race

Dismal Swamp 5k (19:45)

Sometimes posts get lost in the mix.  During my wedding weekend I also ran an Inaugural 5k at the Dismal Swamp.  The 5k was a straight, out and back course.  Brittany, Heather and I ran the 5k while Laura cheered and ran 10 miles.  It was a lot of fun.  Given any other weekend this recap would have gotten precedence.

My girls

My girls

We got to the race with about half an hour to spare.  We all ran about 20 minutes together and by the time we finished it was time to race.

dismal swamp 5k 1

I was trying to motion #bumbutt but it looks like I just have a wedgie

 

The 5k started at 8:05, while the half marathon started 5 minutes before at 8am.  Once they were off they called us up.  Within a few minutes, we were off.  I was lucky to chat to Marie, a great friend of mine.

I immediately took off, not knowing what to expect. Since my hip is definitely not 100%, if anything hurt I would just stop.

The first mile felt like it took forever.  I went from 3rd woman to 1st by the end of the first mile and found myself alone with no men or women near.  I began passing half marathoners towards the end of the first mile.  At first I thought it was strange to have half marathoners go 5 mins in front of 5kers.  We would catch a lot and it would be crowded but I ended up liking it a lot.  I was able to see some of my local friends like Allie and Jenny!  I hit the first mile in 6:22.  I was excited because it gave me hope to run a sub 20 (which I have not been able to do lately at all).

The second mile was similar to the first.  I saw a lot of friends running the half.  I also saw Laura who was cheering loudly.  The lead cyclist made the u turn and headed back with the leader of the race.  The lead cyclist actually told me to get out of the way.  That irritated me a little bit because there weren’t a lot of places to go.  I wasn’t going to run into the half marathoners on the other side of the road and I wasn’t purposely in the leader’s way.  When I made the turn and headed back I side fived everyone including my dad and two brothers (both of whom were riding the pain train after going to T’s Bachelor party).   I hit the second mile in 6:22 too (hashtag twinning).

During the third mile I thought there was a chance to break 20 minutes.  My hip was a little bit sore but nothing crazy (I do believe if I raced a 10k, it would have been inhibiting).  I began trying to push but similar to most of my 5ks, that is next to impossible.  The last mile of a 5k is always painful whether I’m running a PR or PW.  I hit the third mile in 6:27 so I didn’t slow down too much.

All of a sudden I found myself approaching the finish line and they had a tape for me to break!  That doesn’t happen often so I was really excited.  I threw my hands up (like I think you are supposed to do) and went through.

dismal swamp win

Then to add more perfection to the day, Heather took second woman and Brittany took third.  We actually took a 1,2,3!  This race wasn’t close to a PR for anyone but it is a nice step towards running more short races.  I’m very happy I made the last minute decision to race and have no regrets.

dismal swamp 5k 2

My hip felt the same as if I had run easy so that was a bit of confidence too.  The weather conditions were perfect and the course was flat (probably the main reasons I had a solid race).  This race gave me a bit of confidence that I could begin racing 5ks again…anything more is going to currently bother my hip.  In summary it was a solid race for me and I have no complaints.  I am looking to race a lot more short races for a while.  My hip didn’t bother me during the 5k and I think it’s a logical step.

Questions for you:

What is your 5k strategy?

What was the last race you did with friends?

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:33.06) 

Running the Shamrock half marathon this year was not one of my better ideas.

