Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Women's Running Magazine Half Marathon Race Report

I must admit, this race has been on my schedule since before Apalachicola. I never really announced this to the blogworld though because well, I didn't want to stress over my goals. It worked. I actually had a pretty stressfree weekend. It helped that this race was about ten minutes from my house!

Friday night, Stephanie arrived. I was able to meet up with her and Penny for a couple of drinks but managed to leave around 9PM since I had to walk a 5K with work bright and early Saturday morning. It's too bad though b/c apparently they had quite a fun night!

Saturday came quickly. I walked a 5K with work. It was very kid friendly. I even carried one of my friend's 2 year old for about half a mile. I wasn't worried about the race. I just went about the day like normal. Penny had to work, so Stephanie and I hit up the expo, got lunch and then went to my pool to ice/heat! Not sure if that counts as an ice bath, but we figured it wouldn't hurt!

We ate an early dinner at Cafe Cibo and called it a night.

My alarm was set for 4:45AM which is the exact time that I wake up during the week to run before work - so, I felt really at ease! I got ready, ate my clif bar (my new secret fuel) and got ready!

The most chaotic part of the weekend came the hour before the race started. We all arrived near the start early, so we parked and decided to warm up. Well, we decided we'd jog about a mile to the bathrooms and then pack. The bathrooms were at least a mile away and the lines were loooong. I remember standing about 10 people back in the lines and looking at my Garmin. It read 6:32. The race started at 7:00AM.

We had to jog back to the cars to switch shoes and then back to the start line before 7AM! I do always wish that I would warm up closer to the start and not an hour before just to wait around. In the end, it turned out perfect. I literally got in my corral about 4-5 minutes before the start but I must admit I was quite nervous that I wouldn't be able to navigate through the 5000+ runners that quickly! We were in corral one and wanted to start as close to the start line as possible!

My secret goal all along was to break 1:40, though I knew I would be perfectly happy with a time around 1:42-1:43. The night before at dinner, I wrote down the average paces for every time between 1:36 and 1:45. I figured 1:42 was manageable and 1:40 would be a stretch. I didn't really have much to go by other than my recent 5K time and my 15 miler a couple of weeks ago. My coach told me that he wanted to work on my confidence and success (I guess we are still repairing the damage of Apalachicola). He wanted me to start at 8:00 minute miles and run that for the first 5 miles. Then, he wanted me to start picking up the pace and finish strong. I was okay with this goal ... but really wanted to give a try at the 7:45 pace.

My friend, Jen, wanted to run her first couple of miles at the 7:45 pace and then pick it up. We decided to start together and promised that we wouldn't run faster than 7:45 pace for at least the first three . . .

The airhorn goes off, and we start. Not even .1 in, we look at our Garmins and we're going at a 6:45 pace. We decided that we didn't want to lose the race in the first mile, so we kept trying to slow down. We tried for the entire first mile and finally came across in 7:23.

For the next three miles, I was just trying to feel out the pace. Around mile 2, I wondered if I could hold it. It didn't feel too hard and I was just running mile to mile. I just wasn't sure. This was the only moment of doubt I had the entire race. After that, I loved the splits. Jen kept telling me to settle. She said I was fighting myself. For some reason the 7:30 pace felt weird. I didn't want to slow down, I wanted to run faster. She kept telling me that it was a long race. I decided that I would wait until mile 5ish to make a decision. After all, if I picked it up, I wanted to know that I could sustain it! Miles 2-5 - 7:35, 7:37, 7:29, 7:32 Our coach was on his bike and I kept seeing him. Jen's husband, Bobby, was on a bike too so it was nice to keep running into him.

