Showing posts with label mystic half. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mystic half. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: Mystic Half RECAP!

Yes, my friends, after 12 weeks of blood, sweat, and tears, the Mystic Half Marathon has come and gone.  What a day!  (Spoiler alert: a very good day.)  Let's recap!

Day Before/Expo:
I drove down to Groton, CT (where my parents live and 10 minutes from Mystic) on Friday night.  I made this trip solo--Small Fry started suffering from car sickness a couple months ago, and as we have lots of travel coming up in the next few weeks, we decided to spare him the 14 hour (round-trip) drive to Connecticut for my race.  Sad for me, but I will admit that it was nice to have a bit of alone time pre-race.

Saturday was packet pick-up.  We drove over to the Mystic Hilton, and I was psyched to get a low bib number (50...I felt like an elite...haha).  I also picked up for two other runners because there was no race-day pickup for this race.  Kind of a pain for a lot of people, I think!  It would be nice if they had this available on race day next year.

I got a great deal on a new Adidas running tank and sports bra at the expo ($35 for both!), and spied Amby Burfoot at his table, but was too nervous to go up and talk to him.  (To know why, see: every single author signing I have been to and acted awkwardly at.)  For those that don't know, Amby Burfoot won the Boston Marathon in 1968.  He was the editor-in-chief of Runner's World for a long time, and still writes for them.  And, turns out, he went to my high school!  He agreed to sign on as a "celebrity pacer" for this race, leading the 2:15 group (a bit slower than I intended to run).  Turns out I would be seeing more of him on race day than I thought (more on this later).

I did also attend the course preview, which was a slide-by-slide review of the entire course.  This was SUPER helpful, as we would be running through some wooded areas that I was not entirely familiar with, despite growing up in the area.  I felt like I had a decent handle on things by the time I left.

That night, my good friend Colleen (we were BFFs through most of high school!) hosted a pasta dinner at her parents' house, as both she and her husband Chris were signed up to run, as well as her younger sister (Caitlin), and two of Caitlin's friends.  Much carb-loading ensued, and the non-runners drank lots of good beer and dark-and-stormies, while the runners looked on sadly and sipped their water.  Le sigh.
Me and Colleen at dinner.  My hair is a preview of the race-day humidity!
Race Day:
Well, I woke up at 4:15am with a serious case of jitters.  My stomach had crazy butterflies going on, and I knew there was no way I was getting back to sleep.  I laid there until about 4:30, when I gave up and decided to get ready.  The forecast was showing no rain in sight, high humidity, and temps in the mid- to high 60's for start time, so I went with my old Adidas running shorts, New Balance tank, and C9 running hat as my race day outfit.  Ate my usual pre-race breakfast (plain bagel with peanut butter, and a banana), though honestly my stomach was so nervous that I only got through half the bagel and half the banana.  Drank a bunch of water, packed up my hydration pack, and out the door at 5:45am.

I got to the race site at 6:00.  There was tons of parking right at Mystic Village, which was awesome, because you didn't really need to do gear check--everyone's cars were a minute's walk from the start/finish area.  For a race this well-attended, that was impressive.
Chris and Colleen on race morning
I met up with Colleen, Chris, and their crew, and then found Cora and Sara, the two women I picked up packets for.  Cora and I have actually "known" each other for almost 10 years, as we were both members of's wedding discussion forums back when we were planning our weddings, and we have kept in touch ever since.  However, today was the first day we were actually meeting in person.  It was great to finally meet, especially on a day as exciting as this one.

Sara is friends with Cora, and I hadn't chatted with her much before race day (a few times online as we discussed race training, but that was it).  However, we ended up as running buddies this day--a first for me, because as you remember, I run solo basically all the time.  But Sara is also registered for the Ironhorse Half this coming weekend, and decided she wanted to take it easy at Mystic.  My anticipated pace (9:45) was way comfortable for her, given that her race pace could be closer to 8:00, so she asked if I wanted company and offered to be my pacer.  I said yes--even though I'd never run with anyone at a race before, I figured it would be really helpful to have company, especially in those later miles when I would need motivation.  (I am very glad that we did this!!)

At 6:30, I ate a Honey Stinger waffle, then used the porta-potty one last time.  Said a good luck to Colleen & co as they were seeding a bit further up than I planned to seed myself.  Sara and I lined up just ahead of Amby Burfoot and his 2:15 pace team, as I was hoping to come in closer to 2:10.  There was also a 10K, and half and 10K runners lined up at the same time.  The start line was a bit disorganized, of the only downsides to the race details.  The start was on Coogan Blvd, but most of us were jumbled up around the corner in the driveway near Steak Loft, even when the gun went off.  Not a huge deal, but it would have been nice if we all could have just lined up on Coogan.
Waiting in the start line chaos!  Sara is in the pink standing next to me/looking away
(Let me talk for a hot minute about my pace goals for this race.  Ultimate goal: just PR.  Anything under 2:21 would make me happy at the finish.  But pace-wise, I was hoping to hold 9:45/min for as long as I could, with the hope that during the hills, I would go no slower than 10:45/min as an absolute max.  10:45 was the average pace of my last half, so my philosophy was that if I had a lot of minutes under that, and a few minutes at that, then I would PR.  Right?  Yay, math!)

7:00 came, gun went off, and away we went!  The race started on Coogan and then took an immediate left to head down toward the Mystic Seaport.  This part of the course was flat, flat, flat.  And beautiful to boot.
First look at the river coming into downtown
Even though I lived in this area for years as a kid, it was still exciting to run past all the fun Mystic landmarks.  Plus, coming into downtown (around the 1 mile mark) and seeing the Mystic River was pretty great.  A definite favorite was being able to run across the Mystic Drawbridge.
Coming up to the drawbridge
(Unfortunately, that was the last pic I took during the race--things got a bit more wooded afterwards, and once the hills started...forget it.)

After the bridge, we took a right and headed down to River Road.  This road winds down along the Mystic River and makes for more gorgeous scenery.  And again, flat flat flat.  Sara and I were chatting away as we ran, and we had to keep checking our Garmins and slowing down in order to be near 9:45.  Our first four miles clocked in at 9:30/9:32/9:35/9:50, so we were doing a great job staying near pace!

During the 5th mile, I decided to take my first Gu (I had 2 with me).  During my long runs, I usually fueled at 4.5-5 miles, so I decided to do the same here.  However, within a few minutes of taking the Gu, I felt insanely bloated--like I had eaten an entire breakfast or something.  So strange!  No cramps like I usually worry about, but just felt really uncomfortably full.  Hmm.  Ah well, I charged on, and miles 5 and 6 both came in exactly at 9:45--awesome.  Almost halfway there!

Then...the hills.


I really cannot overemphasize here THE HILLS.

Right towards the end of mile 6, the half marathoners had to take a left onto Deer Ridge Road, while the 10Kers continued straight.  We went 3/4 of a mile on Deer Ridge, then had to turn around and come back down to the main road.  When I went to the course preview on Saturday, the guy had said there was a hill on Deer Ridge.  OH, JUST A HILL, YOU SAY?  A MERE BUMP, PERHAPS?  This was not just any hill.  This was the hill to end all hills...honestly, I'd say it was the hardest one on the entire course.  It was relentlessly steep, starting right after we got on Deer Ridge and not ending until we got to the turnaround at the top.

