Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Race Report: Frederick Half Marathon

It’s hard to believe that it’s May and this is only my first race of the year! I had toyed around with the idea of an early-spring race, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Plus, running on the brick promenade downtown back in the beginning of March irritated my hamstring tendinosis from last summer and sidelined me for a while. (Remember how I’ve complained about running on brick in the past? Yeah, I think I’ve finally learned my lesson – just 6 miles did me in this time. No more running on brick for me!) I ended up taking 12 days off completed at the beginning of April before going back to PT and slowly coming back. Before this race I hadn’t run hills in over a month; I wasn’t sure what to expect at all. When I originally signed up for Frederick, I had hoped to PR, but with the hiccups in March and April I put that goal aside; simply finishing and not being injured would have to be enough for me. After all, I have a long summer of marathon training to think about!

Two of the three women I regularly train with also ran Frederick with me – it made for a fabulous girls’ weekend! (though we certainly missed Jennie!) We met up Saturday afternoon and drove out to Frederick to get our packets and check in to our hotel, which was surprisingly nice. We were going to go to Olive Garden for dinner, but at 4:30pm there was a 40 minute wait! So we scoured Yelp to find the next best, safe option (e.g. no Mexican, cheap, or unknown restaurants) and settled on the ever-enthralling Carrabba’s on the other side of town. We got a table right away and immediately preceded to disappoint the waiter by ordering water, bland-ish pasta, and no wine or dessert. Afterwards we ran a few last-minute errands and went back to the hotel to watch the Kentucky Derby (we’re all from horse country), chat, laugh, and go to bed ridiculously early.

The last time I ran Frederick was 2009 – it was my first half – and my biggest memory from that race? The insane traffic to get parking. It was so bad Aaron and I had to bail out of my dad’s car just to get to the start on time while he and my mom dealt with parking. Intent on not repeating that, and much to the chagrin of the girls, I made us get up at 4:00am to leave by 5:15am. On the bright side, though, we got to park right next to the start and finish line! We sat in the car singing and dancing to Taylor Swift songs and enjoying the heated seats on a chilly, damp (but sunny!!) morning. It was seriously the first time we had seen the sun for more than a few minutes in almost two weeks…

Around 6:00am we made our way over to the start-line area to take care of pre-race business and get warmed up. Despite the 4,000 participants and all their supporters, the start area was very efficient and not at all crowded. We were able to take our places just a few minutes before go time without a problem.

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The incomparable Sid Busch, running in honor of fallen hero SSGT Gary John Homuth USAF, started us off, along with the Athletes Serving Athletes folks, and then we all followed!

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Photo courtesy of Dave Gell, Corrigan Sports (Facebook)

The course was fair bit different than the last time I ran it, but was well laid-out; it was crowded but not packed for the first couple of miles as we wound past the minor league stadium and down towards main street. Even at 54 degrees it was so humid that by mile 2, just as I passed Sid, I had sweat pouring down my neck. I even turned to the girls and said that I was already looking forward to my post-race shower!

We went out a bit faster than intended in the first few miles, but none of us could seem to hold back. As the group’s pacer I kept trying to pull us back, but it never really stuck. I was a little concerned with this, as I prefer to be a bit conservative in the early miles, but the pace didn’t feel so rushed that I was terribly concerned.

A fair bit of the middle of the course took us through some really nice residential neighborhoods (I had no idea there were such cute houses in Frederick!). Somewhere around mile 6 Rebecca began to fall off the pace; Tracy and I kept trying to keep an eye on her, but we lost her a little while later.

By the time we worked out way into Hood College the humidity had lifted and the sun was out in full force. This, combined with the quick pace in the early miles, was beginning to take a bit of a toll on me; perceived effort was definitely creeping up with each passing mile. Admittedly, I did end up having to take a few short walk breaks in the later miles, which disappointed me, but considering that the last two months of training had been less than ideal, I tried not to beat myself up too much and just keep going. Thankfully, it was also around this time that the wind began to pick up substantially.

