Tuesday, December 31, 2013

RNR Raleigh Training: Weeks 2 & 3

These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of Christmas, road trips and running.

My devil elf.

Week 2: This was a crazy week between work and the kids' holiday events at school. The result in terms of running was nothing very impressive, just some more base building. A last minute trip to South Carolina cut out a 4th day of running for the week. But snuggles with my 7 week old nephew made up for it.

  • Wednesday: 3.1 mile progression run with strides on the treadmill at the gym. Rush home so the hubs could get to work early
  • Thursday: 5 miles on my go-to trail for hill training. Pretty chilly, but nice to be outside
  • Sunday: 10 miles in South Carolina
Total miles: 18.1

We drove to South Carolina on a whim to visit my husband's sister and her 7 week old baby. I was able to find a rail trail in Greenville, which I was pretty excited about. I figured a rail trail would be a perfect place to run my long miles and not get lost. Famous last words. The first three miles wove through the downtown area with quite a few twists and turns. The trail was usually clearly marked, but there were times where I made a wrong turn, stopped and stared for a while before finding my way. When I was finally out of downtown the trail straightened out but I was almost immediately halted by a freight train stopped across the the trail. I waited for a while trying to figure out a way around and almost gave up and headed back when it finally started moving.  Just as I turned around at 5 miles the skies opened up and I spent the rest of the run in a torrential downpour with no rain gear. It was quite the experience, but I was grateful for the new scenery.


Week 3: Finally my schedule allowed me to add a 4th day of running to the mix, even with our second road trip within a week. 

  • Tuesday: 3 treadmill miles
  • Thursday: 6 miles on hills. This was a great run for me because it was the first time I made it all the way around a challenging 3 mile loop twice. It's been a goal of mine for a while now but I always manage to talk myself out of it.
  • Saturday: 11 miles through Lancaster County, PA. This was definitely one of my favorite runs in recent memory. It was sunny, yet chilly and the scenery was just amazing.
  • Sunday: 3 easy treadmill miles at the hotel
Total miles: 23

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Best of 2013

As per usual, I am a little late to the party, but I  sure do love Miss Zippy's Year in Review. 2012 was a pretty good year for me and I am psyched to say that 2013 was even better!  So let's get to it.

Best race experience?
This year was pretty stellar when it comes to racing. I PR'ed in the 8k, 10k, 10 mile and half marathon distances. It's too hard to pick just one race so I'm going to break the rules on the very first question and pick 2 races.  For the spring, my favorite memory is definitely the Cherry Blossom 10 miler. I have wanted to run this race forever and it did not disappoint. I had a really strong run and had so much fun running through the streets of DC.

Without a doubt the Philadelphia half marathon will always be one of my favorite running memories. I have had the goal of a sub 2:30 marathon for 3 years now and I finally achieved it in my hometown. Coming off of a foot injury I worked hard all summer and it paid off this November!

Best run?
I had to think hard about this one but definitely my 12 miler in Boston wins the title this year. I love Boston so much and miss living there, so it was awesome to have the chance to go back this past September and run along the Charles and on paths where I first found my love of running. Everything came together perfectly and I had a really strong run that day.

I will always love that dirty water

Best new piece of gear?
I'd have to say my Garmin 10. This year I committed to the Galloway method of training and like having my GPS and interval timer all in one.

Best piece of running advice you received?
This comes from my amazing partner in crime running, Bang: "Stop running like an a$$hole". It might seem a little rough but, not only is it our sense of humor, but it came from a place of love. This year I've learned that pacing myself results in better overall times because I don't go balls to the wall in the beginning of a run only to blow up in the end because I wasted all of my energy in the beginning. I'm pretty sure this is the underlying reason for PRing in nearly every distance I raced this year.

