Saturday, November 26, 2011

December Goals

I've never been comfortable with the way time seems to fly these days.  Running the Philadelphia Marathon feels like it happened ages ago -- even though it was only last weekend that Stef and I went up to Philadelphia.  Maybe it's time to start planning my next running adventure.

I mentioned that I wanted to run a marathon in March but, after some thought, I decided that I want to set a goal to run a sub-2:00 half for that month.  My next task is to decide between Rock 'n' Roll USA (I'm only a little bitter that Competitor is the lead sponsor) and the NYC Half Marathon.

Before that, though, I still have one more solid month of running in 2011; I'm setting a few goals to help me finish this year as strongly as it began.

Run at least 25 miles each week.  I ran my 900th mile of 2011 during the Philadelphia Marathon, which means I need 100 more if I want to reach my goal of running 1,000 miles this year.  I'm looking forward to a few solid weekend long runs.

Strength train at least once per week.  I let this go in the final weeks of marathon training, but I'd like to get back in the habit of strength training at least once each week.

Set a PR during the Jingle All the Way 8K.  I ran by last 8K (in September) in 43:18...after pre-gaming the race with a quick 4-miler.  Since I don't plan to run all the way to this race, I'm curious to see if I can shave at least three minutes off my time.

Tentatively plan race calendar for 2012 and create training plan for spring races.  This one should explain itself.

I'm not going to create a training plan for December, which should be a welcome change.  My Daily Mile training log should be enough to keep my honest about running this month.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon Race Round-Up

I was sad to miss The Game and miss the chance to catch up with everyone, but I had a great marathon weekend in Philadelphia.

Stef and I took MegaBus to the city;  it was a smooth ride, and we arrived a little earlier than expected.  From Penn Station, we took a cab to the Expo to pick up our race packets.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed with the Expo.  It might be that I've gone to so many of these that I'm starting to notice that the same vendors show up.  I did purchase two more Bondibands (I'm kind of obsessed with them) and a few more gels to take along on the course.  (Clif Shots were provided on the course, but, after trying some at the export, I knew that using the during the race would be a bad call.)

After the Expo, we continued our epic carb loading (which I'd been doing since Thursday) at Chili's.  For dinner, we went to Square 1862 for their $20.00 all you can eat pasta deal.  (Stef's friend Jeff is a host at the restaurant, and it was great to meet him.)  And, there was this epic pile of food in our hotel room.

 Runner's World recommended Swedish Fish as a carb loading food.  So, yes, we needed two bags.

Breakfast on race day was at 4:00 AM, and Stef and I started our walk to the start line around 6:00 AM. It was dark but surprisingly warm for that time of morning.  We dropped our bags at the gear check and then walked toward the corrals.  After Stef and I parted ways near the corrals, I found the 4:15 pace group and waited for the start of the race.

Miles 1-6 – Follow the Man with the Balloons

Thinking about the pace groups, I found it a little strange that all of the groups that I considered intended to run their race pace from the start of the race.  For the 4:15 group, this would be a 9:44 for the entire race.  (I also thought about the 4:00 pace group, but I'm happy that I chose 4:15.) Once our corral got up to the starting line, we were off.  I was a few steps behind the pace leader but even I was floating around an 8:30 to 9:00 pace for the first two miles.  I settled in to a 9:44, keeping the lead in my sight. 

Miles 5 and 6 went down Chestnut Street, which was a little narrow for 25,000 runners.  I lost the lead pacer just before the water station, which – with the narrow street – seemed more congested than usual.  But, these were strong miles and the crowd support down Chestnut was fantastic.

Miles 7-12 – University City and the Zoo

I was definitely in a groove here.  Mile 7 was the first incline of the race, but after training in DC, I was a little surprised at how little I felt this hill.  (All those runs to Maryland really paid off, huh?)  The second include was between Miles 9-10, which were near the Philadelphia Zoo.  This hill was a little harder but still manageable.  Miles 11 and 12 were the first piece of the Schuylkill River.  The crowd support was a little quieter here, but there were still a few people on the route cheering everyone on.

Mile 13 – Halfway!

This is where the Half-Marathoners and Marathoners split.  There had been signs along the course pointing that a split was coming, but it was a little rough seeing the finish line knowing that I still had 13.1 more miles to run.

Mile 14-18  -- When things stop being polite, and my internal marathon swears like a sailor

Mile 14 was cool.  I got there with about 2:20 on the clock and had a great view of the super awesome elite runners who were running toward the finish.  It’s always so humbling to watch elite runners, and it definitely helped me push to go forward here.  This portion of the race was on the other side of the Schuylkill so, again, not much crowd support.  At times, it felt a little lonely. But, it was nice to reach a point when I could count down the miles using single digits.

Miles 19-20 – Don’t Stop Believin’

I’d been wearing one earbud since I lost the pace group, which I was thankful for during the parts of the race where the crowd support was thin.  (I think that using one earbud is much better.  You can still ahve some music on the course but also interact with other runners and volunteers. )  At Mile 19, we hit Manayuk.  There were a ton of people out but the effects of running a marathon were starting to get to me. (Translation: It hurts, and it's still hurting!) Don’t Stop Believin’ came up on my playlist; it was so good, I listened to it twice. 

Miles 21-25 -- Shut Up and Run

This was the inbound route back along the Shuylkill.  Everything hurt and I would have loved nothing more than to throw in the towel.  But, at this point, the only thing to do was to turn the little voice in my head telling me that this was insane and run until I crossed the finish line.  I was thankful that there were a few more people on this portion of the course to cheer us on.  It's always super encouraging to have a total stranger that you can make it to the finish line.

