Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Pittsburgh Marathon 2018

Marathon #4 is in the books!  The 2nd that my body was totally unprepared for, and it's hard to say because I've probably blocked the last bad marathon from my memory, but I think this one was worse.  BUT, I did make it to the finish line, I did run the entire race, and I did get my BQ!  A little bit sad that my slowest marathon is the one I plan to use as my Boston Qualifier, but oh well.  All that really matters is I beat the 3:35 cut off time by 5 minutes and change.

The forecast said it would be in the low to mid 50s for the whole race, and there was an 80-90% chance of rain as well.  I debated wearing a shirt since the morning air felt cold to me, but in the end I decided against it, and I was barely a mile into the race before I knew that leaving the shirt behind was the right choice!  I never got too cold or too hot during the race, so that worked out pretty well.  And luckily, it really didn't rain at all.  I think it started sprinkling in the last mile or two, but it wasn't a big deal.

I had a "seeded" start position, which allowed me to be near the front of Corral A, but I ended up not even trying to be that close to the front.  I think I started somewhere near the middle of Corral A.  I settled into a comfortable pace, not wanting to be too slow, but making sure it didn't feel like I was really working either.  I had my camelbak on with about 1.5 liters of water, and 1 stick pack of Tailwind mixed in.  I was carrying my inhaler in my Hydraklick belt.  At some point in the first 5-6 miles, I noticed that the belt pouch felt very cold and wet, and I was feeling occasional cold drips go down my legs.  It seemed way too cold to be my sweat, and also my belt pouch has never gotten that soaked just from sweat.  I reached up and discovered that the back of my camelbak was also dripping wet.  I think by the end of the race, I had drank about half of what went into my camelbak, and the other half leaked down my back.  That's what I get for buying a cheap knock-off bladder to replace the one I filled with mold, I suppose.

The course was not a difficult one at all, especially considering all the hills that could have been included.  There was a long gradual hill or two, but there was nothing even close to steep, and most of the race was flat. Most of the inclines were going on or off of bridges, and they were pretty short.   I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get a strong push up the longer hill around mile 12 because of all the flatness before it, but I didn't have too much trouble.  I'm guessing the lack of steepness helped with that. 

I felt ok until about mile 12, and then I started to feel the stress of the distance. Coby was on his bike riding around to cheer for me at various points on the course, and when I saw him around mile 13.8 it gave me the boost I needed to wake my legs back up and run a few more miles.  By mile 15, I was in the surge-crawl cycle, with the surges gradually getting shorter and the crawls getting longer.  By mile 18 I was hurting quite a bit.  Mile 25 I was completely dead, and then somehow managed to pick it up for the last mile, and give a good, pure adrenaline-filled surge to the finish line.  After I crossed the line, I was barely able to walk, but managed to stagger through the very long finish chute.  I downed a whole bottle of water, and grabbed another one to drink more slowly later.  When I finally came to the crowd of spectators at the end of the finish chute I just walked blindly hoping Coby would find me, and thankfully he did very quickly, as I was on the point of collapse.  My body was so done, I had barely made it through the chute without crying, so of course I lost it once I had a shoulder to lean on.

The walk back to the car was long and painful, and I had nothing but a heat sheet and a towel wrapped around me to keep me warm, but I made it.  And even managed a smile for a post-race photo... but my legs hurt so bad for that walk I don't know how I made it to the car!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Savannah and Tybee Island

This past week, I spent 5 days chaperoning a 7th and 8th grade field trip to Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia.  I was rather worried going into the trip, as it wasn't forecasted to be be super warm, and it was right before the Pittsburgh Marathon, so I was worried about exhaustion leading up to the race, but it all worked out!

We drove down to Savannah on Monday, where we went on a walking tour of the city and then had dinner at Lady & Sons, a Paula Dean restaurant.  Then, we headed to Tybee Island where we stopped at Sea Kayak Georgia for an introduction with our guides, and then headed to our cabins at River's End Campground.

 Found a McDonough street!

On Tuesday, we went kayaking.  We left from right behind Sea Kayak Georgia, where you can only put in during high tide.  We paddled through the waterways between marsh grass, into Chimney Creek, into Tybee Creek.  We landed on Little Tybee for lunch and exploration, then paddled to a sandbar for more exploration before heading back to Tybee for some downtime and dinner.

Little Tybee Island

On Wednesday, we went stand-up paddle boarding.  I wanted to try it out, but was a little worried about committing to it for a whole day, not sure how hard it would be or how sore I would be afterwards.  I didn't know when I would get another chance though, so I went for it.  I was half tempted to stay on my knees, but after a little bit, I tried standing up.  My legs would not stop shaking, and I felt super off balance, so I ended up dropping back to my knees.  I had to try again though...and the second time, I felt much more stable, and managed to stay up.   We paddled to Myrtle Island for our picnic lunch, and to explore the driftwood trees, and then paddled to the sandbar again.  The kids all went off to the middle of the sandbar where they built some kind of fortress out of the sand, and used a dead cannonball jellyfish to "bowl."  They named it Jelly-Bowling... (At the end of the trip, several of them named that as their favorite memory).  I really liked the driftwood trees, but the other really cool part of this day is that we had a whole pod of dolphins swimming next to us for a lot of our paddling time!

