B&A Half Marathon Race Report

The B&A Half Marathon has been on my to-do list for….well, forever. Growing up ON the race course, I have memories of going outside to cheer on the runners just prior to Mile 1. I always said I’d do the race myself, but for one reason or another I never actually got around to it. This year seemed like the perfect timing – the only downside being it was only a week after Club Challenge. But, the low entry-fee plus the promise of my dad making post-race omlettes, was enough to get me on the entrants list! And lucky for me, Carly was going to run the Club Challenge-B&A Double with me….having someone to share that with would certainly make it hurt a little less, right? Last week after Club Challenge I texted Hillary my result and got the following back: YES! 1:30 or bust next weekend!

Oh dear. Initially I thought this goal was way too high, but as the week went on I talked to Hillary more, we made a plan, and I got myself pumped to go for it.

Race morning came and we made the drive down to Severna Park. With the start/finish located at a high school it’s great because there is plenty of parking and bathrooms. This race is also a huge draw for the Navy marathon team and they were there in full force – with 85 runners! Having run on this team myself when I was at USNA, it’s always great to see them out there. Plus, I have an on-going rivalry with the coach. Since I left Navy, Nate and I have run into each other at countless running events. Usually he would finish ahead of me, but in the past couple years he has added some triathlons to his schedule and to his dismay when it comes to tri’s I keep finding my way to the finish ahead of him:) With these events on the record, most recently IM AZ, I would say we’re just about tied in our little competition.  Toeing the line on Sunday I tried to get a feel for his fitness and he said he had a bit of a calf issue lately so he wasn’t sure. Uh, huh. Likely story 🙂

Carly’s plan was to start with me and we were going to go out in 6:45s….I would do this for as long as I possibly could, she would see how she was feeling at mile 6ish if I was still with her and decide to go. Thanks to the Garmin, we avoided my usual too fast first mile, and you can see from my Garmin data here that this was a very well executed race for me. All my first miles were exactly what I wanted. Around mile 3 Carly and I were sitting in the top handful of women and another girl came up – looking very good. I told Carly to go with her if she wanted, I was going to keep the pace strictly 6:45-6:50 because I was beginning to feel the hurt. I am still working on trying to distinguish between “hurt that will equal a blow up” and just “hurt that I can sustain” in a running race. I wanted to err on the side of caution to be able to hold up for the second half of the race.

When Carly went ahead I still had plenty of company thanks to the Navy team. And I had the added benefit of surprise support on the course – a HUGE shout out to Christa and Joel who popped out at a bunch of places along the out and back, and also Becky who was out there supporting! There really is nothing like a familiar face being out there cheering you on.

At the turnaround there is a big hill, and that sucked a little bit of the life out of me. Luckily, the crowd in general slows for a few miles between 7-9, so it wasn’t too much of a setback. However, as I hit the turn-around I saw Nate wasn’t too far behind and he made it no secret he was coming for me! True to his word, he came flying by me about a mile later.

At mile 8, just as I started to drop off the Navy guys’ pace, I had my next huge boost – Ryan! He was planning to run the last 5 in with me as a portion of his run for the day. This was a tremendous help because by this time I wasn’t even looking at the Garmin – I knew here the point was  to just be going as hard as I could. Ryan helped me keep the pace and more importantly helped me keep my head by assuring me that I wasn’t, in fact, slowing down. The wind had started to pick up and the cold was setting in, so I needed to get everything out of my head and just run. I hit mile 10 in 1:08:48(?) and I knew that 1:30 mark was looming. Honestly though, it didn’t really matter anymore – I was giving everything I had.

I turned off the bike path and towards the finish to the cheers of my friends. One final turn, and with the finish about 20 meters away I was hit with a feeling that almost made me stop dead in my tracks short of the finish: I was going to puke.

I made the final few steps in with my mouth tightly sealed, my shoulders heaving as the vomit kept trying to make its way out. I finally hit the timing mats (1:30:24), bent over, and let it out. Gross.

Nate was waiting at the finish line and assured the volunteers that the vomit didn’t indicate a need for real medical attention and that I was, in fact, a-okay. He got me steered in the direction of Ryan and my friends, as well as the warm school, and let me know that he was planning on racing me in an Ironman again….in 5 years 🙂 I’ll be waiting!

