Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Race Report: Oldfields School Half Marathon, Powered by Back on My Feet

Late last year I decided that I wasn’t going to run any early spring races – a wonky winter can totally throw your training off and I had bigger goals for the year. Well, that all went out the door when I heard that Back on My Feet was hosting a half marathon at the end of March. 🙂

When you think of running in the end of March, you think of warm(ish) weather, daffodils, sun, and birds chirping, right? Ha! Nice try. I woke up to snow. Snow! The meteorologist on the morning news assured her viewers it would only be intermittent and pass pretty quickly. Ha! Right.

Knowing it was going to be a cold race, I wore the same kit that I wore for the Father Time Frolic on New Year’s Day, as the temperatures were forecasted to be pretty similar.

Yeah, I don’t care what the thermostat said – it felt way colder than the New Year’s Day race. It was a damp, bone chilling 32 with snow and about a 10-15 mph wind. Even standing around the snow blew right into your eyes and the wind just cut right through whatever you were wearing.

I got there pretty early and only left my car for the portapot and the BOMF pre-race circle.

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The race started at 8:30, and I finally crawled out of my car at about 8:20 to do some quick dynamic flexibility warmups, run a quick bit to see how everything felt, and then joined my friends at the starting line. One of the women from my summer and winter training groups was there, as was an old friend of mine from high school.

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It was as cold as we all look.

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The first .63 mi of the race was downhill, from the school to the trail. In an effort to warm up and keep up with my high school friend, I (surprise, surprise) went out a bit too fast. My first mile was 9:15, and the second wasn’t too much slower. At around 1.5 miles I decided to try and pull back the pace, but I had a really hard time with pacing for some reason. I honestly don’t know if it’s from the cold or from the wonky winter training season, but I just couldn’t get it under control. It didn’t matter if I went by feel or by Garmin.

We passed by the first relay point at about 3.3 miles – and surprisingly there was a really big crowd! That was a much needed mental boost. The rest of the outbound trip was pretty quiet, as there’s really no where for spectators to stand, but I was well with the pack. The leaders started passing back on their return trip somewhere around mile 5. En route I managed to tie my 5k PR and set a new unofficial 5 mile PR (48:42). Awesome, but not good. This wasn’t a short race.

I hit the turn around point, which was a cone with ridiculously, but much welcomed, large smily face ballon in about 1:03:45 – which kinda shocked me. I’m not sure what happened at this point, but I kind of got into a dark place. My achilles was starting to hurt, my piriformis, which I admittedly have gotten lazy about, was tightening up, and my legs were just feeling heavy. And I was cold. Really cold.

As I watched my pace plummet on my Garmin, that place just got darker. I stopped to stretch two or three times, walked through the remaining water stops, and watched as the pack in front of me got thinner and thinner; and then I got passed, by more than a few people. I presume some of them were relay runners, fresher than I, gunning to get to the exchange, but the sting is still the same. The wind never ceased, the snow kept falling, and it felt like the temperatures were mimicking my pace. I high-fived the racers that were still heading out to the turn-around, but I’m not sure if I was doing that more for them or for me.

I had hoped to see a big crowd again at the relay exchange point, to get that little bolt of energy, but it was pretty quiet. Not that I can blame them – it was #$)@(ing cold. I wouldn’t want to stand around either.

The last 3.3 miles were very quiet. The snow had started to lay on the adjacent fields, and parts of the trail, which had been perfectly clear just an hour or two ago, were now covered. I tried to take a picture, but even my phone gave up – the cold sapped the battery and I was left with a shiny paperweight.

It turned out to be a good and a bad thing that I knew this part of the trail well. Good, because I knew where I was and how much further I had to go. Bad, because I knew where I was and how much further I had to go. But being this close, I couldn’t let that dark place bully me in to slowing down.

In order to distract myself I kept taking sips of water, “in preparation for the hill.” Yeah. That hill that I sped down at the beginning? It’s an out-and-back course.

