Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Motivation FAIL

I have no motivation lately to do anything other than sleep. I came home from a rough and long day at work yesterday thinking that it would be great to go out on a run to blow off some steam.

But instead I came up with a million and one excuses why not too:

I needed to go buy a new hair dryer because my old one exploded (OK that was true)
It looked like it was going to start pouring any second.
I was exhausted.
I just wanted to take a long hot shower, curl up with a good book and relax (this is what I did.)

Where did my running mojo go?

I know a lot of times this summer during training I felt bouts of burnout. Like I needed a break, but I tried to push through because I knew I had a race on the horizon that required training.

Now I have nothing on the horizon but a 5K that I'm doing for fun in a few weeks and then a 10K and a five miler at the end of December.

I thought I would enjoy not having the stress of having a race. I could get back to running just for fun. Not feeling like I "had" to run.

But lately, I haven't been feeling that at all. I've been super tired (yea I know I really need to start hitting the hay earlier) and have come home from work and just curled up in bed to nap or read.

I think part of the problem is I'm not sure where to go from here. I was riding this huge runner's high coming off VB and PDR and now I'm just like soooo now what.

So how do I get my motivation back? I'm not sure I want to slap another long race on the calendar and get back into hardcore training. But I need something to get me motivated again.

Have any of you dealt with this? What'd you do? I'm open to any and all suggestions on how to get my mojo back.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A weekend of blissful nothingness

This weekend was the first time in months that I haven't had to do a long run or any kind of training run for that matter. And it was a fabulously refreshing feeling.

I took advantage of my feeling of laziness and let myself sleep until 11 on Saturday morning, and finally managed to pry myself out of bed by 1 p.m. because I needed food. It was awesome.

I spent the rest of the day reading until it was time to head out for my roommate's birthday celebration, which led me to stay out until like 2 a.m., indulge in one drink (more than my normal zero) and collapse into bed exhausted.

I spent yesterday with my friends from college at Sunday in the Country, a giant country music concert that started at noon and ended at 10 p.m. There were eight different acts and lots of great music. And oh man I have never seeeeen so many trashy people in one place. Marcy would have loved it.

I think the highlight was when two 30ish-year-old woman got in a catfight about five feet from our blanket. I'm talking rolling on the ground, pulling each other's hair, clawing at each other with their nails. Un-freakin-believable. I didn't realize people actually acted like that.

So that was highly amusing and just contributed to the awesomeness of Sunday in the Country.

A small part of me missed the lazy, I- just-graduated-from-college-and-have-no-real-responsibilities life.

But this morning I felt kind of like hell. I feel like I gained ten pounds and could sleep for days. My body's like what the heck did you just do?

Plus I think a bigger part of me is already looking ahead to what's next on the race calendar and is maybe excited to get back to regular running. I'm not pinning myself down to anything yet. If I have the energy I'm sure I'll run today. If not I'll go tomorrow. I guess that's the beauty of not having a big race looming.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Over hydration problems?

When I was home in Allentown last weekend for the PDR, my mom and I got to talking about our race day hydration strategies. Hers is to stop at water stations when she needs to, but she never stops at every single one during a race.

My plan on the other hand is to take water and Gatorade (if offered) at every station and carry a bottle of water with me. Usually by the end of the race I've killed the bottle of water and had at least two or three cups at each aid station.

My mom thought that sounded a bit excessive and I have to admit, reading that it looks like a lot to be drinking.

My mom was worried that maybe I was over hydrating. Over hydration (aka water poisoning) is no joke. People die from it.

So then I started telling my mom about my normal daily drinking habits. During the work week, I keep a 33 oz bottle of water at my desk, that I fill up from our water cooler three times during the day. So that's 99 oz of water I'm drinking between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. When I get home from work my water consumption tends to drop. I probably only have about three or four more glasses, which I'd guess average out to about an additional 24 to 40 oz.

So on an average day, I'm drinking anywhere from 123 to 139 oz. of water per day. The average recommend amount that most normal people don't even drink is 64 oz. I'm about doubling that.

Is it possible that I'm drinking too much water during the day? I really think I'm only drinking when I'm thirsty.

Excess thirst can be a big indicator of Type II diabetes, and if you've been reading me long enough, you know last summer some of my bloodwork showed insanely high levels of glucose in my blood. However, when my doctor sent me for a re-test the levels came back completely normal.

