Posts Tagged With: running group

Beethoven 15k Race Recap and Why Negative Splits Might Be The Thing For Me

I’m using the Hal Higdon Advanced II training plan to get ready for the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon on March 22nd. My goal is to get a 3:43 or better and re-qualify for Boston and PR. I would LOVE to be able to get a sub-3:40, but since I started my training and speed late, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to crank that out. But I’m sure gonna try! On Hal’s schedule last week was a half marathon race. Since I didn’t see one that I could go to, I decided to switch weeks up and run the 15k and some bonus miles this weekend and did this week’s workout LAST weekend. I’m amazed at how the change in schedule has allowed me to miss some really crappy weather to run in, so yea me! Fist bump.

This was Friday night. It continued into Saturday. Yikes.

This was Friday night. It continued into Saturday. And I’m guessing the humidity was slightly closer to 100%.

I had Friday AND Saturday off this week, which was so awesome I almost felt guilty, then I looked ahead at the schedule and realized that no, I’ve got it coming. I knew a lot of people who were going to be at the race, so I was looking forward to it, and yet again, the downpours, wind, and crap had moved out of our area by race eve. The timing couldn’t have been better, as race morning was going to be cold but clear and sunny with little wind, if any. I LOVE to race in the cold. Not “freeze your face off” cold, but t-shirt, tights, and gloves cold.

I had a pretty hefty goal to run the 15k at 7:45’s, but it was more of a time trial so I could see where I was in pacing, speed ability, and endurance. I had nothing at stake and nothing to lose if it wasn’t going to work, but deep down, I had doubts. I know, shocker, isn’t it? Maybe it’s just so I wont be disappointed, maybe that’s my defense mechanism, but it’s getting old. The timing of the race was a little weird (9:00, which is late for me), and I did NOT want to run out of energy, so I ate a peanut butter sandwich before I left home, along with my typical small glass of orange juice. I grabbed a banana, granola bar, chomps, and two energy gels just to have. I have been very hungry lately, so wanted to be prepared!

I got there in plenty of time, picked up my packet, and had my 2 mile warm up to do. It felt like crap and turned into 1.6 miles. I wasn’t out of breath necessarily, but my stomach was bothering me a little bit, which it was when I got up, so that had nothing to do with my nutrition. But I felt like crap anyway.  “Oh well, SHIT!” was what I thought. Having a bad warm up before a race is nothing new. In fact, the day before Boston, my 20 minute run was one of the worst runs I’d had the entire training cycle. Heavy breathing, no energy. It. Was. Horrible. So I’m not all that upset when it happens anymore, but I was looking to adjust my goals. I thought, “let’s try negative splits”. I was thinking of that anyway, but decided to go ahead and start slow and go from there. I ate the chomps and granola bar, got new gum, and found some peeps to hang with.

I planned to run in my Adidas Boosts, but I was hesitant since they didn’t always feel like they fit right. I decided at the last minute to go ahead and wear them, and if they didn’t work, I’d know after the race.

It was race time. The guy said, “Ready, set, GO!!” and we were off. Whoahhhhh there and slow down red rocket. Pace started at 7:15, so I took the foot off the gas and backed it down. Strange. I felt pretty damn good! Breath was even, good crowd to run with, but I still wanted to go with negative splits. At the 3 mile mark, I was at 23 minutes. Hmmm, that’s an aggressive pace. I knew I had a super fast first .5 mile in there, but I was glad that I still felt good with a 7:40 pace overall. Ok, then, so it was time to KEEP that pace. Garmins are Garmins, so I tried to go more on feel than what the watch said. When I was getting more out of breath, I backed off a little. When I felt good, I surged a little. When I crossed the 6 mile mark, I was able to do the math and see that I was still on the 7:40 pace (I know it’s not calculus, but remember, when running, I can turn a 40k into 60 miles in my head). Silly me, this is what I get when my warm ups are bad, friggin awesome runs. Bring it on then! So here goes. You want to do negative splits? Do them then. You want to go back to Boston? Then do the work! Get yo ass movin’!

