Monday, March 23, 2009

National Half Marathon Report

*Warning: Long-Winded Race Report Below*

Hi all, sorry for the delay. It's been a busy couple of days.

First off, I need to correct my time from my last post. I think I forgot to shut off my watch so my official chip time was:

1:55:25


Yeah bi%ches!

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And since you all are DYING to know J's time, (that aren't on FB and already know) I'll post it here so you don't have to wait in suspense until the bottom of my post:

3:55:04!!!!

For those of you who are keeping track, that is a TWENTY-FIVE minute marathon PR!!!! Who the eff does that?

It just goes to show how sick he was during the Philly Marathon (and how much faster we could have run). No wonder I felt so good after that marathon!

Anyway, it was wonderful, I was sooooooo proud of him. More on that later.

So, we got up early on Friday and headed out to Washington. It was an easy drive, only 3 hours and that includes an early lunch stop at Cracker Barrel.

Yes, we ate at Cracker Barrel the day before our race. Don't laugh, we both had huge PRs. I will now eat Chicken and Dumplings with mashed potatoes and green beans before every race.

We arrived in DC and checked into our hotel around 1pm. This was my first time in DC and I have to say, it was pretty nice. It is much cleaner than I expected. Or, maybe I have just been in Philly too long (I love Philly, don't send me I-love-Philly hate mail, but c'mon, it's dirty). The only thing that I didn't like about DC was the traffic. It was awful and people drive like they do in Miami, really, REALLY bad. Philly may have a ton of traffic, but at least people can drive.

Oh, and what's with all the DIAGONAL streets in DC? Every intersection has like, 6 crosswalks. It's very confusing and deadly.

Once we parked the car, we realized we wold not be driving anywhere again until we left. While the hotel was no where near the race site, it was only a few blocks from the Metro which was super-convenient. We quickly figured out where it was and how it worked and before you knew it, we were at the expo.

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The expo was nothing special really. It is still a pretty small race so the vendors were a little disappointing. I did manage to finally pick up a bondi band which I have been meaning to try forever. I also picked up this totally awesome shirt.

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While the race never technically went into Virginia, I still had to have it. Mainly because it's funny, but also because the National Half Marathon shirts were soooooooooooooo hideous, I had to make up for it somehow.

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WTF color is that? SALMON? It kind of looks pink and kind of looks orange but let me assure you, it is NOT pink and it is NOT orange..."porange?" The full marathon shirts were blue and much cuter. I got salmon. Stupid ankle.

After the expo, we headed back to the room, dropped off our stuff and headed out to dinner (veggie wrap with a baked potato). We were both exhausted for some reason and we headed back to the room right after dinner. Normally, this is where I post a shot of all my gear laid out, but I was so tired that night, that I didn't feel like putting in all the effort. I packed what I could, took a hot shower and quickly feel asleep.

The next morning I woke up feeling pretty good. I got ready, ate my peanut butter and bread (no toaster) and banana, loaded up on water and choked down some horrid hotel coffee. J and I both took turns going to the bathroom about 500 times and then we headed out around 5am.

Look how well my reflective hat works! I have never seen it all lit up before! I actually doubted that it even worked.

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The hotel had a shuttle that rode to and from the race, but we decided to skip it and just do the metro again since they opened it up at 5am for the marathon. We got there just as they were opening the gates and we were quickly surrounded by other marathoners. Although the start was on the other side of town from our hotel, it was very convenient to get to.

We got there way too early though and it was freezing out. A chilly 32 degrees and still dark. Even though I knew it was perfect running weather, I wasn't looking forward to standing outside for 2 hours, especially since in my tired state, I forgot to pack a throwaway sweatshirt for the start. Since I had to put my jacket in my bag and check it, I was instantly freezing and we walked around trying to keep warm. We ended up taking about 20 more trips to the port-o-potties as our nerves were tricking us into thinking we had to go. But sadly, I realized towards the end, I was really just hanging out in the port-o-potties to stay warm. Yuck.

