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Race the Runways Half-Marathon Race Recap

Nothing like coming back to blogging with a race recap, right? Right. Welp, let’s get to it then!

medal

Last time I popped in (February – eek!), the first race on my 2013 calendar was the New Jersey half-marathon. While that’s still alive and well on my calendar, I was itching to get another 13.1 under my belt before then. While I scoured the Internet for something to fit the bill, everything before May seemed to fall on St. Patrick’s Day. Ick! While I loved racing on St. Paddy’s Day last year in D.C.,  I knew there was no way I could make that work this time around. I spent February 22-March 24 traveling each weekend or hosting friends and fam.

karla

Visiting Karla in Iowa!

Anyway, after exhausting all my options for well-known races that weren’t too far away – let’s not forget that all the aforementioned travel plans left my bank account seriously drained – I started digging for smaller ones. Finally, halfmarathons.net found me a winner in the quaint little town of Brunswick, Maine!

racetherunways

“Maine? I’ve never been to Maine. Dustiiiiiiiiiin – want to go to Maine so I can run another half in April? I get to run on an airport runway and the medal looks like an airplane!!!”

Whip out my credit card and immediately register. 

That’s how that conversation went. He thought the “running on an airport runway” thing was pretty cool, too.

Now that I’ve run the race, let me tell you something: running on an airport runway in the beginning of April, after a brutally long winter, is not quite as cool as it sounds.

joclyn cheerleader

Scratch that. It’s cooler than it sounds. And when I say cooler, I’m talking in terms of temperatures. Translation: it was freaking freezing!

And holy wind, batman. Holy wind.

But let’s backup a smidge. Dustin and I took Friday off and made the 5.5-hour drive to Brunswick so we had plenty of time to pick up my bib, relax and explore. Turns out we needed all of five minutes for bib pickup. There wasn’t an expo, and we picked up at Maine Running Company – a great running store located right in the heart of town. After, we checked out the shops nearby and picked up dinner at Flipside, a local pizza joint with great reviews on Yelp.

The rest of the evening was uneventful, and pre-race rituals went smoother than ever. The start gun didn’t fire until 9:30am, so I even slept in until 7am! Around 8am, the rest of my cheering squad showed up!

uncle dave

My Aunt Sue, Uncle Dave, cousin Joclyn and her friend Quinn drove 2 hours Saturday morning to come watch me run and I could not be more grateful. I never asked them to do so, or even really brought up the race – my aunt saw I would be nearby on Facebook and shot me a few texts to confirm the whereabouts. They had never seen me run before, and I was so stoked every single time I spied them on the course.

Speaking of race support – I don’t know if it was because it was a small race, because it was cold or something else, but the spectators were basically nowhere to be seen. As an out and back course, there were multiple opportunities for crowds to be out, but they just weren’t there. Certain areas were blocked off strictly for runners, so obviously that lacked any cheerleaders, but when I saw my family, they were the only ones out there. While it made me feel extremely loved and even more energized to run a strong race, I couldn’t help but feel sad for the other runners on the course. I can’t say it enough – CROWD SUPPORT IS SUCH A BIG DEAL FOR RUNNERS. Even though we only see you two, three or four times on the course – and for about five seconds each time – knowing we’re going to see you soon is such a mental boost to keep moving. And once we actually see you, it’s like a smile is plastered all over your face for at least another mile and you sort of forget that you’re running. Sort of.

OK, that was really my only complaint of the race.

Going into this race, I had no goals. I just wanted to run strong, be happy and enjoy Maine. And I did something I’ve never done before: I ran without a watch.

But that’s for another post.

Basically, I refused to stress and ran at a comfortably hard pace. I had the Runkeeper app on my phone (amazing, btw), which sent me distance updates every 5 minutes. Otherwise, I just jammed out to my playlist – Luke Bryan’s new album FTW – and tried to ignore the constant headwind. The good thing about the “breeze?” It made my thighs numb, so my quads didn’t feel anything until about mile 9. Oh, I didn’t mention that? Yeah, the course was relatively hilly, too. Nothing like Nashville, but still.

Despite the chilly weather, quiet crowd support and hills to conquer, I was having the time of my life. My body felt great, I knew I was running at a good clip and I was just happy to be there. I popped Clif shot blocks at miles 6, 8 and 10 and attempted to drink water while running at every other stop. At mile 10, I flipped the pace option on to see where I stood, and realized I could PR. Game on.

dustin post-race

Around mile 11, my legs started to protest. Throughout the race, different songs kept me feeling strong because they brought up awesome memories with friends – “Never See Your Face Again” by Maroon 5, for example, reminded me of my recent visit in Iowa with Karla, when we drooled over Adam Levine – so I cranked up those tunes again. About a half-mile later, my app chirped in saying I was picking up the pace. While my legs didn’t want to go faster, I was hungry for more. So I channeled Abby’s voice in my head and kept chanting, “It’s supposed to hurt. You’re supposed to be uncomfortable. Keep pushing. This is worth it.”

Let me tell you, it worked.