Needless to say, it was a trudge.  In the middle of it, I almost pulled out my phone and texted my runner-friend Mandy with "THE WHEELS ARE COMING OFF!!"  I was losing steam, and fast.

I did have to walk some of it--though honestly, it was more because that Gu was making me feel like I had to puke, vs my legs couldn't handle the hill.  Anytime I started breathing too hard, that Gu came back at me.  But I pushed where I could and finally, blessedly, got to the top.  While it was nice coming back down the way we came, I could feel the beating that my quads were taking and knew I would pay for that speed later.  Mile 7 came in at 10:24...above desired pace but still under the pace of my last half, so okay.  I lived to see another day.

Once we got down Deer Ridge and turned left to rejoin the main road, I saw a bank of porta-potties.  As I had expected (based on how ALL of my long runs went), I had to pee.  So, I made a quick pit stop. Luckily, there were no lines, and I got in and out pretty quickly.  At the next potty stop, I saw a line of 5 people, so I was happy I chose to go now!  Because of this stop and a moderate hill right after, mile 8 was my slowest at 11:04.

Before the race, the mile I was dreading the most was mile 9.  The elevation map made it look like this was the mile with the worst hill (and Saturday's course preview confirmed as much), so after the agony of Deer Ridge, I was just a tad scared.  However--while the hill this mile was pretty painful at times, it was more gradual than Deer Ridge, and thus didn't feel quite as bad.  Still very difficult though, and there was definitely some walking involved (again, thanks to that Gu still upsetting my stomach).  Mile 9 ended in the middle of it (10:37).

Mile 10 was definitely the mile where my negative self-talk ramped up big time.  I remember thinking:

-"I will NEVER EVER EVER run another half marathon again.  EVER."
-"Why do I do this to myself?  I mean, really.  Did I not remember how this went the last time?  THIS IS ATROCIOUS."
-"It would not be dishonorable to just run 5Ks for the rest of my life.  I would probably get really, really good at them."
"Why did all those long runs feel so LUXURIOUSLY EASY????"

Also, even though my mile splits (now, in hindsight) were not that bad, I was mid-race (never a good time for me to be doing math) and I was sure that I was not going to PR.  Amby and the 2:15ers kept passing me back and forth, and I was positive that meant I was going to lag enough to lose hope of beating the 2:21 of my last race.

Yes, mile 10 was a dark time.  11:01, my second-slowest mile--and I don't have a porta-potty stop to blame that one on!  To her credit, Sara stayed upbeat and chatted with me the whole time, which I absolutely appreciated, even if she was greeted by total silence as I pushed on.  Haha.  Sorry, Sara!

However, after mile 10, there was a nice stretch of downhill for a while.  I got my breath back a little bit, and a smidge of energy to attack the last couple of hills.  Mile 11 came in at 9:56, my fastest of the back half.
This was taken somewhere around now.  I am smiling because Sara was throwing up gang signs at another photographer, not because I was feeling SO AMAZING.  Haha.
Mile 12 (10:25) and the beginning of mile 13 had some mean little hills (how is that even fair?  DO THEY EVER STOP?), but by then, I could feel that the end was near.  And I realized that I was not only going to finish, but I was GOING TO PR.  I was going to do it!!  Sara and I were running right behind Amby's pace team, and were keeping a pretty good pace with them.  I remember looking at my Garmin at one point and seeing that I was at 12.7 miles, and my face broke into a huge grin.  We were almost there, and I was going to kick my PR's ass.  TIME TO SHINE.

Finally, we turned left right before the 13 mile marker (10:27 split) onto Coogan Boulevard, and then into the Mystic Aquarium parking lot, with the finish in sight.  The crowd was enormous, the cheers were infectious, and I was smiling ear to ear.  But I also felt a HUGE surge of adrenaline, knowing that the finish was so close, and it made me feel like I was going to puke.  (Basically the entire tagline for this race should be "I Thought I Was Going To Puke.")  So I did ramp it up a bit, but not too hard, because a finish line vomit session was not on my agenda.  I remember Sara saying, "Come on, Amby is right there!  Let's speed up and finish with him!" and my response was, "I really do not want to puke on Amby!" (a solid choice).

I saw the finish, saw the clock ("You can finish under 2:15!" Sara exclaimed), pushed through the chute.  Final finish time was 2:14:07!  A PR by over 7 minutes.  To say I was overjoyed is a serious understatement.  You can tell in my finish photos:

(Yes, my form went to absolute crap by then, but I DID NOT CARE.)

Colleen (who finished in 2:05!) met me at the finish, as did Chris (1:46!) and my parents.  Hugs all around and much celebration, though honestly at this point, I was getting THE WORST stomach cramps.  Damn that Gu!  It took me almost a half hour before I felt good enough to choke down some post-race food, and even then I didn't feel fully recovered until the evening.  Not sure what was up, but whatever.
Sara and I right after the finish!
Sara and I also waited for Cora to finish, and she gets mega kudos for pushing on, because she found out the next day that the pain she was in was due to a torn LCL.  OUCH.  You go, girl.
Cora, me, Sara
I did walk around the post-race party looking for Amby Burfoot, because by this time I felt like we had nearly finished together and thus had become bros, so we needed a selfie, but I couldn't find him.  So Amby Burfoot should probably feel pretty relieved about that.

Other than the start line craziness, the only other downside to this race is that the free beers we were promised at the Steak Loft/Go Fish could not be served until 11am.  WHAAAAAT.  I finished at 9:15, and there was no way I was waiting around til 11 for my much-coveted beer.  You can blame Connecticut and their ridiculous liquor laws for this.  Booooooo, I say!

Afterwards, I went to my parents' house, showered, packed, and was on the road by 11:30.  I do not recommend spending 7 hours in a car immediately after running 13.1 miles (legs are still paying for that 2 days later), but it was worth it to get home just in time to tuck my kids into bed! (Also, very fun to go into rest stops with some nice bling-bling on your neck.  Yes, I wore it the whole drive.)

Final verdict: This course is hard.  Really hard.  I have talked with many others and heard some other recaps by now, and it seems I am not being overly dramatic here--the difficulty of this course is no joke.  That back half almost requires you to bank time in the front half if you want any hope of a decent finish time.

That said: a 7+ minute PR feels pretty amazing on a course this tough!!!  I am so proud of myself, and happy for all of the hard training I did to achieve this.  I could never have trained enough for those hills (at least not in the area where I run), or the humidity, but even so, I can feel how much stronger I was during this race vs during the Rochester Half last year.  A major, major difference.

Of course, I can't help but wonder what I could have done with this strength on a flat course...

...I guess I have to do another one to find out?  :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: A Quick Update!

Hello readers!  I just wanted to let you know that I am still alive, the Mystic Half Marathon did not kill me, and in fact it went quite well.  Well enough to result in a 2:14:07 finish time, a PR by over 7 minutes.