Here I am, all reflective again. Look at my gloves!
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It wasn't until about 30 minutes before the start that we realized the Armory next to the start was open and runners were hanging out inside to stay warm (duh). So we headed over and hung out in there until right before the race started. Then we made one final trip to their bathroom and walked to the start.

The start was very well organized. The announcements were loud and clear and everyone seemed to line up in their correct corral. We heard the National Anthem and we were off.

I honestly don't remember a lot of details about this race, just random pieces. It seems like the whole thing went by in a total blur. Maybe it's because I ran it so fast. HA! Here are a few highlights of what I do recall:

• There were a TON of half marathoners and only a handful of full marathoners.

• The weather was PERFECT! 33 degrees, sunny and NO wind. It was a day made for PRs.

• The race opened up right away once we crossed the start mat. There was hardly any crowding at the start and it was real easy to find your groove.

• The first 1.5 miles we ran up East Capitol Street toward the Capitol building. The sun was rising up on the building from behind us and it was a blazing orange. After that we ran past the National Mall and the Washington Memorial as they glowed in the morning sun. It was easily four of the most breathtaking miles I had ever run. It was an amazing way to see these beautiful monuments for the first time.

• Around mile 4 my ankle/calf/foot started stiffening. It wasn't incredibly painful but it did make me happy I wasn't running the full. It would feel stiff and "off" the rest of the race.

• After that, it got hilly, especially between miles 4-8. As a matter of fact, I am beginning to think any old marathon can advertise as "flat and fast" nowadays. Who sets the criteria for this? It was not flat. My splits will show you what I mean. They were all over the place.

• The good news is for every uphill, there was a downhill. Mile 8 in particular was very nice, as you will see in my splits.

• There was no music on this course which was weird. It seemed quiet.

• Some mile markers were hard to read (too low to the ground) so I missed them. For those of us recording our splits without a Garmin, that kind of sucks.

• There was hardly any crowd presence. There were at a few designated spots but for the most part it was pretty empty. It didn't bother me for the half as much as it probably would have for the full. That being said, the crowds that were out were great.

• The volunteers were awesome, as usual.

• Most of the last 9 miles of the race were through neighborhoods. I had no idea where I was, but it was pretty nonetheless.

• They were tearing down some random building that we ran by. It was crazy to hear the wrecking ball smash into it while we were running.

• We ran through a couple of small tunnels which made me feel claustrophobic.

• At mile 8 I looked at my watch and freaked out because I realized I wasn't going to hit a sub 2 hour, so I sped up for a mile. When I hit the next mile marker I saw I was at mile 10 and had plenty of time. Woops.

• I never really hit a "wall" at all. I just ran steady the entire time and felt good. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with the weather.

• This was the first half- marathon or marathon that I didn't feel like I was going to die the last mile. I finished feeling really strong and felt like I could have run a few more miles (maybe not another 13.1).

• I didn't have to go to the bathroom once during the race and didn't end up going again until after we got back to the hotel.

Here are the splits:

1. 9:22(walk break)
2. 8:29
3. 8:14
4. 9:00 (walk break)
5. 8:45
6. 11:30 (big hill and walk break)
7. 8:00 (downhill)
8. 7:58 (downhill)
9. 9:02 (walk break)
10. 8:08
11. 8:31
12. 9:14 (walk break)
13. 8:13
.01. 53:43

1:55:25 (8:49 pace)

All in all it was a great race. It was definitely perfect weather which I'm sure is what led to so many PR's that day (the first three winners of the men's marathon all beat the course record and the mayor of DC PR'ed by over 10 minutes).

Before the race, I had talked to J about our plans for running. I told him I didn't want to run with him this time because I didn't want to hold him back if I was hurting and I didn't want to have to try an keep up with him. On the other hand, I wanted to PR for my half and since he was running the full and trying to hold back the first half, I didn't want to slow down to stay with him if I felt good.