The absolute worst part of this course awaited us at the end. Wide open road, no shade, full sun, an out-and-back, and then a hill. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love hills, but this was just brutal. It wasn’t a big hill, just a long, relentless hill. I wanted to stop and walk more than a few times, but walking wouldn’t have made it better, so I kept going. Tracy did her best to keep me going, but after a while I just needed quiet. It took a lot of focus to keep going that last half mile or so, and even when we finally turned onto the track at the fairgrounds, the finish still seemed so far away. But walking wasn’t an option, so I just kept moving my feet forward.

It seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to get around that track, but we finally made it – in record time! I was stunned to look at my Garmin and see that I had PRed by a minute and seventeen seconds! Woohoo!!

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We made our way to the finishers’ village to get our water and food (but no space blankets! wtf!) and wait near the finish line for Rebecca. Unfortunately I missed seeing her finish because I got dizzy and decided to lay down with my legs up on the fence. 😦 She had a bit of a rough race, and was (I think) being unfairly hard on herself, but Tracy and I did our best to try to console her.

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We didn’t stick around too long – I was starting to get chilled from the wind and I think Rebecca just wanted to get back to the room – but the celebration village seemed really great. The only downside (other than the lack of space blankets)? The beer line was 45 minutes long. Now I don’t normally drink beer, but there was one that I wanted to try because it sounded like something I’d actually like (Harpoon UFO White – I went out and got some after I got home and it turns out I do actually like it).

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Thanks for the great photo, Coach Dawn!

All in all it was a really great weekend! I got a new PR and had a blast with the girls, something I think all three of us needed!

I got a massage this evening and am taking a much-needed week off (I have been training since mid-December!) and then working on some easy mileage/cross training taking me in to marathon training (and preparing for my first coaching gig!!) at the end of June!

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Form and the beginner runner

As someone who’s been injured more than a few times, running form is something I’ve heard a lot about.

When I was in elementary school, we had a unit in gym class that focused on teaching us how to run. I missed that unit. No, seriously – I was sidelined in a full-leg cast that spring. My mom always joked that I couldn’t run well when I was younger because I missed that unit – but I think there’s a fair bit of legitimacy to that. Not so much the elementary school part, but the learning to run part.

It’s widely assumed that anyone can run. Got two legs? You can run. Got a prosthetic leg or two? You’re good to go, too. Baring that, got a wheelchair and two arms that can push? You can compete in the wheelchair division (helloooo, wonder woman Tatyana McFadden!). All too often, that’s kind of the beginning and end of the road for many runners, especially amateurs.

It’s always astounded me that in running, we tell people to run first, and work out the kinks later. As anyone who has had to unlearn a bad habit knows, old habits are hard to break! We don’t expect swimmers to learn good form on their own – so why do we expect runners to do so?

The main debate for several years was about foot strike – something that can certainly have an impact on form and injury rate, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Cadence? Okay, that’s got some meat to it; but again, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You can have a really fast turnover but still have poor form.

This is something that I fully intend to address when I coach this summer; running form, as much as speed and distance, will be a cornerstone of my coaching philosophy. I substitute-coached for a friend’s 10k group the other week and discussed this with them briefly before sending them off on their speedwork – something which one of the participants told me afterwards was one of the best things she’s learned about running in a long time!

This is something that is in the forefront of my mind right now as I focus intently on correcting my running-form sins and (hopefully) building myself up to be a more efficient runner who can avoid trips to the ortho and PT in the future. I know it’s vital to spend time perfecting form, especially at speed and when tired at the end of long runs, but let’s be honest – I’d really rather be focusing my energy on speed and endurance right now.

Yes, we all know how to run. But when we take up running as a persistent activity, when we begin to log dozens of miles week after week, it’s integral to our longevity in the sport to work on the finer points before injury, rather than trying to re-learn them later. Yes, the body may get more efficient as you run more, but why not give it a head start on the process? I think it’s high time we respect beginner runners enough to help them out, setting them up for long-term success, and focusing on how to run properly.

 


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Winter’s winding down…

I can’t believe winter training is over already! Despite the cold and the blizzard it went by so quickly…

Tonight was our final workout and it was a perfect night for it. We got to celebrate the great races and PRs of those who ran at Rock ‘n Roll DC this past weekend (Jennie slashed 3 minutes off of hers!) and got to see the sunset from the track for the first time since the fall.

