2012 Race Reports: TCS Annapolis Half Marathon (Annapolis, MD – State #9)

Race: TCS Annapolis Half Marathon

City: Annapolis, MD   Date: 12/01/2012

Distance: 13.1 mi

Weather: Lower 40s, overcast – perfect half marathon weather!

Course:  Surprisingly hilly for a coastal town, but a (mostly) scenic route and somewhat of a challenge in parts

Summary: Great race, quirky – yet lovable – town, PR busted (finally), and I still can’t believe I finished FOUR half marathons this year… and that I’ve finished NINE total.

Prologue

Before I get started, I need to thank the host cities for the races I attended this year.

I have to admit: I have loved all four of the half marathons I’ve done this year. Not a single complaint from me about any of them. All for different reasons, but all have been great races. Two (this one and Hilton Head) have been small, two (Indianapolis and San Francisco) have been huge. All have been great experiences – and have had great support from the communities – from the bottom of my heart: thank you to all four cities for welcoming and supporting us… for putting up with closed roads, sudden influx of crazy people uttering words like “splits” and “compression” and “PR” and “Garmin”, and jamming up the wait times for your favorite pasta restaurants the night before the race. Yet, not only do you put up with all that, you all come out there to cheer for us in the cold, in the hot, early in the morning, and you stay for hours. You play music for us. You give us more Cowbell. You encourage us. You high-five us. You make signs like “way to go complete stranger” that encourage and entertain us. You congratulate us when we finish, whatever our time happens to be or how we feel about it, even though we’ve never met.

Thank you, Annapolis, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Hilton Head Island, for the wonderful experiences this year.

****

I’m Irish. I’ll go ahead and admit that. Those who know me personally think I *may* mention that a little too often, but I was raised to be proud of it, so I am (I promise this is going to make sense later, so stick with me here). I mention that now because Annapolis is *famously* Irish. I think that, in the US, the only other town “more Irish” is Boston. Or, at least, the Irish part of my family tends to bring that up in their “when we lived in Maryland” conversations. Another reason this town is significant to me is that my Grandfather served in the Navy and, well, the start and finish was at the Naval Academy.

Go Navy.

None of that had anything to do with my registering for this race, however. I registered for it because it was cheap, convenient enough to be a “Ninja Trip” and fit into my schedule. Not only that, but it is a newer race (this is the 2nd year) so I figured it was going to be kind of small and they gave runners a jacket the year before and promised something similar this year. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

I had no major plans for this race. It was to be the kind of race I would attend, make a few humorous remarks about, post some photos, and sigh at the end when I didn’t break my PR. I’d talk – again – about how I needed to refocus. I needed more cross-training, and, now that I had the treadmill, I needed to buckle down with the mileage. That was my expectation for this race. Secretly, I did want to do better than I did in Hilton Head (1:56:00), but I wasn’t sure I would even come close to my PR, so I honestly didn’t have that expectation of it.

However… I while I was busy living my life and following my plan for things, something kind of amazing happened when I wasn’t even paying attention.

I got better at running.

I had been working on speed in the latter half of the year. I had sustained speeds I couldn’t imagine as a 400m interval a year ago, and I had done it for a mile or more in a row. I broke my 10k PR in my favorite race for that distance (City of Oaks/Old Reliable 10k) just a month before this race. I was slow to take credit for any of the improvement – I attributed my “good fortune” from the running gods as just a fluke or energy from race rabbits or running buddies. I had a hard time believing that I could do that because – for the last two years – my training was stagnant.

Leading up to this race, though, I finally got the treadmill I’ve needed (and the attitude adjustment that went along with it). I finally got the long runs I’d been craving. I finally got the speed workouts I’d missed (albeit dreaded). It isn’t as though I took it all for granted: I just had a healthy dose of disbelief in my own ability for no other reason than this was new territory for me… and I do not like to fail. So, I set a goal far enough out that I felt like I could achieve it (February) and I decided that I would continue on the trajectory I was on: for the month of November, I ran 100 miles for the month, the average pace of which was 8:49. I still have some element of disbelief about that pace, even though, I know I was specifically working on that.

Still… I was planning to break my PR at my next half marathon in Alabama in February.

Pre-Race

I was excited, as I usually am, for this race. Probably more so this time around because the night before I left, I finally did something I never thought I’d do: log 100 miles in a month. I am super proud of that, and it really put me in a great mood.

Since this was a Ninja Trip, I didn’t have to pack much. I got all my gear out and put it in my gym bag – packing a few options, just in case. I couldn’t find my sleeves, so I thought I’d do something I had never done in 8 other half marathons: I’d go shopping at the expo. Surely, they had sleeves there. If not, I had enough time to find a running store after I got there, so I wasn’t worried about it. Just in case, though, I brought my running jacket. I packed a few snacks so I didn’t have to stop to eat, and I decided to bring the rest of the hard boiled eggs so I could be sure I would have what I needed to eat the next morning. I packed them, along with some frozen mini-hot dogs (just in case I couldn’t find any beef I wanted) and my chargers. I got the kids ready, dropped off the dog, took the kids through carpool, gassed up, and was on my way.

The drive itself was relatively uneventful: the I-95 drive is boring. I hit a little traffic around DC (when isn’t there traffic in DC??) and had to make a gas/bathroom stop shortly after DC in what I consider to be the nastiest  bathroom I’ve seen on the East Coast (there was a nastier one in CA, but I choose not think about that…)

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I got to the expo to get my packet around 3:00. The “expo” was actually in a set of heated tents set up just outside the stadium (through this event, we never actually went into the stadium). At first, I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place – it looked like the RD (or someone that appeared to be a RD) was giving directions to people at the last minute and there weren’t any signs. Just a big tent.

There were still a lot of vendors setting stuff up, too. packet pick up started at noon (it was past 3 at this point), so I thought it would be a little more crowded and organized, so I walked around a little to make sure I was in the right place – including taking this shot of the Blue Angels jet parked outside the stadium (I love aviation, but that’s for a different blog).

2012-12-01_AnnapolisHM_Premium

Once I got past the tents, I realized that the tents were the expo (oooh…) and I went inside to get my packet and my “premium”. I think I might just stop referring to this activity as “getting a packet” because most races don’t really give “packets” any more. In most cases, they hand you a bib and you get a shirt… and not even a bag to put it all in. This was the case here. I got my bib – I tested the chip to make sure it worked, and I collected my “premium”.

I found it interesting that they referred to it as a “premium” – it is nice – for sure. I was kind of hoping for a jacket, like the one they had last year, but this one seemed very nice and I was happy to have it. But, I did notice something odd in that all race personnel referred to it exclusively as “the premium”. In fact, when I heard a few of the other runners refer to it as “the shirt” the volunteers quickly responded “oh, you mean the premium”.

Ok, then… I’d like my premium shirt, please.

I then went shopping at the “expo” – the one running shop (even Fleet Feet didn’t make it down there – it was a local shop) that was there and open – premium and bib in hand (no bag). I found some pretty awesome sleeves in yellow and red (!) that were fleece lined and I thought would be good to alternate with my black cotton ones… if I could ever find them again (I did). And, they were about the same price as the black cotton ones! I also found a couple of short sleeved shirts that were a pretty good deal, so I grabbed those… and, gloves. I left my usual $1 “throw-away” gloves (that I’ve had for a couple of years…) at home, so I needed another pair… and I got a power bar – something I’m not used to eating mid-run, but I had run out of my usual and thought I could find it here. No such luck, so power bar it was. For all this stuff, I did get a bag.

2012-12-01_AnnapolisHM_HotelCoffeeMug2012-12-01_AnnapolisHM_NoisePolicy

I gathered my stuff and headed to the hotel – O’Callaghan (see? I said it would come up again…) Annapolis Hotel. I didn’t do a whole lot of research on this place before I booked it: it was just cheaper than the other place (Westin) so I booked it. Just before I left, though, I came across some reviews of the place that were… let’s say, less than favorable. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I pulled up to find valet parking only. Fancy. I hate valet parking – just makes me feel snooty – but I didn’t have the choice: it was valet only. I got all my stuff (thank goodness it was only one night and not a lot of stuff) and I headed inside to check in. I got my key and immediately, I was surprised that the key holder had a “noise policy” on it. haha. I have stayed in a fair number of hotels, but I must say this is the first time I’ve seen one that had a noise policy in the key holder.

2012-12-01_AnnapolisHM_HallwayBathroomsAs interesting, however, as the noise policy was, the thing I saw when the doors first opened on the 4th floor where my room was kind of scared me a little…

I saw hallway bathrooms. Right there. In front of the elevator. As soon as you get off. What?!?!

Immediately my thought was “uh oh… tomorrow is gonna suck…. if nothing else, I’ll have a very interesting story for my blog”.

I meander down the hall and find my room, and to my delight, there is a private bathroom in it (yes!) I drop all my stuff, get out my run gear to check, double check and triple check that I brought everything. Found my black sleeves (didn’t I check there before?) and plugged in my Garmin. I was a little indecisive about going out to eat at this point (it was only 3:45, and how old am I?), but I decided that I was pretty hungry and I wanted to walk around a bit, so I did.

2012-12-01_AnnapolisHM_StreetViewDowntown Annapolis is an interesting place. I found it to be quite eclectic – a strange mix of ultra wealthy next to ultra poor and the artsy in between. The buildings seem to be clustered by decade and it appears they only get one new one every 30 years or so: there was a mix of pre-20th century landmarks next to early 20th-century government owned row houses next to late 1970s stone facade architecture next to brand new stuff built about 10 years ago. There were a lot of art shops, book stores, and Irish pubs (see? I said it would come up again…) The sidewalks were all brick, and some of the bigger intersections were also brick. Being so close to the ocean, though, I could still smell the salty air and feel the humidity. I loved it!

