Thursday, March 17, 2016

Johnny's Running of the Green 2016

Even though I raced my way through the winter, Johnny's is always considered the unofficial start of racing season in the area. This past weekend was extra special though, because it was going to be a morning full of family too. My sister and her husband planned on coming with my nephew, and Mom made last minute flight plans and was able to be there! Dad and I....we were the runners!

I always try and wear some green, as many runners do for the race. I wore my Green Saucony PE shorts with my Bergen singlet. I was eager to test out my new Tifosi sunglasses in a race, perfect sunny day for it! I left pretty early since I knew I needed more warm-up time, I ate some Honey Stinger chews and drank GenUCAN on the way. I knew it would be a long morning of running so wanted some extra fuel.

Due to training for Boston, and having raced recently it was decided it didn't make sense to all out race the 5 mile for me. The 10k PR recently, gave me good information on my current fitness level. So the plan was to run 2 x 5 mile that day. I got there and did a short warm-up, then did 5 miles around tempo pace (I wore my workout shoes for this part, the Fast Twitch) . The paces were a bit slow and it took me a while to feel "alright", but I chalked that up to my allergies and being low on sleep.

Family time with my Nephew and Dad!
I then ran a little easy back to the start area to find my family and change into my Type A6 racing flats and shed my run strong sport top. I gave dad his shirt and bib and he was ready to go. I gave him a few reminders, and told him to stay to the left so when we hit the out and back portion I could see him easier!

I found my Bergen Elite teammates and we chatted a bit before the start. Then it was pretty much time to go. My goal was to just run and see what happened, maintaining consistent effort.

Having run the tempo before the race was a good way of making sure I didn't blow out of the gates and start too fast. It's a slight uphill into headwind to start, and I tucked in with a group of guys that I knew I normally would be around.

I hit the first mile around 6:10 and made my goal to just hold the effort. I picked off some people, and kept telling myself not to do anything crazy and to just get to the turnaround point. The turnaround comes after a short uphill and then it's a hairpin turn around a folding chair (which is totally dumb, it was way better when the turnaround was 5 feet sooner...and went around the actual traffic circle...but I digress). After that, I peeked to my left to see who was coming up behind me and basically made the goal not to let anyone pass me. I think I did good in that department, and I just kept the same effort.

I spent the next few minutes staring at everyone coming at us on the left side. I didn't want to miss Dad coming back at me! I exchanged cheers and high fives with some people I knew, and then finally saw dad! We cheered for each other but totally failed and missed our side fives- but we tried! After that I used the Ford St. Bridge as another checkpoint to work my way to.
Mile 4
Once I got back on Exchange it was just, hold on and go for it. I passed a few more people and got excited when I saw my sister out in the road cheering.

Pushing in the last half mile
I crossed the finish in 31:03 which is technically an official 5 mile PR. Although, I did run a faster 5 mile time in the middle of that 10k PR recently. It's fun though, and nice to see that I can do so even on tired legs. Pretty sure I could run faster if I didn't tempo beforehand...duh. BUT, I succeeded in the goal for the day and I am looking forward to my main goal of Boston right now.

My sister came and found me after the finish and then we went back to my Mom, nephew and brother in law. I love how excited Alden gets, makes my heart melt!

I took the stroller and pushed Alden backwards on the course with Mom while looking for Dad. We just kept telling him to look for Boppa! Eventually we stopped and waited, and then got super excited when we saw him coming! Dad swung over for a high five, and then I took off running with him towards the finish. He was passing people and running really well- and certainly faster than his goal! I cannot tell you how happy him running made me!
Running in with Dad, I need to frame this!
Overall it was just a great morning all around. I got to run hard, see friends and spend quality time with family. We of course went to lunch after, and celebrated with a Guinness!

Now back to the marathon training grind, Boston is getting so close! I'm running Syracuse half two weeks prior but that will be a marathon paced workout due to how close it is.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Lake Effect Half Marathon 2016

This winter was exactly what I wanted and needed it to be for my training. I was signed up for a lot of events due to the Freezeroo series, on top of Lake Effect being tradition with the girls now. I knew that I shouldn't race all of them, and it made the most sense to pick and choose which ones would be more important. I really wanted a 10k PR(the weekend following this race), which meant this half marathon would be best suited to be a long workout. Ya know, just finally catching up on these posts here. Not that it matters- but will be fun to look back years from now and be able to read these (for me).

This race was February 21, 2016

I picked up my friend Dawn that morning on the way out to Syracuse and we had a really easy ride which was a good start to the day. We both had to extend warm-up and cool-downs for the race to hit mileage for the day, so we grabbed our bibs and then started getting going.