Celebrating at the finish with my good friend Colleen, who also nailed this race!
A race recap is forthcoming, but I haven't had time to put it all together yet.  It will be here in a day or two though.

And, to my bookish friends, please trust me that more lit-related content is coming.  I promise.  My race is over, I am taking some time off from running (for a couple weeks, anyway ;) ) and I'll have much more time to read AND write!

More soon!  Thanks for hanging with me during this crazy running journey!
Linking up with Tara today, as I wanted to let my Weekend Update friends know that I have survived!  :)

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Week 11 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is done...RACE DAY IN 1 WEEK!

Total distance for the week: 22.56 miles

Not much to say this week except HOLY CRAP IT'S ALMOST RACE DAY.  Back in March when I started this training cycle, the race felt forever away.  I mean, there was still snow on the ground!  And this race wasn't until after Memorial Day.  Such a long time, right?  Eh, not really.  The last 3 months have flown by, but I feel like I am in great shape and really hoping for a PR a week from now!

One thing I am super proud is that I completed ALL of my training runs.  Every single one.  I made a calendar like this for every month of the training, and man did it feel good to cross off each workout as it was completed:
All my other Type A runners feel so warm and fuzzy looking that this pinnacle of organization, amiright?
When I trained for the Rochester half last September, I used a training program through my Nike+ app that, in hindsight, was too advanced for me.  And instead of adjusting it, I just started skipping training runs willy-nilly (though never the long runs).  This time around, I found a program that worked for me, but also wrote it down on my calendar in PENCIL so that I could easily adjust if needed.  But you know what?  I didn't need to.  Barring anything that keeps me from my last 3 runs this week and/or the race (knock on wood), I will have done every single run on my schedule, despite sickness, exhaustion, and a whole host of other wrenches that were thrown into my days.  I feel pretty darn good about that!

Here's what this week's workouts looked like:

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: 5 miles, easy pace.  Another humid Tuesday morning!  But it was a good run, 9:39 pace.

Wednesday: 10 x 400 intervals.
  Here it was: the speed workout I have been most afraid of the entire training cycle.  TEN intervals??  Three months ago, I never thought I could do it.  And honestly, this morning I didn't think I could either when I realized that my husband's tablet was OUT OF BATTERY!!
I plugged it in, but it was taking forever to even get enough charge to turn on.  Was I really going to have to do this treadmill run with nothing to watch?  That might be worse than actually doing the intervals...haha.

Thankfully, I got it up and running, and then it was interval time.  Half mile warmup, then 10 intervals at 5K pace with jogging in between.  I DID IT.  No walking.  I was totally beat at the end, but I really nailed this one.  I am proud of my speedwork this training cycle, but wow am I excited for NO MORE INTERVALS for a while!!   :)

Thursday: 3 miles easy pace.  Not much to report on this one.  A chilly morning run at 9:40 pace.

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: 3 miles @ race pace.  I saved this run for the evening (unusual for me) because I spent the day at the Rochester Air Show with Small Fry!

We had an awesome time watching the Blue Angels and other performers, checking out all the cool planes on display, and eating junky fair food.  However, by the end of it, we had been on our feet almost all day and I still had a run to do!  Small Fry was so tired, he fell asleep on the 10 minute bus ride from the show back to our car:

By the time I got out there post-dinner, my legs were dead weight and my pace was all over the place.  I had a really hard time finding my race pace stride, which is much different than the rest of the pace runs I've done lately.  However, I threw in a few hills and just did my best.  A bit too fast (9:34) but not bad.

Sunday: 7 mile long run.  This is the one modification that I made to the Hal Higdon training program I used.  He does not work a taper run in the week before race day--his plan calls for 12 miles the week prior.  However, I really felt like I needed a taper, so I decided to do a shorter run this week of 7 miles.  I want to do whatever I can to keep my legs fresh for next week.

This run started out pretty rough.  Three not-great things happened in the first half.  1) I started running and my music didn't play.  What?  I looked at my iPhone and saw Nike was tracking my mileage, but no music was coming out of the headphones.  I finally had to stop and investigate--turns out one headphone (I only wear one at a time when road running) was not working.  So I switched headphones and carried on.  This is super annoying though, because my husband just bought these for me LAST WEEK!  I have terrible luck with headphones.

Second problem: it was windy and I discovered that my new Under Armour shorts are not ideal for windy conditions.  They have a high cut up each side that flaps quite wide in a strong breeze.  Sorry, neighbors, for the show you got this morning (hey, at least I wore underwear).  But there was nothing I could do about it once I was out; I wasn't going back to change.  However, I quickly decided these will NOT be my race day shorts because they were so darn distracting for the entire run!

Third: I needed a bathroom break at 3.8 miles.  Sigh.  By the time I stopped for it, I realized I really needed an ego boost to make the second half of this run better.  So, even though it was supposed to be a taper long run, I decided to push the last 3.2 miles below race pace.  Really ramp it up and negative-split like whoa in order to build my confidence back up.  And I did!  My splits for this run were 10:16/10:10/10:15/10:01/9:27/9:03/9:07.  BOOM.  Owned.  Confidence restored.

7 days to go!

I am linking up again with Tara's Weekend Update at Running 'N Reading (a fantastic blog for runners and readers alike!!).  Check it out!

How was your running week, friends?

Anyone else have a race coming up next weekend??

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: A Hit and A Miss

Week 10 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is done...only TWO WEEKS to go!

Total distance for the week: 27.62 miles

We had a hit and a miss with my new running purchases from last week.

The hit is my new Under Armour running shorts.  I took them out on two runs this week (including today's long run), and they were awesome.  A little shorter than I am used to, but because they are not compression shorts (super-short compression shorts ride up my thighs in an oh-so-unsightly way), they were still comfortable.  Thumbs up!
Me likey.
The miss goes FlipBelt.  I KNOW.  I am like, the only runner in the world who does not like the FlipBelt.  I had it recommended to me by SO MANY people.  EVERY review I read online was glowing.  "It doesn't ride up!!" everyone said.

Unfortunately, for me, that was not true.  I took the FlipBelt out on Saturday's 3 mile run.  I had it on my hips, like so:
I strategically washed out this photo so you cannot see my stretch marks.  You're welcome. #mombod
Within the first 5 minutes, it was up around my waist.  Which was wicked uncomfortable (and looked weird under my shirt).  And, made my stomach sweat a lot.

Post-run.  NO LIKEY.
I was willing to give it another go. I put it a tiny bit lower for my long run on Saturday.  And...1/3 of a mile in, I was on the side of the road, ripping it off in frustration because it had already ridden up on me 3 times.  Luckily, I had brought my armband in my hydration pack as a backup, so I moved my phone there and continued on.  But I think it's safe to say that I am part of the "small percentage of people" (according to FlipBelt's website) that does experience ride up with the product.  Oh well.  Me and this cursed armband are in it for the long haul, it's starting to look like...haha.

Anyway, on to my workouts!

Monday: Rest. 

Tuesday: 5 miles, easy pace.  So humid!!  I made the mistake of wearing light gray compression capris, and was worried I had a patch of butt sweat on them the whole time (luckily, did not).  Ha.  But, the run itself was not bad, with an average pace of 9:47.

