Race Recap: Fun 4th Freedom Run 10k

As part of my training for the Marine Corps Marathon, my plan had me running 8 miles this past Saturday. There was also a race in Greensboro and I thought, no better way to spend my miles than at my first Greensboro Race!

My friend Tyna, from Winston-Salem came over to run it with me as she is also training for the MCM.

We started the morning off at 7:15am with a 2 mile run before the race so we could get all 8 miles in for the day.

I’ve never split up a long run during training like this, but since it’s early on and a special event, I thought it’d be worth it. The weather was perfect during the warm-up and we had a pretty easy route around downtown Greensboro. We finished within 20 minutes of the race starting.

After our 2 miles we met up with another runner friend of ours, Erin. We had some confusion before the race as to where we were meeting, but we found each other in plenty of time before the start.

I will say that since this is one of the smallest races I’d participated in over the past 2+ years, the starting line was a little confusing. Runners were corralled behind the starting line in no particular order so if we weren’t paying attention we would have ended up pretty close to the front. We started somewhere towards the middle of the pack though and we were comfortable there.

Starting Line:


(photo source – On the Mark Sports)

Up until the week of the race I had been planning on taking it easy and just running for the fun of it. Once race week came I (of course) started to flirt with the idea to run for time. With the heat and humidity that crept up as the morning wore on though, I knew at the starting line I wasn’t going to be racing. It’s too early on in marathon training to go all out and risk injury, especially after my first week just wrapping up. The race was supposed to count as my long run anyway, so I was fine going at a comfortable pace.

The course was beautiful and I got to see areas of Greensboro that I didn’t even know existed. Course Map


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It was a hilly one! It was pretty much half shaded and half in the sun and thankfully some generous homeowners along the course set up sprinklers for runners to run through.

There were lots of water stations along the way, some of which I drank and some of which I poured down my back. The volunteers were amazing, calling out times at each mile marker, cheering and using noise makers for support, along with manning the water stations along the entire course.

The run went well despite the hot and humid conditions, but I was a little bummed that I couldn’t run for time. There is no way I could have run at my usual 10k training pace that morning. I went into the race a little hungry and under-hydrated, too. The last 0.2 miles though, the course flattened out and I picked up speed towards the finish line. I finished strong with a time of 54:38, an average of 8:49 min/mile (official results from the race website). I placed 10th out of my age group…but I have no idea how many runners were in my age group. hah

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Waving to Brandon, about to cross the finish
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Tyna finishing!!

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After we were across the finish line we waited for Erin to cross and dug into the post-race snacks; bananas, oranges, bagels, bread, Krispy Kreme glazed donuts, Gatorade and water. I had half a banana, some orange slices, a quarter of a bagel, and washed it down with some Gatorade + water. It was a good spread!

The best part was the misting tents they had set up!


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Not quite like that but it gives you an idea. We stood under those a bit after we finished refueling then went to see our posted results. Can I put one of these on my “training plan wish list” for use after my long runs? No? No takers? Meh, there’s always Christmas.

I would definitely consider doing this race again. It was so nice to wake up in my own bed on race day and in combination with the packet pick-up, crowd/volunteer support, entertainment/announcers, post-race spread, and fast turn around on post race results, it was a great first Greensboro race experience.

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Did you race this weekend? Are you racing on the 4th?

 

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Weekend Race

Week 1 of training is almost complete! Wednesday is my “we’ll see how we feel day” for marathon training. If I’m feeling strong I may run a few miles or if not, I’ll cross-train at the gym. This week I cross-trained an did a Body Pump class. I would’ve liked to also do elliptical or the bike beforehand, but it wasn’t in the cards. The class was good as always, but I kept my weights lighter than I usually would chose for legs so they weren’t too fatigued for my 6 mile run Thursday morning.

Thursday morning came and I could definitely tell I went back to Body Pump. I wasn’t too sore, but my legs didn’t quite feel refreshed. I’m ok with that though because learning to run on fatigued legs is part of training. The leggies (yep, that’s a word) are going to get fatigued on marathon day; better to practice before then.

The 6 miles were good. It was my first tempo run and I did a straight out-and-back course.

I’m not very good at slowing down after the tempo part is over though..

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Case in point: Mile 5.

