Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Run – Marine Corps Half Marathon Recap Part 2

Like I said in the first part of my recap, this is one of the most inspiring events I have run. My original goal for this race was to finish in 2:30, and as I got further along in training, I just wanted to beat my time from the Richmond half marathon. If you follow me on twitter, you know that I didn’t accomplish either of those goals, but I am still happy with my time. 

After picking up our packets on Friday, I made it a goal to take Saturday easy. My legs had been having a hard time recovering the past couple of weeks and I wanted to make sure they felt fresh for the race. The Saturday before the race consisted of a few errands, church and an early dinner. We were in bed by about 9 that night. 

Before the race
On Sunday morning, 4:30 a.m. felt really early. I got up, dressed and grabbed my standby peanut butter bagel. By just after 5 a.m. we were out the door. In the car I had some Nuun and water. I wanted to make sure I was hydrated going into the race. 

We got up to Fredericksburg a little after 6 a.m., found a place to park and headed to the start line. It was a little chilly, so I was happy I remembered a trash bag. I knew I would be fine once I started running, but just standing around it was pretty cool. 

After a quick stop at the porta-potty, we lined up by the sign for those expected to finish in 2:30 to 3:00. This is the first race I have done that did not start in multiple waves. From where we were lined up, we couldn’t really hear the race announcer, but at 7 a.m. we heard the howitzer shot and everyone slowly started moving forward. 

About 6 minutes after the official start, we were to the starting line and on our way. My legs felt good and I was very happy. The race is an out and back course and the first mile or so was a slight downhill and while I was enjoying it, I knew running up it at the end would not be as fun. 

Somewhere between the start and mile 2, the marker for mile 1 was missing, you turned a corner and a huge American flag was hung between two ladder trucks. The sun was really starting to shine at this point and the combination of the sun and the flags took my breath away. 

The first 10K was hillier than I was anticipating, but I was easily keeping my goal pace. I was surprised how good I felt at this point. My 10K time was 1:14:11. The next couple of miles took you through downtown Fredericksburg, and I was starting to feel a bit dehydrated. At the next water stop I took 2 cups of water and choked down a gu. I knew I was running slower, but I was still determined to keep my 5 min run/1 min walk intervals. These were the intervals I had used in training and I really wanted to keep them for the race. 

At about 9.25 to 9.5 miles in (my garmin was a bit off at this point), I really started to fall apart. I desperately wanted water and my legs started to feel like lead. I let myself walk a bit and then shifted to 2 min run/1 min walk intervals, but that didn’t last long. I shifted down to 1 min run/1 min walk intervals because I figured some running was better than walking the rest of the race.

Just after mile 10, I turned the corner and saw it…hospital hill. I knew it was coming, but this hill was long and relatively steep. At least it was conveniently located next to a hospital, so if I collapsed, medical care would not be far away. I started the hill with the intention of keeping the run/walk intervals, but that plan quickly fell apart and I walked up most of the hill. I was kind of annoyed with myself, but the majority of those around me were also walking. 

Hospital hill is a little over a mile long, and after a brief break at the top, there was another hill between there and the finish. I picked up the pace and tried to keep to the 1min run /1 min walk intervals as much as I could. Mostly because I knew the more I ran, the faster I would be done and that was the only thing important at that point. 

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. I kept my intervals for the next mile or so and then picked up the pace a little for the last tenth of a mile. My finish time ended up being 2:47:54, which was faster than my first two half marathons and this was a much harder course. I found my husband, who did awesome, and we grabbed some water, Gatorade and snacks and hung out at the post race area for a bit. We also found the beer tent and turned in our tickets. This was the first time I had beer after a race and it was delicious. Far better than the Gatorade, which always messes with my stomach.

Overall it was a good race. Since the race, I have figured out some of my fatigue/recovery issues and I’ll post more on those at some point in the future. I didn’t hit either of my goals, but I am okay with that, especially given the difficulty of the course. I am normally all about setting and achieving goals, so I am a little surprised by my reaction. 

Have you ever had a race that was tougher than you anticipated? How did you feel about not hitting the goal you had trained for?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon Recap Part 1

I am a little slow getting this recap together, but I had to process this marathon a bit before I could really write about it. This week has also been a bit crazy between recovering from the race, getting ready for vacation and a few other things. I am breaking the recap up into two parts. In this first part, I will talk about the event and Fredericksburg, Va., part 2 will go into my race. 

The Race Expo 

This guy was fun
If I had one word to describe the race expo, it would be quaint. Since the race was on Sunday, the exp was open Friday and Saturday. We decided to go up Friday night after work. I wanted to relax on Saturday as much as possible. The expo was well organized and we had picked up our numbers, shirts and race packets within 5-minutes of walking in the door. 

We wondered around the expo a bit and picked up some phenomenal salsa. Definitely one of the strangest things I have ever purchased at a race expo. The vendor portion of the expo was small, and even the vendors you see at all the races brought the small version of their booths. This was a little disappointing, because there are a couple of things I was looking for but I will take easy packet pickup over a lot of vendors any day. 

The Course 

The race started at the expo center and wound its way through to downtown Fredericksburg, then took you back along the river and finally up hospital hill. As I mentioned in some of my training posts, I was a little concerned about all the hills at the end of the course. What the chart doesn’t show is exactly how hilly the first nine miles of the race actually are. The first portion of the race is filled with rolling hills, so average elevation doesn’t change a ton, but it is rare for you to actually be running on a true flat. 

While the course was tough, it was a really nice course. There were a lot of local residents out supporting runners and they really made you feel special. There was not a ton of official entertainment on the course, but you didn’t really miss it. The only bad thing about the course was that there was not enough water stops. They only had 6 and a couple more toward the end would have been helpful. 

