Long run reunion

This week, I got a great Facebook message. Honestly, I usually loathe these messages, and look for the easiest way to ‘opt out’ of receiving these. But this time, it was from a dear friend and old training buddy (to a bunch of us), asking who was interested in a long run. I was delighted!

I’ve been struggling to get past ten miles solo. At a slower pace, it takes, well, longer than at a faster pace (go figure!).

So, at 8am, 8 of is met, and reminisced, as 8 gps synched (does gps need an extra s if plural?), then started our run. If we could have, we would have ran 8-wide. It has probably been a year or longer since we all ran together. I floated from line to line, talking to everyone. The first three miles were so slow and easy, as we all chattered and caught up, joking and teasing each other. These people are my running family. It was a running reunion!

Eventually, my legs were good and loose and the 11-11:30 pace wasn’t quite fast enough. Something I realized as Jarod and I chattered away about various life, politics, kids, dogs, etc. we turned around a few minutes later, and the rest of the group was way back. Whoops! Well, let’s keep it up, and catch ’em at the turn-around. Except they turned around early, so with just Jarod and I, we pushed a 9:30 pace to finish out 9 miles and a little (steep) hill by the lake, to walk it in.

Not the 12 miles I had planned. But I am so happy with my mileage. And more so, to see old friends.

Now, at the pool, I am relaxing gloriously with my own nuun concoction. It always soothes me- wine (or champs) with strawberry lemonade, a pour of vodka, and splash of bourbon. Strong, sweet, and rehydrating. Oh, and add ice for pool.

What a beautiful day!20140524-135643-50203264.jpg

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sometimes I cycle…

In coming back from an injury, I’ve decided to cross-train much more often. And, by more often, I mean once or twice per week. [Look, it’s hard to find time to cross-train, AND add miles to my running]

So lately, I’ve been cycling on this great virtual cycling machine in our gym. It basically mimics a course (with about 30 to choose from, 1.0 mile to 10 miles, and flat to 40% grades).

The first time I hopped on, I was a mess. Clearly. First, I didn’t know how to get the machine turned on. A neighbor (who I’ve met at the pool, but space on her name, and she lives in my building) showed me how to turn it on. Good start.

I thought doing 4-5 miles should be “easy” and I should be able to get them done in like 20-30 minutes. I used to ride my dad’s old stationary bike at about 17 mph, so this really wasn’t too far-fetched.

I picked the first of the moderate level (distance dictates level), and it was about 4 miles long. City Express or something.

OH MY GOD.

It was the hardest ride of my life. I’m not sure what city it was depicting, but my best guess is San Francisco, or maybe Denver or something? It started out with a 12% grade, and it just kept getting steeper and steeper. It got to about 38% continuous grade when I started thinking man this some bulls***! I jumped off 2.xx miles, and 20 minutes into the ride. Yep, I was going, on average, about 6-8 mph. I had been huffing and puffing the whole way, and felt like a real amateur.

But, surely, they weren’t all that hard.

So, a few days later, I tried one of the easier courses, 3.3 mile Beachside Bluffs, and it was fun. Maximum grades about 15%, and it felt easy, and I was done in 15 minutes, and I even ran for a couple minutes after.

Last night, again, cycled 2.93 miles (higher grade changes, maxxing at about 25%, but not for too long). Then, I did 15 minutes of strength training, all-over. And called it a night.

The thought has occurred to me I will have to run more than 3 miles at a time on weeknights if I want to eventually build to about 30 miles per week (plus two strength training/ cross-training sessions).

Hard work ahead.

The other thought that has occurred to me is I am doing all the parts of a tri… swim (though not since last summer, because I’m lazy and come up with a slew of reasons not to get to the pool, including it closing May-August this year), cycle (indoors), and definitely running. Hmmmm….

Unrelated, I signed up for my fifth half marathon- Crawlin Crab in October. And I’m pretty stoked about it. Still hoping for a PR, even if it’s not sub-2:00 yet. I’ll decide a goal once I actually start training at the 20-30 miles per week plus cross-training.

When to run, and when to rest

Last week, I felt great.
ON TOP OF THE WORLD!
Monday night, Dan and I did a typical run. I tend to go a little faster with him (don’t want to hold him back). Tuesday was ‘sprints’ but it was 90 degrees with 60% humidity, even at 630pm. So I decided to just go sprint intensity/ exertion. This meant my ‘sprint pace’ was about 8:00-8:30. My 400s were 1:55, 2:21 (uphill), 2:05, 1:59. The last time I did 400s, it was 1:30-1:45, but I’ll take it.
Tuesday, my throat was also sore. But it was just a sore throat, so I thought easy 400s wouldn’t bother it.
Then, Wednesday, I woke up barely able to swallow. I figured the pollen in the air on my run aggravated my throat. I went to work, later came home, and took a 2-hr nap.
I probably could run through this. Or even cross-train. But, I don’t have any upcoming races. I’m still in the building weeks. So, it brings the question of when do you lay off your training? And here’s my thoughts (not a professional):
Don’t workout if
1. If you have to stay home from work
2. If you are having trouble breathing
3. If you have stomach or digestive issues (nausea, vomiting, etc)
4. If you are having coughing attacks
5. If you don’t want to workout
(Even I wanted to, little Archerman wouldn’t let me leave)
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The last one is the most important. If you are sick, and no longer feel like working out, then don’t. Take it easy. I’ve done both- ran when sick and laid around all day when sick. Trust me, you will not regret this run.
It is okay to do easy stretching, slow yoga, walking, maybe light Pilates/ strength training. Think about it like recovery after a race; you can do what you feel capable of doing. One or two or even three missed runs will not ruin your entire training. It takes two weeks to lose your fitness level. And, if you don’t allow your body to recover, you may just extend the recovery process to a full two weeks.
I plan to get out for a walk around the neighborhood. But that’s it. I skipped yesterday’s planned cross-training, and am skipping tonight’s run. And may go slower and shorter Saturday (long run day). There will be a lot of these today–