Despite the terrible headwind and last final hill from 12.75-13.0 (thanks, race directors), I sprinted my little legs out and really raced the last 5K. Finally, I rounded the last corner and spotted the finish line. With one final kick, I gave it all I had and heard my name announced as I crossed with a 2-minute PR attached to my name.

Oh, that person about two steps behind me? I had no idea they were there until medal was in hand and a space blanket was being wrapped around me. Oops.

Race the Runways was a fun, small race that I would recommend to anyone looking for a no-frills race. It was cool running on the airport runway, but let me tell you – do not underestimate the wind. I counted my lucky stars that most of my training runs happened by the water, so I was already used to facing a headwind. Mix in a little hill training, and you’re set to go.

2:04.01 is my new half-marathon PR and I couldn’t be happier in this moment. While I’m going to continue to ride the runner’s high, I have one thing mingling in the back of my mind:  sub-2, I’m gunning for you next month.

Racing Through The Year

One of the items on my bucket list is to run a half-marathon in every state before I’m 30. I’ve run five already, and to stay on track, I hope to run six in 2013. I told you I would share the races I had my eye on soon, and there’s no time like the present! Before we get to it, though, let’s recap what states I’ve already covered 13.1 miles in (you can find all of my recaps here):

  1. New York, New York – FITNESS/MORE half-marathon
  2. San Francisco, California – Nike Women’s half-marathon
  3. Washington, D.C. – Run Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half-marathon
  4. Nashville, Tennessee – Run Rock ‘n’ Roll Country Music half-marathon
  5. Orlando, Florida – Disney World Wine and Dine half-marathon

So I’m not headed to any races in those states this year. Instead, here’s where I’ve already registered to run:

  • Long Branch, New Jersey – Long Branch half-marathon on May 5. I’m currently building my base with the Lululemon run club and am hoping to break sub-2. Can you say speed work? 

2010 Logo_New Jersey Marathon

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Run Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia half-marathon on September 15. I’m hoping I can convince my brother to run this one with me, since he’s currently living in Philly. But he’s a med student, so I’m not sure how feasible it is for him to squeeze in training the same year as his rotations. Fingers crossed, though! 

11-RnR-PHI-Logo-RGB1

las-vegas-rock-n-roll-half-marathon

Other races that I have in my schedule, though I’m not registered for yet:

  • Des Moines, Iowa – Des Moines half-marathon on October 20. Running again with Karla! This year is the year of running for us – yay for running buddies, despite being in different states! 
  • Manchester, New Hampshire – Manchester half-marathon on November 3 (tentative). The official race date hasn’t been announced, but this would be an easy race for me to get to and the course goes right by my aunt’s house!

So I’m in need of one, possibly two more races this year (in case I don’t do Manchester). Any suggestions? Because of my budget, I’m looking to tackle some of the states closer to home, with a few that require more travel (Des Moines, Vegas). I was hoping to do one in March, but the only one in a new state that I’ve found so far sold out too fast! Any ideas for the early side of 2013 would be much appreciated 🙂

And there ya have it! My running race calendar for 2013. I’m also hoping to run Reach the Beach and complete the RAGBRAI bike race, so it’s definitely going to be a full year.

But you tell me: what races are you gearing up for?

Disney Wine & Dine 2012 Half-Marathon Race Recap

At long last, my race cap for the 13.1 miles I ran through Disney World…at night!

Let’s rewind allllll the way back to November 9th. Dustin and I packed our bags and left freezing New York City (it was in the 40’s, so it wasn’t really freezing, but I had my winter coat on) and flew down to Orlando, getting in around noon so we had plenty of time to relax and hit up the expo. For a girl who isn’t a big fan of winter, the jump in temp was exactly what I needed!

We checked out the entire expo and while they had some great vendors there, there wasn’t much that sparked my personal interest. I was on the hunt for a pair of running sunglasses though, and managed to nab a pair for $30 – not bad! At least I’ll stop squinting when the sun decides to show itself for normal amounts of time again.

I also picked up an official race wine glass. I was a little disappointed that the glass wasn’t included in the goodie bag – I’ve done my research on wine-themed races and nearly every one gives you a glass and a bottle of wine, so I was let down. But it was only $10, so I happily handed over some cash to commemorate my fifth half-marathon.

We relaxed for the rest of the evening and eventually met up with my friend Lauren and her sister Kristen for dinner. Fun fact: Lauren and I met on my press trip for work (when I learned how to surf!) and became fast friends. After a lot of chatting, we found out we were both racing the Disney half (this was her first 13.1), so we knew we had to meet up! Since she’s from Tallahassee, FL and ventures around Orlando way more often than I do (read: I hadn’t been to Disney since I was 10), I let her take the reigns for dinner and dessert locales.

We ended up at Giordano’s, a great place known for its deep dish pizza. Um, holy yum. I had chicken parm and it was delicious. And just look at this pizza that Lauren and Kristen shared:

Yeah. That happened.

