Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rochester Half Marathon Race Report

Well I had a big fail over the weekend but it was not with the race.  I only have two good pictures from the half marathon on Sunday.  Opps.

Also after racing on Sunday, I was on a plane Monday morning to Michigan for work.  I didn't return until midnight Tuesday so it was a pretty exhausting trip.

So finally, without any further delay, let me tell you how my half marathon race from Sunday went.

Saturday it rained all day - I took it easy, ran 3 miles early in the morning in the rain then kept myself busy with some cleaning, baking and grocery shopping.  I set out my running clothes and went to bed at my usual time.

Sunday morning I woke up at 5:20am, way before my 5:50am alarm.  I tried to get back to sleep but I couldn't so I got up and started my routine.  First I visited the bathroom and then downstairs to start the coffee pot.  Back upstairs to change into my race clothes and wake up Brian.  Downstairs to heat up my brown sugar oatmeal, back upstairs to wake up Brian.  Downstairs to eat oatmeal and drink coffee.

As you can see, Brian had a hard time waking up before the race.  He did not want to get out of bed and when he learned that it was only 45F outside it made matters worse.  At about 6:15am he was finally out of bed and eating breakfast while I scurried around making sure I had everything.

The time to leave was fast approaching and I was waiting and waiting and waiting.  And I was getting antsy.  The race started at 7:45am, it took about 20 minutes to get to the race start/finish area from home and my planned leaving time of 6:30am had come and gone. I packed everything in the car while I waited for Brian to get dress and then I sat in the car.  I double and triple checked to make sure I had everything and then realized I had forgotten my bib.

My garmin had been acting funny since I took it off the charger that morning - it would not go into power save mode while it was on the home/time screen.  I wasn't really worried about it but I didn't know why it wasn't working right.  Finally Brian was ready and we left the house around 6:50am.

I drove like a madman to the start and was not happy when a slower car got in my way. Brian tried to get me to relax but I was freaking out.  I hate being late, I hate not being at a race early enough.  I felt rushed and uncomfortable.

When we reached the race parking area it was 7:10am.  I jumped out of the car and started getting my stuff together and looked to meet my running buddy.  I strapped on my garmin and when I looked down at it, I froze.  The time said 6:59AM.  It was NOT that time, it was well past 7.  By garmin had frozen and I had no idea how to fix it.  I saw my running buddy and basically lost it, I started to cry because I was just upset about being late and then dealing with my garmin.  Even though she wasn't racing, she had brought her garmin as well but because she is awesome and so helpful she actually knew how to reset my garmin and she saved me from having to run garmin-less.

We took off after that did a short warm up.  The nerves started to melt away as we did a quick loop around the start area.  I needed to go to the bathroom though but the lines were so long since it was very close to start time.  I had no other choice so I found a deserted parking lot and got behind a truck, pulled my spandex aside and peed.  It wasn't the best idea but I had to do what I had to do.  We then met up with Brian - I gave him all my warm ups and headed to the race start.

My running buddy was able to secure bikes for her and Brian so they could bike around the race course and see me.  I was very  happy to have a few spectators around the course plus I knew my parents would be at the finish line.

Soon we were off.  The sun was shining and although it was cold I was happy to be out there.  I tried to remember to smile the whole way because I was happy to be running.  But I was focusing so hard on running as well.  The wind was there at certain parts of the race but I was in a pack for the first few miles that I didn't really feel it.

The first few miles just ticked right off.  I held a steady pace and made sure not to start off too fast.  I knew there were two hills at around mile 3 and 4 and I wanted to get through them before I started to pick up the pace.  The first hill came and went - nothing too crazy or hard.  The second hill came and I just ran up it.  I didn't even feel that tired at the top and I just felt so much more in control of the race after that.  There were some rolling hills between miles 5 and 7 but I knew I would be okay.

I saw my running buddy and Brian at the top of the second hill and of course seeing them made me smile.  After I left them I saw a runner from my running group so I started to speed up a tiny bit to catch him.  After I caught him we chatted for a bit and then ran the next two miles together. It was good to have company even if it was silent.  At mile 7 we started running on the canal and I saw a woman in front of me.  A mile or so ago a few spectators had told me I was the 9th woman which I was so surprised about but so very happy.  I passed that woman on the canal and decided I would try and hold onto that 8th woman place.

