Friday, November 20, 2015

I'm Racing a Half Marathon this Weekend *Gulp*

It's scarier for me to say I am running a half marathon this weekend than it would a marathon. I've run 20+ halves and still don't feel like I know how to race them. I haven't trained specifically for a half in a few years, they have all been in the middle of marathon training. I don't regret that, and it probably won't change for a while. I like my marathons, sue me. 

I've run a few halves this year, none of them stellar. Lake Effect was a snowy bad attitude disaster. Syracuse was a strong effort and good course PR, but still not an all out race for me. Pacing Buffalo was fun half, but again not a race effort. With that, my last half was really Empire last year (still my current official PR). Right now my half marathon PR pace and marathon PR pace are only 2 seconds/mile apart. Needless to say I have some room to move with that half time. We will see.

The last 8 weeks have been a roller coaster of training, with a marathon thrown in the middle and a bunch of random 5k's surrounding that. Most importantly though, it's been FUN. I've not stressed about training for the most part, and haven't been following a strict plan. Mentally I have needed the break after go-go-going on a training plan for well...a really long time.

With that said, I am taking Philly semi-seriously because I KNOW I can PR. But, I'm also going into it knowing this won't be the best I can do (ever) but it will be the best I can give on that day. Reality is, I believe I have far faster times in me but that isn't the point of my running right now. This is my "I'm not following a training plan and if I don't wanna run I won't- Season".

A look at the weeks leading up to this weekends race....

Race week: "Head Cold + PMS= Rage week"
Workouts: Track session: (2 x 1 mile @ T, 2 x 800, 1 x 400, 4 x 100 strides) Cut-down workout
Long Run/Race: -Philly Half Marathon-

2 Weeks out: "Where'd my motivation go week"
Workouts: 60 Minute treadmill tempo (about 45 minutes of "work")
Long Run:  12 Miles with Heather

3 weeks out: "weeeeee training again feels awesome"
Workouts: 9 mile tempo (1 up, 2 Steady State [6:55], 5 Tempo [6:30 avg.], 1 down),
Track workout (4x200m, 2x400m, 4x200m) + Strides
Races: East Ave Grocery Run 5k
Long Run: 16 Miles

4 weeks out: "go with the flow and get it done week"
Workouts: 6ish mile fartlek, 7 mile tempo (1 up, 5 @ 6:28 avg., 1 down)
Long Run: 16 Miles
Races: Pumpkins in the Park 5k (costume race)

5 weeks out: "Getting back into a groove week"
Workouts: Track (1 mile @ T, 2x800m, 2x400m, 4x200m)
Long Run: 14.5 Miles
Races: Scare Away Brain Cancer 5k

6 weeks out: "Recovery week from Chicago Marathon"
Workouts: -none-
Long Run: -none-
Race: Courage Run 5k

7 weeks out: "Chicago Marathon week"
Workouts: -none-
Long Run/Race: Chicago Marathon with Brittany

8 weeks out: "First time doing anything fast since Erie week"
Workouts: Track (10x200)
Long Run: -none-
Race: Photo Finish 5k

9 &10 weeks out: Erie Marathon/Recovery Weeks

I admit looking over this made me feel better about Philly, I have done a few workouts and the races help too.  This race was not on my 'goal race radar' until maybe 5 weeks out. I wasn't sure how I'd feel with back to back marathons, but knew that a half PR would be good way to end the season. I was already planning on spectating the marathon so it worked out to run the half and then play cheerleader after. Win-win.

If I use my most recent 5k time/PR (18:46), that converts to 1:26:53
If I use my marathon PR time (2:58:13), that converts to 1:24:41

I have problems with both of these conversions. My 5k times have never matched my marathon times, I always fair faster on the distance end (which is so strange to me based on my short distance experience being stronger). On the other end of things, using my marathon time seems illogical since that was 10+ weeks ago and I don't have that same fitness right now.

So I guess that leaves me somewhere in the middle, which is conveniently where my goal lies. I think based on training, and where I am currently at (not in peak shape, but not a couch potato) a 1:26:XX is a reasonable goal.

