Monthly Archives: November 2011

Annapolis Half: A (long) recap

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It’s weird to say but all of my races for this year are complete. This year was made up of a Half marathon in June (my first half), a 5K in june, another Half marathon in October, a Metric Marathon, and finally the Annapolis half this past weekend. Honestly, this about 4 more races than I expected for this year. I’ve reached new distances, and cut a whopping 20 minutes off my first half marathon time. I’m pretty happy with the improvements I’ve made this year.

 Anyway.. on to my recap of the Annapolis Half.

 My boyfriend and I had taken the day off work on friday the 18th to lay low and relax before the race. It was  a pretty nice day. Annapolis is about 2 hours from where we live so we were going to stay at a friends house in Silver Springs, MD  which put us only a little under an hour away. Friday night we went out with our friends and had a nice dinner and ended up in bed at 11:30. The alarm was set for 4:45 am. We figured we’d leave at 5:30 and get there around 6:20 and have plenty of time. Wrong. We left at 5:30 and all went well until we got on Rt. 50. We hit standstill traffic getting off the exit to the Navy Corp Stadium where the race started. We sat in the car, time moving faster than the car was inching forward. I was starting to get nervous. I’ve never missed a race before. I’ve always been there early. With only 10 minutes until race start, we were still sitting in the car. I couldn’t believe it. We paid nearly $100 for the race, and drove 2 hours and we are not going to run this race.

 We get parked with 5 minutes to race start. We jump out of the car frantically searching for the nearest porta johns. We are literally running to them as they are about a football fields length away from the start line. We run up to the start line at literally 7AM. Whew.. that was close. As the next 20 minutes go by and we are still standing at the start, we are feeling foolish for rushing.. and I’m freezing. I am only in a tee shirt and running shorts and it’s only about 34 degrees. Apparently, they delayed the start of the race because so many people were still not there and, as we found out later the road we came in on was part of the course.

 The race started about 7:20ish and the 4000 runners were off! The first half mile or so we circled around the stadium which was nice. It gave everyone a nice wide start without being herded together and banging into eachother. We ran into a neighborhood and had two little hills right off the bat. I was glad for them because I was freezing and they got my heart pumping going up them. Pace was looking too fast at a 10 minute mile. I knew I should slow down but I also wanted a time of 2:23 so I knew I’d have to pick it up a little bit. We passed the one mile point and I was feeling really strong.. much better than I did the last race. We ran through downtown Annapolis and the views were pretty neat! Running on the brick roads and seeing the quaint little shops was definitley a change from our last race which was pretty rural and boring. It wasn’t until a woman running by asked if anyone knew what mile we were at that I realized there were no mile markers. I told her “three and a half” and she kept on going. That was the last time I thought about mile markers. It was pretty nice. At mile 6 or so we crossed over a pretty huge and steep bridge over a large body of water. This was where the race went a little down hill for me. My right knee was hurting.. more so than it has in any race this year. The downhills made it hurt even worse. We were still carrying a 10 something pace and I was starting to feel it. I told Mike through gasps of breath “we went out to hard” and went back to concentrating on running and thinking our time of running races together will probably soon be over. The water stops were few and far between.. this was one thing I noticed about the race. At mile 7 or so we entered the B&A trail. I have nothing good to say about this portion of the race. I don’t know who’s idea it was to have nearly 4,000 runners on a  blacktop towpath about 5 feet wide. It was a single file congo line of disaster. The runners coming the other way were faster and running 3 wide while us slower folks were on the other side running single file. This went on for over 3 miles! This is when my knee really starting acting up and I started questioning my ability to finish without walking. I was extremely relieved to be off this portion of the race which put us at mile 10 (or according to my garmin 9.5). There were people yelling out the miles but no signs. Hmm. Interesting. We worked back up another uphill and my knee was screaming at me. I started the all too familiar “I can’t do this” whining session. I don’t know why I’ve started doing this, although it really is only the 2nd race I’ve done it. I just start to feel this hopeless feeling when my knees start to hurt. It’s not just an ache, it’s PAIN. Still I pushed on up the last “supposed” hill to the top of the bridge where the wind was blowing like crazy. The last two miles were no picnic. I was whining about my knee and wondering where the damn finish line was. When I saw it, I bolted towards it and then I saw the clock read “2:17” and couldn’t believe it. We beat our time by 10 minutes AGAIN! We collected our medals, got our pictures and heat blanket. I glanced down to my garmin and saw the distance only read “12.78 miles” and I was pretty bummed. We technically didn’t PR because we didn’t really run 13.1 miles. Damn. Still, I think we would have made it in 2:20 and that still would have been a 7 minute PR. The after party was great…free unlimited beer, breakfast burritos, and an awesome band. Would I do it again? Sure.. as long as they fix the distance thing.

