Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Midweek Recap

So it’s been a fun week 🙂

Sunday they announced what the finishers’ medals will look like at Baltimore this year

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Monday night our moonflowers bloomed – they only bloom after dark and last only one day, but they’re totally worth it.

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Tuesday I went back to The Hill with my group, but had an asthma attack during the warm up (damn you, recently cut field) and missed all but the last 20 minutes – at least I got to walk up the hill a few times. Honestly, my walk wasn’t all that much slower than most people’s run, the hill is just that brutal).

And I got to see a field of sunflowers 🙂

IMG_1341Yesterday my GMBA classmates and I had a little mini reunion – almost exactly 5 years to the date from when we all first met at orientation 🙂 The best part? I got to see my friend Annie, who has been living and working in Nigeria, for the first time in two years. 🙂

11218754_10106024734700229_1578607887126787706_n 11781890_10106023033833779_7516250121748814150_nAnd today I got to down to DC for a friend’s Ambassadorial nomination hearing. How cool is that??

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Race Report – Brooklyn Half Marathon

Over the years I’ve either run most of the local spring half marathons or decided they just weren’t for me. This year I was looking for something a bit different. A friend of mine had run Brooklyn last year and spoke highly of it, so I decided early on that this was going to be my target spring half.

I purchased my train tickets months ago, but had to alter them a few weeks ago when the unrest in Baltimore led to a curfew being implemented. Not knowing how long the unrest and/or the curfew would last, I rearranged my travel so I’d be coming in and out of the city during daylight hours. Well, three days before I was to head to New York, a Northeast Regional Amtrak train derailed, killing 8 people. With Amtrak out of commission, and the alternatives being far too complicated (Amtrak > SEPTA > local bus > NJ Transit), I decided at the last minute just to drive. This was the first time I had driven in the city – driving in NYC isn’t nearly as awful as most people make it out to be. If you know your car, and aren’t a total wuss, you’re set. The drive up was surprisingly enjoyable, albeit a bit long (nearly 5 hours).

The financial district and One World Trade Center from the (gridlocked traffic at the) Lincoln Tunnel

The financial district and One World Trade Center from the (gridlocked traffic at the) Lincoln Tunnel

I stayed with a good friend of mine in Manhattan, who was kind enough to pick up my bib for me when my travel plans changed. Unfortunately, staying in Manhattan meant an obscenely early wake up call on race day; she was in wave 1 and had to be there by 6:00am, which meant that we had to leave by 5:00am, which meant we had to be up by 4:00am. ugh. so early.

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Earlier in the week they had been calling for rain on Saturday, so I was super excited when we walked outside and it was dry (as in not raining, not as in not humid – it was definitely humid) and comfortable out. Despite the insanely early arrival, the organization of the race was spot-on – not that I would expect any less of the country’s largest half marathon! Bag drop was organized by corral, after which we went through security screening, which wasn’t a hassle at all, and then we had the run of the wave without being forced into corrals. The best part? They had giant vats of water in each wave where you could refill your bottles or just grab a cup of water; no guilt about wasted water bottles. And in each wave, there were literally porta pots for days. It was a wall of porta pots from one end of the wave to the other. It really is the simple things in life, isn’t it?

IMG_0440The race started at the Brooklyn Museum and started off with the usual fanfare, including a farewell to Mary Wittenberg, the outgoing president and CEO of the New York Road Runners. Unbeknownst to me, my friend was sitting next to the guy singing the national anthem at the start of the race while we were on the subway.

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Wave 1 set off at 7:00am (to what else? The Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn”), with my wave following at 7:45am. There wasn’t a ton of crowd support at the beginning of the race, but it picked up just after the first mile or so. The course was mostly flat with some rolling hills, which made for a nice, easy warm-up mile.

Since the fall, I’ve developed this annoying habit of getting side stitches early in races. I had to stop to do some breathing exercises around mile 1.5 which helped briefly, but not for long. They came and went for at least the first 6 miles.

Photo: NYRR

Photo: NYRR

After about 3 miles we made our way into Prospect Park, which I loved – I would totally run here again on my own. There was plenty of shade and the road had curves and turns and some rolling hills to keep things interesting. I had heard some people lamenting “the hill” in Prospect Park, but I never actually saw a proper hill.