As I ran along the canal, a younger high school boy passed.  I left him go but then he started to slow down and I caught up to him.  Then he would speed up and I was I just maintaining my pace.  We played this little cat and mouse game for the next 4 or 5 miles.  He was taller than me so he made a pretty decent wind block and I enjoyed having someone to run with for the slightly lonely miles on the canal since there was not much crowd support in that area.  I knew I was supposed to see Brian and my running buddy but they never appeared.

I was taking my GU chomps every few miles (3, 5.5, 7.6, 9.5, 11.5) and I was feeling good although I was starting to feel more and more out of breath even though my legs felt good.  As I exited the canal and headed into the university campus I heard yelling behind me and knew that Brian and my running buddy had finally caught up to me.  As they rode by they said that I was running too fast for them and they kept missing me at the previous spots they had planned to spectate.  That made me smile as I ran along - at that point I was still trailing the high school boy.

Brian stopped about half a mile ahead and handed me a GU just in case.  The high school boy actually tried to take it from Brian because he thought it was for him for some reason.  I took the GU and just held onto it, I was feeling slightly sick to my stomach and wasn't sure if I could hold a GU down.  I had one more chomp to take which I hoped would hold me to the finish.

We finally made a turn and the finish was 1.5 miles away.  Brian had stopped and took one picture of me as I crossed the bridge.  At this point I really had no idea if I would reach my goal of sub 1:34 - I knew I was going to PR but my garmin was off with mileage that I didn't know if I could trust it.  Usually my garmin is ahead in races because I don't run the tangents that well but as I crossed mile 11, my watch read 10.98mi.  I ended up running the last 6 miles almost with out a garmin since it seemed to be off.

As I made another turn, a girl came out of no where and passed me and I was once again in 9th place for females.  I tried to stay with her but she was moving so I just let her go.  Brian and my running buddy caught up to me on their bikes then and I started to smile as they chatted and tried to get my mind off the race and the pain.  My left lung was started to cramp up as I went through mile 12.  I crested the final hill and could see all the runners ahead of me.  Off in the distance about 100m ahead was a girl in a bright orange tank top.  I started to try and catch her since she looked like she was hurting a bit.

Brian rode beside me for a bit and encouraged me to catch her and to control my breathing since it was out of whack due to my lung feeling horrible.  Slowly I was reeling this girl in, my stomach was revolting and my lung was not working right but I kept going.  My running coach saw me as I was about 100m from the finish and told me to catch the girl in front of me.  I made the final turn and forced my legs to run as fast as they could.  And then I heard a voice I had heard so many times in high school.  It was the mother of the girl in front of me and at the point I realized it was my high school teammate who was in the orange shirt.  She has always been faster than me so I knew the race had not gone as she wanted but I still tried to catch her.

I was one step and one second behind her as we crossed the finish time.  I gave her a hug and asked how she was.  I was so grateful that she had been there because I had focused on catching her that final stretch instead of thinking about the pain.  And if I hadn't tried to catch her in that final half mile, I am not sure I would have run a sub 1:34 half.

It was such an unbelievable day - so amazing to run another PR by about 3 minutes, come in 9th female over all and 3rd in my age group.  After all the choas of the morning before the race, I somehow was able to push past it all and just let my legs do what I had trained all summer for.  During those last few miles I kept telling myself..."This is why you ran 60 mile weeks".

Time: 1:33:42 (7:09 pace)
Place: 51/1729
Female: 9/983
AG: 3/169

Thanks for reading!  Happy Thursday!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Favorites: Numbers

Besides running the race, I think my next favorite thing is seeing all the numbers from the training that I did.

Many people thought I was actually running the full marathon on Sunday, not the half because my mileage for the last 13 weeks was so high.  In fact, I ran more miles in the 13 weeks before this half marathon than I did for my marathon in May.  Opps.  What can I say - I love the high miles.

Last 12 weeks of fall half training 2012 - 607.1 miles

Last 12 weeks of spring marathon training 2012 -  581.2 miles

Last 12 weeks of spring half training 2011 - 370.6

In the last year things have really picked up mileage wise for me.  I went from running 5 days a week with a weekly average mileage of 29 miles during half training in 2011 to running 6 days a week with a weekly average miles of 47 miles for half training in 2012.

I never thought I would be able to increase my running like I did in the last year. Let's take a look at  the numbers...

# of runs over 13 miles: 10

# of double days: 9

Average weekly mileage: 46.7 miles

# of weeks above 50 miles: 5

Highest weekly mileage: 60 miles

Longest long run: 17 miles (3x)

Favorite Workout: the Triple Double

# of races: 1 (Boilermaker 2012)

Highest mileage month: August (235.1 miles)

It has been a jam packed summer and I am just so glad that I could make this training schedule work and fit in all my runs. 