Throwing that out there for a little public accountability.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

East Ave Grocery Run 2015

Oh look it's another race recap! Sixth weekend in a row of racing to be exact, so not the norm for me but it's been fun! I knew this would be my last race before Philly half in two weeks though, and also know it would be a good confidence booster if it went well. I didn't go in planning on a PR, but I also didn't rule it out. I have been consistently between 18:55-19:07 for a while now so I was hoping to be somewhere around there.

B got up in the morning with me and drove me to the race, which is an easy drive. I warmed up solo and zoned out to some music (I may not listen to it while racing anymore, but I still love it for pumping myself up during pre-race!). I couldn't gauge how I was feeling, but finished with some strides and checked out the field anyways. Based on who I saw, I told B I could have a tough time cracking the top 10 but that I would try. A quick shoe change and last minute hug and it was about go time. I high fived and said hi to a few friends and other Bergen teammates (was nice to have a few of us there!)

I was on the line off to the side, but near some people that I knew would be good to chase once we took off. I was near a girl who I bobbled back and forth with two weeks ago at the 5k so I decided to just hang with her for at least the first mile. It gave me something to focus on and we were holding a good pace. The first mile is 95% straight, the marker was shortly after the first course turn. This mile also slight elevation loss. 5:55

After we made turn two, I pulled ahead and started picking others off as I could. I wasn't paying attention to my watch, just focusing on form and pushing forward. The second mile had two turns, and finished on a slight grade. I did see B shortly before the end of the second mile which made me smile. 6:06

The third mile of this course (new course this year) definitely was the most challenging of the three. First off it's the third mile of a 5k, it's supposed to be a grind at the end. Secondly this mile has FIVE turns and a short steep incline right between two of those turns. It was just enough to take the wind out of my sails, and admittedly I didn't pace it well. I continued to pick people off without looking at my watch, I had no clue when I needed to kick. I unfortunately waited until the final turn onto East which left me with very little room to make up ground. Live and learn.

No, that is NOT a lot of elevation change but damn I let it get to me more than I should have!
I pushed as hard as I could and was running 5:02 pace for the last 30 seconds. In my head I was a little mad at myself for not tackling the last mile better and kicking too late, but then I saw the clock and knew I was about to PR. 18:46 was the official time, and gave me a 3rd place finish. Anger went away pretty darn quick, I can't help but be my own worst critic but I'll also celebrate my success just the same.

Basically opposite pacing of the 5k two weeks prior, but I was faster overall this time so I can't be TOO mad.
Overall I am happy with how my times have been with shorter distances this fall since Erie Marathon. I still need serious work on short distance pacing but I know that I can fix that in time. This was a good confidence booster for Philly half, and was very pleased to end up in top 3 ($50 was a nice unexpected thing to walk away with). A few of the women I thought were racing ended up not, but this was still a solid field- I definitely ran knowing that I had quite a few women right on my heels (good motivation to push though!).

This week will be a bigger training week for Philly and next week I plan to do a small taper for the half. If you want to know about the previous two weeks of training you can check that out ----> here.

2014 Grocery Run Recap (Old Course)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ten things Thursday: Catching up on Life

Admittedly, for a good chunk of time I was rolling with the punches but also expecting the punches regularly. I kind of felt like I was in the ring with Ronda Rousey a bit, but somehow managed to come out alive and relatively unscathed. 
Lets file the last few years under 'Chaos' and current state as 'great changes'
Life lately has been much less of a boxing match, and much more of a zip line ride down a mountain. All of a sudden I look around and things are just....amazing. Life has been changing at a rapid pace, complete with all of the emotions. It's exciting, fun, a little scary but as a whole just a damn good experience. Sure, it's not always easy and I find my grip slipping here and there but you adjust and hold on like hell. 

A few things to talk about, so in true Laura fashion we will go with the list....

1. I have a secret to share. My alter ego is published! You can now call me Barley, read more about that right here --->Introducing Barley!<--- on Salty Running. I am really excited to start writing over on SR, I will be posting my training logs as well as other running/training/racing posts. This little corner of the web isn't going anywhere though. I will be sharing the writing between sites, and created a tab up top for links to all my Salty posts as they are done! So I guess that really wasn't a secret but I just hadn't gotten around to talking about it because I was busy with....

