Monday, June 20, 2016

Let the Marathoning Begin!

This fall it will be 2 years since my last marathon and after thinking I really had no intention of returning to the distance this year, apparently I will be.. and sooner than later! 

I took the plunge and registered for the Philadelphia Marathon.  After tossing around between that, Indianapolis Monumental and Richmond; I decided that proximity and the late nature of the marathon (read: cold temps pretty much guaranteed) won me over. 

Yup, it is real! 

And because I am a sadistic idiot, I signed up for an ultra marathon in July. 

I am going to use the term ultra very loosely here. I have absolutely no goals. 

Okay, that is a lie. My goal will be to run at least a marathon over those 6 hours, anything over that will be a bonus. 

I couldn't help myself. The race is pretty cool. It is from 5pm - 11pm and over that 6 hours you run as many 1.3 mile loops as you can/want. Bonus it is about a mile from where I live so I felt obliged. I looked at past results and people do anything from 15 - 40+ (lol no just no). 

I have a very solid base already as I have kept up long runs even when not in training. I am ramping up for the race since it is in oh about 5 weeks. I did a very solid and awesome 15 miles this past weekend after 13.5 the one prior. Given it isn't like a true marathon - I assume plenty of stopping, walk etc. I think I will be fine. 

Philly training will continue on after that. I will most likely take a couple down weeks depending on how I feel and reduce the mileage before gearing back up. 

It is all a loose plan really at the moment - and quite frankly I am most likely going to continue this laid back training approach through this cycle. 

I have no lofty goals for the fall marathon. I have never run one being healthy before (read: always dealing with Crohn's even when I didn't know it). So I am hoping the health I have right now continues on to then. 

My PR is 4:26 and I think I am capable of much better, definitely in the low 4's. I have set a goal half marathon for about a month prior to that in a hopeful PR attempt as well. 

I know I have gotten faster and usually after a summer training season more speed develops so excited to see what happens! 

Now here is hoping that I continue to enjoy the long runs as much as I did my 15 miler this weekend (it was amazeballs). 

Have I mentioned just how enjoyable long runs are when you do not pay attention to pace? I embrace going slower than slow and goodness it is so much better. 

PSA: do not be afraid to go slow! I ran this at a 10:45 pace and the next day did a progression run where my last mile was 7:30. 

And that's all for now! 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Running Recovery Weeks

Hello there! 

This post is brought to you from the glory of being in the office on a Saturday. 

As most know my company is closing down and I am the Project Coordinator for the decommission which means fun things like closing down facilities and being a master of logistics! 

I should note that I put this work day on myself since I managed this process. I planned on taking Friday off to not totally lose the full weekend but work had other plans and I couldn't. 

Anyways back to the post.

So my spring race season has come to a close and I must say it was pretty successful!

I ran 3, count them 3 half marathons! My spring goal was to get sub 2 and see where I was at for setting a PR this year and happy to say, mission accomplished at the first one! 

Overall I ran: 1:58:13, 2:04:13 and 2:00:32 which I am happy with. 

I also mixed in a 10K the week after my sub 2 half and to my surprise, I PR'd

Then I was also signed up for an NYRR 4 miler. My sole purpose was that my NYRR pace was 10+ per mile which is clearly not my race pace. It is based off my 4:59 NYCM I ran in 2014 with my Crohn's flare + stress fracture. Needless to say, not a reflection of my current state! 

To my surprise I PR'd that as well! 

This all leads me to the past couple of weeks. 

After some serious racing and training, I was done. I had neglected cross training and weight training for a while during the race season and needed to back off the running and reset. 

I have had a glorious couple weeks of backing down the mileage.  I think I ran 10 miles last week and this week am over that but still below my 30+ I usually hit. 

Not only does it feel good to tone down the running but it has given me the opportunity to dig in to a lot of other workouts. 

I recently bought the weights for Les Mills Body Pump and have invested in their on demand all I can say is I am loving it so far! And that my body is sore in all new ways. 

I will post more on that soon but I am enjoying home workouts more than I thought I would. 

