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Allen Stone Run-Swim-Run (41:07)

Allen Stone Run-Swim-Run (41:07)

After several years of not racing the Allen Stone, I decided I would go for it.

I have been swimming the most consistently since actually competing in swimming, so it made sense.  The last time I competed was 2013. I raced from 2010-2013, with one year breaking a tibia, two years placing in age group, and one year winning overall.  So I have a history with it.

Dad and I arrived around 7, warmed up, and relaxed. The Allen Stone Braveheart is a memorial to Allen Stone, a fallen seal and those after as well. They read the names of fallen seals, and it’s always heartbreaking.  They have parachuters come in as well.  The 5kers go off and then we have about 30 minutes until we do.

At 8:15, we lined up at the beach, and we were off.

Allen Stone Run Swim Run

The first 1000 meters runs in soft sand. It’s crowded, and I entered the water as 55th overall. It went by in a blur. I tried to run as fast as possible without hurting myself. Looking back, the beach 1k is something I can improve on.

Then it was time to enter the water. You wear an ankle timer, so the beach run and swim are recorded.  We ran over a mat then were off to swim. Swimming in open water is always weird because nothing about it is consistent. You get toppled by waves, kicked in the face, swim over hot and cold spots, and wonder what is swimming underneath you.

Despite swimming in college, I know it’s my weaker event now. I knew I needed to make good time in the swim to even place. Placing wasn’t the goal, but it’s always nice.

It felt like the swim was taking forever. Honestly, I thought I was swimming slower than the pool. Finally, I saw the buoy and swam into the shore. I could see a few women running on the beach in front.

I entered the transition, which went surprisingly smooth. I’ve done transitions before but not since the race in 2013 (and truthfully I hadn’t practiced either). But I was in and out in less than 90 seconds.  I felt proud. I don’t stress in transitions, which I think has helped me. The more I stress (with anything), the easier it is for me to mess up.

A volunteer told me I was 12th women. I thought I could at least reel in two women during the 5k on the boardwalk for a top 10 finish.

During the first mile, I caught two women and breezed by. The course is out and back so around 1.3, I could see the leaders coming back.

The first women were 3-4th overall, and I knew there was no way I could catch up.

Immediately in front of me, there was a woman about 15 seconds in front and another woman about a minute. I thought I might be able to catch them.

It was scorching and humid, and I was cooking on the boardwalk. I don’t know if it had been a stand-alone 5k if I would have gone much faster because it was so hot with no shade.

I hit the turnaround and passed another woman. As I headed back, I could see a couple of women a few minutes ahead.

Since it’s on the boardwalk, you can pretty much see the King Neptune Statue and the end at the turnaround. It felt like a very long 10 minutes.

As I kept running straight, I could tell I was gaining on the 2nd and 3rd place women. I just ran as hard as I could and tried to catch them.

Ultimately I finished about 20 seconds behind them.

I crossed as 4th woman and 10th overall. I’m happy with the result. No one passed me (male or female) in the run, and I had a better swim average than I thought.

This is the only type event of this nature I’ll do, and I have no interest in biking.

Questions for you:

Have you ever done a multi-sport event?

Have you swum in open water?

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ERR 10k: 42:40

ERR 10k: 42:40

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Cape May 10k in 42:35. I thought, at the minimum at ERR I could beat that. Spoiler: I did not. The weather, however, was much hotter and much more humid at the ERR, plus the is much more difficult. So it was a harder effort. By much more humid, I mean it was 100% humidity.

Anyway, I got to the race around 7:15, warmed up, saw a few friends, and got to the start around 8 am. The race started at 8:15, and I was already sweating through my clothes beforehand. I’ve run the race a few times, but not since 2013. There is minimal shade, and it can be either very hot and humid, cold, or somewhere in the middle. When I lived in VA, I ran it years that it was any of those.

I was busy talking, and by the time I knew it, we were off. I was caught off guard but not a big deal and my own fault. During the first mile, I found myself as 5th women overall, where I stayed the entire time. At first, I thought I might be able to catch the fourth-place women, but that quickly faded. My legs did not feel good, and I was overheated at the start.