The other strange thing I noticed about this town is the sheer number of smokers here. I’m from North Carolina – they don’t call us “tobacco road” for no reason. Smoking used to be something that was no big deal here until about 10 years ago when we started to ban it in public places. You still see people smoking in NC, but not nearly as many as there used to be. I swear, almost every person I saw in Annapolis, though, had a cigarette in their hand or hanging out of their mouth. It was kind of surreal to me.

It was such a beautiful day, I found myself walking around for about an hour – snapping photos and stopping at windows of art galleries and book stores – before I finally decided to eat. I was getting light headed and my stomach was growling. I passed a few places that sounded good – a steak house, a Mexican place… a few Irish pubs. But, one place, Fado, had a sign that said “on a day like today, you should have the Shepard’s Pie”.

2012-12-01_AnnapolisHM_ShepherdsPieSo, again, the Irish thing comes up. I am Irish, but I *hate* Irish food. I’m also southern and *hate* southern food, so at least I’m consistently annoyed by food I’m supposed to love. The one exception I may ever make to the Irish food thing is Shepherd’s pie.

Sometimes.

You never know what you’re going to get with Shepherd’s pie: it might be just meat and potatoes. There might be all kinds of veggies you love. You might have all kinds of stuff that you cannot recognize. It is a toss up. However, usually, the potato topping will mask some of the crazy stuff in it and you don’t even taste it. This, friends, is why I (generally speaking) will eat Shepherd’s Pie. I left the placard at Fado thinking about the Shepherd’s pie. I visited a few other places, but kept thinking about the Shepherd’s pie. Think of the Homer Simpson voice saying “mmmm…. Shepherd’s Pie” here – because that was completely what was going on in my mind at the time.

Finally, I stopped debating it and went back to Fado. Boy… am I glad I did. The Shepherd’s pie was, indeed, tasty. It was just meat and potatoes – and it was salty – just the way I like it. The orange stuff was…. well… more of an acquired taste. There were carrots. There were other unidentifiable veggies. I think beets were involved. I wasn’t a fan of it at first, but I ate all of it because I was super hungry.

2012-12-01_AnnapolisHM_GodKnowsThe most remarkable thing about Fado to me, though, wasn’t even the food. It was the atmosphere. I swear the main barkeep was yanked right out of Ireland, only he had a southern US accent. He totally looked the part. There were middle-aged business men who were getting an early start on their happy hour yelling stories about how they keep their daughters out of “hockey parties” because they themselves played hockey and, well, they know what goes on there… there were five (not joking) different soccer games on. There were Shepherd’s pie specific condiments that I have never seen nor used (nor did I need them). And, the cherry on the pie of this experience: the music was a record (yes, vinyl for all you hipsters out there) of mid-1980s Christmas music. How do I know it was a record? Southern US Irish Barkeep actually scratched it when he was changing the song. haha. I got a great giggle from that.

I paid my bill, and decided to walk around a little more. I went to a coffee shop to get some coffee and a dessert (I never eat desserts, but I really wanted one this evening) and I saw the BEST little sign there – no strong arming into tips??

With a full belly and tired legs, I was ready to go back to my room. It was getting dark and cold, anyway, so I didn’t need too much convincing. I went back to my room, set all the alarms, talked to my boys and was out like a light by 9 PM.

Race Day

2012-12-01_AnnapolisHM_BreakfastI set my first alarm – on my Garmin, which chirps – for 4 AM. I’m not sure why, but I did. I guess I just didn’t want to be late. When it first went off, I didn’t even know where I was. I was confused. I had slept so deeply that I didn’t realize I wasn’t at home for a few seconds and that I was running a race in a couple of hours. It took me a good minute to get reoriented…. and then I was grateful for the incredible sleep because I never usually sleep well in hotels (I seem to be breaking that trend lately, though).

I took a few minutes to wake up, and then I got out of bed and got dressed and then started my stretching routine. I spent a good 45 minutes on it – I took my time. I pinned my bib, and then I ate my breakfast. I had been offered a breakfast by the hotel – and taken them up on it, but it didn’t start until 6 am and I didn’t want to wait that long. I pulled out the last of the hard cooked eggs I brought with me (I usually eat them scrambled but I didn’t have a way to do that, so I went with Hard Cooked). I ate three – which is all I thought I could stomach at the time – and downed some water.

Now, I was getting nervous. I made my final pit stop, and then I gathered my things and headed out to the race.

Part of the reason I chose the O’Callagahan hotel was the proximity to the start line: .8 mile. A warm up. And, even though it was a bit chilly, it wasn’t a bad walk. I ended up walking in with another runner and we chatted for a bit – we wished each other luck, I went to the bathroom again, and I found my way to bag check.
Bag check was interesting – they gave us plastic bags and asked us to write our numbers on the bags in huge markers and then put the tags inside the bags – I thought it was a bit of a strange system, but I did it anyway. It was just a run jacket and, while I would miss it if it got lost, I didn’t bring my favorite so I was OK with it. Some people, though, put pretty much everything but the kitchen sink in their bags. A lot of people wanted to drop some things off now, and then come back later to do it again. There was only one volunteer working at that time (it was a little after 6 AM) and he pleaded with people to do it all at once. I couldn’t believe some folks actually argued with him about it.

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After I checked my bag, I went into the tent (same as the day before) to thaw out a little, and then started playing my music to warm up. I got a few recommendations from one of my friends, and decided that Organ Donor by Zomboy was probably the best bet for getting me ready, so I played it on repeat and ventured out of the tent to take some photos before we got started.

As I was shooting, though, I felt the urge to go again, so I went back to the port-a-johns to get in line. For such a small race, though, the lines were sooooo long. I waited for about 10 minutes until I heard the national anthem – and then I decided “I’ll just go later” and left the line – if you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know it is impossible for me to have a Half Marathon story that does not involve a bathroom visit at some point. I’m happy to report: this story does not disappoint.

Because this was a pretty small race, there were no formal corrals – it was the honor system. Well… since I was in line at the bathroom, I was toward the back of the start line. Oh well. I wasn’t expecting this to be a big deal, so I was OK with it. I started my Garmin and got satellites. I started my app. I started my music. I was ready.

I didn’t hear a gun… all of the sudden people started walking, so, I went with the flow… then we were jogging, so I went with the flow. Then we passed the first set of sensors. Then the second. then the third. And we were on our way… and then I realized: my phone app didn’t start.

Damnit.

I fiddled with my phone app for what seemed like an eternity (it was probably only about a minute or so, but I lost about .2o of a mile). I finally got it running and settled in to the run, slightly annoyed. I was annoyed about my app. I was annoyed about the fact that there were so many people in front of me going slow. I was annoyed about the fact that the roads were narrow. I just wanted to get around people. As with any race, I spent the first 1.5 mile or so just passing people that shouldn’t have lined up in front of me in the first place. As I went through that mile, though, I heard my app tell me I was at a sub 8:30 pace. That couldn’t be right. I needed to slow down.

I swear I felt like I was running at a snails pace. I was still in a pretty thick crowd, though, we were starting to thin out a little and I could actually start to enjoy the run. I have my phone app set to give me my pace every 5 minutes, and although it was about .25 mile short, I kept it on so I could hear the pace throughout and keep a sense of how I was doing. About 20 minutes after I started the app, I was still averaging about an 8:30 pace. I thought: “either this can’t be right, or I need to sloooooowwwww down.” I thought I slowed, so I just tried to enjoy the town a little more.

Around mile 3 or so, we were going through the downtown portion of town which was just adorable. I was a little freaked out about the brick road, though – scared to death I was going to trip on a loose brick or something because I was too busy looking at the buildings (I did get distracted there for a bit). Once we got through the downtown area, we went through a marina-like area and, by this time, I really had to go. I tried to hold it, but I was about to explode, so when I saw a sign for the bathroom, I went for it… wait… what do I see?? REAL Bathrooms!! With toilets that flush! And water to wash your hands. Yes please! I literally ran into the bathroom, then into the stall – did what I needed to do, washed my hands, and ran out. I was in there a sum total of maybe 90 seconds. That is probably the fastest bathroom visit I have ever had. I didn’t even stop the Garmin or the app.

And, yes, I still had a pace slightly over 8:30 after this visit.

Once I was done with the bathroom, I really started to enjoy the run more. It was less crowded where I was at this point and I was comfortable so I could just enjoy the views of the town… until we started crossing the bridges – it was overcast in town, but downright foggy over the water. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see anything. And we crossed about 4 bridges throughout the run. Ah, well. At one point, a guy ran with me and we chatted for a while – really nice guy, and it didn’t hurt he was attractive – asked for advice on running and we chatted about the scenery (or the fog really) and he called me crazy for the 50-states thing – haha. He had to stop to stretch out his joints and we wished each other luck.

I was still around an 8:30 pace. In fact… I had 7 miles in under an hour according to my Garmin. That was officially the second time I had done that and, truth be told, I didn’t feel like it was a tough effort. It wasn’t an easy run, but I didn’t feel like I was going to throw up.

Around mile 8, I stopped for my power bar. I usually make it my goal to only stop about 1 minute or so to eat. I was stopped more than 2 I think because this powerbar was just impossible to eat. In fact, the guy I chatted with earlier passed me and said “now, don’t stop too long!” I ate what I could (about 1/2 of it) and started back to the run again. The hills were starting to get to me at this point, but my phone app still had me averaging around an 8:30 or just over pace. What?!?! I thought to myself: ok – you’ve banked enough that, at this point, you should easily be able to get to 1:56:00, maybe even  better.

I was still around an 8:30 pace – just over it. Woo hoo!

I kept going. One interesting thing, though – at least, interesting enough that it kept me from thinking about the rolling hills is that the route had a couple of points where runners were on the wrong side. That happened a few times. It is an out and back course, so there were a few places where we were on our way back from a turn around point and had to cross paths with runners coming in. Being that this is a new race, I know there are some kinks to work out, but this is a USATF course, so I was surprised about that. Most of the time, there were no volunteers directing us – thankfully, most of the runners were pretty experienced and patient with each other and we all looked out for each other.