Carly went on to run a blazing 1:26 which was good enough for second place! And she did it all racing in a skirt for the first time!

I couldn’t have been happier with this result. Though I fell 24 seconds shy of my goal, this was over a 6 minute PR for me! I am so excited to see some speed in my legs and I think this is just another great sign that Coach Hillary and I are on the right track 🙂 And the best part of the day? Well, finishing is probably tied with the omlette-hot-tubbing post-race combo that Carly, Ryan and I got to enjoy at the casa de Godesky!!

Hollywood

The past few weeks I have come across a lot of reminders from people – tweets, emails, blog posts, etc – about the movie Unbreakable. A documentary about Western States, endurance junkies everywhere lined up to see this one. I do own a Race For the Soul, a documentary about WS from 2001. Though it’s only 11 years old it is outdated, to say the least. Still has some good stories, but the sport has changed a lot since then! Or at least the clothing styles.

Somehow I had let my viewing opportunities for Unbreakable pass me by, and when Haley mentioned she had a chance to watch it last week and that it was great, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. It pays to have nerdy friends, and within a day I had the movie in my possession (Thanks Dave, I do owe you some Carlyssa bars!) Well, I started watching it last night, and I only got a couple minutes in before I had the best realization, ever:

I’m a movie star.

No, really, I am.

Check it out – 2 minutes and 18 seconds into Unbreakable, there I am. Francesca is even next to me and can serve as a witness!

I happened to be at the 2010 Western States pacing Gill that year. I’m expecting my royalties check for my acting abilities any day!

In regards to the movie, I am about halfway in and it already has my trail running side of the brain firing away. This movie is worth watching for no reason other than some of the break taking trails they highlight. I feel so lucky to have been able to watch the race unfold in person that year!

I turned the radio on, I turned the radio up

After a Leap Day run though a thunderstorm (Thunder in February??) I rushed home  to make sure I was warmed up in time to catch the Rev3 Chat with Matty Reed and Cam Dye on the Blog Talk Radio. Radio talk shows are somewhat of a foreign concept to me still. I have some distant memories of my parents insisting on them during long car rides when I was little, so I think I tended to categorize them in the “things I’m allergic to” file in my brain. But, as with many things in life, I am finding out that I am wrong to have not revisted the concept in recent years. Rev3 has been doing a really fun series each year, inviting pros in to talk to them about their seasons and other triathlon randomness. You can listen to all of the past shows here. Keep your eyes peeled on Twitter and the website for news of the next show – they really are a good time and offer great insight into Rev3 races, as well as into the personal lives of the pros. This is a great opportunity to get to know more about the pros in this sport (like who likes cats more than dogs, and who wears a speedo rather than jammers) since when you encounter them at a race it may not be the best time to chat with them. There is a little chat box at the bottom of the radio page where you can send in your comments and questions. Definitely entertaining!

While I’m on the subject of radio shows, I’ll also suggest for the Marylanders a program on ESPN talk radio, The Runaround.  Every Monday at 5 pm tune in to hear race recaps and more from area runners. It’s a great forum to learn more about the local running scene!

Under 70

We all know them. They are the numbers that haunt us, the ones playing inside our heads for all the hours a week while we train. They are written on our bathroom mirrors, in our training logs. They auto-fill into the pace calculator online because you’ve checked – and double checked – so many times exactly what you’d need to run to break that barrier.

For me, two of the bigger time barriers I had looming in the back of my mind at the start of the year was 20 minutes for the 5K (checked off last month!) and 70 minutes for the 10-mile. While I had intended to go for the sub 70-minute mark back in October at the Army 10 mile, that day didn’t go quite as planned. So I found myself this past weekend looking to go for that on a much more challenging course that follows the rolling hills of Columbia, MD. I have talked about our team’s training for this race and while I knew the course very well, it is certainly not a PR course. Knowing that, plus my less than stellar week in terms of being healthy, in addition to having come off a massive swim block….I really had no clue what this day would give me. I did feel that it was within my reach if I ran *smart* though. This is something I did not do at Club Challenge last year (positive split the second half of the race by over 4 minutes…ouch).