Oh, and we had frozen yogurt for dessert. Clearly. We popped by this place called Menchies – I must admit, its wide array of toppings and “swirl” option make it a serious contender against 16 Handles for top fro-yo spot in my heart. If only it were in NYC…

Dustin and I explored Downtown Disney on Saturday and hit up a movie in the afternoon so I could rest my legs. Since it was a night race, I didn’t want to do too much walking during the day. We decided not to spend the $90+ on theme park tickets because of this and just enjoyed the free marketplace. It was fun checking out all of the shops and I most definitely stopped by Ghirardelli for my free chocolate sample!

We said hi to Pooh, Tigger and Piglet, too. I mean, how could you not? Classics.

Then it was time to get ready! And by get ready, I mean have a pre-race dance party in my hotel room. By myself, since Dustin won’t dance. Lame.

And then we met up with Lauren and Kristen and meandered over to the race start. We had to get to the pre-race area three hours early if we wanted to catch the shuttle bus over, which was a little ridiculous if you ask me. But Disney did a great job of keeping everything organized and everyone entertained. Lots of music, dancing and people in costume. And tons of porta potties for people to use. The lines still ended up being really long, but that’s to be expected with such a huge race. At least the runners were courteous and moved in and out quickly!

Fortunately, we were in the first corral so we didn’t have to wait a long time once everyone was ready to begin. But about a half-hour before the race began, Dustin shot me a text message with seriously disappointing news:

Race directors won’t let me on the course. No spectators allowed, except for at start and finish. If I try to sneak on, I won’t be able to get back to the finish.

Um, what?!

In case you missed it, I didn’t really train all that well for this race. My longest run prior to race day was 7 miles and I was mentally relying on seeing Dustin at key points in the race to keep my head in the game. I didn’t remember this little tid bit of information being advertised anywhere, so when we got the news, I was a little more than upset. I mean, crowd support is a key component to a race!

After a few minutes of pouting, I sucked it up and decided I would just keep running as much as I could and be OK with whatever happened. If I had to walk then I would walk, but no bitching out. Run as much as you can.

Needless to say, I felt awesome throughout the race and my splits have never been so on point. After the first 5K, I made it a goal to stay around a 9:20-9:30 pace for the entire race, which is where I felt uncomfortably comfortable. If I felt really good, I would ramp up the speed at the end, but no pressure. I was not aiming for a PR.

The minimal crowd support was extremely discouraging, in my opinion, and I really had to rely on myself and focus to keep up my pace. My legs felt great, which helped a ton, but there was barely anyone on the course. A few spectators were out (I believe they were volunteers), but most were silently holding signs and not cheering (I must say though, that the Lululemon cheer squad was great and they got a huge smile out of me with their sign that read, “Is that a Gu in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” BEST SIGN EVER). There were Disney characters around every mile, but it just wasn’t enough to get me psyched about being in Disney. It was cool to run through portions of the park after hours, especially through the Festival of Lights, but most of the race was on back roads and highways, making it no different than a typical long run – except that I knew I would get a shiny medal at the end.

Around mile 8, my legs really started to feel it. But when I looked down at my watch and saw my splits were still consistent, my mind was blown. I realized if I kept pushing it, I could PR. I was starting to slow down, so I pulled out a shot blok and my phone – where I saw a bunch of encouraging text messages from my mom, aunt and Dustin. He was keeping tabs on me with runner tracking and calculating my finish time, so with  his encouragement, I decided then that I was going for the PR.

Nailed it! My legs were screaming by the end, and I had to convince myself not to slow down or walk when it wasn’t necessary, but I powered through and PR’d by about 30 seconds, finishing in 2:06.41. Success!

I’ve never been more proud of the consistency in my splits:

Mile 1 – 9:26

Mile 2 – 9:29

Mile 3 – 9:27

Mile 4 – 9:24

Mile 5 – 9:34

Mile 6 – 9:20

Mile 7 – 9:29

Mile 8 – 10:07 (Walked to take in Gu and fumbled with my phone. Eep)

Mile 9 – 10:02

Mile 10 – 9:36

Mile 11 – 10:11 (Now my legs can tell I didn’t run more than 7 miles before this)

Mile 12 – 10:06

Mile 13: 9:40

Mile 13 – 13.1 – 8:36

Lauren and Kristen both KILLED it and finished under two hours! I have some speedy friends and hope to join the sub-2 world soon.

We met up with Dustin, changed and headed over to the Food & Wine Festival over at Epcot. We grabbed some food at Greece, explored the whole festival and closed down the place at 4am. I continued to get 45 minutes of sleep (yes, you read that right) before Dustin and I checked out of our hotel and drove to the airport to catch our flight back home. It’s safe to say I passed out as soon as I was in my seat.

My final thoughts on the race? I wasn’t expecting to PR, but I grabbed one, so I really am impressed and content with my results. I went in with no expectations, which seems to be when I have my best races. I like night races. I walked a little, but I’m fine with it. If I actually trained for this, I think I could’ve gone sub-2. Oh well. Fingers crossed for the next one.

And my thoughts on this race in general: If you’re a big runner and a fan of Disney, I definitely think you should do one of their races. But I don’t understand all of the hype, nor do I get why people spend a ton of money to run in each one. I’m glad I experienced a Disney race, but I won’t be signing up for another one anytime soon.

Have you run a Disney race? Do you think it’s worth the price? Am I missing something? If you ran the Wine and Dine, tell me how you did! 

