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Racing In Undesirable Conditions (Part 2)

Racing In Undesirable Conditions (Part 2)

Earlier in the year, I wrote a post about “How to race in undesirable conditions.”  Little did I know, my streak would continue after my injury and Lady weather luck would not be on my side.

In case you need a short recap of bad weather I’ve raced in this year: 

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.50) pouring rain, 40 degrees
April Fools Half Marathon (1:24.08) 50 MOH headwind
Broad Street 10 miler (1:01.59) pouring rain, 40 degrees
Newport 10k (37:59) 80+ degrees and unseasonable heat
RNR Va Beach (1:29.56) Hurricane and 40 mph winds
RNR Philly (1:27.37) unseasonable 80-degree heat and humidity
Base Half Marathon (1:25.28): 40 degrees, pouring rain and windy

Shamrock half marathon

I am beginning to think you should avoid racing with me if you want to run in good race conditions.  You can’t control the weather, and these are just the situations I’m handed.  Do I wish the weather was better? Of course! 

Since March wasn’t the end of my bad weather streak, I decided to revisit the topic and think about more methods.  To be honest, racing in bad weather is best covered by being prepared with the right clothing and layers.

Rain: 
  • Before the race: Have throw away clothing or trash bags.  The goal is to keep yourself as dry as possible before the race. Trash bags are great because they keep you dry and are inexpensive!

Trash bag your shoes and your entire self.  This year, at Broad Street, several people passed me at the end still wearing their trash bags.

  • Wear form fitting clothing and avoid cotton.The more tightly fitting the clothing, the less it’s going to chafe, rub and become a wet soggy mess.
  • Thin socks: This is a must. The goal is to keep your feet as dry as possible.  Thicker socks can retain more water like a sponge. There are a lot of thin socks, but my favorite is the low cut CEP compression because they hug your feet and provide support as well as compression.

In all of the races I’ve done this year, I haven’t gotten any blisters because I wore thin noncotton socks.

  • Hats: Before this spring I never ran in hats. They never stayed on my head.  This year I’ve found hats keep the rain off my face.  I like my logo Headsweats hat from work.
  • While I don’t race with a phone, I know many racers do. Put your phone in a Ziploc bag to make sure it doesn’t get water damage.  About a month ago, I got caught in a downpour, and my phone was toast (luckily I had insurance).
Wind: 

The problem with races along the shore can be the wind.  Races along the coast are typically flat, but you never know if you’ll face a headwind!

The last mile at Atlantic City was headwind

The last mile at Atlantic City was headwind

  • Run with a Pack: Running with a pack of people isn’t always possible, but it makes running a lot easier both mentally and physically.  You can remind yourself; you aren’t facing the wind alone.  During Shamrock this year, I got caught in a 2 mile stretch of headwind alone.  It was miserable.
  • Turn your head to the side to breathe. If you’re running through a headwind, turning your head to the side to breath makes it a lot easier.  I didn’t know that until this year!
  • Running into a headwind will cost you both time and energy.  It’s not a reflection of your fitness level and don’t worry too much (easier said than done).
  • Invest in a good piece of wind resistant clothing. The wind can be piercing and chill you to the bone.  Many companies make a light windbreaker that will keep you warm.
Heat:

While the cooler months are coming, heat is definitely something to deal still with.  The fact that it is 70 degrees is one clue!

If you want to follow in Rupp’s footsteps than try putting ice in your hat.  For the rest of us staying hydrated is usually critical.

  • Hydration, Hydration, Hydration: Even if you don’t feel like you’re thirsty, it’s important to hydrate before, during and after a race.  When I know the temperatures are hotter than I’m used too, I take Gatorade and water at every water stop in distances above 10k.

    How much is enough?

    How much is enough?

  • Less is More: I’m not saying run naked at a family friendly 5k, but dress for the conditions.  If it’s hotter than you are used to, wear a tank top or shorts.  Body glide and antichaffing cream will become your best friends,  (If we ever race together, believe me, I have a tube in my car you can borrow).
  • Sunglasses: Generally heat brings out the sun too. Find a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.

