Saturday, May 18, 2013

Frederick Half Marathon & Nut Job Challenge Recap

Sunny, warmish day(s) in May  

Nut Job Challenge
C-  5k - 27:06 (goal was to run relaxed pace-success!)
      1/2 marathon - 1:44:41 *PR!!

D and I decided to participate in the Frederick Running Festival Nut Job Challenge.  The 5k was Saturday at 6pm.  The 1/2 marathon was at 7am the next morning.

Our real goal was to run the half marathon as fast as possible.  The second goal was to complete the challenge in decent shape.  We weren't really interested in running a competitive 5k.  Our goal was to see if we could run the 5k the night before the 1/2 marathon without destroying our 1/2 marathon fitness.

D and I have run our share of 1/2 marathons, but we've never done a full.  I don't think either of us is really concerned about finishing a full marathon, but this was an interesting challenge to see how speed would hold up with more miles.


In the Parking Field pre-5k.
D is modeling the half marathon shirt, and I'm wearing my support Boston Police Shirt.
The goal was to enjoy and finish.  Not race.  We did just that.

This was an out and back course with a small hill that you had to run down, then up.  Not particularly inspired scenery or spectators, but there were mile makers.  PLUS there was a guy standing on top of a car in a Stormtooper outfit making sure that everyone ran correctly around the turn-around cone.  He had a microphone and was shouting "If you want to cheat, I'll show you the dark side!"  LOVED IT!

The start and end of the race were on a track.  I liked this is theory, but in reality the track was gravel and the runners kicked up dust as we raced.  I started my race coughing.

End of the race was also great.  The center of the race track had booths, race food, and 2 free beers per runner.  It was also nice to finish both of our races with stands semi-full of people cheering us on. :0)

1/2 Marathon (aka pacers are amazing!)

I've never run a race with a pacer before.  There were 1:45 pacers for this race, and my goal was to stick to them like glue.

Yay Pacers!!! (Frederick Pacers)

I thought a lot about how realistic running with the 1:45 pace group was.  I'd run a 1:47 2 months earlier at the Savin Rock Half Marathon- and that was a hilly race that I paced incredibly poorly (I went out WAY too fast).  Still, Savin Rock had been a PR for me.  And I was supposed to run a 5k the night before this half.  I had no idea well I could run this race.  1:45 seemed like a realistic, if slightly crazy, A goal.  Plus, obviously there was no "1:47 pace group" or "1:42 pace group," so 1:45 it was.

I thought I'd try to stay with the 1:45 pacers through at least the first 8-10 miles.  If I felt great, I could speed up.  If I felt horrible, I could slow down knowing that at least I didn't pace the beginning of the race as poorly as Savin Rock.

The start was a bit hectic.  D and I parked where we had parked for the 5k the night before- in a field right next to the 1/2 marathon road start.  It was just cold enough that we need to keep on some layers between the car and the coat check.  In retrospect, I may have been better off dumping my jacket in the car at the last minute.  The baggage check was perfectly efficient (and inside and warm!), but the lines for porta-potties were a bit much.  I had an upset stomach and b-lined for porta-potty-row.  Afterward I checked my jacket and got back in line for the porta-potties.  While there were a lot of them, I don't think there were enough.  With less than 10 minutes to the start of the race, I gave up waiting in line.  While I had to pee, I was more worried about finding the pace group before the start of the race.

The pacers were right by the start line (much further up than someone my speed usually gets to the start).  D and I scrambled around people to get near the pacers.  D was starting with the 1:40 group, so we said good bye and wish one another good luck.

There were 3 1:45 pacers, and they were great.  I absolutely refused to let them get more than about 10 feet away from me because I knew how quickly they would disappear.  

Staying close to the pacers meant that I was more focused on them than the course.  I remember the start of the race, but then very little before the last 2 miles.  There were a lot of runners, and even 8-10 miles in the course felt "crowded".  Perhaps a little too crowded, but that may have just been because everyone wanted to be by the pacers.  There was a pro-gay-rights preacher blessing runners as they ran by at the first mile.  There was a cute downtown area that we ran through, which had more spectators than the rest of the race.  There was a guy running back and forth on a short stretch of road, who was warning runners that they were on a "false-flat."

The course was perfectly nice.  There were some big potholes in places and some narrow-ish turns, but the roads were clear, well-marked, and wonderfully traffic free.  I don't remember any horrible hills in the first 10 miles, and there were plenty of water/gatorade stops. However, every time I tried to slow to try to get water, I'd watch the pacers start to disappear into the horizon.  This caused me to get fluid less than normal and to drink less of what I did get.  Thank goodness D had pinned a Hammer Gel to my shorts.  I don't remember seeing gels being handed out, but I was so focused on staying with the pacers that it's possible I ran right by them.

By around mile 10, I was struggling to stay with the pacers.  I kept thinking, "one more mile- just stay with them one more mile."  My last water stop was somewhere around mile 11 when I looked up from my water cup to see that the pacers were at the top of a little hill, while I was still at the bottom.  I was practically in tears for the next half mile trying to get my body to move enough to catch up even to the pacers.  Then I refused to let them get away again.  Water be damned, I would not slow again for anything.