At mile five, we had caught up to a group of runners, as we kept passing them, our pace picked up. I just went with it. As I got closer to six, I was anxious to see what my half split would be. Mile six - 7:24

I've never passed so many people. Hell, I've never passed people in long races. I ALWAYS crash and burn in the marathon! It was so fun. I played a game from here to the end if my pace was faster than a 7:15, I couldn't pass anyone but if it were slower than 7:20 then I needed to pass. It worked, too because sometimes I would catch up to another runner and realize that I was pacing off of them. My pace would have slowed slightly, so I passed. Mile 6.55 came exactly at 49:00. I did the math quickly and realized that was a 1:38. In the back of my head, I knew that the NYC qualifying time was a 1:37:00 and I knew there wasn't a cushion. I'd have to run negative splits by a minute. Game on!!

We ran down the pier at this point. It was fun running because I was able to see Penny who was ahead of me and some of my other friends that were behind. The course actually had a couple of out and back sections and for that reason, it was nice!

Miles 7 and 8: 7:16, 7:18

I didn't realize that St. Pete had hills until mile 9. We ran up a slight hill, but it lasted for almost .75 miles. I was amazed at how many people I passed here. I just tried to keep my pace consistent and was so happy that I was going to be able to finish this race running DOWN the hill. Mile 9 - 7:17

There was a mini lake at mile 10 and we had to run around it. I was trying to take in the beauty but this is when I was finally getting tired. I told myself that this is where I needed to push. I could do this ... less than 3 miles left. Mile 10 - 7:21

That 7:21 actually made me mad. I wanted a sub 7:20. So, I decided with 2 miles left to pick it up. The tops of my feet were beginning to hurt and I was upset that I had tied my shoes too tight but there really wasn't anything that I could do so I just kept running. I remember glancing down at 11.25 and seeing that my average pace for that mile was 6:50. As I high fived Laura, a runner friend that was slightly in front of me, I entered the Rays Stadium (our baseball team) as she exited. We had to run a loop on the turf. I had never been to a game (remember I just moved here in Jan 2010) and so at first I was kind of excited that we were able to run on the field ... but it was so hard. I'm sure it wasn't quite like running in sand but the turf definitely made you kind of collapse into it and it was hard to keep pace. Mile 11 - 7:31 I saw Dror and he told me I was the 30th female. Little did he know that this was motivation for me to keep passing!

One mile left and I was able to go back down the hill! I kept telling myself if I didn't start pushing then, I would be mad at myself. I knew a sub 1:37 was probably out of the question ... but it can't hurt to finish with everything that I have. Mile 13 - 7:05

The problem here though was that mile 13 came way before the mile 13 sign meaning I didn't run the best of tangets! I hit 13.1 on my Garmin in 1:36:30 something ... and then I saw the mile 13 sign. I kept running. I remember seeing the finish ahead and just closing my eyes and running ...

I stopped my watch as I crossed the finish line - 1:37:35 (7:22 pace)

My Garmin said 13.23. The last .23 was run at a 6:10 pace in 85ish seconds.

Official Stats:

13.1 miles - 1:37:35 (7:27 pace)

23rd overall female out of 4,746!!

7th in age group out of almost 500

I met all of my friends at the finish! It's so great having a local race in which all of them were able to run, too! We celebrated and gave some recaps! It was a day I will never forget. It reminds me of my NYC marathon - everything went right and I was all smiles! We don't always get those kind of runs or races, so it's nice to really enjoy when we do. It truly makes all of the hard work and bad runs worth it!!

I didn't quite follow my plan but I have no regrets! Mission accomplished!

Three days later and I'm still all smiles! I'm still in awe and can't believe that I finished a half marathon in 1:37!

The most FUN workout, ever!

First and foremost, I will have a race report up soon ... I promise!

So, this week has been kind of strange. I raced (my little heart out) a half marathon on Sunday, ran 5 easy miles (9:07 average pace) on Monday and then went to the track last night. I'm taking today off and racing (or trying to) a 10K tomorrow.

Because a lot of people raced on Sunday and are racing on Thursday, our coach made last night's workout easy and fun!

There weren't any time goals - we were just to run at 85%.

400, 300, 300, 200, 200, 200, 200

No breaks ... just walk to the start of the 300 after the 400 and then walk across the field to the start of the 200 after the 300's.

