I honestly don’t know how I feel about how I did at this race. I am happy to have finished my second half marathon, but I am disappointed that all my winter training didn’t pay off with a big PR for me. However, with a bad race comes lessons learned and one of the biggest lessons I need to actually learn and act on is that during training I need to push myself more and try harder and stick to my routine more.
First though, let’s recap this amazing race, which despite my time, I had so much fun doing!
My mom came in town late Friday afternoon and we headed to Georgetown for the Nike Expotique to pick up our packets. We found parking to be easy enough for 4:30pm on a Friday in Georgetown, particularly since I came in on the lower level (K St) and went to a parking garage across from the packet pickup. It was $8, but the rate was fixed and we didn’t have to worry about anything.
Before pickup, we made a slight detour to Baked and Wired for the most amazing cupcakes ever. Seriously, hands down, the best. Get one if you are in DC. Don’t give into the Georgetown Cupcake fad, go to Baked and Wired.
We flew through pickup and had our bags and tshirts within 15 minutes and most of it was walking and my mom talking to every stranger we passed. Then we headed to the Expotique to see what that was all about while waiting for my cousin to get off work and come down to pick up her packet. Since we had plenty of time, we did the gait analysis on the treadmills, which was really cool. You talked about your running habits and then they have you try on a minimalist Nike show (flyknit…maybe?) and run on the treadmill for about a minute total. A Nike employee films you from the back and the side on an iPad and then you watch the video afterwards and with some cool computer tricks, I was able to see the angle at which I was running and how I really run.
Verdict: neutral slight heel striker. Unfortunately, I know that I overpronate a bit, but maybe not in the first minute of running.
Mom and I then went to make signs at the Luna bar station, sign our names on the Nike “Just Do It” wall, strike a pose at the End Cancer photo booth, and try some of the Nuun at their station. There was also a Paul Mitchel station where you could have your hair braided and be all fancy, which looked fun! Confession: neither of us like Nuun and we don’t want to offend anyone, but our tastebuds just do not enjoy it. I’m sorry, but give me Gatorade or Powerade any day.
My cousin ended up coming pretty late to the Expotique and not feeling well at all. She barely made it through packet pickup before she left. We found out the next day we had food poisoning.
Mom and I headed out to grab pasta at an adorable and tasty family restaurant in Old Town called Pines of Florence, not to be confused with Pines of Italy in Arlington, which my phone tried to take us too. This restaurant is also right across from the Pacers in Old Town, so we were able to pick up Gus and such for the race. I ordered calamari linguini and my mom got a pizza with mushrooms and pepperoni…and some Chianti to share.
Saturday was filled with Eastern Market shopping, seeing The Other Woman, and then watching Redbox movies while relaxing on the couch for the rest of the evening.
Sunday morning we woke up at 4:50, partly because of my paranoia, but also because my mom is late to everything. We had laid out our outfits so dressing and getting ready was relatively quick. My cousin ended up feeling much better and came to meet us at around 5:15 with her boyfriend to head to the metro. I drove like a crazy person to try to make it to the metro on time…and because I was worried my secret spot near the metro would be taken. But we were in luck and there was a large free parking spot. A two block trek to the metro and then…we waited for forever.
I had decided we would take the yellow line instead of blue because I get motion sickness so bad that I can’t be on the metro for too long, but for some reason the yellow line wasn’t running as consistently as the blue. (Sidenote: THANK YOU NIKE FOR OPENING THE METRO EARLY). But best surprise ever…the yellow line lets off at Archives about 20 feet from where the corrals begin, which was fantastic for us.
Two more bathroom breaks and we all split up for different corrals. I made small talk with people around me and got excited for the race to begin…and nervous.
I think I was in the third wave (apparently Nike didn’t do waves last year and it was crazy, so I am very appreciative of the wave start).
Shit. I have to pee again. But the bathroom lines were long, and how bad did I really need to go? I thought it was just nerves, so I sucked it up.
Am I going too fast? I was probably going too fast, but I was trying to hold back and run comfortably. I wasn’t breathing hard and my legs felt fine. I enjoyed the tunnel that we ran through with drums that seemed to reverberate throughout my body as I ran through.
This is when we hit the bridge, which I was slightly nervous about. I shouldn’t have been the bridge was easy, a slight uphill, but the wind held off and I wasn’t being pushed around.
My bladder is really starting to bother me now, but look at the lines for the bathrooms. This is where I started looking at every single bathroom line. This is also when my pace fell dramatically.