Most inspirational runner?
This is easy for me. After years of running and training solo, I found an awesome running partner and friend. It is so much nicer and easier having someone by your side through all of the ups and downs of training, a cheerleader at races and a therapist when you are injured. This year has been great for my running and I owe a lot of it to her. (Now if only her own foot would get better, I miss her terribly)


If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? So much fun! I feel like I progressed so much this year and just had a great time doing it. Reeling from the confidence I've gained, I am so motivated for 2014 where I will attempt even bigger goals!

Monday, December 16, 2013

RNR Raleigh Marathon Training Week 1

Last week was the first week of my 18 week training cycle for my first full marathon!  I had the thought to keep up with the training on my blog so I can look back on it afterwards and remember what I've done and how far I've come. I'm not sure how interesting and entertaining it will be for others, but I'm going to give it a go anyways!

As far as a training plan goes, I have my running group's plan for the long runs, but the mid-week runs are up to me to figure out. I wish I had enough extra cash for a coach, but I don't so I am going to do my best to figure out on my own what works best for me and my family's schedule. I've been checking out a few different sources like Hal Higdon and the New York Times Run Well Blog (Thanks Courtney for sharing this with me!). I'll have to compare them and figure out something that will work. But for the early weeks of training I am going to try to get in definitely 2 and maybe 3 mid-week runs. Add that to 2 runs on the weekends for 4-5 days of running per week.

I have a modest time goal (5:30) so I won't necessarily be focusing on speed during my training, but rather time on my feet. And hills. Lots of hills to prepare myself for running in Raleigh.

For week 1 I was happy just to have some structure back into my running. I didn't have quite the week I planned, but overall I am happy with how it went.

Monday - Rest

Tuesday - 3 easy miles on the teadmill + Core work

Wednesday - Sleep (after 3 nights of not being able to sleep, I slept right through the alarm. I needed it and didn't beat myself up over missing this run)

Thursday - 4.3 miles on the treadmill with the 2 middle miles at HMP. This run was just plain fun.

Friday - Rest

Saturday - 10 miles. 4 miles with my running group + 6 solo miles. Felt great to be out there for a long run since this was my first double digit run since the Philly half.

Sunday - I had planned for 3 easy miles but when this face is begging you to bake Christmas goodies with her you don't say no. Christmas memories >>> easy miles.

She's a goober.
We set a family PR in rice krispy treat eating.

Total miles: 17.3

Overall, there's definitely room for improvement. Missing 2 runs in my first week does not bode well, but it was a nice gentle transition back into training after 3 weeks off.

Monday, December 9, 2013

What's Next?

Ever since Philly my running has been a pretty rare phenomenon.

 I've been training since July, so I think both mentally and physically I was really needing to have a few weeks off. I really tried to get out there more, but I've found that I'm pretty good at talking myself out of things when the alternative is a warm down comforter and a hot cup of coffee in the morning.

But I know it can't last much longer because I have plans for the spring. Big big plans of the 26.2 mile variety.

On April 13th I'll be at the start line of my very first marathon!

I used to say I would never have the desire to run one. Then this summer I ran a 16 mile training run. It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but when I was done I started feeling like maybe training for 26.2 wasn't as far out of reach as I thought.

Once the seed was planted, I couldn't get it out of my head and I knew it wasn't a matter of if but when. One thing I knew for certain was a that I didn't want to wait for fall of 2014, so I started researching for the spring. I decided on Rock 'n Roll Raleigh as the best choice. Actually pulling the trigger to register was no easy task. I put more thought into my decision than almost anything I've done before. In the end, with the encouragement of my husband and my running partner, I decided to take the leap.

I'm excited and scared and every emotion in between. I know that I will have some obstacles along the way between juggling my family's schedule and training through the winter, but I really feel like I'm up for the challenge.

This past weekend my running group started its winter season. I decided to sign up again with the a Raleigh Galloway group again. To be honest this was another big decision for me because I had a hard time trusting the method towards the end of my training cycle for Philly. However, with my 5+ min PR and achieving a goal that had been eluding me for 2 years, I became convinced that this method is right for me at this point in my running. 