I don't fit any of the normal indicators for your typical Type II diabetes patient. I'm not an overweight, older American, who eats like crap. I'm an active, fit 23-year-old, at a healthy weight, with a healthy diet, who happens to drink a ton of water because I'm thirsty a lot.

So what does it all mean people? Frankly, I have no clue. I'm not too keen on getting bloodwork done again because of my problems with needles. The diabetes test itself is a pretty grueling and unpleasant experience, that I barely managed to avoid last summer. It involves spending a day drinking nasty sugary solutions and getting your blood drawn multiple times at different intervals to test for tolerance of sugar in the blood.

Do you all think I drink too much? Or am I drinking an OK amount for how active I normally am?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why I love GU

*Note in no way did GU pay me to write this post or give me freebies*

As I've been thinking about why I had such a great race at the PDR on Sunday, I keep coming back to nutrition and hydration. I mean we all know both of those things play a huge part in a successful race day.

Until this summer, I never really had a solid race day fueling plan. I would always have pasta the night before a race, and some kind of carb-heavy breakfast, but then it was just drink the Gatorade and whatever other stuff as I felt like it.

But this summer, I realized that wasn't the best race strategy ever. So I revamped what I was doing. I still do pasta the night before and two pieces of wheat bread with PB the morning of, but I've rethought what I do during the actual race.

And that is where I have developed my insane love of GU (especially the chocolate flavor!)

As I was researching fueling strategies for races, I read that it's important to take GU (or whatever you prefer) before you feel like you really need it. That got me thinking. I tended to just grab whatever I had lying around and mix and match things and take them whenever I felt tired.

But my plan for Philly was this:
Eat PB bread in the car on the way down (about two hours before race start)
Take one GU right before the first few corrals go off for instant calories
Continue to take on GU every four miles for the rest of the race

I have to say, my plan worked pretty well. And I love GU because it doesn't make me sick. I have no bad digestive problems or anything when I take it. And for me, it's soooo much easier to take a GU when running than to worry about chewing anything. The GU you can just open and wash down with water. Maybe not the most appetizing thing ever, but it gets the job done.

I've also found GUs tend to be easier to open than other brands I've tried, which is super important in a race when you need to get the calories in your system.

When I'm training I normally only use GU on runs over 10 miles. Anything shorter than that I'm usually OK if I eat my PB bread before heading out.

Nutrition is different for everyone and it's important to find what works for you, but for me GU rocks and keeps me going in my races.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Philly Distance Run - The place to set PRs even if you're horribly undertrained

The Philadelphia Distance Run this weekend kicked some major booty, but that probably has everything to do with that fact that I set a PR (even though I wasn't properly trained) and Ryan Hall won the race. Whoo!

Seriously though everything about the race was pretty awesome: flat course, fun bands, Ryan Hall winning and me hearing him being announced when I was at mile 4.6 (It's a wave start people I wasn't that far in the dust). The only thing that majorly sucked was their lack of porta-potties.

Remember one of my goals was to see RH start the race and not be the in porta-potty line? Yea major fail. I got in the line 30 minutes before the race was supposed to start and had just finally gotten to the front of the line when the gun went off. The race directors seriously need to get wayyyyyy more porta-potties. There's no way the line should take that long. In Virginia Beach I got in a massive line 10 minutes before the start and had finished before the gun went off.

Major fail Philly!

The only other minor glitch was the giant clusterfuck at the end of the race. I was trying to get some Cytomax in the "Secure Zone" but there were too many people jostling about and I couldn't even see where they were handing it out. I almost missed the people with the medals because it was so crowded.

Other than that though it was a really great race. I thought Virginia Beach was a a flat course, but if possible, Philly was flatter. The weather was a little bit cooler (dumb luck, it could have been blazing hot) and there was a decent amount of shade on parts of the course.

My parents and I got there super duper early because we didn't know what the traffic or parking situations would be like. Luckily, we had no problem and were able to get a spot about a half a mile from the start and finish lines, which proved to be extremely clutch at the end of the race.

I was supposed to be in corral 13, but I couldn't find corral 13 so I just jumped in line and started early. I think I was in 10 or 11. The first mile was a little crammy even with the wave start and it was hard to run any kind of "fast" pace. It was more just trying to avoid tripping over people. In the end I think that helped me though. I clocked the first mile in 10:30ish give or take a few seconds.

Right after the first mile I noticed this girl about my age running my pace and I immediately made her my pacer. My goal was to stay with her until about the five mile mark, then access how I felt and decide if I was going to be able to speed up or not. That plan worked for all of half a mile because my pacer majorly slowed down (or I majorly sped up).