Now.. for a break from running. Marathon training begins in a month.

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Around the corner: Annapolis half!

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With the Columbia Metric Marathon barely behind me, it’s already time to start thinking about the Annapolis Half Marathon we signed up for way back in October. It’s this weekend..only 5 days after CMM. I would like to think I’m ready. I’ve run 2 other half’s this year and I’ve PR’ed each time. I started at 2:37 at the Frederick half back on May 7th, then with 3 months of proper training, I PR’ed by 10 minutes at the Freedom’s Run on 10/1 taking my time down to 2:27. Finally, in the metric marathon we reduced our half time two more minutes, leaving us at 2:25. What is my goal for Annapolis? I guess I’ll say 2:23 with a stretch goal of 2:20. My ALL TIME half marathon goal time would be about 2:15 because I’ve convinced myself that I can’t probably run it much faster than that.

I’ve never seen the course and I’m hoping that we don’t get a hilly surprise like we did in Columbia. I don’t know if I could take it. I’m resting these knees until Thursday and then I’m going to do a real easy 4 mile run to get the legs loosened up. I may even do a small 2 mile run on Friday since I am off work. I don’t want another case of lead legs on the starting line on Saturday. I’m hoping this race goes well. I was a little apprehensive to sign up for it since it is an Inaugural race. I’ve heard that first time races can be a little disastrous but I took my chances and signed anyway. We’ve already got our bibs and SUPER nice running jacket in the mail. We opted to pay $10 more to have it shipped to us since we live 2 hours away and driving to packet pickup would have been an entire day trip for us. So I guess all we do now is wait! I’m trying to hydrate well this week, stay well rested and avoid alcohol and bad foods. I’m excited for this race. I really hope to PR.

We will see!

CMM: An emotional race review

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Sunday November 13th my boyfriend and I ran the Columbia Metric Marathon (16.3 miles). Physically and mentally, It was a lot harder than I would have ever thought. I guess after running Freedom’s Run on October 1st I thought I was invincible. I conquered the hills I’d worried about for 3 months, ran in 40 degrees of driving rain and unforgiving howling wind for the entire race.. surely anything I did after this couldn’t be nearly as bad, right?

The week before this race I had ongoing knee issues after running a 14 mile run the previous weekend. It was my furthest run ever, but it had also been 2 weeks since our last long run. To make matters worse, our last long run was only 8 miles. I should have known better than to do something so stupid, but if you are a runner, I can bet you’ve done some that you know you shouldn’t be doing. Honestly, at the time it didn’t even occur to us. The long run we missed the weekend before was 10 miles and last week it was calling for 12. While we were running we decided we felt good enough to add another 2 miles. After the run, and the entire week my right knee felt tweaked. By Friday night I actually became concerned that my race may not happen.

Saturday consisted of lying around all day with my knee up being iced and taking advil and drinking lots of water. Finally, the aching had ceased. I decided at that point that I would get up like I was going to race and see how the knee felt.

Sunday morning we got up at 4:45am. We made our normal race food and got dressed and ready. I decided that I felt good and that I would be racing. I had bought a “runners knee” strap the day before and I decided I would wear that during the race to help cut down on the pain if any should happen. We got to the race earlier than anticipated.. we visited the porta johns and went back in the car and sat until it got closer to line up. I met the girl from Myfitnesspal who suggested this race. This was the first time I’ve ever met anyone from my social networking sites! It was nice.

Eventually it became time to line up. The race was small.. maybe 800 people. They counted down and off we went. I hadn’t run since Tuesday because I was resting my knees so that I could run the race. The first thing I noticed when we took off was how heavy my legs felt. They felt like they weighed 400 lbs each. I tried to tell myself it was because it was so cold, but I knew deep down it was because it hadn’t run in a few days. I knew less than a half a mile in this was going to be a long race. That heaviness in my legs lasted much longer than I would have thought. I think it was about 5 miles. There were even times in the beginning of the race I thought “I don’t know if I can do this” this feeling in my legs just weren’t normal. Everything now seems like a blur, but the one thing I can say is there were hills, hills, and more hills. Who knew Columbia was THIS hilly?! Eventually the heaviness in my legs gave up and turned into nagging aching pain on the outsides of my thighs. It became more intense with every hill that we climbed. These weren’t the steep, straight up and then they are over hills, these were the long drawn out never ending hills that were somehow still very very steep. I couldn’t believe it. We haven’t as much glanced at a hill since Freedom’s run over a month and a half ago. I was now kicking myself in the ass for not doing a little more research on the course. We got to 10 miles at 1:50. This was 3 minutes faster than at Freedom’s run. How? I have no idea. I guess it just felt like I wasn’t moving because my legs ached so bad. 13.1 miles came as we were running this neat little blacktop path that ran through the woods. We were at 13.1 at 2:25, which was 2 minutes faster than Freedom’s Run, so we PR’ed there, but this is where I mentally started falling apart. I was tired, and hurting, and mentally caving in. The hills never ceased… just when I caught my breath we’d come upon another, and another. I became so overwhelmed that I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I kept thinking ‘ I cannot do this. I can’t’ and I’m NOT one to be a quitter.