Country Music Half-Marathon Goals

It’s almost time to race! But before we get to goals, here’s how the rest of yesterday went down:

After two flights and a one-hour layover in Charlotte, I arrived in Nashville with Dustin. My dad and step-mom were waiting for us at security.

He’s so cute, isn’t he? Like father like daughter 😉

Oh, and that picture isn’t staged. Dustin whipped his phone out to take a picture because he knew I’d like it for the blog. Also, I’m as white as a ghost.

We immediately went over to the expo so I could pick up my bib and check out the other goodies floating around. I nabbed some nuun samples (hydrate!) and munched on the other goodies floating around.

I also became a sucker for marketing and signed up for the Disney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon. I’ve been contemplating it for a few weeks, but once I saw that processing fees were eliminated, I hopped on board. Dustin nodded approval, the race is eight days before my birthday, the price goes up in a few weeks and today was payday, so there really was no chance in hell I was going to say no. I guess I’ll be experiencing my first night race (start time is 10p.m.) this fall!

And then the next most important thing happened: food. I’m taking my pre-race carb loading serious this time around. First, I wolfed down a monstrous Brooklyn bagel with triple berry cream cheese (hey, there’s fresh fruit in there!) at the airport. I wish I could say I only ate half, but then I’d be lying. In fact, I ate all of mine and a little bit of Dustin’s, too. I blame it on the fact that I usually eat breakfast once I wake up and today I had to wait a good hour and 45 minutes before inhaling any carbs. No bueno.

Dad took us to Applebee’s for lunch, which I have quite the soft spot for. I shared boneless buffalo wings with Dustin (my fave) and the fiesta lime chicken dish with a blue moon on the side. Luckily, I have a pretty strong stomach so I don’t have to be too careful about what I eat the day before the race.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the hotel. I made sure not to walk around too much so that I have rested legs and my foot is ready to go. I iced my foot before bed and slipped on the oh-so-sexy hot pink compression socks so they could work their magic while I got my beauty sleep.

Dinner was originally scheduled to take place at Maggiano’s because I requested an Italian feast, but there was an hour and a half wait. It was getting close to my bed time, so we quickly left. All of the local spots we wanted to try had the same problem, so we ended up at the Olive Garden. I had one breadstick, a small portion of salad and three-quarters of my monstrous plate of ravioli with marinara sauce. ‘Twas delicious.

My race outfit is chosen (I brought three options) and was laid out last night as if already on my body. My Garmin and iPod are charged and my full-blown country playlist is ready to rock.

So how do I plan on tackling this race? Here are my goals:

A.) Run a sub-2. If that clock reads 1:59.59, I’ll be a happy girl.

B.) Run at least a 2:07. It’s my current PR and I’d like to not run slower than that, if at all possible.

C.) Finish. I’m not underestimating the heat and hills, and I know I’m not running this in my peak physical condition. A lot could go wrong, but good God I need to at least cross the finish line, regardless of time.

This is how I plan on accomplishing at least one of these (or all three!) goals:

  • Hydrating and taking in salt. Usually my salt levels aren’t a concern, but I’ve also never raced long distance in the heat. Dustin will have salt packets and a water bottle with him in case I need some in between water stations. I was going to carry a fuel belt with me, but mine has mysteriously disappeared. I tore apart my bedroom last night but still can’t find it. I’m comfortable going water station to water station because that’s what I’ve always done, but Dustin will have extra stuff on hand, just in case. Anyone running in the heat tomorrow, remember, if you’re running but not sweating, that means your body is overheating. Get some salt and water in you, stat.
  • Not psyching myself out on the hills.  Every single time I told someone which race I was trying to sub-2 on, their eyes opened wide and they said some variation of, “Oh, wow. Um, I’ve heard it has a lot of hills.” Yes, I’m aware of that. And it will probably suck. But when I brought it up to Abby, she said, “Screw the hills. You’ve been training in Central Park. And you know what? If it goes uphill, it has a downhill. Focus your energy on powering up the hill, then cruise the downhill.” I agree with all of those things. You so smart, coach!
  • Pacing myself. This means not going out too fast, which I am notorious for. I get so excited and caught up in the crowds. I see a great split for the first mile and I think, “Woohoo, I’m a rock star!” Yeah, OK, Sam. Things are fantastic and then….I poop out. Womp womp.  But not this time! My plan is to find the 2:10 pace group and stick with them for the first mile or so, then push ahead when I’m comfortable and not so high on life.
  • Running hard. I’m breaking the race into 5Ks: first 5K, stick to a comfortable pace around 9:05-9:10. Second 5K: Hover around 9:00-minute miles. Third 5K: Pick it up so I’m feeling uncomfortable the entire time, aiming for 8:45-8:50 paces. Fourth 5K: Maintain that uncomfortable pace, but push harder. I probably won’t see a time increase, but I need to push harder to stay at the same pace. Last mile: BALLS TO THE WALL. Sprint as hard as I can, leaving it all out on the pavement, feeling like I want to give up, vomit or die. Doesn’t that sound pleasant?
  • Remembering why I’m running. This race is going to be tough for me. I know it is. I’ve never pushed myself to truly race before and I need to mentally stay in the game and be OK with being uncomfortable. Too often I don’t give myself enough credit and think I can’t maintain a faster pace because it feels uncomfortable. Remember, Samantha, it’s not supposed to feel comfortable. Running is easier than racing. I can do this. And when I really think I can’t, I’m going to remember exactly why I’m running this. It’s personal and all sorts of secret for now, but I’m sure I’ll go over it in the recap.

