Friday, March 27, 2015

Syracuse Half Marathon 2015

After Lake Effect, coach and made Syracuse half a 'maybe' on the calendar. Mainly because of the mental state LE put me into- and because 'Cuse was 4 weeks out from Boston. We decided after Johnny's that I would actually run Cuse but that I still had the ability to pull the plug on it at any time (i.e. if it was a blizzard race morning like last year). So I was going into the race weekend pretty relaxed because it wasn't certain I'd be racing, therefore it wasn't a goal race. The goals for this race were less about time and more about running controlled, confident and keeping my head on straight.

After watching weather reports, I knew that morning could be tough and didn't want to drive so I booked a cheap motel for the night before. This allowed me to go out to Syracuse Saturday, have a beer and some food with Heather and then relax. I think I watched Hulu on my laptop in bed all night, crazy Saturday party girl I know.

I woke up before my alarm Sunday morning, which isn't unusual for race day- but it wasn't my mind or body, it was the sound of snow plows. Looked out the window to see...
No, not crazy amount of snow. But still not what you wanna see on race morning!
I got ready as if I was going to run, and decided I would make the call when I actually got there. It was only a 10 minute drive, but traffic was really bad once I got into downtown so I parked in some random apartment building lot and hoped I'd remember where I was. I had time to run to the Oncenter, pickup my bib and then bag check. I sent a last message to coach "cold and snowy, will be slow" so he wouldn't worry if he saw slow splits on tracking. The fact that they do bag check is huge, especially on a cold day.

As I was running around warming up, I realized the roads weren't THAT bad. The RD had posted on Facebook that they actually took the time to hand salt the course over night. I have to praise them for this, last year the course was a MESS and this new RD made sure that wasn't going to happen if he could help it. I did some strides, and decided I was going to run even if it was a little slower. Luckily Heather found me before the start, her photo proof that I was incredibly at ease going into this race. We chatted and talked about our plans to go to Empire Brewing Company after (one of my favorites), and she told me to run the race for the beer. Good friend I tell ya.
"Do it for the beer!"
Start Conditions: 15 degrees, 15-20mph winds

Traffic was so bad they delayed the start 15 minutes, but eventually we were able to get going. I settled into a pace and didn't look at my watch a ton, just plugged along. The longest hill of the course comes early, I just tucked in and focused on powering up without killing myself. I pictured myself running up one of the Newton hills, and then realized this was a GREAT chance to work on stuff for Boston. I pretty much forgot I was in a different race. I tackled the uphills, relaxed and focused on form on the downhills. I enjoyed not being a slave to my watch and really just wanted to take the course bit by bit. I forgot how many little rollers are mixed in, and how many turns there were- but it gave me good opportunity to focus on small chunks instead of being concerned about my overall time.
No, the elevation isn't crazy but there really are no flat parts. Constant up and down- Great Boston Training!

I don't remember a ton about the middle miles, I do remember swearing a bit about the nasty headwind from 5-7ish. I decided I would pick up pace more once I got to the 15k, I remembered looking at the map before the start and thought that the steep downhill was mile 9....not 8. So, I saw the downhill and tackled it and was like "Weeeeeeeeeeeee" and then realized that I was pushing a mile early. Well fuck. It didn't make a difference really but was just one of those forehead slapping moments. I'm 27 and apparently suck at reading a map, I'll blame it on a frozen brain.
I'm not sure what this face is.
Anyways, after that downhill I was near a very tall lean man in shorts and a singlet. In my head I named him thin man. Thin man and I were step for step for a while, which was amusing because his legs came up to about my shoulders. I could tell he was struggling with his breathing, I encouraged him a few times as best I could. When we were coming down a little hill and passing the Irish bar Kitty Hoynes (fantastic aid station/cheer section), thin man ruined our unofficial race friendship by cutting me off. He was fading and getting a little loopy and nearly plowed me over stepping in front of me. Luckily I backed off and then darted around him(never to see him again), which triggered lots of "You go girl" from the crowd. Tall Thin man-0, Short Laura-1.

After that it was 'okay I wanna be done', I looked at my watch for the first time in a while and knew that I could squeak in under 90 if I picked it up a bit. Well, okay then! {The whole time I was running I assumed I was more on 1:32-3 pace but again I wasn't paying attention to my Garmin} I knew it wouldn't be a PR but I was really happy to know that even though I wasn't giving 100% I could still break the 90 minute barrier that for years seemed so impossible to me.

As I approached the finish line I could hear Heather cheering, the word "growler" stuck out loud and clear and I ran faster. My name is Laura, and I run for beer (specifically EBC "Local Grind").

Overall really happy with this race, no it wasn't a PR{actually it at the very least IS a course PR by a few minutes} but it was a great training day. I ran at a comfortable pace without killing myself, focused on form with the rolling hills- and I finished with my head on straight. I'm in the peak part of training, the part where I am feeling beat up but still able to knock out some solid races and workouts. Things like that make me uber happy. When I got to my phone, coaches message to me was awesome- because we were 100% on the same page. Talking about not getting greedy during this race because Boston is the goal. Talking about discipline and managing expectations while thinking about long term strategy and overall technique. So no, I didn't throw down a PR 4 weeks before Boston but I gained the confidence from this race as if I had.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

THAT Point in Training

We are a little over a month out from Boston, which means we're in the thick of the final grind until taper. Only a few more weeks of long runs and workouts, then the ever amazing thing called rest. This year is light years different than the final few weeks before Boston last year, that's for sure. I'm truly excited to head back to Massachusetts in a few weeks, and embrace all that the weekend and the race have to offer. More about that another time, for now I need to focus on getting through the rest of this cycle.

