Guest Post: Mr. LOLZ Mercedes Marathon (2:59.45)

As most people know, my husband ran his first marathon last weekend.  For his first blog post, he decided to share his recap of the race.  Enjoy!

Hollie


As people know, Hollie and I lived in Alabama for about 6 weeks due to my work.  Going into the marathon, I was finishing a six-week course for the Air Force. While I had time to train, running wasn’t my main focus.  In fact, I hadn’t committed to the marathon until we finished the preview run just two weeks prior.    I finished 20 that day.  I knew I could finish a marathon, but I wanted to finish it under 3 hours.  I heard the Mercedes marathon was a good full and it fell on the end of my course so I thought it would be a good idea to do.

The night before, we had Mellow Mushroom pizza which is Hollie and I’s favorite restaurant. I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t get cheese but garlic and oil based. I like to feel full but not overwhelmed. We went to bed at 8 pm and were up at 4:15 am. I had coffee and a bagel for breakfast.  We walked to the start after Hollie needed to go to the car twice in the morning for random things including running shoes. I guess she is not into barefoot running.

I don’t like big races and would rather do a small 100 person one.  The bathroom situation and start line are always crazy. Once we got to the start, I was faced with a 30 min bathroom line, but I discovered bathrooms on the third floor which had zero line. We got to the start about 10 mins before and chatted with Miles, and exchanged race strategies. My goal was to go out in a 7 min pace and pick it up to break 3 hours. I was told this was a bad strategy given the heat conditions and it was my first marathon.

Since the half and full marathon started together, I started next to my wife. As they did the countdown for the start, my wife was dancing to rap music. I don’t understand why they play rap music at starts but it’s another reason I don’t like big races.  Unlike Hollie who talks to everyone she knows and dances at the start line, I like to stay focused.

The race went off with a literal “go go go”. I started off as expected. It was rush of people as expected. I told myself to chill and relax. I came through the first mile in 6:40.

I was already getting hot and anticipated I might need to delayer to my top.  Between mile 1-2, I moved my race bib from my shirt to my shorts because it impeded air flow. I don’t know how I didn’t fall.

The next few miles clicked along, and between miles 2-8, I kept an even pace between 6:50-7. I run with a stopwatch with no GPS, so I went based in mile markers. My goal to the halfway was to remain relaxed and not to pick it up. The heat wasn’t affecting me as much as I anticipated but I also ran a half marathon while deployed in 90 degrees (literally 90 degrees).

At mile 10, many half marathoners passed me doing their finishing kick. They pulled me along, and I caught up with one kid whose goal was to break 90 minutes in the half. I hit the halfway point in 1:30.40 which was exactly what I planned. Even though that was “the plan,” I was worried because it was slower than 3-hour pace and my hamstring was tight.

The marathon course is a double loop of the half, and we started back around for round 2. Excitingly enough, we ran the exact same course twice. I looked up at the first hill and saw two runners about 2 mins ahead and thought they were probably at the 3-hour pace. I caught them about 3 miles later. I ran between 6:20-6:40 for the next few miles based on hills.

Around miles 16-18, I slowed down for the next few miles because I was nervous to hit the infamous wall marathoners talk about. I kept an easier pace going up hills and passed a few more people.  I had begun to pass a lot of people.  That’s motivating in any race.

Personally, I never felt as though I hit the wall. Around mile 20, we hit the downhill with a minor headwind.

Once I got to mile 23, I did the math and realized to break 3 I would have to run 7-minute pace exactly. The next three miles I ran in 7:03, and when I got to mile 26, I knew it was extremely close, and I had to go. I would regret running above 3 hours.  My half marathon PR is 1:20.02 so I didn’t want to do that again.

When I rounded the last turn, I could see the finish line reading 2:59. I picked it up and ran as hard as possible and finished in 2:59.45.  I guess I ran by my wife screaming but I didn’t notice because I was staring at the finish.

After I crossed the line, I felt my legs cramping and kept walking. I chugged a Powerade and ate half of the Orange supply.

tim-and-i-1

I know I’ll a do another marathon at some point when my schedule allows me to train.  I had a good experience with the marathon and while I prefer it over the half marathon, I still like 5-10ks better.