While I may run some shorter races over the summer months I am not focusing on another race until the fall. I have yet to determine what will be my goal half but safe to say I will be giving my PR (1:53:14) a run in a few months time! 

For now, it is all about focusing on building strength, especially core which I am being more diligent about and just sustaining my base of running fitness. I will probably still run a few times a week and keep a longer run on the weekend since that is the norm for me but I don't plan on a structured schedule (although to be honest when I trained for spring season it was a very "loose" schedule but it worked - see PR's and hitting goals ;) 

It really is good though to step back from running a lot (I haven't had a significant down week in over a year!) and focus on some other forms of workout. This will all make me a stronger runner down the line!

Now off to hopefully finish up overseeing this move out and enjoying SOME of Saturday! 

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Queens Half Marathon Recap

Another week, another race! 

Sunday I ran my 3rd and final half marathon of the spring season, the Queens Half Marathon. It was hard to turn this one down since there are not often half marathons close to me, but man am I looking forward to not running another for a while! 

This was again put on by NYCRuns, who I clearly prefer to race with. 

I woke up Sunday morning definitely not feeling well. Saturday my stomach had been feeling upset and unfortunately by Sunday was not much better. I was a little happier though knowing there were restrooms on the course. 

Because of that I barely choked down water and some dry cheerios on my way there before my stomach was all sorts of grumbly again. I spent some significant time in the porto potties, crossed my fingers and headed to the start a few minutes before it was time. 

It was an absolutely beautiful day but I have been in this running thing long enough to know that starting a half marathon underfueled and dehydrated isn’t exactly ideal. 

Blue skies for days!

I had no goals for this race. My spring goal was to get back to sub 2 shape since I hadn't broken 2 hours since fall of 2012 (which happened at Frozen Penguin). 

I was coming off a normal training load having run 20 miles for the week already with 1 rest day on Saturday. I knew to not expect anything stellar but just go with it.  

The race begins and per usual I do not look at my watch until the first or second mile. I missed mile 1 but at mile 2 saw I was running under 9 min mile pace so start to think about going for another sub 2 effort. Problem was I felt every bit of effort. I knew from the start this wasn’t going to be an “easy” day where the miles click. I was working for it too early on, but kept it up, that is racing right? 

As we were coming up to the half way (it was a 2 loop course) I knew I had to ease up. My legs were shot already; not really pleasant when you have only finished half the race! I knew I had time in the bank to take it easy for a few. I started taking in water at the half way and walked through the stops each time. My fingers were so swollen I knew I had to hydrate. 

I was using the course signage, not when my watch was beeping for the mile markers. I had estimated with 5 miles to go that even if I just kept a 9:30 pace I would be sub 2. 

With 2 miles to go, I was ready to be done so picked it back up. 

I still thought I was on track. 

Then I hit the mile 13 marker, my watch beeps at the same time for mile 13. My time is 1:58 and change I am like .1 to go I am golden. Then  I look in the distance, the finish looks REALLY far away. 

Well, it was. From that mile 13 marker to the finish was .27 miles. 

Which put me in the finish at 2:00:32. 

Which is a very good time considering I'm not rested, I’ve raced most weekends and my stomach was very much bleh the whole time (but didn't have to stop! it's amazing this whole Crohn's being in remission thing, IBS sucks, but is a whole different and easier level of stomach issues to deal with).

However, I know I could have come in under 2. I am not saying the course is “long” but I’ve run enough to know not to go by garmin but by mile markers. Tangents are hard to run 100% correct. So I did. I did my calculations at the mile markers so thought for the entire race I was golden. To have the 13 mile marker a quarter mile from the finish, not cool. Also means the others mile marks on the course were off a bit. 

In the end, what does this mean? Absolutely nothing. I wasn’t racing for time, it wasn’t a PR race. But, I had decided to not phone in the race and run a sub 2, so I was working out there. And, I had more, as my splits here show:

8:57, 8:51, 8:45, 9:00, 8:45, 8:52, 9:21, 9:24, 9:30, 9:22, 9:27, 8:57, 9:10, 8:11 (.27) 

I was able to quite efficiently drop back the pace for the last couple miles and could have done it sooner, but thought I was okay. 

