Richmond Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Overall, I am satisfied with how the half went. I am not ecstatic and I am not disappointed. I am content with my results given my training and the weather conditions.

All week long the weather forecast become increasing colder until I woke up race morning to a balmy 25 degrees. This was not comforting since the coldest weather I had trained in was probably in the 40s. Probably even the high 40s. I had at most worn capris and a very light jacket. Race morning I wore my long tights, a long sleeved shirt (with my SOAS tank over top to represent), and my winter running jacket. I also had a warm headband on and gloves. It was freezing.

I started the morning out with my favorite race breakfast of a piece of bread (I prefer untoasted), peanut butter, and half a banana. The puppy was very sad I didn’t share any with her.

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She gave me this face.

Mom and I hopped in the car with no traffic until about a mile and a half from where parking was. We had left the house at 6:30 to arrive in Richmond at 7 with a start of 7:44. We cut it pretty close with traffic but since we took her Mini we were able to squeeze in a compact car space and the street we parked on was the same as the start.

We headed for the porter potties for once last stop. At this point I was freaking out a bit. I hadn’t had any bowel movements since the night before and wanted to empty my system before starting. But nothing happened. I just peed and decided that was that and hopefully it wouldn’t catch me later (luckily it didn’t until well after the race).

We were out of the johns and immediately into our corral with 2 minutes to start. Perfect timing. My mom had decided to run with me during the race since she hadn’t been training that much and didn’t care about time for this one.

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Despite my mom wanting to push it almost right away I told her that I was keeping it easy for the first 8 miles. The first mile ticked 15 seconds under my 12 minute pace and the second 8 seconds over. I was happy with both of these and wanted to keep my range between 11:45 and 12:05.

Miles 3-7 went about the same with mile 7 being my second fastest mile. I was getting ready to kick it. But then my plans began to get derailed.

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The cold weather began to get to me yesterday. Not having trained in it I could feel my lungs retaliating. By mile 8 I couldn’t take a deep breath and my pace began to reflect it. My pace began to drop from mile 8 to 12 and I tried to push but my lungs wouldn’t cooperate and then my right hip began to flare.

I pushed and tried and didn’t want to give myself another excuse to not PR. But the pace was slipping too much and my mile paces were in the high 11s. With one more mile left and the marathon male winners beginning to come up beside us I tried to push harder. I couldn’t. Until the final turn and the big downhill. I looked to my mom and we kicked it into gear.

This is my favorite part of the race. There is a little over a quarter of a mile left but the downhill is so steep you just have to let it take you. So I lengthened my stride and pushed with my last little bit. Mile 13 was my fastest at 10:38 and I gave one last push to make it 13.1 miles.

I crossed in 2:31:29, about 30 seconds slower than the previous year. But I raced smarter. I had a negative split by 7 seconds unlike my very positive split of last year. Though my legs were jello I know I had given it my all. I tried and next time my training will be better but for this cycle, I am happy. And I am happy to have the opportunity to run a half marathon with my 50 year old mom.

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Richmond Half Marathon Goals

I am literally sitting in the parking lot of the expo waiting for my mom to arrive (and the expo to open) to go inside the day before the half marathon. I haven’t run this distance since the Nike Women’s Half in April and I think that due to lack of training I will be luckily to do the same as I did there. The last three weeks have been phenomenal but I don’t know of that will be enough. Which is why I am laying out my goals and expectations for tomorrow.

A Goal: half marathon PR. My current PR is from last year’s Richmond half at 2:30:49. I may be off a little on the seconds but regardless I would like to get under 2:30 and if I have a good day tomorrow I think this is achievable.

B Goal: under a 12 minute pace. If I can’t PR I would like to keep my average pace under 12 minutes, which I think I could do easily.

C Goal or everything goes to shit goal: finish with a smile on my face and glad to be able to run a half marathon and do it with my mom.

She’s here! Time to enjoy!

How to Survive the Treadmill

Daylight saving time has begun and the mornings are dark and the evenings darker. Since I leave the house at 6:30 and get home at 5pm, this means that essentially I will be in the dark no matter when I workout: morning or evening. For me, this means, no more biking outside during the week, only on the weekends, and running has become a challenge as well.