For those wondering, I am running the Rochester Half marathon.  4 years ago this race was my very first half with my very good friend.  I still have our finishers photo hanging in my office at work where I look at it every day. 

4 years ago with my best friend - our first half marathon!

(The weather report is actually looking better for Sunday! Fingers crossed it keeps getting better!)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Weather Obsessed

3 days.

And I have been stalking the weather (like any other runner with a race coming up) for the last 7 days.

40% chance of rain! 17mph winds! I did not sign up for that kind of weather.

So what do I do now?

Well it is still 3 days away and things could change.  But in reality the weather may not change and I could end up running in the rain and the wind which are my two least favorite types of weather.

I am just going to have to go with the flow, stay relaxed and wake up Sunday morning to whatever weather there is.  I just will have to prepare for anything.

I don't want the weather to change my game plan.  I still need to focus on what I want to run and achieve with this race. This race may be more of mental battle than anything else and I hope I am up for the challenge!

The bright side is that at least it is going to be cooler temps and not hot.  I will take a high of 60F any day over heat and humidity for a race. 

What's your least favorite weather to run/race in?  What would you do if you were racing this weekend and saw this weather report??

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Taper Week Hunger

5 days before my half marathon on Sunday.  And the hunger of the last taper week has kicked into full force.  I always find the first week of taper (3 weeks from the race), I feel normal and my hungry is under control.  The second week of taper (2 weeks from the race), I start to feel gross and full all the time and just blah.  Then the third week (1 week before the race) I become a bottomless pit and just inhale all food!

 Last night I stood in front of my pantry and tried to make a good decision for a healthy post dinner snack.

First I reached for the wheat thins because these things are delicious! 

And then I saw my husband's lucky charms.  Yes I am married to a 10 year old.  But they are so good.

I also have been snacking on the pumpkin muffins I made over the weekend.  The fall weather is already here so I thought I should start with the fall baking as well.

Let me tell you the one thing I will be staying away from this week....

Ice cream.  Me + Ice cream + racing = disaster.

5 more days.  I am kind of nervous yet excited.  I haven't raced this half marathon in 2 years and last time I raced this I completely fell apart and was miserable the whole race.  I was slightly under trained, went out too fast and made a few mental mistakes.  I think I have come pretty far in two years so I am excited to see what happens.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Double Trouble Speed days

Thursday is very often my second speed workout day of the week.  During marathon training it was the day of the week that I hit most of my medium long runs for a week day (10-15 milers).  This training cycle, I switched things up a bit.

Back in July, I was at my regular Tuesday running club workout and was talking to a veteran runner.  He suggested adding a second easy run to the days that I do my speed work (tempo or interval).  It was an interesting thought and with my peak miles week still ahead of me, I decided to give it a try. For 4 of the 5 weeks my speed work was done in the afternoon with an easy run in the morning (that final week - actually yesterday - I did my speed work in the morning to allow a easy run in the afternoon so I could go to the running club dinner and not be late).

Most mornings of double days, I felt slow and tired - often it was not until the final mile that I would bring my pace to just under 9 minute miles.  The dark mornings were quiet and calm and although I often did not want to leave my comfy bed it was good to get out and stretch my legs before work.  In the afternoons, I noticed a slight difference.  I was still slightly stiff in the warm up portion of my afternoon run, but the speed work portions but my afternoon runs really did start to get easier and faster.  I remember one particular day when I had 5x1000m at interval pace on the schedule (week 8) and somehow my legs just flew that day.  I went faster than I had before in any interval workout and I hit paces that I didn't think I could.

Hard to believe that just adding a second run on my speed work days could help me to become faster.  But I think it actually did.  Here is a look at the numbers - 5 weeks of double workouts on speed days...(If you love numbers read on, otherwise skip down.)

Week 7 - August 14th
AM run - 4.5 miles
PM run - 9.25 miles (5x1mi repeats)
Total - 13.75 miles

Week 8 - August 21st
AM run - 3 miles
PM run - 9 miles (5x1000m @I, 2x400m @ R)
Total - 12 miles

Week 9 - August 28th
AM run - 4.5 miles
PM run - 10 miles (2x{2mi@HMP+1mi@T})
Total - 14.5 miles

Week 10 - September 4th
AM run - 5 miles
PM run - 10 miles (3x2mi @T)
Total - 15 miles

Week 11 - September 11th
AM run - 8.5 miles (2x3mi @ T)
PM run - 4.5 miles
Total - 13 miles

I never expected this to work - although I have dabbled in the double "workout" idea on speed days.  In fact, during marathon training I often would go to total body class in the mornings at the gym and then run 10 or 13 or even 15 miles after work.  Sounds pretty intense and it was and is, but it was amazing to accomplish all that and push my body to places I didn't think it could go.