I have to say, that this was one of the most focused I’ve been during a race since before Boston. I don’t know what it was, but I had my music on loud and I just paid attention to the road in front of me. It was a good focus, and I was happy to have found it.  So with three miles to go, I pushed the gas a little. I saw women running in front of me, and I thought, “I’m comin’ for YOU”, and slowly, I picked off about four or five of them. I was definitely going faster this split, and I was amazed at how good it felt to feel good at the end of a race. THIS is why you negative split. I kept at it, didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to my Garmin, had to slow down on the wooden walkway that felt slick, but pushed myself. Soon, the end was near. I could hear someone behind me and once her shadow got close enough, I could tell it was a girl. Nooooo, don’t let her pass! The finish line came into view and it was RIGHT THERE. I gunned it as fast as I could. Then she flew by me. Shit. Well, the good thing is that I knew I couldn’t have done better right then. Maybe a little here and there, but I left it on the course, and I felt good. It was the second time that I’ve been passed right at the end during a 15k, and this was my second 15k. Damn. Both times, the ladies thanked me for keeping them going, so I guess I just do what I can to help other runners 🙂

I didn't do that. I was just happy that I tried really hard. Yeah. That's it. That's how I felt :)

I didn’t do that. I was just happy that I tried really hard. Yeah. That’s it. That’s how I felt 🙂

Finish time: 1:10:45 (give or take a few seconds, haven’t seen official results yet)

Pace: 7:36 based on that finish time

Since I’ve done another 15k, I was happy to get a pretty big PR this morning too! A FIVE FREAKING MINUTE PR!

1st in Age Group 40-44 – Who whoo!!! I won shit!!!!!

A Medal AND a Coffee Mug? Awesome.

A Medal AND a Coffee Mug? Awesome.

As for the Boosts? I’m feelin’ some major Boost love going on. They were friggin’ perfect.

I love them so much they're on the table.

I love them so much they’re on the table.

I’ve been planning to negative split in the marathon. Based on my little race today, it just makes me want to try it more. It feels good to finish strong, to have gas in the tank, to push when you’re tired, and to BE ABLE to push when you’re tired. It feels good to hold back, to conserve energy. It’s also cool to pass people too. Another thing I learned AGAIN is to push hard when tired, which is a first cousin to negative splits. I’ve done this before, but I have a tendency to let the fatigue take over and slow down. I had to focus, be determined, and know that I have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s all mental training for the marathon.

I’ve got a big week coming up, lots of miles to put in and two swim sessions to fit in. No other races are scheduled prior to the marathon, but I’d like to tackle a 5k next month. We’ll see. I’m also in full force with planning some sort of middle school running program. I’m a little overwhelmed with how to go about doing it, but I’ve met and am talking to lots of different people to help come up with a program. If anything, I’d like to bring the new and improved Middle School Stride program to every middle school in the county. The kids need it.

What did you do this weekend? Scoop snow? Race? Long run? Nothing?

Categories: 15k race, hal higdon training plan, marathon training, running, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Where It All Began – Part Deux

I’m really enjoying the journey back in time, the “Road to Boston” so to speak. So to NOT have to require a publisher, I’m breaking the story up into a few pieces.  Please read to first part HERE, the part of the story that explains where this crazy dream came from and a few bumps in the road I encountered along the way.

My 1st and 2nd attempts at qualifying for Boston in May of 2010 were gone. I had to let them go, as much as it killed me to do that. Live and learn? Run and learn is more like it. Oh, and don’t be stupid. We all have our moments though.

I ran the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon “time trial”  in 1:44:45, which just so happens to be exactly an 8 minute mile pace. GAME ON!  Once again, I set my sights on the Lincoln Marathon for May of 2011.  Bam, here we go again at a BQ.  In December, I started my training plan. I was confident I learned from my mistakes and that I could pull in a 3:45 for the marathon.

