This Runner's Trials

NYCM training: week 14

Posted by runnerstrials

Remember last week when I was all like “ yay, I made it through marathon training without any major problems”? Well, maybe I should have waited until marathon training was completely over before making claims like that.

On Tuesday I lifted Hadley and aggravated a herniated disc in my back (an old college crew injury). I’m not exaggerating when I say I couldn’t even walk and was vomiting from the pain. I didn’t even care about NYCM for a couple of days – I was only concerned with making it to my brother’s wedding in West Palm Beach this past weekend! What awesome timing.

Thankfully, my husband fixed me within a few days. If anyone is local to the Charlotte area, I cannot recommend him and his colleagues enough for sports-related and other injuries. They have access to some of the most state-of-the-art equipment out there – he even treats professional athletes. So, I was better by Friday in time for my brother’s wedding!

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Good thing, too, because someone had an important job to do.

I missed my long run and one cross-training session this week due to the injury, though. I went back and forth debating if I should make up my missed long run or just be OK with skipping it, and I decided to forget about it. I really didn’t want to push a long run immediately after an injury, and I figure one 12-miler isn’t going to make or break the marathon.

Here’s how this week looked:

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
5.25mi at 8:30 8x 800m at 7:00 pace(7.25mi) OFF (back) OFF (back) OFF (back) 5mi at 8:55 OFF

Mileage: 17.5 <--- I’m taking taper a little too seriously.

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I ran with this view on Saturday.

For the next 13 days, I’m listening to my body and continuing to get treatment on my back. I want to make it to that start line so, so badly and I’d rather arrive a little undertrained and too well rested than hurt. Fingers crossed that I make it!

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NYCM training: week 13

Posted by runnerstrials

You guys! I’m officially tapering – and it feels so good. I’ve never made it through the brunt of a marathon training plan before, but I did this time and I’m so proud of myself!

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I know this is no big deal to most of you, but it’s a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve always gotten sick, had stomach issues, had to work extra hours, or had some other excuse that caused me to miss workouts or cut them short. I know I still have a long way to go until race day, but I’m really happy to have made it this far.

This was another odd week. Since I ran the half marathon last Sunday, I had to take it easy pace-wise and skip my usual spinning/TRX class on Wednesday to allow for ample rest days while still meeting my mileage goal. My legs were pretty tired all week from the race, so I didn’t think it was a good idea to attempt speedwork. I'm not happy about the absence of cross-training this week, but I always said my runs were the most important part of training and anything else was a bonus.

This was also my peak week for mileage – 42.5! But since the half was last Sunday and I ran my long run on Saturday, I actually ran over 55 miles in seven days. I’ve never even been close to that number before so I think that’s why I’m so fatigued.

Here’s how the week looked:

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
OFF 7mi at 8:56 pace 8mi at 8:38 pace 7.5mi at 8:53 pace OFF 20mi at 9:15 pace OFF
  • Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s, and Thursday’s runs were all pretty much the same. I was hoping to add in some fast miles, but my legs were still in recovery mode so I didn’t push it.
  • My 20-miler didn’t go so well. My legs felt good, but it was 70 degrees and 100% humidity at 6:30 am when I started. I’m so over this weather – it was so cool last weekend! I never do well on long runs when it’s so hot and humid. My last 5 miles were sub 9:00 but barely. I would have liked to run 8:30’s but I wasn’t feeling well.

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I also took extra walks with my little people to try to stretch out my legs.

Bring on the taper! I used to dread tapering, but this time I’m really excited to take it “easy”. We’ll see if I still feel that way in another week or so!

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Carowinds half marathon 2014 race recap

Posted by runnerstrials

This past weekend I ran the Run & Ride Carowinds half marathon. Run & Ride is a race series, put on by the Rev3 Tri folks, at amusement parks across the country. Carowinds is an amusement park that’s near Charlotte. You get free entry to the park for the weekend with your race entry fee. Hence the “run” and “ride” name.

run and ride

This race was pricey. I ended up paying $100 (it’s tiered pricing and people who registered earlier got in at $90) to run. The organizers said they charge so much because you get admission into the park, so I understand that. I wish they had a cheaper option for runners who didn’t want park tickets. I’ll be honest, I had zero interest in going to the amusement park. I only chose this race because it was the closest local half in early fall, and I needed to run a half marathon before October 10 to update my proof of time for the Dopey Challenge. Of course Rocktoberfest, a big, more affordable half marathon in Charlotte, is taking place on October 11…

Anyway, I was excited for the race! I thought it’d be a great test of my NYCM training. I haven’t run a half marathon all out since October 2012, and I knew I was physically in good shape. My half PR stood at 1:40:40, from spring of 2012, and while I would have loved to PR (and finally break 1:40), I didn’t think it was in reach. I’ve been training differently lately – fewer tempo runs, more easy runs, and more cross-training – so I didn’t know what to expect. I decided a goal of 1:45 – 8 minute miles – sounded reasonable. Still, the night before the race, I pulled up a pace calculator and figured out what pace I’d have to run to break 1:40 – 7:38 per mile. I had a pep talk with my legs and told them if they felt strong I’d be really happy if they could hold a 7:38 pace.