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Note to self: Less Beer (maybe)

Dan and I were planning for a relaxing Friday night, watching an outdoor movie at the Art Museum. However, at 745, the sky opened up and it started pouring. The idea of watching an old movie for $7 inside the Art Museum seemed lame. So we scrapped that plan, and headed to Raleigh Brewing Co.
I’ll do a quick beer review, while I’m at it. Dan and I got the Big Squeeze which is a wheat beer fermented with orange juice in the brewing process. Like a sophisticated Blue Moon. They did a similar beer last year, but I think it was an American Pale Ale, so it had more punch. I liked the Big Squeeze. I’d give it a 6.5 out of 10 for my taste. For a drinkable summer beer, it was great. I think I’ll have to try it after a group run there. It was really well executed.
Mainly, I forgot how much wheat beers affect me the day after. I had two beers, and woke up feeling like I had 7. Note to self, next time.
I was intending to start my long run ‘regimen’ Sat morning. And make it a habit to run, starting 7-9am.

That didn’t happen.

After a failed attempt to get started, I managed to get my butt out of bed Sunday morning. With dreams of a Bloody Mary to get me through a long run, I got up.
Sunday morning seemed like an omen for a bad run. I just didn’t feel like getting out of bed or checking the time, as the sun shone through the blinds in our bedroom. I finally rolled out of bed at 730, after Dan had started the coffee.
I finally got out the door at 9, and didn’t feel too great (GI).
As soon as I got downstairs, I had to pee. I took off running anyway. I made it about a quarter mile to a wooded creek area, squatted under a bridge, and hoped no one came around the bend.

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Then, finally, I was really off. And hoping I wouldn’t have to drop a deuce on the run too (which would be a first).
I kept my pace in the 10:50s, and let me legs guide my pace. Some uphills felt harder than others. On a few uphills, I felt peppy and dropped my pace a little. I was even able to drop my final mile to a 9:48. Another ten miles done. And I walked almost a mile back to our apt as a cool down.
It was hard. It was hot, but I felt good after it was done. I earned my blood Mary today. When I finished, I felt like I had rolled in sand. I am such a heavy sweater, and a very salty sweater.
A couple good things about this run- I didn’t chafe. At all. That’s unusual for me for a hot long run. The overdose of Ointment A&D must have worked. I also didn’t get any blisters, which is unheard of on long, hot, hilly runs. I had a little something left at the end. And I love long runs like today. They boost my confidence. I also didn’t experience any abdominal pain, which is always fabulous.
This week, in general, was a good workout week.
17 miles
(3 miles of 8x200s, 4 miles easy, 10 miles long)
2 cross-training days
(500ft gain in 2 miles on the bike Wednesday and 3.33 miles Saturday)
My goal for this summer is to add 1-2 more runs per week, while maintaining cross-training.

my 1-mile track creation

Last night, my plan was to do 8x200s. There are only a few local tracks “open” to the public. I still don’t fully understand why I can’t run sprints on a track I spend tax dollars on, as long as it’s not in use… There is a track RIGHT behind our neighborhood, but it is a private school, and there are often events going on weeknights.

So I decided to run around the PNC arena. I mapped it out at work- it was about 1.5 miles to jog around once. I thought this would work nicely. So when I got home, I laced up my fast shoes, and jogged the half mile there. Then began the sprints. I think the last time I did sprints, we ran 400m, about a year ago, and my legs were still fast enough to compensate for my weakening cardiovascular strength. And we finished them in around 1:30. I was thinking these 200s should be around 1:00, but, really I just wanted to get a good baseline.

I used my garmin, to track by 0.12 (or 0.13) miles, so it may have been off slightly. I forgot I could switch it over to meters until I was finishing up and looking at my numbers.

You can easily do the same- found a somewhat-flat loop, anything from 0.5 to 1.5 miles usually works fine. I occasionally ran sprints at my old apartment complex, which had a half mile stretch of flat road from the entrance to my apartment. However, if you plan to run back and forth on the same stretch of road, you have to have an insane amount of determination and will power. You will be sweating and panting, and your legs may even be shaky and feel like giving out, while your neighbors are on their patios, enjoying a beer, talking with friends, eating, sometimes even grilling out nearby.

My loop around the arena seemed logical. It was mostly flat, but an occasional +/-30 ft here or there.

Lap 1.

This actually doesn’t feel too bad. It feels good to run fast. How fast am I going (glance down at watch and see I only have 0.05mi left, something in the 7:30s). Alright! Ugh. Little hill. Keeping pushing! And done!
[0:57]
Jog it off. Hoping I will get up this mini-hill before the next interval. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Oh, bikers. Excuse me, cyclists. Wow, they are going fast. Ope! Time again…

Lap 2.

Just try to keep it around a minute. 1:05 is fine too. Just push it. Seriously more cyclists? Where am I supposed to go? There are 20 of you, coming at me at 25mph. Alright good. Now that the cyclists are gone, and hill gone, time to kick it in…. And, 0.13mi.
[1:04]
Alright, and jog it out. That didn’t feel too bad. I mean it was uphill. I wonder how much? Hmmm… Oh, there’s a sidewalk. … Oh wait, that sidewalk goes to the parking lot; not to another sidewalk. Guess it’s back to the road again. Crap! I missed the interval… (0.14mi “recover”)

Lap 3.