I need to pee. That’s all I could think of. That and that my goal was slipping away from me. Around mile 9 the 2:20 pace group paced me and I wanted to cry. Holding in my pee hadn’t helped me…it had probably hurt me. And the girls doing it were just talking and running so easily it made me angry. There was no reason to be mad at them, I had made my choices.
I decided here that a bathroom break wouldn’t hurt anymore. We were in Hains Point and during this part there are actually a couple of park bathrooms before the turnaround with men and women’s restrooms. So you know what I did? I thought about waiting in the women’s line for about 15 seconds before running to the men’s side and announcing myself walking in. It felt amazing to pee and I am sorry to any men I made feel uncomfortable.
I came out thinking I would feel loads better, and I did…until my stomach started cramping. Despite my margarita Shot Blocks, I wasn’t getting enough sodium in my system because the heat was zapping it right out of me. I was covered in salt.
During these miles, I was all in my head. I couldn’t believe I let the pace I was going at slip through my fingers. But I kept pushing through. Everything was hurting and my stomach hurt. There were actually a few times I felt like I was going to throw up. I was disappointed because I had done 12 mile training runs, even a 14 mile training run, but that didn’t seem to matter.
Despite the negative thoughts, I finished. I was so relieved to be done. I had completed my second half marathon and learned a lot of lessons to take into account going forward to triathlon season and my next half in November.
I don’t want to make it seem like I didn’t have a good time. I had a FANTASTIC time. The crowd support and the drum lines and DJs and the city were wonderful and I could not have asked for a better race to do so terribly in, which is why I still enjoyed myself. All of those things kept me pushing forward and kept me going.
I walked through the finish to a chilled water bottle and then goodies from Whole Foods and chocolate milk. I know some people were complaining about no bananas or bagels…but to be honest, I really loved the munchies in the bag and the chocolate milk.
Mom and I then headed home to relax, eat Chinese food, and take a shower so we could wear our beautiful and well earned Tiffany’s necklaces.
I tried out heart rate training earlier during my half marathon training, and I think that trying to keep my heart rate low and in a certain zone prevented me from being able to maintain a faster speed than I think I can during a half marathon. I don’t think I should push it really hard during a long run, but going at what feels comfortable to my body.
I also skipped a couple of long runs for various reasons and I think I need to be more vigilant about getting in certain workouts.
As always, food and eating healthy and losing weight will be important to improving my time.
For now, I am going to bask in the glory of another half done and that my longest training runs for awhile will be at most 10 miles.
For Christmas, the Beast got me a Garmin Forerunner 620. I love it. More than words. It’s amazing and I am obsessed with it.
Maybe a little bit too much.
I started to become obsessed why checking my watch about every tenth of a mile, sometimes I could make it almost a third of a mile but I wanted to stay on pace. I wanted to see how fast I was going and what I could do. So I thought constantly checking my Garmin was the way to do it.
Then I went on a magical 8 mile run last week. I decided to check my watch only every mile when it beeped. The first mile was about normal so I just kept going and instead ran by pushing myself. I was slightly uncomfortable but my breathing was manageable. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t hard. The second mile somehow was a little faster than the first. And the next eight miles went about the same: either a little faster or I kept my same faster speed than normal.
Was this a fluke or a new way to run? I tried it out for a four mile run Sunday and even I was blown away. My miles went 10:12, 10:04, 9:58, 9:30. And normally I am a 10:30 at the fastest runner for that length of time.
Two times might have shown a pattern, but third times the charm! Today I went for my normal hill run with this killer hill that sometimes I feel like crawling up. I ran by feel for the almost five miles checking in every mile and my normal 11 minute pace for this route dropped to 10:30.
I have decided running by feel has now been proven by science. And this is how I intend on running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon on Sunday. By trusting myself and my running abilities.
So, what do I want to accomplish for the rest of this year?
1. Run a 2:15 half marathon. While I am not quite ready to do a sub 2 (which would be an ultimate goal for me), I think that this is obtainable for me to do this year. Sub 2, I am coming for you next year.
2. Embrace the hills (on the bike). What really killed me in the first sprint triathlon of this year was the hills. I had been practicing a lot indoors and my favorite course outside is pretty damn flat. I am challenging myself to tackle more hills and to go for them instead of avoiding them. Here’s to new bike courses and adventures!
3. Do strength training twice a week. When I first started my weight loss journey, I was doing a lot more strength training than cardio, and I loved the muscles I was building. Unfortunately, I have slacked off, but I want to tone my body and make it stronger and more able to endure all the miles that I put on it swimming, biking, and running.