It was supposed to be 2 miles easy pace, 2 miles tempo (gradually building up to a faster pace), 2 miles easy. Clearly I had a need for speed. In all fairness, mile 5 was the downhill of one of the biggest hills I run so I had some extra “ump.” Just like mile 2 was the uphill. Why slow down when you can fly?!

So yeah, tempos are supposed to be slower than my interval days on Tuesdays but faster than my long runs on Saturdays. It’ll be interesting to see how I progress over training with tempo runs. Once I’m in a groove of running fast I don’t like to slow down. Learn child. Learn.

Today is a scheduled rest day, which I love that Fridays are rest days BTW. I can tell I’ve stepped it up with training in the past week because I’ve been a little extra tired and hungry. Just when I got into the groove of eating while not training I have to switch it up once again. Last night I was in bed by 8 and slept through the whole night. 9 hours on a weekday? I’ll take it!

Tomorrow I’m running the Freedom Fun Run 10k here in Greensboro.

It will be my first Greensboro race (shame on me) and my first official 10k. I’m really excited for it! I have two friends that are running with me so it should be a good way to kick off training. Since my schedule calls for 8 miles tomorrow, I’m running two miles before the race to beat the heat. We’re having our first summer weekend with temps over 100. Oi. The joys of summer in the south!

Do you have any Fourth of July races planned?

Pretty Perfect Week

As far as I’m concerned, this past week was pretty freakin’ amazing.

Did I ever show you my new Brooks Ravenna 2 running shoes?

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Love them more so than the Ghost 4’s or Adrenaline’s. Highly recommend them.

I ran Monday for 4 miles (furthest since the marathon) without ANY pain the next day. I’ve never really had pain during my runs since I began running again in January, but the day after is always my tell-tale sign of my progress, so it was encouraging to be pain-free the following day.

I have a new routine when I run starting with a dynamic warm-up my PT taught me. (Here is one similar from Runner’s World.) This helps warm up my muscles before they have to do so much work.

After I run, now I do a series of static stretches, shower, foam roll, and ice my hip for 15-20 minutes. Then I normally pull on my compression socks to help speed recovery.

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I also normally sleep in them, I just love the way compression feels!

So far, this routine has really worked for me and I’m loving how it’s enabling me to run again.

Ever since I began PT I’ve been making gains, but 2 weeks ago when I started going twice/week I feel like I’ve really gained traction. When Justin (my PT) pinpointed my pain last week from the treadmill, and during manual manipulation, that was my last run on the thing. Since then I’ve run outside and haven’t had any pain.

Huge milestone for me.

Huge confidence booster.

Wednesday I ran 4.83 miles and it felt amazing. It was a little late after I got out of work so the majority of the run was in the dark, but I have my trusty nightlife running shirts to make me be seen.

That run was the most fun I’d had since the marathon with running. I felt so strong and free to be running so far. I also had no pain the following day.

Thursday I went to PT and we did more strengthening exercises. I’m working on balancing exercises too to recruit and strengthen my accessory muscles that support my powerhouse muscles when I run.

Justin told me it’s time to try running two days in a row now since we’re 4 weeks out from the NYC Half Marathon. Up to this point I’ve been running every other day. My instructions: I was to run 2 days in a row over the weekend, with the first day being the longest of the two runs. Saturday I pulled out a 6-miler on a beautiful 60 degree, sunny day. So perfect.

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The dreaded mile two. I always make up for my zealous mile 1 start.

That run felt great and I had a little pain last night, but nothing like I used to have. I iced twice last night and felt fine this morning.

Today, I ran 2 miles in the snow! It was my first run ever in the snow and it was actually really fun. It had been raining all day so when it turned to snow I thought this would be my best chance of the day to get a run in.

Before my run today:

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After my run today:

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My first run in my new running jacket, too! Fleet Feet had a winter blowout sale on Friday and I snatched this beauty up. I love it!

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Very good at keeping me dry.

Speaking of all this running gear, I got a new foam roller!

I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring my first foam roller with me to NYC..

It’s a bit..huge and wouldn’t fit in my carry-on luggage.

So I was on a mission to find a travel-friendly foam roller and have had this one in mind since fall. The Grid.