Turn it up on this one. Go hard!… Ugh. Hard sucks. No, really. This sucks. …How much longer? Phew, only 0.05miles. I love 200s! …And done!
[0:55]
Shake it out. Go easy. [Stomach] starting to cramp a little. You can always walk these recovery intervals if needed… And, need to make sure I don’t miss this interval start.

Lap 4.

Wow, breathing. Just get into it. Ugh, this sucks. What number am I on? Ugh. Ugh. [panting gasping]. Ooooo. Cramp! Try to keep a decent pace, and get under a minute…
[0:58]
Nice. Okay, and walk, and stretch. And I can do a full 0.25mi recovery if my breathing isn’t right yet. Just keep breathing… Deep breaths. Oooo, I’m about to turn on Trinity; that means a downhill interval. Woo! Those are SO MUCH FUN!

Lap 5.

God! This feels SO MUCH easier than an uphill sprint. hahaha. I could get used to this. (Yes, I think I laughed and smiled on this one). Just let go. Legs are responding. That cramp is gone. This is great! Downhill sprints are so much fun!
[0:53]
Holy crap! 53 seconds! That’s awesome! I’ll pretend it wasn’t downhill the whole way, and walk some to make sure that cramp is gone. Ugh. Cramp still kinda there. I’ll go 0.25 this recovery. Wait, what number am I on? Was that 5? Three more? That’s it. No, I must be doing my math wrong… Time to go again.

Lap 6.

Just keep your pace in the 7’s, and keep going. It’s hard, but it feels good.
[0:56]
And rest. Walk… Okay, pick it up to a jog. Yes, a little crampy, but I am breathing hard. It happens.

Lap 7.

I zoned out a little. Not sure what happened on this one.
[0:59]
Well, at least I was under a minute still. Okay, time to jog up that hill, then sprint down it for a good-feeling final sprint…

Lap 8.

Maybe I should do one more…? These actually felt pretty easy. Am I putting on the brakes? Body, you can go fast down this hill. It’s okay. And push it. Easily in the 6’s. Nice.
[0:48]
Oh my god. I’m down. God, no, I am not doing another one. Why did I think that was a good idea. Okay, pick it up to a jog. And just make it up that stupid hill to get home.

 

8x200s_May6_2014

Looking back, I am so proud. I finished 8x200s. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish those when I put it on my training calendar. And they were decently fast. And I was without pain (for the most part).

Side note: I got home, and went to the fridge for something cold, and ended up grabbing a pickle slice. Oh my god. I totally understand why some people drink pickle juice after hot/ long runs. It was so delicious, I grabbed two more slices. I haven’t started drinking the pickle juice yet. Maybe in July…

Today, my legs are a little tight. But, not too bad. At this stage, my legs tend to be stronger than my lungs/ breathing. And truthfully, my ab is a little sore today. But, my abs are really weak from my injury, and this sore is a “I worked out” type of sore.

I am also trying to get serious again about my eating. All my pants and fitted skirts are tight. Like hard-to-breathe-tight. I could spend a ton of cash on new clothes, or just re-focus on my eating habits. Anyway, so no beer last night. Just pickles. Followed by a delicious cheese(turkey)burger and crackers. And milk. And, no I wasn’t starving myself. And I wasn’t hungry.

Yay for the first round of speedwork in close to a year!

April/ spring look-back

The past couple days, we have been experiencing crazy weather here in Raleigh (like, flash-flood warning Mon-Thursday, and tornado warnings and watches, with eery skies).

That means two things-

1. It’s not a time to test out longer distances outside
2. Everyone and their mom were in the gym this week (as in 5 of 6 treadmills, 3 of 4 ellipticals, and all 3 bike machines ocupado).

I went to the gym yesterday for a killer circuit workout (killed my legs a month ago, but was okay this week): 3x 0.2mile sprint, 20 calf raises (8 lb weight), 20 overhead presses (8 lb weight), 20 jump squats (8 lb weight… yes this was the hardest part), 20 back-kick leg extensions on each leg (no weight necessary), in case you were wondering…

And I am at ~59 miles for the month, and a few thoughts immediately followed–

I cannot believe I am only logging 16-20 miles per week, mixed with Holy crap! I am so glad I am finally logging 16-20 miles per week!
How many miles did I log each month? Was April more or less? So, here is my look-back on the beginning of 2014.

In January

I averaged about 8-10 miles per week, with lots of effort. Anywhere from a 9:30 to 12:30 pace. The 9:30 pace runs, were usually 2-3 miles, while the 11:30-12:30 pace were long runs which required me to walk (as I would feel pain). My longest run in January was a 7.85 miler with Sheryl, in which we got insanely lost due to a detour, and my horrible directional skills.
Total= 42.25 miles, 4 strength-training, and 1 yoga sesh

In February

I started to feel strong again, and began pushing my limits. In Feb, I ran my first 10 miler since Palmetto (April 2013). And I followed it up with another longest run since January 2013- 14.5 miles with Sheryl. Average pace was around 10:30 (11:00 on long runs, and 10-10:30 on shorter runs). I ran about 10-18 miles per week. All in all, February was brutally cold, I was crazy busy with work, but pushing for those extra miles made me feel strong again.
Total= 60 miles, 1 strength training (but various sprint workouts), 1 yoga sesh

In March

This has been my peak month for sure… I started getting my speed back, and felt great! The weather started to cooperate, and pushed me to be outside, or at least active. Oh, and Daylight Savings… I love the later sunny nights!
Total= 81 miles, 3 strength training