I was still at around an 8:30 pace – just under it. woo hoo! And… wow, really?!?!

About mile 11, I was starting to burn out. I could feel that the power from the bar was diminishing (damn… should have eaten the whole thing) and my toe on my right foot was really starting to hurt (I had a tendon that has been getting inflamed lately). I was also very tired of holding the half-eaten powerbar, but I knew I’d probably want it later, so I didn’t want to chuck it. I had also removed my gloves by this time and was proud of myself for hanging on to them for so long – as sweaty and nasty as my hands had become by this point. But… as soon as I thought it, I dropped one of my gloves. Not interested in messing up my splits, I let it go. For some odd reason, I held on to the other one for half a mile and thought “why am I keeping this – what the hell am I going to do with one glove?” so I chucked it, too. This, I reminded myself, is why they call them “throw away gloves”. It was hard to do, but I did it.

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I was just over 8:30. Wow.

Mile 12 – I was ready to be done. I was tired. I was wiped out. I saw my friend that chatted with me pass me – and I wanted to catch him. I knew he was much younger than me, but I wanted to finish close to him since we traded leads a few times, so I sped up. He was my rabbit! We finally made it back into the parking lot of the stadium and wound through the path until we turned the corner and I could see the finish line – and the clock. 1:53-something. Whoah! My previous PR was almost 2 minutes more than that – I was going effing PR this race. I pushed it in a little harder and finished, emotional, but elated. I stopped my watch: 1:51:19. WTF? I was also missing .15 mile from the distance, but my watch had been fussy for a while so I figured that since it was a USATF certified course, I was going to count it.

2012-12-01_AnnapolisHM_AfterRaceOystersI got my water and chugged it. I got my mylar blanket and did my best to wrap it around me. I ate the rest of that powerbar, and was grateful I kept it once I saw the oysters they had available (shudder). I reported my time to friends and family, and honestly, it took me a few minutes to fully realize what I had just done. I not only broke my previous PR, I broke it by almost 4 minutes. I still have a hard time believing that. I then was getting cold, so I wrapped my mylar blanket around me, retrieved my jacket from bag check and put it on over the mylar blanket (and I was given kudos for my creativity for that…)

I had no interest in the party – there was a band playing, and they were good, but I was freezing and alone and I was ready for a long hot shower. I waited long enough for my preliminary results to be reported on the kisok, and then I went back to the hotel to take a hot shower, pack up my stuff, and head back home. Happy, and still in disbelief.

Learnings

Even today, I am still in disbelief about that time. I know I trained for this. I know I worked hard for it… but I still can’t believe I did that. I am sore today for the first time in the last few half marathons. I am sore in places I’ve never been sore before after a half – my shoulders and back and my upper abs. I was hungry after the race for the first time in ages, and, yes, I passed out like a champ last night, sleeping for about 10 hours straight and disoriented again when I woke up. This race, however, has given me incentive to keep training. It is starting to pay off and giving me the things I’ve wanted for a long, long time. I have to be careful and thoughtful about it so I don’t hurt myself and I stay healthy – something I do not take for granted – but I am starting to understand what I’ve done wrong in the past and how I need to do it going forward.

I think.

And… now that I set the bar even higher, I have a lot of work left to do.

2012 Race Reports: City of Oaks/Old Reliable 10k

Race: City of Oaks/Old Reliable 10K
City: Raleigh, NC   Date: 11/4/2012
Distance:
10k/6.2 mi
Weather
: Warmer this year (upper 40s at start)
Course
:  rolling hills through downtown Raleigh, a usual route for me!

Summary: Another 10K PR!! And, this is quickly becoming my favorite 10k… shhh! Don’t tell Capital City Classic 😉

Pre-Race

I loved this race this year. I loved this race last year. And the year before. And, not just because of my new PR, which broke last year’s PR that I earned in this very race… which broke the PR from the year before in this very race… Probably because of the challenge of it.

Because, my friends, it is a challenge. And, it isn’t my imagination – this year, I have validation from a friend of mine that ran it with me from out of state who verified for me that it is a tough course – of course, he had to run past what I did and ended up with an even tougher course later, but more on that in a minute.

A few years ago, when I was just starting to run, I joined a group on Active.com for people training for half marathons to learn about training, ask questions, and get advice… and to talk to people about running who actually got it – most of my friends and family at the time just had glazed over eyes when I would even mention “run” to them so I found it refreshing to meet people with the same interest I had – and who took it as seriously as I was starting to take it. It was a great group of people – very personable, informative and supportive – and I made a lot of new friends quickly. Since then, we’ve moved over to Facebook, added a few more people, and have become even better friends, and have, on occasion, met in various cities to run races together. Some of the races I’ve done with these friends have been the Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon in 2010 and the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Half Marathon in 2011 (I promise, I won’t say another word about that race… today). In fact, I’m actually planning for my first two half marathons for 2013 (AL and MI) to run with a couple more of those friends, including the one that ran this 10k with me.

I mention this back story because one of those friends (from MI) joined me in my 10k and, although I did work on my speed myself, I credit him for coaching and pulling me along to get my PR – Thank you 🙂

The reason this is important is because another friend of ours from that group also lives here in Raleigh (I occasionally run with her in the big run group here). She has been a part of Marathon Maniacs recently – and I’m incredibly impressed and proud of her accomplishments with all she’s done the last year or so with that group. She’s done a couple of ultras in subsequent weekends, and had thrown out the idea to our friend in MI “hey, wouldn’t it be fun to run two marathons on subsequent days?” and he agreed. The plan was that he would fly to Raleigh, they would drive to Savannah to do the Savannah Rock and Roll full marathon, then they would drive back to Raleigh for the City of Oaks full marathon. When he first told me he was doing the City of Oaks on the second day I said “uhhh… you know that’s a hilly course, right?” he said “oh, no, they said it was a new course this year and was fast.”

Since I started running, I always told my out of state friends “you should run the City of Oaks – it is tough, but it is a great race” even though I’ve never run the whole thing from start to finish. I’ve run many parts of the route, though, incrementally, and I have always found them to be a challenge. I also ran the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon in 2010 – my first ever half (and still the PR for that distance) – and a lot of that route was part of this one, so I knew the route well.

I immediately looked up the course and reported to him that it is all relative… the miles 15 through probably 20 were different and, since they don’t go through Umstead (which is just mean), it is “faster”, but by no means fast… and still pretty hilly. But, he’s got a tenacious competitive spirit – which I value and appreciate – and was up for the challenge. I hadn’t seen him since Las Vegas, so I was just looking forward to seeing him again and was happy he was going to be running *my* race.

All three races – the full marathon, the half marathon and the 10k – started at the same time and in the same place. At the 10k split, the 10k racers split off and the Full/Half marathoners continue on until they get to Meredith College, where the Half Marathoners split off to a turn around point and the Full marathoners start on their trek up the Raleigh Greenway, parts of it new (hence the new portion of the route this year), and then rejoin the half marathoners on the Gorman (and trust me this is a nasty hill) back up to the finish on Hillsborough street.

This race was also a big deal to me because I really wanted a new 10k PR and, since I had achieved my last two 10k PRs in this race, it seemed fitting I do it again this year. However… it was only the second race since my half in San Francisco – the other being the Oktoberfest 8k just two weeks before that I didn’t take seriously because I just felt under prepared due to lower than desired (and expected) training. My training hit a snag in August for several reasons, the primary of which were: (1) my work schedule got out of hand – I had work piled up to the point where I just couldn’t keep up with it even when I didn’t take run breaks (2) my kids suddenly hated the kids center at the gym and (3) I hadn’t replaced my in-home treadmill.

So… I was missing runs.

…and I was getting anxious about it. I was climbing the walls and irritated about the fact that I was unable to reach the training goals I had set for myself in August (71) September (72)  and October (ugh… 53) – way under the standing 90-mile goal I set for each of those months. This was going to be a mess for me, I could tell. The only glittering hope I had of a PR rested solely on the fact that I ran the fastest mile I had ever run in the Oktoberfest 8k (7:25) – faster than any 400m interval, no less, and kept it for a full mile. Thought I was going to puke after that mile, but it was done.

If I could do that, maybe, just maybe, I could PR this race??

Race Day

After my friends returned from Savannah, I checked in with them to see how it went and to see what time they were planning to get to the race – he said around 6 AM (for 7 AM start) and that was the same time I was planning, so I told him I’d text them when I got there. I was excited so it was no trouble for me to get up and ready, though, I didn’t have any sort of appetite and I was just anxious to run, so I worked on hydration and let him know when I got there. He said they were running behind, so I decided to go ahead and get started with the bathroom break and all the other little pre-race rituals I have set for myself. I kept texting them to figure out where they were, but got no replies, so I figured I would just meet them after the race – after all, I was going to be finished long before they were.

Random luck being what it is, though, I ended up walking right in front of them! woo hoo! I walked around with them and, while my MI friend was waiting for the bathroom, I warmed up by running with his bag of stuff to my car and back – which took longer because I thought I was two blocks closer to my car than I was. Once I got back, it was about time for us to line up.

This race seemed to be bigger than the year before – and I checked the finishers from last year to compare to this year. I don’t think it was my imagination. It was held on the same day the NYC Marathon would have been held – and due to the proximity of Raleighwood to NYC and the late cancellation of the NYC Marathon due to Super-Storm Sandy, we assumed there were several runners displaced by the NYC marathon that decided to join us for City of Oaks.

Although there were pacers for the half and full lined up according to where they thought they should be (I’m guessing – either that or someone directed them to a spot), there were no formal “corrals” in this race. It usually isn’t big enough for that – for 2011, there weren’t even 3k for all events combined – there were a little over 4100 this year, though, so it seemed pretty crowded.

Although we had done two races at the same time, this is the first time I had ever actually run *with* my friend, and, to hear him describe how he is in a race, it seems like I already knew what to expect – we think alike. He picked out a spot that would have been exactly where I would have lined up and he guided me to a good spot. We were ready!