4. Be confident in myself. I don’t want to keep holding myself back. I think that I am slow and that means that I can’t go any faster. But I can. I am able. And I need to push myself. I can do more.
5. Improve my triathlon abilities. This is a couple of things. I want to improve my sprint time because I know I can. And I am ready to tackle the Olympic distance now. I am scared and excited, but I know that I can do it.
What are your fitness goals for this season?
Yesterday I went on a ten mile run. I was eager. I got home early. The day was beautiful and perfect weather for a long run. I filled up a water bottle and got a Gu. I was ready to go.
I decided to run the first five miles at a comfortable pace around 11:15-11:30. They were going along about on schedule. For some reason my legs were a little more tired than I think they should have been.
Then around mile 3 I got a weird feeling in my stomach. I decided to brush it off. Every now and then my stomach rumbles when I run so I thought it will be okay.
The next two miles went well. Then mile five hit and I turned around. And then my stomach convulsed. Oh no. How was I going to go five more miles when I was afraid I might shit myself? Two miles away were porter potties. I told myself that if I could just make it there I would be fine.
I surged on and had to stop a couple of times to let my stomach calm down. But I finally made it to the toilets. I was worried about whether or not they would have toilet paper. That was the least of my worries. In all five porter potties, not one had toilet paper and each of them was in a vile condition, almost filled to the brim. One even looked like someone shit on the seat. What the hell?
This disgusting state of toilets gave me new resolve. I would rather run three more miles and shit on myself than in those toilets.
My new attitude made the next three miles fly by (with a few stops to quiet my tummy) and soon I was almost home. My second half I was posting much better times and pushing myself harder despite my stomach. I was so pleased and I made it to 10 miles at 1:49.
A quarter of a mile from my apartment it struck. I had intended on slowly jogging the last bit but my stomach had different plans. It seized up and I came to an abrupt halt. I had to ever so slowly walk home the last bit. It took all my strength to not just let it go. I finally made it to my apartment and I have never felt more relieved.
I have no idea what I will do if I can’t hold it next time. There were so many people outside and I was wearing bright colors so that I was noticeable. Unfortunately this made it hard to duck into what little cover there was.
Have you get had bathroom issues while on a run?
Race season is starting to kick into high gear and with a half marathon in a couple of weeks and then triathlon season really starting up it’s time to get serious.
I have let small doubts creep into my mind as I gear up for my races. I know that I put a lot of hours into during the winter. But was it enough? Did I run bike and swim enough? Was it okay that I skipped a few workouts or didn’t do two a days often enough? I keep questioning more and more. And the doubt cloud is getting bigger and bigger.
So before my next race I am focusing on my mental state. I am resting and getting quality workouts in. I am trying to lessen my stress.
Another thing that I know I could have done more during the winter training season is focus on my eating habits. The last two weeks I have been reigning in my sweets habit by focusing on more natural sugars. I am already feeling better and my workouts are going better. I can already tell a huge difference.
So as triathlon season starts I have plenty more of races later in the season that more hard work now and eating better will pay off for.
Also anyone with a sweet tooth, I highly recommend Yasso sea salt caramel frozen yogurt bars. They are delicious and nutritious!
I’m sorry for disappearing for so long! The race last weekend really took it out of me but I’m here with the race recap.
My mom and cousin Allison joined me for the race this past Sunday, which was a reverse format triathlon – run, bike, swim. I was apprehensive but race morning I was so happy not to be swimming first.
I started off the morning at 530 so I could shave and get ready. Yes I shave before races and wake up early to do so. I don’t think it makes me faster but it makes me feel good and starts the morning off right. I ate my two pieces of bread with peanut butter and washed it down with water. Then the Beast and I drove about 30 minutes to the race location, jamming in the car the whole way.
We ended up arriving at the same time as mom and Allison so we headed to setup together. Setting up transition took about 15 minutes then we just had to wait for the start at 8. I used the bathroom approximately three times and kept going until the start pretty much.
The men started first then at 8:10 Allison and I went off. Mom was after us for the final wave. I wasn’t sure how to pace the run with two disciplines afterwards but I just did what was comfortable. The course has some nice steady inclines but I just kept going and chugging along. I ended up doing the 5k close to my PR at 29:54.
Transition one was such a flurry of limbs and putting on bike shoes and going I didn’t notice it.
Then began the bike. I was worried about the first half because it’s kind of a windy back road. I shouldn’t have been worried about that part. I cruised through the first six miles and was doing amazing. I didn’t even feel cold although my red thighs told me it was pretty chilly.
