Thursday, June 28, 2012

Data Whore

My post-half marathon recovery:

Sunday: rest
Monday: 25 minutes of “gentle” yoga; ran 1.95 miles, easy.
Tuesday AM: ran 4.35 miles, easy
Tuesday PM: 5 mile fun run in a test pair of Kinvara 3s.   Minutes from the run, I realize I rushed out the door wearing my heart rate monitor, but without my watch.


: 8.2 mile leisurely bike ride
Thursday: ran 6.14 miles, easy
Friday: 5 mile leisurely bike ride at the beach
Saturday: rest.
Sunday: ~5 mile crazy hike at Tar Creek in Los Padres National Forest. We thought it would be relatively easy given the distance, but were not aware of the rock climbing involved to get down to the water (which, by the way, is a rarity around here.  For example, the “river” that runs through my town only had water in it during a torrential downpour).  While the rock part was tough, it was still fun though.

100_8166 100_8169

100_8176  100_8190   100_8194

100_8196   100_8205

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^Those teens were diving into the water.  We wore our suits, prepared to go for a swim, but I’m pretty sure their discovery of a water snake changed my mind. It didn’t stop them from continuing to swim though.

Tar Creek elev

I guess I’m still “recovering” if you go by that rule where you’re supposed to rest one day for every mile that you race, but I don’t and my legs feel fine anyway.  So far this week I ran:

Monday: 6.05 mi easy
Tuesday: 6x400m with 1 minute rest. Running it on a bike path after I’ve gotten used to running on a track made it a little tricky to gauge if I was on target. Ran them in 1:55, 1:48, 1:45, 1:49, 1:47, 1:52.
Wednesday: 3.09 easy

I’m planning to get in a few more runs: at short tempo pace (8:23), long tempo pace (8:53), and a couple easy runs before the 10k I’m signed up for next Wednesday on July 4th.  I just borrowed the last week of the Run Less Run Faster 10k plan because I didn’t really know what to do with myself, but knew I wanted to get in a few faster runs so my legs know what to do. But, hey, even if I don’t run it well, it’s my first 10k and will therefore be a PR.

And just for fun, the day after my half marathon, unbeknownst to my husband and prior to him calling me a data whore, I pulled up little reports in Garmin to compare my running so far this year to the same date last year (up through June 17th).

thrujune2011   thrujune2012

Change from 2011:
Distance: +36%
Time: +~21%
Elevation Gain: +207%
Avg Speed: +11%

Monday, June 18, 2012

Race Report: City Impact Half Marathon

I’ll cut to the chase…official results: 1:57:13 or an 8:57 pace.  A new half marathon PR by 9:35!
Stats: 39/236 females. 13/75 in my age group. 113/401 half marathoners.

Fitted women’s tech tees – score!
(Note: race registration did not indicate there would be mens/womens sizing so I assumed it would be unisex and ordered a M for my husband, only to find a women’s medium in my bag.  They did let me swap for the right size after the race).
Now for the boring details.

This race was pretty small compared to some other races I’ve run (e.g. Rock n’ Roll halfs, Philadelphia half) which allowed the organizers to have race day packet pick up all the way until half an hour before the start of the half marathon.  Big plus since I live an hour away from the race and would prefer not to drive there and back 2 days in a row.

There was a staggered start for the half marathon, which was different… 7am if you anticipated running slower than 2:15; 8am if you expected to finish in less than 2:15.  I was skeptical of the 8am start in mid-June, but it turns out it is about 20 degrees cooler at the ocean than where I am, inland. It ended up being around 60F and overcast which is pretty perfect by my standards.  The 8am start also meant Dan and I could sleep in until 5:25 before getting out the door just before 6.

We parked in the (free) parking garage just after 7 and had a quick 3 blocks/.35 mile walk to the start line and packet pickup.
ventura start
[source]  Check out that June Gloom.

This was a very family friendly event.  Not only was there the half marathon, there was also a 5k and a kids fun run.  Note the John Deere-powered wagon ride, a.k.a. “The Party Train” for kids.  They were even playing the 1980s funk song by the same name (Google “Gap Band Party Train” for a fun early 80s music video).
Before shot.  I don’t even know if there was an official race photographer for the finish line.

Dan brought my goodie bag back to the car and found a nearby bike path to ride his bike on while I ran.  They had coffee, bananas, water, and raspberries for people to snack on pre-race. I was all set with my banana and peanut butter + honey on toast that I ate in the car. There were a few real bathrooms at the pier plus some extra port-a-potties.  I jogged around a little to warm up before it was time to line up.

A little before 8, they explained that the 7am starters should have bib numbers under 210 and a red dot on their bib and not  to be concerned if they were ahead of us because they will have been running for an hour longer. (Despite emails warning against this, there were totally sub-2:15 people that started early. You know who you are.  And if you predicted >2:15 but surprised yourself with a 1:40-1:50, then you must be magical).  At 8:05 we were off.