I have a modest time goal but right now I think I am better served with just finishing my first full marathon strong and healthy. I'll be keeping tabs of my training here to both keep me accountable and to have a record of my journey. I'm pretty dang excited! 

This weekend my running partner surprised me with this Endorphin Warrior bracelet I've had my eye on. During the later stages of training for Philly the word "Courage" became my little mantra. The courage to push my limits, to venture out of my comfort zone and do what was needed to achieve my goals.  I repeated it to myself when things started getting hard during the race. Now I'm using it to psych myself up for this huge goal I've laid out for myself. Here we go....

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8k

Thanksgiving weekend is winding down and I would seriously argue that every weekend needs to consist of 4 days of family, friends and all of the food.

On Thanksgiving morning, I met Bang bright and early for the Ridgewood Turkey Trot 8k in Raleigh. I love me a good old Turkey Trot and was excited to run this one since it was my first time for this particular race.

I was not, however, excited for a temperature of 27 degrees at the start. I've been in the South long enough now to not be ok with that.

Being friggen cold is better when your BRF is suffering along with you.

I really didn't know what to expect from this race. I know that Turkey Trots are supposed to be fun low key races, but my early splits in the Philly half had me thinking that I could PR this race so that's what I set out to do. Besides the faster I ran, the sooner I'd be warm again.

My goal was 55 minutes and I was excited to see my first 3 splits in the low 10's. Which, for me running 4:1 intervals, was a nice pace. I was psyched to be passing people on the hills and felt good running at a faster than normal pace. Mile 4 was my slowest thanks to a long gradual uphill, but I was able to recover for the last mile (my Garmin measured at 5.03) and finish strong.

In the end I got my PR (53:09) and a picture with this giant turkey...

The rest of the day was spent basking in my runner's high and eating everything that was put in front of me. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Philadelphia Half Marathon Race Recap

Since late Spring/early Summer I have had one singular focus when it came to running: my first sub 2:30 half in Philadelphia. Every single run. Every single gym session. Every single plank.  I came into this race with huge doubts and was even making contingency plans for a Spring half marathon. I really didn't think I was going to do it.

Then came Sunday. And this:

That's a 5:40 PR!

Getting to the race was incredibly easy....exit hotel at an ungodly hour of the morning and follow all of the other runners on the street to the start line. This is the largest race I've done and it was amazing to be in my hometown with 30,000 other runners.

There was a lot of communication from the race organizers that there would be security checkpoints to enter the starting area and to allot enough time to get through them. We were in line for approximately 3 minutes. We checked our bags and waited for the portopotties before walking around the art museum to our corral. I was assigned the Orange corral but moved back to the Blue (last) corral to stay with one of my friends as long as we could.

As we were listening to the waves before us being released I kept getting the sense that today was going to be my day. Each wave was released to its own song. We heard the Rocky theme, which got us all excited. Then the next wave got New York, New York, which pumped up my favorite New Yorker, Bang. The next wave got Sweet Caroline, which made my Boston-loving heart happy. Finally, our wave was released to Avicii's Wake Me Up which was designated our official Philly Road Trip Fist Pumping Song. We were psyched and ready to go.

Miles 1-3 (10:35, 10:29, 10:45)
These miles were pretty flat and I felt pretty strong from the onset. I was a bit shocked to see my first mile split. I made a mental note to slow down, but clearly, I was not very good at that. The course was super flat and the crowd support was amazing. By the time the 3rd mile beeped I knew I had to get serious about slowing down. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to keep up these paces through the whole race.

Miles 4-6 (11:16, 11:10, 11:11)
Around mile 4 I was having a little mental breakdown about keeping up the pace. In mile 4 I was able to slow down a little and was happy to see I was still above race pace. My effort was strong but doable. I focused at this point on making it to mile 6 where Melanie and Fran would be waiting for me. I struggled a little bit coming up South Street and back towards Independence Mall. I relied heavily on the crowd support. I was pretty excited  to see that I was still below race pace.  High fiving my friends gave me the boost I needed to head into the hills that were coming up.

