Rock n Roll Philadelphia (1:27.37)

Last year, Rock n Roll Philadelphia was several weeks later due to the Pope coming to town.  The weather was brisk and perfect, and I ran a solid 1:25.45.  The weather was perfect, so I knew this year wouldn’t be a course PR.  Plus coming off an injury and a half marathon two weeks, I didn’t expect to be close to that time. I was okay with that.

I was lucky to get a ride over with my boss.  Two days before the race I had no idea how I even would get to the race.  He wasn’t racing the half marathon but placed second overall at the 5k the day before.  After arriving at the start, I chatted with a few people and hung around.
I didn’t warm up for the race as it was hot enough.  During the drive over I realized I had forgotten my watch.  There wasn’t much I could do and honestly I had to suck up racing without a watch. I was irritated, but it was either race without a watch or miss the race.
As I lined up in my corral, I was overwhelmed with a bunch of familiar faces like my coworker Colleen and the famous running blogger, Michele.
The race went off and during the first mile, I felt extremely boxed in.  I felt like I was running slow because I couldn’t get around people (and people couldn’t get around me).  We were packed in like sardines.  When I hit the first mile in 6:38, I was shocked.  That was much faster than Virginia Beach, plus, I didn’t take into account I had crossed the start line 10 seconds later.
The second mile began to spread out.  The second and third mile, take you back towards the starting line.  I like this aspect of the race a lot because the spectators are there cheering you on, and it’s a full crowd.  It’s hard not to feel motivated!

We rounded the third mile and went down Spring Garden.  The section is about a mile out and back with an 180-degree turn.  As I ran the fourth mile, I saw the elites going the opposite direction.  It’s always humbling to see them glide by effortlessly.

I rounded the 180 turn and didn’t take it well.  I’m bad at turns and tend to take them too wide, but I would rather do that than fall.  A couple of extra seconds is not worth falling.  I headed back the opposite direction.  As I was running, I saw several friends and coworkers running the opposite direction.  I had no idea the time or pace, but I hit mile 5 in 33:00 exactly (per the course clock).  I was surprisingly pleased.  I saw one of my good friends Anita and continued to Kelley Drive and around the river.

Rock n Roll Philadelphia

I’ve run the 8.4-mile loop around the Schuylkill a dozen times.  I know the loop well, and it’s a boring, unshaded loop around the Schukyill River.  Not that I care but starting that loop when you aren’t even halfway done is mind numbing.

I hit the 10k just under 41 minutes per clock time.  I was pleased.  The next few miles were just spent staying mentally engaged.  I knew if I lost focus, I would unknowingly slow down my pace.  It was hot and humid, and I sweat through my entire singlet.  I kept hoping the water stops would have Gatorade, but it was minimal.  In fact, there wasn’t much in the form of electrolytes for the entire race.  It was something I thought about during Virginia Beach as well.

I hit mile 10 in 1:05.30 and made it my goal to finish under 1:28.  I knew the last three miles would be tough.  There was no wind; it was heating up, and my clothing was soaken through. I kept reminding myself:

I set my 5k PR on this exact course, and I can race it well.

A man asked my goal, and I said 1:28 sounded reasonable.  He said that was his goal and asked if we could run together.  After a few exchanges, we realized we were at mile 11.

I saw a pack of 5 women in front as well as a man with a cast.  Honestly, I wanted to catch them all, and they kept me focused.  The last two miles is always tough because you can see Center City but it never seems to get any closer.

I hit mile 12, at just over 1:20 and I knew if I could maintain my pace I could break 1:28.  I saw the pack of 5 women, and I ran right by them.  If you know me, you know this hardly ever happens, and it’s a huge accomplishment.  In fact, it might be the only time I’ve outkicked anyone.

Typically I get passed in the final mile…like in Shamrock when I went from 7th place to 14th in the last half mile.

At the final stretch, another woman outkicked and passed me.  She kept me engaged up a minor uphill.  I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:27.37 and as 30th woman overall.  I was 10th in my age group.