Having done the race twice before(2014, 2015), I pretty much knew what to expect. At least this year there wasn't any fresh snow, so we wouldn't be encountering a trashed back half of the course(last year). Warm-up felt decent, followed by some strides. It wasn't too cold out so I was comfortable enough in my Zensah Tech+ socks, Saucony Ignite shorts, with arm warmers and the ultimitt gloves. Since I wasn't racing all out, I didn't run in the Type A6. The fast twitch are my go to for workouts and I also raced Erie in them so it made sense to use those this time around.

The plan was to run the first 10 miles around goal marathon pace (6:40ish), and then pick it up for the last 3.1 miles after that. I knew it was going to be tough to hold back, but I also kept in mind the purpose of the workout which really helped. Shortly after the start I found myself tucked in with a group of guys, something made us chuckle (I think some random guy on the course) and we found ourselves chatting after that.We talked goals non-chalantly and kind of came to an agreement to help each other and try to run together. I told them my plan for the first 10, and we went on our way.

We ran almost the entire race together!
We clicked the miles off near perfectly with pace, and chatted about upcoming goals and races as we did so. The pace felt good and I remember feeling like this pace wasn't a complete pipe dream for Boston this year. I kind of figured out mid-race that it was going to be a PR for the guys I was running with, which only motivated me more to hang on and I encouraged them as we ran. I tried not to count women as we started seeing leaders come back at us(double out and back course), because I didn't want to get caught up in racing mentality. I saw Dawn which was a good boost, and then we hit the turnaround and my personal favorite part. Seeing everyone coming at you as you're running back. I love how encouraging everyone is and really lets the running community shine. The guys that I was running with know a LOT of people (they run with a Syracuse group), so we got lots of extra cheers. Then we saw Britt and she joked about me always being with groups of guys, we all chuckled.

I saw my friend Megan and was making funny faces and arm movements, I'm really glad the photographer caught it. Shows I really was having fun and enjoying the workout/race!
When we started the second out and back, the wind was far more significant than the first trip out. My quads got a bit cold and I did some random surges occasionally just to change things up. At this point we were talking less, but still running on pace and helping each other. I kept saying "just get to the turnaround and no more headwind". Finally we hit the turnaround and as it happens, we got the reprieve from the wind. I felt a little sluggish for about a mile after we turned, and worried I wouldn't be able to pick up the pace soon. But, I surged forward before 10 and one of the guys went with me. About a mile later I was solo, but running strong and I knew I was picking it up. I could see the next girl in the distance, and wanted to see how much I could reel her in.

The last few miles were good, and certainly reassuring being able to finish a solid workout. I closed the gap a lot on 3rd place female, but couldn't quite catch her in time before we reached the finish. It was a close one though. 

I finished in 1:26:41 which is 6:37 pace, and good enough for 4th place for a workout. I am really pleased with that, and technically it's my second fastest half behind my 1:24:51 at Philly in November. Definitely confidence boosting to run strong longer workout with still a good amount of training to be done before Boston. I used this as a good training day but also nutrition practice. I drank Gen UCAN prior to the race, which has worked really well for me the last few years. I actually didn't end up taking anything besides water during the race (stomach wasn't feeling a gel), but still good practice at water stops and holding pace.

Before cooling down I cheered for some other runners coming in, including the guys that I ran most of the race with! They both set huge new PR's and gave me big high fives, that made me really happy. I also got to see Britt soon after her finish which was a great training run for her as she prepares for Pittsburgh Half in May. We hung out and waited around for awards for a while (Dawn took second overall!), and I got a pair of gloves for age group win. (Funny story, 2 years ago Dawn and I took 2nd and 4th just like this year :) That was when we first met. Now she lives in Rochester and we can train together!)
Dawn, Britt and I after Blues Boozy Brunch!
Afterwards was the best part, as always. Boozey Blues Brunch at Empire Brewing Company. Good beer while we waited for a table, followed by sitting right behind the jazz band and demolishing huge plates of the best food while chatting. We missed our partner in crime Heather as she was stuck in Hawaii (I don't feel too bad for her on that one, but we did miss her). 

All in all it was a successful and fun day with friends, just what running should be!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

2016 Freezeroo Series Recaps

When I decided to do the Freezeroo series this year, I knew that it would be a good thing in many ways. Some would be workouts, some would be races, and more likely than not- some wouldn't happen. I skipped the race on New Years day (which I planned all along) to focus on other things. Out of 6 races, your best 4 count for points so that gave me some wiggle room. They weren't perfect, some were better than others, and Upstate NY winter weather only kept one from not happening all together.