Hollie told me to ask some questions at the bottom so:

What do you remember about your first marathon?

Do you like to stay focused at the start line or are you relaxed and talkative? 

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Mercedes Half Marathon (1:27.01)

If you want the short recap I can tell you the following:

I was getting over a cold, it was the most humid half marathon I’ve done, and it wasn’t a goal half marathon.

But why have 20 words when you can have 1000? 

As I mentioned in my training log, initially the Mercedes half marathon was meant to be a goal race.  After looking at other options, my coach and I decided to target the Double Bridge 15k.  What was not exactly public knowledge, was my husband was training for the full marathon.  Since we were driving back to New Jersey afterward, one of us had to be in somewhat good driving condition.  Too bad, of the two of us, he still felt 10 times better post race.

Targeting the Double Bridge 15k the week before ended up being the right move for me.  I was feeling better that day, and despite being windy, the weather was much better.  I came down with a minor cold a few days before the Mercedes Half.  It felt as though I was breathing through a straw.

With that all of that said, we got to the race start around 6:30 am for the 7:03 start.  We chatted with my friend Miles.  My husband located bathrooms and we were able to go and drop off our bags.  The race director began with a countdown followed by a frantic “go go go.”  It felt as though we were starting a local 5k, not a major (and incredibly competitive) race.  The full and half ran the same course.  Both miles and my husband were running the full, so we all started together.

Since we had run part of the preview run, I knew the course well.  The first mile was flat and I found myself trying to get into a rhythm.  People were running by me already, and I felt discouraged.  I hit the first mile in 6:34 and didn’t feel good about it. I thought: “this is going to be a long race.”Run Mercedes Half Marathon me

The second and third mile were more hilly.  Runners were going by me left and right.  Negative thoughts immediately crept in my head.

Had I taken the race out too fast?

Was I just bad running hills?

Do I not handle heat well anymore?

I hit both miles in 6:27 and felt a little better about it.  I changed my mindset to running my own race.  All I thought was, LOLZ you can make it to the end.  Nothing can surpass the regression miles of Shamrock 2016 (or so I thought).

The next few miles were a bit of a blur.  Both mile 4 and 5 went by without any major excitement.  I grabbed the course Powerade at every stop.  I ran both miles by myself in 6:42.  In a half marathon, I usually take whichever electrolyte fluids they have, and I was thankful for Powerade at every stop.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me

By the halfway point, I was overheated.  I wasn’t in danger, but I also knew, it wasn’t my day.  It was hot, my body wasn’t feeling great, and my coach had it marked as a workout, to begin with.  Why was I freaking out for a race, I knew wouldn’t be a PR?   

With that, I just focused on each mile I was in.  The middle miles ran through Highland Park.  It was hilly, and it felt like we just kept climbing.  I ran my slowest mile (7:01) followed by my fastest mile (6:22) down the hill.  By the time I knew it, we were at mile 10.  I caught my friend Dani, who was running the full marathon.  We ended up running the last 3 miles together which made the time go by faster.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me

Mile 11 and 12 entered back into the city of Birmingham.  We ran right by my hotel, and I visualized napping and eating hotel stale hotel pastries.  I ran both miles in 6:44.

There was some headwind, but it was circulating hot and humid air.  The half and full marathon divided and runners were sent to opposite sides of the road based on their distance.  Dani and I were still running “together,” just separated by a median.  During this time, a group was holding cups, and I thought they were holding more powerade.  I had seen someone up ahead grab it and so when they offered me the cup I didn’t turn it down.

Only to realize I had grabbed beer.  I wasn’t terribly upset, but I didn’t drink the entire cup and proceeded to the final mile.  It was more shocking because it was not what I was expecting.