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There are different textures on this foam roller vs. my original foam roller which I was skeptical about. The squares are supposed to feel like fingers, the longer ridges are tubular feeling, and the flat feel more palm-like.photo (34)

As you can see, it’s hollow, so I can stuff socks and other running stuff inside and still have room for other necessities in my luggage. It’s also only 18” long.

So far I love it. I can actually tell a difference in the amount of pressure and it gives me a little deeper of a massage when I use the fingertip areas to get into those really tight areas that need worked out.

This upcoming week is my 6th week of physical therapy and is supposed to be my last. I may stretch it out another week or two and I’ll definitely come back after the half marathon in case I have any pain so he can work that out for me.

I cannot recommend a good physical therapist enough! I was definitely skeptical after not seeing any major progress for the first 2-3 weeks but then it’s like it all clicked for me. My PT is also a runner, so he gets it.

In less than a month, I’ll be running the NYC Half. I really believe I will be able to run it. Maybe I’ll have to run/walk it and that’s fine if I do, but I’m getting pretty excited about the possibility of running the entire thing.

Did you know there will be members of the USA Olympic Marathon team running this race? I SO hope to see Kara Goucher and Desiree Davila. Two of my role models. 20-something’s are still allowed to have role models, right?

Here’s to another positive week ahead!

Taking Chances

In early December via my Twitter feed, I saw someone “tweet” that the NYC Half Marathon application period was about to open. I thought it’d be pretty sweet to run through the heart of NYC in an organized race, and in one of the top national races at that!

So, thinking I had absolutely no chance in the universe to be accepted, I created a profile. Logical, right? Nothing like keeping your confidence boosted while you have no chance and currently can not run. Regardless, I filled out the application, paid them a measly $5, hit submit, and waited. Not patiently though.

The drawing took place on December 29, 2011. The day came and went and I was anxious all day re-loading my profile page every 30 minutes via my phone.

Seriously.

The page kept giving me a message about “the drawing is in progress, please come back later.” If you think I’m a patient person, I am in some things, but not this. My husband was really sick of me saying, “ughhhh still nothing! This is torture!”

By about 9:30pm I still hadn’t heard yay or nay. I got curious and started checking Twitter and there were a lot of tweets about people who had been accepted. I just figured I hadn’t and I moped for about 15 minutes (ok more like an hour) but then I was over it… I didn’t really think I would be chosen anyway, right? Plus, if you enter the race 3 years in a row and get denied, you will get a guaranteed entry into the race on the 4th year. All I had to do was wait 3 more years..

December 30 (Friday) morning I woke up at my in-laws house, still visiting from the holidays, and decided to check just to make sure. Surely they would have processed everything in 24 hours and it’d be posted.

As I reloaded the page, this is what I saw:

nyc half marathon screen acceptance

DO YOU SEE THAT?!

Status: ACCEPTED

I am really sick of looking at that guy, whoever he is.

I’m in! I’m so in!

The race takes place on Sunday, March 18, 2012. Here’s the course map. We start in Central park, run through Times Square, then along the west side highway, and finish at the South Street Seaport.

Now you know why it’s so urgent that I get my hip under control. I start physical therapy tomorrow and I can’t wait to get there.

Like a good student, I started foam rolling the crap out of my legs this past Sunday and have found a pretty good amount of knots. I’ve been keeping that up daily, along with hip-opening yoga poses and calisthenics.

Even though the injury journey isn’t completely finished yet, another journey is about to begin. Whatever, I’m good with multi-tasking.

13.1 miles in NYC. Let’s go!

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                        (Taking the stairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris!)

I’m stoked.

 

Marathon Thoughts

Exactly one month from today. I will be toeing the starting line at 7:30am to run a marathon.

I have a lot of different feelings about this.

#1 I want to have fun. This is a no brainer for me. I was so excited before my first half marathon I had trouble sleeping the night before. Not from nerves, just excitement. It was probably the most excited I had felt since my wedding or when a I was a little girl at Christmas.

#2 Will I be able to fuel properly. This is a worry of mine mainly because I really don’t like gels that much. As much as I’ve used them and found one I can tolerate, I still have to gag it down. As long as I get it down 3-4 times throughout the race, I should be fine.

#3 Aid Stations They’re awkward. I really hate stopping at them. While I don’t actually stop, I hate slowing down to run in, grabbing a drink, gulping it down, and getting back to pace all while not getting tangled up in other runners legs. Just give me an IV.