Rock n Roll Philadelphia

I even got to cool down with Sarah D, who set a half marathon PR of 1:25 in the heat!

Rock n Roll Philadelphia

Thoughts:
I’m both pleased and surprised with my result.  To be honest, I was hoping to run between 1:28-1:32.  After not getting the best nights sleep as well as the weather.  I’m extremely happy with my time considering it was 2 minutes faster than two weeks ago, plus I was injury free.

rock n roll philadelphia

September in Philadelphia is unpredictable.  I thought it was extremely humid, but I’ve raced RnR Virginia Beach as well as the Remember the Alamo 13.2 which were both hotter and more humid.  It stinks because this course has potential to be extremely fast in the fall (like last year when 40+ athletes qualified for the Olympic Trials).

Questions for you:
What is the hottest you’ve run in?
Have you ever forgotten your watch or something important to a race? 

RnR VA Beach (1:29.46)

I’ve run Rock N Roll VA Beach twice before (2013 and 2015 ).  Despite being injured for most of the summer, I had high hopes I would be able to run in 2016 too.

Even if it meant forgoing my pride and running faster than a PR, I set earlier in the year. 

Even if it meant my only goal was “to finish.” 

As luck would have it, I hadn’t had any pain in my foot for several weeks.  I decided to use RnR to test my fitness and foot at the half marathon distance.  I was confident with my training that my foot would be fine, but I had no idea what kind of time I would run. That being said, if it hurt anyway, I would have stopped too.

So with that, I toed the line on Sunday.  My PR allowed me to have an F bib, and I was F5.  Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would end up as fifth female, and my only goal was to finish.  Since I grew up in VA Beach and half of my friends still live there, I felt like the race was a reunion.  I saw a lot of my close friends including well-known blogger Kris L (who ended up as second overall).  As I told my dad, I never seemed to stop talking during the race.  I high-fived little kids; I shouted to my friends spectating and talked to fellow racers.

The hurricane and high winds caused the race to have a few modifications such as fewer course structures like the mile markers, as well as the start and finish line overhead.  They could have blown out to sea…but at least the race was on.  The mile on the sand the day before was cancelled due to the hurricane and travel advisory.

I reminded myself everyone was dealing with the weather.  Luck hasn’t been on my side for racing weather this year, so I’ve let that one go…It wasn’t as windy as the April Fools half and it wasn’t as rainy as the Shamrock or Broad Street so I called it a “good” weather day.

 Roll Virginia Beach results
Before the race. We ended up all making the top 5

The race went off, and I decided to run on my own.  I didn’t want to feel pressured by a pace group.  (There was both a 1:25 and 1:32).  My legs were stiff, but I felt pretty good. My friend, Greg, ran close by and said he was going to try and run below 1:30.  As much as I wanted to stay with him, I wasn’t sure if that was in my realm of possibilities.  We chatted for about two miles.  We ran each at 6:42 and 6:48.

I had mixed feelings during the first mile.  I’ve run three 5ks now, all around the 6:30 pace.  12 seconds per mile slower but four times the distance didn’t seem like my brightest idea…but I was running on how I felt for the day.

During the third mile, I began to realize this was much longer than the few 5ks I recently ran.  As we ran through the third mile, the 5kers turned off.  I hit the 5k in 21:27.

The next few miles went without much notice.  There was the wind but it wasn’t unmanageable.  I found myself running in a pack of men.  At the time I had no idea what place I was in and honestly I didn’t care.

I was constantly reevaluating my foot.  Nothing hurt and that was all right by me.  Somewhere between mile 3-4, I waved to someone and bumped my watch into split mode.  I had no idea how to fix it, so I ran the rest of the race relatively blind to pace and time.  I could do simple math based on timing to figure out approximately where I was at.  My mile markers beeped at the .3.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

Around mile 5, I started running with a guy named Brett who is training for his second marathon.  We chatted for several miles, and they went by quickly.  I also noticed two females about a quarter of a mile in front.  I wanted to catch them but didn’t know how my endurance would hold up in the final miles…would it be another repeat of bombing Shamrock?  That race is a memory I never want to remember.