I gave up trying to hold back to stay with her and just tried to keep it steady for the next few miles. I took my first Gu at mile 4.5ish and was still feeling pretty strong. I was holding a pace around 10 minute miles and was definitely happy with that.

I took my first walk break somewhere near mile 6 just to give my legs a little breather. I was walking thrugh all the water stations, but it felt like my legs needed a little more, so I gave them a break for about two minutes.

I'm happy to say that by mile 8 I had made up those two minutes and I was back running a steady pace, just slightly over 10 minute miles.

I kept looking at my watch thinking if I can hold this pace until the end of the race, I'm going to smash my PR. I felt like I was working hard, but I wasn't really feeling fatigued yet. Mile 9 came and went and then I was at mile 10 at 1:41ish and I was shocked. I had never in my life run 1o miles that fast. Usually I fall so off pace at the end of long runs.

By mile 11 though I could really feel like I was starting to struggle. A girl ran past me chanting "two more miles, two more miles" over and over again to herself. I was thinking right on just two more miles. I told myself I had two run until I got to the 12 mile marker and then I could take a two minute walk break.

Thinking about my two minute break managed to help me push through to mile 12. I enjoyed my walking and then went right back to running. However, there was a water station about a minute later so I walked through that too.

I was getting a little nervous as I was looking at my watch because after the 20K I had no idea how much longer I would be running. I had lost all sense of pace and I was so afraid my PR was going to slip away. From the 20K to the end of the race felt like longest I'd ever run. I kept pushing and pushing and alternatively felt like I was either going to burst into tears or start laughing hysterically.

Not far before the mile 13 marker I saw my parents and they were cheering for me. Then a guy fell/collapsed right in front of them. I pointed to him trying to indicate that my parents should go get the medics, but someone was already helping him and I couldn't even form words at that point so my parents probably had no idea what I was trying to say.

I saw the 13 mile marker and knew I was so close. I looked at my watch and saw 2:13:andsomething and knew I was going to break my PR. I kept running and running and I made the final turn and I saw my watch had just clicked to 2:14 and I started sprinting as fast as I could toward the finish line because I wanted to clock in under 2:15.

I have never felt so emotional crossing a finish line. I couldn't tell if I was about to laugh or cry. I had stopped my watch at 2:14:30 and my official chip time was 2:14:29. A new PR and a finish of under 2:15.

I could barely walk when I crossed the finish line. I stumbled my way through the majorly overcrowded finishers area. Collected my medal, grabbed a water and a bagel (that I ended up throwing out) and was just in time to hear Ryan Hall being announced as the winner of the race and see him accept his award. I guess that makes up for not seeing him start. He waved, people cheered, I found some energy to clap and cheer and then I found my parents and sat down.

I was, and still am, a bit shocked that I managed to beat my PR. My best race previously had been the National Half Marathon back in March when I finished in 2:17:05. I don't know how after a summer of pretty crappy training, I was able to run two half marathons so close together and PR the second one.

Hands down this is my best race to date. I don't think I've ever run a smarter race or put in more effort consistently through out a race. I started off nice and steady and I knew when I needed to pick up the pace after walk breaks to keep my splits consistent. I pushed harder at the end of this race than I have ever pushed in any other race. There were so many times my legs were screaming at me to stop and walk and let them rest, but I tried really hard to win the mental game. And I think in the end I did.

I'm really, really proud of myself for this race. I went in expecting to just have a fun run, collect my Beach to Bell medal and say I ran two half marathons two weeks apart. Never in a million years did I expect to be in a mental battle with myself at the end of the race pushing to set a new PR.

I haven't experienced the wanting to cry in the middle of a race feeling since my first marathon three years ago. To have that feeling spring up again was definitely strange.

I'm sure I'll be doing a lot of reflecting on this race over the rest of the week. If I figure out how I managed to pull a PR out of my butt with barely any training, I'll be sure to let you all know.

I also want to take a quick minute to give a huge shout out to my parents for being my support at this race. They woke up at 4:30 Sunday morning to drive me to Philly and then watch me run. If they hadn't been there I wouldn't have been able to keep my sweatshirt and sweatpants on until literally seconds before I entered my corral and I would have been stressing out about things like finding parking and getting to the start in time. So thanks Mom and Dad. I can't explain how much it meant to me to have you there.

And thanks to all of you who have read through this whole very long race report. Apologies for the long windedness and lack of pictures.