I’m not getting paid to promote any of these pieces of clothing/items, but they are items I’ve had success with:

Rain: 

Gortex Running Jacket ($249.99)

broad street 10 miler 1

Hands down this is my favorite piece of running apparel I’ve ever bought.  From my last post: “It’s the most expensive piece of running apparel I own, but it’s worth it.”

Honestly, I feel the same way now as when I purchased that jacket and wrote my previous post.  My Gortex jacket is the best piece of apparel I bought last year to deal with the weather.

CEP Low Compression Socks ($20):

I like the low cut socks because I can use compression sleeves as well.  My shoe size and calf size are different, so the high socks won’t fit my feet and calves.  The socks themselves are thin, and if they do get wet, they won’t weigh you down.

Lululemon What the Sport Short (on sale): $29

I’ve raced in these in all conditions and never chafed.  They are long enough that my thighs don’t rub together but short enough that I don’t overheat.  Plus they have pockets.  They also don’t become see-through in the rain.

Hat: Headsweats Visors 

This is the hat I own, and you can get it logo’ed to whatever you like or need.  Should I get FueledbyLOLZ team hats (just kidding)?

No rain on my face.

No rain on my face.

Sunglasses: The Tailwind from Nike stay on my face. I have a round shaped head so finding sunglasses can be tough.

Roll Virginia Beach results

As I said last time, The best piece of advice for any racing is to stay positive.  At the end of the day, you can’t control the weather.  You have to make the best of the situation, and if you’re able to think positively, you’ll be able to stay positive throughout the race.

I wasn’t positive during Shamrock half marathon, and I truly believe that is what caused me not to race well.  I maintained positive for the rest of the races and dressed appropriately.  Now I shrug off weather and just think: “other racers are dealing with the same conditions.”

Questions for you:

Have you ever raced in bad weather?  

What advice do you have? 

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Workouts: The Comeback Begins?

Training:

Last week was the best week of training I’ve had since being injured.  I don’t want to jinx myself, but I finished the week confident, healthy and motivated.  I haven’t felt that combination of thoughts since early May.

me running 1

So what happened?

Monday: Easy 60 minutes Core
Tuesday: Easy 11 Miles (Wissahickon Park) Core
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Easy 60 minutes
Friday: Easy 80 minutes with father in law
Saturday: Sunrise Serenity 5k (20:14)  Core
Sunday: 60 minutes
Total: 50ish miles

Thoughts:

All of my runs throughout the week were easy.  I was able to run with my husband on Tuesday and my father in law on Friday.  On Tuesday, my husband and I went to Wissahickon State Park in the morning.  Just like central park in NYC, Wissahickon is a great local park with miles of trails.  We easily got 11 miles on the main train.

As far as effort and speed, none of the runs were remotely exciting but I’ll take all of the injury free runs I can get.  I’m just slowly building the base.  The more boring the training log, the better it is for me.

The Sunrise Serenity 5k

On Saturday I ran the hardest 5k course I’ve ever run.  The race was an out and back course.  The first half went down the side of a mountain and the second half came right back up.  We didn’t do our research beforehand and were not expecting it.  Honestly, I’m extremely pleased with my time and I know on a flat course I’m in 19:30 shape.  The race definitely motivated me!

Post race with my father in law and husband

Post race with my father in law and husband

For Next Week:

I’m at the part of running and training that I feel good. However, I don’t want to get overzealous and get back into 70+ mile weeks.

Questions for you: 
What was your best workout?
When you’ve been injured, have you ever hit a point that you feel like you’re “back”? 

Healthy Kids 5k (20:01)

On Saturday, I ran the Healthy Kids 5k.  Last year, I ran a 20:13 and placed fourth female overall.  I had a great time last year and enjoyed the race.  My plans changed drastically last weekend, so I found myself with an open weekend and decided to go back and do it again.

I got to the race around 7:30 and it was hot.  Like most 5ks, I like to sign up race day. The temperature read 85 degrees, and I wondered why I was running.  I signed up and warmed up.  When the race started at 8:30 it was 91 degrees.