Adding on all these miles, the double days, continuing to cross train was scary at first.  I think we have all thought about how far we can push our bodies and how much we can do.  I am all for listening to your body first and foremost - just this morning I laid in bed instead of running and I know that was what my body wanted to do.  But there is also a point when you need to push past the regular norms of what you do every day and see where it takes you. 

After reading this you may think that running double on a speed work day is not for you or you may think that it just impossible for you to do.  But I encourage everyone to try it.  Even if it means a tiny mini run in the morning.  You never know what could happen and in the beginning, even I was skeptical.  Its all about starting small and building and seeing where it takes you. 

So I encourage you to give it a try and let me know how it goes...

Monday, September 10, 2012

One Year

One year ago today I married Brian and it was the best day of my life.  I never stopped smiling that whole day and all the love and support from family and friends was truly amazing. 

This year has really flown by - can't wait to see what next year has in store for us :-)

Also Happy Anniversary to Marlene - she is my anniversary buddy (6 years apart).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The best time to eat cookies

I have a huge sweet tooth.  There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't eat a cookie or candy or cake or ice cream or something that is filled with sugar.

With my addiction to sugar, I really try to keep it under control and I think I am often better when I am not training hard because I am more conscious that what I eat wont actually be burned off because I am not exercising as much.  That being said, I usually try to only eat the serving size of 3 oreos or 6 peach rings (although that doesn't always work out for me).  I often tend to overdose on sugar and then feel guilty about it.  The worst time of day for me is after dinner around 8:30/9pm when I get a little bored and end up in the kitchen, rummaging for a snack.  Sometimes I eat sweets out of boredom and sometimes I eat them because I feel like I deserve them.

 The point is that even though I am training for a race, I don't want to give up the treats.  One of the reasons I run is because I want to be able to eat the cookies and cake and not gain weight.  I know that if I did not workout, I would most likely weigh more.

This summer in an effort to fuel my body better I have cut out the cookies at lunch.  At first I went from cookies to animal crackers but recently I have even cut back on those.  I have been trying to eat less of the sugary stuff in the middle of day since I usually just sit on my butt from 8am-5pm.

A few weeks ago I did a little bit of research on when the best time to eat the sugary sweets would be and found that the best time to eat cookies is after a workout.  I think that is the best news ever.

Here's the science behind it -

When you run (or do any type of exercise) you use up muscle glycogen for fuel during the workout.  So after that intense workout, your body becomes more sensitive to sugar intake because it is trying to refuel.  Your body wants something with a high glycemic index so that it can be digested quickly and then rushed to the muscles that need replenishing (source).

The best part is that when you ingest the carbohydrates post workout, your body produces insulin that then injects the digested carbohydrate molecule into a muscle cell for use later as energy.  If you didn't workout and ate those same carbohydrates, the insulin in your body would instead cram the molecule into a fat cell (source).

I am not saying that eating just cookies after a workout is a good idea.  Ideally eating a balanced meal after a workout and then eating some cookies would be a good idea because you are actually helping your body refuel and repair the muscles that you just used.

Over the past few weeks I have tried to not eat cookies after dinner unless I have done an afternoon workout.  That actually doesn't really work well for me.  I sometimes don't have good self control and I really enjoy an after dinner sweet.  So instead I have really focused on limiting myself to one or two cookies and making sure that I fill up on good foods.

Eating less sugar really is a process, I know there is a lot of research out there that says sugar is bad for you.  I just haven't found the will power yet to completely give up sugar and sweets.  It really is about accessing your own body and seeing where you want to make improvements that work for you.  As for right now, I don't think I am going to be completely giving up my cookies anytime soon!

If you are a runner - do you give up all cookies and candy while in training? Do you find not eating sugar actually helps your performance??

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Morning running in Boston

This past weekend, Brian and I headed to Boston to visit my college roommate.  It was great to visit my friend and see the city, but I also was finishing up my last big week of half marathon training and needed to fit in a super long run while in the city. 

At first I was going to run Saturday morning but after a long drive and a late night exploring Boston on Friday night and an early morning planned for Saturday, I decided to reschedule the run for Sunday.