I missed the mile 12 marker, and I had no sense of how close I was to the finish.  I asked the peppy, not-even-kinda-feeling-the-run female pacer how much farther it was to the end.  She took this to mean I was dying (granted, I was only able to speak in 2 word sentences at that point), and she did a great job of getting me up the last big hill.  I was dying, but dying in the sense that I thought I still had another mile and big hill in front of me.  Instead, I was suddenly entering the race track.  With only a half trip around the track left, I was almost done!  I was confused, but tried to accelerate through to the finish (and I did come about 20 seconds under 1:45).  So in the end, I was really hurting, but was mentally and physically prepared to go further than I had to go.

The pacers were great.  From my perspective they didn't really slow at the water stops, BUT they were hitting the splits almost exactly.  I could never do that on my own, and it made me a much better runner.

Our bling

I found D right after the finish line.  We collected our 2 medals and got 2 more free beers a piece.  The finish area seemed like a nice set up, with a band, but we were too cold to stick around.

Race Recommendation- Run this.  Particularly if one of the pace groups is around your A goal time.
Frederick Run Fest

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Savin Rock Half Marathon Recap

3rd Annual Savin Rock Half Marathon

on a cold, sunny day in March

C- 1:47:13

So there was a lot right with this race, and a lot wrong with my pacing.  As D and I were running the first flat mile along the water, D looked at his watch and said, "love you, see you."  I assumed this meant that he was speeding up.  Apparently this actually meant that I was running around 7 minutes a mile (when I should have been running around 8 minutes a mile).   It was an omen that I never saw coming.

D, helping me run in and get a new PR
First, The Course-  A looped course, with a flat beginning, some serious hills in the middle, and a flat end.  The course was "closed," but there were some sections where only one lane or even just the side of the road was "closed" via the placement of cones.  There were cops stopping traffic at the traffic lights, and as far as I know, runners always got the right of way.  This is a relatively small race, and at one point I found myself speeding up just to make sure that I could still see another runner in the race.  I don't think that David, who was ahead of me for most of the race, was ever alone on the course.  There weren't a lot of crowds supporting runners.  That said, there was one guy handing out mini water bottles of his own volition, random clumps of people cheering by the side of the road, and race officials on bikes who came back and forth, checking on runners.  It was definitely a quieter race, but I never felt lost or forgotten.

There were plenty of water stops, and a sizable amount of the stops had Gatorade.  I was a little annoyed by a much needed water stop that was placed half way down a hill- hills are when I speed up, and instead I came to a screeching, tumbling stop. I only remember seeing gels once on the course, but I may have missed them in other places.

Before the start of the race we had free access to a building, so we could stay warm and use actual flushing bathrooms.  There were more porta-potties outside as well, so bathroom access wasn't much of an issue.  When we came outside for the start of the race, I wasn't actually sure which direction we were to face to cross the starting line, and runners were lining up facing both directions until we were directed which way to face.

The end to the race was great.  We raced along the water and enjoyed a very flat end.  There were a lot of cheering relatives and friends at the finish line/start.  Then everyone could head back inside to the heat, where there was plenty junky warm food and a masseuse waiting.  Definitely a great way to end a race.

Second, My Race- As I've already mentioned, I started WAY too fast.  I did slow down after the first few miles, and I thought that I would actually be able to have a shiny new PR.  I did have a shiny new PR, just not the one I was on track to get.

The hills beat me up pretty badly, but the worst happened with 2-3 miles to go.  The laces on my right shoe somehow tightened as I was running down a hill, and I could feel my ankle swelling.  I'm pretty stubborn when I'm running and I figured I could power through it to the end since unlacing and loosening my laces was going to take time.  By the last mile I knew this was a mistake, and I tried to loosen my laces, but my foot was throbbing by then and my pace had slowed substantially.

The bitter end of the race was pretty ugly and really slow.  A race official had been biking up and down the course, and during most of the race he shouted "looking strong!" to me.  He passed me in the last mile, looked at me like you'd look at a wounded puppy (at least that's what it felt like), and said "you're almost there..."  Furthermore, my mother was filming me coming in to the finish, and when she saw me coming in the video plays her voice saying, "Oh no, she's in pain.  She's in a lot of pain."

So yeah, not exactly the pretty PR that I was hoping for, but a PR none the less.  So happy our families came out to support D and me.  And if you ever plan to run this race, please make sure your shoe laces aren't too tight.

Flat footed running on an angry, throbbing foot.  Still, running in the sunshine :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Now Officially Nut Jobs

C- Still here and still running.  D and I have run 2 half marathons since the last post.  And we're now officially nut jobs.

Each race will get its own recap soon, but it's enough to say that we've run both the Savin Rock Half Marathon and the Frederick Running Festival, and both races were excellent.

We're currently plotting out next half marathon, and we're thinking about either the Baltimore Half Marathon or the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon.  Suggestions appreciated!