So happy to see my friends!

Miles 7-10 (10:37, 11:30, 11:03, 12:23)
Mile 7 was a steady down hill and I let myself go down that one. I knew that mile 8 would be a steady incline for the entire mile. I was happy that I had banked quite a bit of time and that took some of the pressure off. Mile 8 was in University City and the drunken college students were pretty entertaining. This mile was tough, but I kept thinking off all of my runs in Umstead and I knew I could handle the hills in front of me. I was pretty psyched to see that this mile was only 10 seconds off of my goal pace. But I knew that the hill at the zoo was going to be harder so I put my music on and focused on getting through mile 10. I kept telling myself to get through this hill and it would be easy sailing until the end. The hill was steep and most of the people were around me were walking. I willed myself to make it through my intervals. I wasn't surprised to see my split on this mile.

Miles 11-13 (11:05, 11:14, 12:15)
Mile 11 was the reward for mile 10. It was scenic, downhill and fun. It was the funnest mile I have run in quite some time. Unfortunately my left hip,which had been nagging me since the first half of the race, was starting to get worse. I just had it in my mind to finish the race.  My Garmin 10 wasn't set up to show me my overall running time so throughout the whole race I had no idea where I stood in terms of PRing. I could see my interval timer and my pace but not my overall time. I had been trying to do the math and knew it was a possible sub-2:30 but I wasn't completely sure. I couldn't wait to cross the finish line and find out. The last mile was a complete struggle because my hip was so incredibly sore.

Mile 13.1 (9:32)
As we rounded the corner back to the art museum I turned off my music and soaked in the finish line atmosphere. There were people everywhere and I was so excited to finish. I saw Mel and Fran again at the finish and was so happy to be done. I threw my arms up at the finish line and looked at my watch to find out that I made my goal and crushed my previous half PR by nearly 6 minutes.

Pain face at the end.

I have worked so hard this summer and through a couple of injuries and I was so excited by my time. This was one of the best races I have ever run. It was so well organized, the course was spectacular, and the spectators were amazing. The fact that I PRed in a race in my hometown just made it all the more sweet.

The rest of the day was spent eating, napping and more eating. This was without a doubt one amazing weekend.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bull City Race Fest Recap

Yesterday was a bittersweet day as I ran the Bull City Race Fest as part of Team Josh. As I have mentioned. Team Josh was organized by my friend Kelly who lost her 3 month old son to SIDS this past summer. Originally her goal was have a few friends run with her and raise $3000 for SIDS research and awareness. By the morning of the race there were 85 team members who raised over $6000! It was truly amazing to watch something positive come out of such an unspeakable tragedy.

Team Josh

Our Team Josh shirts

His donation page will remain open so people can continue to support the CJ Foundation in Josh's memory.

The race itself was pretty familiar to me. For the past two years I have run the half marathon when it was part of the Ramblin Rose race series. The half marathon course is wicked hilly so I decided to save myself for Philly this year and signed up for the 5 mile run since I've never done one.

(Can I pause here to say "WTH?" when it comes to the distinction between an 8k and a 5 miler?!)

Anyhow, the race itself was great. It is a route I am very familiar with so I was not shocked by how hilly it was. I knew when I should hold back and when I could release the brakes. I was hoping to keep my pace right around my half marathon goal pace (11:20ish) using my 4:1 intervals. It would be a true test because I ran 10 hard miles the day before and my legs were tired.

The course was really crowded so I did the best I could. Miles 2 and 3 were below goal pace, which is awesome because those were the two hilliest miles, but I paid for it in the last two miles. Every time things got tough I thought about Kelly and Josh and that seemed to pull me through.