I wore my watch anyway and was quite surprise by our times:

400 - 83
300 - 61
300 - 58
200 - 35
200 - 35
200 - 35
200 - 35

FUN! It was so over so fast! Running fast is soooo much fun! :)

My legs are feeling okay. I'm definitely not 100%, though. My hamstrings are pretty tight and the tops of my feet hurt pretty badly when I lace up my shoes. Because of this, I'm having to tie them differently and wear my shoes a little looser. Otherwise, I think I'm recovering well. I guess if I were 100%, I'd be concerned that I didn't race hard enough.

The best part about half marathons is that you can literally run the next day. Oh, I'm in love! :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

So, I raced today ...

Real quick . . . I ran a half marathon today! I've been looking forward to this for weeks - testing out how I run for a half marathon! I'm technically in the middle of marathon season and didn't taper at all for this race ...

I'll save all of that for my next post, though.

The official times aren't posted, but I ran a 1:37:30-something! :)

I'm definitely celebrating the rest of the day! I couldn't be happier!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Learning to Push ...

I've learned a lot about myself in the past month! I know that sounds a but cliche, but it's true. I've had some of my best and some of my worst runs. I've learned how easy it is to give up when things aren't going right. I've learned how to push through the final miles of a long run at paces that I didn't think I was capable of in a short tempo. I've learned what it feels like to do well in a race. I've learned what it feels like to ... well, not finish a race. I've learned that I am a good runner but I've learned that I have to believe in myself and that it isn't always easy. Sometimes, you just have to dig deep, not give in and keep pushing! And, if you do all of that, you may just surprise yourself.

I slept in on Saturday - until 6AM. This meant that I had a solo 16 miler on my plate since everyone else met at 5:30AM. My schedule said: 4 easy, 4 at 8:20 pace, 4 easy, 4 at 8:00 pace. I knew I could do this. Afterall, I had run 15 last week at 7:49 average pace.

It wasn't easy.

I decided to start with my easy miles and to just see where they fell. They definitely weren't as fast as I wanted them to be ... but, we can't always pick our easy pace.

8:41 8:33 8:25 8:21

I kept it "easy" and the pace gradually dwindled itself down to the 8:20 range. The next task was to push. Even though my schedule said 8:20, I knew it meant goal pace. So, I just picked up to what felt like I was pushing a tad and ran. Of course, when I saw the first split, I just tried to keep it consistent for the next three.

8:01 7:59 7:55 7:55

It wasn't easy. But, I got through the last 7:55 by telling myself that I got to run the next 4 as easy as I wanted. When I got to miles 9-12, I told myself that I would only look at my Garmin every other song. This meant 6-8 minutes at a time withOUT looking! I'm so proud that I actually did this. I slowed down to what I thought was a 9:00+ pace, but I didn't care. My schedule said EASY! Shockingly, I felt good and easy wasn't quite that slow.

8:22 8:26 8:32 8:19

I was ready to be done, but I knew I had four more pace miles. These were all supposed to be 8:00. I wanted to only do two, but somehow I made myself push through all 4. The worse part was that I finished at my car before I had these 4, so I actually had to turn around, run 2 miles out and 2 miles back! I took a quick gel (my first of the day) along with a quick sip of water (my second of the run) and headed right back out.

7:52 7:53 7:36 7:13

It wasn't easy, but I learned how to finish strong. That 7:13 took a lot out of me, but I did it. I didn't give in to my mental weakness! I was soooo happy!

16 miles - 2:10:10 (8:08 average pace)!

45 miles for the week, though I've ran 60 in the past 7 days.

The rest of the weekend was enjoyed outside with great friends! Saturday, I went to the ribfest and Sunday to the Bucs vs. Panther game. Can't beat that!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

No More Doubting!!

I am a good runner! I am a good runner! I am a good runner! I need to keep repeating this! :) I'm still riding my 5K PR high. Though, I can hardly believe that I ran a 20:30 and pr'ed by 2:05, I'll take it! Now, I'm even looking forward to getting that down a little!!

