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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Weekly Wrapup

This week was another light week. Our Tuesday track session was cancelled due to thunderstorms. I feel kinda bad – earlier that day, because it was so ungodly hot and humid, I joked that it would be perfect if we got a cloudburst while we were in the middle of the workout to help cool us down. Well, we did. It came in just as we were gathering for our pre-workout powwow. It was cloudy, and then all of a sudden our coach was like “it’s down pouring right over there” – and then not ten seconds later it was down pouring right over us. Like a biblical-style downpour. So we all huddled under the bleachers until we heard thunder, and then ran back to our cars as quickly as possible (although a nice woman from our group gave my mom and I a ride back to our car so we didn’t have to sprint 3/4 of a mile huddled under our teeny, broken umbrella).

I woke up was startled awake Saturday morning by my mom, after getting maybe 4 hours of sleep (I’m looking at you, insomnia). We had agreed to walk the dogs early so she could get in her workout, which would double as my extended warm-up, and then I’d head out for my run. I eventually dragged my exhausted self out the door and we got in a nice 2.53 mile walk , which pretty well exhausted the westies but just energized the Beast, who spent the rest of the day zooming around the house. After the horribly humid and rainy week we had, a storm rolled in Friday night and cleared the air – we really couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather for a walk/run. I seriously hope the next two weekends are this nice for my upcoming races.

Once my mom headed back home with all of the doggies, I went off for my run – in my new shoes (and new KT Tape)!! Woohooo! They’re just as marshmallowy as I remember my first pair of PureCadences feeling.

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Because of the new shoes, the addition of the KT tape, and the extended time off, I decided to keep my run shorter than I had planned, but to also try out something new-ish. When I was in PT, my therapist had me run on the Alter G with a metronome to keep my cadence quick and steady throughout the run – so I whipped out the metronome app on my phone, dialed it up to 170, and set off on my way. I tried to focus only on my pace, breathing, and mechanics, avoiding my Garmin whenever possible; however, I couldn’t help but notice that my pace was a fair bit quicker than normal. I was astonished when I hit the end of my 3.1 mile run – 31:51! I have NEVER run that fast!!

I am definitely going to be using this method again next week in my 5k race. I’m a bit concerned about the nuisance the metronome might be for other runners, but the way I figure, it just might help them reach a new PR too 😉 (“ahh! run away from that annoying woman!”) Eh, whatev. Plenty of people do far more irritating things during races. And it’s only a 5k – it’s not like someone else will have to listen to that for hours on end.

Later Saturday evening I went out to visit an old friend of mine who was in town for the weekend. Lauren and I have known each other since we were in 2nd grade and it was great to catch up. She lives in NYC, which while it’s close, is just far enough away that we really don’t see much of each other. It was a nice chill evening – she popped a bottle of wine, I brought over cannolis to celebrate my awesome run and her kicking ass in the Baltimore 10 Miler that morning – and we just drank and chatted all night. It’s funny how much things change over the years, but how much they really do stay the same.

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And of course, lest I forget – Happy Father’s Day to my daddy!! He detests cards, so this counts as the official non-card acknowledgement of fathers day 😉

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PB and Awesome

My training plan for the Maryland Half starts tomorrow, and the timing couldn’t be better. Although Mother Nature currently has the upper hand and all of my training thus far this year has been indoors, I have had some great workouts and set some new personal bests. Tonight I did mile repeats for a total of 6.4 miles – two of them setting new personal bests! I got an 11:00 minute mile and a 10:28 mile – lightning speed for me! Now, if Punxsutawney Phil is right and spring really is coming soon, let’s see how that translates out on the road…

Oh, and since tomorrow is the Super Bowl and my Ravens are playing…. GO RAVENS!!!

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Finally

It may be three weeks too late for the Celtic Solstice, but I finally got 5 miles in in under an hour! 59:33 to be exact. Woohoo!! Better late than never, right? Plus it puts me in a strong mindset going into half training for the spring, which is quickly creeping up on me. As cold as it is out right now, it’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner.


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Race Day!!