One thing about my friend: he’s fast. He typically wins, or at least places high in most of the 5k and 10k races he runs at home. He also fares pretty well in the longer distances, too – including qualifying for Boston recently. No pressure – haha.

Because I had made a big deal about my 7:25 mile in the Oktoberfest 8k, I joked with my friend “there will be no 7:25 miles today! haha”. He was in his zone, though, and not really listening, so all he heard was “7:25 mile” – noticing that he didn’t seem to find the humor in what I said, I again said “I won’t be able to do a 7:25 today!” he smiled and said OK, so I figured he heard me. He said he’d run the 10k with me the whole way, which I was happy to hear, though, I worried about slowing him down. I think, though, he was tired and was looking forward to a slower start to the race because he was sore and tired from the race the day before.

The race started, and we were off at a pretty swift pace to start – I was fine – comfortable enough to chat with him about the course and catch up with him on how he felt he did the day before, but it wasn’t exactly easy for me. The first mile went by quickly and I could tell I was already running out of steam – no surprise: it was 7:36. I tried to keep it together for the next mile, but was really having a hard time. My friend didn’t say anything, so I figured he was OK with the pace. The second mile was 7:55. Still impressive for me, I must say, since I don’t usually run at those speeds for this distance, but I could tell I was starting to peter out because our conversation was starting to diminish.

Mile 3 was starting to get rough for me, but I kept it close to the 2nd mile – 8:05. I could start to tell, though, that my friend was wondering what was going on with me – he started to push me a little harder, trying to get me to go a little faster. I tried to keep it up, but I just couldn’t.

Then came mile 4. Critical mile 4. We actually talked about that specifically during the run – how mile 4 will make or break a 10k. He was totally right… and I felt myself slipping on this particular run. He was telling me this to keep me going, but I was unable to keep up a pace faster than 8:14 for very long, so that’s what I ended up with for that mile. This is where I started to loose it, really, gagging (quietly at first) and telling him I had to slow down a bit so I could catch up. It was around this time that it seemed like he was really confused – and I started to realize that he thought we were supposed to go faster than we were – and I felt bad. I told him to go on, but he told me he’d planned to stay with me, so he kept with me. Mile 5 was a dismal 8:28, and I was fairly certain (because I didn’t know the speed of the other splits at this point) that I had blown my opportunity for a PR.

I was determined, though, not to give up, so I tried to kick it up a little, and unfortunately, this made me gag even more. I managed to keep the first couple to myself (because I knew he’d make me walk if he heard me and I didn’t want to walk), but he heard the 3rd (just after mile 6) and told me to pull over to the side – which I did – but I told him “I’m just going to slow down – I’m not going to walk”. He tried to talk sense into me, but it was no use… I wanted to finish this thing running, so I slowed a little, but kept going. He kept coaching me and talking me through it – which meant a lot. I ended up with a slightly better 8:23 for mile 6, and though, still had me bummed about missing the mark on my goal of a PR. I just didn’t have energy in the tank to kick the last quarter mile like I usually do…

or do I?

The full marathons split from us just after the 6.1, and I said goodbye to my friend – wished him luck and thanked him for running with me, and then I looked ahead and could finally see the clock and… what tha?? Am I seeing that right? The clock had just clicked over to 50 minutes – what the what? My PR was 51:11, which meant I had just enough time to make it, if I could muster the energy to push it harder… so I did. I couldn’t really feel my legs and I swear I was going to throw up, but damn if I wasn’t determined to cross the line before the clock hit 51:00.

And, I did.

I actually got very emotional when I finished – you’d think I had just qualified for the Olympics or something. I was emotional for many reasons, but mostly because I had the support of my friend who didn’t even know at this point (nor would he for another two hours) how much he helped me get to this point. It meant a lot to me to have his support before, during, and since this race. I collected myself, walked around a little to cool off, reported my success and went back to my car to get something to wear to warm up – especially since it felt much colder. I got out of my car to wait for my friend, but was shivering so hard that it hurt, so I went back into my car to thaw out until it was 3 hours into the race. I expected my friend to finish somewhere between 3:15 and 3:30, so I got out of my car, bought the largest coffee I could find, bundled up and headed to the finish line to wait for him.

I got there just in time to see the marathon winner and to cheer for all the half marathon and full finishers and to get some photos of my friend finishing – along side a guy he coached along the way and didn’t let quit – just like me. This image is actually someone else that finished – I just loved the smile on his face and sense of accomplishment – I had that after 10k, so I can just imagine the sense of pride having run 20 miles more than that.

I reconnected with my friend, and we compared notes – I told him I had a PR and we celebrated that a little – though, he admitted that he completely misunderstood what I said! He thought I *wanted* a 7:25 pace and admitted that he thought I was overshooting a little and was confused about my inability to even hit 7:25 once – we got a pretty good laugh out of that! We got his stuff from my car, got some coffee, and chatted about the race  – and he agreed that the route was nasty hill – as we waited for our Raleigh friend to finish.

Once we had thawed out a little, we started walking the reverse of the course and ran her in for the last mile of the race. She was having a tough time at the end of the race, though, so she really appreciated us running her in.

Learnings

One thing that I have learned a lot about running is, while it is not really a “team” sport, there is an incredible amount of support and camaraderie of the people participating in events like this. That group I mentioned – we all support, encourage and help each other. We all cheer for each other when we have accomplishments and help encourage each other when we have low spots in training cycles or when we are injured. I honestly think my running has been better as a result and I couldn’t imagine not having this incredible group of people to share this stuff with. Daily Mile, Active, Runner’s World, Active – all other networks – all important and all helpful. To all of you, my friends, thank you 🙂

2012 Race Reports: Wipro San Fransisco Marathon – First Half (San Francisco, CA – State #8)

Race: Wipro San Fransisco Marathon, First Half

City: San Fransisco, CA   Date: 07/29/2012

Distance: 13.1 mi

Weather: Upper 50s, foggy, yet, oddly dry

Course:  flat at first, then a whole bunch of hills at the end

Summary: Loved it. Loved it. Loved it!

8 down, 42 to go.

So far, my favorite race yet…

Prologue

I know… I know. I said smaller races this year. And, what do I do? I sign up for probably two of the larger races in the country (sigh). However, I will say, that, in spite of the sour taste that the Las Vegas Rock and Roll left in my race palette last year, I am happy to announce that these two giant races (this one and the Indy Mini, as I’ve started to call it) have been my favorites of all the eight I have now completed. Organization of events like this make a really, really big impact on the experience. I know (hope) that last year’s Las Vegas event was a fluke and I promise I *will* get over it.

One day.

For now, though, I’d like to tell you the story of how I decided to do THIS race and what my experience was with it. A friend of mine from high school ended up living in northern California and, thanks to Facebook, I was able to reconnect with him after many years of having lost touch. He decided to run the Chicago marathon to raise money for the American Cancer Society and, having only done one 5k before this, he thought it was a good idea to run a half marathon before the full to test his muster in the race scenario. I not only thought that was a terrific idea, I decided to join him so I could support him in person… and, since I hadn’t done California yet, it counted as another state on my list.

I actually had been looking at doing this particular race before he mentioned it because I liked the way it seemed to be structured: at it’s heart, it is a really a full marathon, BUT: if you aren’t up to the full marathon distance, you can run the first half – which goes along the bay, across the Golden Gate Bridge and back and then finish in Golden Gate park OR you could do the second half which goes through town and end back on the Embarcadero. If you are an Ultra runner, though, and 26.2 isn’t enough, you have an option too: run that sucker twice. I have always made the argument that the best way to see any town is to run it and I had always wanted to see more of San Fransisco. The most attractive thing to me about this race, at first, was the weather though. I’ve been out there in the summer and it is downright cold there early in the morning – a very nice opposite when you live in a place that pretty much feels like it is next door to Hell in the middle of July. Now, not only could I do that, but I also had a really, really good reason to pull the trigger and just do this race already: support my friend running his first big race.

It is a long trip to be “all ninja-like”, but because of work, I didn’t have the ability to stay out there as long as I would have liked, so I booked a ninja-like trip for a city 3,000 miles away: leave late Friday afternoon, get back mid-afternoon on Monday. Easy, peasy. However… as my luck would have it, the Eastern half of the US has had severe thunderstorms each day for the last two weeks of July, and this particular day was no different. I was supposed to fly from Raleigh to Detroit, but the storms in Detroit were worse than in Raleigh, so they booked me on a flight to Atlanta that had me taking another connection getting to San Fransisco that night about 10 minutes earlier. Win!

Not so fast…

Weather in Atlanta got worse and we were delayed… again. …and again. Until I was cutting it very close to making my connection. We finally got to Atlanta, I got off the plane as fast as I could, I ran down the hall and got to the gate and…. damn. doors shut. (sigh). And, as bad luck has it in these situations, no more flights out. I was offered a hotel room at a “discount” and a 6 am flight. I opted out of the hotel room to save money and (ironically) sanity, and decided to sleep in the terminal from which I was flying the next day so I had no opportunities to miss my flight – and I had dibs on the freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning. Lemonade, people.

Although it was an uncomfortable sleep, I did manage to get a little bit of sleep here and there. And, I got a pretty cute Zebra blanket and pillow – consolation prize for a missed flight, so I thought. I got up, brushed my teeth and washed my face, got that first brew of the day (yessss!) and found my gate so I could get my boarding pass… what is this? First class? Why, yes, please! ha! totally made up for sleeping in the terminal! Then, I get on the plane and get settled in – yes, it is a window seat, but it is a window seat in first class, so I’m not going to be picky here. I got to board first, I’m going to get off first so I can’t miss my connection (in Minneapolis – ok, so there was *one* slight drawback to getting a flight the next day) and I was more comfortable than I would have been on the flight the night before. I was in acceptance. We took off and I looked out the window – something I rarely do since I always take aisle seats when they are available – and got to see a pretty cool sunrise out of my window. And, because a layered cloud deck, I got to see it on both sides – that was very peaceful and it made my morning. We landed without incident in Minneapolis, I caught my connection without incident, and I was on my way to San Fransisco.