I took Saturday off. I wasn't too sore, but a bunch of friends were doing there long run on Sunday and well, in all honesty, it was just nice to sleep in on Saturday! Here's the problem though (or maybe not a problem after all). I met up with a few friends (all of whom are much faster than me for our long run). I had 15 on the schedule and beside 15 it said "easy."

I had trouble getting GPS signal at first - so I reset my Garmin at our first water stop which fell directly on 3.5 miles. The splits are as follows:

28:33 - 3.5 miles
7:48 - this was at mile 8.5. I was starting to get very nervous about the pace. I told Jen and Penny at this point that I was going to "try" to stay with them until mile 10 and then I was going to run "easy" for the last five.
7:49 - Penny decided to pick up the pace at this point. I started to fall back a tad and Jen was in between us. Jen stopped for about 5 seconds, waited on me and said that we were going to run together. I was nervous ... but am now glad that we did. We ended up picking up the pace ourselves and I felt mostly good.
3:46 (.5) - 7:35 pace

Total: 1:58:24 for 15 miles (7:49 pace).

Okay, so I need to start believing in myself! I ran with them! :) I felt good and I enjoyed the company. I asked Jen what our time was when my Garmin hit 13.1 ... it was 1:43:48! What?!! In practice nonetheless.

I didn't tempo on Monday (since this run was on Sunday). I figured I tempoed for all of my long run and ran it about 30 seconds faster than marathon goal pace! Instead, I didn't look at my garmin, ran on my lunch break and ran 9 miles at an average pace of 8:31.

I woke up this morning, met the group for a 7 miler - average pace 8:25!

I can't get faster unless I practice being faster, right? The 50 degree weather helps, too! Maybe there was a benefit to training in the FL heat and humidity all summer long! :) Either way, I'm not complaining and I'm going to go with it!

I've been smiling all week and running, too! That combination in itself is enough for me! :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Richard's Race For Life 5K - RR & PR :)

Holy Cow! I am on cloud nine! I've never run a 5K on a Friday night and I was nervous all day about it. I was worried about what I was eating and how my legs would feel. I guess I did something right.

I met Jen super early because we wanted a good warm up and wanted to get there extra early because we hadn't registered. Everything went according to plan and we actually had some extra time to spare. It was freezing outside (Tampa went from Summer on Wednesday (88 degrees) to Winter on Friday (50-60 degrees) so we sat in my car for a little while and waited for Penny and Bobby to arrive.

We had a bit of a problem getting Penny parked, but figured it out. My heart was pumping and my adrenaline was high - but, maybe this just helped me get extra warmed up!

David along with Emily and Justin (two really good friends) came to the race! It was so nice to have them there! Like I said, it was pretty chilly out ... and they were troopers. They even held our warm clothes so that we would have them after the race. There was tons of amazing food and music. The race started and finished in Centennial Park - so, it made for a great atmosphere.

My race plan all week was to try to maintain 7:00 miles. My last 5K (in May) went something like this: 6:44, 7:20, 7:55 for a finishing time of 22:35. I knew I had a faster 5K in me, but I knew I needed to race smart. So, I didn't want to run faster than 7:00 and it all honestly I was going to be happy with 21:xx :)

The first mile felt great, as it always does. Jen was in sight and she was aiming for 20:30. I felt good enough to pass her at this point, but I did't want to. I knew better! So, I just stayed about 2-4 seconds behind her. I even thought about moving up to run with her, but I didn't want to psyche myself out. Jen's a great runner and I didn't know if I could hang! The first mile came by in 6:40. It wasn't quite the 7:00 that I had wanted, but I was pretty excited about it. Now, I had to maintain and NOT crash and burn. The next short term goal was to make it one more mile at that pace. Just one mile!

There were two sharp turn arounds, the ones that you basically stop and then start running the other way. Though those kill your time, they're pretty neat because you can see who is in front of you! I could see Penny each time. She was doing great! I just kept Jen in sight for this mile, too. I was feeling surprising well. I even looked down at my Garmin and it read in the 6:15's a couple of times. At 1.55 miles (half way), I was at 10:06. I knew that was so close to 20:00! Mile 2 split: 6:30 - on the dot!