Just around mile 4, I was thinking to myself that it would be amazing if we could get a little spritz to help cool us down a bit. Not even minutes later, the clouds opened up; it started as a light rain at first, but quickly became a steady rain, which lasted through about mile 6.5. I hadn’t brought a hat with me, so I just had to put my head down and keep wiping the rain and sweat (and sunscreen) out of my eyes for nearly half an hour. I found a nice, big tree to hide under so I could grab a Gu around mile 5.5 without getting my phone soaking wet. Despite the rain (or maybe because of the rain?), I felt fantastic through the Prospect Park section of the race – my legs felt good, my lungs felt good, and my mind felt good.

Photo: NYRR

Photo: NYRR

As much as I loved Prospect Park, I hated Ocean Parkway twice as much. From mile 7.5 to 12.75, we were on Ocean Parkway, a straight-and-flat-as-a-pancake highway through Brooklyn. There is nothing I hate more with regard to running than straight, flat courses, where all you can see up ahead are teeny, tiny specks of runners off in the distance. To make matters worse, the cross-streets are Avenue A, Avenue B, Avenue C, all the way down through the alphabet…. omgggggggggg. Somewhere around mile 8.5, the mental toughness went out the window; around mile 9.5, I started getting physically exhausted. I briefly considered just curling up in the fetal position, but realized that doing so wouldn’t alleviate the discomfort nor would it make my dry clothes appear. I gave myself a quick SIUP and plodded on.

Photo: NYRR

Photo: NYRR

For the first time ever, I took gatorade and water at every station from mile 7 – 11. By the time I got to mile 12’s water station, I just flat out refused to stop, for fear that I might not be able to start back up. Normally I’m pretty okay for the last 5k of a half, but this seemed like the longest 3.1 miles of my life.

One of the great things about NYRR races is that they have an “800m to go” sign and a “400m to go” sign, but I swear those bastard signs were lying. The crowd in the last mile or so, but especially that last half mile, was just amazing. So many people cheering and so much energy coming from them, but I was just so drained it couldn’t energize me for that last segment. I honestly don’t even remember seeing Coney Island as I came in for the finish – I vaguely even remember seeing the Cyclone, but only because it was standing between me and the finish line.

Photo: NYRR

Photo: NYRR

Typically I can pull on one last surge to power through the last .1 mile, but I had nothing left in the tank as I came towards the finish line. I saw the finish line, but it felt like it wasn’t coming any closer, no matter how hard I pushed – but finally, I was there.

Unofficial finish time: 2:15:52.

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I’m not sure this is technically a time PR (my last half’s course was short, so I’m putting a big ole asterisk next to that PR), but I beat my Baltimore Half PR by about 2.5 minutes. I had nothing else in me when I crossed the finish line – I left everything on the course.

The after party was at the minor league ballpark next to Coney Island. Aside from having to wait 45 minutes to get a damn hotdog (a damn good hot dog, admittedly), it was a great place to have the after party – there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out and there were real bathrooms (!!!) which made changing into dry clothes a whole lot more enjoyable.

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My best friend, Lauren, and I at the after-party

I truly enjoyed this race. I don’t know that I would necessarily run it again because of that awful flat section, but I would definitely recommend it to someone who does like flatter courses. The pre-race logistics were well-organized, and the race-day organization was top-notch. Based on this experience alone, I wish I lived closer to New York so I could run more NYRR races, but it’s just too much of a hassle (and too expensive) to get to NYC for a race.

After the race and after-party, Lauren and I headed back to her place to shower and nap before heading out to see an old friend of mine staring in Don Giovanni down in the East Village. It was a really great performance, but both of us got kind of antsy in the second act – my legs and butt just got uncomfortable from all the running and the chilly air conditioning. Afterwards we met Dan for wine and cheese, fully expecting to pass out at the first sip of wine, but luckily we both got our second wind right about then and had a really great night. It was the first time I’ve been out until 1:00am in a long time 😉

All in all it was an awesome weekend 🙂


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Race Report: Dreaded Druid Hills

The Dreaded Druid Hills 10k is tagged as a “torturous race by runners for runners” that’s run on/around the summer solstice every year. I volunteered as a course marshal last year and loved the atmosphere of it.

I’ve had my eye on this race for years but have never felt prepared for it. And because it’s a small race, and I’ve never been the fastest runner, I’ve always been afraid of finishing last. As runners we frequently deal with the self doubt of wondering whether or not we’re prepared for the challenges we face, so I just decided there was really no point in waiting and wondering any longer. I sucked it up and signed up for the race a few weeks ago. Either I’d be ready or I wouldn’t – three’s only one way to find out.

if you never try youll never know

It was weird. I’ve been nervous before races before, but for some reason I had no nerves going into this one. Two other friends of mine, Steph and Lauren, signed up for this race as well and they both said the same thing.