In April

It’s officially been a year- since I was “healthy” and strong. A year since my ab pain started interfering with seemingly everything. And I am finally getting back to where I was 2-3 years ago. It’s taken less time than I thought, but I’m getting there… April marked my return to half marathons, and racing, in general. It also marked my return to “speed” (as speedy as I can currently be).
Total= 58.9 miles, 2 strength training, 1 yoga sesh

Let me put something real quick into perspective… Here are my numbers for May- Dec 2013:

May, 2013: 1.5 miles ran, 4 miles walked (mostly laid up in bed for days after a run or walk)

June, 2013: 12 miles ran/walked (with lots of pain and ignored re-injury)

July, 2013: 13.5 miles ran, 4 miles walked (again, with pain)

August, 2013: 8 miles ran (finally got serious about rehabbing my ab)

September, 2013: 10 miles ran

October, 2013: 17 miles ran

November, 2013: 14 miles ran

December, 2013: 32 miles ran (this is when I consider myself starting to “come back” as I convinced myself it was okay to run very slowly, 11:00-12:00 minute pace to get my mileage up, with occasional walk breaks).

This is all not a pity party, but the opposite. I am so excited to finally get my life back. I get so mad sometimes that I cannot maintain a 8:30 for 8 miles like I used to, but I forget about how far I have come. And how much I have struggled (physically and emotionally) to push through the pain and get to where I am today.

I reset my garmin in December, because I was tired of not reaching “new records” even though I was getting faster. I pushed myself in November and December to reach a 30-minute 5K speed, with all-my-freaking-might. Last week, with Dan, I managed to go sub-29-minutes. And, actually it didn’t feel that hard. It was actually during a 4-mile run. I “ran” my first return 10K speed through run/walking in 1:10 in November, and ran my fastest 10K during the Rock n Roll half in 1:00:40… That’s something to be proud of.

We beat ourselves up, and expect change so quickly, that we sometimes forget all the change that has already taken place. I am doing phenomenal, and I think I sometimes forget that.

I also feel the need to thank everyone who stood with me. I had several identity ‘failures’ we’ll say, where I wasn’t sure who I was without some form of exercise, and had pent up energy I just couldn’t release as I wanted. Dan really stood by me, trusting that I would eventually become the happy and active girl he fell for.

weeknight running dates & dinner dates

Recently, Dan and I re-cancelled cable. Before we lived together, we didn’t have cable.

I have a problem.
I am addicted to bad TV.
So, I had to just go cold turkey. CUT IT OFF! That’s how I got back my life.

I stopped watching the s**t that passes as television. And I am much happier. Dan and I actually cook meals, as opposed to watching others cook meals. I can hear nature outside my window- birds, and cars, and the fountain in our courtyard.

Personally, it’s the best.

But, it also marks a re-birth of sorts. It’s officially getting hotter, and will soon be the dead of summer. And, it forces me to do things with my life. Such as running (but could be other things).

Monday

Monday night was great. I got home nice and early (I’m so glad my job has settled back down again, allowing me to head home before traffic), had a Nuun and some easter candy, and went for a little run. My four miles ended up being 4.5 miles. Oh, and I found a cat by a creek.

No, I did not bring the cat home. Even though our apt is no longer the “crazy three cat apartment” (I guess I’ll tell that story soon too).

Monday’s run was light and easy. I felt good, so I stretched my loop out a little further to a “five mile” with intentions of walking the last mile. The 10:00 pace felt like home again, and I managed to go “sub-8:30” on the last half-mile (downhill, but, hey, who cares). I also ran past Dan and Dave, just as some a-hole who was blazing through a red light almost hit me (I had the “white man walking” sign).  I managed to push a little on some hills, and relax on others, but maintain a somewhat steady speed- 9:30 to 10:30 pace.

Tuesday

Tuesday night looked like a bad storm was about to start, and my favorite thing to do when that happens is rush to get in some hill sprints, so I am never too far from safety. I did the closest, longest hill to our apartment. It turns out it was about 200m (0.12-.13 miles) long, and a 50ft elevation change. It was hard enough to feel like a good workout, but not so hard I couldn’t complete 4 repeats.. They ranged from 1:13 (9:30 pace) to 1:21 (10:40 pace). Not bad.

Maybe I’m weak. I had also ran 6 miles Sunday and 4.5 miles Monday, so maybe it was too much. Either way, my ab was a little sore later that night, and continued to tighten up throughout the night, so I gave in, and took a muscle relaxer to loosen things up overnight.

About me and my muscle relaxers… When my ab is sore, sometimes it can manage to loosen up on its own. Sometimes, it seems to just get more and more sore, until I have to forego exercise or just lay in bed all day. I’ve found that taking a muscle relaxer (5mg) helps to break this cycle, and relaxes my breathing and ab overnight. I definitely don’t rely on them, but usually end up taking one every week or two. It’s also part of revving up my training. My goal is to be able to figure out more accurately how much is “too much”, and find the “just right” balance to enhance strength in my abdominal muscle and push it a little further to get faster.

Wednesday

Aka “Date night”

Dan said he really wanted a steak (Maybe he was in Texas for too long), so we decided to head back to Stanbury for a good steak, and a fine liquid libation.

Side note: I love when bars call them Libations. It kind of makes me laugh. Maybe it’s because it’s a little pretentious, but, then it usually means they are good cocktails, so I guess I do really love it. Hmmm… Libations!

Yummy libation (tequila, jalapeño, and other deliciousness, served on rocks with smoked salt on one side). And onto the main dish- I got the scallops  which came with grilled onion and fennel, tossed in a delicious light vinaigrette over a bed of faro (bottom, left, mostly eaten… whoops!). All in all, delicious. Their veggies/sides always are great! Everything on the plate is thoughtfully planned out and meant to be eaten together. As opposed to the ‘oh right they will probably want some mashed potatoes with this’ veggies. Dan got the ribeye (top left, also partially devoured), which is why we went to Stanbury, so that was delicious as well.

