Monday, April 30, 2012

Country Music Half Marathon: The Recap

I should probably have titled this "Country Music Half Marathon: Honky Tonkin' Disaster."

Because that pretty much sums it up: it was a disaster.

I did everything right that I could - the right gear, sleep, hydration, fueling. Got to the start line almost an hour and half early - plenty of time to get ready. The start line was nice - Centennial Park is beautiful. The bathroom lines were horrifically long though.

Wishing it would just start an hour early

So by the time the race started it was already about 70 degrees. I was in Corral 2, which was all pretty fast people. They let us us go about 45 seconds after the first corral (although my chip somehow picked up the sensor 30 seconds early, but whatever). We take off and I felt good. The first 3 miles had a pretty good net downhill. I don't own a Garmin, but I do use a the Runmeter iPhone GPS app, but I had it set to give me my average pace every mile. I was shooting for a sub 1:45 half, so I was trying for like a 7:50 pace.

My earphones come on at mile 1 - 7:03 pace.

Yikes. I thought to myself I needed to dial it back. So I swear it felt like I did. Mile 2: 7:00 pace. WTF?

Mile 3: 7:11 <--- this is now officially my fastest 5K ever. Not exactly what I should be doing in a half marathon. But I felt so good!

4: 8:06
5: 8:24
6: 8:00
7: 8:13
8: 8:41

OH BUT WAIT. I had studied the race course elevation map before the race, but I swear it was incorrect. I assumed that I would get a long downhill after mile 7 or so and it didn't happen. Relentless hills. By mile 8 it was probably about 80 degrees and I just wilted somewhere around the 15K point. There was little to no shade either. I had to give in and walk.

I grew up in the deep South, and for most of the past decade have lived and run in very warm places - South Carolina, Hawaii, San Diego. I guess living through one New England winter is enough to become totally unaclimated to the heat. Around mile 10 or so was the closest I've ever felt to heat exhaustion - dizzy and disoriented. I managed to run for maybe a half mile at a time before I had to give in and walk. I felt like such a loser. And all I could think of was all that time, energy, and money I'd spent on this race and I just watched all of it drift farther and farther away. I was so angry with myself.

9: 9:42
10: 9:25
11: 10:03
12: 10:17

My final time was 1:54:46 - well, by my watch. The final time listed for the race was over 1:55, but I know it is incorrect because my husband and I took off at the exact same time and his start time is listed to be 30 seconds after mine. The told us to walk right up to the sensor, and we were in the front of the corral, so I think my sensor must have started too soon. Whatever, it doesn't really matter, I guess.

I am just SO ANGRY about this and I can't let it go. This was my 8th half, and officially my second worst half (my first half was about 1:57).

I will say the course was well equipped with plenty of aid stations and the crowds were pretty good. Everyone was really nice - something I forgot I missed. Several times after mile 10, I would feel someone pat me on the back and encourage me to keep going, or ask me if I was okay. I think I was so frustrated because I was mentally prepared to kill that race but I couldn't make my body do it. My final verdict on this race: I won't do it again, not unless they change it to be in like, February.

I am somewhat sore, not too bad, I've definitively been worse. I bought a travel sized foam roller at the expo, which turned out to be awesome (and it fits in my backpack). What's odd is my chest hurts - on the left side, when I inhale. I am slightly concerned I did some damage to myself. I think I will allow myself to rest today and jump back into things tomorrow.

And now I want race revenge like something awful. I have already found another race to do - and thank God this one is here in Boston - I am done with traveling to races for a while. So in 4 weeks, hopefully I will finally get that race I was hoping for. At first I declared I was going to run my own 13.1 this coming weekend but I decided against it. I don't want to hurt myself.

So now I think I am also going to start doing more long runs. I think every weekend needs to have a double digit run. Also, I am thinking of a Garmin (or some other GPS watch). I think I really should know my real-time pace, so I pace myself correctly. While I love my current app, there is no GPS app that can accurately give real-time pace. I hesitate because Garmins are SO pricey. I have already spent a small fortune on all my other gear; I am unsure I want to invest in another.

On a positive note, I just submitted my last grad school assignment ever, so that felt pretty good. Now, I think I will nap!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oh, running memories

I didn't run more than a lap around a basketball court until I was 23 or so. I did a 5K occasionally (very, very slowly) and always said I 'hated running' and 'wasn't built to run' until I was 26 or so. On a whim, I signed up for the Aloha Run in 2008 - it's a 8 mile run from Aloha Tower to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. I had never run more than 3 miles, and I was terrified. It took me almost an hour and a half to finish; but I did it. I thought then, if I can run 8 miles, why can't I run 13?