That morning I decided I would start at a 9:00 pace, see how that felt, and go from there.  Tentatively I would  run the first 5 more conservatively, pick it up if I could for the next 5, then give it whatever I had left for the final 5k.

I would have been ok running the first mile even :30 slower than my goal pace,  but wow, I forgot what it’s like to not have corrals.  I started WAY too fast and even telling myself to slow down, I was “only” able to slow down that first mile to an 8:34 pace. BIG mistake. I knew that was stupid and tried to at least slow down more for the 2nd mile so I didn’t run out of steam early.

A 9:00 pace didn’t feel as easy as I would have liked, but I reminded myself that a 9:09 pace would still (just) put me under 2 hours.  I decided to try to stay in the 9:00-9:09 range up until mile 5.  For the first 1.5-2 miles when you looked out at the ocean it was FILLED with surfers, evenly spaced, a couple hundred feet from the beach. Just little black wetsuit dots waiting in the water.  Someone should take a picture of that sometime.

I felt good at the turnaround and decided to try to up the pace a bit for the next 5 miles, but miles 7-9 were kinda lonely as the runners had really thinned out by that point.  The ocean was to my right but there wasn’t much else to look at. For the first half of the race, the  faster runners were coming back and it was kind of motivating for me.  I began counting the number of runners still heading out on the course to give me something to do besides focusing on each step I was taking.  This is where I really could have used some music.

I carried my 12 oz handheld water bottle, stopped for a swig of purple Powerade around miles 2.5 and 6.5, and I had 1 orange gu at about mile 8-8.5.

Around mile 9.5 or so there was a hill that lasted probably 1/3 of a mile. It’s nothing like the 12% incline I live at the top of, but it was big enough to be noticeable on an otherwise pretty flat course.  After running down that hill around mile 3.5 I didn’t let myself forget that it would be waiting for me on the way back.  I was pretty pleased that I finished the mile with that hill in just under a 9:00 pace.

I don’t think the course elevation map is very useful but I like graphics!  The course was generally pretty flat with the exception of the “big” hill around mile 3.5/9.5 – I don’t know why it looks so choppy. There were a few smaller little hills in the first/last two miles of the course too.

Once I was past the hill, I knew it would be pretty flat until the finish and could try to pick up the pace a little more. I wasn’t loving life for the last few miles. I remember looking at my watch around miles 10.1 and 11.1, telling myself I only had 27 and 18 minutes left to run. Once I got to 11.1 miles on my watch, I was just under 1:40 and realized I should be able to finish under 2 hours even if I slowed down. 

With a half mile to go I really pushed it. I told myself it was only two laps around the track and I could do it. I don’t remember much from this point other than that those two laps were feeling really long and I wanted to be done.

I have fantasies of finishing a race feeling like this:

However, as I approached the finish line I began to feel more and more certain that I was about to throw up and began to scan my field of vision for a trash can.  (I was of course still able to stop my Garmin as I crossed the finish line).  I tried to breathe deeply and focus on not throwing up on the woman putting a medal around my neck or the volunteer kneeling on the ground waiting to cut the timing chip off my shoe. 

Still trying to breathe deeply and not yak in front of innocent children, I walked past the finisher’s area until the feeling passed.  The finisher’s area was fantastic in that there weren’t people stopped right across the finish line, it wasn’t crowded and I was able to keep moving and get out of the way.  Once I felt a little better I went back for a bottle of cold water, Dan found me, and I thought about picking up food, except trays of roast beef and ahi tuna wraps did nothing for my nausea.

I think I could have verified my results at the scoring tent but after giving my roast beef wrap to Dan we got out of there so I could keep walking and drinking water and not yak.  We made our way to the farmer’s market and picked up a loaf of bread and some cherries, and eventually stopped at a bakery for a pastry and coffee once I felt a little better.  We again picked up a ridiculous amount of strawberries at a roadside stand on our way home.

This was a well organized race and $50 (early bird) isn’t so bad for a chip-timed half marathon.  Even if you register after the price increase, the race is held to benefit City Impact, an outreach organization that helps at-risk adolescents and families in Ventura.  I worked for a similar organization in NY during and right after college so I was happy to support that cause.  Last year they gave out stainless steel water bottles which I would have been happy with, but I guess they opted to switch to finisher’s medals this year.

Aid stations had water and Powerade beginning around mile 2.5 and every 2ish miles after that.  The race was entirely on a paved path along the beach and the shoulder/bike path along a road that hugged the coastline.  There were police along the way to slow down cars as the road wasn’t entirely closed and they were possibly more enthusiastic in their cheering than some of the volunteers along the course.  While I didn’t need them, there were port-a-potties along the race course.