The Town - Fredericksburg 

Prior to the race, I had never been to Fredericksburg. It is about an hour north of Richmond, and I always thought it was just another one of the sprawling DC suburbs. I was delightfully surprised to see that the downtown area is really cute and they have a number of great restaurants and coffee shops. We had a great Italian dinner on Friday night, followed by coffee at an adorable coffee shop. You know it is good when a coffee shop is packed at 9 p.m. on a Friday night. After the race on Sunday, we grabbed brunch at another local place. I am very impressed and we may have to visit Fredericksburg more often. 

The Marines 

This really should go at the top of my post, but the Marines at the half marathon were absolutely amazing. They have one of the most difficult jobs in the world, and then they were out there cheering on the race, giving out water and sport beans and handing out medals at the end of the race. I tried to thank them as much as I could, but I wish I could have done more. 

Overall, this was one of the most inspiring races I have ever done. It was well organized and the course was challenging. I don’t know that I would travel for it, but as long as we are living in Virginia it will be on my short list of races. 

What was the most inspiring race you have ever run?

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Better Bagel

I am a big fan of bagels, but I try and eat healthy and they are often not the most healthy breakfast option. I was interested when Clever Girls was looking people to try out Lenders new healthier option. These bagels had fewer calories, more protein and more fiber than the ones I normally purchase.

I received a coupon for a free package of bagels. The only drawback was that I had to go to Wal-Mart to purchase them and this is not my favorite place to shop. When I went to pick up the bagels, the only Healthy Grain option available was multi grain. I didn't have time to try another store location, so that is what I got.

I was super excited to have a bagel with peanut butter for breakfast. This is one of my favorite things to eat, and one of the few things that works really well before long runs. Overall, the bagels were good. They were chewy and nutty and a good compromise between a traditional bagel and one of the bagel thins. My husband also thought they were good.

I don't think the bagels are worth a special trip to Wal-Mart, but if I see them in my grocery store, I would probably buy them. I am also interested in trying some of the other options, especially if it means I can have a bagel and peanut butter for breakfast more often.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of  Clever Girls Collective, and I received coupons for free Lender's Multi-Grain Bagels. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #LendersHealthyGrain #spon

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Historic Half Training Week 11

The Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon is this Sunday, so training is over and other than a few short runs and maybe some yoga, there is not much on my schedule for this week. I am both nervous and excited. The more races I run, the more real goals I have and this time I am not sure I am going to meet them.

Overall, training has not really gone the way I wanted. I have not had a great long run since the Monument 10K. They have been varying degrees of "meh." My runs have been especially rough since we got back from Florida a couple of weeks ago.

My training for week 11 was the following:
Monday – Off
Tuesday – 4 Miles
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – 4 Miles
Friday – Off
Saturday –6 Miles
Sunday – Yoga

Last night's run felt pretty good and it was the best I have felt in a while. I am hoping that keeps up through the half marathon, but I am a little nervous.

I am not sure what to do Sunday. What do you do when you are facing a tough race?

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Perfect Kind of Weekend

We had a pretty perfect weekend around here. One of those weekends that is a good balance of relaxation and things to do. Unfortunately, I was a bad blogger and didn't take a picture all weekend. You'll just have to use your imagination.

Friday night we got all the boring chores for the weekend done. It seems like going to the grocery store, Costco, etc. always takes way more time than they should if you go on Saturday or Sunday. I know I must be getting old, because I am really excited when I can get the grocery shopping out of the way Friday night. I know people who only grocery shop every few weeks, but we eat way to much fresh produce for that to work for us.

Saturday we actually slept in and by that I mean we slept til 9 or 9:30. I think we both needed it. Then it was up and off for a 6 mile run. It was not a spectacular run, but I'll recap my last week of training in the next day or two. We did a little shopping and then headed to a graduation party for one of my husband's coworkers. It was a nice party and I know he worked hard to finish school.

Sunday started off with homemade french toast with strawberries, which was delicious. I don't know why I never remember how much I like french toast when I am trying to figure out what to make. The weather Sunday was great and we took the motorcycles out for a nice long ride. We traveled along the James river, via Route 5, from Richmond to Williamsburg. Spent a little time riding and wondering around in Williamsburg, then headed home. I squeezed in a quick yoga class while the husband worked on dinner. Grilled chicken with corn and sweet potatoes...yum.

The next couple of weekends will be fun, but busy. It is nice to have some down time for a change. What did you do this weekend? Was it crazy busy or nice and relaxing?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Historic Half Training Weeks 9 & 10

After last week's whirlwind weekend, I was a little slow to get back to normal and back to blogging. The Historic Half Marathon is quickly approaching and training for weeks 9 and 10 has been hit and miss. 

Training week 9 was great. I felt like I was flying during my speed work and my other runs were comfortable. My legs felt like I could run forever.

Week 9 Training
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Speed Work (about 4 miles total)
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – 4 Miles
Friday – Off
Saturday –6 Miles
Sunday – Off (spent time playing in the pool)

Training week 10 was pretty much the opposite. I don't know if I was still run down from last weekend or something else is going on, but I didn't have a single good run this week. My legs felt like they were made of stone and 2 miles felt like 20. My long run was really rough and my left hip/hamstring/IT band area was not happy.

Week 10 Training
Monday – Off
Tuesday – 2 Miles
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – 2.32 Miles
Friday – Off
Saturday –10 Miles (this was a rough run)
Sunday – Off 

Today my legs are still pretty sore and I feel like I ran 20 miles, not 10. I need a good week of training, or I think I may be in real trouble.

How do you handle bad training runs? What do you do when your current training strategy stops working?