Aramco Houston Half recap (1:22:54)

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I could write a book about this past weekend, but I won’t (you’re welcome). Many fun things happened because, let’s be honest, I haven’t been out much in the last few years. I mean, I just finally used my Uber app for the first time (Courtney will be proud of me).

So, instead of going through every single event this past weekend, let’s talk about some other firsts that happened in Houston:

First time perfect packing. I packed just enough of everything (only had extra socks left) and the only things I forgot were an extra hair tie (thanks Karen for for the hair tie loan) and bananas (thanks Ashley and Julie for the banana loan).

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At the expo on Saturday with Karen and Kelli… Skechers graffiti wall makes a good backdrop!

First time away from my kids overnight since they were born. This was scary for me, but it had to happen eventually. And guess what? They were totally fine and so was I.

First time pumping on the plane. I don’t even know if you’re allowed to do that, but I didn’t ask. I hate pumping, but the flight to Texas was long so that’s what went down.

First sinus infection!! Yay!!! No. Decided enough was enough and went to the doctor when I got home from Houston. So happy to be on antibiotics and not be sick anymore.

First time wearing new Willow Street AC team top. This Skechers Performance swift bra top was badass and perfect for the weather in Houston. I wore my Oiselle mini stride shorts on the bottom (not affiliate links, just sharing the links out of the goodness of my heart).

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New Willow Street top and new Brooks visor I picked up at the expo (attempt to keep the sweat out of my eyes).

First time seeing the finish of an elite marathon in person. After my race, we found a good spot to watch the elite men and women finish. I also got to see Ashley finishing strong in the half as well as a few other Oiselle ladies I met this weekend! And huge congrats to Megan (one of my Oiselle teammates) for running 2:47 in the marathon in those muggy conditions. We met in the ADP corral before the race. 

Okay, so about the race itself. I had missed a few key workouts in the last two weeks because I was afraid that my chest cold might turn into bronchitis or pneumonia if I pushed myself too hard. So on race morning I was a little more nervous than usual. The weather was another factor that kept things interesting (63 degrees with 97% humidity at the start according to this article from Runner’s World). I adjusted my goal pace to anything between 6:00 and 6:15, but planned to just run on feel and not be too concerned about my splits. I really had no idea how my breathing would be at race pace, so I was prepared to run even slower than that if I had to.

I warmed up to the race start and got to my corral in plenty of time, so I finished my warm up just jogging and doing some strides inside the ADP corral. We had plenty of space to run around and there were porto-potties there as well, so it was perfect. We got to see the “real” elites warming up as well in a separate area (kind of like they were first class and we were business class if you know what I mean). After the National Anthem we lined up behind the elites and the remaining corrals lined up behind us. Then the gun went off and we were on our way.

My first mile was exactly 6:00, but I felt relaxed and my breathing was fine. My next two miles were both 6:06 and then after that I stopped looking at my splits. Good thing, because each mile got slower and slower from there (race splits on Strava). I never felt bad, but I didn’t feel like I was on my A game.

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This was right around 10k. I smiled for a few seconds, then back to business.

I practiced positive self-talk to get through the middle miles around 7-9. Miles 12-13 felt like they went on forever and were my slowest miles by far, a long 2 mile straightaway into a headwind.

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Pain face.

But as soon as I saw the finish line with .1 to go I was fine and finished strong, so I feel like I didn’t necessarily give it everything I had. So much of running and racing is mental and I’m still working on that.

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Finally seeing that finish line.

I loved the course, and there were a LOT of people out cheering which was awesome. At some longer races there’s usually a few lonely spots, but I can’t remember any point in the race where there weren’t any spectators cheering for the runners.

Here’s a video of my finish from my Instagram (taken by Pete). And if you want to watch the rest of the runners finish, including the elites, here’s the official finish video from the Houston Marathon on YouTube (you can watch all the half and full marathoners finish). Shout out to Shawanna and Kelli for their strong finishes and solid races in those muggy conditions!

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With Pete after the race. Sorry I ate both of the ice cream sandwiches.

So, my body feels good this week but my head and chest are a mess from this cold and sinus infection so I’m probably going to take the rest of the week off and get healthy. Then, on to the next: Shamrock Half Marathon!

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Houston half training (weeks 7-9)

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A peek into my training for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. In case you’re looking for more detail, I also post all of my training on Strava.

If you missed weeks 1-4  you can find those here and if you missed weeks 4-7 you can find those here

Week of 12/26… I had two workouts planned this week and those went fine. My long run was supposed to be 18 miles at a relaxed pace, but I ended up doing a long tempo at the Hangover Half Marathon at UAlbany with my teammate Hannah because that sounded more appealing than running 18 miles by myself.

Key workouts: 3 sets of 4 x 400 at 5k race pace with 10 min tempo at 5:56 between sets, 10 x 20 second strides at 5:00 pace on the treadmill, 18 mile long run with 13.1 in 1:27:50 with Hannah

Planned miles: 72 miles

Actual: 71.5 miles

Week of 1/2… Shit got bad this week. I had a planned rest day on Monday, which was kinda nice after a high mileage week. Tuesday’s easy miles went fine but Wednesday I started to feel sick so I pushed my tempo run to later in the week. Then the girls got sick (again) and the combo of ot sleeping and being sick myself just spiraled into a bad training week. With Houston only a week away I decided to take it easy rather than try to push through. Major bummer but I think I made a good choice.

Key workouts: 10 x 20 sec strides at mile race pace (5:00), 10 mile treadmill long run at a relaxed pace

Planned miles: 54 miles

Actual: 34.6 miles

Week of 1/9… Race week! We had some unseasonably warm days here so I took advantage and ran outside a few time this week. I still had some chest and sinus congestion so there were definitely some snot rockets happening. I didn’t do any of my planned workouts this week and had to take an extra rest day when Emma was feeling especially bad (she had a double infection, poor girl). We left for Houston on Friday and Sunday was race day.