Me with my finisher's medal being a major squinty McGee because it was super sunny.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Philadelphia Distance Run Goals

Well, it's time for the Friday-before-a-race goals post.

To recap, I made a last minute decision to tackle the Beach to Bell challenge this year (running RNR Half in Virginia Beach and the Philly Distance Run two weeks apart) and Sunday is the Philly Distance Run.

Assuming I cross the finish line, this will be the first time ever I have run two big races so close together. (Last spring I ran an 8K the weekend before a half marathon, but I don't really count that).

Two half marathons less than a week apart is no joke for me, but I feel good. My legs feel strong, my runs since RNR have been pretty solid. I'm not expecting to PR Philly. I just want to go and have fun running a new race and tackling a new challenging. I'm pumped to see Ryan Hall start before I have to hustle back to my corral (assuming I'm not in a porta-potty line).

Plus running a race in Philly means I get to spend a weekend at home with the fam. And since I have Monday off from work, I was able to work a post-race massage into my schedule. Excellent!

Really, everything about this weekend is shaping up to be awesome (except for my rush-hour drive home tonight....bleccchh)

So onto the goals:
1. Have fun.
2. See Ryan Hall start (aka, do NOT be in the porta-potty line when the gun goes off)
3. Run a smart and strong race.

No time concerns, no quest for a PR, just a really fun race!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zipfizz review

When I was at the expo for the Virginia Beach Half Marathon, I had the pleasure of meeting Breona from Zipfizz. Before the expo I had no idea what Zipfizz was, but they were giving out samples and you know me, I love me some free expo samples.

After I tried the little cup of the tangy, fizzy mix, I knew it was something I wanted to write about because it was super yummy and apparently pretty healthy too. So Breona gave me a few samples.

Here's what the company's Web site says:

"Zipfizz is the only healthy energy drink-mix powder in a tube. Delivering an advanced formula that provides a significant amount of vitamins, fewer calories, lower carbohydrates and superior taste! Simply put, it's different because it's good for you!"

Zipfizz comes in five flavors, berry, citrus, orange soda, grape and pink lemonade. Pink Lemonade was my favorite. It was tangy and fizzy and tasted just like lemonade with no funky after taste or anything. I tried the Orange Soda too, but wasn't a huge fan.

Zipfizz is an energy drink, which means it has caffeine in it. Normally I try to stay away from caffeine all the time because I think it's better to be well rested and have actual energy rather than needing a caffeine hit every morning to function. But, I have to admit, I was really glad I had the Pink Lemonade Zipfizz to dump into my normal bottle of water last Tuesday when I was really dragging.

It did a nice job of perking me up without making me feel jittery. Plus for only 10 calories the Pink Lemoade flavor packed all the Vitamin C and B I needed for a day, plus a good portion of Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Thaimin and Niacin.

So while, I'm not big on caffeine in general, if it was just one of those days, I'd rather have Zipfizz than soda or coffee.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another solid run to prep for Philly

I spent this weekend in Va. Beach with Matt's family and was able to get a nice 6.3 mile run in on Saturday morning on the military base. I had really been hoping to get 8 miles in, but since we were staying on a base with lots of security to get off and on, I didn't feel like extending my run the extra mile off base I would have needed to get 8.

I was happy with the 6.3 I did knocking them out in 1:05. Nothing hurt during although the sun was strong and I should have carried some water with me. I wasn't sore afterward either. I've got to credit that to the lots of stretching I did when I got back to our cabin. (Sidenote, I've never stayed in a log cabin before, it was kind of cool, but also, kind of tiny.)

I've just got to find time to fit in two more runs this week and then it's race time. I'm really looking forward to the race, but I'm looking forward to the weekend after it more. It will be the first weekend in almost two months where I can just stay home and not have to travel somewhere. I think I'm getting burnout from life.

So race this weekend and chillaxing next weekend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Recovery running

Thanks everyone who left comments yesterday on the BF's guest post about his first half marathon experience! They were much appreciated.

Now it's time to get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Yesterday I registered for the Philadelphia Distance Run. I figured it was an opportunity I really didn't want to miss, especially since it was the last time they were going to be offering the Beach to Bell challenge.

Plus Ryan Hall is running it. So I'll be able to say I ran a race with Ryan Hall.

Wednesday was the first day I got back to running after Virginia Beach. I did an easy 5K just to get the legs loosened up. I had to walk a bit on some of the hills, and my left IT band nagged a little bit, but nothing too bad.

Everything felt good after some stretching and Stick action.

