Sunday, April 26, 2015

Great Greenbrier River Race 2015

Team Hill and Holler took 1st place for coed teams!

I didn't get to do this race last year because it fell on the same weekend as the Blue Ridge 1/2 Marathon.  This race is always the last Saturday in April, and Blue Ridge is always the weekend before, except for last year, for whatever reason.  I did this race on the Hill and Holler team in 2012 and 2013 though.  In 2012, Merrick, Jeremiah, and I took first place "male" team.  They had signed up with a different runner, but got me to fill in at the last minute.  In 2013, we got 2nd place coed team.  This year, I let Merrick know that I wanted to run on a team again.  But he didn't want to bike, and we needed a new kayaker.  So I found a friend who kayaks, and we recruited Stu from Hill and Holler to be our cyclist.  Basically, we put together a team of the fastest people we knew for each part of the race.  We planned on crushing the competition.  And we didn't disappoint ourselves.  

race face
a/k/a "get out of my face with the camera" face

The 5k run of this race is really annoying.  They used to let the solo participants go first, and then the teams 5 minutes later.  It was always a problem, because the faster team runners would catch up to the slower solo runners, on a narrow out-and-back trail, and then the fast runners have to weave in and out of slow people while trying not to block the faster solo runners who are coming back the opposite direction.  This year, they let the male solos go first, then 5 minutes later the female solos, and then all the team runners 5 minutes later.  What. A. Mess.  It might have been worse than when they had two waves.  I jumped into second place team within minutes, and soon after that began encountering the slow solo people.  Many of them were walking in groups, which made them even harder to get around.  The further I got, the more crowded the trail was.  And then the fastest solo runners started coming head-on.  It was quite annoying, as I was running as hard as I could, and did not appreciate having to break my stride so much.  

Since I've started using the HR monitor, I've never seen more than a minute in Z5.  
But somehow I spent 7+ minutes in Z5 in this race.  
So even though it's not my fastest 5k ever...apparently I was working hard!

I ended up finishing the run in 19:46, with only one guy ahead of me.  I had no idea if he was part of a male or coed team, but either way, we were in pretty good standing.  I high-fived Mallory, and she jumped in her kayak and headed down the river.  

Did I mention that it was raining and in the 40s?  What a miserable day. 

Eventually, our team finished and I learned that a few teams had passed Mallory on the river, but that Stu had passed a bunch of teams on the bike.  So we knew we had at least finished top 3.  We were all cold, wet, and miserable, but we wanted to stay for awards in case we won, so we stayed.  The race had started at 11, they finally got to the awards around 2:30.  It seemed like they were saving our category for last.  They went through male solos, female solos, masters, seniors, male teams, female teams, finally they got to us.  We were ecstatic to find out that we had won!  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2 down, 2 to go

I've survived my first two of four races in a row...hopefully I will also survive the next two!

this week : 
M : 4.5
W : 4.8
Sa : 0.3, 13.1
total miles : 22.8

Blue Ridge Half Marathon 2015

and then there were five...
I love my runner-dude trophies!
2011 2nd place age group
2012 2nd place
2013 2nd place
2014 3rd place
2015 2nd place

Another successful race in the books.  I am very happy with how I ran yesterday.  I know that I gave that race everything I had, and I don't feel like I made mistakes anywhere that could have cost me a faster time.  The weather was almost perfect, low-mid sixties and sunny.  The 90% humidity was a little bit oppressive, but I was able to draw enough oxygen out of the air so it didn't affect my performance.  This was the first race of the year that was warm enough to race in shorts and a t-shirt, and I loved that!  I am so ready to be done with long pants, sleeves, hats, and gloves!

I got very little sleep the night before this race.  Some people in the parking lot of the motel apparently thought it was a good idea to have a car horn honking battle in the middle of the night.  I think it lasted at least 5 minutes.  And it was really hard to get back to sleep after that.

I started the race right behind the line, as I always do, and didn't have any trouble with the crowd as we took off.  I noticed Sarah (1st place runner) almost right away, and had to continually remind myself to run my race and not hers. I've been trying to beat her for years, but it wasn't meant to be this year either.  We went back and forth for the first 3 miles or so.  But she was clearly in the lead by the top of Mill Mountain and I never caught up to her again.  There was a timing mat around mile 5.5 where they told me 1st place was 2 minutes ahead of me.  A mile or two later, at the Fleet Feet water station, someone told me I was in the lead.  That messed with my head a bit...but I was pretty positive that whoever told me I was in first was delusional.  And later on people started telling me I was second, so I knew for sure that Sarah was indeed still ahead of me somewhere.