Wednesday: 45 minute tempo run.
  My longest tempo run of this training cycle!  I did it on the treadmill, it went very well, minus the fact that my knee started bugging me again.  Ho-hum.

Thursday: 3 miles easy pace.  So, Tuesday it was so warm/humid, I looked like I had showered when I got home.  Thursday, I had to run in my winter gear, because it was 37 degrees when I started.  I thought I had seen the last of you for a while, winter gear!!

This run was just okay.  I had a fast average pace for an easy run (9:24), but my knee was bugging me again and I feel like I went fast just so I could get home quickly and in one piece.  Meh.

Friday: Rest.   I needed it after 2 wonky knee days.

Saturday: 3 miles @ race pace.  This run was a bit of a, so that I could test my new shorts and FlipBelt (already talked about that), but two, so that I could see how my knee felt.  If it bothered me again on this run, I was going to shorten my Sunday long run.  I didn't want to make the knee worse before race day.  However, I did this entire run in my local park, on nice even trails, knee pain.  So I am 99% sure this knee thing is from running on cambered roads, as I mentioned last week.  Yay for a pain-free run!  If only I had more non-road running options.

Oh, and I was a tad fast...9:35 (goal was 9:45) I've said before, I tend to go too fast vs too slow on these race pace runs.  At least it was only by a little bit.

Sunday: 12 mile long run.  My LAST really long run before the race!  And it was fantastic.  I did part of the run in the park, in order to give my knee an easier time, and it did not bug me one bit during the entire run.  I started out at 7am with great cloud cover and temps in the 60s--perfect.  I took 2 Gu's during the run (non-caffeinated, at 4.5 miles and 9 miles), and just like last week, not a single peep from my stomach.  I am so psyched about this.  They also gave me a great kick, as I always felt a bit of energy come back within a mile of fueling.  I think I may have finally figured out how to control my ridiculous stomach!

I did have to stop for a pee break at Tim Horton's...AGAIN...I think I am just going to have to plan for this on race day.  It always happens between the 6-7 mile marks.  I guess I better study that race map for porta potty stops.

The sun did come out around mile 4, which was a little rough, but I had a good amount of water with me so I pushed through.  My second Gu at mile 9 really helped me out, and my mile splits in the last 3 miles were some of the fastest of the entire run.  Ended with 10:05 average pace, faster than I intended for a long run, but I just felt good!

And came home to chocolate chocolate chip pancakes, which is never, ever a bad thing.

I am linking up again with Tara's Weekend Update at Running 'N Reading (a fantastic blog for runners and readers alike!!).  Check it out!

How was your running week, friends?

What's your favorite post-early-run breakfast?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: SHOES!

Week 9 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is done...only 3 weeks to go!

Total distance for the week: 27.94 miles

An exciting week for running apparel around here!

First, my Mother's Day gift from my husband and the kiddos came early.  Not one, but TWO new pairs of running shoes!:

WOOHOO!  The first pair of running shoes I got fitted for at Fleet Feet (last year) was the Nike Lunar Eclipse 3.  It was one of the only shoes I tried on that did not make the bunion on my right foot (super sexy, I know) hurt like crazy, because the shoe has a super wide toe box.  I went to buy a new pair at the end of last year, and of course, Nike stopped making the 3, so I switched to the almost-identical Lunar Eclipse 4.

Well now...of course, they've stopped making the 4, and moved on to the Lunar Eclipse 5.  I really like my 4's though, and saw that a few retailers were still selling them here and there, so my husband offered to nab me two pairs before they sold out.  Huzzah!  My current pair of shoes only has about 220 miles so far, but it would be nice to be able to rotate shoes rather than wearing 1 pair down until they've got nothing left.  I'm quite excited about being able to do that in time for race day!  :)

In other news, my mother-in-law sent me a $50 Amazon gift card, which I used to buy myself a much-coveted FlipBelt, as well as a new pair of Under Armour running shorts:

They should be here this week.  The FlipBelt will hopefully replace my dreaded iPhone armband, and the shorts will replace my black Adidas running shorts that I've had since 2007 and are about to fall to pieces.  :)

Anyway, on to my workouts!

Monday: Rest.  Well-deserved after last week's race!

Tuesday: 5 miles, easy pace.  This run went okay, but it was SO HUMID!!  Kind of unusual for Rochester at this time of year (especially at 5am).  I suppose this is good practice for race day though...Mystic, though not necessarily warmer than Rochester, is almost always more humid, given its coastal location.  I went out on the run with stick-straight hair, and came home with some serious volume:

One thing about this run--I started to get a slightly-sore twinge in my left knee for most of it.  I've had knee issues when I run on shoes that are past their retirement date, but otherwise have not had problems.  After the run, I ran the problem (pun!) past a few of my running friends, and after ruling out shoes/insoles as a problem, I think it's likely related to the fact that I've been almost exclusively running on the left side of roads throughout this training.  And, as most roads tend to do, they have a slant in the shoulder that goes down to the left, putting my left foot at a weird angle much of the time.  More on this in a minute.

Wednesday: 9 x 400 intervals.
  Knocked this one out of the park.  Managed not to walk between any of the intervals (only jogged).  I only have 1 interval workout left before the race (10 x 400), I can't believe it!  I remember when I did my first one and never thought I'd be able to hang in there for 9 or 10 in a row.  (And, side note, no knee twinge today...I was on the treadmill.)

Thursday: 3 miles easy pace.  This run went great.  I used one of my new pairs of shoes, which felt wonderful, and I had no knee pain (though I did try to run in the road, rather than in the shoulder, for much of it--something that is easier to do on an early-morning run with no traffic).

Friday: Rest.  And I got to spend it chaperoning Small Fry's field trip to the farm.  Good times!!

Saturday: 11 mile long run.  This was supposed to be Sunday's workout, but I moved it up a day because 1) they were calling for possible Sunday morning thunderstorms, and 2) I wanted to do it before Mother's Day, because long runs make me crazy tired and I didn't want to be sleepy all day long on my BIG holiday.  :)

I got up early for this one (5am, with the intention of leaving at 6am), and I almost wish I got up earlier.  We are having an insane heat wave in Rochester right now (it was 91 on Friday, a record-breaker), and it was already 71 degrees by the time I started out.  Luckily, the sun was at my back for a lot of it, but this run definitely reminded me of what the summer will feel like soon!  Thank goodness for my Nathan hydration pack, I took in a LOT of water today.

Overall, this was a great run.  I started off feeling strong, though I did start to get my knee twinge again at mile 2.  I started paying more attention to how my left foot was hitting the pavement, because when I looked down, I noticed that I kept hitting hard on the outer edge of my left foot even on flat surfaces, almost as if I was expecting the left-side slope at all times.  When I made a better effort to flatten my foot falls, the knee twinge went away almost immediately.  For the rest of training, I really need to stay conscious of this, because I don't want an injury before race day.