I was pretty excited during mile 2 to look over and spot a Oiselle singlet and realize it was my Twitter buddy Courtney. I love that because of the running community on Twitter, you are quite literally able to meet someone for the very first time in the middle of a race and start up a conversation like you've known each other for a while.

Me and Courtney at the finish

I was able to run with Courtney for one of my intervals before I sent her on ahead. The rest of the race went well and I was glad to get the experience of running planned intervals during a crowded race. (This was my first race using the Galloway method. I have a lot of thoughts on the method that I'll save for a whole other post.)

My goal was to come in under an hour and my finish time was 59:26. Everyone I talked to said that their Garmins measured the course as 5.2 miles (just like mine did), which would make my average pace not too far off of my half marathon race pace. On a hilly course and on tired legs, I was pretty pleased with that.

Because the 5 mile finish was not at the same place as the start line, I cooled down with a walk back to the starting area (which is also the area for the half marathon finish). A bunch of people from Team Josh were at the finish line waiting for Kelly to finish the half. We all cheered so loud when she made her way through. Her strength and grace through her ordeal is simply amazing.

They were also having a food truck rodeo at the finish area so I waited in line for over 20 minutes to get the most amazing fries ever. They were from the Greek food truck and were covered with lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and feta cheese. They were delicious.

They were amazing!!

But I was only able to get about 5 bites before I freaking dropped them on the ground. I swear I almost ugly cried in front of a bunch of strangers.

I don't really care about Dawson. #TeamPacey forever.

I decided then and there it was time to go home.  Overall it was a great race and we raised money for a great cause.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Prepping for Philly

Only five and a half weeks until I get to go back to my hometown for the Philadelphia Half Marathon!

As I was in the process tweeking things on the blog, I came across a post I wrote around this time last year. Six weeks from my goal race last year and I was freaking out just a bit. What shocked me though was that I could have written this same exact post this year as well.

The premise is this: I am rocking my training. I have a string of awesome runs were I feel like a rockstar and then BAM! - it's 6 weeks before my goal race and running sucks. The same exact thing is happening to me this year.

In the past few weeks I have had some pretty stellar runs:

A 12 miler in Boston that was a full minute/mile faster than I had planned and I felt amazing the entire time.


Plus it was in Boston, my 2nd favorite city ever!

I've had some pretty good 14 milers and a personal distance record 16 miler with my favorite run buddy too.
I am not concerned about making the distance - I've been recording some of my highest mileage weeks recently and it feels really good. I do, however, have major doubts I will be able to hit my goal times. I just haven't been coming near my target paces during my training runs. While initially I was inclined to freak the F out about that, I am coming to the point of acceptance. I am not giving up my goal of a shiny new PR and will continue to work as hard as I can in the next few weeks. Ultimately this is not my job. I do this for fun and nobody but me cares if I PR this race or not.

I mean ideally I would love to see progress from previous race times. To me it is validation of all of my hard work. But the truth of the matter is that the mere fact I am making it through this training cycle is a small miracle.

First, I started off the training cycle injured.

Luckily, after several weeks of not running, I was able to regain my fitness pretty quickly and jump right into the thick of it. My foot still aches after my longer runs, but I am learning to take care of it.

And now, as I type this at 10pm my husband is leaving to go back to work. The poor guy has been working 16-20hr days for months. I've been left to handle the house, the children and my own full time job practically on my own. And each of these things is more important than numbers on a clock.

What I am trying to say is that no matter what the clock says in Philly, I need to be ok with that. I need to have fun and be proud of myself for even making it to the start line.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Catching Up

Today is the first day of school. I sent the big one off to 2nd grade and my baby off to kindergarten <sniff>

We had a great summer filled with beaches:

Baseball games:

And pools:

My foot has been feeling great and I have been slowly ramping up my miles in some pretty fabulous places.

With the end of Summer and the Philly Half Marathon just 12 weeks away it is time to get serious about my training. I am trying hard to get back to the paces I was hitting in the Spring and I am hopeful that with some consistent running and extra time in the gym that I can reach my goal of PRing the half in November.