As with many local 5ks, I found myself boxed in behind young children.  They were weaving in and out, and I nearly tripped over one young female.  As the racers spread out, I found myself as the 6th person.  I hit the first mile in 6:20. It was 5 seconds faster than last week in hotter conditions.  My legs felt tired, and I felt overheated.  In summary, I didn’t feel good.

running 12

During the second mile, I grabbed water and poured it in myself. The wind was blowing off the riverfront, and I felt the wind against my sweat.  It was a combination of sweltering air and a slight breeze. It felt good.  I ran the second mile in 6:32. I was running alone, but it was fine.

I just wanted the last mile to be over. I was alone, and local 5ks don’t have a lot of spectators. I just focused on the end.  I caught one male and rounded a turn.  The third mile went into a nature persevere and a nice view of Wilmington.  There was a slight incline but nothing drastic.  I hit the third mile in 6:24. I was pleasantly surprised because I felt awful.

I crossed the finish line in 20:01.  I thought I had broke 20, but the results said 20:01.  I should have started in front of the kids I suppose. Oh well, it’s just a number and a few seconds don’t mean much.  I did, however, win opera tickets, so that was unique.  Last year I ran a 20:13 send was the fourth woman.  This year I ran a 20:01 and was the first female…you never can predict who will show up.

Running in Sports Bra

The race is 20 seconds faster than last week and on a hotter day, so it’s hard to complain about that.

I’m happy with my race and the improvement since last week.  I have no complaints, and I think in cooler weather I would probably be around 19:30.  I’m continuing to just rich on the bigger picture and finishing races injury free.  I’m not happy or sad about the race, I’m indifferent.  I finished injury free and that is all that matters right now.

Questions for you: 
Have you ever been to the opera? 
What’s the hottest race you’ve run? 

April Fools Half Marathon (1:24.04)

This race was the culmination of my late Winter and Early Spring training.  I was aiming to PR and seek revenge on the half marathon that crushed me two weeks ago.  After the weather had been announced for Atlantic City, I knew to adjust my time goal of PRing accordingly.

The weather at Shamrock was terrible: rainy, windy and cold.  The weather for Atlantic City was a different kind of terrible: gusty, gusty and gusty.  They forecasted 50 mph headwinds, and we got them.

Shamrock took away a lot of confidence in distance racing and left me with the question: had I PRed for the year at Carlsbad? Was I done?

The race also left me with a very tight hamstring that I noticeably felt for last two weeks. Even with a deep tissue massage, I skipped two weeks of workouts. It never hurt but was noticeably tight after about 10 miles.

I had to no idea to expect with the weather and my hamstring.   I arrived to Atlantic City late Saturday evening. My husband and I hung out at the Resorts Casino before heading to bed around 9.

On Sunday morning, the race start was delayed due to traffic.  Instead of being blown away, my father and law and I hung out in the casino.  It was warm and we chatted with a few locals.

 

I didn’t fully believe I was about to run a half marathon.  It’s like I hadn’t come to terms with racing.  I was cold, wearing a thrift 90s sweater and about to blow away.  Still the race horn blew, and we were off.April Fools half marathon

The first mile was hilarious at best.  I saw the elite males take off and being blown around like a pinball machine.  I found myself running near my friend Mike.  We chatted and decided our goals were similar.

Luckily there was a cluster of dudes, and we hit the first mile in 6:27.  It seemed like a lofty goal to maintain that pace.  I didn’t know how my hamstring would react to the race, and the buildings hid most of the wind the first mile.

April fools half

The second two miles were similar.  The wind was whipping us around the boardwalk.  It wasn’t a headwind or a tailwind; it was just wind from every direction.
Wind under my feet…
Wind over my feet…
Headwind…
Tailwind…
There was problem wind going vertically too…

There were several points where sand blew into my eyes and into my contacts. We ran the second mile in 6:29 and the 3rd mile in 6:33.  My ultimate goal was to run faster than Shamrock.  I was happy with those splits.  I had let go of a PR goal, but I wanted to redeem myself from Shamrock, and I wanted to win.