Pre-Race

I landed shortly before lunch time and my friend came to pick me up so we could go to the expo to get our packets. We got our packets, walked around a bit, caught up and chatted about the race. We were both kind of hungry, and he knows all the great places to eat, so we got some lunch (rice noodles!) and then were on the hunt for my standby nutrition since I couldn’t bring it with me: Gatorade fit series. We went to three different places looking for it, but couldn’t find it. I finally settled on Gatorade pro – that’ll be fine, right? (it was) We went to a local running store to get during-run fuel and I decided to try something I hadn’t tried before – a Clif Bonk Buster – I had never even seen it before – but my friend had used them and swore by it, so I tried it… that’ll be fine, right? (it was) We went back to the hotel, put our things down and then went to get dinner (believe it or not, it was already dinner time by then). As a test for the next morning, we decided to walk down to the race start line from the hotel to make sure we were going to leave in enough time. We walked around the start line for a bit to get oriented and then had an awesome steak and potatoes dinner at Epic. We went back to the hotel to get settled for the evening, and because I’m still on East Coast time at this point, I’m out like a light at 8 PM.

Our race started at 5:30, which for me, was 8:30 body time and it worked out great for me. My alarm went off at 3:30 or so, and I did snooze it a couple of times, but honestly, I was wired and excited. I have looked forward to almost all of my half marathons, but this one, for some reason, I was more excited about. I had done part of this route the year before when I came to San Fransisco for work, so I knew part of the route already and (sort of) what I was in store for – and it was actually one of my all-time favorite runs. Another reason I was excited was that I actually had an opportunity to come close to my PR because of the weather – no heat and humidity!! I always get a little overly excited about weather in the 50s and 60 because, yes, I am that much of a runner-stat-geek. It really does make a difference in your time. I got up, dressed, and met up with my friend who was understandably anxious. We didn’t have a place to make our own breakfast, so we decided to get eggs at a diner on the way.

Now that I don’t drink or party at all, I tend to forget that people still do that on a Saturday night, so I was a little surprised to see people out still from the night before. I should have taken a photo, but the diner was half runners, half after-partiers and it was quite a divergent sight. We ordered a simple breakfast of one cup of coffee and a plate of scrambled eggs – nothing else. We ate it quickly and were on our way to start. To simplify things, I asked if I could just put my stuff in his check bag, so we organized the bag, found the check in and walked around for a bit until we both decided we had to go to the restroom and the lines were long. We wished each other luck and went to our corrals. I got a bit freaked out that I was going to miss my start because the lines were soooooo long for the porta-johns, so I decided that I would wait until I found one along the way and headed to my coral.

And, yes, it seems as though I’m incapable of having a half marathon story that does not include a bathroom portion…   but more on that later…

I actually wasn’t too far from the corrals, so I went in.  This is one race where the corrals *were* policed and you could not go into a corral if you weren’t assigned to it (yay!) so I showed my bib and filed into my corral. Another notable thing about the corrals is the wave times: a full ten minutes between starters. Hm… so, the elites start at 5:32 (granted, that is a weird start time, but it made sense when I was there), and since I was fourth back, I wasn’t scheduled to start until 5:52 – I got in right as they were making last calls for the first corral, so in hindsight, I probably had plenty of time to use the restroom, but I didn’t want to cut it too close. One thing I love about big cities is the sheer number of attractive men – and there were a ton of them here, so I had plenty to look at while I was waiting – and the view of the bay was nice, too. My corral was right at the ferry building, so I had a really nice view of the Bay Bridge, all lit up. This photo does not do it justice – the view was much prettier than that! I was getting anxious as wave 2 started and excited as wave 3 started, so I put on my music and just waited for my turn. But… up this point, I had not given much thought to how cold it was… now I just had time to think about it… over and over again.

Race

So, I said that it made sense that my start time was 5:52 – it is because they officially started the event at 5:30. sharp. They did the national anthem and some introductions and, at 5:32 on the nose, the first and second waves were released. At 5:42 on the nose, Wave 3 was released. I almost couldn’t stand the wait! Finally, finally, it was my turn! Ours was called up, and I went out like a rabbit. I actually didn’t think it felt that fast at all – it felt great – but I happened to notice on my watch that I was sub-8 at one point and knew I had to pull that back. My first mile was 8:15, so I tried to pull it back even more – and ended up with 8:14. ha! at least I’m consistent.

However, by this time, my bladder was getting the better of me and I really couldn’t wait any longer, so I decided to stop at the first set of port-a-johns I saw… unfortunately, there was a line… and that line was disorganized like I’ve never seen at a running event – people were cutting in front of each other – I was cut three times before I barked something about not being invisible and cut back in front of someone else. I was pretty mad at this point, so I did what I had to do quickly, pulled up and literally ran out the door. The thing is: when you don’t take the time to pull up right when you are sweating, eh… things don’t go back to the right place. So… I was, ahem, all bunched up for a couple of miles. And, yes, that did make me irritable, so know I have actual perspective on the ever so eloquent southern colloquialism “don’t get your panties in a bunch”. Needless to say, mile three was my worst at 10:15 – almost completely erasing the speed of the first two miles. I had to get back to work without burning myself out.

It was at this point on the run that I actually started to relax and just enjoy it. For a while, at least. As I write this, I’m looking at my favorite pair of running shoes – which I have not worn since this race – that are covered in mud… and now I remember why. The 4 hour pacer. So, around the time I got to the Marina, just before Crissy field, I was working on de-bunching and starting to relax with my music (so, yeah, I decided to run with music this day – I was in the mood for it at the time) and take in the scenery, just recalling the last time I ran this route and how good I felt, and got lost in my thoughts until I see a wide barrier of people in front of me, the middle of which has on a bright yellow jacket and is carrying a sign that said “4:00”. Cool, I thought, I’m with the 4 hour pacer, which should have left in Wave 3, and that means I’m on goal for my sub-2. Sweet… except, I gotta get around this crowd… no where to pass on the left, so I passed on the right through some grass (and obviously some mud). There… that takes care of that… back to getting lost in my thoughts… where was I…

What? How can he be in front of me again? Did I really space out that much? (my splits say ‘uh huh’ at a 9:30 for this segment). This lead-trading went on for a little over a mile. I finally got to the point where I passed them for good just at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge – around mile 5.5. I have to assume he was doing a much better job of pacing than I was, which means that I should be paying much closer attention to it.

The first part of this run – save a couple of small hills – was pretty flat. However… as you make your way out of the marina, into what I call the first half of the Presidio, there are hills a plenty and they are plenty steep, especially as you make your way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. I have been to San Fransisco before, but this run was the first time I had ever actually been ON the Golden Gate Bridge and I gasped a little when I first got on it. It was foggy, but it was still a pretty amazing view. The event planners had marked off two lanes for us: one coming on and one going off. You basically run waterside on the way up, run around a circle and snake back running toward the middle on the way back out. There are some slick spots due to the fog and I was petrified of slipping. The event planners actually had a few of those spots covered with rubber-like carpeting or something, but not all places could be covered, so there were still a few spots that worried me.

I was so wrapped up in the view, trying not to slip, and seeing the people coming back, that I didn’t even pay attention to when my usual nutrition break came up (normally 50 minutes) and had just passed 7 miles when I realized I probably should take something. At this point, I was almost all the way across the bridge out of San Fransisco. I stopped to eat my bonk buster (which turned out to be an appropriate name), even though I didn’t really feel like it and washed it down with the Gatorade Pro I had been sipping the entire race up to that point. I continued on through the turn around and started “way backin’ it” toward the Golden Gate Park. I must admit, at this point, I was kind of disappointed I was half way finished. I am pretty sure that has never happened to me in a race before – at this point, I’m usually wishing I was at mile 10.

On the way back across the bridge, I ran on the inside and slowed down so I could see my friend behind me – who was in corral 8. He had logged pretty good times for his training runs, so I fully expected to see him at some point (I didn’t – I guess just too many people). Once I got off the bridge, we climbed the other side of the Presidio and, boy, was that a spectacular sight. From there, it was clearer than on the bridge and, in spite of all the people around me at that particular moment, I felt very alone and peaceful. I got sucked into the scenery. I didn’t even mind the 275 foot climb in under a mile…

What brought me back to reality, though, was the descent from that climb. One thing a runner always has to remember is that whatever goes up, must come down, and while the hammys pay the price on the way up, the knees and quads will on the way down. I have only recently begun to actually use the down hill to my advantage. That’s not to say that I go down them all out, increase my stride or do anything crazy, but I do use the opportunity gravity affords me to keep going at the same speed as I was going on flat and then use the crests and valleys as “rest” for these intervals. My friends… I put this theory to test big time at this point in the race.

All you have ever heard about San Fransisco hills is true: they are steep. They are long. They are relentless. I am constantly complaining about hills in Raleigh. After running these hills last year, I don’t complain any more. These are nothing. If you have ever seen photos of California Street from the bay side of town, that photo does not do the hill justice. Having said that: the hills don’t just go from East to West. Oh no. They go North to South, too. Oh yes. So, after coming out of the giant climb of the Presidio, we were subjected to (ahem) 3 full miles of a crazy joy ride of hills through the western side of town to Golden Gate park. I was fine with the first couple, but I promise you, my friends, I was mighty salty at the end. I wasn’t saying it out loud, but I was absolutely thinking it. I tried not to think about the hills and focus on the houses in this area and what it might be like to live… ah screw it. I hate these hills.

I was thrilled and disappointed at the same time to see the finish line. Thrilled that I made it 13.1 for an eighth time, thrilled that I made my goal time – even with the stops, the slowing and the hills, I ended up with a 1:59:19, on both my Garmin AND official time… disappointed that my part of the race was over. Two hours didn’t seem like long enough.