 

When I woke up for the race yesterday morning, it was 28 degrees. It has been in the 70s and 80s for the last few weeks, and then earlier this past week it started getting cooler. Cooler, not cold; perfect fall weather. However, 28 was a serious shock to the system. As I was walking out the door I made the decision to run in shorts and a t-shirt, rather than capris and a t-shirt, because I figured being cold would be better motivation to keep moving than overheating would. Aaron and I walked from where we parked in Harbor East over to Camden Yards, and we made sure to be more than bundled up for that frigid walk. It was a good warm up though, both for our legs and our bodies, and just a nice walk. It’s about 1 ¾ miles from my fundraising group’s pre-race venue, and about 2 miles from the post-race celebration village. Rather than a tent in the celebration village, Back on My Feet rents out the Sports Legends Museum – heated, with seating, food, and bathrooms!! Real bathrooms with no lines. What more could you possibly ask for on race day? We hung out there for an hour just relaxing and warming up before getting ready to head over to the start at around 9:20am. Even though a lot of the roads were closed, not all of them were – and some of them lead right to the highway. It absolutely amazed me at how stupid people can be. People heading over to the start were just walking in front of traffic, which had right of way, and wondering why they were getting honked at. Why are common sense and basic life preservation skills so elusive for so many? It was a chilly walk, but it was warming up quick. By the time we lined up in our corral, it was probably in the upper 40s. I had packed a throw-away shirt to wear at the beginning of the race, but decided to ditch it just before the start of the race, and I’m glad I did. I did, however, keep the gloves on for the first mile.

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During training, I typically use a run-walk method, aiming to extend the run and reduce the walk each time. When I did my last long run, 11.25 miles, 3 weeks ago, something clicked and for the first time I ran almost 2.5 miles non-stop. That was a big deal for me. Going into yesterday’s race, I knew I was going to have to pull on that to get me through under my goal. I ran the first 4 miles with only about 200 yards of walking – some of the early hills were steeper and meaner than I remembered and I wanted to be more fresh for the real hills later. I got through the first 5 miles in just over an hour, which was right about where I wanted to be.

At that point though, the hills got mean. I was able to get about 75% of the way up the hills at this point, and then walk to the crest, then start running again. As we got through miles 6 and 7, I pushed as hard as I could, but I wasn’t able to make it up the hills as well as I had hoped. Mile 7 offers a nice flat reprieve, which I ran about 90% of, with the exception of the time it took me to down a banana and a few chips. I had never, however, made it this far in a race while still being as close to the pack as we were yesterday – that was an awesome feeling. By 8.5 miles, my knees were starting to bug me, but my legs were still feeling good. I was slowing down, but still running. Shortly after, however, the continuous uphills started taking their toll. None of them were steep, but they were just steep enough to be really annoying, and I started walking most of the hills. I remember the course being mostly downhill once we got to the JHU campus, but I clearly remembered wrong because there were still lots of those slight little uphills. Still, we both pushed as hard as we could. At this point, I checked my GPS and it looked like our sub-3 hour goal was out of reach, but we kept plodding along. By the time we made it to the downhills and flats, I was able to just stop thinking, zone out, and let my legs keep moving.

I have literally never run – actually run – this much in my life. I have completed 3 other HMs, but there was usually a lot of walking. Like a lot a lot. Even on training runs, I took walk breaks frequently. I have no idea where it came from yesterday, but my legs just kept running, and I had no intentions of getting in their way. There were plenty of times I wanted a walk break, but I convinced myself that I didn’t need one. By the last mile (which actually, finally, was downhill), I was on autopilot. I briefly looked at my GPS and noticed that my goal may actually be within reach, so we pushed as much as we could to the finish. I was so thrilled to get in under 3 hours, I shrieked and cried a little. It was such a great feeling to finally beat my goal and to finally have a finish time with a 2 as the first number.

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Even with the punishing hills and pushing through the discomfort, I feel better today than I have after any of my other HMs. My knee joints are achey, and my lungs are a bit achey from the cold (cold weather and my lungs have never gotten along), but that’s about it. I also know that I now need to focus even more on hills for this race next year. I did hill training, but clearly not enough. A lot of that was because my PT wouldn’t let me run hills until a month out from race day, and even then I could only do rolling hills, nothing steep.

I’m planning on doing another (flatter!!) HM in the spring, and then I’m debating between the half or attempting the full in the fall, but I’ll make that call in the spring, depending on how my training goes over the next 6 months.


