncles. They were made from buttons and sparkly pipe cleaner. Very easy to do, and they look pretty. The one shown in the picture wasn't one we made, but it looked close to that.

The kids also decorated new stockings (a tradition we started a couple years ago), and it's a lot of fun. The stockings are nothing special. Just cheap stuff usually from Michael's, but they usually come out nice, and they become special because the kids did it themselves.

The New Year:

With Christmas behind us, I guess now would be about the time that I review 2012 and set some new goals or resolutions for 2013. Well, 2012 was good to me. I ran a number of PR's, which was a big deal because it meant that I've gotten as fast as I once was in college, something I just didn't think was possible a few years ago. Things outside of running were good too. We moved. We were apprehensive about moving, but we love our new home and Kaylee's school (the primary reason for moving). We are so happy that we took the leap. Work has been good. I had a paper published, which was cool, and I've started a new project that I think will be interesting. In short, 2012 was a good year.

What's in store for 2013? I don't know. I don't generally make New Year's resolutions, but if I were to make one this year it would be to have more patience with the kids. I never yelled with just one kid, but I find with the two, I do yell. And it irritates me. It's like they play off each other. When one starts, the other starts, and I'll go from being fine to suddenly having no patience left, and then I yell. I'd like to fix that.

As far as running goes, I don't know what my goals are. The blog-o-sphere is both good and bad for me, I think. I've stumbled on a number of blogs of women near my age with kids who have that whole break 3 hours in the marathon goal going on. And I've stumbled on some ladies who have recently done it too. So, of course, now I'm starting to think about it too. I've been running some treadmill workouts with that thought in mind....

I'm currently training for a half marathon in February and Boston in April. I was sick most of last month, so my training was all over the place. I don't feel like I've gotten into a groove yet. I have had some really great workouts, but I'm having trouble figuring out what my easy pace is, and I don't feel like I've built a good base yet. I guess things just feel inconsistent right now. If I were to take on the goal of breaking 3 hours in the marathon, it wouldn't be a goal for Boston. It would be a goal for BayState.

Something new for recovery the FRoller:

In a week or two I'll be writing a post about a new recovery tool called the FRoller. It's a lot like "the stick" except you freeze it. It's meant to replace ice message. I don't do ice baths. Besides the fact that they're uncomfortable, they're also time consuming and use a lot of ice. I do rub my legs down with ice after almost every run. For the next couple weeks, I'm replacing my ice rub down with the FRoller. I'll let you know how it goes!

What's your favorite recovery tool?