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We then popped over to Hayes Barton in Five Points for a slice of cake and pie.

The night was perfect weather, so we took a little walk before eating our cake.

Thursday

Another night, another run. It was a beautiful night, and in keeping with getting back to my old normal, Dan and I went for a little four miler together. All in all, it felt good. Running with Dan always pushes me to run a little faster, and push the pace a little beyond my comfort zone. We have a little, steep downhill, following by a grueling 0.8 mile uphill. So it was slow at first, but the mile splits were 9:43, 9:41, 8:45, and then change for the last 0.64 miles. Overall pace 9:26, so I was happy with that. Hence, a little faster than normal, but not grueling fast speed.

Then, we pan-fried some sausage, kale, and broccoli for a well-rounded diner. Followed by the rest of my Hayes Barton cake.

dan me post-run

A little post-run picture. Red-faced, blurry, and all. You know what they say A couple that runs together, sweats together…

Also, I love that you can see our fully-stocked wine rack in the background, that may or may not have a bottle of vodka on it.

 

So, Happy Friday everyone!

I’m headed to Asheville for a pre-wedding sleepover with one of my old college besties (getting married NEXT weekend!). I may take pictures and post.

 

 

 

 

lots of work ahead…

Last night was the first ever Raleigh Brewing Company and Fleet Feet team-up for a run. I enjoy Raleigh Brewing Company, and it’s about a 5 minute drive from my house; same for Fleet Feet. And I support local.

Also, I am trying to get back to running more often and more regularly, so a good social run, or making more running friends is a good thing. And, the Hell Yes Ma’am at RBC is one of my favorites. In my opinion, a good training session requires a good beer afterwards. It cools you down, and relaxes your muscles almost as well as foam rolling. But, it’s actually enjoyable. Just one though, more than that and suddenly, it’s a Wednesday night, and you’re calling someone to pick you up because you’re wasted.

Also, be cautious- beer is stronger after a good, hard run.

So, I got home early, changed, grabbed my garmin, and headed out at 545pm. I hit crazy traffic- just getting out of my neighborhood, and the “5 minute drive” took about 20 minutes… So I got there as they were wrapping up the “this is where we are going… This is how far, and yada yada yada…” I know the drill. Also, I saw Kerry, who coached us in 2012 for my Nashville PR, so it felt like home.

And I followed the herd, with no clue of how far we were going, or where the turn around was. But, I trust Kerry. I could accuse him of making the turn-around at 1.6 miles instead of 1.5 miles for an extra umph, but never to just go crazy off-course.

We ran out the Meredith/Reedy Creek greenway, and my legs felt very loose and springy. Not really what I expected after Sunday’s slow race. But, hey, I got in a good shake-out Monday night with Dan (cut to 1.7 miles because the race was coming down so hard it was stinging my eyes). Apparently that must have shaken them out pretty good.

The greenway out by Meredith and the NC Museum of Art (NCMA) is pretty hilly, rolling, and cut off from cars, and kind of pretty in a quiet (but you can still hear Wade Ave and the interstates, and even run over one I-40 at one point kind of way). I estimated I was going a 10:30 in my first mile, so I was surprised when my garmin chimed “9:33”, and I happily pushed myself up each hill.

I was surprised how much pep my legs had, but eventually, my breathing became labored (around 2 miles in), and I had to work for a 29:20 5K time. Up each hill, I kept telling myself I needed to push it. Dropping ~15 minutes from a half marathon is a lot, and it’s going to take 6 months of dedication. I’ve done it before, but it takes strength with every run. Even if that strength is just getting out the door, and pushing up another hill, or an extra mile.

I also laughed at the idea that I needed to be going about 45 seconds (PER MILE) faster, and maintain for 13 miles. But, I’ve been that fast before, and I will get it back.

And I’ll leave you with a stolen text quote (courtesy of the great Runners World)

goodthingscomeslow

My comeback to distance running in my hometown

Inaugural Rock n Roll Raleigh Half Marathon Recap

Backstory

Let me start by saying that it has been a while since I posted anything on here. There are a few reasons, but, honestly, I needed to return to running in private. I was afraid posting about how little I was running or how slow, or how hard it was, and how much it hurt, would only make it hurt more. About a year ago, I ran through an abdominal strain. In general, I didn’t think it was too bad. Eventually, it got to the point where I was in pain (or “high” on muscle relaxers) the majority of last summer. But, I have talked about that enough…

I first signed up for the RnR Raleigh as the full marathon about a year ago, when it was first announced RnR was coming to Raleigh. There was a lot of controversy about it. All of which I find stupid. Some people argued that we had too many races as it is (in my opinion, these people are the lazy people who do not understand or appreciate all the hard work that goes into planning/training or running a race). Others just felt that this particular “big” race would pull away from the smaller races in the area. From my experience, the RnR attracts a lot of beginners, and beginners usually catch the bug, and sign up for other races- even 5K or 10Ks. Also, it challenges race organizers to be inventive to get people out. Raleigh has 8 half marathons I believe- City of Oaks (the biggest), Raleigh Rocks (which has now been changed to the “Rockin Rebellion” to accommodate the #RnRhaters, and is in April AND October), a Turkey Gobbler (in Wake Forest), Midtown (which was so popular, they have one in June AND September), American Tobacco Trail, Inside Out Sports Classic. Also, 3 mid-size full marathons (City of Oaks, ATT, and Umstead) Anyway, the controversy makes me laugh. I just had to note it- because I think the out of towners had no idea their desire to come to Raleigh upset so many haters.

