Monday, April 15, 2013

Final Long Training Run + More Fitness Women's Half Marathon

How's that for a post title? Long enough?! Plus I am about to PR in blog post length.

Happy Boston Marathon Monday! While I am unproductive watching coverage I figured now is a great time to recap the fun that was had yesterday! **Note all that marathon watching was interrupted by impromptu meetings from 11-1. FAIL**

The NJ Marathon is now 20 days away, and I have entered the taper. I have been so concerned about my running ability the past month or so for this that I actually started totally doubting I could finish and considered dropping to the half.

Needless to say having this doubt clouding my mind was not what I needed when I woke up around 4am on Sunday to start getting ready for race and mileage. It took several pep talks to get out of bed, but finally I did.

I had to be on the PATH at 5:38 so that I could get the extra miles in prior to the More Fitness Half Marathon beginning at 8:00.

I was actually feeling pretty good though. I had packed my bag (sisterly fun post race in the city) the night before and really just needed to get on my gear and head out. I made two kashi waffles and filled a water bottle with Nuun and without much ceremony was out the door.

I got to the park nice and early around 6:15 so I took my time in bag check, used the restroom and finally got down to business of running at about 6:40 or so (I was definitely procrastinating my run!).

Early Morning Central Park.

THIS is how early I was
I decided to stick with the lower loop instead of doing one full loop since we would be doing that twice during the half.

I just set about at a comfortable pace, my goal not to look at my garmin and just keep it slow.

Well that kind of backfired on me when after doing a bit more than a loop I realized I had failed to start my garmin so have no idea what I ran for the first couple miles but sure it is comparable to what I ran the next once I began because I was more "jogging" than running at that point.

I just kept on frolicking around until I was getting close to 5 miles on my garmin (plus those couple missing) and then headed to the corrals with a minute to spare before they were closing.

I sadly missed seeing my sister or any of my friends because of my running before. And also missed any bathroom opportunity. However, I was feeling fine and tried to not think about that.

I had a gu at this point, took off my gloves and long sleeve shirt and got ready to "Run the World" as was the theme of the day (and I had Beyonce stuck in my head half the damn race!).

Bib numbers were LOW yesterday! Mine was 2012, always fun. But lower than my 8:23 pace usually gives me. That meant that there wouldn't be too much crowding at the beginning (in theory). My sisters bib = 107!

So the race begins and we were off! I love this race for a couple reasons, obviously the unique aspect of being an all women's race - so many friendly people! My sister was telling me she didn't know anything about the DTag all of her races have had bib chip timing and some lovely woman in her corral took it off for her and literally put it on her shoe to help her out!

And the crowds - definitely a unique crowd for this race - lots of families. I actually got a little misty eyed starting seeing some of the signs of support and kids. I'm special, I know.

Anyways the first few miles I was getting in a groove. Legs were feeling good, I was feeling good, I was enjoying the run and not paying attention to pace, or trying not to.

We hit Cat Hill for the first time and I wasn't feeling lethargic or out of breath. As I was psyching myself out for the long run I was talking to another woman who said to not look at the top of the hill, focus on one step at a time and look down and in front of you. Umm totally works, I used this approach the whole time. I also tried to be a little more strategic and actually run the downhills and open up on them more.

Since I was going long I wasn't racing this at all. I was just running comfortably.

Then, I got to Harlem Hill and all of a sudden a feel a tap on my shoulder and one of my friends and awesome runner, Barbara was beside me. She is pretty speedy but was just running for the hell of it so decided to stick with me for the duration.

This turned out to be so great for me. I was running without music so it was nice to have a buddy and also, she started to kick my ass into gear! I know I would have been easing up more on the west side hills that go round but having her with me and knowing I wasn't tired kept me moving. Plus I stopped glancing at my garmin. And the few times I did I was seeing paces that had I been alone...I would have been telling myself no way I could be running those paces that far into a long run.

Around my mile 11 and around mile 6 of the half I took a gu and we both took a bathroom stop. We actually didn't waste that much time because she told me we managed to split that mile at 9:34! Way to be hustling - but also strategic because we were in a downhill/straight at that point and cruising through the crowds.

I was still feeling really good and once we hit mile 7 we were just happy - more than half way done! Bring on Cat Hill again! We made pretty good time up it. We were semi delirious and talking about strategy for picture taking with him...just how you hike up there to the statue...a couple of women overheard and laughing joined in our conversation. Gotta love runners and distracting yourself!

I started taking water at most of the stops from mile 5 on since that is going to need to be happening with the marathon and left to my own devices I really won't stop. But we were really good about not wasting too much time.

The flats and downhill leading up to Harlem Hill again we were really feeling good and kept up a good pace. I was happy for the company. I can't lie I did steal looks at my Garmin and was seeing us drop under 9 at times and was okay with that. It felt good.

Harlem Hill the second time though. Oy. She was charging up and I definitely used more energy than I would have on my own. I was happy even at this point in my run around 17 miles in my splits were all under 10!

Once we got to the top of the Hill I was just focusing on getting to mile 11 of the race. I actually had plenty to give but was just kind of tired of running and hate the rolling hills on the West side.

I also took another Gu at this point and water knowing we had less than a 5K left. And Barbara at this point said no more stops for us! We were going after it and ending the race strong.

I told her now that I had some hate for her as we upped the pace and that I was probably going to stop talking now and she could give me tough love and motivate all she wanted. Just to not mind if a swear or two came out of my mouth.

This portion of the race sucked - since we were trying to push it, we not only had the runners we had been with to contend with but now walkers and people on their second loop. DEFINITELY expended a lot of energy weaving and chasing her to stay on pace to the finish. She would continually yell that I had better be right behind her. I totally appreciated the tough love she was dishing out!

And FINALLY we were in the home stretch. I ended that race so HAPPY with how my long run had gone. I had energy left in the tank as well even though we dropped the pace for the last 2 miles. My splits for the race are off from what she was clocking since I had the mileage before but the last 2.1 were paced under 9 mins! Umm hi tired legs not so much.

A beautiful example of Negative splits! For once.
My official half time was something like 2:06 I don't even know for sure. But, I was happy I ran it, SUCH a great atmosphere in the park yesterday!

All I can say is - just wow. I am SO happy that she found me for this run. I never would have been pushing anything lower than high 9's. I learned a lot during this.

First - I am 100% capable of this marathon.

Second - Stomach issues are definitely improving ONE stop! One. Speechless. And I ate breakfast and fueled.

Third - I think my Garmin makes me mental. I am obviously too reliant. Every time I saw what we were pacing internally had a minor freakout of oh this is going to explode sooner or later and you'll be walking. Umm no. Direct opposite. Finished STRONG.

I couldn't have asked for a better way to enter this taper. Strong, confident and feeling good.

My sister was in from Miami for the half (side note: I told her pre race to "enjoy" it and after she goes I know what you mean - those hills! still finished in 2:00 even though she walked at some hill points she said!) so after the race I had her take the trek down to our other sisters apartment (all the way down on 23rd hehe) to shower and then get some well deserved brunch + bellinis at The Smith. I am sure anything after 20 miles taste great but was great. We then did a jaunt to McSorley's and the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (although sadly none for me...alcohol and then ice cream...not a good mix and ice cream in general is a no go).

My body today is feeling great. I am not sore even after 20 miles and hills. I hit the bike and weights this morning and will do a little shake out tonight and probably swim.

If you have stuck with this post this long, you are amazing!!! Thank you.

Anyone else have a long run this weekend - and anyone else training for NJ?! I can't wait!!!

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