Sigh. In the end half marathon number who knows what in the books and this made me hungry to work for a PR this fall! 

Now, I sign off on race season having run several as most people are starting! A possible 5 miler by me this weekend but I am pooped! 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Run for the Parks 4M Recap

Let me just start with work is getting in the way of my social media use. My network officially shut down Tuesday (I still have a job though for 3 months as we decommission the US offices) and it is BUSY. How do people spend time on social media that work full time?!?! I literally have not opened Instagram all week. 

Anyways enough of that. Figure a quick race recap is in order since I ran myself a new 4 mile PR on Sunday! 

I signed up to run this race purely for the fact that my NYRR pace was a 10:07 or something with the new system taken from my miserable 2015 NYCM that I ran with a stress fracture and Crohn’s flare. I do not run NYRR races much anymore because I don’t like paying to run in Central Park (especially those prices) and they are always crowded. But the new pace on file made me mad and I wanted to redeem myself. 

Insert Sunday, race morning I get my period (sorry TMI) and my stomach hurts, it is freezing and I am so NOT in the mood to race. 

Central Park was pretty though! 

Anyways I meet Beth and her coworker Eric there and they jump into my corral, J, since I refuse to try and push forward, hashtag am unable to be dishonest. As we are waiting I was just very blah about trying to race, my legs were numb from the cold!

About 17 minutes after the first people started we were FINALLY off. 

I immediately take off around the outside knowing I will have to weave this whole race. I don’t know what it is but something about crossing that mat puts me into competitive mode even when not feeling it. 

Anyways I knew I was off and getting into a good groove.

Mile 1 including Cat Hill done: 8:09

I see that split and that I am under PR pace and that motivates me. 

Mile 2: 7:58

I almost jumped for joy when I saw that. First time in a race splitting under 8! I knew we were coming to the rolling hills so I was glad to have banked some time. 

Mile 3: 8:29

Ugh those hills. That is all. I gave it my best and rode the pain of pushing. 

I took advantage of the downhills as much as possible and it paid off.

Mile 4: 7:51 (!!)

And just like that BOOM. 45 second PR. 32:47

I would like to note that I ran 4.05 by my Garmin (obviously I was weaving and passing people the entire race starting so far back) and that .05 was 6:29 pace! Hello legs, speedier than I thought capable.

Overall, thrilled. A week post half marathon, and PR’ing. My running is improving, I feel like I am doing everything right with my training. I also have gotten very good at pushing during races. My motto with races is just to go for it. Worst case, I blow up and slow down. But if you don’t try you will never know. Stop letting what your watch pace says effect what your body is telling you to do. 

AND a lovely new NYRR pace. Mission accomplished!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Ladies First Half Marathon Recap

It's a week later...better late than never, right?

Going into this race I had no race plan. My goal for the spring was to get back to sub 2 for the half and see where I was to PR in 2016 (need to beat 1:53:14). 

And well, I got that sub 2 a few weeks before so was content knowing that I am in that shape. 

I am in the throws of some medical stuff, and awaiting results to find out if I need surgery for another GI issue, SMA syndrome (unrelated to Crohn's I have just hit the crappy GI system jackpot!). While we wait on that I had to go off of my medication which had been helping with my IBS (seriously my gut sucks). Anyways because of that I really didn't plan on racing. I have another half marathon in a week so figured I would use it as a training run and if I felt good then go for it. 

My sister was running the race too (and PR'd the HELL out of it without trying running an amazing 1:49!) and am happy that she mentioned bringing a hat, because with the steady rain that began 5 minutes before the start I was so damn happy to have one. I have never run with a hat before but now am wondering why I didn't all these years. 

Waiting in the rain for the start.
We started running and honestly the rain wasn't too bad. I had to make a stop in the first mile realizing that I hadn't double tied my sneakers. Nice rookie mistake! 

This is the same course that I ran a few weeks prior. That first out and back I was basically right on the cusp on the 2 hour mark. When I hit mile 5 I had two options. I could try and pick up the pace for sub 2 or I could ease up. I choose the latter. My stomach was in knots and I just wasn't feeling running hard. When I ran the 1:58 the pace felt good. To hit it for this race was going to be real work. 