And there ya have it, friends. Yes, I have an injury and am not in the best shape to tackle this race. But I’m ready to push harder than I ever have before. If I come out with a sub-2 PR attached to my name, I’ll be stoked. But honestly, the best part of this race is that my family is there. My dad has never seen me run and I know I’m going to tear up seeing him cheering for me on the sidelines. No matter what the outcome, I’m going to enjoy this weekend.

Who else is racing in Nashville? Rodney Atkins and Gloriana are rockin’ the stage post-race and you know I’ll be there. Good luck and get your country on!

The Journey to Nashville

Helloooo, from Nashville!

But wait, Sam…you live in New York City….what the heck are you doing in Nashville?!

Obviously, it’s been a while since I’ve updated. I know. I’m not even going to bother giving excuses anymore. Let’s just say I’ve been living life outside, rather than behind a computer screen. After all, if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have any good stories to tell. And we don’t want things to get boring around here, do we? (BECAUSE IT’S NOT BORING ALREADY!)

Anyway, I’m in Nashville for the weekend to get my race on. Way back when (nearly a year ago…holy crap), I signed up for the Country Music Marathon on April 28, 2012. You read that right – the Country Music MARATHON. As in 26.2 miles, not 13.1. I was super excited as I bought my ticket and watched the money in my bank account disappear. Nothing was more exciting to me than the thought of spending 4+ hours (because you know I’m not going sub-4 on my first mary) pounding the pavement in the hot Nashville sun with my dad and Dustin on the sidelines.

Of course, I didn’t really think things through. Nashville has hills? Psshh. It might be 80 or 90 degrees on race day? Whatevs. I just wanted to ruuuuuun!

Clearly, I’m a bit naïve.

You so silly.

So after a few more races, including a half-marathon, and a wee bit of hip pain, I was ready to start training. Six to seven months of long runs, building up 20 miles until the welcoming relief of taper town (no, I don’t go crazy during taper. I’m totally one of those runners who loves it). I hired coach Abby to guide me through, which ended up being the best decision I made through this entire journey. She coached me well; every run now had a purpose and strength training was reintroduced into my life. We were focusing on getting me strong so that my body would be ready for all the sweat-filled pounding that was about to go down.

But then my knee started to hurt.

Oh yes, we can’t forget that now, can we? The awful long runs, the tears and the total breakdown in the middle of Central Park. If you’ve forgotten, let me remind you. I sure as hell will remember it for a long time. Tendinitis is fun!

Say whaaaat?

After a lot of careful contemplation and discussion with coach Abby (read: me sitting in Starbucks across from Abby bawling my eyes out while she tries to calm the crazy person down so people will stop staring), we decided it was best if I drop down to the half-marathon. If you want to know all of the reasons why, check out this post and try to understand my brain a little. It’s complicated, I know.

Just because I was moving to 13.1 doesn’t mean I couldn’t go after another goal of mine, though: sub-2. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and truly believe I’m capable of it. First step: physical therapy. So I packed up my bags (OK, I’m exaggerating) and paid a visit to Ken at Recovery Physical Therapy.

I can’t say this enough: Ken is a great physical therapist. He doesn’t run himself, but he gets me as a runner. He doesn’t make me do things I don’t want to do, like give up running, and he worked with Abby to stick as close to my new training plan as possible while still building the strength back up in my knee. But more details on that in another post.

I spent my mornings therapy-ing and my evenings running (not on the same days), with some strength and cross-training in the mix. Oh, and a lot of icing, foam rolling, compressing and stretching. A few weeks later though, a dull pain popped up in my foot. Nothing too crazy at first, but noticeable enough. I told Ken and we started modifying exercises and ultrasound-ing the crap out of my foot tendons.

Compression = two thumbs up.

But it didn’t get better. It got worse. Figures.

A few days and a diagnosis of tendinosis due to overuse later (that’s early stages of tendinitis, in case you were wondering) and my mileage was reduced to help heal. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), the tendinosis developed right around the time taper period hit. I choose to view it as a blessing because I could drop down on the miles I was logging without seriously compromising my training.  More icing, ultrasound and electric stimulation began and soon enough it was time to cruise until race day.

Phew, I think you’re caught up now. I’ll be back tonight or tomorrow with my goals for race day and how I actually feel about these hills now that I’m staring at them up close and personal.

Now you tell me: Have you been dealing with an injury? Tell me your secrets to recovery! And are you racing this weekend? We have a good number of awesome NYC bloggers tackling the country music half on Saturday, so no matter what, it’s going to be a great time!

Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half-Marathon Race Recap

Well, that was unexpected.