Just after the 12th mile, I noticed someone on the ground surrounded by medics.  It was scary to run by, but the medical staff had everything under control.  During that time, I looked up and noticed a woman within .1 of me.  For the last mile, I focused on a woman in front of me.  I was outkicked in the final .1 at the Double Bridges race the week before (for the win) and I didn’t want it to happen again.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me
This face says: I might be having a $hit race, but I will not be out kicked in the final .1

Despite being exhausted, I powered to the end.  I crossed the last mile in 6:37 and the finish in 1:27.01.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me
and then apparently I immediately chuckled and checked my Garmin

Thoughts:

It’s hard to feel satisfied with this time when I know I’m in better fitness.  I’ve been stuck in a plateau since October (Runners World Half).  While I ran Dallas in 1:23.44, I was fully tapered for that and training indicated I should have PRed.

Unfortatently, I have also dealt with weather or my body doesn’t feel good on race day.  These are the periods that make training difficult.  I’m not devastated or even upset about the Mercedes Half Marathon. I gave it everything I had for the day.  I am, however, longingly hoping for PRs that I’ve been working hard for.

As I mentioned, my husband ran his first marathon at Mercedes in a time of 2:59.45.  He met his goal to break 3 hours in nonideal weather conditions.  He’ll have a full recap next week. 

tim-and-i-1

Questions for you:
Have you ever been to Alabama? 
Have you drank beer during a race? 

I actually did at Shamrock last year (on purpose).

Training: Heat and Moving

Monday: 55 minutes easy
Tuesday: 60 minutes easy
Wednesday: Workout: 4X1 mile and 4X400s
Thursday: Easy 55 minutes
Friday: Easy 60 minutes
Saturday: Easy 45 minutes
Sunday: Mercedes Half Marathon (1:27.01)

Most of my week was spent preparing to move back to New Jersey.  Even though it was only 5 weeks, there were a lot of loose ends to tie up the final week.  Plus packing is hard no matter how long you’ve lived somewhere.

Workout Wednesday:

4X1 mile (6:38, 6:42, 6:27, 6:27)

4X400 (1:30)

I can’t say this workout went extremely well, but I got it done.  My body was still sore from the Double Bridges 15k.  All four of my 400s were run at exactly 1:30 and that was unplanned.  Consistency is key…I guess.

My goal when I first found out we were moving was training and PRing at the Mercedes half marathon.  The focus changed once I was settled to training and racing hard at the Double Bridges 15k.  I’m glad I did that as the weather was better that day, plus my legs felt better than they did at Mercedes.  The weather at the Mercedes half marathon was extremely hot.  At the

At the start, it was 65 degrees and 93% humidity.  By the end, it was well above 70.  It was *supposed* to pour rain which would clear that up…sadly it did not.  Out of every half marathon I’ve done, including RnR Virginia Beach, it was the worst for heat.

The race itself, wasn’t about me, though.  Even before the race start, I knew it would be a rough and challenging race.  My gut didn’t lie.  I finished in 1:27.01, which in the heat I’m happy with.

But my focus of the race that day wasn’t my own race.  It was to support, cheer and watch my husband, as he ran his first full marathon of 2:59.45.


Upwards and onwards.  We are currently in route back to New Jersey.  I don’t have any major races until Shamrock on March 18th.

Questions for you: 

What is the hottest weather you’ve ever run?

What is the hardest thing to pack?

I would say hangers, they are awkward and don’t fit anywhere.

 

Double Bridge 15k (58:41)

Last weekend, my husband and I raced the Pensacola Double Bridges 15k.  We heard from various people that it was a fun, well put together race.  I hadn’t raced a 15k in a long time. They are more common in Upstate NY while 10 milers are more common in New Jersey.

Due to our schedule, we weren’t able to leave Montgomery until 5:30 pm.  We arrived in Pensacola around 9 pm, checked into our hotel and immediately went to bed.   I woke up around 4:30 am, got ready and headed to the shuttle by 5:30.  The only race I’ve also used a shuttle was the Phoenix Full marathon.  Since my hotel was essentially at the end of the race, the shuttle drove us the 15k backward.  Once we arrived, we realized how cold it was.  Originally the weather was supposed to be 55, but it turned to 38 and windy.