We hit the halfway point in 44:46.  At that point, my lofty goal was to break 1:30.  I did know since the winds were coming from the north, it would be a strong headwind for the final two miles.  I opted not to think very far ahead.

During mile 7, I faded.  I found myself disconnected from the race and in the negative zone.  Looking at my Garmin now; I ran about a 7 min mile.

As I saw I was reeling the two women in, I began to feel rejuvenated.  I reminded the race was already halfway over, and I could do it.  We went on the base, and the course went in a giant U.  I could see the racers out ahead, and I could see the top women several minutes ahead.

I caught both women and as I left the base mentally preparing for the final four miles.  I hit mile ten around 1:08:30 and thought, “I could still be on track to break 1:30.”

There is a mini out and back on the course, and we saw racers running between 2-3 hour marathons.  They were cheering, and it was motivating for us.  I tried to cheer for everyone I knew too.

A man came up behind me and said, he had wanted to catch my green CEPs for a while…I didn’t know what to say so I said, “they were like little beacons”.  He ran by me, and I was the one chasing him for the remainder of the race.

Mile 11 always seems to be the hardest mile for me in a half.  At mile 11, the race is almost over but then again, not really.  We went over a small bridge, and it got to be windy. I put on my sunglasses to keep sand out of my eyes (and to hide the pain).  The lack of speed work, training and endurance began catching me.  My foot, however, felt fine.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

We came down the bridge, clicked through mile 12 and by the time I knew it we were running the final mile on the boardwalk.  The final mile was extremely windy and lonesome.  Sand was whipping around.  I had been unsure whether I wanted to wear my sunglasses but they proved to be helpful to keep sand out of my eyes.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

I was running the straight away by myself with spectators around.  Honestly, I was jealous.  I wanted to stand around in a hoodie and with coffee too.  Since it was too windy for the typical finishers line, you didn’t know when the finish was coming.  You felt like it would never come.  The only thing that signalled the race was over was a timing mat.  When I finally saw the outline of a finishers mat, I decided to hammer out what I believe was the last quarter of a mile.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

I saw the clock ticking into the 1:29s and I had no idea if I would be under 1:30. I don’t know why I was so concerned, but I gave it everything I had and crossed in 1:29.46.  I finished triumphal.  I was fifth female overall.

Roll Virginia Beach results

After crossing I felt extremely happy.  I finished the race injury free, and exeeded any time goals I had for myself. I’m not in the fitness I was earlier in the year but I know with both time and effort, I’ll get back there eventually.  I’m proud that I ran a smart race and able to run consistently as well.

 Roll Virginia Beach results

It was great to see so many friends as well as family on course.

Questions for you:

Have you ever run a Rock n’ Race?  

Have you ever had a race cancelled? 

29 Half Marathons Later…

April 17 will mark five years since my first half marathon.  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long! I’ve had the most success with the half marathon distance…and we like what we are most successful at right?

Just kidding, I like half marathons because there is enough time to warm up during the race but they aren’t neverending like a marathon.  Thinking out loud, the training for a half doesn’t consume you.  If you have a bad half, you can recover quickly and race again relatively soon.

Until I compiled this list, I had no idea how many I had actually run so I hope I didn’t forget any.

Beginning of the race (20k and half starters)

2011: 
April 2011 Plattsburgh (1:41) PR
April 2011 Flower City (Rochester) 1:39 PR
May 2011 Run for the Dream (Williamsburg, VA) 1:36.56 PR