I got my food and foil blanket and tried walking around and rehydrating while waiting for my friend… but, I was freezing. At one point, I was shivering so hard, I actually got a cramp and had to walk it out. I wish I was kidding about that. I tried to position myself to see my friend finish, but I missed him. He finished in 2:11 and I’m so proud of him!!

Learnings

I have cut gluten out of my diet again and, since, have been working on speed. I have noticed a real difference when running longer distances at faster paces when I eliminate gluten, so it is a diet choice I intend to maintain. Although there weren’t the crowds in this city that we had in Indianapolis, the city of San Fransisco was very welcoming to us and provided me with another very memorable run. I am planning to do the second half next year because this was such a good race for me. The biggest lesson I think I have learned from this, other than gluten free is the right decision, is that I’m on the right path with training. I’ve focused on stamina most of the year and now I’m finally comfortable after finishing 13 miles. I want to be able to finish it faster and still be comfortable, so that is what I plan to work on next.

Now… time to find #9…. where to next? TN? MD?

2012 Training Summary By Month – July

Remember me, my friends?

I have been running, but it has felt like it has been slow going because I’ve reintroduced gluten back into my diet. I am finally getting the test on July 2. I have a feeling it will be negative, but it is good to know. And, I am looking forward to removing it again. I have felt very run down and I’m looking forward to getting my energy back.

On another note, I have had a hard time keeping up with either of my blogs because of work. I have literally been triaging responsibilities with the kids coming first, then the job writing, then running, then cleaning/laundry… with all of that, there was no time for this. I have missed it. I have missed you. Other than feeling wiped out and bloated – which I attribute to the gluten – I have been struggling to get my runs in. I have missed my 90-mile goals the last two months and have been frustrated by it. I am going to add the stats for April, May and June in this one post. I hope to get back into the regular routine in July as the biggest project will be over next week (yay!)

To combat the heat, I have been running on a treadmill more frequently. I miss having my own treadmill in my house – it works better with the kids. I’m currently shopping for one and am heavily considering a SOLE F85 and I welcome comments and reviews for it if you have thoughts. Now that it is officially the end of the month, time to check in my 2012 goals.

Cumulative 2012 through 6/30/2012:

I am farther behind on swimming and weight training, but have added Yoga, so I am still getting a little cross training in. I liked the comparison of this year to last year, so I’m comparing my 1/1/2012 through 6/30/2012 cumulative with my 1/1/2011 through 6/30/2011 cumulative:

Stats by Month

June 2012:

Continuation of the gluten intake for the gluten test, scheduled for early July.

May 2012:

The key thing to note about this month is that I started eating gluten again for my gluten test, which I scheduled for July.

April 2012:

  • Total Running Mileage: 90.0
  • Total Running Duration: 13:40:46
  • Total Running Average Pace: 9:07
  • Number of Running Activities: 16
  • Duration per Running Activity: 48.47
  • Average Miles per Running Activity: 5.625
  • Races: Tarheel 10-Miler (4/21/2012)

March 2012:

  • Total Running Mileage: 85.1
  • Total Running Duration: 13:02:14
  • Total Running Average Pace: 9:11
  • Number of Running Activities: 22
  • Duration per Running Activity: 35.33
  • Average Miles per Running Activity: 3.86
  • Swimming Totals: 0 activities
  • Cycling/Spinning Totals: 3 activities / 62.7 miles total (avg 20.9 per activity) / duration 2:40:56 (avg 53:38 per activity)
  • Other: Weight/isometric training: 2, 30 minutes per session
  • Races: none

February 2012:

  • Total Running Mileage: 90.5
  • Total Running Duration: 13:31:57
  • Total Running Average Pace: 8:58
  • Number of Running Activities: 16
  • Duration per Running Activity: 50:44
  • Swimming Totals: 1 activity / 1 mile (1600m) / duration and average pace – 58:32
  • Cycling/Spinning Totals: 2 activities / 46.5 miles total (avg 23.25 per activity) / duration 2:04:33 (avg 1:02:16 per activity)
  • Races: Hilton Head Half Marathon (2/11/2012)

January 2012:

  • Total Running Mileage: 93.6 *monthly mileage PR for me
  • Total Running Duration: 14:33:45
  • Total Running Average Pace: 9:20
  • Number of Running Activities: 17
  • Duration per Running Activity: 51:23
  • Swimming Totals: (none)
  • Cycling/Spinning Totals: 1 activity / 19.0 miles total  / duration 41:44 (total and average)
  • Races: (none)

2012 Race Reports: OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon (Indianapolis, IN – State #7)

Race: OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon

City: Indianapolis, IN   Date: 05/05/2012

Distance: 13.1 mi

Weather: Upper 60s, virtually no breeze and over 90% humidity even at 7 AM

Course:  mostly flat, other than a bridge and entry into the (very hot) speedway

Summary: Loved it. Loved it. Loved it!

7 down, 43 to go.

Didn’t meet my goal, but I thought I did well considering the heat and loved the course and atmosphere of this race!

Prologue

I usually incorporate this kind of prattle in my “pre-race” section, but as I go along with these, I am more likely to start to compare or make some kind of (what I think is) a significant observation, so you may see this section more often in upcoming half marathon posts. This time, it is the giant races. By “giant”, I mean more thank 30k entrants – tens of thousands of people running the same race. The biggest two I’ve ever participated in are Las Vegas and this one – both producing my slowest times, albeit for much different reasons.

I know I bring up the Las Vegas Rock and Roll race a lot. To me, up to this point, it is the epitome of what a bad race experience is for anybody serious about running in events like that. I’d like to, in this post, contrast (for the benefit of the organizers for the 2012 Las Vegas Rock and Roll – because I know they read my blog – haha) with the Indy Mini because both races had similar features, yet I had the completely opposite impressions of them. For example:

  • There was a feature of the city involved in the marketing of the race (come run The Strip at night! come run around the Indy Motor Speedway!) Without these “city features”, few would travel to either city to run a race.
  • Both towns, aside from the one city feature, conventions, and a tiny downtown area are fundamentally economically depressed and depend on tourism to keep their economies a float.
  • As a result of the city feature, there was a lot of interest in the race – over 40k registered for both races.
  • Both races, as a result of the city feature, become destination races for people in the US as well as abroad.
  • Heavy, heavy marketing to the running community for both races – “come here – do this race!” “time of your life” “we have training plans!” “you can do it” all being shouted at you from every angle.

This was my 2nd slowest race – only Las Vegas was slower. Why was I so much happier with this race than with Las Vegas? My Friends… organization means a lot. Also, the vast majority of the runners seemed serious about the race – very few costumes, very little partying, and a lot of people exercising runners etiquette. I only wish half the runners in last year’s Las Vegas race would have had that measure of discipline – it would have been a blip of disappointment for me and not much more.

Pre-Race

My uncle moved to the Indianapolis area for work from NC about 7 years ago. Because we are a pretty close family, I hated to see him move. Despite the 7 years of invitations to visit, I had not been able to make it work out to come up there for a visit. One of the motivations for me doing the 50-States goal was to remedy the “I couldn’t make it work out” excuse for visiting family and friends. There are certain states, Indiana being one of them, where I will select a race in a certain city just so I can visit family and friends, regardless of any city features. It just so happens, Indianapolis links this event (as well as many others) to the Indianapolis 500. Naturally, I wanted to do what I thought would be a fun race and I had heard a lot of good things about this race from others who had done it, so it seemed like the perfect one to do for me.

I’m also blessed with a pretty patient father who loves to travel and “go mess around” so I enlisted him as my travel buddy for this trip to see his brother and my cousins. I was looking forward to the race, but most of all, I was looking forward to seeing my family and spending time with my uncle and cousins that I don’t see often.

Coming off the highs I had for the Hilton Head Half and the Tarheel 10-Miler, I was actually pretty excited about this race because I felt like my physical condition after each of those races had improved dramatically following those races. My overall recovery time shortened significantly and I was back at running sooner than any of the three half marathons I did last year. Otherwise, I was also excited about the trip itself. I registered for it when registration first opened to the public in November and started planning my trip then. I decided to drive because my Uncle said it wasn’t too bad of a drive (he was right about that) and I could have more mobility if I had my car. I also thought I could stop along the way to be a tourist (which I totally did) and just enjoy the trip as a whole (which I totally did). Make it a ‘mini-vacation’ (which I totally did).

I had a pretty stressful couple of weeks leading up to this race – large, looming deadlines, competing projects and a lot of distractions from finishing what I *needed* to have complete. To make matters more stressful, all of these things were due while I was on vacation… which meant I had to turn it in before I left. (sigh). Who has two thumbs and is the master of bad timing? This girl.

Stressful situations, however, tend to be (unfortunately) my best working conditions, so I somehow managed to get all my projects done and somehow managed to keep my sanity (what is left of it at this point in my life, that is) and somehow managed to be a (relatively) good mom by supporting and attending events important to both boys and still some how managed to get my car packed and get them to school on time every day that week. It wears me out just reading that long, unwieldy run-on sentence. I don’t know what happened because on most days, I can’t manage to keep myself together for a fraction of all of that.  But, somehow, I managed it. The only thing I couldn’t manage was more than one run or any other cross-training. I made my 90-mile goal for April and I got one taper run in. While it wasn’t what I wanted or planned, it was all I could manage with everything else so I had to be happy with it.