So I signed up for a half marathon in 2008. I also signed up my husband, who had just returned from a deployment and had not trained at all. We finished, but I remember not being able to walk later that day. I think our time was about 1:57.
Perfectly in step, that's how we roll. Also, really bad hair decisions (aka that 2" ponytail here)

So we conquer that one. We later went on to run another half marathon later that year, shaving 5 minutes off our pace. My husband, K, can run much faster than me, but he often chooses to run races with me because he says "it's more fun that way" (yes, he's awesomesauce, and no, you cannot have him, he's mine). 

We then bit the bullet and signed up for our first full Marathon. It was the Maui Paradise Marathon, and it was the inaugural event. We were totally clueless about races. We assumed that all races were pretty sizable. WRONG. The Maui Paradise Marathon only had about 50 runners total for the full marathon. For most of the race, it felt like a training run; we couldn't see anyone behind us or ahead of us. A few hours before it started, there was a terrible thunderstorm with lightning (very uncommon in Hawaii) and sheets of rain; for the first 10 miles or so, we got pounded with rain that stung the skin. This was pre-LASIK - I even had a contact lens pop out at mile 9 (I managed to catch it and get it back in my eye). The roads were flooded - we had no choice but to run through 6-10 inches of water at some points. All this was really exhausting, and then in the 14-20ish mile point was an out and back on a tiny rural road of mean, short, steep hills. At 18 or so I told K I just wanted to quit. He wouldn't let me, so we walked on and off and finally got to the finish - soaked from head to toe. I really wanted a sub-4 hour marathon, and we missed it: we finished in about 4:20.

Totally soaking wet. My shorts kept falling down because they were so heavy!

We finished. Yes, I am crying.

I burst into tears at the finish line. The girl that handed me my metal was terrified. I think she thought I was hurt. I wasn't hurt (I mean, I was in physical pain) but I think I was just overwhelmed. I'd spend 4 months training and it felt like it was over so fast. And it really didn't go the way I wanted (gross understatement).

So later that year, my husband left again for deployment, and I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. Mostly because I am super stubborn and I really wanted a good marathon experience. A REAL marathon experience with cheering crowds in a big city. A friend of mine met me there and ran it with me. I lived in Hawaii at the time, and since I was a relatively newbie runner I knew nothing about gear. I checked the forcast a few days before and realized it was going to be cold at the start in Chicago - so I packed the only pair of tights I owned and I bought long-sleeve DriFit shirt at the Nike store. Oh, how dumb I was! It was 25 degrees at the start. It was a shock to the system for sure. Biggest mistake? I didn't have gloves. My hands were so swollen at the finish that I couldn't get my rings off for about 3 days.

But it was an AMAZING experience, and we hit our goal - we finished in 3:55:56. Can you tell we were happy? For the last 3 miles we were totally delirious (runners high is real, fo sho) and we kept saying back and forth to each other "we're doing this!" "we are really doing this!" I am sure we sounded insane.

Oh, Christen, if only you had known about winter running gear... you could have prevented THIS:

We look great for having just run 26 miles, but OMG sausage fingers! It was SO painful.

So after that I said to myself, "Alright, successful marathon DONE. Check off life list" and went on with my life without considering to ever do another one. I had a pretty significant IT band injury only a couple months after Chicago and was unable to run more than 2-3 miles for 7 months (with the exception of running the Aloha Run again with that injury - VERY stupid). We moved to SoCal, and ran a half marathon in LA:

We're back bitchez! Finished in like 1:50.

And then, of course, K leaves again. So I threw myself into other things - like going to 6 spin/gravity/bootcamp classes a week. I also was in full-time grad school and working 30 hours a week. I tend to do crazy sh** like this when K leaves - I totally overload myself to stay busy. So last summer, I ran 3 half marathons, which was a blast:

RnR San Diego. J's first half! I talked her into starting to run. I am a very persuasive friend. 
I set a new PR: 1:45:55

K came home! Napa to Sonoma Half. BEST RACE EVER! 1:51-ish. It was my birthday. I consumed copious amount of wine! Also, the medal is a wine stopper. Only useful medal I've ever received!

 AFC Half. I HATED this course. The elevation profile is basically a giant U shape.
And there was no free beer at the finish. BOO. 1:52.

And that leads up to today... we've been running a lot of shorter races - and I've gotten a lot faster. We moved (AGAIN... 4th time in 6 years, yay for military life!) to Boston in the fall and running REALLY got back in my blood. This is the first time in my life I've been able to consistently run sub-8 min miles, so I have got my eyes set on another marathon in the fall where I can hopefully BQ!