2. Moving. This fall has been pretty darn busy (but in so many good ways!). The decision was made towards the end of September, even though we knew that October was going to be nuts. B was gone the first 2 weeks of the month, and I spent 5 days partying and running my way through Chicago. When we both got back it was time to just make things happen. A few evening trips with the truck (followed by food and beer at Tap & Mallet), and a few more day trips and a large trailer load and we were done. The house is full: 2 people, 2 dogs, 2 sets of adults belongings....and many jokes about needing a room for my books and my running shoes. Many adventures in cohabitation to come :)

3. Speaking of moving, I didn't realize how attached I was to my regular running routes until I didn't have them! I moved out of the city, but am in a pretty busy area with less convenient access to my go to running spots. Not a huge deal, in fact it's been fun finding new routes. Sometimes I get home and say I will NEVER run on THAT road again, and other times I come back all excited to return to a road for a certain type of workout. I do miss some of my old routes though, luckily it's not THAT far away.

4. Training has been, slowly becoming training again if that makes sense. Between Erie and Chicago I basically just ran if I wanted and didn't otherwise. After Chicago it's been a mish mash of runs, races, and whatever I could fit in. I finally feel like I have some structure back which is a good feeling. I also have a new gym membership which is 2 miles from my new home- convenient for getting workouts in, and for running (treadmill time is imminent, it's November). This is Upstate, NY. It may have been 78 yesterday, but I'm a realist and I know I'll be grumbling over white crap in no time. I'm sticking with a pretty loose training plan for the time being though- after a big year of training and racing, the stress free and fun is a great distraction.

5. Bibs Galore! I used to race a LOT, like a lot lot. Over the past few years it's dwindled a bit, although I still race a decent amount. Somehow, fall fun running turned into racing a ton! Since I'm not high volume training right now, and have gone into all but one (Erie) of these with no expectations/pressure/stress- I don't think it's a bad thing to spend my weekends poking myself with safety pins at ungodly hours.
9/20 Recovery Week
9/27 More Recovery running

6. Racing. While we are on the topic, there are two more to add for upcoming races. I am running a 5k this weekend (I'd like to be around where I have been, but also have been training more this week so who knows), and then racing Philly half in two and a half weeks! Admittedly, I do have some bigger goals for Philly but that we can talk about another day.

7. I know I already did a race recap- but um, yeah. You gotta see this again. because...jorts.

8. Can we talk about the weather? No, seriously...the weather has been awesome! We had a cold snap for a bit but then this week has been 70's! Yesterday Rochester reached 78 which broke a 70+ year temperature record. Usually we are breaking cold or snow records this time of year, so cheers to something new! Buffalo Bills also won a new title, drunkest fans. Admittedly this shocked me far less than a record breaking 78 degrees on November 4th.

9. We all know I love my Zensah compression. What you may not know is they have wool sleeves now! I know I was just talking about it being 70 degrees outside, but it's NY and that could change in 5 seconds. I love the wool sleeves and can see myself using them a LOT this winter. They are super warm/cozy but still offer great compression without being crazy itchy! Check those out here---->Wool Compression sleeves

10. Apparently my life isn't changing as much as I thought if I can't come up with 10 things without talking about the weather. Obviously there are other things in life going on. I still work (ONE job for the time being, WHATTTTTT?!). I still run. I still drink beer. Basically, I'm the same person but I smile a hell of a lot more and my zip code is different.

What's new?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pumpkins in the Park 2015: Lumberladies!

Every year, on the Saturday closest to Halloween (or this year, on Halloween!) I run the Pumpkins in the Park 5k here in Rochester. This race in 2009 was one of my first 5k's ever! My sister and I ran it together, and it became a tradition. She has run 3 of the last 6 years with me, and this year was year 7. I did the other 3 years solo, but this year had Heather with me! Basically I told her to come dress up like an idiot with me and spend a night in Rochester, she obliged :)

We tossed around a few ideas but settled on Lumberjacks, we actually had most of the things we needed without going to the store. When she got into town on Friday we hit up Party City for the remaining few things (beards and suspenders).

After that it was time to get out and unwind (both had hectic weeks), which involved good people at a friends Halloween party (and beer). After the party we headed to a bar where my boyfriends friends band was playing, which turned into a fun filled evening of drinks and dancing and putting stress behind us.

