Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.49)

Last year, at Shamrock Half Marathon I ran a 1:26.50.  This year, my chip time was a 1:26.49.  While not a course PR, I did beat last years time.  Despite the race conditions being very similar (I.E. awful), for me, the races themselves were drastically different.  My last mile last year was probably 7:30+ and this year my last mile was a 6:11.

So let’s start from the beginning.  Shamrock was never a goal race for me.  It’s a race I like to do and I was hoping to run better than last year.

How did I quantify running better? By not only having a faster race but also not drastically blowing up like last year.

So technically, even though I’m much faster than 1:26 fitness, I did achieve my goals. But to be honest, I’m effing tired of running in terrible conditions.  Over the past year, I haven’t many longer races that are in decent conditions.  Most races have been in either pouring rain, sleet, snow, high humidity or windy. The only good weathered race that comes to mind is the Runners World Half, but I ran a 5k the day before.

Enough complaining! Last Friday, I prepared for the worst weather and brought my thick mittens, waterproof Gortex jacket, and appropriate attire.  By now, I know I need to be overdressed in cold, pouring rain or I’ll be miserable.

My coach James Mckirdy, Heather, Dad and I got to the race around 6 am, and we were lucky enough to stay with a personal friend right near the start.  I warmed up with Mollie and Heather.  I rarely do half marathon warmups, but while warming up, I didn’t feel terrible or even that cold.  It was pouring rain, but I wasn’t “as” miserable as last year.

We got to the race start at 7 am, and we were quickly off.  The first two miles were into a headwind.  With the headwind, I began settling into a negative mindset.  I hit the first mile in 6:59.  I was devastated.  Another race I had tapered for only to be foiled by rain.  I tried to clear my mind but just progressed on.

In hindsight, it’s easier to look back and see…yes it was windy.  Yes, the weather was awful.  In the moment, when you look down and quickly see you aren’t hitting your goal, it stinks.  I ran the second mile in 6:58.  It was mindless, and I was just staying with a pack of people.

shamrock half marathon me running 2017
So happy

As we rounded mile 3, I felt a wind break.  While it was still raining, it wasn’t as windy.  I ran a 6:54. Around mile 3, I wasn’t sure I would break 1:30 but I hoped I would be able to pick it up.  It’s a long gradual uphill from about miles 3-5.

During the fourth mile, one of the UGH moments of running happened.  My shoe came untied.  I was running in a new pair of Saucony flats, and while I did double knot them, they came untied.  Was it a combination of pouring rain and the material the shoe laces are made out of?  Probably because it happened 3 times and it stunk.  Looking closely at the shoe laces, the plastic coating seems to be the cause.

I stopped to tie my shoe and progressed on.  I didn’t catch the people I was with until around mile 5-6.  With the stop I ran the 4th mile in 6:49 but I was motivated because I knew I stopped for at least 15 seconds.  The race clock doesn’t stop when you tie your shoe, so neither does my garmin. shamrock half marathon me running 2017

I ran the next two miles by myself.  I was alone and lost in my own thoughts.  The race conditions were awful, but I was slowly changing my mindset. I ran the next two miles in 6:30 and 6:36.

As we entered Fort Story, I thought about last year.  Last year, the wind from Fort Story broke me.  I went from running around 6:30 miles to running 7+ and crawling to the finish line.  I was determined not to let that happen.  The wind was blowing more through Fort Story this year, and it had blown sand across a section of course.  We ran through 2 inches of sand!

This year, I felt good during the middle miles, and I credit most of that to overdressing.  My other shoe lace came untied, and I briefly stopped to tie it.  I ran a 6:37 mile.  As I began thinking about the finish, I knew my body felt able and willing to run faster than a 1:30 than I had previously anticipated during the first few miles.shamrock half marathon me running 2017

I crossed mile 9 in 6:24 and mile 10 in 6:25.  I began catching a few people, and one male was running with me.  I saw Chris who ended up finishing a few feet in front of me and 7th lady overall.  The man told me to “go with her”…

The last three miles were a blur.  I just found myself counting down the miles.  2 miles to go and then 1 and then the final mile.  I saw James and Heather with about .5 to go and shouted: “I’m not dying”.  I guess that is always a good thing for an athlete to say. I also saw my friend Sika, who had raced the One City Marathon the weekend before.

As we approached the boardwalk, I saw the finish line, and I knew it would be close to my previous time.  Until that moment, I hadn’t even dreamed it was a possibility to actually run faster than 2016.

