Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Richmond Marathon -- reflections

I’d like to start off this post with a look at my Believe I am training journal from this year. Back in January, I wrote out my running goals for the year in a flow chart:

Although I didn't look back at this page more than once or twice during the whole year, it must have lodged itself into sub-conscious, because most of the stepping stones in this diagram got done. I worked on my form (arguably still bad, but it’s better). I embraced that fact that I have introverted tendencies thanks to the book “Quiet: the power of introverts” by Susan Cain and learned to protect my need for alone time. I got advice on how to improve my sleep habits, which included decreasing screen time before bed, watching my coffee habits, and setting time aside to ‘wind down’ before bed. My iron and vitamin D levels are back to a healthy place, thank you supplements!

What else was key to achieving the goals I wrote in my Believe I am months ago? Well, taking it easy over the summer was important. I knew that marathon training would be taxing, so I just cruised through June-July-August without stressing over long runs or super challenging workouts. Another critical thing was doing consistent core work (planks, mostly) and foam rolling during marathon training. Sometimes I had to practically bribe myself into doing my plank circuit, but ultimately I think it helped. I also threw out any notions about how I ‘should’ eat. I ate more cookies/ice cream/fried food than I care to admit. But ultimately not depriving myself during training also helped me ‘save’ my mental gumption for when it *really* counted (i.e. during workouts). My training group also pulled me along during the runs when I felt exhausted/grouchy/stressed and more miles of this training were shared than any of my other training cycles. Despite the higher mileage, I made sure I went out with friends whenever I could.  When necessary I went to bed at 9pm to get a full night of sleep before a big workout.

Ultimately, the key to it all was listening to my body. I adjusted workouts when I needed to, I adjusted mileage when I needed to, and I ate what I needed to.

And now with a marathon PR of 3:03:43 (details here), I have a clear goal for 2015. Chase that sub-3 hour time and have fun along the way!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Richmond Marathon -- the details

What a fun weekend in Richmond! It was so fun to have so many folks from my running community out there with me, and I’m happy to say that we all had great races. The course was absolutely beautiful and I tried to soak that up as much as possible during the race. The fall colors were stunning and the water was lovely. If you get a chance, run this race!

  Cool mural art we found in our pre-race shake-out run on Friday

As for my own race experience…it was not without a couple hiccups! I missed the start of the race, as did several of my friends, due to excessively long bathroom lines…like hundreds of people still lined up when the gun went off! And yes, I was stuck in one such line. I knew that once I crossed the start line that I was “on the clock”, so I REALLY wanted to take care of business beforehand. Soooo, ~6 minutes after the gun went off I started, and as you might imagine, WAY behind my pace group (I was supposed to be in wave 1). So, the first few miles were mostly dodging and weaving and trying to get into some open space.

AND, I messed up my Garmin. In the mad scramble to get off all the layers I was wearing (it was a brisk 27 degrees at the start), I didn’t turn on my Garmin early enough. It found satellite somewhere in first quarter-ish of a mile, and then I took my first split at the wrong place too…needless to say I was a little confused as to what my actual time was during this race, especially because I didn't know how many minutes late I had started

Mile 1: ?? who knows. I suppose I could calculate it but I don’t even care.
Mile 2: 7:21
Mile 3: 7:05
Mile 4: 7:09
Mile 5: 7:02

After these first few miles I felt like I wasn't dodging anymore but still had to run on the edge of the pack so that I could pass people. I was still well behind anyone running my pace-- I passed the 3:30 pace group at some point but I can't remember when.

Mile 6: 7:15
Mile 7: 6:54
Mile 8: 7:18
Mile 9: 6:56
Mile 10: 7:05

During 6-10 I was trying to find my rhythm and get into a groove. I had to really tune into my body since I was running on my own. Somewhere during this time I had a really weird twinge in my knee that freaked me out and caused some temporary quasi-limping. Thank goodness it loosened up and I continued on without slowing down.

Mile 11: 7:07
Mile 12: 7:01
Mile 13: 6:58
Mile 14: 6:54

I went through the half marathon in 1:33:20, but I didn't know this during the actual race due to my late start and screwed up watch. I just knew I was somewhere close to where I wanted to be and kept trucking. The next stretch of race (15-19) I had marked out in my mind as miles that I really needed to focus. I knew there were some long hills and a windy bridge to contend with and that it would be mentally challenging to push through.

Mile 15: 6:58
Mile 16: 7:08
Mile 17: 7:04
Mile 18: 6:59
Mile 19: 6:51

I would have paid money to have someone to run with behind during the hilly, windy bridge portion! But nope, I was a lone wolf this race so I had to bust through that wind solo. This stretch was definitely tough, but I knew that I had cheerleaders waiting for me a few miles down the road, so I focused on that when my mind wandered to how many miles I had left.

Mile 20: 7:03
Mile 21: 7:00
Mile 22: 6:48

Seriously all I could think about was getting a little boost of energy from the fabulous Ellen and Allie during this section…and they did not disappoint!! I could see them from a distance and instantly felt relief to see familiar faces. As I got closer, I could see a poster…"What does that poster say?" my fatigued and foggy brain asked. Finally it dawned on me in a moment of utter delight: NICK SYMMONDS’ BARE BUTT WAS AT MILE 22 FOR ME!!!!!! And let me tell you I smacked that booty with great force as I flew by and kept that moment in the forefront of my mind as the pain started creep in during the next miles. THANK YOU LADIES!!!!

Oh you know I smacked that fine booty!! Photo cred: Allie Creative genius cred: Ellen 

Mile 23: 6:43
Mile 24: 6:48
Mile 25: 6:44
Mile 26: 6:25
0.2: 1.42

As my splits suggest, I was ready to kick ass and take names!! Besides my quads squawking at me and my right foot feeling twinge-y, I still had gas in the tank to bring it home strong, partially due to the power instilled in me by Nick Symmonds' butt. This is the point in the race where I told myself to lay it all on the line and make all those weeks and weeks of training worth it. “NOW IS THE TIME” I hollered at myself.

When I finished…I had no idea what my time was! The clock said 3:09:something, my watch said 3:02:something but I knew it was short. I figured that I had met my goal but it was not until later that afternoon that Allie and Ellen texted me the good news:

3:03:43 !!!

21 minute PR

   SO. HAPPY.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Final thoughts before Richmond Marathon

It's finally here after months of training, countless early bedtimes, dozens of gels, and many, many miles. Richmond Marathon is tomorrow morning.

I haven't been secretive about my goals. It's definitely easier to sandbag and tell everyone your "C" goal, while keeping your scary goals private, but I chose not to do that.

I want to run 3:05. 7:03 pace for 26.2 miles. 20 minute PR.

Obviously I will have to have a good day--my stomach will need to cooperate, my legs will need to be strong, and the weather not too crazy.

If everything goes smoothly, I feel that 3:05 is within the capabilities. I've made it through enough tough, solo workouts that I feel confident that I can make it through 20-22 miles without *too* much of a struggle. But as we all know, the real test begins after the 20 mile mark.

Of course I have a series of other goals too.
B goal: 3:10
C goal: PR
D goal: finish

From my last marathon experience, I know that adjusting to your D goal can happen pretty early in the race. Although I didn't talk about it much in that Boston post, I watched several goals slip by as the temperatures increased during the race. It was a good test of mental flexibility. Ironically, tomorrow is supposed to be about 50 degrees cooler than the start of Boston 2012. Is a 40 degree start temp too much to ask for?! ;)

Best of luck to everyone racing out there tomorrow! Go fast, take chances!