At my very first half marathon, April 2011
At my very first half marathon, April 2011
2012: 
March 2012 Shamrock (VA Beach) 1:33.29 PR
April 2012 Plattsburgh (1:27.17) PR and Win
April 2012 Flower City (1:29)
May 2012: Run to the Sun (Watertown, NY) 1:33 Win
May 2012 ZOOMA Annapolis (1:31)
Sep 2012: Turning Stone Utica (1:33.33) 2nd Female

mewinning123

2013: 
Feb: Lake Effect (1:31)
March: Shamrock (1:25.15) PR
April: Nike Women’s DC (1:24.49) PR
May: Run for the Dream (1:28) Win
Sep: RnR VA Beach (1:28.39)
Sep: Scallywompus (San Antonio) 1:28.30 Win

With the famous dadLOLZ
With the famous dadLOLZ
2014: 
Feb: Lake Effect (1:25.32) Win
March: Shamrock (1:25.29)
April: April Fools (1:23.23) PR
May: NJ half (1:28)
May: Run for the Dream (1:31)
Nov: Harbor Lights 1:41 **Training Long Run

Harbor Lights Half Marathon 1

2015: 
Mar: Shamrock half (1:33.04) *Injured
Aug: RnR Va Beach (1:31)
Oct: Runners World (1:28)
Oct: RnR Philadelphia (1:25.45)
Nov: Philadelphia half (1:25.00)

Runners World Half

2016: 
Jan: Carlsbad (1:22.57) PR
March: Shamrock Half (1:26.50)
April: April Fools Half (1:24.04) Win

Some random fun facts:

Hottest: Scallywompus

This might be the only one I raced in just a sports bra.
This might be the only one I raced in just a sports bra.
Coldest: Lake Effect 2013

And maybe the only race I wore pants in...
And maybe the only race I wore pants in…

Worst Weather: Shamrock 2016: Pouring rain, 40 degrees, and windy
Shamrock

Best Swag:

  • Scallywompus gave out a huge growler for winning.
  • Run to the Sun gave out wine tour tickets.
  • I think in general the best race swag comes from the Shamrock races.  On top of a t-shirt, medal and four free beers they typically give out an additional item.  It’s been anything from a hoodie to towel to blanket.

Best logistics: Any race that I don’t have to take a bus or shuttle. (This probably includes all of the smaller ones).  For the amount of racers, most of the RNR have been good. The only race I didn’t care for the logistics were Nike Women’s, but I am not a city person, and DC overwhelmed me.

Best Value: If you register early you receive a lot for the Shamrock races.  There is lots of food, beer, heating and everything you could want in a race.

Worst Value: Carlsbad.  I found the race to be poorly organized, and there wasn’t a heck of a lot for the price of the race.  Since it was 120+, it was expensive.  I don’t race for “free things” but the race was unorganized as well.

Biggest: Nike Women’s DC (15,000), RnR Philadelphia, RnR VA Beach

RnR Virginia Beach
#TBT to when my husband wasn’t in shape and ran my pace…now he is too fast😉
Smallest: Run from the Sun (Probably around 300-400 racers?)

My brothers, dad and I all ran it before my college graduation.
My brothers, dad and I all ran it before my college graduation.
Best On Course Aid: Shamrock, Nike Women’s, RnR.  (The pricier ones)

Worst On Course Aid: Run to the Sun: It was a smaller race, but it was hot, and you end up in the middle of cornfields and don’t know if you are going the correct way.  I distinctly remember being thirsty during the race, and that doesn’t happen often.

Coolest Medal:  Lake Effect 2014 or RnR Va Beach

**Nike Women’s gave out a Tiffany and Co Necklace, but I haven’t worn it.  It’s not for me honestly.

Most Zoned Out: Shamrock 2014 or 2016 Where did this race go?  In the blink of an eye, I was done.  

“Felt like it was never going to end”: Turning Stone Half Marathon and NJ half marathon

Both races I had stomach issues.  I stopped to use the bathroom during the Turning Stone half, and I felt like I was going to projectile vomit red velvet cake during the NJ half.