I ran the majority of the miles alone, just wondering what I was doing. If I stopped, no one would know, and it was something I constantly had to talk myself out of.  I hit the first mile in 6:30, which was way to fast for where I should be. The course itself at that point had minimal turns, but I knew the turns were all coming.

me running elizabeth river run 10k

During the second mile, I settled in alone. I saw many friends and waved to everyone I knew. I hit the second mile in 6:47, which is about where I figured my fitness was in the humidity.

During the third mile, I was running along the waterfront, and I was roasting. I laughed and thought, wow I’m working my tan. I told myself get to mile 3 and you’ll be halfway. I reached mile 3 in 6:47.

The next couple of miles went by without much note. It was hot, humid, and I just wished I hadn’t signed up for four 10ks this summer. I told myself “just 20 minutes left”, then “just 10”. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to race, but with the humidity, it became increasingly more difficult to breathe.

Around mile 5, I got some magical wind. I don’t know what was going on, but all of a sudden, I began to feel better. Maybe it was the fact that we were “almost done” or that I woke up again, but my legs felt better. I ran the last mile in 6:47 and crossed in 42:40.

me running elizabeth river run 10k

Thoughts:

I won’t say I love running 42:40s for a 10k. I’ve run faster workouts but I’m coming to terms with this is where I am fitness wise and in the heat. I know it’s a better effort than the Cape May 10k. I’ll keep grinding along and still signing up for races. I always enjoy seeing friends that I grew up with. I’m hoping I’ll just keep putting in the work and it will translate when it gets cooler. Or my marathon will be in the heat, and I’ll have put the work in the heat. HA

Thank you to Cliff for the photos. Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. This week I talked about rest days and cross training.  In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. There are often giveaways as well as discount codes.

Questions for you:

Do you like 10ks? How do you pace them?

Where did you grow up?

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:29.52)

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:29.52)

This was my 8th year running the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon. Many long term readers know but I grew up in the greater VA Beach area. The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon Weekend is always a lot of fun.

There are several events from the “Operation Smile Shamrock Final Mile”, to the Townebank Shamrock 8k, leprechaun dash, and of course the Yuengling Shamrock Half and Full Marathon. Usually an elite comes out and it’s been Kara Goucher, Meb Keflezighi, and Shalane Flanagan, to name a few. There is something for everyone. My time at the 2019 Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon: 1:29.52 is neither my fastest nor my slowest. It’s on the slower side, but that’s okay.

Last year I had an incredible experience that would be hard to beat and ran a 1:23. This year the goal was just to finish healthy. My training over the winter was nothing to write home about, and I’ve come to terms that this Spring might be a rebuilding season for me (something I personally seem to need after every marathon?).

Anyway, I arrived at the start around 6 am. The weather was ideal. It was low 40s, some wind but not much. Most importantly, it wasn’t raining. Two years ago,it poured rain and was low 30s.

Before the race, I met up with my good friend Jen. We haven’t seen each other since we both lived in NYS. We’ve both since moved, but it was nice to catch up. She ultimately ran a 1:18 and placed 3rd.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

After that, I tooled around and got to the start about 5 minutes early. I talked with rabbit teammate, Nick, and by the time I knew it, we were off.

Since the Yuengling Shamrock half and full start together now, it was crowded. Right off the bat, I felt decent. Plus unlike the day prior, I remembered to start my watch. Since the marathoners and half marathoners are running together, it’s a bit more crowded. I plugged along and cruised the first mile in 6:44. I was near a lot of males wanting to use the race to qualify for the Boston Marathon (and run between 3-3:05).

I felt good and realized a sub 90 minute half was doable if I continued to feel okay through the race — a great goal to make a mile 1.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

At mile 2, I saw my dad’s friend and waved. I started getting into a rhythm.  The next three miles were relatively boring. The Shamrock half is a scenic course but there are always a few boring miles. I logged 6:44, 6:44, 6:40 (mile 4 on the gradual uphill was my fastest), 6:44. At mile 5, I was feeling good. I thought wow, this is much faster than I anticipated (I didn’t have a goal prerace, but didn’t anticipate being that fast either).