The hour before the race there was little to no shelter from the wind.  Even through my layers and jacket, I was both miserable and freezing.  If I had known about the start conditions, I probably would have driven to the start, sat in my car and taken a taxi back after the race to get my car.  It would have been a pain, but I wouldn’t have been cold.

The restroom lines were long, and I found myself in line 5 mins before the start.  I was lucky my husband dropped my bag off, and I sprinted into the corral less than 30 seconds before race start. It was nowhere near ideal, but I made it to the start.  Out of any race, this one cut it the closest.

Because my adrenaline was pumping from nearly missing the start, the first mile went by quickly.  I was running in a pack of people including my husband.  His plan was to take it “easy” the first half and then finish strong the second.  We hit the first mile in 6:17.

During the second mile, the pack began to spread out  I got my bearings of the area, and I found myself 5th woman overall.  I passed a couple of women and grabbed water.  I was hoping for Gatorade, but it was water only.  I crossed the second mile in 6:24.

Double Bridge 15k me running

We entered “3 Mile Bridge” which is exactly as the name indicates.  A three-mile long bridge.  You could see the first “hill” up ahead.  Since there are no tunnels, the bridge hill is what allows Navy ships to pass through, so it was pretty steep.  I crossed the third mile in 6:20.

I wasn’t feeling bad during the race, but I definitely didn’t feel amazing either.  To be honest, I had hoped I would feel amazing and have a magical race.  I didn’t feel awful, but I did not feel as though, I had cut miles and tapered.  My calves were extremely stiff.

Double Bridge 15k me running

My husband was still several feet in front of me.  As we climbed the bridge hill, I knew exactly what he would do. He was going to power up the crest of the hill and surge downhill and leave me.  He did just that, and I was proud because I knew he was going to have a great race.  I found myself alone with two women directly ahead. I ran mile 4 in 6:27 and passed the remaining two women.

The fifth mile was boring.  It was the last mile of 3-mile bridge, and I was running alone.  Just me, staring out over the water looking for manatees.  It was windy but not bad, and I ran it in 6:18.

As we entered onto land, my body began to feel worse.  I became and more stiff.  Typically in the 10-13.1 mile distance,  I end up feeling better towards the end.  I’m not a fast race starter, and I’m not a runner who “counts down” miles.  So when I didn’t feel great at mile 6, I knew immediately it was going to be a pain train finish.

Double Bridge 15k me running

We passed the 5k race start, and they were chanting “first lady”.  All I could think was WTF, how did this happen.  I thought there must have been a couple of women out of my line of sight.  I had looked at race results from the previous years, and female overall had sometimes won in 55.  Despite feeling stiff, I tried to focus on the finish.  I crossed mile 7 in 6:23.

The second bridge also brought a drastic banked turn which felt extremely uncomfortable.  I can run uphill, and I can run downhill but running up banked hill always seems to shred my legs.  It did in the Philadelphia half marathon, and it did during the Double Bridges 15k.  That mile hurt, a lot. I crossed mile 8 in 6:28 and thought: “just one mile to go.”

During the final mile, a police motorcyclist approached me and told me to show my bib so he could radio to the front.  My bib was directly on my top but because it was windy, it was hard to read the numbers.  I honestly didn’t have any energy at all, and the police officer weaving in and out because he could not see my bib was the last thing I wanted to entertain.  I just wanted to finish.  I knew the second place woman was quickly approaching.

Double Bridge 15k me running

She caught me around mile 9, and I tried desperately to hold on.  I didn’t feel great, and my legs were stiff.  I had led the race for the last 5 miles and wanted to hang on.  Unfortunately, even with powering my strongest, it didn’t happen.  She outkicked me in 9.2 out of a 9.3 race and broke the tape.  I finished the last .3 in a 5:50 pace. I won’t pretend as though I’m satisfied to be outkicked in the final strides of a race, but she was faster that day.  I gave that race everything I had!

Double Bridge 15k me running

Thoughts:

There were a lot of minor issues that happened during the race.  I’m happy with it and how I performed under the conditions but I was hoping for a faster time which I do believe I’m capable of.  I ran Broad Street at a 6:11 pace.