Key workouts: 10 x 20 sec strides at mile race pace (4:45), short progression run (4 miles with last mile close to HMGP), Houston half marathon 1:22:54

Planned miles: 51 miles

Actual: 41.9 miles

I’ve taken the last two days completely off from running, although my body feels fine. My quads are a little sore but otherwise I feel good. I may try an easy run this afternoon. Found out yesterday that I have my first ever sinus infection, so that explains why I’ve been sick for an eternity. I’ll have more about that in my race recap later today. Hooray for antibiotics!

Stockade-athon 15k recap (56:51)

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You couldn’t have picked a better day for running in my opinion. A chilly 39 degrees at the start, mid-40’s and partly sunny for the race. One of the perks of an elite bib number is the heated tent near the start, so I felt pretty comfortable in my Willow St. Athletic Club racing attire.

The race went off exactly at 8:30 am. The first mile of this classic 15k race is downhill, which leads to fast splits. My legs felt dead but my breathing was fine, so I just tried to relax and not think about it as we rolled past the mile in 5:45. I had my watch on but hadn’t planned to look at any splits until after the race. There were volunteers reading splits at intervals along the course as well as clocks at the mile markers. The timing team did a fantastic job with this. I glanced over at the Mohawk River as we ran along the path and then we turned onto the streets again, past the new (somewhat controversial) casino still under construction.

Mile 2 was more controlled (6:05), partly because two miles marks the beginning of the first climb as we run up towards Union college. Miles 3 and 4 include several steady climbs so those splits were the slowest of the race (6:22 and 6:24). Up to this point I had been running with my Willow St. teammate Karen, but we separated after 4 miles. I was in no-woman’s land for awhile, half-heartedly trying to catch up to the woman in 3rd ahead of me, although I had a lot of ground to make up. The terrain is mostly flat from miles 4 to 6 so I was able to quicken my stride and focus on a few guys ahead to chase down for the next two miles. Miles 5 and 6 were 6:02 and 5:56 respectively.

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Photo credit to Erin Wrightson, our Oiselle Volee regional leader (and also a fantastic race cheerleader)

 

I came though the 10k in 38:15 and then we entered Central Park. Volunteers helped to direct us through the park and around several turns. I had run a preview of the course the previous weekend so I knew the last big hill was ahead. My sister Stephanie had volunteered to be a course marshall and she was posted at the top of that hill, around mile 7.5, which was a nice boost. The hill wasn’t especially steep or long, but with only 3k to go we were all running on tired legs. Splits for those miles, mile 7 (6:10) and mile 8 (6:16).

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Love those new racing flats (I picked them up at Fleet Feet the day before the race). Thanks for the photo Brandon Viloria!

The last 3k is either flat or downhill. After exiting Central Park we turned into Vale Cemetery and then onto a beautiful path in Vale Park, my favorite part of the course. Lots of cheers from spectators in this section. Before I knew it we hit the 9 mile marker (5:55), and as I glanced at the clock I knew I would be close my all time 15k PR, set in 2003 fresh out of college. With that goal in mind I passed the woman ahead of me and used the downhill finish to close the last 0.3 miles in 1:38 and cross the finish line with a new PB of 56:51. 

Coming off the Hannaford Half I felt a little defeated and ended up taking a full week off from running. My hip was bothering me, and I need to take some time to rest and rehab. I was worried I’d be setting myself back, but it ended up being a good decision. I felt so much better for this race, and my overall pace was a huge improvement. 

One last thing, I wanted to mention… I totally missed my alarm the morning of this race. I had it set for 5:30 am and when it went off I just turned off my phone and went right back to sleep. I didn’t wake up until 6:30 and we were supposed to leave at 6:45! Somehow we managed to get all four of us dressed and out the door by 7, and get to the start by 7:45 so I could warm up with my teammates. But, holy crap that was close. I guess it ended up being a good thing because I didn’t even have time to be nervous.

Awkward ending here… ever *almost* miss a race start? I’ve come close a few times, and missed the start of Troy Turkey Trot like 10 years ago!

 

 

Coach’s Corner: The off season

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I’m thinking of doing a little blog overhaul… maybe trying to focus in on more topical posts instead of occasionally writing about what I’ve been up to lately. My English teachers used to tell me to get rid of the first paragraph when I wrote essays because it took me awhile to get to the point. They were right.

So, it’s kind of the off season for running, or at least it used to be that way. Recently I’ve noticed a trend where runners are training for goal races throughout the year, not just spring and fall. But, it’s important to take a short break between training cycles (whether that’s now or another time of the year) and enjoy some good old fat and happy time.

And then, when you get started again with your training, wholeheartedly ready to lay it all out there and push yourself to your limits, your body is confused. What are we doing? Why do my limbs feel like jell-o?

You didn’t forget how to run. You just lost a little fitness, and probably most of that was a loss of coordination (sometimes referred to as neuromuscular fitness) and changes to your running economy. Luckily you’re not starting from zero again (hey, thanks muscle memory) and you’ll start to feel like yourself again soon. It usually only takes a few weeks for things to return to normal.

For now, though, let’s talk about your favorite things to do in the off season. I’ll go with my top 3: sleep in (yeah right like that’s happening with two little ones in the house, but a girl can dream), go on a weekend trip (so much easier to pack plus I don’t have to worry about fitting in workouts), and do it large for breakfast. I usually have to grab something quick for breakfast but when I don’t have to run in the mornings I will take full advantage of that extra time and cook eggs and pancakes or pick up some donuts as a treat.

So, what are your favorite things to do in the off season?

Coming soon… training updates, POCR news, and Boston Marathon details 🙂