The winds were rougher in Atlantic City, but it wasn’t pouring rain.  It was equally as cold though (The April Fools half was similar to running in Fort Story during Shamrock…just doing it the entire time).

We left the boardwalk and ran in the street of Ventnor City.  It was a desolate no man’s land.

But why would the streets be crowded?  It was cold, windy and unpleasant to be outside.  I wouldn’t want to be cheering runners at 8:30 am. I was grateful the volunteers showed up. 

I made my goal to get to the halfway and reevaluate how I felt.  Mike said: “here we are fighting for a place or two, and some people are hoping to finish their first half marathon today.”  It’s all about perspective.  Mike is a machine who Pred at Shamrock two weeks ago and is running Boston in two more weeks.

We went through both mile 4 and 5 in 6:39.  Those two miles were two of the windiest.  Plus knowing we had a long way is always terrifying.

I hit the 10k in 40:51.  I quickly calculated that it would be about 1:22 for 12.4 miles and probably on pace for a 1:26…something like that but mentally it gave me hope to hold on.  I didn’t feel bad, but I knew the grit would be after 10 miles.

We made the halfway turn and went right back where we came from.  I was feeling better than anticipated.  I knew my hamstring wouldn’t act up until mile 10.  I decided to press the pace and see what happened.

I ran mile 7 in 6:30.  I began to think: I can do this.  I can run fast.  Then I realized, don’t be an idiot…it’s mile 7 of 13.1.

april fools

I began to see my friends running in the opposite direction.  They cheered, and I cheered back.  Seeing other people racers is motivating to me.  I try to cheer for others when they cheer back.  I’m a race talker at heart.

Mile 8 brought me my first confidence boost.  I was paying so much attention to others; I had clicked through another mile without noticing.  I was shocked to see 6:17.

I thought: alright 5 to go.  Mile 9 went back onto the windy boardwalk.  I found myself alone and the wind off the ocean was brutal.More sand blew in my eyes and face.  Never the less, I hit mile 9 in 6:13 and mile 10 in 6:10.  I couldn’t believe how strong I felt despite the wind.  At one point, I thought someone had clipped me, but it was a crosswind under my feet.

My 10-mile split was exactly 1:05 and I made it my goal to finish under 1:25.

I remember the final 5k of the April Fools Half two years ago very well. A faster woman and I were running stride for stride until she broke me around mile 12.  I remember depleting myself more than I ever had before in 2014.

This year, I focused on each mile, one at a time.  The last 3 miles were also the unknown.

Would my hamstring hold up?  

Would a woman come up from behind? 

Why did I even want to win so badly? 

Why was I having a conversation with myself instead of focusing on the race?

I now had a lead cyclist guiding me down the boardwalk.

I noticed I was approaching a male around mile 11.  We were in the open wind with no buildings to block the cross wind.  I was nearly blown over several times.  I didn’t hear my watch go off for mile 11, but I ran a 6:20.

I keep thinking: Two miles to go.  You can do it.  I was still wearing my long sleeve sweater, and I decided to delayer it.

atlantic city half running

I never expected to run with it that long but the wind was so nasty, I didn’t want a repeat of shamrock and freezing at the end.  I delayered the sweater around mile 12, and it was the last I saw of my favorite sweater.

The final mile was a blur.  A police motorcycle joined the cyclist and me and was honking to indicate I was the first woman.  It was an exciting moment.  I focused on making it to the finish line and not fearing I would be outkicked again.

The mile markers had been off, so the distance between mile 12 and the finish was more like 1.35.  Believe me; I felt every extra portion of the quarter of a mile.

I kept thinking the race end was just around the corner.  Because of the high winds, they did not have the jumbo shoot out to see the finish line.  There was a gathering of people blocking the boardwalk, so I assumed that was the finish line.

You can see there was a lot of headwind here

You can see there was a lot of headwind here

They announced my name as I crossed the finish line and I was greeted by mother and law as well as husband.  I finished with a 6:09 final mile and crossed the line in 1:24.04.

