Sunday, September 30, 2012

Narrows Half Marathon: Recap

Another weekend, another half marathon.

This one took us to Brooklyn for a smaller race put on by NYC Runs. There were only about 300 people racing and this one was without a lot of the bells and whistles. This was refreshing and on the flip side also almost my down fall during the race...

We surprisingly arrived an hour ahead of the start. Shocking considering our usual dash so decided to stay in the car and stay warm while we waited for it to get closer to start time.

However, in our decision to sit in the car all of a sudden it was 20 minutes before the start we were a 10 minute walk from it and both needed our race numbers and a bathroom pit stop. End result - beginning the race a minute and a half after the gun went off. Typical. Even when all the odds were in our favor. We just can't get it together!

So the route was pretty nice. Along the water in Brooklyn - Shore Road - and was comprised of two loops: the first 5 and the next 9. Not too bad and always nice running along the water.

I was kind of laid back going into this race. There was no "pressure" to perform to any standard. I wasn't going to actively go for a PR so went in with no plan just to run based on how I was feeling. I did know that I would of course want to come in from now on sub 2 hours since I proved I am capable of running quite under but other than that was just going to start running and take it from there.

After running for about 5 minutes I looked at my Garmin to figure out where I was settling and right away was sub 9 minute miles hovering around 8:45ish. I did try to back off a little but just kept running by feel. The first few miles went by quickly. Was enjoying the morning and just happy to be running as I have backed off this week and only ran M/W/F it was feeling good.

After the turn around for the first out and back I decided, that I would grab some water. This proved to be a big mistake. Last night I wasn't really doing anything to "prepare" for the race such as eating anything specific (perhaps I took "carb up" a little too extreme with ohhh about half a box of cereal), hydrating etc. This morning I had a bag of pretzels that were in my bag from a previous post race and a bottle of water + nuun.

Within a couple minutes my stomach took a turn for the worse. This is something that I continue to struggle with, my stomach acting up on runs. I spent the next 8 miles just praying for a bathroom to magically appear and wanting to finish the race. Not the most comfortable way to be running. I actually had to stop dead in my tracks a few times and take some deep breaths before it settled to start up again. Perhaps TMI sorry! But since this was a small race, there was not a bathroom to be had. Nothing along the route. It was torture.

On the plus side, I did get to take some lovely pics of the views we had while running!

Gorgeous day, and racing perfection!
Oh, right I should be running. Gotcha. Back to it.

When my stomach wasn't acting up though my pace was feeling really comfortable in the mid 8's. If I had not actually stopped all those times, I probably would have beaten last weeks crazy PR which is exciting. My running has drastically improved in the past few months and it's nice to know that I can run these consecutively so well.

One thing I did find difficult was finding people who were on my pace. I actually spent a good portion of the race mostly solo. So in that respect it kind of felt like a training run and not actually a race. I like races because you have people around you to give you an edge and push yourself and also aid in the excitement factor.

Overall though not too shabby for my splits. Especially since on the way out there was no wind but each time we turned back we were slammed quite a bit with wind in the face. The run itself was extremely flat. I look forward to running this route again in the spring. It's a good one to race. You can tell that mile 10 was where I was really struggling. I think I was planning on running across the highway at that point in search of a restaurant for a bathroom!

Pretty happy with these splits overall
Garmin time
Real time!
So two weeks, two half's down. I am feeling good so far. We will see how I am on the recovery run tomorrow. Two more weekends before a weekend off from a race. Kind of can't wait. And not going to lie, I am probably going to go for a PR if the conditions are right and my body is feeling up to it. If only I could get these stomach issues and fueling thing down I think I would be really golden. But that, like running in general, is a work in progress. One day one can hope I can get through a race without that dreaded, oh my god, I need a bathroom now kind of panic.

Another weekend another half
Race partner in crime!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Slowing down.

Perhaps one of my biggest downfalls is knowing how to just be. I don’t know what it is or when exactly it happened but I find it difficult to just sit back and relax. I often times feel guilty if I am not doing something or have something on the agenda. 

Looking back I don’t think I was always this type A perfectionist, but more evolved into it the older I got. I have always been the type of person that is organized and wants everything just right but now I also feel some need to always have plenty to keep me occupied.
Enter me working not only a full time job but freelancing on the side. Not only training for a half marathon but filling my fall with several as well as simultaneously attempting a vigorous weight lifting regime. Add to this a social life and dating and some days I am completely overwhelmed. 