I only had 1 Gu left at home, so I decided to take it around the halfway point.  I stopped for a quick bathroom break at mile 6, then took the Gu as soon as I started running again.  This was a non-caffeinated Gu (all the others I tried were caffeinated), and I had ZERO stomach cramps/problems after eating it.  Not a single one.  This is a miracle for me and my sensitive stomach!!  I immediately went out to Fleet Feet after the run and bought a huge supply of these.  They will definitely be my race-day fuel of choice.

I flagged a little in the last mile, but overall I did great.  Average 9:59 pace that stayed fairly consistent throughout.  Feeling ready to do this thing!!

Sunday: 5 miles @ race pace.  Oh man, was I dreading this run.  Reason 1: running at race pace the day after a long run sounded way painful.  Reason 2: I got ridiculously, unashamedly drunk on Saturday night, thanks to my lovely husband who made me an AWESOME steak dinner after the kids went to bed, and then split a bottle of wine with me.  The steak and the wine (and the peanut butter pie for dessert) were to die for, but given that I have had very little alcohol during this training cycle, that half-bottle of wine was trouble.

I didn't even bother setting an alarm for Sunday, because I knew when I stumbled into bed that there was no 5am run in my future.  Sure enough, I woke up Sunday with a hangover and a very sour stomach.  Luckily, throughout the day the situation did improve, and it was nice to have the day to get pampered by my boys and hang out with them at Ontario Beach Park:

However, this all just put off my run until after my kiddos went to bed (roughly 7:30pm).  It had been a hot day (mid-80's) and while the sun was going down at this point, it was still outrageously humid.  But I put on my big girl panties and got out there anyway.

Not gonna lie, the first two miles were a struggle.  My stomach was still not entirely happy, and it felt like I was trying to breathe underwater in that humidity.  However, by mile 3 I felt like I was hitting a groove.  And I actually did a great job keeping race pace (9:38 average overall, 9:45 was the goal).  One thing I did notice is that when I hit a hill, I get nervous that I'm going to fall too far behind pace, so I tend to overcompensate and go way too hard up the hill (usually around 9:00-9:10).  This is something I will have to be careful of on race day, because I don't want to lose all my steam on those hills.

In the end, it was a bit of a struggle, but 5 miles were done, and well-paced to boot!  I did look like I had taken a shower when I finished though.  Did I mention it was humid?

I am linking up again with Tara's Weekend Update at Running 'N Reading (a fantastic blog for runners and readers alike!!).  Check it out!

How was your running week, friends?

Anyone else primarily a road runner?  How do you deal with those sloping shoulders wreaking havoc on your knees?

Pick your poison: if you had to run in either 20 degree snow, or 80 degree humidity, for the rest of your days, what would you choose?  (Honestly, I think I'd have to go with the snow, but I could be biased because I'm still sweating.)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: GLCC Wavy Waters 10K Recap!

Week 8 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is done...two-thirds done!  I can't believe it.

Total distance for the week: 18.12 miles

The real story this week is my 10K race (see the end of this post), but here's a review of my training during the week leading up to it...

Monday: Rest.  Much needed after the 10 miles I put in Sunday.  I was soooooore.

Tuesday: 4.5 miles, easy pace.  Not gonna lie--this one hurt.  I did my best to get into bed early the night before, but Small Fry was up (no lie) every 30 minutes between 11:30pm and 4:00am.  When my alarm went off at 5am, it felt like a terrible practical joke.  But I got up and did the run.  My left quad was aching for most of it, and my splits were all over the place.  Part of me wanted to go fast (I always do that after a long, slow weekend run...I get antsy and want to see a faster pace), but the other part of me was hurtin' fo' sho'.  At the 3 mile mark, I asked myself, "Could I have a conversation with someone right now?"  And the answer was a definite no.  So, this was not as easy as it should have been.  But I did feel good afterwards, knowing I pounded it out.

Wednesday: 40 minute tempo run.
  On the treadmill.  Hard as per usual.  Nothing new to report!

Thursday: 3 miles easy pace.  SUCH a better run than Tuesday.  No soreness, and I could tell right out of the gate that I was feeling gooooood.  I did the first two miles easy (9:39 and 9:36), then decided that I wanted to do the last mile at 10K pace.  I've done 10K pace on the treadmill a few times here and there, but I haven't done it outdoors in a long time.  I wanted to practice for this weekend's race.  10K pace for me is roughly 9:10, but after feeling so good the first two miles, when I sped up I had a REALLY hard time keeping it under control.  I ended up finishing the last mile in 8:47.  Okay, a bit faster than what I can handle running for 6.3 miles, but I guess it's good that I felt so strong?  :)

Friday: Rest.  I spent almost the entire day playing outside with my boys (including dragging their bikes to the park down the street...I should have driven instead), and was more tired by the end of the day than I ever am on a running day!  Haha.  So much for rest, but it was a lovely day.

Saturday: Rest.  Made sure to take it easier today in preparation for tomorrow's race.

Sunday: GLCC Wavy Waters 10K.  Much like the Hearts of Iron 5K, I chose this race simply because I needed a 10K in my training plan, and time-wise, this one fit perfectly.  I did very little research about the race (how big it was, course map, etc) before I signed up in March.  I knew that it benefitted a local daycare center (I like that, good cause) and it was taking place along Seneca Lake (scenery!).  However, this past Tuesday, I did a little more Googling to check it out.  And it turns out...that exactly 22 people ran it last year.  TWENTY!TWO!  If I had run it, I would have definitely placed in my AG...because there were only 2 people in my AG.

Commence race nerves, yet again--because as with Hearts of Iron, the thought that I could place had me SUPER excited.

Race morning, I woke up at 5:45am.  Ate 2 pieces of peanut butter toast and a banana, slugged down my water.  I was wearing my Nike Pro knee-length compression shorts, but I had no idea what to do for a shirt.  Weather was calling for 65-ish degrees by the 9am start time, but it was on Seneca Lake (windy).  So, I put on a New Balance tank, then packed a t-shirt and a long-sleeve shirt in the car just in case.

I had an hour's drive ahead of me, so I left around 6:45am and got to the race location in Geneva (Lake Trout Capital of the World! Things I learned today) a little before 8am.  As I suspected, it was windy and chilly.  I decided that I should change into my long sleeve shirt.  BUT...then I realized that, of the 3 shirts I had with me, only 1 had a pocket for my car key, and that was the tank top.  Hey, no problem, I'll just tie my car key into my shoe laces, like I do for my house key when I run at home sometimes.

Apparently I forgot that my car does not have a regular key (push-button start, so I don't look at it much), and there was no way this big honkin' thing was getting tied to my shoe.
Damn you, giant key fob!
Le sigh.  Tank top it would be then.  I was afraid of being cold, but at this point I had wasted 15 minutes on this shirt decision, so I ran into the building to check in and warm up.  I pinned on my bib, then went outside to do a little bit of a running warm up, as much to get my legs going as to get used to the temperature.

(In hindsight, the tank top was a good choice--the sun was on us for the whole race, and by the end it was almost 70!  I warmed up by the 1 mile mark anyway.)

I brought my Clif Shot Blocks as pre-race fuel.  I ate 3 of them 20 minutes before the start, and chased with a bunch of water.  No issues to report and I had good energy during the race.