For no reason, I mentally separate a 1:26.XX half in a different category as a 1:27+-half.  I wanted to break 1:27 and sprinted to the finish. shamrock half marathon me running 2017

I crossed in 1:26.50…the same time as last year.  With chip timing, my official time was 1:26.49.

shamrock half marathon me running 2017
My husband didn’t run but still came out to support us!

Thoughts:

To be honest, I’m tired of racing in bad conditions.  While I’m proud of myself for handling the race well this year, I am also tired of not racing in good (not even ideal but good) conditions.  I feel as though I’ve been in PRing shape for the last 6 months but the weather has had other plans.  I’m hoping the April Fools Half Marathon will have better weather.

Questions for you:
What is the worst race conditions you’ve run in?
Which race have you done the most times?

 

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Training: Blizzards, 800s and a Half Marathon

Last week I tapered and got ready for the Shamrock half marathon.  While it wasn’t my primary goal race (The April Fools half in Atlantic City is), I still wanted to do well.  The weather forecast changed multiple times from might rain, to definitely raining, to wintery mix.  Basically the same as last year.

Training:

Monday:  6 miles
Tuesday: 5X800s (6:11, 6:07, 6:05, 6:03, 6:00)
Wednesday:  7 miles
Thursday:  7 miles
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 60 minutes easy
Sunday: Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.50)
 Total:  40 miles

Thoughts:

Workouts: 5X800s (6:11, 6:07, 6:05, 6:03, 6:00)

I’m always the least motivated to do short workouts.  Tuesday was no exception.  As most people know the Northeast had a significant snow storm that closed most things down that day.  I had no interest slipping around on ice with a regular run, let alone workout.

While the goal was to run 6:00 for the 800s, I was happy for getting the workout in and on a treadmill.

The rest of the runs were easy and in the cold.  I am ready for Spring!

Shamrock Half Marathon:

I’ll have more about this later in the week.  I ran a 1:26.50, which is exactly the same time as last year.  The conditions were not ideal, and throughout the race it rained, sleeted and hailed as well as a severe headwind.  It would be a lie to say I’m “happy” with the time because I know I’m in better fitness shape.  I am also tired of running in inclement weather.

While the race time is the same, it was an entirely different race from last year.  Last year, I took it out fast and crashed.  This year I ran smart for the first few miles, and my last mile was a 6:11.

While I know Shamrock was not a goal race, I was hoping to be faster than a 1:26.

Posts from the Week:
How I got to into Running
Should You be Getting More Protein?
Brooks Launch 4 Shoe Review

Questions for you:
Have you raced in inclement weather?
What was your best workout of the week?

Training: Every Type of Weather in 1 Week

Last week was a solid week of training.  Even though I didn’t race, I still had a quality week of training and a great workout.  Like many people in the Northeast, we had a little bit of everything weather wise.  On Thursday I swore I could have done my workout in a sports bra, followed by snow on Friday and then a deep freeze again on Saturday and Sunday.

Monday: Easy 40 minutes
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes
Wednesday: Easy 45 minutes
Thursday: Workout
Friday: Easy 4 miles
Saturday: Easy 9 miles
Sunday: Easy 7 with 8X30 seconds fast
Total: About 57

Thursdays Workout:
3 miles (6:18)
3X5 minutes (6:15)
4X400 (5:58)

This was one of my better workouts in the last few weeks.  I feel as though if I had raced, I would have PRed in a 5k.

My easy runs were nothing of note.

Thoughts:

Next week I’ll be tapering and running the Shamrock Half Marathon.  It is my 6th year running the Shamrock half and one of my all-time favorite races.  While it’s not a goal race, I would like to do well, and my coach and I would like to see where I’m at physically.  That is, of course, if the weather isn’t like last year.

Running related posts:
Should You Race in Racing Flats?
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup 4 Miler (24:13)

Questions for you:
How was your week of training?
How is the weather where you live?

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup 4 Miler (24:13)

This was the second year I’ve run the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup 4 miler.

In case you wondered, you do get both grilled cheese and tomato soup at the end of the race.  Not only are there a lot of extra race perks, but the race is a flat and fast course.  In ideal conditions, it’s a great PRing course…This year, however, it was 15 degrees.  In fact, this is 1 out 3 races that I’ve run in pants!