While I could run in the dark, I choose not to do so. First, I am clumsy, and having little to no visibility most likely means scrapes and bruises. I already trip during full daylight in dry conditions. Second, the sidewalks/roads near my apartment to run are not the best lit and my only other option is trails through the woods, which are pitch black. This brings up the safety factor. If the Beast wanted to go run with me, I would consider doing it, but he doesn’t and won’t and we run at different speeds/distances.

This essentially means that until about March, my runs and bike rides during the week will take place inside. I don’t mind staying inside for the bike because I am more than happy to set up my trainer and watch a movie or two and pedal all day long or go to the gym for a spin class. However, running inside means I have to use the treadmill, the machine I hate most in the world.
I steeled myself on Tuesday for my first trek to the gym to run and my first run since my nasty chafing from last Friday’s long run.

Then I decided that my relationship with the treadmill for the next 5 months or so couldn’t start on a sour note, and I needed to find ways to make this partnership blossom, thrive! So here are my tips for surviving the treadmill.

1. Be positive. Easier said than done, but going into the workout dreading and harrumphing the treadmill is going to make it worse. Way, way worse. Unbearably worse. I rationalized with myself all day that this was my only option and if I wanted to continue running this was the safest and best way to do it.

2. Arm yourself with music. Taylor Swift’s new CD has been a lifesaver for me. The tunes are catchy, the beats are good, and it provided lots of entertainment for other gym goers as I danced and lip-synced on my treadmill. Other options also include having a movie or TV show or something to listen to and entertain you. For the treadmill I prefer the fast paced music as opposed to my book on tape or a movie which are not going to be an hour long thrill ride most of the time.

3. Turn on the TV monitor. Even if you aren’t going to watch it or listen to it, it provides another visual distraction and at least some scenery is changing while you’re running in place.

4. Have fun! I dance, sing, and do a myriad of other weird things while I run on the treadmill. Yes, there are many other people around, but I am getting in my workout and trying my best to enjoy it. If that means I look like an idiot and end up on YouTube at some point, so be it.

5. Mess with your speed. I like to have a range that I am aiming for whenever I run on the treadmill. I am sure my speed varies when I am running outside from quarter mile to quarter mile, so when I am on the treadmill I increase and decrease by 0.1 every lap. This adds some variety and breaks the whole run up in quarter mile intervals. If I can just make it to the next quarter mile mark, then I can change the speed, and that resets my mindset.

The Long Run Bust

Since the Beast and I are headed to Lexington this evening to visit our alma maters for the weekend I decided to do my long run on Friday. After sleeping in, I ate a little something, waited for some bowel movement to occur then headed out.

I didn’t know what I was in for.

The first 4-5 miles went really well. My pace was getting faster by 2-5 seconds so I was pleased. I spent this portion listening to a book on tape which helps me not go out of the gate too fast. When I stopped to get water at the end of this segment

The first bad sign happened here. I had brought along my last salted caramel gu to eat for my last 4 miles. I checked my pocket and it had somehow fallen out. I wasn’t that upset and figured it would suck but I could manage.

During the next 3.5 miles my thigh started to burn. Not the muscle, the skin. And when I stopped at the turnaround to check it out I noticed my wonderful life saving CW-X tights were going bare right on that spot of my leg. I was already chafing and bleeding just a little bit. I asked some construction workers for duct tape to hold my pants together. This solution lasted until about half way through mile 9.

The duct tape came off and wouldn’t stick and the chafing hurt so bad that I had to hold the material together. By this point there was a hole bigger than my fist in my pants. I tried to run and was overcome with a burning sensation. I decided to try a walk run but even that failed and I succumbed to as fast a walk as I could handle while essentially holding my crotch material together.

Then my phone died. The last two miles would be in silence. No music, no texting to help me through the walk. I was alone.

With a mile left to go the cramping started and it took every ounce of my will power to continue walking. I wanted to stop but there was no other way to get home and I needed to not be on my feet anymore. I dragged on.

When I finally made it home I grabbed the jug of chocolate milk, peeled off my clothes, and immediately sunk into a nice hot bath. The sweat and pain began to leak out into the hot water and I began to feel like a human being again.

Today was a test of my mental power and what I was made out of. Without the pant rip I would have been on pace at about a 12 minute pace, which is about on par for what I should be doing during the Richmond half in a couple weeks. But the pants rip happened. And I had to hobble home.