While the race went pretty well under the cold conditions, I don’t believe it yet shows where my fitness is.  My calves were stiff the entire race and didn’t feel as though they had their usual “pep”.  Luckily, the Double Bridge Run was just one of many races in my 2017 Goals.

Questions for you:

Have you run over a bridge before?

Have you been to Pensacola? 

Training Last Week: Mostly Boring with a 15k

For some reason, I struggled with writing this week’s recap more than usual.  My easy runs were just that, easy and boring.

Monday: 6 miles (8:40)
Tuesday: Workout
Wednesday: 5 miles easy
Thursday: 5 miles easy
Friday: 5 miles easy
Saturday: Double Bridges 15k (58:41)
Sunday: 60 minutes easy
Total: 51 miles

Tuesdays Workout:
3X400 meters
1X10 minutes (6:38 pace)
3X400 meters

The track was being used, so I found a piece of road and ran there. I felt as though I was still recovering from the Polar Bear 5k in Atlanta the weekend before, but I was happy with my effort.

Double Bridges 15k: (58:48) 6:18 pace
This was the only “exciting” aspect of training last week.  The Double Bridges 15k was a solid race effort for me.  It wasn’t a PR, as Broad Street’s pace last year was faster but it was fastest I’ve done since my ankle fracture. I will say, I’ve never been as cold as I was at a race start.

The weather changed overnight from the high 50s to 38 and windy at the start.  I barely made the start, and it wasn’t an exaggeration when I say I didn’t have a minute to spare.

The race itself was decent.  My legs never felt great and my calves actually felt stiff the entire race.  I’m happy with my performance, although I do feel as though I’m in better shape than the race shows.

Sunday’s easy run was my favorite.  I asked my husband if he wanted to take a running selfie post run.  Then when we went to actually do it, I promptly fell. As you can guess, I’m clumsy and that wasn’t a surprise.

#thatawkwardmoment you try and take a running selfie with your husband and you fall.

A post shared by Hollie (@fueledbylolz) on

Next week I’ll be running the Mercedes half marathon in Birmingham.  I ran the course preview last weekend, which was fun and I’m looking forward to running the race.

Running Related Post from the week:  January 2017 Training

Questions for you:
Have you run a 15k before?
I feel as though they are much more common in Upstate, NY.
How was your workout week?

Training last Week: Travel and 5k (18:42)

Training last week clicked off well. I ran what I needed to and got the mileage in.  I don’t have any complaints about the week.

Monday: Easy 60 minutes (9:20 pace) Core
Tuesday: Easy 7 miles (8:40)
Wednesday: Workout Core
Thursday: Easy 60 minutes (9:05 pace)
Friday: Easy 60 minutes Core
Saturday: Workout: Polar Bear 5k (18:42)
Sunday Easy Mercedes Course Preview
Total: 59  miles

Easy Runs:

My easy runs were slower than usual last week but it was also humid. Most of the days last week were either running in 100% humidity or the rain. I didn’t feel bad or injured, but the heat change was noticeable.

Wednesdays Workout:
4X60 seconds (average 6:00)
1X10 minutes (6:33)
1X3 minutes (5:56)
4X60 seconds (average 6:10)

The workout was definetely different and a nice change. Something I do like about my coach is that he doesn’t give the same workouts weekly. I’m not doing 10x400s each week hoping to see improvmeent, or worse comparing myself when I don’t.

As far as execution, it was one of my better workouts in the last few weeks.
Polar Bear 5k (18:42):

My husband and I decided to take a road trip last weekend. We went to Atlanta and then Birmingham. We have been to Altanta a few times, so we stayed away from the touristy things. We stumbled upon a 5k and when we went there, I was shocked! It was a 1000+ person 5k and we weren’t expecting that. I had a workout that day of 2X5k at 6:45 pace.

I ran the first 5k at 5:58 and the second at 6:50. It was a lot faster than planned.

My splits were 6:00, 5:55 and 5:58. I ran a smart race and I’m happy with it. It was a moderately difficult course and I’ll have a recap soon.