I was running three weeks post marathon.
I am working to recover from my bum butt injury.  While my hip and butt are improving, I’m not completely healed.
I knew it wasn’t a smart idea but Shamrock is one of my favorite races.  I didn’t originally travel to Virginia to race Shamrock.  I was in town taking care of wedding things.  I planned to run the race until it hurt too much.  Then I would stop.  Since obviously I finished the race my pain never got out of control.  (ETA: My bum butt was sore the next day though). 
Anyways, we got to the race at 5:45.  Shamrock is tricky because you never know exactly how parking will work out.  My dad, T and his dad, ended up having plenty of time before the race. I am always arriving late so it was a nice change.  We walked and headed to the start.  None of us warmed up and we all stood around chatting.  I never got to make a final bathroom stop because the line was so long (probably close to half an hour) but I figured I could just go at one of the porta potties on course if needed.
At the start I met up with Kris L and Rochelle.  We briefly chatted and by the time I knew it…it was time to go!
shamrock 2
T and I ran the first mile together.  We found ourselves with the 1:35 pacers.  Funny enough, the 1:35 pacers were the same 1:45 pacers at the Harbor Lights Half Marathon.  So my two experiences running with pacers…were with the same pacers.
By mile 2, T had dropped me and I found myself hanging out with the 1:35 pace group.  We talked about random life events, life and New Jersey.
Honestly the next five miles flew by and by the time I knew it, we were at the halfway point.  The pain in my piriformis felt exactly the same as when I started the race.  It was no better or no worse.  It was just a literal pain in the butt.  My bum butt wasn’t causing me too much harm so I just continued.
shamrock 4
The first half of the race averaged a 7:11 pace.  I felt more out of shape than anything (but that didn’t really stop me talking).  I can tell I haven’t raced fast in a while. I decided if I was still feeling good by mile 10, I would attempt to push the pace.
Around mile 9, the famous Kris L strolled by us.  She made us look like we were all standing still.  We chatted for a few minutes and then she continued to run fast and drop us.  The pacers and I laughed for a while and said we felt famous for the few minutes she ran by.  It’s not every day that such a stellar runner runs by you during a race.
By mile 10, I determined I was feeling decent enough to push the pace…so I did. Mile 10 I ran in 6:55.  I didn’t feel great but I also didn’t feel awful either.  I felt the same as if I was running a 7:10 pace so I just rolled with it.
At mile 11, there was beer!  When I ran with the 1:45 pacers at Harbor Lights, they encouraged me to take a Bakers Crust Pie.  This time for 1:35, they encouraged me to take a cup of beer…so I thought…eh why not. I have no regrets.
Mile 12 was a 6:52 mile.  Another person in the pace group and I ran the last mile together until he sprinted to the finish.   We ran mile 13 at 6:41.  I felt more strong during the last few miles then the first few.  My piriformis felt the same as when I started the race.  So my bum butt had no change in injury status,
shamrock 3

This is a prouder race photo I’ve had.

I finished the half in 1:33.06, which is about 10 minutes slower than my PR.  I’m not upset because I know I’m not at a PR fitness level right now.  I’m still recovering from my bum butt issue as well as recovering from a marathon.  It;s not a great time for me but it was a fun time.  I have no regrets running the race.
As I always say, Shamrock is one of the best races I’ve done.  The crowd, the cheering, and the race organization cannot be beat.  It’s a race that I would always recommend.  If you are ever looking for a well put together goal race (8k, half or full) Shamrock is one I highly recommend.
T and I post race.

T and I post race.

Questions for you:
Did you race a St. Patricks Day race?
Have you ever run a race that you felt better at the end versus beginning? 

Phoenix Full Marathon (3:14.59)

I don’t know how to start this post.  I ran a marathon, I PR’ed and won my age group. 

I should be pleased (I am).  I do know, however, my fitness was a little bit faster than this race showed.  I also know that I finished this race not healthy.  Not a full blown injury but I did have a major issue in my hips and hamstring that lead to a painful finish.

There are a couple of factors that played a part in the “bitter aftertaste” with this race.

  1. My travel the Thursday night before. It left me not fueling accordingly, up for 22 hours and traveling for 14.  I didn’t know traveling made you sore….but it does.
  2. My hamstring became very aggravated around mile 21…not tired but it was in pain. My pace slowed because my stride shortened (not because I was experiencing the “bonk” like last marathon). While it’s tough to say, I lost around 5 minutes of time because my hamstring and hip were in pain.

Enough whining because despite finishing in pain, I did have a 2 minute PR.  I’m truly grateful for a PR but I would have liked to have shown a slightly faster time.

Incase you don’t want to read 1000 words here are cliff notes or a screenshot of my splits:

finish time hollie phoenix

The recap: 

I woke up at 4 am and made it to the bus drop off right on time.  Tim drove me to the start.  I chatted with people on the bus and got to the race start successfully.  The Phoenix marathon had fireworks at the beginning which was unique. With the exception of long bathroom lines, there was nothing stressful before the race. Sacrifices had to be made and I delayered my pink Avalanche jacket, never to be seen again.  I threw it to the side of the road and bid it farewell (I have too many jackets anyways and I paid 5 dollars for that thing…it lasted 3 years).