So, 1.1 miles to go. I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I knew I was going to PR and I kept telling myself NOT to give into that. The weather was great and I knew I needed to push for a mile. I knew if I maintained I'd be sub 21 and I really wanted that! I also knew what my half way split was and knew that I should be closer to to 20 than 21 and just tried my best to keep going. Jen started getting a little away. I didn't want to give in. I saw my watch go up to a 7:15 pace once and then tried to pick it up.

As we rounded the last corned and my watch said I had .2 to go, I started booking it. It hurt, but I passed like 3 girls and so it was completely worth it! Mile 3 was 6:45 and I just kept pushing. The last .11 - 5:10 pace! The official results aren't posted yet, but my Garmin read 20:28!

Results/Times/Placement to be posted soon ... but I couldn't keep this in much longer. This is what I needed mentally! I've been in a great place with my running post Apalachicola! It's amazing what a little belief in yourself does! :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Channeling my Inner Speed

Ahhh, the good days of running make the bad runs tolerable! I live for the good runs - the ones that keep me smiling for hours afterwards. There really isn't anything better!

I wasn't so certain that yesterday was going to be a good day for speed. Due to some circumstances that were beyond my control, I had to run evening track (instead of AM .. which I love). Luckily, my friend, Jen, was at the evening practice, too. We met at the gym and ran a 1.75 mile warm up to the track. It was pretty hot - mid 85's - but was beginning to cool off as the sun was going down.

There is a local 5K on Friday that everyone seems to running, so the coach geered our workout towards the 5K. The goal was to run 5K pace for the 800's, run the 400's slightly faster and have minimal break in between.

(800 one minute rest 400) x4 We received 2 minutes rest between sets.

My paces were supposed to be: 3:20 for the 800's 97 for the 400's

Actual Splits: 3:16, 95, 3:10, 95, 3:08, 93, 3:04, 90

What?! I kept getting faster and faster. My biggest fear with starting a workout too fast and giving into my need for speed is that I'll crash and burn and not be able to sustain! I gave in, ran fast and kept it up!! Hooray! Definitely a win in my book!

Afterwards, I remembered that Jen and I had run to the track and had to run back. 1.75 miles later, we were back to the gym. It was a nice cool down! :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Easy, Peasy, Cheezy :-)

I have no idea what my easy pace is. When training for NYC and even part of San Diego, I ran all of my Tuesday and Thursdays alone. So, easy to me, was well ... easy! This was always over 9:00 and often times averaged closer to 9:30.

Now, I meet all of my cool running friends on these mornings. Somehow, I've learned to not give into that 4:45AM alarm clock. Well, our easy runs are so sporatic. At some point around July, I decided no more miles over 9:00 (unless they were recovery miles). For the most part we had been averaging 8:30-8:50.

After Apalachicola, I thought ... Hmmmm, maybe I should aim for 8:30 range always on my easy run. Yes, I realize this is only 10 seconds over my goal marathon pace ... but, it's easy! AND ... I can't get better if I don't practice running faster, right?! Score. So, last Thursday I was very happy that my 7 miler averaged 8:32 and felt easy! :)

Fast forward to this week! Yesterday, I ran 6.43 miles (Clearly I cannot do math in my head and since I restarted my Garmin after my warm-up, I had to). Otherwise, I would have gone 6.5 or 7 miles. Regardless, I ran: 6:36 (.70 warm up), 8:14, 8:01, 7:56, 7:39 then cooled down with 8:50, 6:34 (.74).

I figured that I'd be a little tired this morning but I was game for my 8:30 pace. Here's how the six miles turned out: 8:29, 7:52, 7:48, 7:43 (at which point I remembered that I have track tomorrow and a 5K on Friday and tried to slow down) 8:29, 8:06 for an average pace of 8:04. I'll take it. It actually felt good to run fast-er!

How does your "easy," "tempo" and "marathon" paces compare?