I have to say I am really looking forward to this time next week. My freelance projects will all be fulfilled; and while I LOVE the money, I am hoping to not be enticed in signing another contract at least for a month or so. Already working 10 hour days plus the contractual obligations plus training has entered a new level of exhaustion. 

I love my job. But spend entirely too much time with this view.
With that being said, I am a little proud that the past couple days I have toned it down as far as the training goes. My hip was a little achy so it was great that Thursday night was another date night which meant unwinding and having fun after work. Perhaps a little bit too much fun in the form of three glasses of wine but you know sometimes you just need it. 

Friday morning I woke up aching to run and just did a quick one of 3.5 miles. Nothing crazy. And also not my finest as my stomach was feeling those miles. Drinking and me do NOT mix. At all. But felt good to sweat them out regardless. 

Work was insanity all week and Friday was no different. By the time that I left work I was beat and just wanted to be home. I was literally in bed at 8pm. And it felt glorious. Crazy Friday night over here! I wound up waking up half way through the night and catching up on some DVR action but I clearly was exhausted. 

So today I felt the need to do something but I knew that I shouldn’t run. Enter in yoga. I decided since I had an Amazon local deal that I had purchased for Devotion Yoga, that it was about time I put it to good use. I know. Yoga. Who am I?  My mat was happy to come out of hiding! 

I went to an open flow class and it was good. Gentle, lots of stretching, lunges and warrior poses. Not a vigorous class by any means. And out of curiosity I wore my heart rate monitor and if my heart rate ever got to 70 that was impressive. Not to mention I may or may not have fallen asleep during savasana. I was definitely relaxed. And feeling lose and ready to take on another 13.1 miles tomorrow!

Since then I just ran some errands, finally bought a hot little number for the wedding (breathing and sitting will be optional) that I am attending next Saturday and now am doing work and conference calls from bed. Overall a nice day and really trying to embrace this whole relaxation thing and not feel guilty about it (although to be honest I don't think the guilt part will ever go away). And really counting down the hours until I am running the Narrows Half tomorrow. The need to hit the pavement is high.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Out of Focus

Recovery? Training? 

While I was oh so diligent, and almost demanded drill sergeant perfection (okay yes, admittedly very much so, not almost) in my training over the summer; goal in sight, for my attempt to sub 2 my half marathon, I did not put quite as much thought into the AFTER portion.

By after, I am referring to the fact that I will be running 5 more half marathons over the next 7 weeks. The next 3 weekends each have one, then a break, then another, then another break, and the final one. Now not only did I crush my goal on Sunday but I did so in such a definitive way by over 5 minutes that now I am feeling a little out of focus. What now?
That being said, I am also not 100% sure the best means to address my workouts during the week. Do I just run as I feel, what should my PLAN be? I LOVE PLANS. I NEED a plan. I feel so thrown off not having a plan of attack for the fall.

So with that, this is how my week has shaken out thus far.

Monday, a little over 4 miles at night – my attempt at “recovery” and not stressing my legs after the half the day before. Problem was my legs felt surprisingly fresh and I actually had to force myself home instead of turning it into a mid distance run. Every time I saw my pace creeping into the mid 8’s I forced myself back to reality that I should try running a little slower. But it’s good to feel good, right?

spibelt sexiness!
 This was followed up by something I very much looked forward to having back in my schedule: lifting. 

Tuesday morning – headed to the gym bright and early to pump some iron for an hour. I was a little out of focus there as well (more out of excitement – yes excitement I had missed weights!) since I didn’t lift for about 10 days leading up to the half (after that oh so mistaken killer session 2 days prior to the Bronx 10 mile which left my lower body sore for days). I wound up doing a total body workout circuit style. It felt glorious. 

Grow muscles, grow!
Tuesday night was a date night, so I took off. Look at me though, being SOCIAL. Wow. No two a days? Something strange is up. Had a lovely night, which also consisted of two glasses of wine. 

Now, I used to be quite the drinker. However over the past 6 months or so I have very much stopped. So much in fact, I can literally go through the calendar and point out the dates since spring that I have consumed alcohol. I have noticed changes in my body as far as getting leaner, my running definitely appreciates the lack of alcohol and I do not miss it. Not to say though that there are not times that warrant some wine, and Tuesday night was clearly one of them. 

Wednesday woke up needing to do some cardio (and also craving carbs like it was my job, thank you very much alcohol). Had plans to run at night so just went and did some easy cardio; 35 minutes on the elliptical, then lots of core stuff, planks are my friend! I did a 5 minute series of plank for 1 minute then rotating and holding a side plank for 30, back to full plank, then alternate side for 30 and repeat. Nothing to write home about, but I did get to catch up on some neglected magazine reading (I swear I have somehow managed to subscribe to every magazine possible and never have the time to read them). 