I was also running my first race (half or full marathon) without taking regular walk breaks. A few months ago (after my tendonitis was already bothering me) I decided to start seeing if I could start phasing them out. It's been working pretty well and I wanted to see how I would run a race doing it, since I have already run 16 miles without them. I made a decision that I would only stop for water and that I would only take about 30 second breaks, or however long I needed to drink. And then about 2-3 times, I would make one of those water stops a full minute.

Jeremy was still doing his walk breaks, but instead of stopping to walk one minute every mile PLUS walk through water, he just planned his water stops into his walk breaks.

In our little experiment, I found that I run exactly the same pace when I take walk breaks as I do when I don't. As J stopped to take his first walk break, I told him I loved him, wished him well and kept running. About 2 miles later he passed me. Then, I passed him at this next walk break, then he passed me about 5 minutes later, etc. This went on the entire race and he ended up right behind me, veering off to finish the full, as I ran across the finish to the half.

All in all, I don't know which is a better plan. But at least I know I can run it both ways and am the same pace. And actually, because of all the hills, the last walk break I took, it was really hard for me to start again. My legs were getting stiff. That made it easier to just keep running.

After the race I got my bag from bag check which was just thrown on a table with about 2000 other bags for you to pick up with NO ONE there to help. That was a huge mistake in my book. Not sure what happened there but I don't like the idea that anyone could grab whatever bag they wanted. Plus, it took me forever to find my black backpack in a sea of black backpacks.

After I changed and ate a bagel, I scoped out a great spot to wait for J and watch all the runners come in.I had a blast cheering everyone on and loved listening to the announcer and Burt Yasso announcing everyone as they came in. They did a fantastic job.

Around 3:50, I started getting a little nervous that maybe Jeremy wouldn't come in under 4. This has happened in the past and it's never easy. I knew he looked strong when I last saw him, but you never know what could happen out there. I was suddenly worried and sad to think of him out on the course all alone.

But soon enough, I saw him come around the bend and make his way towards the finish (it's hard to miss him with his newly-grown hair).

Here's the joyous event caught on tape. I warn you, you might want to turn down your volume. I got a little excited when I saw him.

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He did so great and smiled the whole way in. I was soooooo proud of him.

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All-in-all it was a great day in DC.

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Afterwards we headed back to the hotel (I was freezing from standing in the cold for two hours), took hot showers, ate and then walked around DC for FIVE hours. Yes, you heard right. We didn't mean to, but really wanted to see as much of DC as we could while we were there.

Of course, later that night, we were passed out in bed by 9pm. With visions of PRs dancing in our heads.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

National Half Marathon

1:55:40!!!

9 minute PR!!!

Still waiting for J...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Off to DC

Tomorrow morning we wake up early to head to DC. Since the marathon is on a Saturday (odd) the expo is only one day-Friday. Luckily for us, I have Friday's off.

We're all packed up and ready to go. Unfortunately, a certain someone that shall remain nameless, that I may or may not be married to, might be suffering from a bit of "taper madness".

The aforementioned person has a sudden habit of fake-coughing while mumbling about feeling like he's "coming down with something" or "feeling funny" and rushes to find the Thera-Flu.

When I lovingly mentioned to our no-named hypochondriac that he was NOT sick, it was all in his head and he should NOT be taking cold medicine if he is not sick, especially before running a marathon, the reaction may or may not have been something like this:

"YOU DON'T KNOW HOW I FEEL INSIDE!!!!"

Oh boy. Calm down buddy. Here, drink this NyQuil too.

Other than that, we're doing fine and we're going to have a great day. I can feel it.

I enjoyed a nice 6.5 mile run last night when I got home from work. The weather was amazing outside (65) and it was sunny the entire run! This makes running much more enjoyable now that I can switch up the routes a bit. No more back and forth, two times to run along a well-lit street.