Since I spent the last 8 weeks in 70+ degree weather with high humidity, I wasn’t acclimated.  After returning to New Jersey, there have been a few cold days but not many. When I saw the weather report, I was loathing running outside.

We got to the race start around 9 am and did a quick warmup. Even after my deep tissue massage, I didn’t feel as bad as I anticipated.  My body was still stiff, but I felt comfortable.

The race went off promptly at 10 am.  The first mile was chaotic with people.  We went around a big loop with uneven pavement.  About 1k into the race, we went on Washington Crossing Towpath.  I ran with a big group of men for the first mile.

My husband was further up ahead.  I crossed the first mile in 6:10 which I was disappointed in.  Effort-wise, it felt like I was running faster.  My strategy for 4-5 milers is to race them exactly as I would race a 5k…just go.

Washington Crossing is a narrow path, so it made it difficult to pass anyone.   During the second the mile, there was more headwind. It was a boring middle mile, and I just focused on chipping away.  I crossed the second mile in 6:07.

During the third mile, we made a u-turn and went back where we came. Personally, I like out and back courses because I find it motivating to see and cheer for other runners.  I got to see one of my good friends and coworkers, Anita, as she ran to a PR.  I caught two more people and ran a 6:03 third mile.

Grilled cheese and tomato soup 4 miler

The last mile of a 4 miler is always tough because if you treat it like a 5k, the final .9 is just a bonus round…I just focused on finishing.  I was surprised that my legs weren’t as tired as I thought they would.  During the last .1, I felt someone on my heels.  After being passed in the final strides of the Pensacola Bridge Run, I didn’t want that again, and I surged. It turns out, it was a male behind me.

I crossed the finish in 24:13 and as first female and fifth overall.  I was able to break the tape again which is always a fun experience.  My husband was third overall which is impressive because he only started running again last week after his marathon.

Afterwards, I had a workout.  Since running with Mckirdy, I’ve slowly gotten used to doing workouts after racing.   I changed into the Saucony Freedom ISO trainers and ran 2×2 miles (6:43, 6:53, 6:49, 6:53) which I’m happy with.

Thoughts:

This is one of my better races and workouts I’ve had lately.  I haven’t run a shorter race in a month, so it was nice to get faster turnover in my legs.  Despite the weather and how I personally felt, I was happy with my effort.

Questions for you:

What is the best grilled cheese you’ve had?

Do you run the same races yearly or do you like to change it up?

 

Training: Feeling Stale

Last week on Instagram I posted that I’ve been struggling both mentally and physically with running.  In March my goal is to get back to enjoying it. To be honest, I don’t think it’s so much of “I don’t like running,” I think my life is chaotic outside of it.  Between my husband’s job as well as my personal life, I’ve had a lot more than usual going on.

Last week, my coach, and I decided to skip a workout this week and focus on mental and physical recovery.  The week before, I had a frustrating workout.  My tempo was 40 seconds slower than the goal pace, and it felt difficult.  This week, we decided to back off, and I needed it.

I’ve also had a lot of personal life that has kept me busy.  Since coming back to New Jersey, my personal running has taken the backburner. I’ve had other priorities.  I realized that I was burning the candle at both ends and putting far too much pressure on myself!  Which is silly since friends

There isn’t much to say about my week.  I enjoyed a lot of easy and watchless runs.  I ran with my husband for several of them.

On Wednesday evening, I got a two-hour deep tissue massage which helped release knots in my IT band.  I don’t have any major issues, but my legs have felt stiff for the last several weeks.

Race: Grilled Cheese 4 Miler 24:13

Last year I ran and won the race.  It was the perfect race, and I felt great.  This year, going into that, I knew it wouldn’t be as great.  My body was still recovering from my deep tissue massage, I didn’t feel “great”, and it was 15 degrees. It’s always hard to enter a perfect race knowing you did well the previous year.

Even though it was significantly colder and my body felt as though it was still recovering, I was able to run 24:13 which I’m happy with.  I negative split the entire race and felt decent.

Plans for Next Week:

I plan to continue to relax and focus on myself.  With Shamrock in two weeks, I want to relax and regroup now versus feeling stale at the race.  Shamrock isn’t a “goal race” for me, but granted the weather isn’t like last year, I would like to see where my fitness is.

Posts from the week:
February Training Log
Thoughts While Working at a Running Store

Questions for you:
How do you regroup and refocus when things feel stale?
What was your best workout last week?

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? 

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).