I've been training with the Raleigh Galloway group and am trying really hard to trust in the training method because I have seen people have great success with it. On the training schedule I have some pretty ambitious long runs that will build my endurance. During the week I will have shorter runs, which I will use to focus on speed. Hopefully the two will magically combine on race day!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Team Josh

Thus far, running has been a purely selfish part of my life. As a mom to two young children and a wife to a man with an insanely busy job, running has always been that part of my life that is all mine. It is my time to get away from the demands of my family and to do something just for me.

In all of the races I have run I have never once been part of a team. I have never raised funds for a specific cause. Mostly, I never felt comfortable asking friends and relatives to donate money for my own personal hobby.

That is, until now. This October, I am running the 5 mile race at the Bull City Race Fest as part of Team Josh. The team is being organized by my friend Kelly who tragically lost her sweet baby boy, Josh, this past June.

Kelly is a friend of mine from my neighborhood. We met through a local mothers' group. My daughter and one of her sons were in preschool together for a while. We ran a half marathon together a couple of years ago. And earlier this year when she was pregnant with Josh I recommended my son's daycare for him.

During the afternoon of June 10th, Josh passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in his sleep in the home of our daycare provider. I can not explain the emotions I felt upon hearing this news. As a mother, my heart breaks for anyone who loses a child, the pain of which I can not begin to comprehend. The mere thought of losing one of my children is just too much to bear. My heart broke also for our daycare provider who, in the time we have been sending my son there, has become very dear to us. Watching both of these women endure this tragedy has been utterly heart wrenching.

In the weeks following Josh's passing Kelly has been the epitome of strength and grace. As a way to honor Josh's memory she has organized Team Josh to run the Bull City Race Fest and to raise money for the CJ Foundation for SIDS, which raises money for SIDS research projects, organizations, support programs and public education and awareness campaigns.

If you are able, please consider a donation in Josh's honor to the CJ Foundation. No amount is too small. Click here to go to his donation page. 

Joshua Smedley   March 2, 2013 - June 10, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Injury Update

Considering how my last post was almost two months ago....

Most of June was spent not running and looked a lot like this:

Throughout the beginning of June my foot hurt a lot, whether I was running or not. I would be sitting at my desk and it would be throbbing.  After x-rays revealed nothing I was referred to a sports medicine doctor. I waited a week to get into see her. She ordered an MRI, but it was going to take another week to get that appointment. When I expressed my displeasure at having to wait so long, she was quick to remind me that I had a sore foot, not a brain tumor.

WTF did you just say to me?

I was in total disbelief. I waited the week to have my MRI. The results came back negative for a stress fracture. I was diagnosed with a soft tissue pressure lesion.  What exactly is that? I have no idea, because my email to my Dr went unanswered. I was told by another doctor in the practice that, in the absence of a stress fracture, I could resume my training and to return if I still had pain.  There were two things of which I was positively certain: 1) I was going to try running again and 2) I was definitely not returning to this Dr's office.

By the end of June I was slowly making my way back to running. I started back pretty slowly. It was immediately obvious that I had lost a lot of fitness over the month and I was dismayed that the pain in my foot was not completely gone even after 4 weeks off. What was different though was that the pain was completely gone the next day after ice and compression. Throughout May I would run and have to take a week off for the pain to go away.

Should I have continued running? I'm not sure, but I was too stubborn and I wanted to run. As time progressed the pain would only appear after 5-6 miles on my feet. I would go home, ice and compress and be fine the next day. I am in the process of trying some new inserts in my shoes to help with tightness in my plantar fascia and that seems to be helping. On last week's 10 miler there was only a slight twinge around mile 8. Soon I will dabble in trying out different shoes. Hopefully my foot will continue feeling better.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's Not Just a River

Denial, that is...