I followed that up with another run yesterday that was around 3.5 miles. I ran that one a little harder, but still threw in some walking just to make sure my legs were doing OK.

I'm not sure how one trains for two half marathons so close together, so here's my game plan for the last week. I'm open to any suggestions you all might have.

This weekend: Between six to eight miles
Next week: Two runs, both between 3 and 5 miles.
Lots of stretching and Stick action to keep the legs loose and ready to go next Sunday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Guest post: The BF talks about running his first half

I couldn’t drive down to the beach with Jess, so I headed down on my own after work on Friday. I guess the traffic wasn’t as terrible as it could’ve been, but it was enough to put me in a bad mood by the time I got there. My car is a stick shift and my left knee felt like all the cartilage had disintegrated. Not exactly the best way to start a race weekend. When I got there I pretty much crashed onto the hotel bed and passed out.

Saturday morning I had to go to the expo to get my race number. I thought that it could wait – the expo wasn’t going anywhere – but Jess had other ideas. She was super excited to show me my first race expo. I could tell she was in heaven: running all over the place, making sure I had all my race essentials, showing me where to sign up for the best free stuff. I’m really glad she was there to show me around, because otherwise I would have been lost. I got lots of cool free stuff, the most important being my wristband for the beer tent after the race.

After the expo we went and sat on the beach, but not for too long because we didn’t want to get sunburned. We hung out until it was time for dinner, which was pasta at Pizza Planet. The four of us ended up ordering almost the exact same thing – water with spaghetti and meatballs (Jess had to go and not get the meatballs). I asked her if she was going to take a picture of her food for you guys, but some people we knew were sitting two tables over. I guess you’ll just have to use your imaginations. Then it was off to bed.

I don’t exactly remember my thoughts when I woke up, but they were something along the lines of “This is the worst idea I’ve ever had … what am I getting myself into … why is the sun not up yet? …” Anyway, I managed to drag myself out of bed, into my race clothes, and onto the shuttle. Then we were at the race with lots of time to sit around.

Jess had been excited to meet Lindsay all weekend. They couldn’t meet up on Saturday and she was really hoping to meet her before the race. They were having a little trouble because the most accurate way Jess could come up with to describe our location was “by the porta-potties.” There were 20k people at this race – there were a LOT of porta-potties. I wasn’t optimistic, but Lindsay managed to find us.

Jess and I were originally signed up to be in the same corral, but I moved mine back since I had basically stopped training. So I was the last out of the three of us to get into the huge mass of people waiting to start. I waited until my corral got pretty close to the front to minimize the walking I had to do. I was kind of overwhelmed and I forgot to start the timer on my phone as I crossed the start line. What a rookie mistake.

I didn’t realize that I hadn’t started my timer until I got to the first mile and saw the clock they had there. I figured late was better than never and started it up. It was really fun to see and hear all the people cheering the runners as we went along.

The hardest part of the race for me was stopping and walking the first time. I really wanted to keep running, but I knew if I did that there was no way I’d finish – I was in no shape to run 13 miles. So I slowed to a walk around mile 1.5. After that my strategy was pretty much to run a mile and then walk a mile or two. I think I ended running 5.5-6 miles total.

I can’t say enough about the spectators and volunteers. I couldn’t believe how many people came out to just stand on the side of the road and cheer for complete strangers while clanging on a cowbell. Very cool. And the people working the water stations were great – there were always plenty of cups to grab.

I had to stop to go to the bathroom once – I think it was around mile 7. It was a set of 2 porta-potties with only 3 people waiting (and 2 of them were guys) so I figured it wouldn’t take too long. It really didn’t, but of course as soon as I started running again I found a group of 5 with no line at all. Anyway, after the race I was telling Jess about how it looked like someone had puked up chocolate GU all over the toilet. She told me that some runners have a bad reaction to GU that’s, well, unpleasant. She didn’t mention that bit of info before the race when she gave me 5 of them (I had never tried them before). Guess I dodged a bullet there.

I didn’t have as much problem with the heat as Jess did, but that’s probably because I was walking so much. I did run the last mile though – I figured if I was going to finish I might as well finish strong. I ended up coming in at 2:54:54. Considering I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish at all, I was pretty happy with breaking the 3 hour mark.

It was really nice to see my relatives after the race. Jess and I had some trouble finding each other, but we eventually all met up and hung around for a couple minutes. Then my grandparents had to head back (they can’t walk around too much). It turned out they had parked pretty close to our hotel so we all walked back together. I debated going back to the beer tent but decided it was too far away for my poor hamstrings. I had to throw away my wristband without using it at all (the most disappointing part of the weekend).