Before I knew it the race was off.  Unlike my first marathon, my Garmin actually worked. I made the decision to start with the 3:15 pacer.  My original goal was to stay with the 3:10 pacer but after everything happened, I knew it was best to start less aggressive.  I did not want to have an unenjoyable second half of the race (but I still did).

During the first mile, my shoe came untied.  So I stopped and tied it…Spending an extra 10 seconds tying my shoe was not the end of the world (or any world).  My first mile was 7:17.  I chatted with a few guys training for Boston.

Phoenix Marathon

During miles 2-3, were pretty boring.  I enjoyed talking with the pacer and a few athletes around me.  One thing I enjoy about marathons is the amount of talking people do!  (6:50, 6:55).

During mile 4, I went to get water and just kind of left the pacer. I didn’t mean to but I sped up and then proceeded to go forward.  Despite my finish time, I never saw the pace group again.

I took my first gel at mile 5.  I didn’t feel like I needed it but the (fueling) plan called for 4 gels and I’m a follower.  I ran with a few other runners and we formed a nice pack. We talked for a few miles and by the time I knew it, we were at mile 8.  My legs were feeling good and as a whole my body felt good too.  Each mile between 5-13 ranged from 6:50-7:00. I ran the only uphill mile of the race in 7:44.  I wasn’t too upset and I actually passed a lot of people during that mile.

635610868350750942

During miles 7-10, I found myself running with a really nice man from Colorado.  He had run multiple 100 milers and wanted to run one more marathon.  We had about the same goals in mind.

I took my next gel at 10.5 and started to focus on the half way point.  I hit the half marathon at 1:34.  This was about where I hit the half in NYCM.  My goal originally was to hit around 1:35 so I was on pace with my original goal.  I didn’t feel tired, my hamstring felt okay and I actually felt really good.  I counted my eggs early and thought I might be able to achieve a 3:10.

Everything after the half point increasingly got worse (I think that means I’m doing marathons right?). Miles 14-16 were extremely windy.  With NYCM, my most memorable mile (in a bad way) was mile 15.  It was exhausting mile up the bridge and I felt sore and tired.  For Phoenix, I was worried about this mile too.  During the Phoenix marathon, miles 14, 15 and 16 were all extremely windy and boring.  I had a no mans land clearing of 10 feet in front and behind.  They were mentally challenging miles and once again, I think those miles were the most mentally draining. I took my next gel around mile 16.  I had planned on mile 15 but I wanted to take it with water.

At mile 17, I saw Adam.  I mumbled something (who knows what?) and high fived him.  I grabbed water.   My hamstring began to feel tight but I choked it up to…oh I’m running a marathon, things should not feel good. I didn’t think the pain would progress like it did.

Waving

By mile 18, my hamstring hurt.  It hurt a lot. I almost stopped and stretched but I knew if I stopped, I would not start again.  The issue was annoying from mile 18-20 but it wasn’t painful.  I hit mile 20 and was overwhelmed that I still had 6.2 miles to go.  Not because I was tired but because my hamstring and hip hurt.

I really thought about dropping out due to the pain escalating.  Did I want to stop at mile 20? Doesn’t everyone ask that? I knew physically I had the energy to get through the last 10k but my hip/hamstring was hurting. It was quickly becoming more of a worry. I began to analyze my situation and figure out what felt the best. I realized turns made the pain worse as did a longer stride.  I shortened my stride and proceeded on.  I wanted to accomplish marathon number 2, PR or not.

I hit 21 and took my gel.  5 miles to go (7:59).  At this point I began calculating how much time I had left to the minute.  45 minutes, 44, 42…

Despite having 5 miles to go, I began to focus on the finish.  I thought to myself “no one drops out of a marathon at mile 21″.  That is inaccurate but it motivated me. My hamstring and hip pain was very much there.  It wasn’t altering my stride but it was a very noticeable pain.  If I had felt a pop, tear or anything alter I would have stopped. A 2 month injury recovery was not worth it to me.  The moment I felt I had to alter my stride I would have stopped.