I’m not a drama person. I don’t like it, don’t want to be around it, but there was a lot of it that spring.  My 97 year old grandmother, the epitome of faith and strength, passed away in February.  In March, my husband’s stupid company at the time let him know that when the project he was working on was done in August, he’d better find himself some work to do, which was the opposite of what they had told him a few months ago. Bummer was that any work was five hours away in Kansas City. Hmmmm.  Can you say, PANIC? Sioux City, Iowa, isn’t exactly a hotbed of employment activity for large construction project management, so we figured we would have to move.   I immediately went into “we have to sell the house” mode and he went into “interview for a job” mode. Within two weeks, our house was up for sale.

THEN on April 4th, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sheesh.  Let’s just say my running kept me sane, but I certainly had some wine in the fridge. Her cancer was caught very early thanks to a mammogram (so anyone who says they don’t save lives is telling lies so if you haven’t had one, GET ONE) and she had surgery to remove it, followed by radiation.  It was difficult to see my pillar-of-strength mom go through this, but I often think that it could have been worse and I was just glad she was going to be ok.

Training was hard through all of this, but I kept at it and got my miles in.  I did my speed work. I ran hills. The marathon was almost there.

On April 30th, my husband and I dropped our kids off at my mom and dad’s house as we headed to the race. I was feeling good, had a nutrition plan in place, but… why… was my stomach upset? I don’t get nerves. Why wasn’t I hungry? No, everything was fine. I pushed that out of my head. We stopped by my favorite restaurant and I grabbed my huge chicken wrap/enchilada thing that I knew would sit well and fill me up. I started eating it on the way down to Lincoln.  Ew. I didn’t want to eat. What the hell was going on? We went to the expo and then the hotel where I laid down and watched tv for a few hours. I felt terrible. Then around 10 pm, eight hours before I was to be leaving to toe the line at a MARATHON, it happened. Yup, I had the stomach bug. A few yacks later, I laughed and thought, “Fucking figures”.  It wasn’t a terrible version of the stomach flu, but I knew my run would be compromised because those valuable carbs were just missing.

I started the race pretty strong that morning after I forced myself to eat my big breakfast. The weather was good, a little windy, but it was great running weather. I can’t remember exactly when I started to lose steam, but I told my husband around mile 16 that I felt like throwing up again. So that’s probably about where. I don’t know for sure.

I'm wearing the pink shirt. So happy that I could finish this race!

I’m wearing the pink shirt. So happy that I could finish this race!

I've never been on a jumbo-tron before! That's me, arms up, on the right. Very thankful at that moment.

I’ve never been on a jumbo-tron before! That’s me behind the pink girl, arms up, on the right. Very thankful at that moment.

I finished that darned race in 3:56, just 11 minutes slower than what I needed to qualify for Boston. Ugh. Here we go again. I didn’t know if anyone would believe me that I got stomach flu or if they’d think it was a cover for a bad race. It was real, and I was pretty much just happy that it was all over. I took my medal and went home.  I lost about ten pounds from that experience because I just couldn’t eat for days. Urg.


That July, we sold our house, moved in with my parents, then in August, we headed to Houston, Texas, where husband got a pretty good job. We didn’t want to move there, but we were out of time and options.  To say we were living off adrenaline and stress was an understatement. The dream was put on hold, and I ran for fun, learned how to deal with Houston heat/humidity, and in January of 2012, my sister came to visit with her running group Without Limits from Wilmington, NC. One of the members was in the women’s Olympic trials and a bunch more were racing the half and full marathon. I LOVED the way the group helped each other, cheered each other, and I wanted that. So the next day, I joined a local running group in Katy.

I entered the Houston Marathon in May of 2012 and we started training in August (the race was in January).  It’s fun to start marathon training in Houston in August. Not. I’ve NEVER sweat so much.  I didn’t know if I wanted to go for a BQ again. I was exhausted. My husband wasn’t home much since his work commute was insane. My kids had a crazy football schedule.  I just didn’t know if I had it in me.  I was scared to put all that time and effort into it only to have the crappy outcomes again. I didn’t know if it was worth it anymore. Then one morning I heard the words to an Eli Young Band song that changed my mind. I started crying immediately when I heard it and I knew I wanted to go for a BQ.