#4 Peeing in my pants. How often are they going to have port-a-potty’s? Are the lines going to be atrocious?  To be determined..

#5 Always question if I’ve done enough. I’ve been traveling A LOT this fall. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t messed with my training plan. I’ve missed several weekday runs over the course of 18 weeks; I’ve had to run while not fully recovered. Despite all this I have made it a point to never skip a long run, so doing that will hopefully provide me the physical benefits and psychological strength to know I can do this.

#6 Mile 21-26.2 My longest training run is 20 miles on October 15. I will have no idea how my body will respond or feel for the next 6.2 miles. At that point, it’s going to be mind over matter and focusing on one foot in front of the other. As long as I’ve fueled properly, “hitting the wall” shouldn’t happen. (Which is known for happening around mile 20.)

#7 Clothes Still working on putting that outfit together. Normal temps in Savannah for that time of year is a high of 70. However, this will be at 7:30 am and I will probably be up at 4:30am to get to the starting line in time. I don’t want to freeze before the gun goes off, but I also don’t want to be too hot running. I may bring some old clothes I don’t care about and ditch them once the race starts.

#8 People There are 23,000 participants in this race! Between the half marathon and the full marathon, this event has sold out. That makes for a lot of traffic before, during, and after the race. I’ll be practicing a lot of patience that day.

#9 Success I’m a pretty confident person. In who I am and my abilities. I can’t wait to check this off my list!

Can you tell my Type A personality is taking over here?

I listed #1 as having fun for a reason. While there are definitely logistics that go into running a marathon beyond the 18 weeks of training prior; my main goal is to have fun doing what I love to do. RUNNING!

This particular marathon is part of the Rock ‘N Roll Series which is the #1 race series in America. They have a live band playing at each mile and a headliner band at the end. I think having fun will be inevitable that day. 🙂

I have the rest of this week and next week left of full-on training, then a 3 week taper. I can’t believe we’re already here!

Find Your Passion

Another week of training here and gone. 

 

 

We had unusually cooler weather here in NC this past week so I took advantage of it and ran outside 3 of my 4 running days this week. Not looking forward to the nineties returning this week.

I got to take Owen on my 3 mile run Thursday, which he loved! He still had lots of energy afterwards; I thought he’d be pooped!

Yesterday was a 9 miler. Mother Nature let me sleep in and since it was cool, I didn’t get out there until 11am. I was actually a little chilly as I began the run – quite refreshing! I ended up running from Military Park on the Greenway to Country Park, around the lake and woods, back to Military Park for 2 big loops there and finishing out strong right back at my car. Couldn’t have planned it better. I got to enjoy the smells of families cooking out at Country Park for birthdays and gatherings and could practically taste the burgers as they cooked. Yum!

As I was running yesterday, I couldn’t help but congratulate my body on how far we have come in the past 7 months. While I’ve always loved running, I never imagined myself training for a marathon. Now, with a half behind me and this training going so well *so far* I can see myself running, finishing, and being proud of being a marathoner. It’s hard, too, to imagine just this February I began the half training and now I’m only a few miles shy of running a half marathon every weekend. That will be coming in the next few weeks!

My body amazes me at how fast it can adapt to the training, how fast it can gain strength, and how fast it can recover in just the 2- 2.5 months I had “off” between the half marathon and the marathon training. Every week I have the opportunity to push it a little farther, and it always responds back with, “is that all you got?” The 9 miles yesterday seemed stronger than the 8 miles last week. I wonder how far I could have truly gone had I not stuck to the training plan and just kept going.

That’s another part of training. No matter how much you want to run farther than the set mileage that day – it’s not a good idea. The training plan was developed this way for a reason, so stick to it. Why mess with success? You’re putting your body at risk for premature injury and fatigue. Patience.

Anyway, this “my body amazes me” attitude started back in college when I began to run. Since then I’ve gained the attitude and confidence that I have today about body image. I know I’m petite, but I’m not a stick, and I am perfectly, 110% okay with that. My legs power me up hills, my abs keep me injury-free by having correct form, my hips stabilize me and also prevent injury so long as they are given proper attention. I love to feel my feet strike the ground and power me forward. I love to know my heart is getting stronger with every hill. I love that my body is getting more efficient at using oxygen. I just love running.