The morning of the race it was 40 degrees. FORTY. I haven’t run in anything less than 60 degrees since last winter. I decided not to run in shorts and wear the crops that I usually wear to spin instead, even though I’ve never run in them.

I picked up my friend Lyndsey and we drove over to the race. I would have loved to have my family at the finish line, but the race started at 7:30. I expected to finish around 9:15 and Hadley naps at 9. Nap schedules > family finish line photos!

I was so happy to have Lyndsey to hang out with before the start. I was really nervous! Two years is a long time to go between racing half marathons. I wanted to do well and not let myself down, so it was really fun having a friend to chat – and shiver – with.

When we started walking to the start, I realized I left my Garmin in my car. Oops! I didn’t run back to get it because I figured it wasn’t a big deal. Running “blind” would be a good test of my own pacing skills, and surely there’d be clocks at each mile marker…

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The race was really small. At the start, no one wanted to line up in front, so we did! As soon as we took off, I hated myself. My pants were not staying up at all. I must have tugged on them 10 times every minute all race. A huge rookie mistake. There’s a reason why we’re not supposed to try anything new on race day! Oops.

I felt good from the get-go, but I also wondered if I was running too fast. I was looking for mile markers, but didn’t see any. I figured I’d ask another runner once I got passed, but I was all on my own. There were three guys in front of me, and other runners maybe a minute or so back, but I didn’t pass anyone or get passed the entire race which was weird. I was really alone. Since the race was held in an empty theme park, there were no spectators. It was a pretty eerie feeling.

I finally saw mile marker 3, but I had no idea what my time was – though it felt like I had been running for longer than 3 miles! Soon after the mile 3 marker, I took a wrong turn in the theme park and had to turn around a re-trace my steps. There were arrows and cones directing us where to go, but it was confusing at times. I likely only lost 20-30 seconds off my time, but I still wasn’t happy. I wish volunteers could have been by some of the turns, but this was the first year this race was held, so it will take time to work out these kinks.

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My least favorite part of the course was through the RV park around mile 5. It was after 8:00 a.m. by this point and RVs and campers were heading out after staying the night, and the course wasn’t closed. I literally had to stop in my tracks because an RV almost hit me – it really shook me up and I almost lost it! I just wasn’t on the lookout for vehicles so it caught me off guard. Again, I only stopped for maybe 10-20 seconds but it felt like a lot longer.

The rest of the race was kind of a blur. I definitely should have carried my own Gatorade. There were plenty of aid stations, but I missed being able to sip when I needed a drink. Also, since it was so cold, I stopped and drank at every fluid station because I didn’t want to get wet – I would have much rather run with my squirt bottle so I didn’t have to stop.

The course was two loops, and I was VERY happy to learn we didn’t have to go through the RV park again on the second loop. I felt strong towards the end, and I have a feeling I ran the second half of the course faster than the first. I felt like I was running around an 8:00 minute/mile pace, so I was hoping my finish time would be around my goal of 1:45:00. Well, I was completely shocked when I was around mile 12.5 and I passed Lyndsey running the other way and she said our time so far was 1:35:15. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even respond to her because I was in awe!

I tried to sprint the remainder of the course but my legs weren’t having it. Before I made the final turn, I heard the announcer say “here comes the first female” and it took me a second to realize that was me. That was a crazy feeling. This was a really small race, but it still felt surreal to “win” a half marathon.

I was so flustered that I forgot to look at the clock when I crossed the finish. But the race had computers at the finish and you typed in your bib and it printed a receipt with your stats! It was so cool!

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My overall time: 1:39:55, 7:38 pace.

I was shocked and so, so happy. I PR’d and broke 1:40 by a hair. I held a 7:38 pace – without ever knowing my time! – just like I asked my legs to the night before. And, of course, I kicked myself for not asking my legs to run a 7:30 pace or something faster ha.

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I was really happy with my race, and so proud of Lyndsey, too! She came in 4th and smashed her PR by over 10 minutes! I also learned a lot:

- I’m not a fan of small races. I never realized how much I love the energy of the spectators and chatting with other runners until there was no one around. Thankfully this won’t be an issue during NYCM!

- I need to carry my own Gatorade. From now on, for every race where I’m trying to do well. This is non-negotiable. I was really dehydrated all day on Sunday and it’s because I didn’t drink enough on the course.

- I need to stop under-estimating myself. I really thought I had no shot at PRing despite training well for the last 12 weeks. I either totally under-estimate my ability or set ridiculous, unrealistic goals (like trying to BQ in 2010! What on earth was I thinking?). So, I’m saying it. I’m going sub-4:00 at NYCM. I know I can.