On Thursday, we drove about 75 minutes to Ebenezer Creek, a Cypress-Tupelo fresh water creek, where we got into canoes for our exploration.  It was the first time I ever got in a canoe, but found it not any harder than kayaking.  I was paired with a 7th grade girl, and it took us very little time to figure out the teamwork part of paddling a canoe.  We were lucky enough to have high enough water to go into the "Cathedral," which is where the trees grow close together in the swamp and you can paddle between them.

On Friday, and packed up and headed out, with a stop at Fort Pulaski for a quick tour.  We could have spent more time there, but we were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, so no one was interested in really exploring.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Workout Wednesday : Circuit Training

I'm on a outdoors/kayaking/paddleboarding field trip in GA this week with my 7th and 8th graders, but I forgot to post a workout on the 18th, so I've scheduled it to post today while I'm gone. 

3 sets, 15 seconds rest between exercises and 2 minutes rest between sets. 

*ice skaters : slower to work on balance, quicker for extra cardio

Monday, April 30, 2018

April Review

Week 1 : 4/2 - 4/8 : run 35.2 miles
I finally got my 20 mile run done!  Exactly 4 weeks before the marathon.  I was rather sluggish for the whole run, but I was able to stay in good spirits throughout.  I ended up with an 8:41 average pace, which is not great, but at least it was under 9:00!

Week 2 : 4/9 - 4/15 : run 18.3 miles
I started off the week easy with a 3.7 mile shakeout run, then took 2 days off to let my legs recover from the 20 miler.  Thursday I expected to do an easy 4 miles with the guys but they apparently changed their minds about going easy...I ended up with a 7:19 average pace.  Probably faster than I should have been going, but it was a relief to know that after weeks of sluggishness I could get my legs to move faster!  Friday was another easy short run, and then on Saturday I ran the Chocolate Chase 10k in Lewisburg.  I did a good job of keeping it at a tempo pace instead of race pace, and was pleased with how it felt.

Week 3 : 4/16 - 4/22 : run 30.7 miles
Blue Ridge week! Monday was a short and easy but super windy run.  On Tuesday I skipped run club in favor of a solo 7 miler to see how my legs were doing.  I enjoy running with others, but have missed running alone, and I find that I need to really run my own pace once in awhile.  I find it impossible not to be influenced by others when running in a group.  On Wednesday I did a long overdue hip strengthening yoga practice, and on Thursday I did a short track workout with Corey to make sure my legs were ready to go for Saturday's race.  We did 2 sets of 600/400/200.

Saturday was my 8th running of the Blue Ridge 1/2 marathon and despite my misgivings going into it, it went super well!  I didn't start pushing the pace at all until the 2nd half of the race, and it paid off big time.

Week 4 : 4/23 - 4/29 : run 22 miles
Easy shakeout on Monday, followed by Tuesday on the couch. Easy 4 mile group run on Wednesday, slightly faster group run on Thursday, Friday off to pack for a 5 day field trip in GA plus a few days in PA.  On Saturday I ran a point to point 10 miler, for my last real mileage before the Pittsburgh Marathon.  Hoping to get in a short run or two while in GA, but not sure if the schedule will allow for it.  At least I will be getting exercise with kayaking and paddle boarding and canoeing! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Workout Wednesday : Circuit Training

New this week : Single-Leg Row

3 sets, 15 seconds rest between exercises and 2 minutes rest between sets.  
Finish up with a 5 minute walk and some stretching. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Meal Prep Monday : 4/23/18

Pork Roast, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans

Pork Roast 4.7 lb : $11.68
Sweet Potatoes 2.75 lb : $3.84
Green Beans, Frozen 48 oz : $4.00
Vidalia Onion  : $0.49

total cost : $20.01
16 meals 

Pork Roast : Place pork in a large glass baking dish, cover top (to taste) with garlic powder.  Bake at 400 until an internal temp of 145+ is reached.  (approx 60-75 minutes)

Sweet Potatoes : Chop into 2-3 inch pieces, put in a large pot, cover with water, boil til soft.  Mash with just a bit of milk and some garlic powder.  

Green Beans : Chop 1/2 onion and saute in bacon grease.  When the onion begins to brown, add green beans.  Cover and cook til beans are done. 