This workout is more mentally challening than anything.  The second 5k is always extremely difficult to get out there. It takes a lot of mental pep talk after a race to get back and run hard by yourself again (I’ve done this workout a couple times: Haddonfield Road Race and Run for Jack). I didn’t want to interfere with racers and I ended up running part of the workout in a hilly neighborhood.

We swung by Birmingham on the way back and did the last Mercedes Course Preview Run.  While the Merecedes half won’t be a goal race for me, it was nice to check out the course.  I didn’t realize it was as hilly as it is.

In summary, it was a good week. The next two weeks are bigger race weeks for me with the Double Bridges 15k in Pensacola next weekend and the Mercedes Half Marathon the following.

Running Related Posts from the Week:
How to Run with a Significant Other
Running Books I’m Reading

Questions for you:
What is the biggest race you’ve ever done?
How was your week of workouts?

Training: Taper and Another Canceled Race

Last week was supposed to be a taper week, but the 10k I was going to race was canceled due to the thunderstorms and tornado warnings.  It stinks when you adapt your training, but the things happens.

However, I would always choose safe than sorry.  In fact by Saturday morning, I committed to not running before the race officially canceled.  I didn’t show up.

Monday: Easy 7 miles
Tuesday: Workout 6X4 minute intervals
Wednesday: Easy 7 miles
Thursday: Easy 7 miles
Friday: Easy 5 miles
Saturday: Canceled Race: 2X2 treadmill (6:40, 6:18)
Sunday:  Rest
Total: 51 miles

Training Thoughts: 

Workout: 6×4 Minutes (average 6:50 pace)

This workout was done in one of the most unideal situations (for me).  I had to start the run at 5 am.  I’m not a 5am runner and I don’t enjoy doing workouts in the dark.  After warming up, I noticed the track was being used, and it wasn’t an option to use a lit track.  I found a quiet piece of road and did the workout there, but I did not feel great at all.  I finished the workout feeling discouraged.  My goal was for 6:23 pace to feel easy and 6:40 pace felt like I was working hard.  I’ve run much faster tempo runs, so it was more disappointing than anything.  Like any bad workout, I put it in my rearview mirror and moved on with the day.

Taper: Runs during taper didn’t feel great either. Throughout the week, my legs progressively got heavier and I felt more like garbage.  Friday logs one of the worst runs I’ve had in a very long time. It was 100% humidity, my legs felt heavy, and I was tired.  I felt like I had run an ultramarathon not 5 miles.

Throughout the week, I was also monitoring the weather for the 10k I was tapering for.  Not only was it scheduled to rain but it was scheduled to thunderstorm and we also had tornado watches.  Parts of the state were under a tornado warning.

To be fair, I was excited to race hard for a 10k but not in miserable conditions.  On Friday night, they hadn’t officially canceled, but I was convinced they would.  I woke up Sunday morning to thunderstorms at 5am, nothing from 6-7 and a downpour followed by a tornado touchdown about 5 miles away.

My coach had given me a backup treadmill workout instead, just incase. Instead of having the mentality of tapering for nothing, I had the mindset of taking a recovery week which I needed.  Am I sad I tapered and paid for a race that didn’t happen?  Of course, but that is the risk of the sport and running isn’t everything.

Treadmill Workout: 2X2 Mile (6:40), (6:18)

After my race was canceled, I waited out the storm and went to the gym. I struggle with running fast on the treadmill, and I am able to run faster outdoors.  Personally, running workouts on the treadmill is not ideal, but it’s more ideal than running in tornados.  In fact, since it’s located in a concrete basement, the gym on base is actually a designated safe zone tornado shelter.

The first 2 miles started at 6:50 and worked down to 6:27 and the second 200, I started at 6:40 and worked down to a 5:42.  It didn’t feel comfortable, and I felt like I was working hard.  It was a solid workout for me and I made the best of the situation.

Running Related Posts from Last Week:
2017 Goal Races
adidas Supernova Shoe Review
Birmingham MLK Drum Run 5k (18:40)

Questions for you:

Have you had a canceled race?

I’ve had three now, and two were in the last month!  The first was the only triathlon I signed up for in 2011.

How was your week of training?