Saturday morning was standard, coffee and bumming around the house trimming our beards. Wait, okay not so standard. But it was amusing, and we got a huge kick out of it.

We got to the race at Cobb's hill a bit early and did about a mile and a half warm-up. Even though we weren't racing the actual race, we wanted a little more daily mileage. Running in jorts and suspenders was oddly not as uncomfortable as expected, although we did have compression shorts underneath. No time for chaffing.

Honestly I don't have a ton to say about the race. We laughed a ton. We made others laugh. We pretended to chop wood. We commented on everyone's costumes. Most importantly, I got to spend a night and  a fun morning with Heather (which hasn't happened since AUGUST). We naturally went for coffee and breakfast after the race....still in costume. 

I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking. 

Photo courtesy Fleet Feet Rochester
Photo courtesy Fleet Feet Rochester

Previous Pumpkins in the Park Costumes

Monday, October 26, 2015

Scare Brain Cancer Away 5k 2015

This past weekend, I ran yet another 5k. This would be my third this month (on top of Chicago Marathon), not my usual racing style, but it has been fun and stress-free which is what I am going for right now. I decided to run the Scare Brain Cancer Away 5k, located in East Rochester.

I had never done this race before, because it always fell on the same day as Pumpkins in the park which is a race I have done for 6 years now (2014, 2013 & earlier). This year however, PITP is on Halloween  which meant I could actually try out another race without missing the other.

Course has a lot of turns for a 3.1 mile race!
I figured this was a good opportunity for another fun race, no stress and just see what happens (as with the others I have done this fall since Erie). B came with me, and brought one of the dogs to walk around while I ran. It was nice having the support, and gave me something to look forward to at the finish.

After a shorter warm-up, and a mad dash back to the car to change into my flats- I lined up far left shortly before go time. Once I got through the initial mad dash of the crowd I just tried to settle into a comfortably hard pace and find some people to try and stick with. I went back and forth with a girl for the first mile, finally I was able to pull ahead and stay there. I also bobbled back and forth with one guy, and would continue to do so for the remainder of the race.

I felt like I was holding a good pace and not fading too hard but I wouldn't look at my watch because I didn't need to know. Once I hit the second mile though, I decided to see where I was at. 6:14 for mile 2, and I was feeling good- oh shit I should probably speed up. Basically a slap in the face to wake up, bad habit to fall asleep in the middle of 5k's pace wise.
Apparently all that box lifting from moving left me jacked up top. Also don't mind my little Elivs meets Snookie Poof on top of my head- I was lazy.
I cruised in the last mile, saw B and Pepper around 2.5 which was good a good pick me up and made the final turn to the finish. I was really happy to see the clock and that I was under 19 again, which is the second time that has happened since August (well, and ever). So close to a PR, and I do think I would have had it had I not gotten complacent in the middle mile. Oh well, I'm not mad about it in any sense. In fact, I'm happy with the times I have been able to run lately coming off my own big race, as well as another marathon thrown in the middle.

My data for the race
Official time for the race was 18:55, which put me at 4th female and an age group win. 

So another weekend down and another 5k under my belt. Happy with the progress and enjoying the way running is going right now while having the time to give other things in life some priority. Next weekend I will be doing Pumpkins in the park costume 5k, and I roped Heather into joining me (stay tuned for costumes, because we don't even know yet). 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Courage Run 5k 2015

Coming off of Chicago Marathon it certainly wasn't in my plan to race a 5k only 6 days later. Reality is I had never ran for 4+ hours before and wasn't sure how recovery would go. To my surprise, I bounced back pretty quickly. I was feeling good, and I knew that walking, easy running, and focusing on sleep and hydration really helped during the week. Because of this, Friday when it was brought up to me about a 5k on Saturday I didn't immediately rule it out (also didn't immediately say yes).

In the end I decided I would do it, it was a close to home race for a good cause and admittedly knew I could probably walk away with a little cash. I also was confident in my self control to back off if I felt like it was too much.

It was a cold morning, but nothing a few layers couldn't handle until I did my warm-up. The drive was short to Hamlin, maybe 15 minutes and that included weaving around cop cars on every corner. There were 2 races going on within a mile of each other. The other race was a 15k/5k, and shared part of the same course as the 5k I was doing, but the different start times made it easy. I think the cops were confused which race was which though.