At 9am, 10K runners were called to the start (there was also a 5K starting at 9:15).  There were 24 of us at the start line--definitely my smallest race so far!  One of the guys started asking everyone if they had any idea where we were going, and we all started laughing when we realized none of us had any familiarity with the course.  "Well, I hope someone out there does!" someone joked.  The race director came over and gave us a rough idea of how we would be starting out, then some rather complicated directions about following yellow balloons and red balloons...I just started hoping that the people in front of me would figure it out.  :)

Then, we were off!  And wouldn't you know it...we all crossed the street and promptly took the wrong right turn.  Fortunately, we figured it out fast and looped back to the correct road.  OOPS.  After that first turn, we went through a pedestrian tunnel and came out right next to Seneca Lake.  What a gorgeous view:

The entire race was along the lake.  I could get used to running like this!

I had a bit of an equipment malfunction at the start...I started my Garmin, then went to start my Nike+ app on my phone (in the armband) music started.  Huh?  I tried to get a look at my phone, but with the sun reflecting on the armband, I couldn't see what was wrong.  I finally gave it up and left it alone until about 1 mile in, when we hit some shade and I was able to fix it.  Yet another reason why I need a FlipBelt instead of this freaking armband.

Between the wrong turn, the phone malfunction, and my amazement over the lakefront, I got rather distracted from my pace, and when I finally looked down at my Garmin a few minutes in, it said 7:25.  "DIAL IT DOWN, LUTHER" my inner voice said.  (Please tell me that I'm not the only one who uses Luther the Anger Translator as a mental coach?  If you're not familiar, click the link and thank me later.)  My goal pace was between 9:00-9:15.  I tried to slow it down, but it was hard to keep myself in check.  Finally, I kept hitting 8:45 pretty comfortably, so I decided to just let it ride there for a while and hope for the best.

With so few people in the pack, we spread out pretty quickly.  There was a girl in black who passed me around the 1 mile mark, and stayed ahead of me by about 15 seconds for quite a while.  The next person in front of her was a girl in purple who was waaaaaayyyyy ahead, barely in my sights most of the time.  So for much of the race, I was running solo, which was fine.  I had a good view and (after the first mile) some good tunes to keep me happy.  Even though I was trying to PR this race, I made sure to spend a lot of time just soaking up the was a beautiful day, and I have a tendency to lose sight of my surroundings when doing a race.  I wanted to try to enjoy it all a bit more.  :)

Just before 4 miles, I noticed I was coming up on the girl in black.  I stayed right behind her for a half mile or so, before I realized I was kind of just using her as a pacer.  And I didn't want to pace with her, I wanted to PASS her.  So I dialed it up just enough to get the job done.  (After we finished, she told me she used me as a pacer for the last two miles...haha!)  Purple girl was still eons ahead of me, so with that pass completed, I was truly solo the last two miles.

The course itself, other than being picturesque, was also amazingly, awesomely, fantastically FLAT.  We basically curved down along the lakefront and then looped back.  The nice thing about this is that the sun was at our backs for the second half.  The not-so-nice thing was that when we looped back, you could see the white tents at the finish line...three loooooong looking miles away.  Kind of a tough thing to be staring at the whole second half!

After my stellar first mile or two, I did lose steam towards the end.  I looked down at my Garmin at one point during the last mile, and saw 9:55.  WHAT!  I knew I was getting lazy, so I pushed it up a little more.  Then, at the last turn heading toward the finish (quarter mile to go), a volunteer was clapping as I passed and said, "Way to go!  Way to go guys!"  GUYS??  I thought I was alone!  Did the girl in black really save herself for a last minute pass??  I started sprinting, then realized that that made me feel like I was going to puke.  Considering that the finish was at the daycare center, with tons of little kids all around, I thought puking at the finish might be a poor choice this day.  So, I took a few deep breaths, kept my form in check, and just went as hard as I could, sans vomit.  I did get passed--by a total sleeper cell, a woman who I saw a good minute behind me at the second water stop.  She kicked it up in the second half for sure!!

I finished strong and ended with a final time of 55:55--PR by over a minute!  I was delighted.  Despite the fact that I positive-split the entire race, I was still overjoyed with this performance.  (And hey...the last two miles were slowest, but they were closest to my target pace...haha.)

Mile splits:
1 - 8:31
2 - 8:38
3 - 8:52
4 - 8:52
5 - 9:01
6 - 9:25

And yes--there were only 2 people in my age group (the other one was that distant Purple Girl), so second place AG for me!  And a medal this time!  Ooooh, fancy.

Overall, this was a fantastic training race for me.  I was able to practice with fueling, as well as a possible race-day outfit for the half, and I had plenty of times during the race when I felt like I was flagging, but I kept myself mentally focused.  Plus, the ego boost of an AG award never hurts.  :)

I am linking up again with Tara's Weekend Update at Running 'N Reading (a fantastic blog for runners and readers alike!!).  Check it out!

How was your running week, friends?

Anyone else race this weekend?  It was a beautiful weekend for it (here in the Northeast, at least).  :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: Doing 5am Like a Boss

Week 7 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is done...5 weeks left to go!

Total distance for the week: 26.39 miles

This week of training was great--I finally felt 100% after my 2-week-long cold, and I nailed my pacing for each run.  Only downside is that I am definitely starting to feel the fatigue of getting up so early for workouts!  With evening activities like Small Fry's Wednesday night swimming lessons, Mom's Night at preschool, my husband's nights at the library to do PhD work, etc. it is hard for me to run any time OTHER than 5am.  Which would be great, if I could get my butt into bed before 10-11pm each night...yeah, really need to work on that.  I struggled to wake up on a few of these days, but am proud of myself for not sleeping in and getting it done all week long.  Here's hoping I can keep that up a bit longer!

Monday: Rest.  I've decided to replace my Monday stretch/strength days with full rest days for the remainder of training.  Now that my long runs have gotten...long, I feel like it is more helpful for me to rest the legs on Mondays rather than working them out in some other way.  (Also, I hate strength training, so this decision was not hard to make...haha.  I KNOW I should do more of it.  I know...)

Tuesday: 4.5 miles, easy pace.  Nothing major to report.  I went out at 5:30am, threw in some hill work for good measure.  Felt good!  9:37 pace.

Wednesday: 8 x 400 intervals at 5K pace.
  With my cold finally gone, this was the first speed session in a while that actually felt good!  Difficult, but good.  I was able to keep to a jog between all the intervals except the last three (I walked for the two slow periods between those).  But I kept 5K pace for all 8 and felt like a strong-arm emoji at the end.

Thursday: 3 miles easy pace.  I woke up, looked outside, and wanted to cry, because there was SNOW on the ground!!  Ugh.  Temps were hovering right near freezing and I was afraid of ice (my Stabilicers are officially retired until next winter), so to the treadmill I went.  Pretty decent for a treadmill run.  9:54 pace.  I also started watching the documentary Fed Up while running, which made me never want to eat sugar again...haha.