When I signed up I was also signed up for Richmond full last November. I ended up not even showing up for that. In November, I struggled to get through 5 miles. As of January, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to complete the half marathon in April. All of this isn’t to organize a pity party for me, but to point out how far I have come.

In training for RnR Ral, I gave myself a goal to get to 10 miles. Once I got to 10 miles, Dan and I went to Mandolin for dinner (sooooo freakin’ yummy!). That was February 9, 2014. I hadn’t ran that far since April, 2013, as part of a relay race.

I ran with a friend Sheryl, who was training for the full marathon. One day, I had agreed to 12 miles, but she was going 18-20 miles. I ended up clocking 14.5 miles that day (March 8, 2014).  I managed to max out at 20 miles per week two weeks in a row. So, Sheryl and I would meet up, and run a slow and steady 10-14 miles at a time. I almost always picked routes with hills, knowing that Raleigh has hills. There were weekends when our schedules didn’t match up, and we ran apart.

 

Pre-Race

I was so nervous the week before the race, that I just kept taking muscle relaxers to sleep, to make sure that my ab pain didn’t creep back in the slightest. I didn’t run at all last week, except for the race. People asked what my goal was, and it was mixed. Of course, every runner loves to PR. I would say, “I just want to finish”, and genuinely mean it, but I had an idea of 2:10-2:15 in my head. The more runs I did, the more confident I felt. My fastest half marathon on record is about 2:08, though I’d been running much faster when I got injured last year.

I went to the expo Friday afternoon (after work). It was your typical RnR expo- large with lots of sponsors and goodies. I didn’t really want to go through each exhibit- just get my packet, grab a Trophy pizza, and head home. But, it was nice. Brooks had RnR Raleigh shirts in my favorite style. I was tempted to get one, but didn’t even want to look at the price tag, as I figured the typical $25 shirt was closer to $50. To have a NC state outline, and “RnR” or something in it. Still, I wasn’t hatin on people who were wearing them… I was kind of jealous. haha.

I had a few friends running the full marathon. So, all last week, when I got nervous or scared, I made a sign for them. I ended up with 10 signs… 🙂 The full marathon happened to go just past my house, so Saturday night, Dan and I drove around, putting up signs for them by our neighborhood (miles 11-19 for them). I went to sleep around 10pm, setting my alarm for 4:45am.

Race Day

I tried to plan with Dan to account for traffic, and the road closures. We had planned to leave at 5:50am. I got up as soon as my alarm went off, went out to get some coffee (“out” into our kitchen), and started getting my clothes on, and a little SPF 35 CC cream for my face. The weather for the morning- 60 at 7am, 70 by 9am, and about 80 by 12pm. And sunny. I actually think I overdressed (In the second mile, I was tearing my sleeves off).

Flat Chandi RnRRal

I ate a slice of toast with peanut butter. I had stopped drinking the night before, because I had a feeling I was overly hydrated. So, no water Sunday morning. I waited for my coffee to do its thing. I woke Dan up around 540. He was ready to go by 550, as planned. I went to the bathroom one last time (success!), and we left our building by 555.

Some of the road closures took effect at 6am, but most of the “outer” sections were supposed to close at 630am. We met our first closure about 5 minutes into our drive, that was supposed to be closed at 630am. SHIT! Dan and I both panicked- trying to find an alternate route. He kept saying “I’ll take X road”, and I’d shut him down, “nope, that’s closed off”. The ONLY way in and out was from South Saunders. We finally got to S Saunders, and it was clear it was the “only” way, because EVERYONE (10,000 runners and spectators) were on it. It looked worse than a typical weekday rush hour… Hmmm… We looked at each other, and Dan was like, “nope”, made a couple turns (through a random gravel parking lot… mind you South Raleigh can be rough in parts), and got me about 3 blocks from the start. Not sure how that all worked out, but I was to the starting area (Salisbury St) by 625, and headed straight to the port-a-potty, as we all do the morning of a long race. I waited for 20 mins, and by the time I made my way to the corrals, it was 655, and the only corral open to runners was corral 12. I was supposed to be in corral 11, so this was fine. However, you could tell it was the only one open, because I saw people from as low as corral 4 to as high as corral 24. hmmmm… maybe this will be a clusterf*** the first few miles. As the race started, and we starting moseying ahead, I spotted a familiar teal mohawk, and scooted over to start with Darryl and a couple of his running buddies (Teryn and Rachel). They were all running the full, but shooting for a 4:30 time, so I figured it’d be perfect, and my 2:15 would be good, as I’d be with them for 8.5 miles of my 13.

A race photographer found me looking for a corral, and got this shot (I promise, I plan to buy a few, because they are actually pretty good, but wanted to get this post up before I forget)–

RnR beforeWe started off nice and slow and steady, allowing our legs to warm-up, careful not to pass people too quickly. Our first mile was 10:28, and that sounded perfect to me. We all cheered for how “on target” we were. I put my headphones in, and kept my motivation up. Teryn and Rachel slowly started to speed up, but it was downhill, so we went along with it. “9:17” Darryl and I both looked at each other, laughed, and suggested to the newbies that we slow down. Which we did. The next mile was “9:27”, and our first 5K was over, in about 30 minutes (but I missed hitting the pad for an official time). Then, I lost Darryl in the fourth mile. Rachel and Teryn pulled too far ahead, and I lost them too by the fifth mile. I was now on my own, and on target for a 2:10 with some big hills to come. I planned to run the race hans style (solo), so I didn’t mind. I just kept pluggin’ away, as I started to hit some of the first set of uphills.