The weather for Saturday is going to be perfect. 33 and sunny at the start. By the time J rolls in right before 11, it should only have gotten up to about 42. Beautiful!

I can't wait to check this race out. I have a feeling it's going to be a race I will want to do for years to come. It's great to have a big race to train for at this time of the year to keep you active in the winter. And mid-March usually has decent weather for race day (when it's not raining).

My bib number is 7997! I'm really excited about this number! Two lucky number 7's and 2 nines! I love the number 9.

But my favorite number is 5. And guess what my corral is? Ooooh-yeah. Numbah FIVE baby. I'm all set.

So, I have been an awful blogger buddy lately. I just haven't had much time to do a lot of commenting. Next week will be a bit busy too since Sunday when we get back my 14 year old stepson is coming out to stay with us for a few days from California. It's his first trip to Philly and we can't wait to see him, so I will try to be on here as soon as I can with a race report, but I can't make any promises for a few days.

I will however post an official race pic/time with my trusty iphone. :)

Hope you all have a great weekend!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ready to take on Washington

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I'm starting to finally get excited about this weekend. While I may not be doing the full 26.2 any longer, I am actually looking forward to a little mini-vacation with J. The race is on Saturday and I'm hoping we can spend at least a little time Sunday wandering around in the morning so I can see a sight or two. And thankfully, since I'm only doing the 13.1, I will be able to walk a bit more pain-free the next day.

Nevermind that J is still running the full. Walking around a few extra miles wont kill him. He's tough like bull.

I got in a few decent runs last week. I have slowed my pace from roughly a 8:45 to a 9:00-9:10mm pace for most of my runs now and am finding that at this pace, I can last longer on my ankle. As a mater of fact, I ran quite steady on all three of my runs this week and my leg felt great. I've been stretching more again too (I got lazy for about a month) and am starting to feel a difference. I need to be careful because sometimes I can feel the stiffness into the entire right leg and I know it's from stronger muscles having to make up for the weaker ones. But I'm slowly taking it easy and making sure I don't get hurt.

I also desperately need a new pair of shoes. I looked up the mileage on mine last night on runstoppable and realized I had over 314 miles on them. And I know I haven't logged every run I have done on the website, like, for example, the PHILADELPHIA MARATHON! That is just one of a few I have been to lazy to map out and log, so I know I have at least 40-50 more miles on them than it's showing.

OK, I'm just going to say this, even though it may sound totally stupid. I wear Asics 2140's and this last pair I had to get in a different color that I normally wear. I swear to you, ever since I got these shoes, (about a month before the Philadelphia Marathon) I started noticing a numbness in my ankle. It happened on one of the first runs I wore them on and has been bothering me ever since. Is there any possible way that a different color of the same shoe could be made a bit differently? DON'T LAUGH! They are the same width, so I know that wasn't the issue.

I told you it was stupid. But I can't explain it. These shoes (white and teal) give me weird pains that the other two pairs of 2140's didn't (white and dark blue). Odd stuff. Maybe it's the way I am lacing them.

Great, now I have to find that issue of Runners World from a few months back about tying your shoes the right way (the article I totally skipped over). Anyway, I'm going to have to run the half in my white and teal, badly-tied, ankle-numbing shoes because I can't afford a new pair until next month.

As far as goals for this HM, they have gone back and forth. I was originally hoping for a sub 2, but I don't want to become too attached to that in case I start to hurt. I do however, have a good feeling about being able to PR (2:04) so that is my second goal. Third goal is just to finish without getting hurt, which, who am I kidding, I will probably be pissed if that's as good as it gets. I know I should be happy with that, but I'm just being honest here.

I think if I keep it consistent and steady I will have an awesome chance to PR and a petty good chance to get a sub 2. It's supposed to be a beautiful day on Saturday for a race (partly cloudy, high of 55). Fingers crossed.