It's been a while since I felt I had anything worthwhile to write about.

After a busy early Spring with a half marathon2 10-milers, and a 10k PR,  I had convinced myself that me and running had gone the way of Ross and Rachel.

I convinced myself that I was mentally and physically worn out from a long winter of running and I just needed to back off of running for a little while.  That nagging pain that I first felt during the Tar Heel 10 Miler on the side of my foot was pushed way down in the back of my mind.

What was really happening was that I would run, my foot would hurt, I would take a week off for it to stop hurting and run again only to start the whole cycle over again.

I miss my training too, dailymile.

Eventually, I thought I had rested enough and had the whole thing kicked. The pain had dulled considerably and I had a perfectly lovely 6 mile run while I was in  my hometown of Philadelphia this past weekend.

I ran along the river and it was everything you want in a run. The weather was amazing, the scenery was new, my legs felt awesome. I thought about how I was running on the same route as my goal race for this fall (the Philly half marathon) and how my training was going to be great. My PR dreams are well within my reach. I ended at the Art Museum feeling amazing.

Mostly amazing. I hobbled back to my hotel with a throbbing pain in my foot that could no longer be ignored. This cycle has been going on for 6 weeks now with no improvement. I have big plans for the Fall and I really don't want to make things worse, so I came home from my trip and called the doctor.

I then hopped onto Google for some ill-advised self diagnosis. Based on the precise location of the pain, I was fairly convinced that I have a stress fracture of the 5th metatarsal.

Not my foot, but the arrow shows where my pain is.

After 2 x-rays, the doctor (whose bedside manner was seriously lacking) told me he had some good news and some bad news. The good news was that there was no sign of a stress fracture on my films. The bad news was he still thinks I have one. So he is schlepping me off to a sports medicine doctor who can not see me until next week. Until then I have strict orders not to run.

So I left the doctor's office with a sore foot and no answers. To say I am frustrated would be an understatement.  There are so many unanswered questions, but I am trying not to get ahead of myself here. Hopefully a different doctor can give me more answers. I just wish I didn't have to wait a week to get in there.

Until then, the elliptical and I will be getting pretty friendly....

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cary Distance Festival 10k

I signed up for this race a few weeks ago since the 10k distance is kind of rare around here and you couldn't beat the $15 price tag. Other than that I really had no investment in this race. I wasn't planning on running hard because my foot has been bothering me since the Tar Heel 10 Miler. In an effort to let it heal, I have not been running too much since then. Since I was treating this as nothing more than a mid-distance training run, I didn't wake up with my usual pre-race excitement.

It didn't help that it was cold and windy and just....cold. (North Carolina is getting a little grumpy lately since we haven't seen the sun in about 2 weeks.)  I briefly considered bailing for a hot coffee and some breakfast.

I met Bang at the start and we sat in the car as long as we could to stay warm. By the time we got to the start line I had committed to my two main goals of the race:

1) Stick with Bang. She is much better than I am at consistant splits. I've already mentioned several times here that in races I have two paces - asshole and walking. I have to really work on pacing myself.

2) Commit to doing the entire race through the Galloway method. This is pretty much an extension of goal #1. I've been doing long runs with Bang at 4:1 intervals - meaning run for 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. I'll probably have another post on this sometime soon as I experiment more with it. But I've seen people have great success with Galloway and I'm becoming convinced that this may be the right thing for me as I look ahead to the Fall. But I digress...

This was definitely the smallest race I have ever done, with only 124 people running the 10k (and about  220 running the 5k). There was no starting gun or horns, just some dude saying "Go!". We set off running our first interval pretty strong. In fact the entire first mile went pretty well, clocking in at under 11:00, which is usually a decent effort for me without the walk breaks. I was digging that.

Towards the end of the second mile there was a good downhill and I started to pull away and run at my "a-hole pace" even when I knew it wasn't in my race plan and that it would be hard to maintain with the rolling hills that made up the rest of the course. What happened next is predictable: I wore myself out within the next mile. Mile 4 ended up being my slowest and most painful. I reminded myself of my game plan and set myself back on track.