I did my warm-up solo, and then went and found Kraig and his wife Chelsea. I did a few strides and stayed loose while the SMALL race field gathered at the start line (64 people). I had stripped down to shorts, compression sleeves, my Bergen Elite singlet and my racing flats. I absentmindedly forgot to put my arm warmers on (*forehead slap*). When we started I stayed with Kraig, but then realized he was going out far faster than I was willing to take on that day so I backed off. Bye!

I had been told before the race, that there would be an uphill after mile two, but then downhill last quarter mile or so. Mile one went smoothly, and I was chilly but not too bad. Mile two went by about the same, wasn't feeling amazing but held steady. Then I saw the mile 2 marker, and I saw the hill. It wasn't gigantic, not in any sense but I wasn't in the mood for it and the headwind kind of just made me hate it a tiny bit more. I dropped a few curse words and remember saying to myself "just pump your arms and get up the hill then you can take downhill finish". Problem was, I couldn't pump my arms because they were so cold due to my stupidity not putting arm warmers on and the wind going into them. I just said it is what it is, and knew this was going to be a big positive split mile- oh well.

When I got to the top of the hill there was a big crowd of people cheering, I laughed at the high school boys yelling "Next stop, BOSTON MARATHON!". Smiled, and stared at the steep downhill to the finish and cruised in. Like my 5k two weeks prior, I was pleasantly surprised to see 18:XX when I could see the clock for first time- 19:05 Finish time.
Official time was 19:05, apparently I stink at stopping my watch (which is odd considering how much practice I have doing that at finish lines;))
Kraig took third (but an unofficial win due to first 2 being in HS and can't accept prize money), and I was fifth overall (first female). So we both walked away with over $100 cash in hand. We did a short cool down, chatted with his wife and waited for our awards while drinking the race out of coffee.

This was a great race, one that is held in honor of a local woman who was taken too soon because of Breast Cancer. While yes it was small, it was well run race with nice shirts, reasonable entry fee, good prizes and a decent course. You could tell most everyone there knew and loved the woman (also named Laura) it was in memorial for- touching to see her friends and family come together in the community.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chicago Marathon 2015

One of the biggest pieces I left out while talking about the incredible weekend in Chicago, was obviously the race. It feels very different to write up a recap for this marathon. Sure, I DID run a marathon- my thirteenth to be exact, but this wasn't "my" marathon to recap. It was quite a bit of "ours" but mainly "hers"(Britt).

While the marathon thing isn't new to me, this was the first time I would run Chicago and also the first time going into a race without my own personal goals. My goals all had to do with Britt- helping her achieve marathoner status, and hopefully enjoy it along the way. As the weekend came, I was really glad that I had decided to do my goal race before this, it allowed me to be totally present in Chicago and not worrying about what was next.

The morning started with a walk to the park with the rest of the ladies, some photos at the Bean and obviously a selfie or two along the way. All of the cadets were calm, collected and I could tell we were all just excited to be ready to go!

Things were pretty well organized around the start (gear check, bathrooms, corrals, etc.) so we maneuvered through with relative ease. Once we were in the start corral we ran into some of the other ladies and exchanged good lucks and also some "You are NOT a chicken" (had to be there...).
Pre- Race Selfie with Michele!
The first few miles were just, different. But in such a good way. I wasn't stressed, I wasn't even worried about Britt taking off like a bat out of hell and trying to slow her down. Did we go out a little faster than planned, yes but not much. We looked around, commented about all of the people, and just smiled our way through the city buildings.

We knew we would see Ashley, my Mom and hopefully a few others within the first 3 miles. Sure enough, I saw Ashley (with her husband and Jennie in tow) and yelled her name with a smile and wave. A little while later we crossed a bridge, and oh there's Mom! We both got excited, and then joked that in about 30 seconds there would probably be a video of us screaming on facebook. We were wrong, but she did get some good pictures:)

The miles ticked away pretty quickly, we focused on puppies (yes, I'm serious) and reading funny signs. We sang when we heard songs on course that we knew, and simultaneously did dances that weren't even planned.