Friday morning, I had the car packed, including the kids and my dad, and was on time for the bus. We were ready to go. I dropped off the littles, kissed them and told them I’d talk to them that night and got them on the bus. Dad and I set the GPS for my uncle’s house and went on our way to Indy. The trip up was relatively uneventful. Dad and I talked about our planned and previous trips (his Harley trips, my HM trips), we talked about the boys, we talked about movies – 10 hours in the car and we didn’t really run out of much to say. My dad is an awesome travel buddy for me 🙂

We arrive in Indy shortly after 5, and decided to stop off to get my packet and bib. I think it took us longer to park and get to the building than it did to get my packet. Usually, I don’t do a lot at the pick up – I get my packet and I leave. I rarely ever shop or get anything. This time, though, I had incentive to hurry: my cousin was going to her spring dance and I wanted to see her dressed up before I went. We got back to the car, paid the ridiculous parking fee (really? $6 for 45 minutes! Really, Indy?) and got to my uncle’s just in time to see my cousin off to her big spring dance (she was so beautiful!) and grab some dinner – yes, still GF (more on that later) with my meat and potatoes – with my uncle and other cousin. My dad is a pharmacist and my uncle is a biologist, so the conversation eventually turned to experiments they did in college with lab rats and lab mice – not really appetizing dinner conversation. I will say, though, it was entertaining and educational. I’m constantly impressed with how much my family is alike in so many ways – how much I’m like my uncle, how much my cousins are like me. It was a very comforting feeling.

We went back to the house and I got ready for bed. I was excited, but I wasn’t as anxious as I usually am before a race… I guess having my family around helped with that. I finally got a chance to go through my race goodies in my packet pick up bag. A hat – good… I could probably use that. Ads for races in the area I most likely won’t do – eh, ok. In the toss out pile. Next – long sleeved tech shirt – thanks anyway, maybe in about 8 months when it is finally cool again. And… vegetable oil. Vegetable Oil. um… what? vegetable oil? My first instinct is “this is, so far, the strangest thing I’ve received in a runner’s packet for a race”. Immediately, I took a poll of my runner friends, asking if I missed some secret use for premium vegetable oil that runners use that might make this make sense… thankfully, they were all as confused as me – and I heard some creative uses for it for Triathletes, so I don’t feel so bad. Satisfied that I’m not clueless, I turned out the light and went to sleep.

Race Day

I set my alarm for 5:00 because I wanted to make sure I had enough time to get dressed, do final stretches, get a little breakfast, and drive to the site of the start. I choked down some eggs and coffee and guzzled the remainder of my water while my dad and uncle studied the maps and decided on a good place to park.

My uncle agreed to drive us in to town and had a good place to park so we left around 6:15 to get parked. While it took a little longer to park and walk than we thought, we were still there in plenty of time to start. My dad and uncle told me to go ahead to my corral and find a restroom, so I split off from them on a quest to find a restroom, then my corral. I was sure there were going to be port a johns near by, so I rounded the corner to head toward my corral (J).

To my surprise, was greeted with a traffic jam like I saw in Vegas. Instantly, my anxiety took over and I worried more about getting into my corral on time than going to the bathroom. I made it into the corral (barely) only to find out they were not letting anybody else in to the corral. what?!?!? That had to be wrong… I looked at my watch – 7:25. I was worried they weren’t going to let us in at all, but thankfully, I wasn’t the only runner waiting for a spot so I felt a little less anxious about it. All of the sudden – and I still don’t know what happened here – the entire crowd in front of the J corral moves up and they let us in. Maybe that was the start of the wheel chairs? The 5k runners should have been long gone by this time, I thought, so I don’t know what it was. I filed in with the other runners beside me and found a spot. Not my right side spot that I usually get, but I was OK with the spot I took. I settled in, tapped my watch a few times to keep the signal, and then checked my phone.

A few minutes after I got into the corral, I had a tap on the shoulder from the runner beside me – my dad was along the side of the corral taking photos of me and wanted me to smile for a picture. It was the first time I can remember that I had a photo taken of me at the start line of any of my half marathons and it made me very happy… almost a little emotional. It was a great way to start off the race for me. Even cooler than that, my uncle took a photo of my dad taking a photo of me (we do that a lot in my family – haha). So, I have a photo to share with you, my friends.

The gun went off and the corrals moved up – no wave starts, which was fine with me. We all started walking until we got a few feet from the big arch with a giant American Flag hanging from it and we all started a little jog (some people even said “oh… we’re jogging now…” peer pressure! haha). We crossed the line and everybody took off! It was awesome because they had music blaring and the energy was high – people were cheering and shouting and I had goosebumps! The first thing I noticed, though, is that everybody was moving at around the same pace. Yes, there were some who were Gallowaying it and some who were taking it slower than me, but honestly, they were mostly to the right, or at least moved over that way. I was impressed with how in snyc most of the people in my corral were. Marked difference from the Las Vegas race, indeed. I think the corral placement was good for me – I did end up passing quite a few folks, but, not as many as I had in some of the competitor races, surprisingly.

I settled into a decent pace, but I really, really had to go. It was all I could think about and the first mile and a half were pretty painful for me. Thankfully, they had port-a-johns at about 1.5 mile and, although there was a wait, I had to stop. There is my 2 minutes over my goal time, right there. Once I finished, I ran back to join the crowd and settled into my pace.

I decided early on that I wasn’t going to take music on this race. I have been, recently, not taking music on most of my half marathons. There have been a few exceptions, of course, but those mostly had to do with moods. Hilton Head, for example, I was in a mood and there was no other entertainment, so I brought music (which ended up inspiring me at the end). However, I heard that the entertainment along this route was closer and more frequently placed than even the Rock and Roll events, so I left off my music. Boy, I’m glad I did. I saw all kinds of stuff I never in my life would have even thought of, let alone expected to see along a race route, including

  • septuagenarian belly dancers
  • pre-pubecent bands singing “we’re not going to take it”  (yes, the Twisted Sister song) and “Seven Nation Army” (yes, the White Stripes song… and yes, I threw horns and gave them a “right on” as I passed them)
  • a band singing a polka-square dance version of “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” – and a troupe (is that called a troupe?) of square dancers dancing to the song… truthfully, I’m painfully curious about the other songs they had in their repatiore
  • a band named 3 Chord Monty – which I thought was kind of a cool name
  • every possible genre of music represented except maybe zydaco.
  • a cadre of bands ranging in talent doing everything from lip syncs to covers (including a creepy version of ‘Elenore Rigby’ that was a bit out of tune) to original songs
  • a nice mix of people playing CDs and Emceeing – and even that genre mix was well placed and well spaced along the course

The first four and a half miles, I was just taking in the bands. As far as scenery, there wasn’t really much to see. Once you get out of the immediate downtown area, there is not a lot to Indianapolis. At about 4 1/2, though, you turn a corner and you can see the speed way – the whole reason we all signed up for this race. People started to cheer when we turned the corner (we were at least 1.75 miles from just getting into it at this point, but the folks were excited). I ended up behind some speed walkers who, honestly, were going pretty fast – at least a 10mm pace. Then… we entered the speedway. To enter the speedway, you go down a pretty steep hill and back up it to the front of the speedway museum. Then, you run to the right of the parking lot for the museum and onto the track itself.

For two and a half miles. Doesn’t seem quite that big on TV – haha.

The first thing I noticed about the track is that it was freaking hot on it. One thing I haven’t mentioned so far is how hot it was supposed to be that day. Everything I remembered… except for my Gatorade (sigh). All I had was plain water. It was at the moment we got onto the track that I really wished I had that Gatorade. We ran on the flatter portion of the surface – pardon my lack of correct terminology here, but I’m not really a race fan – it would be the “pit area”. Nobody was really keeping us from running on the slope, but I don’t think many people were up for that challenge with the heat – I know I wasn’t. Occasionally, you’d see someone pulling up onto the slope to step out to tie his shoe or (unfortunately closer to the end) because it was hotter than they expected and had to stop for a rest.

The other notable thing about this portion of the race is that I actually heard two Beastie Boys songs. This is remarkable to me because I’m a huge Beastie Boys fan and, unfortunately, Adam Yauch (MCA) passed away the day before from throat Cancer at the far too young age of 47. I never really got a chance to think about it or grieve – it was out of the blue and he was my favorite personality of the trio. Although I never met him, I have been listening to his music most of my life and will miss his art deeply. Ironically, for me at least, I heard “Fight for Your Right” at the moment I stepped onto the speedway and heard “Intergalactic” around the time I was crossing the brickyard (no, I didn’t kiss it… didn’t think to do that and my splits were already shot). It made me think a lot about his career and my time listening from the beginning until now and I heard the lyric “Beastie Boys don’t let the beat, um, drop” which has a little more significance to me now. I even drove through a tropical storm to see them in Atlanta when “Hello Nasty” (the album with Intergalactic on it) came out. The timing of those two songs was just very ironic and notable for me.

Upon leaving the speedway, I had a lighter feeling. I was happy about the fact I was past the half way point (at about 8.5 once we were out of the building) and had, in a way, dealt with the death of celebrity I liked very much and had been important in my life. It was getting hot, though, and I could feel my body starting to run out of steam. I had made the decision that at every single table that served Gatorade, I was going to take it. I honestly think that decision is what made the difference in the second half of the race. I had already passed my “nutrition” reminder, but decided not to take nutrition because I did not feel like I needed it. I was not hungry nor did I feel like I was wiped out.

But… I was getting thirsty and I was running out of water. I began stopping at water tables and, because the heat was beginning to feel even hotter (it wasn’t actually, but it was starting to feel that way) I ran under all of the water sprayers I could find. I tried to enjoy the music, but all I kept thinking about was finishing. Then, I turned onto the bridge just before mile 12. Ah… almost there! I think my speed began to increase a little because I was starting to feel myself become drained again – then I’d stop at a Gatorade table – feel better, stronger, faster for a few minutes and drained again. This cycle went on the entire last two miles. Not a wall (I’ve hit that before… this wasn’t it) just like a battery drain on my phone – I get the warning at 20% that I’m about to run out so I plug it in to get it back to 30% and it goes back to 20%, so I plug it back in to get it to 30%… the entire last two miles.

As I got closer, though, I could hear the announcements and I could see the giant yellow finish… I was almost there. The only other significant hill of any kind on this course was the bridge taking me toward the finish line and that one wasn’t really even that big. I was delighted that the course was so flat and that I could see the finish that I sped up. No sprint, but a nice hearty speed up to the end of the line. I could hear all the people cheering all of us on and it was a great feeling to finish to such a reception. I crossed finish at 2:02:09. Not my goal of under 2 hours, but all things considered (bathroom and the heat) I’m actually kind of happy with this number. I took my medal, my water and my bag and I located my dad and uncle and walked around for a bit to loosen my legs. Overall, I felt much better after this race than I even did after Hilton Head, and I felt great after that one.