Then we entered Fort Story, and it all changed. Fort Story is a lonely part of the race. Unless you have a military ID, spectators can’t get on the base. It’s right along the water so extremely windy. In fact, one year there was a layer of sand across the entire course.

Miles 7-9 broke me both mentally and physically. I didn’t feel good, and I was running alone. There was some wind but nothing terrible. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel good because I had raced the day before, I just mentally felt disconnected and my legs felt stale. I told myself, make it to mile 10, and you’ll be heading directly home. I ran a 6:55, 6:59, 6:50, and kept it barely under 7 minutes.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

I knew the 90-minute pace group was probably catching me soon.  Around mile 10, a man started talking to me about “my form”.  I wasn’t feeling the greatest and not in the mood to chat. We kept plugging along.

Mile 11 went down with nothing major. I ran a 6:55 and we had some wind at our backs. At mile 12, the 90-minute/3 hour marathon pace group engulfed me. I thought, wow I really did slow down. I also felt my shoe beginning to come untied, and it just felt like the wheels had come off.

The group engulfed and went around me and it stung. I hit mile 12 just over 1:22 and I knew I was still at 1:30 pace. Now I was just much closer than the start of the race. It made me feel a little better the group was ahead of their goal pace.

The last mile goes to directly into the wind. When you’re close to a time goal, running into the wind the last mile is the last thing you want to do.  You can see the tent and King Neptune and it just never feels like it’s getting closer.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

Then at mile 13, I saw it click 1:29:10. I needed the luck of the Irish for  a sub 90 minutes.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

I tried to sprint as hard as I could to the finish. I didn’t have much gas left but it was enough and I crossed the finish line under 1:30. After that I headed to the post-race party and finish line celebration on the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The race gets you four free Yuengling beer tickets and have Murphy’s Irish Stew (which is always delicious).  I waited and cheered for some of the 2019 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon runners.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

Thoughts:

I’m pleased with the race but know I have a long way to go fitness wise. In all, another good Shamrock Half Marathon. It’s one of my favorite races of the year and I always enjoy seeing local friends as well as others that come from far.

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach me running

Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon Virginia Beach

Chilling on the beach with Nick

Questions for you:

Have you run a race for several years in a row?

What is your favorite race? 

 

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:23.21)

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:23.21)

Shamrock half marathon is one of my favorite races.  I’ve run the race for the last 7 years and always enjoy myself in some sort of fashion.  Some years have been PRs, some have been proud to cross the finish line,  but every race has had enjoyable components.  I think J&A does an excellent job for runners of all speeds, paces, ages, and goals which is hard for any race director.  Not only that, but they are good people.  If you are looking for an 8k, 13.1, or 26.2 that if flat, fast, and fun, Shamrock is a great choice.  The weather has been good the last 5 out of 7 years I have run, which is high for a Spring Coastal race(and no they aren’t paying me to say that…sorry if you got the short end of weather in 2016/2017).

Anyway-

I had no goals for Shamrock.  I had run the Adrenaline 5k the day before.  Not only that but I was just tired.  Like I mentioned in my 5k recap, sometimes I underestimate life, and I thought I would actually get a good taper last week, but that didn’t happen.

After running the Adrenaline Run 5k in 18:29 on Saturday I drove back home to Shamrock.  I was lucky I remembered everything (which is atypical).

The drive was uneventful, I got to my parents, relaxed, and slept moderately well that night. Dad and I rolled up to Shamrock around 6:15.  This was the first year both the half and full went together, and the half start was pushed back to 7:30 (while the full was pushed forward).  Personally, I liked it because I got to see a lot more friends that way.

The weather looked ideal, and I was happy to enjoy the course because it wasn’t torrential rain this year. The weather was ideal for Shamrock and ideal running weather in general.