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Usually race day is ungodly hot and humid but the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for us this year – low to mid 70s with low humidity. The course runs through Druid Hill Park, just outside of downtown Baltimore, which has tons of trees, so there’s lots of shade on the course, especially on the hills.

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The course it notoriously brutal. It starts out with about 2 miles of rolling hills before you settle into a flat section before the monster hills in the back of the park. On the easy part we actually passed the house where my grandmother, who passed away from Alzheimer’s this past December, used to live, which I wasn’t prepared for. It was weird, but I imagined her sitting on her porch (in an oh-so-Baltimore way) cheering me on, which helped immensely.

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, so I just pushed whenever I could. It was great hearing encouragement from Lauren and Steph as I was entering the hills and they were working their way out. I’m not used to hearing people cheering for me on the course, so it was a huge pick-me-up. I actually did really well until about mile 4.5 – then the hills got really tough. I pushed as hard as I could, but even walking up the hills was brutal. With it being in the back of the park, where basically no one goes, there wasn’t much course support, but the volunteers and course marshals were awesome in their support of us. Mile 4 – 5.5 was the hardest for me, both physically and mentally, but I met another woman, Lisa, out on the course at mile 4.5 and we paced each other through much of the remainder of the race. The awesomeness of the running community never ceases to amaze me.

When I saw the sign for mile 5, I knew I was in the clear. We had fared the worst of the hills. I remembered that when I ran the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler a few years ago, my dad bet me $1000 if I ran it in under an hour – I came up just short that year. Even with the brutal hills of the Dreaded Druid Hills, I hit 5 miles in under an hour – that made me feel amazing. I lost a bit of steam just after that point, so I downed half a Gu, and pushed all the way to the end. As I got closer, I realized that my 10k PR was actually in danger – on the Dreaded Druid Hills!! I kept pushing through the discomfort of the heat, knowing that it was a downhill finish. Although I didn’t set a new PR, I missed it by only 51 seconds.

DDH 2014 Splits

51 seconds. Think about that. They advertise this race as “NOT a PR course!” and I missed a PR by less than a minute. It’s amazing to think of how far I’ve come in just two short years of running. For the kid who always finished last in the mile in gym class to come this far is just mind boggling. I honestly could not have been more proud of my performance yesterday.

After the race I stretched out my hip a bit (those hills did it no favors) and then attacked the fruit trays they had waiting for us. The watermelon and strawberries were so deep red and amazingly sweet… I swear I could have devoured an entire tray of strawberries if given half a chance.

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Steph had to run off as soon as she finished to take her daughter to swim lessons, but Lauren and I hung around a bit longer to enjoy the post-race festivities. This race really is unlike any other race I’ve ever done, and although I was intimidated by that before I found it to be absolutely amazing. I truly can’t wait to sign up again next year.

On our way back to our cars, Lauren helped me take a picture for the #RunChatHunt. One of the photos is supposed to be of roadkill. Ew. Totally not going on my phone or my twitter feed. So I got creative instead 😉

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I ended up napping for almost an hour an a half yesterday afternoon, but then finished out a great day with a glass of wine in front of the fire pit.

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Thoughts on the week

So I’m thinking of joining a training group for my fall half training. The local running store has a group (a couple, really, one at each of their locations) and it seems quite reasonable. I tried one a few years back but wasn’t at the right point to successfully join it, so I dropped out after the first run, which was really disheartening, but I think I’m in a much better place to try it this time (eg I can run 5 miles, like they request) and I’ve been through the training (properly) on my own.

Unfortunately, however, my Garmin was stolen last weekend while I was visiting a friend in Connecticut. Sad face. I was really looking forward to using it this training cycle, especially for interval training, but it seems I am SOL for the time being. *big sigh*

But on the bright side I got to see a good friend of mine last night! She was in town for Father’s Day and her mother’s birthday, so her and her mom and me and my mom got together last night at a great restaurant to celebrate 🙂 The restaurant, Mezze, is a great Greek tapas-style restaurant – the best part is ordering a bunch of small plates and sharing with friends.

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Speaking of celebrating, today is me and husband’s wedding anniversary (two years!). Crazy how time flies…