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You can call me Rainbow Bright

So it seems that I have finally found a pair of lightweight, soft running shoes that feel good and look good! *cue the choir of angels*

Last week a pair of the much-adored Saucony Kinvara 3s arrived at my door, and I couldn’t have been happier. Everyone everywhere seems to love these shoes, so I was sure after the toebox issues with the Saucony Ride 5s, these were my shoes.  They’re super lightweight and a little cushiony and have some seriously awesome colors. I quickly tried them on and they felt fantastic, so I laced them up Thursday morning and hit the trails. Omg. Oww. Pain. The shoes themselves are fine, even with the lower heel-to-toe drop (4mm, instead of 12mm like my Ride 4s) – but the back of the shoe comes up super high and gave me awful blisters after just one mile. I can’t even remember the last time I got blisters from athletic shoes. Seeing as I had run one mile out, I had to make it back… that was the longest mile ever. All was not lost though – other than a bit of heel skin – as I did eek out a mile PR on the outbound trip. And another trip back to the UPS Store.

So after this run, out of frustration, I stopped at Dicks Sporting Goods on my way to the gym and picked up a pair of Brooks Pure Cadences. purecadence-o-opt1These shoes are part of the Brooks Pure Project, and are lightweight, cushiony, and flexible, with just a touch of stability. And did I mention it’s like running on clouds? I (hesitantly) took these shoes out for my 6 miler on Saturday. After Thursday’s mishap, I was a bit nervous to try these out on my long run, but the squishiness and hot pinkness were just too much to resist. I did, however, put my old shoes in my husband’s car, which we parked further down the trail with some water, in case we needed it. I definitely did not need to even think about changing shoes. Aside from a little bit of stiffness in the first mile or so, these shoes are a God-send. My feet and legs have never felt so good after a run – and best of all? No blisters! But let me tell you, the neon pink shoes look superhot with my neon green calf sleeve and my neon orange shirt… at least no one should hit me while running on the road! Unless they’re blinded by my neon-ness… In love

Our run took us down the trail (downhill) about 3 miles, before we veered off the trail (gasp!) and onto the road up a hill. If you look at the Baltimore Half elevation map, you notice it’s surprisingly hilly. I grew up in Baltimore and had no idea Baltimore had such hills. So in order to not get our asses handed to us by the streets, we are adding more and more hills into our training, aside from the 2-3% incline the trail gives us.Doc1This hill wasn’t long, but boy was it tough. The worst of it’s barely half a mile, but it’s really quite steep at parts – far steeper than I ever realized driving it. It was definitely tough, and now we know we really need to work on hills, but we conquered it. And all 6 miles of our run. In 1:16:53. Aside from a 1/2 mile walk break just before the big hill, we ran almost the entire distance, which is a huge step for me.

As if 6 miles Saturday wasn’t enough, we had a 5k race on Sunday evening at our favorite local vineyard, Boordy Vineyards. photo1It was a trail/road race, with the beginning and end of the race going through the fields around the vineyards, and the bulk of the distance on the paved road in front of the vineyard. When I think trail, I think grass and dirt and some bumps here and there, but this was more like off-roading than trail. There were divots everywhere, some of which could have easily broken an ankle or 50. It seemed like a lot of people were being fairly cautious on this part of the race, with good reason. The seriously uneven nature of the ground really aggravated my leg injury, and kept me in a fair bit of pain for most all of the race. But, I did something I have never done before in a race. I sucked it up and kept photo2moving. There were lots of times where I wanted to stop and walk, but I kept telling myself it wasn’t going to hurt any less if I walked, so keep running. And I’m glad I did – I got my self a shiny new PR Open-mouthed smile 36:59. Although I’m spending much of today with icebags strapped to my legs, I’m super thrilled that I’ve made so much progress in just two months. Back in June it took me 43:35 to get through the Baltimore Women’s Classic – that means that even with the injury issues, I’ve cut over 7 1/2 minutes in just 8 weeks. If I can do that much in 8 weeks, I can’t wait to see how much more I can do in the 8 weeks leading up to the half.

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On a side note, I’ve discovered a wonderful pre-run snack – Oatnut bread with honey. Super delicious. And if you can squeeze it in, a banana is a great accompaniment (or, if it doesn’t completely gross you out like it does me, cut the banana up and put it on the bread with the honey and some peanut butter).