As I got closer, I could see the other smily-faced balloon bobbing in the wind like some deranged bobblehead, telling me it was time to climb the hill. I swung wide and transitioned from packed stone to pavement, reminding myself that there was only .63 mi to go. Trying not to look too far ahead, I focused on the snowdrops which were blooming next to the road – the only sign that spring might actually still consider happening. As I slowed down, the cold only got more pronounced, so I tried to push harder and faster, making an extra effort to run the tangents, just to get to the finish sooner.

When I came upon the last bend in the road, I could hear the crowd at the finish line cheering people through and I kicked it into over drive. It didn’t matter how much my achilles, my piriformis, or my pride hurt, the finish line was mine. As I turned the corner and hit that slight downhill, I broke out into a sprint – and then I was done.

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I didn’t even stop when I crossed the line – I made a beeline for my car, where fresh clothes and a warm second layer awaited. Once dressed for the weather, I went back to the finish area, grabbed some food and drink and chatted for a bit before heading home with dreams of a blisteringly hot shower dancing in my head.

The less-than-stellar winter training definitely took a toll on a few of us, but we had our first half of the year in the books, a good baseline for the rest of the year.

I should be much more ecstatic than I am. I got an awesome new PR – 2:11:21, officially – but for some reason I just feel kind of deflated. That feeling from the second half of the race just took over the joy of the PR. Even today, I just can’t shake it and still don’t feel pride in the PR.

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Disappointing Long Run

Sometimes, no matter how jazzed you are about a run, the floor just falls out. Today was one of those days.

I had planned to run 14 miles today, which would’ve made it my longest run ever. When I got to the store to meet the group, no one planned on going over 5 or 6 miles (most people are running their target half marathon today or next week, and there’s a big 5k tomorrow). I checked in with the marathon group, and the few of them that showed up were only going 10-12 miles, which would be close enough, so I set off with a group of them. Well, their pace was about 9:45-10:00, which is just a bit too fast for me for a long run, and I faded pretty quickly, especially on the hills. Not terribly surprising considering how little outdoor running I’ve done in recent weeks…

Fortunately, I did manage to get in close to 7 miles, despite the cold, bone-chilling rain. It was 42, but my legs were just as red after the run as they are after an 18 degree run. I can’t be too upset, because I did get some mileage in, but it really was a disappointing day. Hopefully the next two weeks will be more enjoyable and successful.

hardcore rainy run


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Cold Night at the Track

I truly never thought I’d be excited about or calling 30 degrees warm, but it was a good night to be at the track.

We did 3×1200 repeats at tempo pace. Based on last year’s race results, that should be somewhere around a 10:00 min mile.

Well, it was supposed to be at tempo pace. Apparently I still suck at pacing.

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The difference in the net time per repeat and the pace was because I started out in lane 6, then moved to lane 3-4, and ended in lane 2.

It was probably a bit harder than I should have been doing – I could feel my mouth getting thick with lactic acid and had to walk at least a portion of each recovery lap – but overall it felt surprisingly good. It didn’t feel like an 8:20 pace. I don’t think I could’ve kept it up for 2-3 miles nonstop, but it’s nice to feel like I’m heading in the right direction. Maybe that sub-30:00 5k is in my future after all…

My knees felt surprisingly good considering how awful they look. I took an extra day of rest yesterday because they were still achey and stiff, which seems to have been a good call. My achilles was still tight but didn’t give me any trouble on the run (wish I could say the same about afterwards, however).

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On the bright side – we’re in the home stretch to spring! No, not because of some grumpy rodent – because daylight saving time starts in just over a month!! We spring forward here in the States on March 8th!! *happy dance* Although I’m really rooting for the warmth of spring, I’ll happily accept more daylight hours as a consolation prize.


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Outdoor Long Run!

It’s been a few weeks, but I FINALLY got a full-length long run in outside! It was a brutally cold 18 degrees and super windy along the water but totally worth it.

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All of Charm City Run’s groups met at the downtown location this morning. As much as I dislike running downtown (it’s so far away and the brick aggravates my achilles), it’s always so great to see so many runners along the waterfront.