“Keep on dreamin’ even if it breaks your heart”

I knew I needed to go for it again. I trained to BQ (3:40), but I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself because I didn’t want to be disappointed. Again. I went into the race totally freaked out (read the full race recap HERE – it’s a pretty cool story, for real, read it) because of the weather. I had gained weight. I just didn’t know. I went mental and basically had a breakdown in the 20 minutes before the race. I kept saying that all I wanted was a great race.

I ran the Houston Marathon in 3:43:18….

After I found out "the big news" at the Houston Marathon

After I found out “the big news” at the Houston Marathon

…not knowing until 30 minutes later that I had qualified for Boston by 1 minute 42 seconds. Yes, the time for what my age would be AT THE BOSTON MARATHON was 40, even though I was only 39 at qualification time, so I had an extra five minutes. SURPRISE!! I cried. I celebrated.  I. Did. It. It was sweeter not finding out until after I was done, too.

I knew that just because you qualified for Boston didn’t mean you automatically get in. I knew it was based on how many people registered and the times they qualified by, so each year is different. I knew I squeaked by to qualify, but I had to wait until September to register and see if I would actually get in.

It took almost two years to recover from the huge stressful move from Iowa to Texas when my husband got the chance to interview for a job in Wilmington, NC, one of my favorite cities in the country AND bonus, where my sister and her husband lived. (My husband is from NC and I had lived there for several years before Iowa and Texas.) A few weeks later, in the early weeks of June 2013, we were getting our house ready for sale for our last move “back” to NC, which is where we really wanted to be. Before we even moved into our house in August, I started training with the running group Without Limits, the same one that inspired me to join a running group just a year before.  How friggin’ ironic.  I didn’t know if I was going to get into the Boston Marathon. After the bombings, I knew everyone who could run, would run. It was going to be close.

NEXT POST: Four seconds that made all the difference, shin splints, and the Boston Marathon.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Being a Sherpa – Er…Sort of

Yesterday was the first day in about five years that I went to a race and did not participate.  My good friend, Anthony, was running his 106th 1/2 marathon (click here to read more about Anthony!) at Ocean Isle Beach and wanted someone to run with, so a few months ago, I volunteered my husband to run with him.  Husband ran some here and there when he could, because, unfortunately for him, MY running always comes before his.  Sorry dear but really, it is the truth.  The difference between my husband and I is that if I don’t get my training in, I could break out into hives and repeatedly thump myself on the forehead while saying, “AHHHH, I SHOULD HAVE RUN TODAY!” and then live in regret-hood for another few days before finally getting over it. He takes the healthier and more laid back approach and just does what he wants when he wants to without really worrying about his finish time.  I used to be like that, and there’s many times I wish I could go back to not counting and comparing and worrying about times and all that competitive stuff. Sometimes.

So yesterday, I tried my hand at being a Sherpa, although there was really nothing that I needed to do or carry or give them along the race route except a smile and orders to look at the camera so I could take a picture.  My husband Andy has supported me through so many races, it was time to at least be there for his race.

The ocean is there... at least I think so!

The ocean is there… at least I think so!

It was extremely foggy when we got there and when the race started. It went up and over a really high bridge, twice, and the only thing the runners could see was the fog.  It was weird.  Then the course took them along the ocean for the remainder of the race.  It’s strange to be able to hear the ocean, but not be able to actually see it.  I felt like it could have been a scene from the book, “The Mist” by Stephen King, the one that was read to me when I was far too young to be able to handle Stephen King’s freakiness, so I imagined creatures coming out of the mist while I stood there, just waiting to be devoured.  Note: Don’t read Stephen King books to your kids.  Ever. I am still wary of semi trucks because I was also an audience to the short story, “Trucks”.  I’ve never trusted a semi since.

Wendy, a friend of ours and a fellow member of our running group, was with us and ran the 5k.  I was able to see her at mile 2, and to her surprise, she placed in her age group.  Way to go, Wendy!!!!

Wendy with her trophy, lovingly named "Sheila"

Wendy with her trophy, lovingly named “Sheila”

I then saw the guys emerge from the mist at mile two and got my picture….