Also, I came across this blog tonight. It's all marathon medals from different races. He doesn't have all of them, but he does have quite a few on there. It's fun to look through.

Monday, 3/9 -off
Tuesday, 3/10 - off
Wednesday, 3/11 - 6.4 miles/57:47 - 9:04 pace
Thursday, 3/12 - off
Friday, 3/13 - off
Saturday, 3/14 - 8.43 miles/1:17:08 - 9:08 pace
Sunday, 3/15 - 7.3 miles/1:05:43 - 8:59 pace

Total Weekly Mileage: 22.11 miles

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I Got Nothin....

I was wondering all day about what I was going to post here tonight, but I seriously got nothin' for you. My life has been dull, dull, dull.

Basically, the same old, same old:

• Work is kicking my butt. I can't wait until April 20th, when this huge project of mine will be OVAH. Reminding myself every day that a lot of people would be happy to have a job right now, so stop complaining.

• Got in four decent runs. Slowing down the pace a bit for my ankle.

• Ankle/foot still bothering me.

• Bought a new pair of running shorts/tights from Target this week. I love them! They may be a bit too warm in July, but for the next few months, they are perfect. I even got to bust them out on THREE runs this weekend.

• J is still kicking butt and taking names. I am so excited for him about this marathon.

• The weather here is wacky. Monday was 8" of snow and a low of 5 degrees. Now, the past three days we have seen the highs from the upper 60's-low 70's. Beautiful and weird, all at the same time.

Here is what it looked like as I walked to the train on Monday.

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Here are people frolicking in the spring-like temperatures in Rittenhouse Square yesterday as we wandered the city. They are literally dancing!

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I am having a bit of trouble adjusting to running in the warmer temps. While it was nice this weekend to not to run in two pairs of tights, 3-4 long sleeved shirts, a skull cap and gloves, it was still a bit of a shock.

On Wednesday, when it was still cooler, I ran a speedier 6.5 with almost no effort (57:49/8:53 pace). Then on Friday, I went out in 68 degree weather and thought I was going to die. I actually cut my run short to a little over 4 and made up for it the rest of the weekend. All runs this weekend were in the 9:15-9:20 pace range. And felt much more difficult.

I have turned into such a wimp. Two years ago, I was training for my first marathon in Miami from June to October. I was running my 20 milers in record setting high temperatures. Had I known I would be complaining about 66 degrees being too warm, I would have kicked my ass. What can I say? I love running in the cold.

Not the wind, but the cold. :)

Anyway, that's all I got. I hope you homies had a more exciting week than we did around here.

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Monday, 3/2 -off
Tuesday, 3/3 - off
Wednesday, 3/4 - 6.5 miles/57:49 - 8:53 pace
Thursday, 3/5 - off
Friday, 3/6 - 4.28 miles/39:58 - 9:20 pace
Saturday, 3/7 - 10.18 miles/1:35:21 - 9:21 pace
Sunday, 3/8 - 7 miles/1:04:46 - 9:15 pace

Total Weekly Mileage: 27.96 miles

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Productivity

I love those weekends where you seem to get everything you need to get done, done. This was one of those weekends. Of course, I don't work on Fridays, but this week I had a huge list of things I needed to do, and luckily, I pretty much got them all taken care of. Here is what I did on my "day off" on Friday:

• Made my dog a grooming appointment.

• Made my myself a grooming appointment for next Friday.

• Had Maintenance come look at and try to fix our water heater (we have to shower in the empty condo next door until the part comes in. Yesterday as I got out of the shower and headed out to leave, the leasing agent walked in with someone he was showing the condo to. HELLO!?!?!? That could have been awkward!)

• Called about consolidating more of my private student loans. Didn't work. Need to try and refinance.

• Walked Zero to the dog groomer and dropped her off for her grooming

• Changed my registration for the National Marathon to the Half Marathon. Thought twice before hitting send.

• Left the dog groomers and ran 5.5 miles in 60 degree temperatures...beautiful out! But I was a bit overdressed.