Race morning was clear and calm, the Global Winding from Saturday seemed to have mostly died down. A crisp 36 degrees at the start made it perfect singlet and shorts weather for me. (Actually, I would have liked to wear arm warmers, but my swimming arms are currently too big for them to be comfortable. Woe is me.) A new addition to my racing attire this day was a Garmin 110 – I finally caved and bought one in hopes of helping me figure this whole “pacing” thing out. I had a couple other Falls Road ladies who were looking to run about the same time…unfortunately, we all had different ideas of how to execute that, so by the first mile I found myself settling into a pace (somewhat) alone. But this was okay; I felt in control and was completely prepared for the course ahead of me.

My Garmin data can be found here. You’ll have to excuse the random splits I apparently took during the race – still figuring this thing out. Overall though, my pacing was fairly consistent. You can see from the elevation profile that this is far from a flat course. I came through the half in 34:12 – right where I wanted to be. At this point it was just a matter of keeping my head and focusing on the pace. As I hit mile 9 I knew I had a cushion and could do it….I crossed the line in 1:09:19 – a 2:54 PR! This was good enough for 20th female of the day – interestingly, last year I was slower but placed 19th. Evidently some people are doing work out there…..

More than anything else, it felt good to execute a race smartly. I am prone to the “going out too fast” syndrome and I am trying my best to turn that around, so this was a good sign. AND the post race snacks were Famous Amos and fruit snacks – two of my faves!

I would be remiss not to mention the domination of the Falls Road squad as a whole at this race – we swept the Co-ed, Male, and Female team competitions, and took 1st and 2nd Male, and top 3 Females. I have no doubt that training with this fast bunch was a big help for my PR!

Team Hardware

Bring in the funk

My little funk didn’t have time to work itself out before Tuesday came around and it became apparent that it was more than my general mood that wasn’t feeling too hot. Shortly after lunchtime I started feeling….”iffy.” Refusing to give in easily to the virus gods, I made myself get through my usual Tuesday brick. And then even offered to make dinner for Ryan – who has been sick with a sinusy issue for a little while now.

And then I smelled the marinade that the pork chops I was planning on making were sitting in.

And I promptly was curled in a ball on the couch with raw meat sitting out, making weird noises and feeling sorry for myself. Ryan came over and discovered I was in no condition to actually be making dinner and he put me to bed (without even pointing out how I somehow tricked him into taking care of me!) A few hours of restless sleep later, my head was over the side of my bed puking into bags we had (thank goodness) set there for just that purpose.

The worst part of it all is that I now have another item to add to “the list.” You know the list – the one you keep of the foods you ate last, before you threw everything up? No matter if that particular food was the cause of the problem, even the mere thought of it brings the stench of vom to mind. My list now stands with: Vanilla covered raisins, Alaskan King Crab legs, Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup (okay so this one I’ve managed to get myself over, but I still think about it every time I get a bread bowl!), Safeway Fiesta Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Hmmm. Maybe I should see a pattern with the soup??

The good news is its over! Has it set me up for the best race of my life on Sunday? Probably not. But it’s a little early in the year for that anyway 🙂

The stakes are high, the water’s rough

I’m not sure if it’s the 24 hours of dreary weather we finally had to remind me that it *is* winter, after all. Or maybe it’s just a general Baltimore-induced malaise, but I got myself into a bit of a funk today. You know, the kind where you feel like Taylor Swift as she walks into work in the video for Ours….

Or maybe it was just that today was a rest day so I’ve had too much time to think.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back in the pool tomorrow!

Calm before the storm

The past 7 weeks have marked a big build phase in my training for me. While I’m definitely tired coming out of it, I’m excited to start spicing stuff up with some races. Next week will be a 10 miler, followed by a half-marathon the following week. And then of course my multi-sport fun for the year begins with the second annual St. Patty’s Day Du. These build phases require a lot of mental toughness to just get through the grind, put in the hours, and build that base. But there is something fun about having some races on the horizon. Only having raced a 5k in the last couple months, I feel more than ready to get back at it. To reward me for the 111 miles I swam I got my Rev3 Shimmer Suit last week – totally awesome! It helped me knock out my best set of 100’s yet.

All this training has even tired Amelia out….

Yes, life right now is so boring I have reverted to posting pictures of my cat again. Don’t judge me 🙂

 

Solidarity

At the end of last year Carly and I fielded a couple questions about what exactly was going on in our house. We both had stellar racing seasons  in the Fall, which happened to coincide with Carly moving into the house.  With Lance’s case being closed now the Feds may have some more time for other investigations so I figure I would save them the trouble and come clean with our secret: Doping. Solidarity.