I am at least thankful that my pants ripped today and not two weeks from now. I have plenty of time to buy new pants (which I already did) and it proved that I can do it. Despite a less than perfect training cycle with lots of excuses and reasons for not sticking to my plan, I am worthy of competing in the Richmond half. Will I PR? Probably not. But maybe that’s not always the point of running a race.

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Studies Are Right For A Reason

When the Beast and I moved in together I read a ton of things about how you will both gain weight but I figured we had already done at when we first started dating so we would be fine this time.

I was so wrong.

The first few months went well, for me at least. I was sticking to my workouts and killing it after the hub bub of moving and apartment hunting. The Beast was adjusting to life in DC, a place he loathes.

Then life seemed to speed up and suddenly working out wasn’t as easy to do and eating bad was terribly easy to do. It’s like living with your best friend who you steal all the cookies from the cookie jar with. We were constantly looking for something sweet or savory and high in calories. It was fun but now at the end of a couple of months of this, I feel gross. I feel bloated and fat and frankly I’ve put on 5 pounds that is the difference between clothes fitting and looking good and everything being tight and only wearing oversized shorts.

Its a cycle I go through every few months but I am determined to stop it and beat this “sweet” tooth (or more like taste buds that crave everything bad for me). And this time hopefully the Beast can help me to resist all the cookies and cakes and pies and ice cream and…well you get it.

The Beast and I Go West

This past week, I ran very, very little, not on purpose, but because I decided to take a hiking vacation, which meant that my “runs” were actually walks at higher than normal elevations with much steeper inclines than I am used to.

The Beast and I took our first adult vacation out west together with a packed agenda. We left on Saturday and started in Las Vegas, where we spent one night, and decided that scene wasn’t really for us. Apparently we don’t like big cities (not such a huge shocker). Then we headed out to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I really cannot put into words how amazing the view was. It left me speechless. I will let pictures do most of the talking for this post.

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On Monday, we had our first real adventure: hiking into the Grand Canyon. We decided that since it takes twice as long to come up as it does going down that we would go down for 2 hours and see how we felt after that. In the 2 hours we made it a little over three miles, and while I was trying to convince the Beast that we could keep going for thirty more minutes, I am glad he convinced me to turn back then. The ascent up may have almost killed me. I never realized what living at sea level does to you, but trying to hiking up 2000 feet in 3 miles from 7000 to 9000 feet was killer. Although I am sad that we didn’t make it to the bottom, I am glad we made it out.

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Also, we passed a woman who was running from the South Rim to North Rim to South Rim…in one day. She may have been insane.

From there we headed out to the Sequoias in California. Needless to say, we had an entire day of driving.

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On Wednesday, we explored the forest. We hiked up Moro Rock, walked around the huge trees (General Sherman and General Grant), and walked some more. Not as strenuous as the canyon, but still a good bit of hiking for a total of somewhere between 3-4 miles.

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Thursday, we had a little bit of light hiking in Yosemite, probably around 2 miles, so nothing too crazy.

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Friday, we decided to hike to a waterfall, which was 1000 feet of elevation in a little over a mile. Then we did some more hiking, for about 7 miles of hiking total that day. The waterfall below is Bridalveil Falls…not the long march uphill to see Vernal waterfall.

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Saturday, I was supposed to do my long run. I had planned to wake up early in San Francisco and get on the treadmill (Beast worries about me exploring a new city by myself in the dark running, which is a valid point). However, I got on the treadmill and could barely run for the 2 miles I completed. Maybe it was the exhaustion or the sheer boredom of staring at myself for 2.5 hours ahead. I abandoned the treadmill for some more cuddle time in bed because it was a vacation and I needed that more.

After a redeye back to the east coast, I contemplated trying to do my long run. However, my body rejected that thought and all the elevation and hiking and soreness caught up to me. I was exhausted after barely sleeping through the night and week of extreme hiking for me.

Yes, the Richmond half marathon is not that far away and my longest run has only been 11 miles, but I have time to complete two more long (11-12 mile) runs before I need to taper, and sometimes you have to listen to your body and rest.

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Begin Anew

Time to turn over a new leaf. I am headed on my first vacation in over a year this Saturday and while part of me is tempted to push back my serious training until after vacation that would mean missing two weeks of serious running and not being really ready for the Richmond Half Marathon in mid-November. So the serious running starts tomorrow. I know, it should start today, but I accidentally scheduled a dinner with friends for this evening and my legs are surprisingly sore from yesterday’s sprint triathlon that I did not go that fast in.