So much planking!
I proceeded to crave carbs It was awful. And then wound up so busy that by the time I was home to run at night I was very much at a calorie deficit and not at all properly fueled to run. Oh well. I run on fumes a lot (awful I know but my stomach just cannot handle it otherwise) so it wasn’t that out of the ordinary. I was just a little hangry going into it!

I started my run feeling terribly sluggish. I looked down at one point and saw that I was running almost a 10 minute mile. Even my long training runs were not that slow as of late. Now I didn’t really have any “plan” for this run but I knew I wanted to speed it up. The cure: a little Flo Rida and the pep was added to my step as I started running around 9 min miles for the remainder. I felt off the whole time (still blaming the wine) but my legs, the most important part of the equation, felt great. I have not “felt” the effects of the half marathon at all. Overall though a good 5 miles done. 

I seriously LOVE my Garmin to pieces.
This morning I headed back for some more light cardio and weights. Nothing special. A half hour on the elliptical followed up by bi’s, tri’s and shoulders. I was tired and unfocused. Just kind of wanted to be done. Actually, I kind of wanted to be running. But another date night tonight (oh more wine I suppose…) and plans for 6-7 tomorrow bringing mileage around 30 for the week, so wanted to keep things on the easier side.

Polar, you are so not as pretty.
I am running the Narrows Half Marathon on Sunday morning…with a few miles after with my friend who is in marathon training and running with me (and apparently I think that I am super woman and should just add on some “extra” to my half…sure why not). But Saturday plan on an active rest day, perhaps some yoga and also coming up with a more formal plan of attack for the remainder of fall so I don’t feel so lost about what to do and how to train with all these races on the calendar. 

Anyone out there nuts like me and run a half consecutive weekends (4 to be precise before I have a weekend off from racing…) with advice? Would be much appreciated to hear of others experiences!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Newport Liberty Half Marathon: Recap

You've trained for this.

That was my mantra today.

But, let me pick up from last night. After managing to clean everything I could somehow it got to be dinner time and finally could just start to relax and focus on the fact that in 12 hours I would be heading to the race. I wound up having some turkey breast, a wrap, and taboule for my dinner. I still laugh that my wraps are low carb. I kind of ate my weight in peanut butter filled pretzels so wasn't really that hungry. I downed about a liter of water and then stopped all consumption at 8 so that I had plenty of time to digest it all. My stupid stomach is notoriously just awful with running. I was in bed by 9:30 and just watched tv while I drifted off to sleep.

I slept surprisingly well considering I have been amped up about this race for the better part of 2 months. Woke up to my alarm at 6 and wasn't really hungry which wasn't that great of a sign. I made myself eat a handful of the peanut butter pretzels (a hardship, I know) and guzzled some water. I was slightly concerned about the state my stomach was in but figured it would settle itself.

I'm not entirely sure how (well correction, yes I am, but I am always surprised by how I manage to procrastinate on race mornings), but I managed to dawdle enough so that all of a sudden it was 10 to 7 and I had not gotten dressed or packed my bag and had to leave at 7:15. Commence rushing around to head to the light rail. Ran out the door and got to the light rail on time and was in Jersey City by 7:40 with a race time of 8:30.

I have to the beginning, seemed plenty organized. I got my race number without a hitch, got my shirt and safety pins and walked to the side to pull myself together put on my bib etc. By the way, how awesome is this - I love having a low number! Yay for alphabetized numbers!

I should mention it was damn cold and windy. Teeth were chattering a little bit. I did not want to take off my long sleeve tech shirt. I wore shorts and a singlet today - same one that PR'd the Bronx 10 in, figured it might make me lucky today as well! Had time so had a Gu around 8, packed my spibelt, pinned my bib and added some songs to my current favorite playlist and then went to find baggage drop.

Insert chaos. Holy line. But figured it was a half hour before the start how long would I really be standing there. Yes well unfortunately I was in line until about 8:25 or so and still had to make a bathroom pit stop. I was also eerily calm. Just chatting with the ladies in line with me, handing out Gu's to a couple people that forgot them (because my bag is always JAM packed with supplies, I am like a soccer mom with that). I would like to mention I am always inspired by the people around me. I was standing in line with this group of women easily all over 50 (and I am being generous with 50) all kick ass runners and do races together all the time. I want that in my future. But I digress.