Nj half race
But you can’t even tell I’m about to voms
Overall Favorite Races:

  • Shamrock 2013 It was a lot of fun to watch my dad run the full marathon, hang out with my friends, I Pred and the race is fabulous.  Shamrock 2014 and Lake Effect this year are very close runner ups
  • Nike Women’s Half because I wasn’t expecting a PR.
  • April Fools half 2014 because it gave me the confidence that my fitness was still there.
  • April Fools half 2016 because I redeemed myself from my Shamrock and I didn’t talk myself into a negative race.  The weather was awful, but I got over it.nikerunning

Regretable Races: Shamrock 2015.  It’s the only race I ran injured, and it wasn’t a smart decision.  It set me back in recovery.

States Raced in: NY, VA, TX, MD, NJ, PA (also DC)

Placements/Awards:

I’ve won 6 (Plattsburgh 2012, Run from the Sun, Run for the Dream 2013, Scallywompus, Lake Effect 2014, April Fools 2016)

Winning my very first goal race: Plattsburgh
Winning my very first goal race: Plattsburgh
I’ve placed second or third in 5

I’ve come in places 3-10 in: 7 (My most notable is 9th in Nike Women’s)

And most half marathons I’ve had no placements at all.  

Debut half marathon:  The Plattsburgh half marathon in April of 2011.  I didn’t know what to expect honestly.  With less than a full year of running and never having done more than 10 miles beforehand, I had no idea what to expect! I took it out at a pace that seemed maintainable, and it was.

Hilliest:

  • Flower City (2014)
  • Run for the Dream. I would honestly say that Run for the Dream felt a little harder, but that is because it’s also hot and humid.
    Finishing on the track
    Finishing on the track
  • Runners World (Curse you Bart)
    Still one of my favorite photos of Allison and I
    Still one of my favorite photos of Allison and I

Most Surprising time: Lake Effect Feb 2014

Most Surprising placement: Nike Half Marathon I was 9th overall.  It was not expecting to PR and honestly wasn’t even sure I was going to go all the way to DC alone to race.  It was at the peak of my anxiety, and I’m so glad I did.

Worst Chafing:

  • Flower City 2012 (cotton top…armpit chaffing)
    I raced in a men's cotton top.
    I raced in a men’s cotton top.
  • Shamrock 2014 (thigh chaffing was awful)
  • Run for the Dream 2014: (Thigh Chafing)
  • Shamrock 2016 (Heather can validate)

Questions for you:

Have you run any half marathons?  How many?

What is your favorite racing distance?

Dropping 9 minutes from my Half Marathon Time

From September until January, I’ve managed to drop about 9 minutes from my half marathon time.  I’ve run five half marathons and progressed in each.  Training has had highs and lows, but every training plan and training cycle does.

September: RnR Virginia Beach (1:31.48)
October 17: Runners World Half (1:28.13)
October 31: RnR Philadelphia half (1:25.45)
November 17: Philadelphia half (1:25.00)
January 17: Carlsbad half (1:22.57)

Before recently my half marathon PR was a 1:23.23 (from April 2014). It was on an easy course on a beautiful day.  The April Fools half in 2014 was a race everything clicked.  After that race, I never had one that came close.  I was injured, focused on a full marathon and by the time I knew it, it was over a year later.

After beginning to train this previous May, I started to build my base.  I was coming off of an injury as well as hadn’t run a lot.  It wasn’t smart for me to add speed, mileage and race a half.

From May until July, I added mileage and raced once a week.  I saw slow progression in races but not a lot of racing progress, I was running between 20-20:30, 5ks.  I raced most weekends and kept my mileage between 55-65.  I saw improvements, but it wasn’t as fast as I would have liked.

In July, I began adding one-speed workout weekly. A couple of my favorite workouts include:
4×1 mile repeats with 90 seconds rest
12X400s with 1-minute rest

In September, I raced my first half marathon in over a year.  I had run two since but both were done as an enjoyable training run.  Running in Virginia around Labor Day, is hot, and this was no exception.  Since it was my first half marathon I raced healthy in 18 months; I had no idea what to expect.  I ran a 1:31.48 which I was happy with.  It was a solid gauge for my fitness.