And that's my (brief) running history! Now we're off today to Nashville to run yet another half. We were at a hockey game on a Friday night when we got a text from an old friend asking if we wanted to run it. We were a few beers into the night and we said 'OF COURSE!' and signed up from our phones. The moral of this story: don't drink and sign up for races! I am excited to go, but it has cost us a small fortune and generally left a bad taste in my mouth already for RnR races. I think this will be the last one we do. From now on, smaller local races that don't want to take all our $$$.

Looking forward to wearing my cowboy boots and having some warm weather! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New stuff!

I am never one to back down from bold colors. Behold:
Self portraits are a bitch, especially of your own shins

The blue argyle ProCompression socks and the yellow/pink New Balance 890. These shoes feel GREAT. Did a 30 min tempo run in them today and felt great - they are a few ounces lighter than my Nikes, and I can really feel it!

Now to finish MY LAST FINAL OF GRAD SCHOOL and to pack for Nashville! I think I'll wear my cowboy boots to the airport... :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Almost time...

Yesterday: 4 miles, 7:43 avg. pace
Today: 4 miles, 8:19 avg. pace

This is half marathon week, so my mileage is a little low. I ran yesterday at 'race pace' and took today a little easier. I am always kind of at a loss for what to do during race week - I am hesitant to weight train normally, because them I run the risk of being sore on race day (I tend to life heavy and go 'all in' at the gym). So I will stick with doing lunges core work and spend the rest of my time stretching, foam rolling, and using The Stick.

We also stocked up today on Gu. I have a personal preference for the Roctane variety. The more caffeine the better! I basically consider caffeine one of my major food groups. :)

I also tend to eat a little more carbohydrates this week. Nothing crazy, just a few more sweet potatoes and maybe a little rice here and there. I'm not much of a grain person (other than oatmeal) so I just try to eat more this week.

What do you guys tend to do with your workout routine during race week?

What are your race fuel preferences?

And odd question: Does anyone know if I can take an empty water bottle in my carry on? I am a little paranoid about water during races - I like to have my own handbottle so I can drink when I want to drink, and not just at the water stops. But I also do not want to pay $25 to check my bag both ways for the pleasure of having a handbottle. I have seen people go through security with water bottles, but I am still unsure it it's actually okay. And I'd rather not lose a nice water bottle to the TSA! UPDATE: According to many travel forums and this site, it appears I can pack a totally empty, dry water bottle in my carry on. Score!

As of today, the high on race day is 80 degrees. Yikes! At least we're just running the half, and it starts at 8 am. I think the low is like 65 so it's not like it's going to be cool at the start - but at least we'll be done before 10.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Long Run Saturday

So we ran 12 miles today. When I say we, I mean my lovely husband K and myself. We sort of lolligagged around so by the time we got out to start it was almost 10 am. It was probably in the high 60's by then. Bad decisions, we haz them. But anyway, it had to be done.

1: 8:24
2: 8:23
3: 8:09
4: 8:25
5: 8:33
6: 8:15
7: 8:56

Around mile 4.5, K told me he didn't feel well (he's an excellent runner and normally runs much faster than me, but has been battling a stomach bug all week). So we kept going because we were doing an out and back home (and we had to get back home somehow) but a little into mile 7 he said he could run any longer. We had a dilemma, because we only had one set of keys between us. So we decided I would continue on and take the keys, and he would walk back. I thought I might need to run home and get the car, so I tried to be as speedy as I could (although we right at the biggest hill of the course).

8: 8:27
9: 8:34
10: 7:49

So I made it back home at about 10.5, and called K to see if he needed a ride. He had gotten on the T, so he didn't, but I had the house keys. So I waited around (without sitting down!) and headed out when he got home to finish my last few miles.

11: 8:18
12: 8:28

Overall I felt it went really well. I wasn't running 'all out' because I don't think it's worth it at this point; I'll save that for the race next weekend. I was also had moderately sore legs and arms from overdoing it at yoga yesterday (yes, I am sore from yoga - obviously, I'm doing it wrong). I really want to go under 1:45 for this race; a sub-8 min pace would be awesome. Guess we'll see how goes next weekend!