Per Wikipedia, Solidarity refers to the ties in a society that bind people to one another. Last fall Carly and I tied ourselves together through our workout and our relentlessness pursuit for “better”. Our society was formed: a society of 2 fast little ladies.

Earlier this year, Carly had a goal to build upper body strength. As we all know, one of the fastest ways to do this – especially given time constraints, etc, is to do pushups. When asked to join her, I was hesitant because I had started swim camp and was already feeling the effects of that in my arms – I really had no reason to add to that. But, there was a compromise to be made. For every hour I swam (approx 3,000 meters in the pool) Carly would complete 2 minutes of pushups. Those 2 minutes could be broken into 30 second segments throughout the day.

You can see I have done an extensive mathematical analysis of our data (click for a better view):

And the conclusion is clear: I have improved in the volume of swimming I can handle in a similar fashion to Carly’s improvement of how many pushups per minute she can bust out! In fact, just the other day she averaged 46 per minute….just a month ago she started with an average of 9 per minute!

Solidarity works!

100 x 100 – Complete!

We survived! About three hours and ten minutes after jumping in the pool, Ryan and I had put 10,000 meters behind us. Initially we had hoped to have more people come out for the workout, but in the end, even the masters team wasn’t quite ready for it. People did have some pretty good reasons too – Like Haley’s “sorry I can’t make it I’m actually busy WINNING a race dubbed one of the toughest in North America!” In the end though, everything happens for a reason as it allowed me to put it on a day and time that would work for my fitness – one of the most important parts of planning this! Had I attempted this a month ago when Haley was in town, I think I would be telling a different story.

But, back to the 100’s. The workout was as follows (we swim in a 25 meter pool, and PBB = Paddles, Buoy, Band):

Honestly, I didn’t notice the three hours too much because the way the workout was structured I could just focus on each little piece. By the time the first big set was complete, I was already 60% of the way done! Then it was just one more big block, and before I knew it, it was time to cooldown. We didn’t dawdle at all in between sets to keep things rolling. I ate about 450 calories throughout the workout which I think was a good amount. I didn’t really start incorporating calories into my swimming until about a month ago, so I was a little nervous about how my stomach would handle calories in the pool, but it held up well.

Post-swim, Ryan and I headed to our favorite pizza place, Pasta Mista, right across the street. While our pizza was cooking I sipped on my Powerbar Recovery beverage and I think getting some more good calories in me immediately post-swim helped a bunch. As we ate I looked back on my workout logs and noted that this week a year ago my main set for a swim workout was “10 x 100 on the 2:00”! How far I have come!

Sleep was  a little rough as my brain was quite confused about why it was my arms, not my legs like usual, that were so sore. But today the soreness is beginning to flush out and I was able to get in a great speed session on the treadmill!

Also during the swim I did some daydreaming about what my “perfect pool” would look like, and came up with something like this…(note: this is a pool in Boulder!)

500 Days of Swim Camp

I love the movie 500 Days of Summer. I also love trying to pretend my life is a movie. I also love stretching things so far to make it seem like I am, in fact, living out a movie.

So, you know that scene in 500 Days of Summer when Tom is going to the party at Summer’s apartment. And it flashes between the scenes playing his expectations for the party, and what actually happened? Well, that’s been pretty similar to my life this past week as the reality of swim camp was occurring and my expectation reel was playing through my head. This is just another reason why it’s great to have a coach – you can count on them to push you past the limits you would have set for yourself. Being able to have private assistance is really helpful. I can totally see why so many people opt for Coast2Coast Private Swimming as you are able to learn so much more.

I have a big milestone coming up this weekend in the form of a 100 x 100 swim set. My expectations for the week before 100 x 100 day included, but wasn’t limited to: a taper-like week to prepare my very tired arms, lot’s of rest, maybe some cookies, and…well….not that much swimming since I’d be knocking out 10k on Saturday! Little did I know, Coach Hillary had other plans 🙂 I am still putting in some big meterage these days as THE day draws closer. Every day I (and Ryan!) knock out another workout I know that I’m going to be able to get through Saturday but it will be tough because the fatigue of 6 weeks of swim camp has most definitely set in. BUT….doing it this way will be much more rewarding – that much I’m sure of!

I hope to be blogging on Sunday with some very tired arms!