As you know, I didn’t go into this race with many expectations. I just wanted to have fun, enjoy the course and run pain-free. I did all three, and managed to nab a new PR in the process. I’ll take it!

But let’s rewind a bit. I traveled into D.C. alone because Dustin couldn’t get out of work early, and after grabbing my bib and checking into my hotel, I met up with Ashley, Theodora, Beth, Laura and Caitlin for dinner at Sette Osteria. Dustin got in shortly after I got back to the Phoenix Park Hotel, which is basically the cutest, most quaint little hotel I’ve ever stayed in. We were right above a super popular bar, which ended up getting quite rowdy for St. Patrick’s Day. People were getting ready to drink when I was heading to the race at 6:30am!

After a quick blog post to fill you all in on my race goals, Dustin and I grabbed a cab to the start line. It wasn’t too cold out, so we opted to stay outdoors, close to the port-o-potties in case I needed to take care of um…business. In our down time, he decided to take my camera for a test drive.

A lot of people wore full-blown St. Patty’s Day outfits, which I loved. I decided to don green and gold to celebrate the holiday and represent my alma mater — Oswego State! — the Lakers were in the NCAA Division III National Championship game Saturday night and this was my way to cheer ’em on! Unfortunately they fell to St. Norbert, but I’m still proud to be a Laker 🙂

My outfit included:

I was pretty close to the front, in corral 10 out of more than 20, so I got to the start fairly quickly. I like the wave-start a lot and since I was at the front of the corral, I managed to toe the line before we were released. That’s always a lot of fun. Or maybe I’m just a nerd and it’s only fun to me. Who knows.

My first three miles were relatively quick, but my legs felt tight. I concentrated on not pushing too much from the adrenaline because I heard the hills in the second half of the race sucked and I didn’t want to be exhausted by then. Before I knew it, I cruised a downhill, turned a corner and saw Dustin for the first time!

This was the first time Dustin’s ever seen me race and it was so awesome seeing him throughout the course. I love having people I know in the crowds cheering!

And I love that he managed to snap the Capitol building in the background as I ran by. He says he did not do this on purpose. Luck of the Irish!

I found my groove shortly after mile 5 and just enjoyed the scenery around me. I loved running past the Washington Monument the most. I have a tendency to black out the actual course when I’m running, so I wanted to try to remember as much as I could. D.C. can be pretty, especially with all of the cherry blossoms. It’s going to be even better in a few weeks, I’m sure.

The hills started in the second half of the race, particularly at mile seven — that one was a little biatch and my legs didn’t enjoy it. Did I walk a bit? You betcha. I told myself it was OK to walk, especially because I wasn’t going for a PR. My knee still wasn’t experiencing any pain and even though it was St. Patty’s Day, I didn’t want to push my luck too far. I walked less than 1/10th of a mile, but the little break felt nice before I picked it back up to get to the top.

Luckily, I spotted Dustin one more time around 8.5 miles, right by Howard University. I had just gone up a beastly hill and was shaking my legs out on the downhill, not paying attention at all. I saw a guy holding up a little sign out of the corner of my eye, then realized it was Dustin! Apparently he made a little sign at work to surprise me, but didn’t whip it out the first time he saw me because he wasn’t expecting me. I was so happy to see him, I ran off course for a quick kiss before moving on.

The camera died right before he saw me, so he shot that video on his phone instead. Win for multimedia!

The rest of the race course was kind of boring and my mind started to check out. It also got really warm — it was around 50 degrees when we started and I could tell it was much warmer by then. When I checked the weather right after I finished, it was 75…I’m glad I was extra careful about hydration heading into the race. I ended up taking my shot blocks one at a time, but I took them early and often (miles 4, 7, 10) to keep my energy high and took at least one cup of water, sometimes two, at every station.

Mile 10 was when I realized I could actually PR at this race. I glanced down at my watch and was hitting around 1:38, so if I was 10 minutes or under for the remaining miles, I could pull it out (my last PR was 2:10.03). I had been ranging between 9:20 and 9:45-minute miles, so I was confident and decided to push it. The next two miles were fine, but by the 13th I just wanted it to be over. You hit 13 miles and don’t even see the finish line because there’s a big hill you have to climb! Whoever decided that was the best way to end this course is not cool. Not cool at all.

Unfortunately, Dustin didn’t see me finish because well, I beat him there. Ha! But I happily crossed the finish line, accepted my medal and new PR, then immediately downed a banana and chocolate milk. It was the best-tasting milk I’d had in a long time.

Overall, I think this was a fun but tough race. The hills were worse than I was expecting them to be, but there were also some nice downhills and flat roads with pretty scenery. Unfortunately, a lot of D.C. is under construction right now, so that detracted from the ambiance a bit, but what are ya gonna do. This was the first year Rock ‘n’ Roll/Competitor Group took over this race, and although I’ve heard horror stories about their races, I think they did a decent job for those of us running the half. There was plenty of water/Gatorade at each station, the bands were cool throughout the course, and we got out of the finisher’s chute fairly quickly.

