22 December 2013

Celtic Solstice 5 and the last needed PR

I kind of forgot about this race. I signed up mainly because (1) a few coworkers were running it (team Victory Loves Company!), (2) it's hard to turn down this sweet race shirt:

it says STOP AT NEVER on the inside pocket. I mean, how cool?

and (3), I didn't have a chance to PR the 5 mile this year (previous PR: 40:23, set at this same race back in 2007).

I've been streaking (running at least 3 mi every day) since a few days after the marathon, but I haven't really been "training" -- no speedwork, no tempo runs, no hill repeats ... just running. It's been nice.

It met up with two of my friends/ coworkers at our work at 7:00 and we drove into the city. I'm kind of obsessive about getting to a race early, but the good thing about being a lawyer is being around other Type A-ers who understand that getting to a race an hour before the gun goes off it totally normal. We got into the park, parked easily, and headed over to the start. It. was. FREEZING.

L to R: Jen, me, Colleen, Kim.

We hung out in the warming tent until it was time to head over the start. We were treated to a small parade of bagpipes (very cool) and finally took off around 8:34.

The first mile was really crowded. I should have seeded myself closer to the front but I thought I was pretty far up. I needed to keep an 8 mm/ just under that to PR and I figured it wouldn't be too much of a problem, but I was a little concerned when I hit mile 1 at 8:04. It cleared up after that, though. I just felt GOOD during the entire race. I was racing it but I didn't feel that OH-GOD-LET-IT-END feeling until the very end. The course isn't super flat but it's hardly hilly. I'd call it "rolling light."

Runners wore jingle bells and Santa hats and the ground was still covered in snow - made for a very winter-y, very festive race. Everyone just seemed so damn happy.


1  8:04.7


I crossed at 38:31 (7:42 pace) and waited for my friends to come through the chute. After warming up with some Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate, we met at Miss Shirley's for brunch. How much do I love a giant omelet, biscuit, and home fries after a great race? So very, very much.

We wore/ brought our race shirts from our Big Races this year:

Kim (JFK 50), me (Philadelphia Marathon), Colleen (Baltimore Marathon), Jen (Rehoboth Half)

Then home to J and my sweet boy:

great race, great company, great brunch, great day. I heart racing.
overall: 353/ 2953
age group: 22/ 335

19 November 2013

the Philadelphia Marathon, a Perfect Day, and a PR

I declared this The Year of the PR back in February (was that really nine months ago?) and I would be damned if I didn't PR the marathon. I set my marathon PR of 3:50:53 back in 2009 (was that really four years ago??) and although I've run two marathons since then, both were fairly spectacular fails.

I trained my butt off for this race. I followed Hal Higdon's Advanced I plan to a T. I didn't miss a single. workout. I PR'd the 5K, 10K, 10M, and HM.

And I was tapered and the forecast looked good.

I was ready.

(okay, I was super-duper nervous. When everything has gone right and the training is there and the weather is good and the course is [fairly] flat, it's yours [mine] to lose. And unlike the 10 miler, I couldn't easily find, train for, and taper correctly for another marathon. so this was it. So yeah - ready, but READY and NERVOUS and ANXIOUS but EXCITED).


Saturday morning my IronBuddy Deb picked me up (and brought along a new friend, who, I'm sure, thinks that Deb and I are batshit crazy) and headed to Philly. We found the convention center (after asking "where is the convention center?" and realizing we were staring right at it. this is why I'm not generally allowed to play navigator.)

We parked the car near the hotel - which was a couple blocks from the Convention Center and less than a mile from the race village - and headed over to packet pick up. I was in the GREEN corral (for 3:30-3:59 predicted finishes) and I got my bib (chip part of the bib. Remember when you had to turn the chip in at the end of a race? And some poor volunteer had to untie your sweaty shoelaces while you tried not to puke on them?) and the race shit (nice!). It was a nice expo -- huge, lots of booths, buzzing with nervous energy (alas, I didn't buy anything which is as much of a surprise to me as it is to you, dear reader).

After Stacey and I picked up our packets, we headed to get pizza (delicious). Stacey went to her hotel and Deb and I to ours. We checked in at the Hampton Inn City Center and while not exactly swanky - it was AWESOME. They gave the runners a late (1:30PM) checkout and advised breakfast would be ready at 4:30 AND they were giving out to-go breakfast bags with bagels, bananas, and water. Sweet! I put my feet up (literally) and watched Harry Potter and Deb went in search of a cowbell (seriously). Oh, and we watched the beginning of the Kona broadcast which makes me emotional even when it's not the night before a marathon.