Note to self - make sure the lid is actually completely screwed on before turning it up to drink. I ended up with water all down the front of my shirt and legs. I'm pretty sure I looked crazy!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The unexpected workout

Yesterday I took my dog for a 2.5 mile walk. She's done this walk before, no problem. In fact, as soon as she realized we were going on our 'long' walk, she pulled like a sled dog and leap around like a rabbit all the way to the trail because she was so stoked. And she LOVES stairs. See:

Why are making me sit here? There are more stairs to climb! WHY WON'T YOU LET ME BE GREAT???

Well, we get to about the halfway point, and she camps out on a bench:
Go on without me, mom, I'm just going to chill here.

So I thought, maybe she's just tired; it is a little warm (it was like, 62 - dog, you used to live in HAWAII). So we hung out for a bit on the bench. But I had stuff to do, so I told her we had to walk back home. She proceeded to walk, very slowly. And then she started holding her back foot up, like it was hurt. I examined it like 15 times and could find nothing wrong. Then she decided she was just going to stop walking altogether:

Yeah, I like it here. I can just stay here. You go home and bring me food. I live by this water now.

So, even thought I could find nothing wrong, she refused to walk, so I had no choice but to carry her back home - about 3/4 of a mile away. She weighs 30 pounds, and we live on a hill. It was really fun. No fewer than 5 people got a really good laugh at my expense (it's okay, I can take it). 

Then we got home, and as soon as I put her down she ran inside like nothing was wrong, and begged for food. I'm pretty sure I got faked out. But it's okay, because she does super cute things like this:

Look at me, I am the cutest dog in the world! Even though I love to mess up your couch pillows and blankets.

 So, does anyone else's dog do this? Or have I been totally outsmarted by my canine? She does have me wrapped around her little paw, that's for sure.

Yesterday's workout also consisted of running 3 miles. My ankles were still sore from the shoes from hell (see yesterday's shoe post) so I had a slow start.

Mile 1: 8:41
Mile 2: 8:19
Mile 3: 7:54

And by that point, I was at CVS and I needed to pick up some essentials (you know, self-tanner, because I am the palest person ever and I need to keep that slight fake tan so my legs don't blind people). I then went home and did a (very) short workout:
Pushups (not the girl ones): 3x10
Front lunges x 10
Front lunges with torso twist x 10
side lunges x 10
reverse diagonal lunges x 10
back lunges x 10

My ankles really hurt by this point, so I put on my sexy compression wear:

It's less grandma when they are neon!

I cannot say enough good things about compression wear! I also put some ice on my ankles while I was sitting on my ass on the couch, and today they are good as new. Cannot wait for my compression shorts!

I only have one pair of compression socks, so it was clear I need to buy another pair, so I took up the sweet deal from Skinny Runner's site and got these bad boys from Pro Compression:
Argyle FTW!

I also spent some QT with The Stick and the foam roller (both torture devices in their own right). Some things I just have to do for my own good. 

Today I did a yoga class - 90 minutes of Vinyasa Flow. Yoga is a huge challenge for me because I am SO inflexible. I seriously can't even do half pigeon, and my standing split is barely an L. It's sad. However, I am pretty good at the strength poses, and I LOVE headstands. I got to do a 60 sec one today, I was super excited! I also *almost* got side crow. I need to practice more.

Today is a no running day. Tomorrow we'll do 12; last long run until our half marathon next weekend. Yay! Which is exciting for many reasons - it means the race is almost here, and it means I get to eat pizza tonight! 

What workouts do you guys do outside of running? How to stay flexible and pain free?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Running Goals

I tend to be a very unorganized person. I have tried and tried in my (almost) 30 years and it just never happened. I think that part of my brain is missing. Running is one of the few things I've actually planned, stuck to the plan, and executed with success.

So I am setting some goals for myself for this year, because otherwise I worry I'll just flounder around.

1) To run a sub 1:40 half marathon. I would be happy with 1:42, but I think with some work I can do better.

2) To run another marathon this year. I REALLY want to BQ, but that might be a tall order. My best half was last year, 1:45:55, and I recently ran a 1:12 15K. I have 6 months to train, so right now, the goal is high: to BQ!

3) To strength train 3 days a week. I struggle with committing the to gym. Many weeks I'll only end up there for 2 days a week.

4) To do more yoga. Right now I'm only going once a week. That's got to improve. Years of running has left me really inflexible. I seriously can't even do half pigeon pose.

And... I guess that's it. For now!

Running Gear Thursdays

So I am kind of a running gear junkie. Some might think I have a problem. Since I spend more of my life in running gear than regular clothes, I figure it's okay to have lots of it, right?

I am currently running about 30-40 miles a week, along with about 3 session of weight training and 1 yoga class a week. I like to have multiple pairs of running shoes - which I say is for rotating through so they wear more evenly, but really, deep down, I just love running shoes.