RnR Virginia Beach

In October, I ran the Runners World Half Marathon.  I was an invited blogger to the race series, and I ran both the 5k and 13.1.  While there was a trail race and 10k, I was not comfortable racing all of them because I’m so injury prone, and it was too much for me personally.  After running my first sub 19 5k in a while, I ran the half in 1:28.13.  It was about a 3-minute improvement, but the course was difficult, and I had raced the day before.  I knew I had room to improve.

Runners World Half

Three weeks later, I ran RnR Philadelphia.  Unfortunately, I was becoming sick with a reaction from an antibiotic.  (I’ve never had issues with antibiotics until then).  It was a reaction that took it’s toll on me for about two months. 

The race course and weather were perfect, and you could not have asked for a better day.  I ran a 1:25.45 which was a 3-minute improvement. In fact, the conditions were so optimal over 40 athletes qualified for the Olympic Trials that day!  At the time, I had no idea what was going on, but I felt my stomach the entire time.  I knew I could run faster when I felt better.

RnR Philadelphia
RnR Philadelphia
As November continued, I also ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon.  Despite the race also being in Philadelphia, it was on a much harder course on a much more difficult day.  It was windy, cold and the elevation was challenging.  I took the race out too fast and paid the price but still improved by about 45 seconds.  I ran 45 seconds faster on a much harder course after taking the race out too fast.  My stomach issues were also still lingering.

me running philadelphia

After Philadelphia, I continued with speed workouts and races.  Between October and December, I raced almost every weekend.  The races weren’t meant to be PRs, and I knew that they were however, great speed workouts.  I had some awful races, some good races and I slowly began inching towards my 5k PR.  While I wasn’t Pring, I was getting quality workouts and races.  It built my speed and endurance.  It took me a long time to lose speed, and it wasn’t going to come overnight.

On January 1st, I surprised myself with a 5k Pr of 18:22.  Not only was it a PR but it was 13 seconds faster than my Pr over two years ago.  It was also 25 seconds faster than my recent previous 5k.  It showed me my fitness was where I was hoping and gave my confidence for the Carlsbad half.  I also ran it in a dress.

Thank you Ally for this photo
Thank you, Ally, for this photo
Finally, I ran the Carlsbad half on January 17th and ran a 1:22.57.  The course was much hillier than anticipated.   It was no means a perfect day, but I felt good and ran 2 minutes faster than Philadelphia and almost 30 seconds faster than my PR in April 2014.  It wasn’t perfect conditions, and I do believe I have a faster half on flat terrain.

So what can I relate my progress in the half from?

  1. Consistently running and consistently racing. When I first started running races every weekend, I never expected to PR or be close to my PR.  It was a way to run speed work as well as see my friends and local runners.  Consistently racing for six months was consistently having speed work.
  2. Patience: Patience is a virtue I don’t have. Every high had a low, and I knew if I consistently trained, I would indeed PR eventually.  It was something I reminded myself often when I had a bad race.
  3. Fewer miles and more speed. There was no need to do 20 mile long runs; I’m not training for a marathon or longer race.  I ran a few 15-mile training runs, but I didn’t run more than 12 most of the time.

What is next?
I don’t know!  I’m going to wait until February (and the winter) is over to decide what to train for.  I do believe I have a faster half marathon right now (but don’t we all?).

Questions for you:
When was your last PR?
What is your favorite speed work?

 

Training: From Highs to Lows to Turkeys…

In summary, this week went from a low to a high and back down to a low.

I woke up on Monday extremely sore. I decided it was better if I took the day off instead. I also got a deep tissue massage.

Tuesday was just an easy run. I still felt sore.

Workout Wednesday: Normally on Wednesdays I do a workout. Whether it’s 400 or mile repeats, I do something. I had a lot of things to do on Wednesday, and my motivation was at a low. I realized there was a 5k on base, and since I had no motivation anyways, I decided just to run it. To be honest, if I hadn’t, I doubt I would have done any speed. It was windy, and I had heavy legs, but I was still able to run a 19:23 which I’m very happy with.