So after all stops are made, walk to the start, insert myself at the front of the 9:00 pace pack, make sure my Garmin has a signal and in a few minutes, we were off.

The beginning of the race is pretty open so I didn't find it TOO difficult to start to  get on pace. There were about 3,000 pre-registered runners I believe and the beginning is on the road so there was a bit of room to settle in. I looked down at my garmin after a few minutes when I felt comfortable and as if I was on pace, and saw that I was under 9 already. I tried to reign it in so that I didn't go out too eager but at the same time my heart rate was around 120 so I knew that I wasn't pushing it by any means and was warming up.

Honestly, the first few miles just flew by. I knew I was excited and my goal was to just make sure that I wasn't being stupid and adding speed that I wouldn't be able to maintain. This was also my first time running this course and not being familiar was just trying to be aware of the terrain and it is apparently notorious for being "extra" long so tried to concentrate on running the tangents since there were so many turns, and a few quite abrupt. I should also mention; the wind gusts. MY GOD. Not cool. Seemed extra windy today. Thanks.

After mile 4 I knew I could up the ante and increased my pace. Also there wasn't much wind and I had a feeling that when we got back to the water front (we were in Liberty Park at this point) that the wind would come back to play. Prior to the park there was nothing scenery wise to note, but once we got there it was nice to have some scenery versus running the streets.

I continued to up my pace for the next few miles. I was definitely feeling good. Didn't feel like I was pushing too much. Had minor concern that I did so prior to half way through but figured I felt good and should go with it. I was checking my Garmin periodically and it was telling me that I was in the mid 8's quite a bit and I have to say I didn't trust it! And also would look at the clock at the mile splits and me and my awful math thought that I was off pace to PR for the better part of 9 miles. Have I mentioned mental math is not so much my strong suit? It was easy back when I was pacing 10 minute miles!!

I never got to the point of "I wish this was over, why do I do this" BUT my stomach never settled. I knew by 2 miles in that I would not be doing any sort of intake during the race if I wanted to make it without a pit stop. Around mile 10 I was definitely getting a little scared by the rumbling but I slowed slightly so I wasn't pushing quite so much but still under goal pace.

I also knew that if I held on, I was about to PR, and PR in a major way.

Those next few miles were a bit rough. The wind was in your face, I felt like I was fighting to keep on pace and ran my slowest mile at 13 between the wind and my stomach. At this point I knew I was under 2 and made it my goal to get under 1:55. I knew I had slowed at mile 13 and with the last quarter mile to go started to just pick it up like crazy. I had this.

And check this out:

That 7:45 was my "finishing" pace obviously! I wish I could run that! Also note yes 13:26 miles.
That is "unofficial" so maybe didn't get under 1:55 (at this time still waiting for the race results to be posted) BUT holy crap. Considering my former PR from the end of March is 2:07:33 - we are talking about 13 MINUTES. Update, the official results are in and YUP. Here we have it, 1:54:37.

I am speechless. I kind of don't know what to do with that. I am pretty happy with my splits as well:

I mean, but seriously. Blown away. I don't want to sound cocky, but I didn't really doubt that I would hit my sub 2 goal, but I did think that it would be a bit more of a struggle or on the close side.

This is a testament to the past few months of focus and training. Dropping a full minute from my average pace? I mean just awesome. And accomplished in 5 months time. Actually less considering I was sidelined from running for about 6 weeks (which actually had me focusing on strength and nutrition the most, a blessing in disguise).

So, while I definitely threw myself a victory dance party prior to and during the shower, there is also a part of me that is thinking: what next? I know. I should just be basking in the glory of conquering a goal but that is not me. I thrive on goals. I suppose now my goal perhaps should just be making it through the next five half marathons and various other races over the next several weeks in one piece! I don't think I will "race" for time in the next couple as far as trying to beat this but will be a goal to stay sub 2 hours

Now time to find food since all I've manage thus far is a banana and, obviously, pumpkin coffee. Feed me. Now. And stomach let's work on behaving. Mmmmkay.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rest days = My bank account hates me

It is official, I am going stir crazy! On one hand congratulations to me - I have not run since Wednesday night. But seriously...I am just ready to get out there and go. The weather has been so amazing looks like it will be on point for tomorrow as well.

Apparently boredom though has lead to me making some purchases. First up:

Yes you have read that correctly. Two more half marathons. Although, one is for spring; the 13.1 New York. That was the first one I did and roped me into this crazy world of running so it holds a special place in my heart. Plus, it was on sale. And lord knows that I love a good sale!