The second half was miserable. I knew there were rolling hills but I wasn’t prepared for this. I know they always say what goes up must come down. But not this course. For every bit of up then was much less of a down so it felt like it was just up up up. And unfortunately I wasn’t prepared for it so my right hip flexor started tensing up and the last two miles I was almost in tears. I just kept going because I knew I could do it.
On the way I also passed this man who is a Richmond legend, Gene White, who at 81 years old still competes in triathlons. A car had blown through two cop cars at an intersection to hit his back tire. Luckily he ended up only bruised with no broken bones. I have never been so relieved in my life.
I finally finished the uphill battle of the bike in 53:51. I know I can do better next time, just need more hill practice.
Transition two was even more a flurry. So much so that I didn’t take off my socks. Yep. I wore them down to the pool. Oh and I wore them in the pool.
The swim was easily the worst. I could only think of breathing. There was nothing else to think of. There were also two people who were behind me and then I let go ahead because they were chomping at my heels. But once I let them go past they lost their speed. One girl even stopped in the middle of the pool. I was furious. So my swim time was much slower than I expected and I want to crush it next race. 8:13.
I rolled onto the finish mat and completed the first triathlon of the season. I felt relieved and anxious and thrilled. I knew it wasn’t my A goals but I did do much better than last year and so I am very pleased. I looked forward to seeing my final time and ranking.
Then the drama started.
I found Allison’s time (second in her age group!) and my moms. I knew I was somewhere in between but I couldn’t find my number. Then the panic set in. My mom is friends with the race director so we went to talk to her. She talked to the timing guys and I heard over the walkie talkie “she didn’t cross the finishing mat”. I was crushed. She sent me down to the pool to see them.
I walked out of the building to go find them and couldn’t hold back the tears. I tried so hard and I was so proud of myself so I wanted an official finish. This wasn’t even something I thought could happen. Mom, the Beast, and I hurried down to the pool and fished my disposable timing chip out of the trash (thankfully sitting at the top). We found the guy and thank goodness the Beast took a photo of me and the clock as I finished (even though he almost didn’t because his camera was fogging up so much). The timing guy used the picture to verify my time and then I had officially finished.
I have never been so relieved to be 7th in my age group.
Four days later and my perspective on this 10k has only improved every single day.
This race is the race anyone who has ever lived in Richmond and considered running has done. And this was my first year ever doing it. I know I suck but technically last year was the first year I started running more than three times a year. My mom did her first in 2005.
This race is huge. I’m talking 36,000 people huge. It’s kind of a big deal. And there are people of all shapes and sizes who do it. And people dress up. And the crowd is amazing.
The weather that day called for rain and much warmer weather than we have been experiencing. Fun fact: Out of the four races I did last year it rained at tree of them. I have extremely bad luck. I decided that due to the rain I would wear a rain jacket to keep comfortable. This was mistake number one. The weather was WARM! Like upper 60s and for someone who considered 40s long tshirt running weather wearing a jacket was stupid.
But I was swept up in the moment and I was so excited and nervous for the race to start. My mom and I started out together but she quickly left me behind.
The first two miles were great. I was going a little too fast (mistake number two). As in 20-30 seconds per mile faster than I should have been doing to start. And I was getting hot fast. But I was determined to keep my jacket on. (mistake three)
I started overheating and my face was getting way too warm. My saving grace was that my iPod band slipped off my arm around mile 2 and since that was off I decided the jacket could come off now. I whipped it off as quickly as I could.
This saved me. Unfortunately I was already super hot. I poured water over my head, was only wearing a tank top, and it was raining. And it wasn’t enough. I didn’t recover until sometime after mile 4. My mile times suffered a lot between 2 and 4 and then I was able to pick it up a little bit for the last two miles but my legs and lungs were already spent.
However, since I knew it was going to be miserable I decided to focus on everything around me. I found encouragement in the people around me fighting their own personal battles. I laughed at the costumes. I reveled in the crowds and cheers and happiness around me. One particular favorite was a sign saying “our beer makes you faster” and an older gentleman running over and shot gunning a beer.
I crossed the finish line and my legs hurt more than they ever have before on six miles since the first time I was able to run that far. I knew I had given it my all.
I accomplished my B goal running at a 10:30 pace and finishing in 1:04.
I know now I need to keep up with my speed work and hills because they are paying off. This time for 6.2 miles last year would have been impossible. Slowly but surely my workouts are paying off.
Just a small portion of my 36,000 friends and I running a 10K
Mom and I getting ready for the race to start
My reward: strawberry rhubarb pie with creamy Bev’s vanilla ice cream