Emerging from Stephen King's mist....alive!

Emerging from Stephen King’s mist….alive!

Coach Kristen was along to support Anthony, and she had 9-10 miles to run for training, so she took off to get her run in.  I found Wendy after her 5k was done and handed over the keys that Anthony had made us promise to 1) not put in our butts running shorts and 2) not lose because how would we get back to Wilmington? We took our job seriously. No dangling keys over those storm drains!!! It was tempting, but we successfully fought off the temptation to do so.

I needed to run 5 miles so I started the Map My Run app because my stupid Garmin lied when it said it was fully charged and promptly died as soon as it found the satellites, turned on my music, and took off. Suddenly it dawned on me that I told the guys I would see them at Mile 8.  Oh crap. Great job, Sherpa!  Not.  The course was an “up and back” then a “down and back”.  I ran up the race course and had so many people ask me if I wanted water or Gatorade, even after I told them I was just running to find my actual runners, so that was pretty cool.  I found them at mile 5-ish, took a picture, and then ran back down the course so I could meet them again. Kristen and I saw them close to mile 8, which is where the up route met the down route, and it immediately started to pour very cold rain, so we hid under a small building a few minutes until it slowed down.  We then caught back up to the boys when it started raining again, so we figured that running next to them was just causing cold and bronchitis-inducing rain, so we headed to the finish line area.

Most of the route was like this.

Most of the route was like this.

It was really strange that the weather was all over the place. Foggy, rainy, cloudy, hot, sunny…. we had it all yesterday.  At least the storms held off and it wasn’t a torrential downpour like originally predicted.  Kristen and Wendy and I had a good time talking with each other and other runners after the race while we waited for Andy and Anthony to finish. For the first time in a long time, I watched the end of a 1/2 marathon and got to see such a variety of people finishing.  I saw an 11 year old finish his first 1/2 with his mom (WOW, that was COOL!), older people finishing, middle-age people finishing, well, people of all ages, sizes, and everything. It was fun.  And for once, I wasn’t upset at the fact that I wasn’t racing. I didn’t even look at the winning times to see if I would have placed in my age group either, which is pretty big for Ms. Competitive.

Andy at the finish.

Andy at the finish.

Pretty soon, I saw husband Andy coming along to finish the race.  It totally, royally, and completely sucked that there were no medals at the finish line. Yes, this was a race for charity; it’s not a big race, but really, for a 1/2 marathon, you should ALWAYS get medals.  Even if they’re the penny ones from the dollar store “buy in bulk” section, you deserve SOMETHING when you cross the finish line.  Even though he doesn’t care, I’m bummed that he doesn’t have a medal to show for his efforts.  But I was so very proud that he 1) let me bulldoze him into doing the 1/2 when I don’t think he really wanted to AT FIRST 2) ran the race, and 3) now wants to do a 1/2 marathon every few months (music to my ears!). Some people train for months to complete a 1/2 and he did some running here and some running there and was able to do one without any major issues.  Husband rocks!

Anthony finishing his 106th 1/2 marathon!

Anthony finishing his 106th 1/2 marathon!

A little bit later, Anthony finished his 106th 1/2 marathon.  It just HAS to be old hat for him running these things.  Just another “Anthony” weekend I guess!

We were all hungry so headed to a place right by the parking lot, and twelve hours thirty minutes and two spilled chicken wraps later, we got to eat our lunch, had some laughs, and then headed back to Wilmington.

Andy, Me, Wendy, Anthony, and Kristen

Andy, Me, Wendy, Anthony, and Kristen

It was a really nice, fun day spent with people I enjoy, so it’s always good to be around people you like doing things you like to do.  I’ve become quite a social tard now that I’m alone a lot, so I don’t tend to say too much when around people for fear of being a big dork.  But even today, I stepped out of the norm and ran my long run with a group of ladies I don’t know too well.  I didn’t say much this time, again, because I just don’t know them that well, but I enjoy the company and am drawn to continue the trend.  Friends rock.  Running groups rock.  And I can say that being a part of a race without actually participating rocks too.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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