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This week was a cutback week for us, but I was on a mission – I needed to get 9.37 miles in today in order to get my first 100+ mile month ever.

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I started off more or less by myself but picked up with some marathoners from the Annapolis store. Once I warmed up enough to not notice the cold (as much), it was a really nice day for a run. My pace was pretty comfortable and mostly in the lower 10s/upper 9s, even though it didn’t feel that fast.

I turned around in Canton when the Annapolis ladies stopped to gel up. In my 5th mile, the Promenade changed from brick to wood planks, like a boardwalk. Well, one of those planks was bowed up – and dammit if my toe didn’t catch it. I tried to stop the fall, but my legs were too cold for me to pull them high enough and yep, I ate it. Hard. When I stopped sliding forward, I hopped up, made sure my Nike Flash jacket wasn’t totally destroyed (which, surprisingly, barely had a mark on it!), dusted myself off, and kept going. The only thing I felt at the time were the scratches on my hand, which had sweat pouring in to them.

Down for less than 20 seconds and didn't even pause the Garmin!

Down for less than 20 seconds and didn’t even pause the Garmin!

The return trip was a bit lonely, as I turned around after the half marathoners but before the full marathoners, but there were so many other runners out there so I was never truly alone.

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My achilles were definitely a bit angry with me for doing such a long run on the brick, but I felt really great right up until the last mile. This was totally unexpected because I haven’t been on the road much lately.

When I got back to the store I immediately changed into some dry clothes and was able to survey the damage from my fall. My knees and hip are scuffed and bruised – I swear I can watch the bruise grow – but thankfully my clothes came out unscathed. Whaddaya know, running really can screw up your knees 😛

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The other great thing about these big group runs? Free brekkie when we get back 🙂 Bagels are good, but free, 10-mile bagels are awesome.


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Twas the Week Before Christmas…

And my house turned into an infirmary.

Sunday night/Monday morning my mom started getting sick. Uh oh. I haven’t really gotten sick since I had my nose surgery a couple years ago and was hoping to keep it that way. But no luck. Luckily I didn’t get as sick as her (she was literally in bed for 4 days straight), but it still kinda sucked.

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the pups took good care of my mom while she was sick

Monday night I forced myself to do a light workout which actually helped me to feel better. My coaches kept me in line.

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That look from her means I’ve stopped for too long. No more dillydallying, woman! (He’s just hoping I get down on the ground so he can clean all the salty goodness off of my face)

Tuesday I was feeling worse but it was my first track session with my new group! And it rained. Ugh. It was in the upper 30s/low 40s, but a surprisingly large group of people showed up. This run was fueled by Claritin D and Advil, which apparently made me darn fast. We ran 6x400s and I was running each 400 25-40 seconds faster than I did this summer. Holy moly! Maybe my last quarter mile at Celtic last weekend wasn’t a total fluke… Afterwards our group and the full marathon training group met up for drinks, food, and camaraderie at a bar around the corner.

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I was going to workout Wednesday and Thursday, but felt super crummy, so I just took the rest of the week off to get healthy again. This winter is all about building a solid base, not driving myself into the ground before the season even comes around.

Saturday my group met downtown for our long run. I love and hate running downtown. It’s flat, tends to be pretty windy (which super sucks in the winter) and the brick is hard on my legs. But the view is pretty nice and it’s always nice to get a change of scenery. It was an ugly sweater run, but I don’t own an ugly sweater – so I painted my nails festively and had a Santa hat instead. I was going to try to do something with tinsel and bells, but Target failed me.

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5:00am wakeup calls for Saturday long runs are rough no matter what time of the year, but they’re extra awful in the winter. During the summer the sun typically rises shortly after I get up, my parents and dogs are up and about in the house, people are on the roads, the birds are chirping – you know, signs of life. During the winter? It was literally me and the creepy blow up Santa on the neighbor’s portico. No bueno.

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On the bright side, though, the moon was absolutely gorgeous on the drive downtown. Just before the sun came up you could see the entire moon, even though only a sliver of it was lit up.

I ended up running 5 nice, easy miles with two women in my group, averaging about 11 minute miles.