By mile 14.5 I took my first walking break. I was weak by the lack of water stations, too many hills, and the battering of my mental abuse. On the verge of sobbing, I knew this couldn’t be where I ended the race, yet I really felt I couldn’t push on. I thought of the marathon I signed up for and thought “no freaking way” and I believe at one point I even said out loud “I don’t think I want to ever to a marathon.” Onward we went, but walking bouts were more frequent and I kept tearing myself down faster and faster. I also started feeling very sick to my stomach. I’m still not sure what caused this. When we heard we only had 1.3 miles to go, it seemed unreal. It felt like we’d been running for 8 hours and even another mile felt like a day’s worth of time was going by. I don’t think I’ve ever begged so much for a race to be over. At the very end of the race, they lead you on to this mulch trail that went immediately up a pretty steep turn. I saw this and lost it. I couldn’t do it. No more hills, no more running. I can’t. But somehow, I did.. even through the blurred vision on my teary eyes. I made it off the path, up another tiny hill, and across the parking lot. I saw the finish and took whatever energy I could find and crossed the finish with my boyfriend by my side. This race was small and cheap, so there was no medal, so I just walked a few feet and stopped to stretch. Our time was 3:03 which was only 3 minutes slower than we wanted to finish. This is when the guilt set in for walking. If I hadn’t walked we could have been under 3 hours. I learned some valuable lessons from this race, like know the course, know the elevation and terrain. Also, more runs closer to the distance of the race, and most importantly.. you will NEVER really know how a race is going to go until you’re running it. I would have never seen this much mental struggle, physical pain, and lack of confidence coming until I was in the moment with it. I do know one thing though, and that’s that I didn’t quit, and that’s what I’m most proud of.

Making Strides….

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It’sIt’s been awhile since I’ve written!

Everything has been going pretty good. Last month topped off with a little over 51 miles, which disappointed me a little bit. I really wanted to run about 67 miles but we missed a 10 mile run due to some nasty weather, and a 6 mile run for a reason I don’t remember now. We ran 6 miles on thursday in our fastest time yet of one hour and four minutes. It amazing the difference between running on blacktop and running on the canal. We are only running on the canal only one day a week and we have been consistently running faster.

This saturday we went out to get in our first long run in almost 2 weeks. We had planned for 12 miles. We got there pretty early and the temps were still pretty chilly. After running a mile or so I started to feel pretty good. I started thinking about the upcoming race we have this weekend and the thought that I’ve never done over 13.1 miles. I shuffled along another mile and thought to myself ‘I want to go more than 13.1 today’ and naturally my mind landed on the number 14. I decided that I’d see how I felt about mile 5 or 6 in before saying anything to my boyfriend who was running along beside me. We spent some time just running along silently, listening to the endless amounts of leaves crunching below our feet and taking in the beautiful scene along the C&O Canal. After awhile we talked for a bit and Mike suggested that we run 14 miles instead of 12. We weren’t quite at the 5 mile mark yet, but I laughed and agreed to it. It was just too coincidental that he had thought the same thing! So onward we pushed. When we passed the mile marker showing we were 6 miles out, and passed with ease I couldn’t help but smile. I felt good in the decision I had made even though our last long run was only 8 miles! I felt pretty good until about mile 12. It was then that my lack of fueling was starting to catch up to me. I didn’t have a crazy meal the night before, I didn’t drink tons of water, and I had stayed up pretty late…nothing really going in my favor, but I was bound and determined to do it. At 13.1 our time was 2:32. It was 5 minutes faster than my first half time and 5 minutes slower than my 2nd half but unlike before, the numbers 13.1 didn’t mean I could stop and this was a hard mental speed bump to cross over.

 It’s always interesting going into new “distance territory” and seeing how you react to it. Honestly, I would have been fine if my back hadn’t hurt so bad. I think that my hydration belt is squeezing my back muscles and after awhile it starts to make my back ache. I’ve never had this problem in either of my halfs. With no gas left in my tank, we finished at 2:43. I had no real time expectation so I was pretty happy with that. We have a Metric Marathon (26.2km) this weekend and it’s about 16.3 miles. I really do think running the 14 miles versus the 12 made a big difference in my confidence level for this race. On the other hand, it showed me that I’m MILES (literally and figurativley) away from Marathon distance right now. It’s going to take a lot of work until I feel like I’m going to be able to do that distance without dying!