Thinking about it during the race, I decided that the difference between Sarah and I must be that she trains, and I run.  If I ever want to beat her, I will probably have to actually start training for real.  But ugh, training.  I'm convinced it will take all the joy out of running.  I might have to just content myself with being in second place forever.

The first three times I ran this race, there was the Mill Mountain ascent/descent, and then the rest of the course was flat/rolling.  Last year, the course was changed to make it harder.  I wasn't supposed to run last year because of tendonitis, but of course I ran anyway.  However, I held myself back a bit because of the tendonitis, and apparently wasn't paying too much attention, because I definitely did not remember all the hills that were added.  I remembered the Peakwood neighborhood, but I thought that was the last real hill on the course.  All the signs saying it was the last hill reinforced this misconception.  But then I encountered a few more hills.  I felt like I was crawling up them, but I guess everyone else was too, because no one passed me.  I felt pretty strong on Mill Mountain and Peakwood, but each hill after that was a crawl upwards followed by a frantic pounding down the other side while trying not to think about all the various injuries I was likely to incur by such a pounding.

It was a lonely race, as usual.  Obviously I like finishing in the top ten for bragging and achievement purposes, but it's so lonely up there!  There was no one near me for most of the race.  It definitely makes me wish for my headphones, but I'm not going to give in and start racing with them.  I'm really hoping for more of a pack to run with at Pittsburgh in two weeks since it is such a big race.  I'm curious to see how much faster I can run if I have a pack to run with instead of being all alone.

Bottle-opener on the medals this year!

I finished 2nd female, 9th overall, in 1:38:24 chip time (1:38:21 watch time).  I ran 5 minutes faster than last year.  Maybe next year I can take off another 5 minutes...

Can you tell which miles were uphill and which were downhill?!

 Judging by how sore my legs are today (not the worst they've ever been after a race, but definitely sore), I need to do a lot more hill training for next year's race.  It's kind of hard to believe that I don't already run enough hills, considering that is about all I do...but oh well.  More hills it is.

Blue Ridge elevation profile

It is unfortunate the I live on the second floor and the laundry is in the basement...I always have to do laundry the day after a race...and those stairs are no fun!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Race 1 of 4 and a bike ride

One race down, 3 to go!  It has occurred to me that cross-training would be a good idea so that I can exercise without straining my running legs too much.  But then I realized that I may be too out of shape for biking to be able to do much in between all these races without it being worse for me than just running...

I went for a ride today, and kept it as easy as I could.  It didn't hurt nearly as much as I had thought it might, but I still have to play the waiting game to see how sore I will be.  Or maybe I will be lucky and not really be sore.

I have suspended my minimum running requirements until after my crazy 4 weeks of racing.  I really don't want to overdue it... I am trying for 20 miles a week instead of 30, but if I end up with a week under 20, I doubt I will beat myself up about it.

This week:
T : 5
R : 7
F : 4.5
Sa : 0.8, 6.1, 0.4 (warm-up, race, cool-down)
Su : 16.4 bike
total miles run: 24
total miles bike : 16.4

I spent some relaxing time out at the barn with Pony yesterday afternoon, to enjoy the weather even more.  She is shedding up a storm - there is now no doubt that it is Spring!

Chocolate Chase 10k 2015

Another successful race is in the books!  I didn't get the distance PR I was wishing for, but I did get a course PR, and I do believe I ran a great race, so I am happy!

Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I didn't have to drive myself to the airport and then try to find a way back to get my car after the race.  Plus, the ride to the airport was entertaining, as her toddler son kept asking about the giant airplane I was going to get on.  And then he told me that he was very fast and would win the race.  It is understandably hard for a toddler to grasp why we would be going to the airport if not to get on a plane!  I saw him later in the day and he asked me if I won the race.  I was happy to report that I did.

The weather for this race was about as good as anyone could hope for in early April.  I would have been very happy with 10 or 20 extra degrees, but I can't have was high 40s/low50s and gorgeous!  Also windy.  But the sky was a brilliant shade of blue and the hills are turning green, so the scenery was pretty.  The Chocolate Chase is a 9 AM race, so the temperature did rise a few degrees during the run.  I felt the wind in my face as I ran the beginning of the race as a warm-up, and it worried me a little bit, but it didn't end up bothering me that much during the race.  (although it is quite tempting to blame the wind for the fact that I didn't break 40 minutes!)