Next up...another fall half marathon. That being number six over eight weeks. Next weekend was free from racing which was kind of sad, and NYC Runs sent me a lovely email about the Narrows Half at the bargain price of $30 so it was kind of a done deal. My rationale is that I would be doing a long run on the weekends regardless so why not do it in a race?

Which brings my updated fall race schedule to this:

Who do I think I am? I kind of love it.

I needed to stall getting home last night since I was staying in and needed to not be totally bored so figured it would be a good decision to stock up on Gu at Fleet Feet. Bad decision. Bad bad. But oh so good! They had just moved a bunch of gear to the sale rack which means I walked out with this selection. A little more than the anticipated $10 on Gu, but since I am in workout clothes twice most days it is 100% worth it. Plus with losing weight I need smaller things (#weightlossproblems).

Heels obsession replaced by new gear.
I just chilled last night cooked a simple dinner and spent some quality time in my bed. Another big fail was upping my carbs. I am so used to a 40/40 carb protein split that I ended the day without upping them (I wanted to be around 60). Oh well. I don't normally up my carbs too much so sticking with what my body is used to is not a big deal. I am adding in some today but nothing crazy. Although I should add that my special addition is snacking on peanut butter filled pretzels (which will also be my prerace breakfast) is not too much of a hardship!

Unfortunately, I was up so damn early today that boredom yet again set in. I have managed to clean a ton (seriously, I even washed my curtains) gone through my closet for clothes that are too big to donate, cleaned out drawers...and this was all by 9am. Which got me thinking about the Garmin I have wanted FOREVER.

I decided I should treat myself (because I clearly have not been doing that AT ALL lately). And wandered out for some DD coconut coffee and then to Fleet Feet again. Which, found this beauty in my possession!

Look at my new BFF!!!
I AM SO EXCITED. Seriously. I am not sure I can contain myself. I cannot wait to run. I really wanted it for tomorrow since I keep hearing that the course is a little bit longer than 13.1 and also I want to make sure I am on pace. Not too fast, and not having to make up too much. If I can start around 9/9:05 and then negative split that would be perfect. Just the way that I ran the Bronx 10 Mile when I paced 8:56. Ahhh so excited.

Now off to find something else to clean since I am incapable of sitting still.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Friday!

I just love when the week flies by! It’s Friday, I’m one happy gal over here. Even more so because I stuck to my guns and have taken it easy since Wednesday’s unexpected long run. That’s right. I even “slept in” until 6:30 this morning! Rage on. 

Even more impressive is that I did not run yesterday (yes, I am impressed by my own control. And no I’m not concerned that my “control” is the fact that I did not run. If you’re a runner you should get how hard it is to not hit the pavement on these perfectly awesome days we are having). Instead I did a session on the elliptical in the morning. My intentions to run a couple miles at night were thwarted by ungodly conditions at Port Authority after leaving work late. I knew I was tired, beat down and it would really just have been junk miles. I am conditioned; a couple miles are not going to make or break anything at this point. The training and effort is there. If anything I might wind up running a couple tomorrow just to shake out the legs no intentions or training purpose. I just feel slovenly.  Again, how do people stay sedentary? 24 hours and I am going insane.

I am not feeling nervous about trying to PR. But I do want Sunday to just GET HERE already so I can get down to business. I also don’t want to be cocky by thinking I will definitely get it, but all my training and times are pointing towards it. Less than 48 hours and I will know! I love the amount of pressure I put on myself. But hey if we didn’t have goals we were working towards life would be dull. 

On a completely unrelated note to running, I should mention that I think I need to enter into an Amazon Anonymous program. I have the prime package where it is free two day shipping. That combined with one click purchasing has a bazillion items delivered to my apartment in the past 24 hours. Please see the ridiculousness or awesomeness as I prefer to look at it; that has come. I open some packages and forget what I have purchased; and mind you I did the purchasing a mere day or two prior! Therapy needed.

Here we have: case of pumpkin, case of 100 calorie packs of cocoa roasted almonds (do the math 7 packs in a box, 12 boxes...a LOT of almonds!) sweet leaf flavored stevia (vanilla creme, I die) and banana cream casein (fingers crossed this is good)
So now, half way through Friday, the weekend ahead of me and for the first time ever I just want it to be Sunday! I am trying to think of some things to keep my mind off of the race as well as to do to keep from going insane and dying of boredom. I have a feeling it is going to involve me spending money. 

TGIF!!!! Enjoy the day!