A turkey that I won
A turkey

Thursday and Saturday I ran easy and Friday I rested.

On Sunday, I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I finished in 1:25 which is a progression from where I have been racing…however, to be honest, I’m disappointed with the race. If I ran a better race, I might have been faster. In summary, I ended up running an 18:59 first 5k, 39:21 10k and then slowed down a lot. You can’t race a half marathon like a 5k I guess. Bad races are all part of the game and I’ll have a recap of it sometime this week.

A perfect summary to the last 10 miles of my race
A perfect summary to the last 10 miles of my race
Monday: Rest and Deep tissue massage
Tuesday: Easy Run
Wednesday: Base 5k (19:23) Core
Thursday: Easy Run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Easy Run
Sunday: Philadelphia Half Marathon (1:25.00)
Total mileage: 59 miles

Thoughts:

I’m disappointed with how Philadelphia went. Unless it’s a marathon, there are very few races I’ve wanted to be over as soon as possible.   It caused my week of training to end on a sour note. At the end of the day, I’m healthy and injury free and that is definitely the most important part.  Looking back I can see my legs were heavy and tired the majority of the week.  That probably played a role in Philadelphia as well.

With Thanksgiving next week, my training will be scattered but I’m honestly not that concerned. I’ll do a turkey trot or two for speed workouts.

This week was all over the place from highs to lows to turkeys…

Questions for you:
Have you had a bad race recently?
How are you planning to cook your Thanksgiving Turkey?

Run for the Dream Half Marathon (1:27.53)

I went into the Run for the Dream half marathon as last years overall female winner.  It was the race I broke the tape at for the first time last year.  This year despite being about a minute faster I was the 3rd woman to cross the finish line. 

I guess that must be how Shalane felt after Boston.  She ran a personal best (for me it was a personal best on the course…not half PR) but there were faster people that showed up that day.  Granted I didn’t have the weight of the US running community on my shoulders but unless you’re Jeptoo then chances are there are faster people then you.  They can show up to any race.  I won’t lie that it was hard to experience that first hand but every race teaches you something.  I still had an incredible time and I think Run for the Dream is one of the best and most well organized races I add to my schedule every year.

Tim drove me to the starting line and we had a lot of extra time.  (This barely ever happens). I chatted with several people and by the time I knew it, I found myself runderwear ready and it was time to race.

timandi1

The race started and I found myself immediately third female overall.  I was running faster then I was comfortable at (and I knew there were a ton of hills towards the second half of the course).  My first mile I ran with a few males and we chatted a bit.  When I hit the mile 1 at 6:14 all I could think was that was dumb real dumb.

elevationchart
Course elevation chart from LOLZ garmin

After the first mile, hills began and I was also dropped by everyone around.  By the second mile I had a clearing of .25 miles in front of me and .25 miles after me.  I was running in a half mile space of no mans land the entire time.  (A couple of spectators even said “how unfortunate”. It was okay on the road because I could see people up ahead as well as spectators…but unfortunately that was not the case on the trails and woods.

Mile 2 I hit at 6:29 and mile 3 at 6:26.  I was already feeling the effects of the hills and it didn’t help that I was running all by myself. To me it felt like my own personal tempo run.  It became mentally challenging for the last 10 miles.  It’s never good when you break up a half marathon as the first 5k and the last 10 miles.

Until around mile 5 we were on pavement.  It was somewhere between mile 5 and 6 that we went into some trails.  They changed the course a bit so when I headed down the trails, I immediately fell even more into my own zone.  I went close to 2 miles without seeing a single other person (not a volunteer nor another racer).  The only reason I knew I was going the right way was because of the mile markers.

I found myself needing a forever alone meme. It was so mentally hard to push myself with no spectators and no other racers in sight.  Each water stop gave me a burst of excitement.  I thought about clever things to say at each one.  (I forgot about 90% of them before getting to a water stop).