We watched for people we knew, sometimes we saw them and sometimes we didn't. We saw Jenny a few times which was a great- so glad we finally got to meet in person! We saw Grayson, one of our amazing Saucony leaders and her ladybug balloon overhead. Before we knew it we were looping back through for the half, and got another fun Mom sighting to boot. Still smiling away.

Miles 13-16 were pretty much on point with the first 13, but admittedly it was warming up and we knew that anything can happen that second half. Britt took a bathroom stop, I used this as a good chance to stretch. My left Achilles was a little tight and it needed a little TLC, the paces were pretty unfamiliar to me so my body was adjusting and stretching did wonders.

After that bathroom stop mile, we got right back down to business. We continued with alternating water/Gatorade every other mile. We were both using Honey Stinger energy chews for fuel, which worked really well and paired that up with water stops. I also took two Hammer Endurolytes mid-race as I knew it would be helpful with the rising temperatures.

I could tell the later miles were wearing on Britt(It's expected as she was entering new territory!), but she was doing an awesome job keeping her head up. We still had mid-run dance parties when a good song played, she commented on how fast some of the miles were going by mentally, and we still got excited pointing out all the dogs on the course {can you tell we are dog mom's?}.

I have to say she was SO mentally prepared for those later miles (whether she realizes it or not). I didn't need to tell her to set small goals when things got hard, she just did it. I didn't need to tell her to be consistent with fueling, she just did it. I didn't need to tell her to increase fluids when it got hot, she knew. So maybe her training wasn't 100% what she wanted with some speed bumps along the way, but her mental game was on point and I was very proud!

We celebrated little victories along the way, which is always a good thing to help keep you positive. After this mile, only single digit miles left! Or, hey here comes mile 20- the furthest you've ever run! Quite a few "Can I get a hell yeah?!" every time we hit 21, 22, 23 and so on- new mileage PR's for her. I tried to remind her of the amazing things that she's got to look forward to (BEER, Buffalo Bills Football, Team celebration dinner, BEER) at the finish.

We would hit a mile, and I told her "hey 5 miles, how many times have you ran 5 miles- that's nothing!". I tried to give her the right amount of encouragement without being overbearing, hopefully something I accomplished. We took walk breaks for water, and stretch breaks as needed. Setting little goals to keep going, "okay when we get to that green sign, we go". She kept trucking on, and not once questioning that finish line.

When we were in the final mile I could see it on her face, that sense of "this is happening". It made me so happy, and I think we were both more emotional than we led on at the time. I heard my name yelled loud and cranked my whole body around to see my friend Mark whom I met in O'hare last year while we were both stuck for flight delays. It was a great boost at the end, and of course sped me up a bit. I think this happened a few times, we would see someone and I'd get excited then Britt would pull back on my reins. Sorry for that, I just love people cheering for us! :)

We made the right turn to go up the "hill" and chuckled as this would normally be a speed bump for us upstate NY girls. Then there was a 400m to go sign and we both noted the fact that in the distance of ONE lap around a track we would be done! With 300m to go, all of a sudden Britt took off. She found that final gear and left me in the dust, I chased her down weaving through everyone and we crossed the finish line side by side. In fact, our times are identical! I love our finish photo, it shows how happy I was for her and her emotional "this is real" face.

She did it, she became a marathoner on October 11, 2015 and I got to witness the entire thing. In all honesty I think I'll remember more about HER first marathon than I do my own. I know I get emotional just thinking about it!

All in all Chicago marathon was everything I was told it would be. The course is pretty dang flat (Erie is definitely flatter, if you are interested), the course was scenic and entertaining. There were lots of crowds, the bridges with carpets rolled out was cool (I love Bridges!), the neighborhoods were electric and finish views were fantastic. I admittedly still think Boston is a little louder and rowdier though, Chicago put up a good fight- but it's really hard to battle the sounds of the Wellesley women and Boston college partiers. It was great to knock another marathon major off the list and obviously experience it in an unforgettable way with a great friend.

So, Chicago was my 13th marathon. Lucky 13, and I truly feel like I was lucky. I had great chance to support Brittany, represent two power companies in the industry, and spend the weekend with many other amazing and inspiring women. Lucky 13, yup..lucky indeed.

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