My one complaint? The lack of port-o-potties throughout the course. I was nervous about needing to stop and kept an eye peeled just in case, but the options were few and far between. And the ones I did see always had long lines because there was only one or two. If anyone was trying to PR and ended up needing to stop for a quick bathroom break, I think their hopes would be dashed. Hopefully RnR will be able to improve on this soon.

Now I’m even more stoked to go after that 2:00 or sub-2:00 in Nashville! I’ve got some more work to do (umm, hi hills), but I think I can get there!

Did you race this weekend? Send me your recaps! Or did you spectate? Tell me about your favorite signs. My favorite one on this course read, “Run like Phoebe! Just have fun!” I’m a sucker for anything FRIENDS.

Workout Windup: Half-Marathon Training Week 5

Hey guys! So sorry I’ve been off the radar the past few days. Things have been crazy busy at work and I’ve been working on some behind-the-scenes stuff for the blog, but I haven’t forgotten about you, I swear! So let’s hop right to it and see how my workouts went for week five of half-marathon training!

Goals:

  • 1 strength workout
  • 1 yoga class
  • 1 spin session
  • Run 27 miles

How I fared:

Monday: Ran 2 miles

I was supposed to do more, but it was one of those days when I couldn’t shake a headache, no matter what I did. Tried to pound out more, but this is as much as my body could take.

Tuesday: Ran 3 miles + SoulCycle Madonna Ride

Laced up my sneaks in the morning to make up the missed miles from Monday, then headed to SoulCycle for my cross-training at night! Amazing class!! Check out the recap I wrote about it for FITNESS here.

© SoulCycle

Wednesday: Speed Work –> Yasso 800s 4.71 miles

This was my first time doing speed work. I think I did well, and I’m excited to incorporate it into more workouts!

Thursday: Ran 6.5 miles

Friday: Off

Saturday: Ran 11 miles

Sunday: Yoga DVD

Totals:


Miles run (this week): 27

Miles run (total): 96

Strength workouts: 0

Spin classes: 1

Yoga sessions: 1

Thoughts:

I met nearly all of my goals this week, but I’m still very happy with my training for the week because I put in all the time on my feet that I needed! It’s race week now, so it’s the final countdown!!

Back to work I go — I have run club again tonight with Lululemon, but pop over later…I’ll be back with a fun giveaway!

Speed Work

Today I mixed up my workout, nixing my morning run in favor of some sleep. It was glorious. But I did it because I knew I was going to be able to make it up later. Lucky for me, I knew some of my co-workers and I were heading over to Lululemon right after work to join the community run club they have every Wednesday night.

Source

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about running with a group, as I usually like to stick to myself so I don’t feel pressured to run too fast (and be embarrassed when I can’t keep up). But today was great! We did Yasso 800s, which I had never done before, although I had read all about them. They’re supposed to be great training workouts to help you predict your marathon goal time. I did the math and it was right on track for my half-marathon goal time, so I imagine it would work for the marathon.

But let’s press rewind. My co-workers, Bethany and Collen, and I headed up to East 66th street to meet up with the other runners and our Lulu ambassador, Abigail. She’s so cute and awesome, and I’m in love with her. She was a great motivator and you could tell she was very knowledgeable and doled out all sorts of info to help runners of all levels feel at ease with the workouts.

We warmed up for about 3/4 of a mile, had a light stretch and dove right into the workout. Abby told us we were doing four 800s (so four laps of a half-mile each), with a light rest in between each one. Consistency was the name of the game, as we wanted to try to either beat our speed each time, or maintain the times we achieved on the first and second laps. Sounds easy enough, right?

While the explanation was quite simple, the execution was tough. I got my sweat on! I really pushed it hard and I’m really glad Bethany and Colleen joined me. Colleen was a speed demon that I just couldn’t keep up with, but she was really encouraging. And Bethany runs regularly with a running club near her apartment, so it was great to pace myself against her. I fell behind her on the final lap, but stuck with her stride for stride for the first three. I was happy with that.

So how did I do? My splits ended up looking like this

  • First 800 –> 4:02
  • Second 800 –> 3:53
  • Third 800 –> 3:50
  • Fourth 800 –> 4:00

After we had a nice, slow jog back to the store. We ended up covering just under 5 miles total. Here comes the proud watch shot:

But that doesn’t include any of the warm-up as my lovely Garmin had trouble finding signal until we stopped and stretched. Ah well.

Overall, I don’t think I did too shabby for my first speed session! Obviously, I was tired at the end, but I still pushed as hard as I could and definitely used the second half of each lap to push harder so I wouldn’t slow down. I’m definitely going to try to make speed work a more regular thing in my workout routine. I knew before that I needed to, I just needed that extra nudge to get it done.

Then I had fun trying on lots of Lululemon clothes, not-so-secretly lusting after basically everything I tried on. And I ran into running/blogging/real life friends Jess and Ali, which was a great surprise. Love random meet-ups 🙂

What do you think of speed workouts? Do you do them often? Have you seen them improve your long-distance time?

September in Review

It’s already October 4, so we better get cracking on some new goals! But first, let’s see how I fared in September.