Then we relaxed until dinner. I don’t remember the name of the place, but it was some of the worst service I’ve ever had. There was one waiter and one waiter/hostess/bartender. For the whole place. Unreal.

After dinner we went to get some Kohr Brothers ice cream. We walked about 7 blocks north to get ice cream, then back down to the hotel, then back up about 10 blocks to meet Jess’s high school friend for drinks at a bar, then back down to our hotel again. 13 miles wasn’t enough for one day, I guess. Needless to say, I slept pretty well…

For all of 5 hours. Then it was time to get up and head out so we could miss the traffic. I also didn’t have coffee for the first half hour, which was brutal. But we ended up getting home in good time and relaxed the rest of the day.

All in all, it was a pretty good weekend. I’m thinking it would be fun to do another, but hopefully I’ll be a little more prepared next time.

-Matt

(Note from Jess: I guess the BF is cool with you all knowing his name.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Thinking about Beach to Bell

I've been wanting to try the Beach to Bell challenge (running the Virginia Beach half and then a few weeks later the Philadelphia Distance Run) for a few years now, but it never seemed to work out.

I was thinking about doing it this year, but I thought I was going to be out of town the day of the Philadelphia Distance Run. Turns out I had the dates wrong and I'll actually be in town. Plus I got $10 off registration because I ran Virginia Beach. And this is the final year they're offering the Beach to Bell challenge. All of them seem like very compelling reasons for me to give it a go. (Plus I've never run two half marathons only two weeks apart and not only would I get a medal for finishing the both races, I'd get a third, Beach to Bell medal, which would be awesome)

If it was all that easy I'd be registered by now.

But here's the thing. Philadelphia isn't exactly close to where I live now. So I'd either need to get a hotel, risk my car getting broken into if I stayed at my brother's ghetto house in North Philly or drive down from my parents house about 45 minutes north of the city.

Driving down from my parents house wouldn't be bad, except I'd have to leave at like 4 a.m. to get to the city and attempt to find parking. I could find a hotel on Hotwire for pretty cheap for a night, but there's no telling how close (or far) that would be from the start and finish. Do cabs run early enough to get me to the start line? If they do, I'd totally go the hotel route and just pay a cabbie to take me to and from the race. That would be the easiest thing and probably cause me the least headache.

If the hotel is close I could just walk, but then again a girl walking the streets of Philly in the dark by herself, probably not the safest.

The only other drawback would be the lack of crowd support. The BF probably wouldn't make the trip and I don't know for sure that my parents could make it down easily and my brother doesn't wake up that early on Sundays.

I've never run a race without at least one person somewhere on the course cheering for me, so that would be kind of weird, and maybe a little lonely.

I don't know though. Maybe I should call my brother and ask him about the times that cabbies run. He's probably needed to get one at like 5 a.m. so he would know.

Anyyway, sorry for the random stream of consciousness of this post. I'm just trying to work it all out in my head. I'm a little type A and not at all good at planning these things this late in the game.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon Recap

How do I feel now? Ouch
How did I feel at mile 12: Where is that damn mile 13 marker
How did I feel at mile 8: Is there no freakin' shade on the rest of this course?
How did I feel at mile 3: Hey if I can keep this pace I'll set a PR
How did I feel at the start: If these nerves don't calm down I might puke

I guess that's the short version of how this weekend went. You can stop reading there if you want, but then you want know what my finishing time was. Brace yourself though, this bad boy is long. But I have pictures!

The weekend got off to a great start when my parents picked me up on their way to Virginia Beach and we didn't hit a lick of traffic. By some miracle we managed to get out of the the D.C. area and down 95 South on a holiday weekend without getting stuck in anything. I was hoping the good luck would carry over for the rest of the weekend.

After meeting up with my cousin and her baby daughter for lunch, my mom and I hit the Expo to pick up our race packets and of course check out all the freebies.



I tried some delicious smoothies.


And had a chiropractor analyze my back. Apparently my muscles are all kinds of tight.


And then I had some yummy cheese.


Oh and my mom and I got our picture on Runner's World.

I also tested a whole bunch of different energy drinks (a review to come later) that I didn't realize at the time were energy drinks and therefore had caffeine in them. I haven't had anything to drink with caffeine in it for over a year. I was seriously wired the rest of the day.