My shout out in the race guide!

My friend Hilary drove all the way from South Jersey to meet us for dinner and we had sushi and it was delicious. They did oyster shooters but I figured oysters wouldn't be great on a nervous pre-race stomach. And then back to the hotel to watch How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days which is so bad it's good.

I checked the weather (hourly forecase, natch) for the zillionith time and it looked PERFECT. Low to mid 50s and cloudy. -- the kind of marathon weather you would order from a weather menu if said menu existed. Put out everything I needed for race day: race clothes and socks, shoes, body glide, GUs, hat, bib, pace bands (3:45 and 3:49), Garmin, throwaway arm warmers (thanks Colleen!), throwaway gloves, throwaway clothes.

^^still a shitton less than I brought for Cozumel!
After setting a, um, 'few' alarms -- two on my cell phone, the alarm clock in the hotel room, Deb's watch, and a wake up call (all for around 4:30) -- I went to sleep. And actually slept pretty well.
^^ yup, still predawn
I woke up about 5 minutes before the alarm(s) and started getting ready. Deb made fun of me for following the direction to arrive at security at 5am (7am start time) but I wasn't going to be in a security line or a bathroom line when the gun went off. I ate breakfast - bagel, cream cheese, OJ - and brought a banana and Clif bar with me to the start. Deb walked me over to security (took only a few minutes to get through) and then went back to the hotel to eat and relax before heading out to mile 1. I thought it would suck to have almost 90 minutes to kill, but I spent most of those minutes in line for the port o' potties.
Around 6:45, I headed over to my corral, ditched my sweatpants and Fells Point Figgy Pudding Fun Run 2007 tshirt, turned on Garmie the Garmin, and waited, nervously, for the green coral to go. And at 7:10, we were (finally) off.

I saw Deb at mile 1 ... and then, about 100 feet later:

^^ I didn't take this photo, and I saw her a different location, but you get the idea
So I saw "Harrison" and thought, "well that's cool, someone else named Harrison. Then I saw "Bite" and thought, "hmm.. that Harrison bites too." I then saw the photo and THEN saw the person holding it. OHMYGODCOLLEENWHATAREYOUDOINGHERE?!!? So that was a super duper awesome surprise! I saw Colleen and Deb at miles 1, 6, (should have been 18 but we somehow missed each other), 21 (where they sprinted up 5 flights of stairs to catch the train to the finish), and the finish. It means so, so much to me, especially since James and I decided that bringing H to Philly would be a disaster for all of us. So yeah, you guys are Extra Special Awesome.
The race was pretty crowded for the first several miles (really, until the half split off at mile 12.5) but it helped me keep my pace in check. I felt really good for the first half, and remembered this gem: if you start to feel good during a marathon, don't worry --- that feeling will pass.


1    8:56.2  
2     8:45.1
3     8:40.4
4     8:40.3
5     8:37.3
6     8:28.6
7     8:23.3
8     8:33.1
9     8:33.2
10     8:37.7
11     8:37.1
12     8:34.2
13     8:41.4
14     8:34.7
15     8:36.4
16     8:36.3
17     8:42.5
18     8:51.9
19     8:39.7
20     8:49.0
21     8:41.4
22     9:02.5
23    9:01.1
24     8:34.9
25     9:18.2
26     8:38.3
27     2:49.0
I felt good, physically, emotionally, and mentally for the first half. I was on track (maybe a weee bit too fast?) for my predicted/ goal finish. We split off from the half runners (after listening to a few of them share their glee that they didn't have another 13.1 to go) and headed out of town. It was a lot quieter -- very few spectators, less runners... but I was enjoying it. I needed to settle down into a pace and focus on keeping that pace. Miles 13-20 were all within about 15 seconds of each other. At mile 14 I saw the lead man pass mile 25 and briefly wondered if anyone would notice if I just turned around and joined him (he finished in 2:17, a 5:15 pace. yup. wow.).
Around 18-20, things started getting dark. Mile 18 means 8.2 miles to go... it's a tough place. I had been running for a while but I still had over an hour left on my feet. The pain was kicking in and I kept thinking WHERE THE FUCK IS MILE 20?  I had my Garmin on but I didn't want to look at it every 30 seconds.
I was really glad I had the pace band on. GPS watches are awesome, but they can trick you into a false sense of distance. Most runners run longer than the actual course -- great explanation here - so I could look at my pace band at the actual mile marker to know what my overall time should be at the mile, and then my watch to see the elapsed time. I ended up running 26.36, which really isn't too far off.
I saw Colleen and Deb at mile 21, which gave me an awesome boost, because I was really really hurting. You can see by my splits that I was starting to fade. I kept telling myself, get to 23, get to 23 and then you have a little more than 3 miles left and what's 3 miles? that's a short run. and then, get to 24, get to 24, only 2 miles, that's about 20 minutes to the finish, you can do anything for 20 minutes. then to 25 and you can push hard for the last 1.2. I wanted to take a short walk break around those miles, but: I knew that while I was on track to hit my goal, I was close. I didn't have a lot of wiggle room and slowing down to a walk would eat too much time. And also -- once you start walking, it's a bitch to start running again. It HURTS more than just running. I allowed myself to walk through the aid stations but made myself pick it up again when I was finished my water/ Gatorade. I kept checking my watch. I was still on pace to break 3:50:53.
me at 21 ^^