I don't even know how many half marathons I have run but I have totally lucked out, this was the first time I have ever had to race in the rain. There is something badass about it but at the same time after an hour or so it just gets old! I was definitely over this race around mile 8. I kept picking up the pace but then my stomach would hurt and I would have to slow down. The last few miles it was a toss up between wanting to speed up and finish and not wanting to put forth the effort that required! 

I was drenched, I was wearing shorts and a tank and it was all just soaked. The last few miles of a half can be challenging but it took all my willpower to keep on going.

Final time: 2:04:13

Splits: 9:08, 9:15, 9:09, 9:10, 9:09, 9:21, 9:28, 9:15, 9:31, 9:29, 10:00, 9:53, 9:35, 9:04

As you can see at mile 5 I decided to ease up. And miles 11 and 12 where I was over the whole race thing, haha. 

I was happy that I had the foresight to bring plastic bags and a trash bag to put my bag in during bag check. I was frozen and sopping wet and dry clothes were so welcome. 

Overall, per usual, a great race by NYCRuns. I really enjoy only having a few hundred runners. Next week I am running the Queens Half and if my legs are feeling good I think it might be another good time to try for a sub 2. I am also thrilled that there are bathrooms on the course! These past two half marathons do not have any so that messes with me. I typically hold back out of the fear of running hard and needing a pit stop. 

Until the next one! 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring Fling 10K Recap

Another week, another race! 

I had this on my radar but it was the post half marathon euphoria that sealed the deal for registering. 

I spent the week between the half and this race running easy. I did run 4 times Monday through Thursday and took Friday as my rest day per normal. All of my runs were very easy - 10+ mile pace with some added pick ups one of the days just to get some turnover. 

I was up super late (for me) Thursday and Friday because, March Madness, and when I woke on Saturday I questioned why on earth I signed up.

My PR was set on the same course in November with a time of 53:52 8:48/mile pace - I knew on a good day yes I could beat that but just wasn't motivated - and had run a half 7 days prior. 

I decided this time around to take my medication that helps with my stomach spasms. So I took that then ate a honey stinger waffle before I left. I had a solid 2.5 hours before the race and decided since I didn't know what to expect that it was as good a time as any to test it out!

To tell just how not committed to "race" I was - I wore leggings. I do NOT race in tights, I wear shorts and a tank even when it is 30 out. (I would later regret them as they were falling down part of the race).

 I was greeted at Roosevelt Island by some brisk but lovely race weather. 

I had about 45 minutes to spare so I got my bib and used the bathrooms without waiting. I then basically sat hanging out until about 10 minutes before when I pinned my bib, dropped my bag, and went to the start line. (again, I love how these are not the NYRR production). 

I tried to get in the middle of the pack but people are ridiculous about where they line up. The girl next to me had never run 6 miles before. Really? then MOVE BACK. Ugh. I don't want to be the jackass lining up aggressively but it gets old that slower folks move up when not corralled. 

A couple minutes after 9:30 we were off! I had my garmin but when I run/race lately I have gotten extremely good at not paying attention to it. I was dodging people to get in a groove for the first 1.5 miles or so. When I looked down at my Mile 2 split I realized I was below my PR pace and feeling good. I decided to go for it. Worst case, I blow up and slow down but would regret not taking the opportunity. 

The course is two loops which I like. I try to get into a steady pace the first 5K and then drop it for the second. I finished the first feeling good and started to try to get more aggressive on the pace. I was passing people and happy as can be. I also had my headphones in but should note I never turned on my music.  

I have come to love that race feeling, embracing that comfortably hard run and knowing I am RACING, pushing myself. By mile 4 I was starting to feel the effort. I let myself ease off for several seconds at a time but kept telling myself less than 20 minutes left, keep it up! I also realized if I kept at the pace I was going to PR which motivated me.

Pain train definitely started at mile 5. I was just seriously focused on the end at this point. 

The unfortunate part of this course is I always overrun. Last time by .2 and this time turned out by .14 - there are a lot of turns and such which makes it harder so my garmin was beeping well before the mile markers that second loop which didn't really help my wanting to be done. 