April Fools half

This race was rejuvenating for me.  Not because I won or because it was my third fastest half marathon in miserable conditions.

atlantic city half running 1

During Shamrock, I fell hard during the race.  I let negative thoughts penetrate my mind and mentally gave up. During the April Fools half marathon, I focused on the positives of the race and pushed myself out of my comfort zone.  I didn’t let the wind let me down.  I negative split the race by about 2 minutes and finished feeling good.

My husband bringing me all of my things...

My husband bringing me all of my things…

Despite weather conditions, the April Fools half marathon is still one of my favorite races.  It’s well put together and well organized and I had a great time.

I don’t think I mentioned, but my hamstring never affected me and two days after the race it hasn’t acted up.  As I mentioned with my training log, I went to see Dr. Kemenosh and his team on Friday.  They found some knots in my hips, similar to my bum butt injury after my marathon.  I also went again on Tuesday, and they released smaller knots.  I do believe tight hips and glutes were the sources of my hamstring problem.  With that, I am healthy again.

race_1757_photo_32910083 (1)

What’s next?

I don’t have any major races until Broad Street 10 miler on May 1st.  I’ll hop into a few local races, but I don’t have anything on my radar.

Training: 16X400s and 5ks…

To be honest, this week my training clicked. I recovered well from the Festival of Races and enjoyed the cooler weather this week.  I don’t want to jinx myself, though!

Monday: Easy run

Tuesday: Easy run with Austin.  He’s the Saucony rep for the Philly/NJ region, so I work with him frequently.  I was lucky enough to try out some new shoes.  I’m excited for the updated Saucony Triumph ISO, which will come out Nov 1.  Austin is also running the Chicago marathon today.  Anyways, it was an easy run, and it was nice to chat with someone.

Austin and I

Workout Wednesday: 16x400s with 1-minute rest (average 6:03 pace)

To be honest, this workout felt easy and effortless.  I was surprised to plug it into my computer and realize how fast I was going.  I did the intervals on the road (versus track).  I haven’t felt this good about a workout in a while.

I love the ability to program 16X400s with one-minute rest and let me Garmin do all the hard work. It makes workouts less stressful but also allows me to do them wherever I want…road, track…parking lot…wherever!

Saucony A6

Thursday: Rest

Friday: easy, uneventful run.

Saturday: Pitman Panther 5k (19:04)

In summary, it was a consistent and solid effort for me with (6:10, 6:15 and 6:10) splits.  I am euphoric with the results since it is my fastest 5k in just over two years.  I also won the race for both men and women!  More details soon…

Great photo of my friends Liz, Chris and I

Great photo of my friends Liz, Chris and I

Sunday: Run the Vineyards (trail/cross country) 5k 20:31

I did the Run the Vineyards Grapes and Peaches 10k last month and loved it.  I loved the atmosphere and the scenery, so I decided to do another local Vineyards Run.  Once again the race was well organized and put together and don’t regret it.  The course today, however, was much more challenging.  In fact, I wore my spikes! It was muddy, sandy and grassy! It was a tough course and after racing the previous day I had no goals but to have fun.  I accomplished that!  Running through the fields, dirt and mud made me miss cross country a lot!

Total Mileage: 69

Speed work mileage: 10.2

Thoughts:

As I said, I could not be happier with this week. I feel like my running is finally coming together. Lately, I’ve taken out my long run (13-15 miles) altogether, and that has been fine.  I’m not training for anything that I necessarily need to do that mileage right now.   I’m excited with how my running is going.  I’m finally inching closer to my 2-year-old PRs.  I enjoy racing a lot, and it allows me to get speed workouts in.  Plus, it’s nice to see progress from the spring as well.

I’m not quite sure how next week will go since I’m running the Runner’s World 3.8 trail race/5k/10k/13.1. To be honest, I’m nervous because this is what I like to call a “danger zone.” Racing 2 5ks in one weekend is not as damaging to your body as racing all of those together.  In fact, the races add up to an entire marathon.  

Questions for you:

Have you ever ran several races in one weekend?

Surprisingly no! I’ve obviously run two 5ks in one weekend but never a longer distance!  I’m excited for the weekend, but I’m also nervous.

How was your week of training?

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