Based on my criteria of:
  • Cost of registration
  • Ease of Packet Pick up
  • Shirt that fits
  • Cost/Location of Parking
  • Bathrooms
  • Punctual Start
  • Plentiful Aid Stations/Helpful Volunteers
  • Finish Line
I would recommend this race and would consider running it again next year.  But maybe with some back-up music for those middle miles.  I opted to run without music because I haven’t run with music in a few months, but I can’t help but wonder if the 8th and 9th miles would have been a little faster with some upbeat music to distract me and keep me going.

it fits, hooray!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Taper Week

Saturday is my fast (hopefully) and flat half marathon along the ocean!

I don’t really know if I did an awesome job of tapering this week, but I did cut back on my mileage a little, ran more miles at an easier pace, I’ve been getting a solid 8 hours of sleep every night, and I’m working on the hydrating, so that’s all good.

First, let’s go back to last week. Mostly so I can mention our hike and share some pictures.

On Monday the 4th I had a sweet tempo run.  Goal pace was 8:38 for 5 miles; I ran 5.34 miles at an average pace of 8:33 and didn’t feel like death at the end.

Tuesday was a 6 mile fun run from the running store, avg pace of 9:33.

Wednesday I squeezed in 2 easy miles in honor of National Running Day.

Thursday I got in some quick speed work, 3x1k in 4:45, 4:48, 4:48 (goal was 4:46) with a .15mi walk/jog recovery in between. Then 3 easy miles at the end with a friend.

Friday Dan and I did a 7.5 mile hike at our nearby favorite Placerita Canyon.  We started our usual way and took a new route down.  The views looked a little like this:

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We followed the ridgeline all the way down. Unlike the trail we took up the mountain, our way down was pretty exposed and it got pretty hot later in the morning.

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Super awesome self portrait and one of the many steep parts we came down:

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We saw some wildlife:

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I recovered from my shock after being the one to discover the rattlesnake just in time to snap a picture while it was slithering off the path.  And a horny toad: a pretty cute little lizard with a stumpy tail.

The elevation looked a little something like this:


Despite some good stretching, the downhill left my legs a little sore later that day and I thought it would be good to take Saturday off from running.  Also, the 2+ miles of rocky/sandy uphill/downhill made me realize I should get some shoes that are actually meant for hiking.  I’m thinking a good pair of trail running shoes will work for both hiking and the increased trail running I’ll be doing to prepare for November’s Griffith Park trail half.

10th/Sunday was my last “long” run. I ran the first 5-ish easy, then picked up the pace for the last 2 miles, running somewhere between tempo and race pace.

11th/Monday: easy 3 miles

12th/Tuesday:  easy 4ish miles in the morning; 6x400 at night (goal pace was 1:51, I ran them in 1:43-1:48).

13th/Wednesday: 25 minutes of yoga, hip opener.  Then some crunches, pushups, and a plank.

14th/Thursday: 3 miles at race pace: 8:51, 8:57, 9:04.

Friday I will rest.

Saturday morning is game time!

My primary goal is to break 2:00, and I would be thrilled with anything closer to a 1:57, for no real reason than that it would be more solidly sub-2.  My most recent 5k suggests a 1:56:39 HM, but I’ve only been running the corresponding training paces for 5 weeks, so I’m not sure how attainable that is.

HM Time Pace
1:59:57 9:09
1:59:05 9:05
1:57:59 9:00
1:56:54 8:55
1:55:48 8:50

While it has been hitting the 80s and 90s where I live this week, thanks to the race course being along the ocean and the marine layer, it should be cool and overcast Saturday morning in Ventura:


Monday, June 4, 2012

May Wrap-Up

Hey hey! Just popping in to say I’m still alive.

I worked, I volunteered, I had a job interview I’m impatiently awaiting the results of, I ran a bunch, I went to Chicago for my husband’s brother’s wedding.  And I just didn’t get around to blogging.

I won’t fully detail the last 14 days of running.  7 days of running is probably dry enough and 14 will make you fall asleep. Just briefly:
Week of the 21st: 28.71 miles of running + ~4 miles of hiking
Week of the 28th: 26.05 miles of running + 6.39 miles of hiking + a few miles of walking around Chicago

May miles run: 151.02. All time high!  Woop woop.

Somehow it slipped my mind that I would be back in Dunkin Donuts territory until walking through the Chicago airport.  Luckily, Kari reminded me it was free donut day.  We made sure to take advantage before checking in to our hotel.


What else is new? I briefly mentioned a little while ago that I won an entry to the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon (thanks to Pavement Runner and INKnBURN), but as of today, I’m officially registered. 


This is how I will be spending my morning on November 17th:


This race is going to be so much tougher than my previous two trail halfs (here and here)…

There’s also a Griffith Park Trail 10k the next day, or if you’re super tough, you can run both the half marathon and the 10k and get a special medal.  Considering the course elevation profile, I think I’ll stick with just the half.

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