Friday: Rest.  I know a lot of runners that see rest days with disdain (because they'd rather be running), but I LOOOOVE rest day!  Because as much as I love running, I also love not waking up at 5am.  :)

Saturday: 5 miles @ race pace.  This run rocked my socks!  First of all, because I looked like a ninja:

I like to refer to this as my Claire Underwood running outfit (for the House of Cards fans out there).  My husband asked me if I was going to a funeral, and then I ended up running past an actual funeral at the cemetery near my house, which was awkward.

ANYWAY.  The weather was in the 50's, beautifully sunny, and by the second mile, I was able to tell (without checking my Garmin first) if I was going too fast or too slow vs my intended 9:45 pace.  I ended up with a 9:39 average pace by the end (NAILED IT!).  Holding that pace is definitely taking more effort as the race pace runs get longer, but I am really glad that these are part of my training--probably the the most valuable training that I'm doing this time around, if I had to guess.

Sunday: 10 mile long run.  I loved this run.  I was nervous about it in the morning--my stomach was not feeling great when I woke up (thanks to imbibing a bit more wine than intended the night before with friends...and also that hot sausage sandwich for dinner did me no favors), but I ate my toast and peanut butter, sipped on my water, and was feeling good by the time I left.

I experimented with nutrition again during this run.  Since I plan to eat something every 45 minutes during the race, I decided that today I would take 2 different food options with me.  At the 45 minute mark, I tried a caffeinated Gu Roctane gel.  Aaaaand commence immediate stomach cramps...noooo!  I started gulping water like crazy, and thankfully the cramps subsided.  They did come back occasionally (especially around the 7 mile mark), but never amounted to anything, thank goodness.

At 1:30, I ate half of a Honey Stinger caramel waffle.  Only half because I got so annoyed with trying to chew it, that I decided it wasn't worth it to finish!  I know several of you said you use the waffles as pre-race fuel right before the start, and after this experience I do agree that that might be the way to go.  It tasted good (almost like a Dutch stroopwafel!), but was a complete pain to eat mid-run.

Despite the stomach cramps, this run went great.  I kept a pretty steady pace, and even though I was getting sore by the end, I had a good amount of energy left in me.  I had negative splits for almost every mile (not by a lot, I was trying to keep it slow), and the fastest mile was #9.  10:20 average.  Can't ask for anything better than that!  And woohoo for double digit miles!  I haven't done that since my half last year.

I am linking up again with Weekend Update at Running 'N Reading (a fantastic blog for runners and readers alike!!).  Check it out!

How was your running week, friends?

What's your favorite time of day to run?  And do you often get to run at that time?

I love running in the early afternoon (I feel better hydrated/fueled at that time than I do early in the morning), but really only get to do that on Saturdays.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: Mid-Run Noms

Let's all lip sync some Jovi, because OOOOOOH, I'M HALFWAY THERE!!

Week 6 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is done...6 weeks left to go!

Total distance for the week: 24.05 miles

Let's talk about mid-run fueling!  Fun, right?

This was a big concern of mine as I trained for my half marathon last year.  That was the first distance race I'd done that was long enough to require me to intake food mid-run.  I was nervous about this, because I have a terribly sensitive stomach, especially in relation to running.  I have had many a long run that leaves me in a fit of stomach cramps and bathroom trips for the rest of the day after it's done.  I tried a few different fueling options before last year's race, with not many favorable results.  I tried two caffeinated Gu's during 2 different long runs (both of which gave me almost immediate, horrific stomach cramps during the run), and one non-caffeinated Shot Block pack, which had better results.  So that was what I used on race day...though I admittedly got distracted during the race and did not eat enough of them (yet another mitigating factor to my less-than-favorable finish).

However, I want to explore more options this time around, because in hindsight, I suspect that my problem with the caffeinated gels was due to user error.  Specifically, that I didn't take in enough water after I ate them.  They say right on the package that you need to hydrate like cray-cray after ingesting, which I kiiiiiiind of did, but I also have this fear of having to take too many bathroom breaks if I drink too much, so I likely under-did it with the water.

I stopped in to my local Fleet Feet on Friday to grab a few options:

Two are caffeinated (a Honey Stinger gel and a GU Roctane gel), three are uncaffeinated (a Honey Stinger waffle, a regular GU gel, and a pack of Shot Blocks...the same ones I used last year at the race).  I decided to try the caffeinated Honey Stinger gel this week during long run.  Keep reading to see how that went (I know you're dying to know).  ;)

Monday: Rest.  I tried to do some strength work, but I was still recovering from last week's nasty cold and did not get much done.  Also, since my husband had to work late, I had to do it while my kids were awake.  Small Fry tried to do the exercises with me ("Mom, why do we have to do planking for so long in a row?  Can I just do it laying down while I play with my cars?") while Tater Tot jumped on my back during push ups.  Great fun!

Tuesday: 4 miles, easy pace.  I was still feeling unsure about my lung capacity (this cold would.not.die.) but this run went surprisingly well.  4 easy miles in the 37-degree pre-dawn darkness, 9:39 pace.

Wednesday: Rest.
  My cough came back somethin' NASTY Tuesday night, so I promised my husband (and my mom, who was visiting) that I would take a rest day for additional recovery time.  Ho-hum.

Thursday: 3 miles easy pace.  I wasn't feeling up to doing Wednesday's skipped tempo run yet, so I kept to the easy Thursday run instead.  Not bad, still feeling less than 100%, but 10:01 pace wasn't terrible.

Friday: 40 minute tempo run.  Finally feeling fully back to myself by Thursday night, so I tried the tempo run Friday morning.  It was...hard.  Tempo/speed work is always hard for me though.  I ran easy for 10 minutes, then upped my pace slowly until I hit 10K pace around 25 minutes, held that speed until the 28 minute mark, then brought it down slowly until I finished at 40 minutes.  As much as I want to die of sweat saturation on the treadmill, I am thankful for it, because it forces me to keep the pace I want for tempo runs and intervals.

Saturday: 4 miles @ race pace.  I was SO excited for a race pace run Saturday morning.  Overall, it went well in the end, but it suffered early on from a case of Too Much Technology.  I set my Garmin's Virtual Pacer (a feature I had never used before) to 9:45 so that it would keep me on my race pace.  The VP beeps at you throughout the run to let you know if you are behind/on/ahead of your desired pace.  I thought this sounded super helpful...right?

Uhhhh...I learned quickly that the pacer annoyed me more than anything.  In the first minute or two, when I was still finding my stride, the darn thing was beeping at me every 5 seconds.  Then, once I thought I had hit a good pace, it suddenly started telling me I was way ahead of pace.  I looked down and saw that it was registering me at a 7:00 pace.  UM, NO?  I think I would know if I was running almost three minutes faster than usual.  I waited a minute to see if it would fix itself, but it didn't.  I finally stopped, paused the Garmin, then started it again.

At first, it seemed it may have fixed itself, but then I got the opposite problem: it started beeping and telling me I was behind pace, running at 12:30.  Again--I think I would know if I was going that slow.  I checked my Nike + (which is hard to do mid-run) and it confirmed that I was running closer to a 9:35 or so.