Friday night we headed to the North End for a great dinner at Antico Forno which is a great Italian restaurant! After eating, we walked down to the docks to see the beautiful skyline and I actually figured out how to use my camera at night!  Once we had digested enough, we headed back up Hanover street to get some dessert!  We stopped at Vittoria Caffe for some coffee and I had a cannoli while Brian had a giant Lobster tail.  They both were the best ever.

We then made our way farther down the street and stood in line at Modern Pastry for some take home goodies!  In that bakery, everything looked delicious - we got more cannolis, a torrone and macaroons.

Saturday we were up bright and early to get some breakfast at a local bagel shop and then head over to the aquarium.  I had been there before but Brian had not and we spent a while seeing all the fish, sharks and turtles!  Afterward we started walking again and made our way from the North End to Boston Common, Boylston Street and Newberry Street. It was so amazing to walk everywhere - something we are definitely not accustomed to.  For lunch, we stopped for a quick but delicious bit at Joe's American Bar and Grill and then continued our walking tour.  We walked towards the Charles River and crossed the Harvard Bridge.  At this point I was paying very close attention because this was the area I planned to run on the next morning.  The bike path by the river was amazing and I could not wait to get out there and run.  From there we walked through MIT (a college I could only dream of attending).  It was pretty obvious that school was back in session since there were a thousand bikes outside one of the MIT buildings.

Once we arrived back at my roommates apartment, we lounged a bit before taking the walk to Harvard for dinner. The area around Harvard was buzzing with people and it is just a gorgeous area.  We stopped for dinner at Border Cafe which has awesome chips and salsa.  I even splurged and got a margarita with my fajitas!  After dinner there was more walking to digest all the food we had consumed so that we could make room for frozen yogurt at Pink Berry!  They had so many different kinds of Fro-yo, it was hard to choose but I finally decided on the Chocolate hazelnut with brownie bits!

We consumed our frozen yogurt as we walked back home and I was ready for bed since I knew I had an early wake up call the next morning.

The best part about being in Boston was that the sun rises early than it does at my home.  The sun was up at 6:10am on Sunday which made my 6am long run start time that much easier.  I had studied the map so many times, written out directions and had my phone so I set out for my 17 miler (with 3 miles at HMP).  It was beautifully quiet as I ran down the streets - I ran through Harvard again and onto the Charles River bike path. 

I was pretty much alone for the first 8 miles and then suddenly the bike path was filled with more and more runners.  I was following this one girl for a very long time.  At the Harvard Bridge, I crossed and headed back.  I am pretty sure I saw the Citgo sign that everyone talks about seeing during the Boston Marathon.

As I finished off my miles on the bike path, I started in on my half marathon pace miles.  The 3 miles to home were my 3 miles at HMP.  I was pretty worried about this part of the run - my legs were tired from all the walking (5+ miles) on Saturday and I just did not have a lot of energy.  I decided to just try and take it one mile at a time.  I managed to get through 2 miles at 7:15 pace so I pushed on for a third mile.  And that is when I got lost.  I missed a turn and was pretty lost for about half a mile.  I had to stop and get out my phone to check where I was.  A little back tracking and I was headed in the right direction.

It was slightly scary for a few minutes there on the run because NOTHING looked familiar and I was at mile 16 of my 17 mile run so I was not exactly able to think the clearest. Thankfully I made it back home and wasn't too lost!  It was a great run and I am glad I got to explore more of the area while on the run.

After the run, I quickly showered so we could get on our way to another day of sightseeing.  Sunday we decided to take the drive up to Portland, Maine and see the area.  Brian and I had never been to Maine so we were excited to visit a new place and my college roommate really wanted to take us to this great restaurant. Sitting in the car for 2 hours was not exactly the best thing for my legs post run, but we did more walking in Portland so I wasn't feeling that bad.

Dinner was at Fore Street in Portland and it was the best food I have had in a long time.  And also some really good wine!  I definitely recommend that if you are ever in Portland, make a reservation and treat yourself to dinner there.  It was well worth the drive.  Plus Maine is just beautiful.

Monday, we packed up our things and headed back home after a wonderful weekend.  I did manage another run around Harvard before I left! It is just so beautiful there to run and I love having sidewalks and other runners around!  Totally different than what I have at home - no sidewalks and very few other runners out while I run. 

Fitting in runs while on vacation (even a mini weekend getaway) can be tough but I am glad I have an understanding husband and friends who helped me to make my visit to Boston even better!