I started the race off strong and fast, but not too fast.  I kept my long sleeves over my watch for the entire race so that I couldn't be tempted to glance down and mess up my race by worrying about what the watch said. I settled into 5th place pretty early on and kept what felt like a strong steady pace.  I took fourth place at some point.  Second and third were always a good sprint ahead, but not worth wasting the energy on a sprint.  As the miles went by, I crept slowly closer.  As we neared the end of the fifth mile I realized I was closer than ever, and that second place was definitely slowing down.  With one mile to go, I suddenly discovered a reserve of energy and I picked up the pace. I sailed right by second and third.  (First place was blisteringly fast and out of sight for most of the race.)  Once I was in second, I kept pushing myself.  I was feeling strong, and knew it was all downhill to the finish.  I had no idea whether or not the two guys I had passed were keeping up with me or not, but there was no way I was going to turn around and find out.  I couldn't hear anything but my own footsteps and heavy breathing.  As the finish line came into view, I kept pushing harder and sprinted til I had crossed the line.  I still didn't look back, just reset my watch and went straight into a cooldown jog.

Later, while hanging around in the crowd, waiting for the awards ceremony, I saw results posted so I went to look.  The guy that was in third place for most of the race finished only a second behind me!  I have no idea how he was that close to me without me hearing him, nor do I have any idea whether he was that close to me the whole time or if he just had a late kick that helped him almost catch me in the end.  The first place runner finished in 35:52, and I finished in 40:14 (according to the timing group).  Their timing is only semi-accurate, as the only clock/timing mat they had was at the finish line, 6+ miles from the starting line.  My watch had me at 40:17, which I'm imagining is the more accurate time.  The last time I ran this race, two years ago, I ran a 40:25.

They stepped it up on the prize this year!  
Those five chocolate-tasting tickets brought my total to 15 free tickets for this year's Chocolate Festival.  I won five for the half marathon in October, and a friend one five for the 5k in October, but couldn't be here, so I got his tickets.  I ate a lot of free and delicious chocolate yesterday...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Photography Lately

It's really nice to house-sit somewhere with a backyard/view!

April 1

April 2

April 3

Happy Easter!

I ran six days instead of 5 this week...because today was supposed to be a day off but I can't properly celebrate a holiday without a run!  (or that is the excuse I am using, anyway)

miles this week:
M : 6.4 (road/trail)
T :  6.2
R : 6 (road/trail)
F : 4.4 / 2.5
Sa : 7
Su : 4.5
total miles : 37.3

Monday's and Thursday's runs were with the dogs I was taking care of, as was Friday's 2.5 miler.  Friday's was my last run with them.  I had a good time house/dog sitting for a week, and even though that bed was possibly the most comfortable one I have ever slept in, it felt good to get back to my own bed on Friday night.  The weather was sunny and gorgeous yesterday and today, but not nearly as warm out as it looked.  Only about 46 degrees for my runs both days, and really strong wind on Saturday.  

It is my goal to take it easy on training mileage for the next month or so, and not set any kind of minimum miles for myself, because I have a race every weekend for the next FOUR WEEKENDS!  What was I thinking?! (other than that I am addicted to racing...) Hopefully I will have successful races and stay injury free.  

Since faculty meeting was cancelled on Wednesday, and I had already planned not to run, I took advantage of finally having some free time on a nice-weather day and took Franka out to the barn to visit Pony.  She has been asking me to take her for awhile not and I just hadn't been able to make it happen.  

We were talking about horses as I was getting ready to leave school and 
she said  : "Some horses are white, some are brown, some are black, and some are pink."
I said : "There's no such thing as pink horses!"
she said : "I used to have a pink horse, but a tiger ate it."
She has been killing off a lot of things with tigers lately...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Newborn Photo Session

My best friend had a baby!
And we had lots of fun taking photos.

She was still young enough to be super bendy, but she didn't feel like cooperating.  
She really just wanted to crawl.  
Her little legs were moving fast, but she couldn't get her head off the ground...
As soon as she can hold her head up she's going to be moving!

the blanket I made for her

Sweet Briar College 3/28-29/2015

Busy Days

I try to post my weekly mileage reports on Sundays, but time keeps getting away from me.  Better late than never!  I've been house/dog sitting since Friday afternoon, and I visited Sweet Briar over the weekend.  I couldn't miss what may be the last History Department Party ever!  I've only been to one other one since I graduated, and it was several years ago.  They are always a fun time.  This one was supposed to be on a Wednesday, but after the announcement that the school was closing, the party was moved to a Saturday so that more alumnae would be able to come.

This week's miles:
M : 3.5 GSF trails w/MB
T : 7.3
R : 4.5
4.1 trail/road w/EK
Sa : 4.2 trail/road
Su : 4.2 @SBC
total miles : 31.2

The house I'm staying at this week has some trails/old logging roads in the woods behind it, including a very steep trail down to the river.  One of the dogs comes with me on runs, the other generally chooses to stay behind.  I ran the route once with the owner before she left town, so that I would have a general familiarity with the trails.  When I ran the loop on Saturday morning, I took a wrong turn.  It dead-ended, and Mavvie barked furiously at me when I figured it out and backtracked.  I think she was laughing at me.