And then, finally, happily, mile 26. I booked it to the finish. People were going cheering, yelling my name (they printed our first names on our bibs) and I just ran as fast as my short little legs would go. I ran a 7:51 pace for the last .35 miles (more proof that so much of this is mental).
I crossed the finish line, hit stop on my watch, and saw it: 3:49:04. a PR by almost two minutes! happy happy happy happy:
I found Colleen and Deb:
and hobbled back to the hotel. I knew I should take an ice bath but I was really cold and the hot shower just felt so good. Deb and I met back up with Stacey (who rocked her first marathon!) and we went to the market where I inhaled a chocolate milkshake, a cheeseburger, and fries and it was AMAZING.
Stacey and I showing off our medals and shirts ^^
We drove home, where I was greeted by an exuberant H ... who promptly put my medal on and wouldn't take it off:
seriously, it's like the RD contacted Flava Flav for inspiration. This thing is awesome:
I still can't walk up or down stairs. I'm hobbling around my office. And I don't care - it was so, so worth it.

04 November 2013

high(est) mileage week and 12 days out and fall running

highest mileage week

When I chose Hal Higdon's Advanced I plan and put all the runs on my calendar, I was slightly concerned about fitting in the in the peak weeks. I wasn't worried about the long runs (thanks to a super supportive spouse) -- it was the mid week "medium-long" runs (specifically, two 10 milers in one week and a 20 on the weekend) that I worried about fitting in between work/ family/ sleep.

Turns out: 10 miles on a treadmill isn't all _that_ terrible (hooray for The Wire! [I think the exclamation point kind of makes it look like a musical and SOMEONE MAKE THIS HAPPEN]) and taking a couple hours of leave at the end of a workday (hooray for a lovely trail, near work and daycare, with water/ bathrooms!) is totally doable.

Week 15 of my plan: I ran 56.25 miles (8h 38m 37s) -- my highest mileage e v e r. I was tired at the end of it but it really wasn't as tough as I had imagined. .. and I rewarded myself with a massage from the awesome Nic Ebright.

12 days out

Last week (week 16) I maxed out at just over 36 miles, and this week calls for around 29-30 miles. AND THEN IT'S RACE WEEK!

I feel good. I feel nervous. I want to run a smart, f a s t race. I asked my buddies at Beginner Triathlete to predict my marathon time, and the general consensus was around a 3:45. My Main Goal is to PR (breaking 3:50:53, which I ran at the National Marathon in 2009 and promptly burst into tears when I saw James because I didn't break 3:50. Why yes, being married to me is a joy!), my Super Happy Goal is 3:45, and my The Stars Have Aligned Goal is 3:40.

(3:40 IS reallyclose to 3:35, ifyouknowwhatImean)

and just for shits & giggles..
(based on a 1:44:39 half --)
McMillan: 3:40:14
Runner'sWorld: 3:38:11
vDot calc: 3:40:43

After some deliberation, I decided not to drag bring James and H with me to Philly. H doesn't sleep well away from home, and I don't want to be up with a fussy toddler the night before my race... and I didn't want to have James push H around an unknown city and try to find me at certain mile markers.

TLDR; it's a hassle that isn't worth it.

So my Iron-friend Deb is coming, and I'm meeting up with a bunch of people who either live in Philly or are running Philly or both. Yay!