• Stretched.

•Vacuumed and dusted my house.

• Cleaned the kitchen.

• Hand washed six sweaters.

• Finished ALL our laundry.

• Picked Zero up.

• Went grocery shopping for the week.

• Came home and prepared some chicken for a dish I'm making later in the week.

• Read blogs :)

Yesterday wasn't quite as busy as far as chores go. But we were pretty active all day.

Yesterday was the last 20 mile run of our training before we started to taper. This is another reason why switching to the Half was such a big decision. I mean, I only had ONE more long run to do.

But I have to tell you, knowing all week that I didn't have to do 20 miles, really changed my outlook. I felt relieved and relaxed all week about running. Suddenly it didn't seem so much like a chore and I actually got out for four solid runs this week instead of my usual 2-3. I just let myself take it easy and not worry so much about time so that I could run without letting my foot/ankle flare up. I even did a couple of shorter runs instead of doing my normal 6.5 run. I realized, sometimes it's ok to just run 5 miles after work. This new approach is really helping me realize running doesn't have to be so regimented. My training was turning into a scene from Groundhog Day and I was totally not into it anymore.

So yesterday, Jeremy ran out 3 miles towards Valley Forge and then back for 6, then I met up with him and ran the 14 mile loop around Fairmount Park. The run went better than I expected and I felt pretty good the whole time. My legs felt strong and I wasn't too tired. Around mile 10 I had started to wonder if I had made a serious mistake about switching to the Half. While I was enjoying not running 20, I knew I could have easily done it. It was only ONE more long run...

Then, as if my body was totally in tune with my brain, it let me know why I was smart to cut it back. My foot started to flare up. Every time I bent my big toe to push off, I got a searing pain in the ball of my foot under my big toe, which would then cause pain to shoot through my ankle and eventually make it numb.

THEN, I suddenly got a sharp pain in my LEFT foot, a pain I had never experienced before. This pain was in the inside arch of my foot and felt almost like I had pinched or broken something.

The tendonitis in my right foot, I have learned to run through, but this new pain in my left foot was different. I ran for about 2 minutes and had to stop. I was really scared.

J said it was probably a muscle spasm or a cramp, but I had felt those before, and this was nothing like that. I walked for about two minutes and then slowly started to jog again. After about 2 minutes the pain mysteriously went away and I ran the last mile home.

After that, I realized I had definitely made the right decision about the race. I need to take a little time to let my body heal for sure and if I got out there and at mile 19 ended up injuring myself so badly that I screwed up my time (and J's) and couldn't run for a few months, I would have never forgiven myself. You know how stubborn runners can be. :)

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After our run yesterday, we took the train into Center City again for another day of wandering the city and eating. (Dutch pretzels for lunch, red velvet cupcake and hot chocolate for a snack and chicken pot pie and a mac-n-cheese appetizer at Jones for dinner, COMFORT FOOD, anyone?) We ended up walking around for FOUR hours. Needless to say, by the time we walked home from the train last night at 7:30pm, we were totally beat. I passed out at 11pm and slept till almost 9 today to the smell of Jeremy making blueberry muffins. Can you tell by our eating habits we are getting close to a marathon taper? We're insatiable.

Today, I have a few more chores to do and even have some work I brought home with me to get done before tomorrow (ggrrrr). Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Monday, 2/22 - 4.83 miles/43:01 - 8:54 pace
Tuesday, 2/23 - off
Wednesday, 2/24 - off
Thursday, 2/25 - 6.5 miles/59:01 - 9:04 pace
Friday, 2/26 - 7 - 5.54 miles/50:11 - 9:11 pace
Saturday, 2/27 - 13.75/2:06 - 9:10 pace
Sunday, 3/1 - 30 minutes stationary bike/weightlifting

Total Weekly Mileage: 30.62 miles
Total Monthly Mileage - February: 115:32 miles

 
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