I just kept trying to tick off the miles.  I found myself looking at my watch a lot more than usual.  I failed to mention that in these woods was the biggest hill.  Mile 9 hit 6:59 and I was going into cardiac arrest climbing up the hills.  I was able to see a spectator and volunteer at the top of the largest hill.  He said good job and the water stop was coming up.  I dry heaved thank you.  I think I could probably have gotten a role as Darth Vader’s twin.

Sadly that water stop didn’t come until mile 10.  I found the human interaction of the water stop the best of anything.  It provided me with Gatorade, some side fives and quick banter.

Mile 11 and mile 12 I spent just focusing towards the end.  Around mile 12, I noticed another female beginning to catch me.  Before entering the track myself, I heard them announce the overall female winner.  You could hear the announcer from about mile 11.5 onward.  That was about 10 minutes of wishing I was laying down on the track past the finish line.

runforthedreamhalftrack

Finally we entered the track for the final 400.  If you have ever run a half marathon where the final 400 is on track…then you understand the pain.  I saw the female catching me…all I could think was…I’ve just run close to 12 miles alone and I’m going to lose a place in the last 400.  I dropped the last 400 at 5:38 pace.

runforthedreamhalf

I was so proud to cross the finish line as third woman overall.  I was then surprisingly greeted by both my mom and dad as well as Tim.

myparentsandi

Cliff notes:

It was mentally tough to accept that faster people showed up that day.  My time was a minute faster then last year but I was higher in places.  I’m not upset and I think I ran an honest race.  It was certainly a new experience to race close to 12 miles by yourself and 6 miles not even seeing anyone else.  Every race has a new experience though.  No more half marathons until (probably)Rock and Roll VA Beach August 31st.  Time to get these ostrich legs a higher turnover.

The Run for the Dream half marathon is one of my favorites .  It has been well organized every time I’ve run it (3 our of 4 years it’s been held).  (No they didn’t pay me to say that).

Questions for you:

Have you ever raced by yourself?

What is the hardest course you’ve run?

This half marathon is a pretty strong contender.  The Flower City half marathon or Turning Stone half marathon (both in NY) are also not pancake flat.

May Training

My training this May was all over the place.  I characterize it into two periods.  The first was finishing my month of rest from the Atlantic City half marathon.  After the Broad Street 10 miler, I took a few days to recover and began marathon training (phase 2).  My marathon training for the next month isn’t really all that different.  I’ve added an additional day of running weekly which has bumped my mileage back into the 70s.  I’ve been trying to get comfortable with running 16 mile long runs in hopes to eventually bump that up to 17, 18, 19 and 20.

Total miles: 297 (no I didn’t feel like running 3 extra miles the night before my half…not worth it)

Total rest days: 7

Total races: 4

Broad Street 10 miler (1:05.20)

merunningbroadstreet

St. Pauls 5k (19:52)

Medford Lakes 5k (19:24)

Run for the Dream half (1:27.53) recap tomorrow possibly (spoiler: the last 400 is on the track)

runforthedreamhalf

Shortest run: 1.7 mile cooldown from Medford Lakes

Longest run: 16.25 mile long run

Range of paces: 6:02-9:58

Most proud run: In training my most proud run goes to my 16.25 long run I did last week.  I’m not in a point in my training that any long run feels great and I really pushed hard (mentally and physically) to finish.

Thoughts:

This month went well.  I don’t have any complaints.  My body is responding how it should with bumping up my mileage.  I’m tired.  My pace has slowed on runs due to heat, humidity and adding extra mileage.  It doesn’t frustrate me because honestly that’s what happens.  While I did take more rest days then I would have liked the last week, my body needed it.  My legs were breaking down and needed a lot more recovery.  It’s a good wake up call for me that your body is not invincible and you cannot get better without proper rest and recovery.

June goals:

I would really like to make that bump and leep of faith over 300 miles again.  I have a couple more races planned this month:

June 7th Scott Coffee Rotary 8k (Moorestown, NJ)

June 14th: CHKD 8k (Norfolk, VA)

Questions for you:

How was May for training?

What is on your schedule in June?