It’s not just the running that I love; it’s the nutrition knowledge to nourish my body in between runs that I love, too. Since I know what these nutrients do biochemically in my body and how that correlates with exercise, I love making different meals to get all my nutrients in for the day. I love to see how my body responds to pre and post run meals/snacks. I love reading about it and I’ve even busted out my undergraduate metabolism and exercise physiology textbooks. Did I mention I am also a nerd?

This is how I can get so much satisfaction out of my job, too. I have the amazing opportunity to work with college athletes and students to help them figure all this out. To work with all students to begin lifelong habits (or at least gain the knowledge) as undergraduates is nothing short of amazing. I can’t tell you the amount of gratitude I’ve seen working with this population.

I feel as if I’ve completed my circle. Personally and professionally they intertwine and I am fortunate to get to do something that I love. Running has provided so much clarity for me this year and I’m so excited to see what the next 16 weeks of training has to offer. I’m excited to see what else I can learn about my body and how I can put it #1. Nourishment, recovery, and rest are just as much part of training as the actual running itself. I love all aspects of it. I’ve found my niche, my hobby, my release from everyday life.

I realize I may not always be able to run. Due to injuries, schedules, or one day, old age. You can bet I won’t give up though. It’s not in me. It’s not who I am. I’ll run for as long as I can.

If you aren’t as passionate about running as I am, that’s perfectly fine. Just find something you are passionate about. A life is a terrible thing to waste.

Week 1 is a Success!

There is a lot that goes into training. “Studying,” mental, emotional, and physical aspects. Since my first half marathon April 16, 2011 I have been in maintenance mode trying to keep my fitness and improve it by strength training and yoga. I did strength training 2-3x/week and yoga only once a week. Granted, it was p90x yoga, not just a casual 30 minute session. The yoga tapered off after about a month because I found an hour and a half to be too much after work. I continued strength training and now after finishing week 1 of marathon training, I can say that it has definitely paid off.

My knee pain is gone, even after an 8 mile long run. I knew I needed to strengthen my quads, hips and supporting muscles, so going to Group Power (aka Body Pump) a couple of times a week helped me achieve this. I also improved my balance/core/hips by balancing on the Bosu Ball.  

My physical therapist/RD friend who is SUPER knowledgeable told me about it and also cautioned me not to overdo it. When I started, I could literally balance for only 5 seconds. No Joke. That is not a typo. I can now balance on it for an easy 1 and a half minutes. I can feel all my hip muscles working to support myself and that too has been a big help with relieving hip pain and running hills.

Also during this time I was trying to decide on a training plan. After reading tons of runner’s forums and doing my own research online, I decided on one of Hal Higdon’s 18 week marathon plans. It is designed to get you to the starting line injury-free and successfully complete your marathon. I am all for both of those things, so that’s how I decided to go with it. I could also still do long runs on Saturdays, incorporate cross-training on Sunday, with Monday and Friday and complete rest days. Since it’s my first marathon, there’s really no time goal. Sure, I would love to make it in less than 4 hours but I’m betting it’s not going to happen, at least not for this marathon. Not because I’m pessimistic or don’t believe in myself, but because that’s not a reasonable goal for a first marathon despite my half marathon time being 1:56:49.

My training route for the half marathon looks completely different now that it is summer! I was primarily running in Feb-March where all the trees were dead but now it is full of leaves and life. It really helps that it is mostly shaded, even completely shaded in parts, so even though it was 74 degrees and 93% humidity this morning, it was bearable.

I’m hoping to do either yoga or cycling tomorrow for my cross-training day. I didn’t do strength training this past week but I think it could be doable now that I have one week under my belt and can see how the days are laid out.

One thing I don’t have, but need, is a way to stay hydrated during my long runs in the heat and humidity. My next running purchase is going to be a fuel belt. I have been debating a fuel belt vs. a hydration backpack but again, from reading reviews and forums it seems the belt will work best for me. I’ll keep you posted on that though! So, this marks the end of week 1 of marathon training. I had strong runs during the week and a GREAT 8 mile run today. Now I’m off to make black bean brownies!

Does anyone have experience or preference with hydration belts or backpacks during long runs?