(I also cooked a few carrots, they ended up only being enough for about 7 meals.) 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Blue Ridge 1/2 Marathon 4/21/2018

My 8th time running this race!  It has been my favorite ever since the first year.  I'll never understand how I decided to come back after that miserable experience in the rain, but I guess the course was just that awesome.  And it's even more awesome since they added extra hills a few years ago.

I wasn't really looking forward to the race this year, since my training has seemed like nothing more than one setback after another since November.  However, there is no way I was going to skip my favorite race, so I showed up hoping for the best.  I hoped to run a good race and hold my own out there, but knew that I couldn't push too hard for a fast time since I have the Pittsburgh Marathon coming up in 2 weeks.

As always, this was a superb event!  The Blue Ridge Marathon always does a top-notch job of putting on the race.  Packet pick-up was a bit confusing in the new location (Patrick Henry Hotel) this year, but I figured it out.  Everything went smoothly on race day, the volunteers were great, and there were plenty of aid stations with volunteers at the ready (though I personally did not take advantage of any of them).

It was around 40 degrees at the start of the race, I believe.  It did warm up to the high 50s or low 60s later in the day, but it was pretty chilly for most of the race.

I chose not to warm up, so that I would be forced to use the first mile or 2 as my warm-up.  I started out at a comfortable pace, not too slow, but not at all pushing the pace either.  I didn't concern myself with who was passing me or who I was passing.  The first mile marker comes at the beginning of Mill Mountain, (the first climb) and I let myself open up just a little bit on the hill, as uphills are where I am most comfortable.  I still didn't let myself push too hard, but I did let myself work a bit, and start to pass people one by one.  I passed Coby around mile 2.7 where the half marathon splits from the full, and he got some great photos of me as I passed by.  There was about one more mile of climbing left, and then I headed down the back side of Mill Mountain.  The road is pretty steep there, with several switchbacks.  I took it pretty easy, knowing I would get passed by quite a few people, but I know it's not worth the risk to my knees and hips to pound down the mountain.  When I reached the Greenway after the descent I picked the pace back up.  I didn't really gain on the 2 women I could see ahead of me, but I don't think they were growing the distance either.  When I reached the bottom of the next hill - a long, mostly gradual one, I started pushing harder.  I think this hill has become the place I generally pass most people.  It is the perfect hill for my strengths.  I passed two women on the long gradual part, and then as I went up the steep part of Peakwood, I gained on another woman, who was alternately walking and running.  I was unable to catch her, but I could tell I was much stronger on the hill, so I knew there was a still a chance I could catch her before the finish line.

My lungs were feeling pretty tight after Peakwood, so I used the downhill coast to use my inhaler.  And then I was headed up the last steep hill.  I continued to gain on the woman ahead of me, but still couldn't catch her.  I started to really push myself on the last long downhill, knowing there was less than 3 miles to go, and most of it downhill.  There were 2 bridges in the last 1.5 miles or so, and I dug into my reserves of strength to push them and to finally catch up to the woman in front of me.  By then, I knew that she was in 2nd place, and I could see 1st place in the distance, though she was too far to catch.

There was a time clock shortly after the 12th mile marker, and I was surprised to see that it read 1:33, which meant I actually had a chance to beat my time from last year, which I had thought would be impossible.  That plus the woman in front of me gave me the final edge I needed to dig deep, and I caught up to her.  We traded back and forth and ran side by side for a bit, and then on the final bridge I finally pulled ahead.  With a quarter mile to go, I pushed as hard as I could, sprinting to the finish and just hoping to come in 2nd place and under 1:39.  I held on to my 2nd place, and finished with an official time of 1:39:01.  (last year was 1:39:27).

I could not believe how well this race went, and that I was able to beat last year's time despite a much worse training cycle, and not actually trying to race until somewhere in the second half of the race. It is confirmation of something I have been picking up on for awhile now--I run best when I am not trying so hard.  It's hard not to try to train hard and race hard, but clearly it's not what my body wants right now.  As I'm getting older, I'm slowly learning to let go and just see what happens.  I'm still going to have races where I try too hard and crash and burn (because let's be honest, I'm a total control-freak...), but hopefully I'll manage to mostly just let the races run themselves...!

1st place : 1:38: 37
2nd place : 1:39:01
3rd place : 1:39:08
It was a close year for the top 3!

I couldn't believe how good I felt after this race!  I'm usually hurting pretty bad afterwards, and this time I wasn't hurting at all.  I didn't do a cool down like I normally do, and maybe it really was better for me to stop first.  I probably should have done a cool down after a brief rest instead of skipping it entirely, but oh well.  

Check out those splits!  Fastest two miles were the last two!  I usually don't have enough energy left to pull that off... I looked back at splits from the past 2 years and my last mile was around 7:20 for both of them.  

This is the Strava segment for the 1.5 mile Peakwood climb, the toughest part of the race. Nice improvement this year!