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Tonight we did 400s at 15 sec faster than HM pace and 800s alternating between HM race pace and 15 sec faster than race pace – and my 800s averaged 8:59 🙂 Even though my HM goal pace is only 10:00… whoops! It felt surprisingly good to push even though I was expecting a bit of an easier evening. Rebecca pushed me and I’m glad she did. You don’t get better by staying in your comfort zone 🙂


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You Can Call Me Coach Doodle!

This summer I’m going to be coaching my first group!! Ahh!! This is something I’ve wanted to do for the last year and am SO excited to finally have the opportunity!

I’ll be coaching a group of runners for ~6 weeks in preparation for a 5k. Presumably, this group will be a mix of true beginners, first-time racers, and experienced runners/racers, but I’ll obviously find out more this summer.

I’ve been in this running game for a while and have lots of experience and knowledge to pass along, but I want to make sure I’m doing it in a way that is appropriate for all types of runners, specifically beginners. I’m feeling pretty confident on how to help the experienced runners (but I’m open for suggestions for them, too!), but never really trained exclusively for a 5k myself. In order to do this best, I would LOVE to get some feedback from all sorts of different runners!

  • What was the most intimidating thing about joining a training group for the first time?
  • What do you wish had been explained to you better when you first started running?
  • What did you like (or not like) about your first training group experience?
  • What worked best for motivating you (or what was a total flop)?
  • What do you wish your first coach knew that they didn’t?


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Foggy Run

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Sometimes quiet solitude is exactly what one needs.

Despite the fog and, later, chilly rain, it was an unseasonably warm night – perfect for a track workout. As soon as I got home from work, I changed and ran right back out the door – it was one of those times where I just felt like I needed to run. No reason other than it was too perfect out to pass up a run.

I spent half an hour running by myself in the dark, focusing on my form, and only being interrupted by the sounds of my breathing, my feet skimming along the rubber track, rush hour traffic barely crawling along the highway next to the track, and the occasional fire engine off in the distance. It was exactly the kind of run I needed.


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Race Report: Y Turkey Trot

Hello again! I’ve been very quiet lately, but I’ve been keeping up with my running a bit. Every weekend but one since the marathon I’ve been meeting up with some of my summer training partners for an easy 5 mile run, and I’m finally starting to get back into the cross training and strength.

With yesterday being Thanksgiving, that obviously meant one thing – Turkey Trot time! Again this year I ran the local YMCA’s 5k, which my father’s Rotary club sponsored. My mom was going to run it with me this year, but her running was so badass this summer that she ended up on crutches. 😣

It was a rather perfect morning for a race – sunny and chilly but still warm for the season.

Having been in long-distance mode for a while, I wasn’t sure what to expect for this race. I wanted to go for a PR, but realize I haven’t run fast in a while and I was still unsure as to how my knee would react to the quick pace. But, I had nothing to lose for trying!

I lined up pretty close to the beginning again this year, to hopefully avoid many of the walkers, and I think I did a pretty good job with it!

There was a bit of bobbing and weaving, but all in all it wasn’t too bad. I was more concerned about not tripping on the potholes than dodging other runners/walkers. The majority of the first mile is downhill. Normally downhills aren’t exactly my forte, but I had an awesome first mile – 8:33! Whoa! Well, I may have uttered another four letter word, but you know…

Nearly all of the second mile is uphill. There’s one big hill with the rest just a steady, slight uphill – just enough to remind me that it’s been a while since I last ran hills! 9:22.

I was getting a little tired and overheated by the third mile, but I reminded myself that I just ran 26.2 miles a few weeks ago – I can definitely suck it up for one more hard mile! 9:10.

The last bit of the course brought us back around the to the beginning of the course and back into the Y’s campus for an easy finish.

I had hoped for a PR, but like I mentioned earlier, wasn’t too set on it. So imagine my surprise when I looked at my Garmin and saw 28:10!! Ahhh!!!

You know what was even better? Seeing the official results printout inside the gym – and seeing 28:07 next to my name!!!! Woo!!! I truly didn’t think I had that in me. I would’ve been thrilled with 29:xx.

I finished 464 out of 2512 and 36th in my age group (out of 263). Holy moley!

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I’d say it was a good way to start off the holiday!

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you run a Turkey Trot? Or just get out for a few miles on your own?