After the long run I did a little bit of damage at Charm City Run (hey, it’s Christmas), grabbed a donut from Dunkin Donuts, and got a Christmas gift for the Beast at the doggie boutique next door, before heading home to shower, change, and head back down to the city to meet a friend for high tea at Gertrudes at the Baltimore Museum of Art. It was surprisingly fun and un-stuffy! We were there chatting for several hours (the wait-staff seemed like they were trying to nudge us out so they could turn the table over for dinner), then I headed off to a party for a bit. I was so exhausted from the long day that I didn’t stay too terribly long.

I had planned on going to bed embarrassingly early when I got home but someone on the street was having a party and the windows in my room are so thin that I knew they’d wake me up when they all left, so I plopped down in the living room with my parents to watch the never-ending Thursday Night Football game on Saturday Night (as if I wasn’t having a hard enough time remember what day it was this week…). I had no stake in the game but it was surprisingly good.

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This morning I slept in a bit and then met Aaron and Beast at the trail for a quick 3.5-4 mile walk. The trail was surprisingly crowded for a chilly Sunday, but we got to see some people running in festive garb – one guy passed us wearing a Santa hat and a lei of big Christmas lights 🙂

icicles!

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Then I came home to see the awful Ravens “game” (I’ve never been more embarrassed to be a Ravens fan). There were surly a few bad calls, but it was 95% on the team. Now I’m watching the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Finals (watching skating on TV always reminds me of just how much I miss skating…) and drooling over the smell of roasting veggies that’s filling the house.

that's not hot chocolate. that game called for something a *bit* stronger...

that’s not hot chocolate. that game called for something a *bit* stronger…

How was your week(end)? Any great holiday plans coming up?? 


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Weather and activity level

So apparently people don’t work out when the weather sucks. That may be, specifically for the self-selected demographic that was chosen for this “study,” and my experiences on the trails and roads throughout the year would certainly back that up. Remember how empty I said the parking lot at the trail was on Sunday? Yep.

But here’s the major flaw with coming to such a conclusion: it only followed people who use one brand of fitness tracker. Only certain types of people buy fitness trackers, and the data suggests that most people will stop using them within a few weeks/months.

But you know who does exercise when the weather sucks? Kick ass hardcore runners. I propose that a study of Garmin or Strava data be used, using similar methods. The results will likely be very, very different. How do I know that? Because of amazing people like Jessica over at runladylike and Lisa at runningoutofwine and the countless other bad ass runners getting it done in the 100 degree heat and humidity in summer and the single digits and blowing snow of winter.

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I’ve heard non-runners (and let’s face it, mostly non-movers) complain that runners, cyclists, rock climbers, and other endurance athletes can be arrogant about how much they do. Damn straight we are! We not only push ourselves beyond our comfort limits, we leave our comfort limits in the dust. In an era where it seems that fewer and fewer people are willing to even get familiar with their comfort level, no less give it the finger, yeah, we’re proud of pushing our limits. We get out and get it done whether we “feel” like it or not. Yes, it would be a whole lot easier to stay in the AC all summer and in front of the fireplace all winter – but we make the choice that that just isn’t acceptable. We’re not superhuman or anything – we simply decide we want it more than everyone else who decides to stay in. Can’t get out for a run? (Hello, Buffalo) That’s what treadmills are for. That’s what burpees and squats and yoga balls are for. We may be arrogant sometimes, but we’re always welcoming. Want to be bad ass like us? We’ll happily greet you with a smile and a warm handshake (well, as warm as your hands can be in 15 degree air) as we set off to run in the snow.


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Decisions, decisions…

I’m getting ready to head out for a run, but I’m having a tough time deciding where to run. It’s been cold, overcast, and windy (really, auto-correct? I couldn’t have possibly wanted to spell “windy,” I must have meant “win day” or “won ton”??) all day.

Do I go to the spot that’s more open, maybe making it feel a bit warmer, but likely to be windier?

Or the spot that’s shaded, and likely cooler, but less windy?

A bit of a catch-22…