The final .2 involves a 180 degree turn around a cone then an uphill I was dying to be done! 

And then FINISHED. With a 1:20 PR.

Not to sound braggy but I am SO proud of myself and how I have finally gotten back to running well. And faster than ever! On not really recovered legs and dealing with a lot of health issues I am setting new PR's. 

Here are my garmin splits: 8:41, 8:16, 8:22, 8:03, 8:11, 8:14, 8:06

The mile 1 pisses me off (because of the slower runners that started up front) but I will just look at it as holding me back from blowing up. My mile 4 was close to being sub 8! I really had no idea how fast I was running. I was just trying to be below an 8:40 pace.

And negative split the crap out of that - a 16 second per mile drop from lap 1 to lap 2. Just how I wanted it.   

My training has been so consistent, and I've overcome my fear when racing of playing it safe. I cannot do anything about my stomach issues for the most part; I will deal with Crohn's the rest of my life but my mental game has gotten very strong which makes me happy. 

Excited to see what the rest of 2016 brings me! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Frozen Penguin Half Marathon Recap

So I need to begin this recap with this: NYCRuns who put on the race did not have me in the official results. So until then I am going off my Garmin time. We are most likely talking a second or two off but I let them know while there (they have the results immediately) and emailed and they are still "investigating". 

And so it begins. 

The day before the race was less than ideal. It began with me throwing up! So there is that. Between that and the fact that my legs felt trashed all week I was afraid to have high hopes. 

Saturday was perfection. High 40's, light wind and sunny to start. Can you ask for better? (actually yes a little colder but whatever, it was beautiful out!). 

I did not think a PR was in the cards. I REALLY wanted to go sub 2 but was going to run by feel as I do a lot lately. Garmin was on but I wasn't going to slave to it. 

As we started I got into a nice rhythm. These races are smaller (less than 400 typically) and within a few minutes was finding my groove. I looked down around 2 miles in and saw sub 9. I felt good I was going with it. 

The we turned around and my stomach started to spasm (I am on an antispasm medication but didn't take it before because of potential side effects aka like Friday's nausea). From there on out it was an absolute struggle fest. I would ease off for a bit let it calm down then take advantage and speed up when it did. There are no bathrooms on the course (short out and back then longer out and back) so my number one concern was BE CAREFUL. I was a-okay running slow if it meant not shitting my pants (sorry, not sorry). 

I could have run into the bathroom on the first loop when we went back to the start but made the decision to run through it. Until mile 11 I regretted that decision when I wasn't sure I would make it. 

At about mile 7 I went to a slight dark place. I was already dehydrated and hungry (I never fuel but didn't even want to chance water) and may have sworn off racing. At the same time I knew I was running pretty well and wanted to keep going for it. 

My stomach hit an awful spot at mile 9 and I let myself walk for 10-20 seconds or so. At this point I was pretty sure I was sub 2 and could afford it. 

The most joyous part of the race was the final water station shortly after mile 11. I let myself finally have 2 cups of water and walked through it to down them. The end was in sight and I knew I would break 2 barring anything crazy.

That last bit was tough I felt like I was barely moving (but looking at splits I was running well). My fingers were swelled up like sausages and my arms were sore. How weird is that? I must have actually been using them. 

Finally the end was in sight and I finished! 

And some seriously good splits:

8:46, 8:58, 9:00, 9:00, 9:02, 8:52, 9:01, 8:55, 9:04, 8:59, 9:04, 9:16, 8:54, 7:57 (.18)

My mental math on the run is awful considering I thought I was cutting it close, haha! 

I finished, then waited to cheer in Beth who rocked the race and we basked in an awesome day of running. 

Honestly, I couldn't be happier with how this panned out. I've been doing the work and it finally came to fruition. I 100% believe I can build on this and run faster. I was running under less than ideal conditions (meaning how I felt Friday and during the race) and would be great to really throw down. My average HR was 154 which I still think is lower for a race.

2016 will be the year I take down my PR! Just need to take ohhh 4 more minutes off of this! But for now, I bask in the glow of everything coming together.