Fitness:

  • Follow half-marathon training plan. Check! I’ve had to make some adjustments because I’m now training for six weeks instead of ten, but I’ve been squeezing in all of my workouts and my body can really feel the improvements.
  • Strength train once a week. Done! I did a strength workout and a yoga session every week except for the week I was sick. So I get a full check for this. I said so.

  • Go to yoga once a week. Well, I already answered this in the last bullet point. I did it!
  • Do one plank every day. Fail. Major, major fail. The only time I did planks was when it was already built into a strength workout. Oops. I know what I need to work on in October…

Health & Nutrition:

  • Sleep more. Major win. I’ve been doing so much better at getting an adequate amount of sleep, and I’m really proud of myself for that. The computer has been shut off at 10:30p.m. every night of the week and I was usually asleep well before 11 or 11:30p.m. My body is getting into a steady schedule where I don’t even radically sleep in on the weekends, and I really like it. Aiming to keep it up!

  • Eat more veggies. This was an easy check. I love veggies and I only put it on the list because I felt like I was seriously slacking on them in the last few days of August. I’m pretty sure I had a large portion of vegetables in at least one meal a day throughout September. Awesome.

Life:

  • Get a full-time job. I don’t have too much to say here, because there are a lot of things in progress right now. I didn’t get the part-time job I really wanted, but that’s okay because I believe everything works out for a reason. No, I don’t officially have a full-time job now, but we’ll see where the road takes me. I’m working hard every day and that’s what matters.
  • Start studying for my PT certification.  Umm, fail. I didn’t even crack open the book 😦 In my defense, things were crazy at work and I’ve been trying to set up a steady schedule between work, training, blogging, friend time, family time and Dustin time. I’m going to make it happen in October though, promise!
  • Go on date night every other week. We didn’t go every other week, but that ended up being because of money issues. However, we did spend a lot of quality time together this month and are getting used to living with one another. But we do have a date night coming up this weekend! Oh, and that puzzle we bough for Dustin? He finished it in two days. I helped by placing 15 out of 750 pieces.

Overall, I’m pleased with my progress and think I did a good job. Yes, there’s room for improvement, but I think there always is. I’ll be back with another post on October’s goals!

What goals did you have for September? How did you do? 

Workout Windup: Half-Marathon Training Week 1

Welcome to a new series on the blog! I decided this was the best way to track my training, and this way you can all follow along (if you wish). Plus I know it’ll help me stick to my September goals if  I know I’m being held accountable to you guys on a weekly basis.

I plan on normally posting this series every Sunday evening, but decided to wait until today for the initial post because I stepped away from my computer this weekend. This is my first time being in NYC on the anniversary of September 11, and I think being here for the 10th anniversary was monumental. I didn’t want my focus to be ripped away by technology; I just wanted to absorb. It was extremely moving and I’ve never felt more happy about where I am. The American pride oozing from every street corner was just inspiring and incredibly humbling. I’m so glad to be here.

…Getting back on track, let’s see how my workouts went this week! My goals were:

  • 1 strength workout
  • 1 yoga class
  • 1 spin class
  • Run 20 miles
  • 7 planks

This is how I did:

Monday: Run 4 miles

Tuesday: Run 3 miles

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Spin

Normally I love spin, but this week I was not having any of it. I blame part of it on the fact that I was under a lot of stress and couldn’t get my mind off of it, and the other part on the new instructor I tried out. I was not a fan.

Recycled photo

Friday: Hot Power Yoga

This class was awesome! My favorite style of yoga thus far. I love the flexibility to work at your own pace and level, and I like that it’s still hot for me to get a heavy dose of sweat on. I will be returning!

Saturday: 6 mile run + strength workout

My legs felt heavy at first, but quickly fell into a groove and I finished strong! Love that I had enough energy afterward to dive straight into an upper body and core workout.

Recycled photo

Sunday: Off

Totals: 

Miles run (this week): 13

Miles run (total): 13

Strength sessions: 1

Yoga sessions: 1

Spin sessions: 1

Planks: 3

So I was semi-successful this week. I crapped out of my 4-mile run and 3-mile run on Wednesday and Sunday, but I’m not beating myself up about it. My plan allows for some flexibility, but I’m definitely going to try to stick to it more from here on out.

I’m really happy I fit in my strength, yoga and spin sessions too! Crafting my schedule to different studios and lifting after a long run has been trying, but definitely manageable.

In other news, I need your help! I was originally going to title this post “Workout Windup: New Orleans Training Week 1,” but my race got cancelled! I found out Friday afternoon that my birthday race was postponed until 2012 “due to logistical obstacles.” Seriously depressing. I was really looking forward to running in New Orleans for my 22nd birthday — I have to make it better than my 21st! So here’s where you come in: please, please, please tell me of all half-marathon races that you know of in October and November. My race was originally November 20, but I’m willing to look at races outside that weekend right now. And if you’ve run them already, tell me how you liked it!

I’ll leave with you a heartwarming quote I saw when I opened up a piece of Dove chocolate that I nibbled on last night.

It’s so true. Just ask my friend Andrew, who’s formed a great relationship with my giant stuffed bear, who he’s named Jeffrey.

You can’t mess with a love like that 😉

Have you signed up for any fall races? If so, how’s your training going?