Undecided as to what to wear. It's shorts v. tights; long sleeves v. short sleeves (with throwaway arm warmer). the 10 day forecast comes out in 4 days (I mean if you are paying attention to that sort of thing) but I won't have a really good idea until the hourly forecast is out.

fall running

is so pretty

15 September 2013

Abebe Bikila Day International Half Marathon [or: holy crap this work is paying off!]

as I mentioned in my last post, I kind of forgot about this race. It's been on my schedule but it wasn't an A race -- more of a let's-see-where-I-am-for-Philly race.

For information about Abebe Bikila, click here.

my iron-buddy Deb came over for a pasta dinner (complete with a refusing-to-sit-on-his-chair toddler) and we headed over to Georgetown/ NoVa around 7:30 (no one wants to be anywhere near that area in rush hour traffic). We drove past all the fun Georgetown-ness to go to check into our hotel and go to  sleep early. woohoo. Fell asleep after 10:00 after watching two episodes of Say Yes to the Dress because priorities.

we didn't go to packet pickup on Friday (see: rush-hour terribleness and it closed at 7) so we left for the race start at 6:30 am. Race start time was 9am and we were 3 miles from the hotel, but who wants to rush on race morning? we got to the start (after getting a little turned around and holy crap do I want to live here. my dad: you may want to practice a different area of law then) and realized we had a couple of hours until race start.

it was an almost chilly morning .. not even 60* at the race start -- a welcome change from the 90+ degree temps we had earlier in the week. Deb and I got our packets and tshirts:

The race was really low key - no chip, about 300 runners, small mile markers on the ground. no mats, no splits, nothing fancy ... just a well organized, beautiful race with the friendliest RD (Jay Wind was the nice guy who let me enter the Potomac River Run Marathon last year after the registration closed and I needed a redemption marathon).

The race had bananas and bagels for breakfast (how many races provide pre-race food?) and Deb and I ate breakfast in the car (I asked her to turn on the heat. she laughed) and putzed around until race start.

The race was a 6.55 mi out and back race on the C&O Canal Towpath -- with the canal on one side and the Potomac River on the other. It's almost totally flat and on crushed gravel and add to that cool(ish) weather -- a perfect course for speed.

I planned on keeping around an 8:00 - 8:05 pace. for the first 10 miles and then let 'er rip from 10 until the finish. I thought I might have a PR in me (flat course, training going well) but wasn't sure if it would happen (no taper).

At the start of the race a lot of people passed me. It did hurt the ego, but I told myself to run my own race and pass people at the end.


1 8:01.8

2  8:04.5







my view for 13.1 mi ^^

thanks to toddler H, I had The Wheels on the Bus stuck in my head for, umm .. approximately 12.754 miles. It was so painful. Hard as I tried I could not get another earworm in there.

I had an absolutely fantastic race. I felt good during almost every moment of the race -- mentally and physically. A woman (guessing around my age) and I played leapfrog for a few miles and then I passed her for good around mile 9. At mile 11 and 12 I passed three more women ... not going to lie -- it felt really, really good. The last 4 miles hurt, of course, but it was a good hurt. An I-can-do-this hurt. An I-can-PR hurt. I did the math a few times in the race starting at the 6.55 turn around and figured it would happen but only if I didn't run out of gas. I didn't think I would but stranger things have happened. I started feeling really thirsty the last few miles (water stations were every 2 miles) and I stopped to walk at the mile 11 water stop so I could make sure to drink the entire cup. I told myself that I would turn on the burners at mile 10 and run hard and not stop until I crossed the finish line.

I didn't realize how close I was to the finish until I saw the 26 mile marker (the marathon was two out and backs) and all of the sudden: holy shit, I am .2 mi from the finish line! One more kick and I was in and holy CRAP ANOTHER PR! This one by about 40 seconds from the Crab Run half back in March.

Deb and I hung around for a little while and I found out I placed in my AG! AND I got a $25 gift certificate to Falls Road Running (see, James? I can totally quit my job to become a professional runner. A Pandora bracelet and gift card to a running store totes pays the mortgage).

Deb drove me home and then James and I dealt with a pukey toddler for the rest of the day. (no worries. he's okay now)


And I thought I was second in my AG but something in the prelim results was wrong and I GOT FIRST IN MY AG!* FIRST WOMAN 30-39! WHEEEEEEE !

It is so super-duper nice to see mid week medium-length runs and puke inducing sessions on the treadmill pay off. Philly I cannot wait to see you!

Time: 1:44:39
Pace: 7:58/ mile
AG (F30-39): 1/ 21
Overall: 15/ 245

*I realize this was a small race and just barely cracking 1:45 wouldn't get me anywhere near the top in a bigger race, but I'm going to ignore that and keep on feeling like a rockstar.