When I hit mile 22, I blindly assumed just half an hour left.  Somehow dividing the race into half an hour then 2X15 minutes made me feel a little bit better.  My pace was slowing and my hamstring was getting progressively worse.  I decided that I might end up walking the race if needed.  I also knew if I stopped running I would not begin running again (8:04).

During Miles 23-25, I just focused on getting to the end.  We had a brief tail wind during mile 24-25.  I remember silently cheering to myself because at that point my hip and I needed all the help we could get.  I stared at the people running in front of me and noticed they were not getting further away and I was not gaining on them.  We were going the same pace and that made me feel better.  I passed several half marathoners who were walking.  I wanted to say “please walk single file and not 5 across” but decided it was too much energy.

The last mile was a blur.  For mile 26 was just focused on “less than 10 minutes to go”.  I repeated that to myself several times.  I was so mentally checked into finishing the race I was oblivious to anything and everything around me.

Thoughts during mile 26:

Who are these people?  Where is the finish line?  Which way to go?  So close, so close so close…OMG…no there is that .2…now so close.  Here I go..they are announcing my name.  Don’t cry, finish like a woman.  They are taking your photo.  Raise your arms, do something…why aren’t you race photo ready…you had 3 hours to think of a good  finish pose…omg just cross this damn line.

Seriously what am I supposed to do?

I’ll settle for bird pose I guess…I mean a Phoenix is a bird right (Absolutely no thought went into that. but I’ll let you think it was planned)

I crossed the finish line in 3:14.59.

Yes it’s a PR but not a PR I’m satisfied with because I spent the last 5 miles dealing with an issue (hopefully not to turn injury).  After crossing the finish line I found my friends and Tim then sat around.  I do remember repeatedly saying (being very dehydrated) that I must find my checked bag so I can get my pants.

Phoenix marathon finish

The awards ceremony was at 11 so we waited around until then.  I was second in my age group and 21st woman overall.  Since one of the top 3 women was in my age category, she was pulled out.  Therefore I was bumped to first.

Climbing the podium

Climbing the podium

Phoenix marathon

To summarize, it’s hard to complain about a PR.  I’m happy that I’m over my stress fracture hump, but I think I was in better shape than a 3:15.  I didn’t slow down because I was tired, I slowed down because I was in pain.  So far I’ve gotten another deep tissue massage and I’m resting accordingly.  I’m happy with a PR but I am leaving with a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth.  I’m not entirely sure I enjoy the marathon distance yet but I’m sure I’ll try again at some point.

I’ll write a few more posts discussing final thoughts, fueling thoughts and a comparison of both marathons.  As always thank you everyone for your support.  The love I received race day was overwhelming.

Cliff Notes: Phoenix Recap (3:14.59)

Cliff notes version: I PR’ed and was first in my age group.

A photo of me post race

A photo of me post race

The longer but not too long version:

The first half of the race felt great.  I ran the first 13.1 in 1:34.

For the last two weeks, I have been dealing with a hamstring soreness/tightness that manifested itself in this race around mile 18.  From mile 21-26.2 I felt my hamstring and hip during each and every stride.  It was the hardest section of running I’ve done in a while.  I fought through (and believe me if I felt anything rip, tear, pop or do something to change my gait I would have stopped).  My hamstring caused my stride to shorten and for it to be a miserable last 7 miles.

I’m in a decent amount of pain (not soreness but pain) post race.  It’s not sharp but it does feel strained.

I also dealt with 14 hours of traveling and being up for 22 hours on Thursday to Friday.  I could feel exhaustion kick in.

I had already planned to rest several days before returning to running but I’m resting until I can figure out what is going on.  I’ll be back at you for a much longer blog post sometime soon.

It was a great PR and a good race for me.  I know I still have not conquered the marathon distance by any means.  I did learn that my fueling was perfect though for this race and I believe that was a huge lesson.  The other important thing about typing up this race recap is that I’ve finally learned how to spell “Phoenix”…instead of Pheonix…

For the LOLZ: 

Trying to get up to collect my age group award...like a bumbling idiot.

Trying to get up to collect my age group award…like a bumbling idiot.

age group winner

Thank you for all the love and support from family and friends.  It truly means the world to me.  

 

 

 

I’m Coming for you Phoenix.

There is less than a week until my second marathon.