Going through Oakwood and Mordecai reminded me of times in high school (I grew up in Raleigh), and it was great to see so many people out to support the runners. Raleigh was out in true form. I even saw a few people I hadn’t seen in years (clearly out to support someone else, but it still felt like home). The brightly-colored wave of runners made its way to Peace St, past the Krispy Kreme, and past Peace University, and down our last downhill. My garmin buzzed another mile, and I was still sub-10:00 pace by the 10K.

The fluorescent, sweaty herd struggled to get all the way up Peace/Clark. One man was sitting by the Black Lotus, who said we were done with this hill (at the first plateau, just before Glenwood Ave). I have ran this route before, so I laughed, and shook my head at him. I knew this hill would slowly roll for another mile or so. The wave of people slowed down, some people started to toss aside their goals, and decided to walk. I heard some people discussing their struggles with the hill. I knew I’d soon see Dan, and Sarah, and Will, and was amazed that there was not a foot of the sidewalk where my fellow Raleigh-ites were not out in full swing. Even those who were passively watching because they couldn’t leave their houses… Thank you!

I made it up the hill, with a 9:53, which left me astounded and proud. I came upon Cameron Village, and wanted so badly to see the Flying Biscuit (where Dan said he’d set up camp, before anyone else, as soon as he left me in South Raleigh). We spend a good amount of time in Cameron Village, and I thought of the Bloody Mary’s at Cameron Grill, and chugged on, until I saw Sarah. Dan was hiding behind a tree, Will sitting next to him in a camp chair. Sarah was cheering for everyone passing, and I yelled her name, as they all yelled and cheered me on. They all looked shocked (even though I was perfectly on time- at a 10:00-min pace, as I had estimated, and had even texted Dan when the corral before me left the start). It was a little boost to see them, and I half-pictured them hopping into the van (relay buddies), to meet me a mile or two down the road…

Oh well, onway and upward. The hill wasn’t completely over, though it had flattened a little. I wondered if the spectators knew how long of a hill we’d been going up, as they encouraged walkers to pick it up. I knew the turn-off was up ahead. It had to be, we were almost to 8 miles. I was tired. I was thirsty. Bad sign. You never want to be thirsty during a race. But, really I was exhausted. The thought occured to me that I hadn’t seen the GU station that was supposed to be around mile 5. I glanced down, and I had been running for about 90 minutes. Generally, I use something every 60 minutes. Ruh-roh!

[Also, just a note- they had Gatorade, but gatorade is too syrupy and makes me nauseous. I prefer Honey Stinger chews (or Sports Beans “bean me up”) and Nuun. But, when I am thrifty or running a lot, I will do every other with GU- they also take up less space.]

Finally, we turned on Hillsborough, and we started our return to downtown. Actually, it was kind of nice, because the majority of the time, you could see downtown in the background. And there was the glorious GU station. Gatorade first. Yuck. Water- yay! GU… yay! …Bleck! Gross! and more water… Just to wash it down, splash the rest on your face. That will totally hydrate you. Well, hell, at this rate, I’ll pour it on my head. It’s hot up in her’!

I appreciated the downhill slope of Hillsborough. I’ve ran this before at the end of a race- it’s a great ending- just enough slope to make you feel speedy effortlessly, but not so much that you feel like you are spinning out of control. We rounded the round-about, and turned on Pullen, and my garmin chimed for another mile “10:28”, and I felt great. I just let go on the downhill, through NC State’s campus, past Pullen Park, then turned onto Western.

And I started to feel it. I wondered when the next water stop was. I was feeling so tired. More than I should be, and I just hoped I had enough to get through another 4 miles. Okay, now is the time to ramp it up, right? So I tried to ramp it up, and felt queasy. You can do this I told myself, and then I vommed in my mouth. Gross. You can slow down now. It’s okay. Let the GU fully settle. And “10:03” chimed in, to agree that it’s okay. Okay, new plan- 2:12? I was at about that pace, and there was no shelter from the shade. I turned onto Dorothy Dix’s campus, and was waiting for the beauty to hit me. I love this campus. Instead, I felt numb to it all. Spectators? Didn’t matter. I just wanted to get to Mile 10.5. My dad said he’d be at mile 10.5. I passed by a thankful water station, which helped me feel better. I started to worry that I had missed him. I got over it, and just continued to chug along, running at a somewhat steady 10:30 pace. I had slowed down, but I still had my eye on 2:15, and was convinced I’d feel peppier when I got the downtown area.

Finally, I saw him! Right after the 11 mile, I waved at him on a small downhill from Dorothy Dix campus to Lake Wheeler, and turned into downtown. I feel a little pep, and tried to push it again, as I knew the Boylan hill was ahead of me, and a cushion of time would help. I tried to push it up Lenoir, but “push” was a 10:30 pace, and felt hard. I continued up Boylan, where they forced us onto the sidewalk, which I thought was asinine. This was at mile 11.5-12, and people were walking. And this sidewalk is only one person wide, broken, and has a steep hill on either side, lined with trees. But, every time we runners (sorry, there were a lot of walkers at this point) tried to jump down to the street to run, some volunteer would berate us like a bad dog peeing on the carpet. So I crushed a few people- sorry! Truly! And that was at a 12:00 pace…