Learnings

I have to say the most remarkable thing about this race in particular is the support it got from all of Indianapolis. You all made this a great experience for me. The crowds of people there just to cheer on the runners was amazing – the people gathered to help the runners, the additional aid stations they put out on such short notice, the thousands (yes, thousands) of volunteers they had operating the event from the second I got there until the second I left. Everyone was so helpful and supportive and it meant a lot to me.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Indianapolis.

On a training note, I still think the 90-mile months agree with me and are definitely assisting in my recovery, even after this challenging weather condition. And, the 14 mile run I did before my Tarheel 10-miler was a key difference for me completing the race as well as a did. While I am a little disappointed about not making my 2 hour goal, I felt better than I thought I should after 13 miles in 94% humidity and I wasn’t as dehydrated as I typically get so I’m encouraged and it makes me want to stay on this course.

Finally… the gluten free eating. I promised my dad I would get tested for Celiac, though, since my oldest son is Celiac and it is genetic. I’m pretty much the key to my family and I need to know… so… I’m eating gluten until the end of June. I can already tell the effect it is having on my attitude and my sleep. iDontCareForIt. End of June. End of June. Hopefully, I can get it out of my system and focus on making my #8 Half – San Fransisco Half #1, a better finish time.

Fourteen… Times Two

Happy Easter Eve, my friends!

As I sit here reflecting on the Lenten season, as we are taught to do, I am mostly thinking about how grateful I am. Grateful for my beautiful boys. Grateful for a wonderful father and sister who love me unconditionally and have been there for me in tough times. Those tough times that, at least in some ways, made me a bit of a stronger person. Grateful for friends who have been patient with me through the tough times I’ve had the last couple of years… and have listened (or at least feigned interest) in my constant blathering about running and the 50 states goal (part of the reason I started this blog…I know you guys are listening – and I’m grateful for that). I’m also grateful for the gift I’ve been given to run. To be healthy enough to run. To have the ability that, although I work hard at it, seems to fit me naturally.

I just *knew* my disproportionally long legs would be a benefit to me one day.

I write this tonight as I close out my first week of April, meeting the goal I set for myself of attaining at least 22.5 miles. Yes, I set a big goal for the month: 90 miles again. I had overcome a slight setback in the beginning of March (physically, at least) that had me worried about setting that goal – partly the reason I set the audacious goal in the first place (some call that tenacity…). Another part of setting that goal was that, when I find something that works, I tend to stick to it until it no longer works. 90-mile months worked once for me feeling alright after the dreaded mile 10.5 (my personal bonk point) as did running 14 miles as my last long before that half. Because worked before, let’s see if it works again… so yesterday I set out to do another 14-mile run. I’ve only hit that distance once before in January and I really didn’t want that to be a fluke. I had friends with me then – cheering me on, encouraging me not to quit, making me slow down so I didn’t burn out too quickly (as I have tendency to do). But, with the Easter season upon us, all my usual running friends were busy readying for their Easter celebrations. I was alone for this trip. I had to make it to 14 on my own.

I picked one of my favorite trails that was one of the flatter places I could think of for this run. Sick of my own library of music (which happens occasionally), I was delighted to discover that my local library actually “loans” out MP3 files of audio books (by the way, I’ve made quite a long wish list to keep me entertained on these drives and long runs for the 50 states quest), so I downloaded a book about Ann Boleyn and set out on my trip. It was a perfect day for a long run, especially considering the weather the last few weeks. The first 7 miles seemed easy, but I was going too fast. After I stopped to take fuel, I tried to focus on pace, but, on occasion when the book got interesting, I lost my focus. I can see from my splits where I was concentrating on it and where I was not because the splits are all over the place for that period in the run. Ironically, last three miles felt much easier to me than miles 7 through 10.5.

I finished the 14.

I finished the 14 strong, in fact, just under my goal pace of 9:30, shaving off about 8 minutes from the last time I did 14 miles.

I was sore, a little, but by this morning, mostly recovered from that run. I’m also grateful for that, as quick recoveries from longs are relatively new to me.

Regardless of the apparent recovery, I didn’t intend to run today. I could barely sleep last night so I was pretty tired and I moved a bunch of stuff around the house… not to mention that I was just kind of in a bad mood. I thought a good spin ride would be what I should do – nothing hard, something to just shake out a little of the left over lactic acid build up. It was not to be… due to maintenance on other equipment at the gym, I ended up running tonight because treadmills were all that were free. Normally, I roll my eyes at the mere thought of being “relegated” to the treadmill, but tonight, I saw it as an opportunity to run uber flat and controlled pace for exactly 40 minutes, so I took advantage. Maybe I was just pissy enough that a good run is what I needed… dunno. I ended up with another 4.22 tonight, bringing my total week to 26.9.

I am happy to announce that my attitude has officially changed 🙂

Happy Easter to all of you and your families. Bless you!

2012 Training Summary By Month – March

Hello! Happy April to you all! I hope your March was a good one. Mine started off with a bit of discomfort, but I seem to have recovered from that just in time for the heat (and humidity) to begin to put kinks in my training as I try – again – to acclimate to the hot weather running. Now that it is officially the end of the month, time to check in my 2012 goals. You’ll find my February and January stats below March.

Cumulative 2012 through 3/31/2012:

So far this year, I’m behind only really on swimming and the weight training, although, I did have 2 weight training activities this month and plan for at least once a week (thanks to my training partner) so I hope to keep up with this throughout the remainder of the year. As far as my running is concerned, however, I’m pretty happy with what I see here! I was curious about how I was doing – running-wise – since last year, so I put the same calculations from this period last year in parentheses after the number from this year for the running stats. It is no wonder to me why I did not do well in some of those races and half marathons. February of 2011, I only had 3 runs. THREE!?!?! This helps me keep perspective and stay motivated. I may do this next month if I think about it.

  • Total Running Mileage: 269.2 (2011: 130.3)
  • Total Running Duration: 41:07:57 (2011: 20:03:50)
  • Total Running Average Pace: 9:29.08 (2011: 9:14)
  • Number of Running Activities: 55 (2011: 23)
  • Duration per Running Activity: 44:52 (2011: 52:20)
  • Distance per Running Activity: 4.89 mi (2011: 5.66)
  • Swimming Totals: 1 activity / 1 mile (1600m) / duration and average pace – 58:32
  • Cycling/Spinning Totals: 6 activities / 128.2 miles total (avg 21.36 per activity) / duration 5:27:15 (avg 54:32 per activity)
  • Other/Weight Training: *finally* getting around to adding this statistic 🙂 2 activities/ duration: 60:00 (avg 30:00 per activity) – including quad/hamstring weight training, back/abs isometrics (plank, crunches), stretching and some yoga poses.
  • Races: Hilton Head Half Marathon (2/11/2012)

March 2012:

Given how I felt at the start of the month, I’m impressed with my numbers this month. I also spent some time running with my 5 and 7 year olds who are enthusiastic, but not patient with the pacing. We’re working on that 😉 I might track those runs separately going forward so I can see what I actually did for training, but for this month, those are included below. Considering the start of my month, I only hit one long run – a 10 mile – late in the month, so I have some make up to do for endurance/stamina beyond 10 miles in the first half of April. To work around my inability to get the longs, I ran shorter distances more frequently to cover the difference I lost missing those longs and I’m ultimately pretty happy with my mileage this month. I’m looking to April to help me get back into the swing of the longer distances – hopefully a 14-miler – to help me prepare for my next half in May. My April mileage goal is between 85 and 90. I have the Tarheel 10-mile race on 4/21, and I am hoping to beat my time from that race last year. That is the only race I have scheduled for April because of the proximity of it to the OneAmerica Indy Days half marathon I have May 5 (two weeks). So, to reach my mileage goal, the mileage will have to be front-loaded in the month… which means I need to make sure I get to the gym today! Here is what I did in March:

  • Total Running Mileage: 85.1
  • Total Running Duration: 13:02:14
  • Total Running Average Pace: 9:11
  • Number of Running Activities: 22
  • Duration per Running Activity: 35.33
  • Average Miles per Running Activity: 3.86
  • Swimming Totals: 0 activities
  • Cycling/Spinning Totals: 3 activities / 62.7 miles total (avg 20.9 per activity) / duration 2:40:56 (avg 53:38 per activity)
  • Other: Weight/isometric training: 2, 30 minutes per session
  • Races: none

February 2012:

I’m very, very happy with February… I didn’t think I would get 75 miles and pretty much wrote off February until this past weekend when I realized how close I was to 90 – I took advantage of the extra day and pushed it to 90. Happy that I got in 2 spin activities – wished I was able to get at least one more swim, but I got a really good one in and that’s better than nothing so I’ll take it.

  • Total Running Mileage: 90.5
  • Total Running Duration: 13:31:57
  • Total Running Average Pace: 8:58
  • Number of Running Activities: 16
  • Duration per Running Activity: 50:44
  • Swimming Totals: 1 activity / 1 mile (1600m) / duration and average pace – 58:32
  • Cycling/Spinning Totals: 2 activities / 46.5 miles total (avg 23.25 per activity) / duration 2:04:33 (avg 1:02:16 per activity)
  • Races: Hilton Head Half Marathon (2/11/2012)

January 2012:

  • Total Running Mileage: 93.6 *monthly mileage PR for me
  • Total Running Duration: 14:33:45
  • Total Running Average Pace: 9:20
  • Number of Running Activities: 17
  • Duration per Running Activity: 51:23
  • Swimming Totals: (none)
  • Cycling/Spinning Totals: 1 activity / 19.0 miles total  / duration 41:44 (total and average)
  • Races: (none)