To be honest, this race has snuck right up on me.  It feels like yesterday when I began debating if I wanted to make this my goal race (in reality that was 4 months ago). Now it’s less than a week away!  It’s hard to believe that six months ago I was dealing with a stress fracture.

As I limped into work August 22, I knew my fall racing and marathon schedule were out the door.  

Was I done running forever?

No, of course not…but I was done running for at least 2 months.  I rested and recovered the entire two months.  It was an injury and time that I felt no need to strenuously cross train through.  I didn’t want too and I didn’t crave workouts…Looking back I was extremely burnt out and needed the rest.  I didn’t feel pressure to cross train because I wasn’t training for anything.

After completely recovering, I took two months to build up some mileage (smartly).  It was then (3 months ago), I decided maybe I could run another marathon (Why I chose the Phoenix Full).  So here I am now less than a week before the race.  I’m still in denial it is coming up so soon.  With my previous marathon, it felt like months of preparation and weeks of build up.  With Phoenix it feels like…surprise…time to go to this race (although I’ve talked about it a lot).

In less than a week, I toe the line (and bum the line in runderwear) at my first goal race of 2015.

I’m nervous.
I’m excited.
I’m ready.

With any race, people ask goals and racing strategy.  The answer is I honestly don’t know.  

I do know for the Phoenix marathon I want to finish healthy and strong.  I have only raced one full marathon and it was 18 months ago.  I don’t remember what racing that distance is like.  Sure in the last 18 months, I’ve run close to 10 different 20 milers but 20 miles and 26.2 miles aren’t the same.  I would know as I rode the pain train at New York. I might dry heave and collapse after mile 20.

The internet never forgets. 

Mile 13ish

Might as well be happy right?

Might as well be happy right?

Mile 22: Get me out of this place. 

Marathons are so fun!

Marathons are so fun!

Thanks to the famous jewelry designer Erica Sarah for this shot.  #Neverforget the dry heaving at mile 24.

Thanks to the famous jewelry designer Erica Sara for this shot. #Neverforget the dry heaving at mile 24.

My primary goal for any race, especially a marathon is to finish healthy. It always has been my first goal and it always will be.  If I can start and finish a race healthy than I consider it a success.

My B goal is to finish under 3:20. A 3:20 puts me around my PR of 3:17. I’m going into Phoenix much less trained. While the course, the race and logistics are different, it doesn’t make up for less training. I wouldn’t have trained any harder or any more and I am running this racing coming from an injury. A big positive is, I won’t have to be up 7 hours before the race. I also won’t have to travel into a large overwhelming city.  I will be at peace in the morning and be able to relax.

With any goal race, a PR is always the reach and major goal. I do think it’s a huge reach goal for this time but I’ve remained pretty healthy post stress fracture so I don’t think it’s out of reason.  I’ve been smart with my training and rested when I needed too.

In summary, I would like to continue to get comfortable with the full marathon distance.  My main goal is to enjoy myself and finish injury free.  Any time you can finish a race healthy whether it’s a 55 sprint to a marathon is a good day.  I want running to be life long and once race (good or bad) will never define my running.

On any note, I’m coming for you Phoenix with runderwear and racing flats.

Feel the Love 5k (20:12)

Tim and I decided to run a 5k on Valentine’s Day.  The Feel the Love 5k was a team event.  We entered the “lovers category” and made our team name “Planes and Pancakes”.  It was in Philadelphia at 3:30pm.  It made for a really odd race time, especially on Valentine’s Day but Tim and I didn’t mind.  I went into this race with the strict mentality it was a workout.  I had run a successful 20 mile race before and I was finishing my marathon peak week.

Ready to go

Ready to go

I ran 5 miles in the morning to shakeout my legs.  I am normally a morning runner.  I always prefer a morning race but this was a unique experience.  My legs have also been feeling stiff since the 20 miler. As much as I do want a 5k PR in the future, I haven’t been training for that.  My plan through the summer is to run more 5ks and hopefully work towards a PR.

Anyways, around 2pm it started snowing a lot in South Jersey.  Tim and I tossed the idea around (too much) of just skipping the race.   We were cold, I was grouchy and my legs weren’t feeling the best.   I had already taken off work as well as payed for the race so we headed over.

For the race itself, It was really cold so I wore pants.  There have only been 4 races in my running career that I’ve worn pants for!