Finally we got to the top of Boylan, and I knew we were past the 12 Mile point, whether the course said it or not (I hadn’t seen it, but I did see the Fleet Feet Raleigh love on Boylan Bridge). I felt inspired to run a little faster for the last mile. And vommed in my mouth again. Alright. I get it body. I can go slow, or I can vomit and go kinda faster. I chose to go slow. People were passing me left and right. Fans were cheering to pick it up into the home stretch. And, as I passed Nash Square, dodging to the right, in case I actually did puke, the 2:15 pacer triumphantly flew past me. And I didn’t even care. That’s how I know I was hurting. I am competitive, and anyone passing me in the last mile is bad news. I just didn’t want to walk down the final stretch on Fayetteville, so I kept plugging around, at my slowing pace. I managed to smile as much as I could for cameras. But, one guy got my true shot- as I stopped my watch, I really thought I was going to hurl. I didn’t see medical tent or staffers. I didn’t see a bucket or trash can. So I proceeded to get my medal, a dry towel, and searched for an ice bucket, grabbed some water (shove a Nuun tab in that. Yes, I hid a Nuun in my back pocket), got a banana and protein bar, and by the time I found a spot to sit, I no longer needed to puke. I texted Dan to let him know I was done, and final time of 2:17-something, and told him where I was.

He was there in minutes, and I told him how I had been doing so good, up until the last two or three miles….

The last few miles were a blur to me. I felt awful. I am not sure if it was dehydration, or overhydration, or lack of electrolytes, or if the GU just didn’t settle right on my stomach. I have never felt like that after a run. If I’m overheated, I usually get dizzy/light-headed, sometimes losing some vision (high blood pressure in my eyes), or see spots, once or twice swaying after finishing. But, never feeling 100% sure I would barf.

I have no regrets. I am proud of my 2:17. And once I felt fully hydrated again, I went back to Nash Square to cheer on my fellow runners. Dan grabbed us some coffee and more water, and I kept yelling for them, hoping I’d start seeing my full-ers soon.

Finally, I saw Beth, and yelled my butt off (4:10, oh yeah, and 8th in her age group- WHAT?! That girl is a beast). Then, Rachel, who I met just before the race with Darryl. Then, Teryn, Darryl’s other buddy. I anticipated Sheryl soon, so I walked along the course to the Boylan Bridge to meet her, and spotted Andrea. She was hurting, feeling just like I had. So, I ran her in, and we ran and walked a little, until I patted her on the back into the finisher shoot. And then, I finally got a text from Sheryl- she was on Lenoir. I texted back- I’m on the Boylan Bridge- see you soon! And I ran her in the last mile.

Here’s a few shots her friend got of us (I thought it was so cute, even though it’s pixely)

RnR with Sheryl 1

RnR with Sheryl 3

So, all in all, I ran about 15 miles on Sunday. Someone managed to snap a picture of Sheryl and me, and it makes me happy- a picture of me and my training buddy. Did I mention Sheryl sub-2’ed this spring? Yup! And that’s my next goal- for the fall. I was fast enough for that last year (was training for a sub-4:00 full marathon). Anyway, that’s next- in like 6 months.

That means, this summer will include a lot of sweat, sore muscles, blisters, probably less toenails, chafing, and probably lots of post-run beer 🙂

the come-back kid (I hope)

I’ve been without pain for the past few weeks. Without any chiropractor appointments.

So I signed up for this year’s Ridgewood Turkey Trot. It’s a 5-miler on Thanksgiving day. This will be my fourth year in a row. I’m sure it will be my slowest. And I am settled, and okay with that. It just means I will keep getting stronger and faster in the future.

I’m going to test out a 5-mile run on Saturday (or Sunday). Otherwise, I haven’t ran 5 miles in 6 months. I’m pretty excited.

For our (1-year) anniversary, I gave Dan a scavenger hunt. We had a lot of fun. Me, feeling like a CIA agent, stalking through Raleigh, leaving gifts and cryptic messages, then staying close by to watch it until Dan showed up. Then, scurrying to the next destination without being “caught” or seen. Dan enjoyed the doting (each clue had a little love note attached), attention, and said he felt like he was a CIA agent, tracking down my clues. He never saw me, and had no idea I was there. He said he was really hesitant to drink the coffee I left for him.

pimento cheese + Clue, left on the doorstep of Location #1

pimento cheese + Clue, left on the doorstep of Location #1

Anyway, the last gift was registration for the Turkey Trot. We met running, so it felt like appropriate timing. Last year, we ran it together, and both PR’d (significantly so for a 5-mile race). For our anniversary, he got me the ULTIMATE headlamp. It sounds weird to others- but we met on a team for a distance relay, so it was very fitting. We also went to a really nice dinner at the Stanbury (delicious little hip restaurant in Mordecai district of Raleigh; I didn’t know I liked brussel sprouts until that dinner… Also the pumpkin-chocolate creme brulee was to die for! Too bad Dan didn’t want to try the beef tongue… I was all ready for that!)

Dan's "Mr Grumpy Pants" in the morning

Dan’s “Mr Grumpy Pants” in the morning

Mug and coffee left at Location #2. I feel the need to elaborate on the mug: Dan is very grumpy before he gets his coffee in the morning, so the mug was fitting. We have a collection of about 20 mugs, and 18 of which are mine from various trips, from family members, etc. The point is almost all our mugs are “mine” (or his boring mugs… he lost his Seinfeld mug), so I wanted to get him a character mug. He has one from a tri he finished recently.

So I have three weeks to “get ready” for the Turkey Trot. I am not trying to set any records, but it would feel good to be able to run the entire course, and feel slightly speedy/competitive. I’ve been holding back during training, so maybe a race will help me find some external motivation, and spark some enthusiasm for speeding up 🙂

Here’s some autumn inspiration:

our neighborhood street. So pretty this time of year!

our neighborhood street. So pretty this time of year!

The sunrise on Tuesday morning. Kind of glad I had to work so early, so I could see it :)

The sunrise on Tuesday morning. Kind of glad I had to work so early, so I could see it 🙂