I have noticed a pattern over my last two triathlon seasons. I start the season strong, ready to race after a winter of training and not racing, then summer and warmer weather comes and it gets harder to fit everything in, so I begin to slack off and by the end of the season you can really see it in my race results. Then I get frustrated. I get upset with myself, and then the cycle starts all over again.

The Beast and I are both a little fed up to put it mildly. He’s put on some weight, I’ve been maintaining an weight I want to shed, and so we are embarking on that. We are starting to clean up our diet reasonably and get more days in the gym.

As we shift into fall/winter training I am planning on focusing on running and lifting with a little bit of swimming and biking thrown in. I need to improve my run and my bike the most, but I really want to focus on my running for the time being and then get to biking later. I notice those are the two places I get passed the most, with the run being the biggest place.

I’ve got big plans for next year and a lot of things I want to accomplish, but most of all I want to finally get to a place with my body where I am really truly happy and where I am pushing myself running and in triathlons. I am ready to set PRs all over the place and be a little faster and stronger.

So here goes nothing.

Return from the Grave

It’s been awhile.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ve been at a low point of my life with exercise and food. I’ve been searching for motivation and coming up empty handed.

The mental part of my training is lacking and seriously affecting my physical training.

But I figured the best way to get back to it would be to blog about it. To be held accountable again, to learn to love myself and my body again, to throw myself back into my training, to stop eating so much junk food.

I have one last triathlon this weekend, just a sprint, and a couple weeks ago I did my first Olympic distance triathlon. I promise I will post about it soon!

I know this is a short post but more is coming soon. Because I need to be accountable, particularly to myself.

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Olympic Distance Triathlon Training – Week 7

Woof. That was this week. Just when I feel like I might be in a mentally good place I mess it up and just let it go. I am the queen of self sabotage. It’s a mental game and I am just scraping by with a C average right now. I am weak when it comes to resistance and weak when it comes to pushing myself.

Monday: Weights Chest, back, and abs. Need some more good weight lifting time to round out all the triathlon cardio.

Tuesday: Swim 2000m and Bike 60 minutes The swim went well despite all the kicking that I had to do. The bike was inside and on the trainer because see above: lazy.

Wednesday: 4 mile easy run The Beast joined me for an easy run on the trails near us. It was hot and humid and gross.

Thursday: Accidental day off The Beast and I attempted to go do speed work on a track only to find a high school football game going on. After an hour of driving around to other schools in search of a track we were fed up and angry and the Beast was sick from not working out but taking preworkout.

Friday: 60 minute spin class and weights – arms I love this spin instructor. She’s amazing and motivating and I was sweating balls. Then I followed up the class with some arm weights.

Saturday: BRICK 2 hour bike + 15 minute run I started the bike out on a hilly trail aways away from me and ended up going on a plethora of other little trails nearby before heading to the Mount Vernon trail to finish out and then back to the hills for the ultimate finish. The run was hard and hilly but I was proud to have done it.

Sunday: Rest Yes, this is supposed to be a long run day. I didn’t want to and I wasn’t feeling it and sleeping felt so good. But excuses are made for the weak.

This week will be better. I promise myself.

Olympic Distance Triathlon Training Week 5 & 6

Finally reporting on how the past two weeks of training have gone and I am planning on putting the race report from this past weekend up once I have some photos to share with you all. I also have a few pieces of news to share with you all very shortly, but I don’t want to give anything away yet!

Monday: 2000m swim; chest/back weights This was the last time I really got weights in for awhile…because well, I slacked off and was focusing on cardio and I will forever struggle to get everything I want into a week without a few extra hours each week.

Tuesday: 60 minute bike; 30 minute easy run

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: 1800m swim

Friday: Lazy day off

Saturday: 90 minute bike

Sunday: 8 mile run These are getting a little easier to do, but still rough.

Monday: 90 minute easy bike

Tuesday: 30 minute easy run; 2000m swim

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: 60 minute spin class

Friday/Saturday: Off/Rest

Sunday: Pink Power Sprint Triathlon

I apologize that this recap was so short and so boring, but there isn’t much to say about training right now. I have my Olympic distance triathlon coming up shortly and I am getting nervous as hell to do it. But then I have some more interesting stuff in the works that I am trying to do. Just you wait. I promise more soon.

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