This point in training is...

When the already tough task (for me) of waking up in the morning becomes, even tougher. The struggle is real.

Where the thought of running 26.2 miles at X:XX pace makes me feel like.......

Where Tuesday night I cancel plans to do something because I am EXHAUSTED and will be in bed by 8 PM.

Where on Wednesday night (following above Tuesday) I say yes of course we can keep our plans tonight, as long as I can stretch and foam roll too. I'm such an exciting date.


This is the point in training where I need to sit back and relax for a hot minute and look at what I've done so far.

Long runs:
14 (Easy @ 7:49 average)
16 (Progression @ 7:30 average)
16 (Easy @ 7:42 average)
5 x 1 mile (6:08 average)
Tempo Run:
9 mile tempo with 2 x 3 miles (6:56 average for entire thing)
9 mile 'broken' tempo (6:51 average for entire thing)
10 Mile (6:48 average for entire thing)

Long runs: 
18 (Progression, with 7:23 average)
20 (Easy @ 7:56 average)
6 x 1 mile groove intervals (6:17 average)
5 x 1 mile w/60 seconds rest (6:07 average)
4 x 2 mile @ 15k (6:28 average)
3 x 1 mile @ V02 (5:48 average)
12 x 200m (4:46 average pace)
Tempo Run: 
50 Min. wave tempo alternating between ~goal MP and 10k pace (6:59 average for the entire thing)
8.2 mile tempo run (including a 10k PR in the middle, 6:38 average for the entire thing)
Lake Effect Half-Marathon

Long runs: 
22 (Easy @ 8:12 average)
16 (Progression, with 7:30 average)
18 (Easy @ 7:56 average)
5 x 1 mile cruise interval (6:26 average)
Tempo Run: 
14 mile tempo (6:51 average for the entire thing)
12 mile tempo (6:39 average for the entire thing)
5 mile race PR
Upcoming Half marathon this weekend

Maybe I just needed to take the time to write all of that out, stare at it and take a few things away from it all...

1. January was still a solid start to the year, even with being sick for a week.

2. Holy Speed Batman! February really worked on my turnover.

3. No wonder I'm freaking tired right now, that's a whole lotta' work...

4. Those 'average for the entire thing' include warm-up and cool down miles on tempo runs. There was a time my 'tempo pace' wasn't even as fast as I am averaging including those slow miles. Progress.

So, I may be tired and hungry and ready for taper but I've got a few more weeks of work to do. Hey Boston.....

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Johnny's Running of the Green 2015

After a lackluster start to the racing year at Lake Effect, I was hoping for a breakthrough at Johnny's. Well, I got a PR and had a really fun day with Heather- so maybe not a breakthrough but certainly a fantastic weekend!

The week was a little hectic with life/training/work but  kept on track- until Friday. Things blew up at work a bit and I couldn't get my run in before it got too late, it happens. Luckily Heather was coming into town after work, and her being there helped me mentally relax and unwind from an exhausting day. We went to Johnny's Pub where packed pickup is (yes, at a bar), and of course had to stay and have a pint. We had a pretty low key night the two of us with food, drinks, and lots of talking. Also, my dog attacking her with fur and kisses- at least he is cute so he can get away with it.

Race morning is so easy for this race as I live a mile away. We parked, warmed-up, threw our stuff inside the War Memorial and then we were off. I was so happy to see that they FINALLY listened to runners and removed the bottleneck start this year and gave us some room. Once we started I could tell that not running since my tempo on Wednesday was going to create some heavy legs. I tried to shake it off and just run.
Heather and I during warm-up...while I'm eating my Honey Stinger Gel
Thanks Ron for the Photo!:)
I hit the hairpin turnaround feeling...."meh", I focused on the fact that after this I would see everyone coming back and could feed off the crowd. I was running near another local girl who I finish very close to in most shorter races. We went back and forth for a while, listening to people yelling our names- that's the Rochester running community for you. 

Mile 3-4 was just a grind, I couldn't seem to find the right gear. Nothing felt smooth or comfortable, but finally in the last mile I found at least one more gear to finish strong and with fastest mile of the day. 
Rocking my Leprechaun Green Zensah Calf Sleeves
I finished with a 32 minute 5 mile time, a new PR, top 10 finish. So maybe it wasn't what I planned, but still a great outcome. I got to cheer on friends finishing, including Heather and her big PR! We did a cool down jog, then checked results to see we had both placed third in our age groups. Hell yes, wine and medals for awards. 

After we got our awards, we have some serious business to attend to. Yes we wore our race shirts and medals, and yes I actually drank Bud Light. I also drank some whiskey and Guinness, so don't worry- I'm not completely losing myself.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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