The last two miles were a real mental struggle for me. Even though I had originally set out to run this race "easy", by the time I was a couple of miles into it I was ready to give it everything I had. Since the later part of races is where it all tends to fall apart for me, I wanted to not give up and finish strong. I was excited to see at mile 5 that, barring catastrophe, I could PR.

I kept it in my mind to keep Bang in my sights and just finish. I'm so glad she was there. If it weren't for her I would have definitely phoned in the last mile and been pissed at myself in the end. Having her with me gave me the motivation I needed to push past the point of being uncomfortable.

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 1:07:47, which is a minute and a half PR.

Mostly, I am proud of this race. My splits were way more consistant than they usually are. Also, I wasn't as afraid of the hills as I have been in the past. (Insanely hilly long runs are paying off, I do believe).  However, I didn't trust my plan from the beginning and fell apart for a couple of miles. Luckily I was able to get back on track and get myself right again. All in all, it was  great race to see the progress I have made and it let me know what I need to be working on for my next big goal race this Fall.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tar Heel 10 Miler and #RunForBoston

I'm pretty sure that The Onion beat all other reputable news sources for summing up last week in this article.

The whole week was so surreal from the actual bombings to the outpouring of human kindness to the manhunt that took place a mile from where I used to live. The range of emotions was just exhausting.

Saturday morning I was signed up for the Tarheel 10 Miler. This is my second 10 mile race and I really think I like this distance. I knew that I wouldn't PR this race because the course is way more challenging than the Cherry Blossom (it takes place in Chapel HILL after all). Plus I woke up just feeling like it wasn't going to be my day.  I set my goal to finish (under 2 hrs would be nice) and just have fun and being out there with my fellow runners.  I ran this race solo so I lined up towards the back and took it easy.

I've run a few hilly long runs with my awesome training partner, Bang, so I was feeling ok at the start. The course wove through UNC's campus and the surrounding areas. The first 5 miles were ok, but I was having trouble finding an even pace. Seriously. I'd sprint a mile and almost die the next. I walked up a couple of the more challenging hills but for the most part was feeling good. At mile 6 was a massive down hill section that was pure fun.

But I knew what was coming after it. I had heard the legend of Laurel Hill all throughout the Winter. A mile long hill, relentless, soul crushing hill so intense they set up timing mats at the bottom and top of it just to time how long it took people to get up it.

I'm not going to lie. I walked most of it. My left foot was starting to hurt really bad and I was getting really tired. By the time I got to the top I just wanted to be done so I did my best to finish strong. I was about 5 minutes off of my Cherry Blossom time, which was expected given the tough course. Honestly, I was happy just to finish.

Loved the medal.

That night and the next day my left foot was hurting bad. Normally I would not have attempted to run on it but Sunday afternoon was the Boston Memorial Run in Raleigh and there was no way I was going to miss it.

The Start/Finish Line

One of our local race directors came home from running Boston and immediately recruited all of the local race directors, running groups and running stores to put together a run to show our support for Boston. From the onset they were expecting about 200 people to show up. By Sunday afternoon there were well over 2000. When it became obvious that there was going to be a huge crowd, the city of Raleigh closed the roads and provided officers for the course.

Before the race there were kind words, a moment of silence, a bagpipe playing of Amazing Grace and the National Anthem.

Lined up to start
The run itself was a simple out and back, but was struck me was the sheer number of people out running. It was just a sea of runners. It was amazing to see so many people out there just to run.

After we finished, Bang and I stayed at the finish line to cheer on the people coming in. There were still so many people and it was just a love fest of runners cheering and high fiving one another. It was truly one of the most amazing running experiences I have ever been a part of.

Me and my run bud, Bang. There is no
one else I would have wanted by my side more for this run.