BF got into town late Friday night to complete our group. My mom, the BF and I were all doing the race and my dad was there for race support.

After waking up ridiculously early on Saturday, we all hit up the free breakfast at our hotel before I headed back to the Expo with the BF so he could pick up his stuff. It was his first Expo and he seemed to have a good time.

We hit the beach for a little bit afterwards, but I was worried my pasty-white self would fry even with tons of sunscreen on. The rest of Saturday was spent chillaxin' and ended with a carbo-liscious pasta dinner.

I couldn't fall asleep until kind of late Saturday night. No matter how much I said I was just going to do this race for fun, part of me was still holding on to a glimmer of hope that I'd be able to pull some miracle out of my butt and beat my PR. I couldn't get the nerves to calm down at all, but I eventually fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.



I make a "running person" every night before the race to make sure I don't forget anything. I made the BF do it too. Look at all the extra crap mine has on it haha.

The alarm blared at 4:30 a.m. I got the coffee brewing for the BF and then busied myself with my normal pre-race routine. After I was dressed, I ate my bread and PB and sipped on some Gatorade. Since we had to catch a shuttle to the start at 5:30 and the race didn't start til 7 a.m. I took along a Gu and some water to take a few minutes before the start.

At the start I did my normal I am nervous and must use the porta-potties three times before the race starts.


In between bathroom runs I managed to meet up with Lindsay from Chasing the Kenyans! (Who by the way, totally kicked ass in the race, but you can read more about that on her blog)


My mom, the BF and I before the start (and before the sun was up)


BF and I before we lined up to start the race.

Corrals started going off and eventually mine was underway. I crossed the timing mat, started my watch and was off. Mile one came in around 9:48 and I knew there was no way I could that pace for long, so I backed off a little bit and settled in to a nice groove for the next couple of miles. There was a decent amount of shade on the early miles and I was happy to have it because it was a warm and sunny day outside.

I was enjoying the music and the crowd support and I was hitting pretty great splits until the cursed water station at mile 5. I vaguely remembered this water station sucking big time from the last time I did this race. And oh man it was so much worse this year. I was averaging around 10:15ish miles until mile 5 when I lost like three minutes just trying to get through the water station. The road narrowed like crazy so people were super close, a bunch stopped to walk and there was just really no where to go.

I was able to find some running room and there was a bit of shade near mile 6 so I picked it up a bit. I don't remember much about mile 7.

Mile 8 was one of my least favorite miles in the whole course. There was no shade. It was through an Army base with little crowd support and my legs were not happy. That was when I instituted the run five minutes walk three minutes plan.

Mile 9 and 10 were fun. Great crowd support. Fans with hoses spraying down the runners. Lots of music. Some of my favorite miles of the race.

I saw my Dad right before or after mile 11 (I can't remember which now). He gave me a new, cold (thank gosh!) water bottle for the rest of the race. I was still doing some walking and running but I was feeling pretty good.

I got to mile 12 though and I felt like I couldn't move my legs. I'm not sure what really happened, but I just couldn't run. I told myself I was going to try to run for three minutes and I'd push and run and then have to stop. I'd look at my watch and realize I'd been running for like 50 seconds.

At that point, I gave up caring about my time and just decide to enjoy the rest of the race. I was super close to the boardwalk, there was a dude with a TV camera up in my face so I hammed it up a bit and I walked the rest of the boardwalk until the mile 13 marker, when I of course picked it up and sprinted strong to the finish.

After getting my medal and ice cold towel (thank you volunteers!) I was on a mission to find my mom and the BF. BF answered my text message and told me he was near mile 11. So after getting out of the clusterfuck that was the finishers' shoot, I sprinted back down the boardwalk to go cheer for him. He was looking good near mile 11. I hung around for a bit to see if I saw my mom, even though I figured she was probably ahead of him, I couldn't be sure because she was having horrible Achilles problems and could barely walk on Saturday.

After a while, I headed back up the boardwalk to see the BF finish. In the meantime, I got a message from my Dad saying my mom had finished! Whoo hoo! And not long after I saw the BF approaching the mile 13 marker.


BF at mile 13.

I screamed really loud and then sprinted the rest of the way alongside trying to get a picture of him crossing the finish line. I didn't manage too, but I think I sprinted faster for that than I did in the entire race.

I met up with my mom and dad and a family friend of ours who also ran the race. He and my mom actually crossed the finish line at the same time. How cool.


Mom, Patrick and me after the race.