By the 3rd mile, I finally decided that I needed to just ignore my watch entirely, and try to feel out the race pace by myself.  Kind of a bummer (why did I buy this watch in the first place??) but whatever.  It did seem to fix itself by the last mile, but by then I had pretty much figured out the right speed on my own.  I ended the run at 9:34 average pace (confirmed that on Nike + as well), so I did well...I just wish I didn't have such a distraction from my Garmin for the first half!  No more Virtual Pacer for me, that's for sure.

Sunday: 9 mile long run.  An awesome long run this week!  I got up early to down some peanut butter toast (fuel of champions) before I left.  Plus, I needed time to gear up.  9 miles is when I start taking my Nathan hydration pack with me on runs, because 1) I feel like I need more water at that point, and 2) 9 milers are when I start to use mid-run nutrition, which has to be chased with a lot of water.

I ran my September half with the hydration pack on, and decided afterwards that hydration pack + armband for iPhone made me feel too unwieldy.  So today I decided to try just putting the iPhone in the back pocket of the pack.  This was okay, except for the fact that it meant I had to start Nike + on my phone well before I started running (because I then needed to actually get the pack on my back).  No biggie I guess, because I also had the Garmin for accurate tracking.  But could be a pain on race day.

Anyway, run started out great.  Had to stop for a bathroom break at 3.7 miles (the Tim Horton's in town is starting to just expect me there on Sunday mornings).  Then, moment of truth: tried my caffeinated Honey Stinger gel at 4.6 miles.  Got it down no problem (I love no-chew nutrition), chased it with a boatload of water.  Waited nervously for the after-effects.

And thankfully: there weren't any!  Around 6.2 miles I got a very small stomach cramp that had me feeling like OH NO, HERE WE GO, but it went away and was never heard from again.  I really attribute this to me taking in a LOT more water after I ate than I did last year, so yay for that.

I finished the run at a good pace (10:06 overall) and my fastest mile was #7, which made me happy.  The Honey Stinger definitely kept me in the game.  Plus, I got home just in time for Small Fry to run at me, grab my face, and scream, "DADDY MADE M&M PANCAKES!!!!"  So it was a great morning for all.
He was really stoked.
I should have mentioned WEEKS ago that I've been linking up each week with Weekend Update at Running 'N Reading (a fantastic blog for runners and readers alike!!).  Check it out!

How was your running week, friends?

What's your favorite mid-run nutrition option?  What do you like the least?

Where the heck do you stow your iPhone during runs/races??  Especially those of you taking photos along the route.  I have no idea how I would ever be able to do that with my armband...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Well-Read Runner: The Confidence Buster

Week 5 of training for the Mystic Half Marathon is complete...and it was a doozy!

Total distance for the week: 21.33 miles

I mentioned at the end of last week that I got a cold and was having a bit of a rough go.  I thought it was nearly kicked by last Sunday, but I was most certainly wrong.  The Cold From Hell stayed with me all this week, and made working out a major struggle.

Was it a head cold or a chest cold?  I couldn't really tell.  Should I stop running entirely until I was 100% better, or just rearrange the week and go easy on myself without skipping workouts?  I ended up doing the latter, and while I'm glad I was able to get all of my miles in, I was left with a week of running that basically kicked my confidence down the stairs.

Monday: Rest.  Today was supposed to be a stretch/strength day, but I took it off completely for some extra recovery time--MUCH needed.  My core training for the day consisted of non-stop coughing.

Tuesday: 4 miles, easy pace.  This run sucked all the way around.  I felt good early in the day, so I thought I'd be fine for a late afternoon run.  Unfortunately my chest congestion came back, and I ended up running slower than usual (9:59 avg), started coughing on the last half mile, and just overall did not enjoy being out there.  Blah.

Wednesday: 3 miles, easy pace.
  This was supposed to be speedwork day, but no way I was trying that yet.  I did Thursday's workout instead.  I thought I felt up to it beforehand, but yet again was left with a disappointing run that I struggled through, mentally and physically (10:06 pace this time).  The one saving grace was that I did it on the treadmill, so I didn't get as much coughing afterwards from cold outdoor air.

I know I was only a few days into the week, but by the end of this run, I was really stomping myself mentally.  How am I going to PR a half marathon if I can't even run 3 miles with confidence?  When was the last time I jumped above 10 minute miles on a 3 mile distance?  Thoughts like this plagued me all day.  It sucked.

Thursday: Rest.  I took Friday's rest day and moved it to today, in the hopes of finally kicking this thing.

Friday: 7 x 400 intervals.  By Thursday night, I really was finally feeling quite a bit better.  I told myself I was going to get up Friday morning and just kill it.  I even left myself this really super positive note taped to my treadmill:
Edited the language for delicate eyes.  Aren't I just so nice to myself?
You can also see my hash marks for counting my intervals.  It's hard to keep track of 7 intervals at 5:30am.
This was not my most amazing speed workout, but I got it done.  I did okay for the first 3 intervals, but during interval 4, I really and truly thought I was going to puke.  I usually do a slow jog between intervals, but after #4 I brought it down to a walk, and considered giving up the last three.  However, I decided to give them a go (with walks between intervals instead of jogs) you can see, I wasn't able to push myself very hard for the last three sprints, but I got them done:
(I did a walking cooldown at the end, but turned of my Nike+ as soon as the last interval was over)
This is one of those workouts that I'm not sure if I should have just skipped it for the week, or if it was good that I pushed through it (even if I wasn't at optimal condition).  But either way, it's done.

Saturday: 8 mile long run.  Friday afternoon, I found out that we were leaving for my in-laws for the weekend on Saturday morning.  Normally, my long run is Sunday, but my in-laws live in a super not-runner-friendly area (very high speed limits, almost no shoulder on the road, lots of blind turns, etc).  Plus, it's very rural, so running in the early-morning dark would have been really creepy for me.  The thought of trying to do 8 miles there was painful.  So I decided to cap off this not-great week of training with an 8 mile long run at 5am before we left for the trip.

Surprisingly--it went okay.  It was slow (10:22 avg pace) but a long run can't be too slow, right?  I went easy on myself and felt pretty good by the end.  My cold was FINALLY feeling nearly gone by this morning, so this was a better 8 miles than I was expecting.  Huzzah!

Sunday: 3 miles easy pace.  This was supposed to be Saturday's workout, so I did it when we got home from my in-laws instead.  I was feeling 100% better by this point, and told myself that I needed a run to help me get my confidence back--even if it meant I went a little faster than "easy".  I ended up with a 9:21 average pace, and that was with 3 pretty decent hills mixed in.  I was tired when I got home, but I felt GREAT.  I'm glad I pushed it a bit.  I think I needed a run solidly below the 10 minute pace mark to make me feel (mentally more than physically) like I was getting back on track.

Lessons learned this week:
1. I probably need to give myself an extra rest day or two when I get sick, instead of pushing myself too hard.
2. I have some work to do on my mental game--a few sub-optimal days during illness shouldn't be able to completely derail my confidence in my running abilities.

Let's hope that Week 6 brings a turnaround, both mentally and physically!

How was your running week, friends?

Do you tend to (mentally) beat yourself up pretty easily, or do you have a bit more mental fortitude than I??

What are your tips for keeping up confidence during a rough training week?
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