Logistics wise, after getting lost a few times we made it to the Navy Shipyard to the race in Philadelphia.  We grabbed our bibs and did a 2 mile warm up.  I felt significantly better in the morning but still not great.

This particular race had two “courses”.  Each team member would run a different course and you would see each other several times during the race.  Both courses looped around each other and you ended up doing 12 turns!  It felt like a track.

The race started smoothly and the team members went their separate ways.  The first mile I hit in 6:40.  Despite going into the race with a “workout mentality”, I was disappointed.   I quickly shook that feeling and realized that it was a good time for where I currently was (untapered, tired and on a difficult course).  I was passed by a lot of people during the first mile.  I saw T on the course.  With the course directly on the water, the first loop also allowed me to see where the wind was the worst.

The second mile I also ran in 6:40.  I passed many people and was also passed by many people.  I think I moved places the most in this 5k.   Normally I’ll be in the same place for half of the race but people were passing (or I passed a few people) more often in this race.  Not that it really matters but I could tell it was a fast field.

The final mile I ran a lot faster.  I don’t know how or why but I just picked up the pace.  I think I was ready for this race to be done.  I knew I wouldn’t hit my original goal of breaking 20 minutes but I pushed the pace as much as possible.

I passed a few women and finished in 20:12 (which was surprising after my first mile).  The finish line was a hard left at the end and I didn’t see it coming up.  All of a sudden, the race was over.

A terrible photo but proof I wore pants.

The proof is in the pants (wow TWSS)

Tim and I finished 15th team overall.  We were happy with it because it was a very competitive race.  The first few teams average 17:XX 5k times, which was incredible!  We did 2 miles cooldown.  I would have liked to have been faster but due to the workouts and mileage I put in last week, that was not possible.  This was a lot of fun and I’m glad we both got out there for a solid workout.

Questions for you:

How did you spend Valentine’s Day?

Have you ever done a team race?

January Training

January was a great month of training for me.  As I enter February, I am feeling more confident with my training and for my marathon.

My primary goals for December and January were building base and mileage.  I built some strong mileage and maintained staying healthy and injury free (knock on wood). I’m building up mileage for the Phoenix marathon at the end of the month.

Total miles: 265 miles:

Range of Paces: 6:09-10:15-untimed

Shortest run: 1.23 mile warm up

Longest run: 21.17 mile long run

Races:

December 31st: Beat the Ball 5k (19:50) This seems like forever ago!

January 1st: Hair of the Dog 5k (19:59)

This yellow top

January 10th: Icicle 10 miler (1:07.35 6:40 pace)

Favorite race: It was definitely the Icicle 10 miler.  I felt so strong and I feel like I could have finished a half marathon at that pace.  It was a challenging course and it was motivating to see my hard work paying off.   In fact the Icicle ten miler was my favorite race since May.  It gave me a lot of motivation for where my fitness level is.

running 3

Favorite training run:  My 21 miler last week.  It was my first test of long run speed and I finished feeling satisfied.  I ran the first half easy and the second ranging from a 7:30-7:45 pace.

Overall thoughts:

From a whole picture this month could not have gone any better.  Each month brings small challenges but I had no major issues.  I increased mileage and felt strong throughout the month.  It’s nice to start my 2015 injury free and strong.

Injury wise: To answer questions about my metatarsal, I haven’t felt pain or any issue since beginning to ramp up mileage again.  My recovery process last fall was a lot slower then I would have liked but it allowed me to be healthy now.  I haven’t been having aches and pains with my foot at all (knock on wood).

Next month goals:

February will be different for training.  I will spend the first two weeks training and the second two weeks tapering for the Phoenix Marathon (Reasons I chose Phoenix).  I’m becoming more excited to race and to be strong.

To be honest, last fall I did not have the same excitement for the Wineglass marathon. For the Phoenix marathon, I’m excited to race. I don’t have a time goal but I do want to finish my marathon injury free and strong.  Judging from my training, I stand a chance of running a similar time to my marathon PR (3:17).

I’ve only run one marathon and I already realized its a tricky race to train for and run. Anything can happen during the race but as long as I finish injury free, I’ll be happy.

Questions for you:

How as your first month of 2015?

What is the next race on your schedule? 

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