The last 1.2 Miles – Eye of the Tiger

Once we were closer to the downtown area, the crowd support was amazing.  I felt great here and found an opportunity to pick up the pace.  I saw Stef and a few other friendly faces along the finish shoot, which also gave me an extra boost.  When I got close enough to the finish line, I saw 4:38 on the clock and made a decision that I would finish before 4:40.  Hooray for sprinting when your legs feel like cement! Bonus: This mile marked my 900th mile run in 2011.

Previous Record: 5:33, 2010 Baltimore Marathon
Gun Time: 4:39:39
Net Time: 4:39:29
Average Pace: 10:39

I think this is one of my favorite medal designs so far.

Of course, it would have been nice to finish in 4:15:00 but one of the things that I’m most proud of about this marathon is that I managed to maintain even splits throughout the race.  I do think that I started out faster than I should have at the beginning.  I’m also proud – and amazed if I’m allowed to say so myself – that, in the span of a year, I shaved nearly an hour off of my previous marathon time.  I guess that this goes to show what you can do if you are willing to put in the work.

Also: Major props to Stef for running her first marathon and finishing in 4:01! I’ll say this here and, if she’s reading, I hope she knows how awesome and motivating it was to train with someone who can and did kick my ass into gear on runs. 

So, what’s next?  A little rest and getting myself back into normal eating.  Now that I won’t be running as intensely, I can’t justify eating 3,000 calories each day.  I imagine that I won’t start running again until after Thanksgiving at the earliest, but I do hope to get some solid walks in and spend some time doing light cross training -- that is, after my legs and I resolve our disagreement about whether or not moving is appropriate.

I’m also running the Jingle All the Way 8K again in December (if you recall, it was a 10K last year).  Hopefully, I'll be recovered enough to set a PR.

Finally, I’m already thinking about which marathons I want to run next year.  On my list of potentials are the Suntrust National Marathon (DC) in March, the Prince of Wales Marathon (Alaska) in May, and the Hartford Marathon (Connecticut) in October.  My other crazy plan for 2012?  Operation Boston Qualify!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall Four: Weekly Round-Up (17)

Here we go!  Six days to go until I’m in the starting corrals at the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon.  I’m excited and anxious – but mostly excited to have a chance to kick major asphalt this year. 

My plan is to run easy this week, fuel properly, and mentally prepare for this weekend.  (P.S. My TGI Carb Night Recipes are likely going to return this week --- get excited!)

Week 21 – let’s do this!!

Monday – X-Train/Strength Training
Tuesday – 4 Miles
Wednesday – 3 Miles (easy)
Thursday – 3 Miles (easy)
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Philadelphia Marathon!!! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Four: Weekly Round-Up (16)

I mentioned in my recap for the Race to Representation that I could tell that I wasn’t completely recovered from last week’s 22-miler.  My planned workouts weren’t any different than workouts I’ve done in previous weeks, but I could feel the miles and that I was off my game.  Then, there was the 5K.  By this afternoon, when I went out for an eight-mile run, I started to feel close to 100% percent and had a fantastic run.  (The weather today was perfect, too.) Things should go a little better this week.

Week 20
Monday: X-Training and Strength Training
Tuesday: Speed Work, 30 Minutes
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: X-Train and Strength Training

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Race to Representation 5K Round-Up

The Women & Politics Institute organized the inaugural Race to Representation 5K on AU’s campus this morning.  Stef told me about the race, and we decided to run as part of training for Philadelphia. (Tomorrow, the tentative plan is to run six or seven miles.)

I haven’t really spent much time on the campus (outside of a few very hilly runs), but it was a beautiful location for a race.  The event was done really well, and it was a great way to learn about the work that WPI is doing to close the gender gap in political leadership.  The more I run races, the more I find that I enjoy smaller races as much as the races with thousands of runners on the course.  The organizers provided each runner with a giftbag and a great t-shirt.  And, I give the organizers major props for making registration so easy.  I actually signed up for the race after the online registration closed but getting the form to and confirmation from WPI wasn't stressful at all.  

The course was a two-lap loop around one of AU's quads.  This was my first race with laps, and there was the fear of being lapped at some point during the race by someone much faster.  The first time around, I tried to get a sense of the course to decide where I would pick up speed on the second go-around.  My goal was to run a sub-25:00 race, but I couldn’t get myself to run at pace.  I could tell that my body still (still!?) wasn’t 100% after Sunday's 22-miler, but I didn’t want to give up on my time goal and tried to push where I could.  I finished with a time that I knew was at least a few seconds faster than my current record set back in February.

Previous record: 27: 48, Love the Run You’re With 5K
Gun Time: 27:26
Net Time: 27:17
Average Pace: 8:47

I’m not actually worried about my time, but it would have been nice to run a sub-25:00 race.  Next time!

And, in any case, I think I’m in a great place to run the Philadelphia marathon. Fifteen days to go…

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday Inspiration: Staying Honest

When you have a goal that is as huge as the marathon – it will “keep you honest.”  It’s not like a smaller goal that you can announce and then put off or fake your way through.  Once you sign up, commit months to training, and take your first step on race day – you better have done your homework.  The beauty of this is that it goes against 99% of the national tendancies of our culture that favors gratification without effort or devotion.  But is that kind of achievement ever as satisfying?  Linda Hill once told me that she loved the quote “There is no glory in training, but there is no glory without training.  In no way is this more true than in running.  --- Holly Digiovine