I am sort of in a shoe flux right now. I just started keeping track of my shoe mileage, so I really don't know how many miles my current shoes have on them. I've had my current shoes for about a year or so - and I trained and ran 3 half marathons last summer, but my mileage was pretty light through the fall. I picked it up big time around Thanksgiving (shout out to the 100 mile challenge on dailymile), but since I was running in the lovely New England winter conditions, I wore gortex trainers most of December, January, and February.

I am currently running in these shoes:

Nike Pegasus 27. They still feel pretty good. I think I have about 250 miles on them, so I am unsure how much longer they will last. I used Superfeet insoles for about 2 years, but the bulk of them was causing me some pain/tenderness on the top of my foot. I recently accquired FootDisc insoles from a GearBuzz deal and I really dig them. I have super high arches, but no pronation issues. I also have become a midfoot striker over the past year or so (after the beginnings of a heel spur).

I also run in these:

Nike Pegasus 25? 26? I scored these off eBay last year for like $35. They were the previous year's version. I like the feel, but they are SO UGLY. I have a vendetta against white running shoes. I recently read about washing running shoes in the dishwasher (totally works! and doesn't damage them at all!) and I washed them, but unfortunately they are now just ugly and clean. They have about 200 miles on them.

I wore these through the winter:

Nike Pegasus 27 GTX (Gore-Tex). I cannot say enough good things about these shoes. They really are windproof and waterproof. The only downside is they have a standard sole, so running in the snow was challenging (lots of slipping and sliding).

I am now having a dilemma of what my next shoe should be. I had a brief moment where I wanted to try the barefoot thing, so I ordered these:
Saucony Hattori. They are cool, I will give them that. But I quickly realized that trying out barefoot shoes with a half marathon less than a month away is a stupid idea. Also, they tore up the back of my heels so bad that I am still having nightmares about them. See that little tab on the back? Who on earth thought that was a good idea?

So then about two weeks ago, after an 11 mile run and a bloody mary, I decided to branch out from my Nikes (which I've been wearing for 5+ years pretty much exclusively) and get a pair of these:
Adidas Oscillation. I HATE them with the fire of 1000 suns. I wanted a pair of shoes that were a little lighter for shorter races and track work. You see that odd stitching around the opening and tongue? It's super stiff. I took them out for a slow 5 miler and I ended up with bruises on my ankles! My ankles felt like I'd run 10 miles the next day. That is unacceptable. I am so mad at myself for buying them (and at my husband for throwing away the box, so I cannot return them). I will never put these torture devices on my feet again.

So as a last ditch effort, I ordered these last night:
New Balance 890. New Balance is super dominant here in their hometown area of Boston. So I figured I'd give them a try. And I ordered them from a store that will take them back (and I will lock down the box far away from the husband). And, they are YELLOW! I love vibrant, fun shoes.

Also, I've gotten hooked on compression gear. It started with a pair of CEP calf sleeves:
(mine are black)

And OMG immediately the nagging soreness in my soleus and my inner ankles was gone! But them I realized the sleeves weren't good for recovery too, so I scored some CEP socks on eBay:
(I ended up with the pink ones. I am NOT a pink person, but they were half price. I AM a cheap person)

And I totally love them too. My husband is even hooked on them (he says he's had a lot less shin pain).

So I have been reading about the wonders of these compression shorts that are made just for women, so I ordered them too because they are having a HALF OFF sale right now!

I ordered red ones because I live on the EDGE

I'm 'gearing up' (so to speak) because I'm going to start marathon training in May. I haven't run a full marathon since 2009; I sort of looked at it as 'did it, checked off life list, move on' type thing. I also injured myself somewhere in there and it took a while to get my mojo back. Since moving to Boston, running has crept into my veins again, and since I've been running so much faster and stronger I feel like this *might* be my year to BQ. (I kind of hate typing that, I feel like I'm jinxing myself). My last marathon in 2009 was the Chicago Marathon, where I ran a 3:55:56. I'm running much faster these days so I'm going to train through the summer and hope for a fast fall marathon with the intention of qualifying for Boston for 2014.

So, what's your favorite running gear? And what are your favorite shoes? And how many miles do you typically put on a pair before throwing them out? Inquiring minds want to know!

(None of these people paid me to mention their products)

Hi there!

I'm going to try my hand at this blogging thing. I have always felt that my life wasn't exciting or eventful enough to share with the world, but recently I've found myself wanting a space to express myself and collect all the awesome things I find on the interwebz in one place.

So, here it is!