I also caught up with two other friends of mine who both ran the race. They both rocked it. It was one of the girl's first half marathon and she finished in just a little over 2:30! Her sister finished in under two hours.

I also found of a friend of mine from high school was at the race to watch his girlfriend run so we were all able to meet up later that night. It was like reunion weekend.

The BF and his cousins could be brothers.

We caught up with the BF and his grandparents and cousins who had come to watch the race. BF finished in under three hours with almost no training. He went in not sure he'd be able to finish. (You may remember earlier this summer BF was training super hard until his knee started acting up.) But in the end he totally rocked it.

My mom did awesome too, finishing in 2:33. She said her Achilles hurt the entire time, but not bad enough to force her to drop out.

And I finished in 2:27:33. That's about nine minutes faster than my last VB time and about 10 minutes slower than my PR. I'm not happy with the time, but I'm not unhappy either. It was a fun race, a great weekend and just an overall good time.

The only real post race soreness I have is in my quads. They hurt like a mo-fo. I can't walk down the steps in my house. It's embarrassing. But oh well. It should be gone in a few days.

Sorry for the long, long post. But stayed tuned later this week for a guest post from the BF talking about his first half marathon experience.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Last minute planning and a sweet interview

Tomorrow my family and I head down to Virginia Beach for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon. I'm woefully under prepared, but I'm going to make the best of the race. I mean if nothing else, I get an awesome long weekend at the beach with my family, enjoying what looks to be great weather and getting a nice run in.

Today of course I'm a bundle of stress making insane lists of things I need to remember to pack. Regular people clothes, race necessities, beach stuff. It's a lot to remember.

The BF got stuck with some crazy work project and won't be able to come down Friday morning with us, so he'll be making the trip Friday night. My family and I have tentative plans to hit the Expo on Friday to get the good stuff before it's gone and then maybe heading over again Saturday morning so the BF can get his stuff.

Then we'll spend the rest of Saturday relaxing on the beach! (And not getting sunburn, because ummm running a race with sunburn would suck)

Since I'm sure I won't be posting much (or at all?) this weekend, here's a quick rundown of my goals.

1. Have fun.
2. Realize I'm under trained and accept it. I won't be breaking any records this weekend.
3. As long as I finish faster than my time two years ago when I ran the race with strep throat I'll be satisfied.
4. Enjoy the experience of running another race with my mom and introducing BF to this crazy world of races.

On a parting note, check out this sweet interview I did a few months back for Experience Life Magazine's September issue. It's all about training for races with a buddy. I'm in the section at the very bottom under the heading "Set a Goal." My mom says please disregard her age lol!

Is anyone else running the Virginia Beach Half this weekend? I know Lindsay from Chasing the Kenyans is and we're working on figuring out a time to meet up. If you're going to be there let us know!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Feels like Fall 6 miles

Some nice cool air crept into the D.C. area yesterday and so when I got home from work it was the perfect temperature to go out for a nice run. I was so excited that I didn't have to wait until 7 or 8 p.m. to start running and I could head out the door by 5:30. I'll be sad to say goodbye to summer, but I won't miss running at weird times to avoid the heat.

I was a little nervous that my nasty blister would give me a problem, so I covered it with a Band-aid (it's all I had) and hoped for the best. Lucky for me, that little Band-Aid stayed put the whole time and I could hardly tell the blister was there!

I had mapped out a course that would be 7 miles long at it's longest, but had lots of options for shortening depending on how I felt. I felt really great through the first three miles and even the hills weren't feeling all that bad. I opted to take the course extension to add another two miles.

This extension was on roads I'd never run on before, but they all had sidewalks so I wasn't too worried about traffic. What did surprise me though were the monster hills I encountered. One was super short, but I felt like I was running straight up. It was so steep I could barely keep my momentum going forward with running so I walked it. The next hill was longer but less steep. I trucked it up that one (and then got cat-called by some trashtastic dudes strolling on the sidewalk...some people are so classy)

I got stuck at a lot of traffic lights toward the end of my run and opted not to add the last loop because my legs were beat and I was starving. In total my run ended up being about 6.4 miles. I don't have an exact time because I forgot to restart my watch after one of the traffic lights, but I think it was probably something like 1:06 or 1:07 if I had to take a guess. (My watch said 1:04, and I'm guessing it was probably two or three minutes before I forgot to turn it back on).

The weather was great and I felt pretty good during the whole run. I was only mildly annoyed that I got stuck at 5 million stop lights. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping the weather gods will grace Virginia Beach with some nice cooler temps for the race this weekend!