After taking too long, I pinned my bib and headed to the start.  I was able to see a lot of friends like my good friend Kris and Mollie.

shamrock half marathon va beach me running

After driving and feeling not the great the day before, I knew making a time goal was silly.  The primary plan was to have fun and run a strong race. Before the race, I walked around but didn’t jog or warm up.

Even though several thousand people are running, it’s always easy to use the bathroom, find your way to start, and not feel like a sardine. The gun went off, and so did we.  With the new addition of marathoners and halves starting together, it more packed and a much faster start.

I ran the first mile in 6:26 and was quite surprised.  I didn’t feel like I was about to randomly PR but I didn’t feel bad.  After the first mile, I began daydreaming about running my fastest Shamrock yet.  Then I told myself to wake the F up because I had run a race the day before.

The next couple of miles went by with no significant excitement.  I chatted with a few friends and saw one of my dad’s good work friends.  I hit the 5k in about 20 minutes, and we began the gradual climb over the next two miles.  As we started climbing, I began to feel even better.  I felt like my legs were opening up.  Despite the small and gradual climb, I hit the next couple of miles in 6:26.

Thank you, Ann, for the photo 

shamrock half marathon va beach me running

As we entered Fort Story, I saw myself getting in in the no man’s danger zone.  There was no one around, and Fort Story can often bring the most wind of any part of the race.  Last year there was sand blown across the course.

Luckily some men caught up with me, so I had a pack to run with.  They towed me along, and we began to slowly pick up the pace.  All of a sudden I found myself running 6:22s.  My body just felt good.

Around mile 9, I caught up with Katie who was leading the marathon for women.  She probably thought I was the most awkward, but I told her it was a dream to be running alongside her.  She looked as if she was just gliding along.

I hit mile 9 around 57 minutes, and I was ecstatic.  In every half, hitting mile 9 gives me a confidence boost.  Knowing I “only” have 4 miles to go seems manageable, and I then divide it into 2×2 miles.  Knowing I ‘only” have four miles to go, and feeling good feels even better.  I focused on making it to mile 11.

shamrock half marathon va beach me running

We began the long trek back to the finish.  I had entered another no man’s land of running alone, and for the most part, I just focused on the people about a minute ahead.  I passed a couple of people, but for the most part, I ran alone.

I hit mile 10 around 1:03.30 and told myself…I could run under 1:24 if you worked.

From there I just focused on the end.  I contemplated dropping my hat and gloves but decided to just keep them. I ran mile 10 in 6:11 and then entered my mindset of the “second 2 miles”.  Mile 11 for a half is always challenging.  You almost taste the finish line but then quickly realize mile 12 is still there.

Like usual, mile 11 was lonely, and I stared at my watch a few too many times.  There was nothing of note, and I caught a few people. Finally, I hit mile 12 in 1:16.30 and just told myself just go.  I told myself 7 more minutes.  I remembered in 2016 when I was passed by nearly 7 women (yes, 7) in the final mile.  This race was different, and I was finishing much stronger and over 3 minutes faster.

Finally, I hit the boardwalk and couple see King Neptune about half a mile away.  I stared longingly at him and powered to the finish. Along the boardwalk many people screamed “you’re almost there” and I bit my tongue multiple times. I never want to hear “almost there,” until my foot is one step from hitting the finish line.

I crossed the finish line in 1:23.21 and as 12th female overall.  I was shocked as it’s my fastest shamrock by over 90 seconds and was the least tapered I’ve been.  It was definitely one of the better weather days we’ve had (we had good weather the first 4 years I ran).

shamrock half marathon va beach me running

This race also gave me a lot of confidence.  I have been second guessing myself and wondering if Phoenix was a fluke PR and if I would be able to reach that again on a harder course.

I raced Shamrock 80 seconds slower, the day after I raced a 5k.  I tapered for Phoenix and did not for Shamrock, and I feel good about it.  To be honest, I feel better and more proud of my performances over the weekend and at Shamrock than I do about Phoenix.

Questions for you:

What race have you done the most?  What is your favorite race?

What race are you most proud of?

Shamrock Half Marathon (1:26.49)

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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