Don Curran Memorial 5k (December)
Race recap was written---> here.

{I decided after the first one that I wouldn't recap them each individually because they weren't individual goals for me. My goal was to look at the series as a whole, and as a stepping stone in training for Boston.}

Pineway Ponds 5 Miler (January)
This weekend was less about the race and more about the fact that Heather and Britt were coming out to stay for the night. I had some quality time with Heather in the fall, but it had been a few weeks...and I hadn't seen Britt since CHICAGO! Of course, we had a fun night out Friday which involved beers and burgers.
Girls weekend: Burgers, beers, and a 5 mile race
Race morning was decent weather wise, considering it was January and a Freezeroo race. There was a good amount of wind but certainly could have been worse. I went into it knowing I could PR and potentially win, but wanted to focus on just running hard. I've gotten so much better about not being a slave to my watch, and simply just going out and running. I ended up with a 31:10 which was a little under a minute PR, and also the win which was my second for the series this season. After the race, we cooled down and then walked to a nearby diner for breakfast- I love that my friends share the same love of running and coffee as me.

Hearnish "10kish" Race (January)
This race is one I didn't go into with a lot of expectation. It's a recently changed course, with lots of hills and turns. To top it off, it's not even a set distance. For some reason I felt off all morning, including lead legs during warm-up. No idea what it was but I still gave the race a good effort. I ran the first mile or so with another female, we even chatted a little bit which was a good distraction from hills. Around mile 2 she started to pull away, and damn I just didn't have it in me to go with her(Go Amy!). I kept her in the distance and used it as motivation to keep me pushing, I also saw some friends on the out and back portions which helped pass the time and give me reason to smile/high five.
This about sums up how I felt the whole race. #glamourshots
I refused to look at my watch, because I figured ignorance is bliss. I didn't want to know what I was running because it could have only frustrated me, even though I didn't know I wasn't running THAT far off pace (it just felt like it). I finished with 6.35 miles in 40:42. The funny part was, that is technically a 10k PR even with the long distance and not feeling great. I finished in second about 30 seconds behind the female winner, which still left me in good series standing.

Valentines 8 Mile Race (Feburary)-- CANCELLED
The town encouraged the GRTC to cancel the race because of the predicted severe weather. It was 20 below zero with the wind, and those winds....were over 20mph with snow. Honestly, I wasn't mad that it was cancelled in fact I was relieved. I'm all about pushing limits and sometimes running in extreme weather for training (never know what race will be!) but some conditions are just stupid.

I ended up still running the "race" on the treadmill by myself at the gym. No, it doesn't officially count for anything but I'm proud that I was able to get it done. I ran it with a 3 mile warm-up and cool down, for a 14 mile day. The 8 mile portion was run in 50:52 which I was really happy with.

I spent the rest of the day geeking out on the Olympic Trials Marathon on TV. I could write a post on that whole thing alone, but I won't. Salty Running had some amazing coverage of the trials, pre and post race which really inspired me. Two of our writers were even out there for coverage on race day, read about the pre-race from their perspective, coverage for at home viewers, and some stories of those runners behind the lead pack. There was so many thought provoking moments from that weekend. Kara's post-race interview- I could easily sway both sides on that one(she ran an incredible race, and she's human). What really got me (as the numbers nerd) was the statistics behind the qualifiers, I wrote about that in detail over on SR: Does How a Runner Qualifies for the Trials Matter? Don't forget all the rage floating around the web about the poor treatment of the trials athletes, they deserved better if you ask me.

Edge of the World 10k/Series Finale (February)
For me, this was the most important race of the series. My 10k PR was technically still 41:20 from 2013, unless we count the unofficial 40:42 from the Hearnish. I have broken the PR so many times in workouts and such since, but not in a race setting. I REALLY wanted to nail a big PR and sub-40 for the first time.

Add in the extra motivation to run hard and win, which would secure the overall series title for myself. Yeah, I wanted it all that day and was willing to push hard to get it. I took off quick, and hoped that an early push of the pace would set the tone for the remaining miles. My first 3 miles were under 6:07. I hit the 5k mark in 18:55 which is only 10 seconds slower than my PR! At first a freaked, like oh shit you shouldn't PR a 5k in the middle of a 10k! But, I also remembered that I have done a lot of strong speedwork and really could do both. The wind on miles 4 and 5 slowed me down significantly. I didn't have anyone around me really, add in a slight incline and that headwind really won. I slowed to 6:20/6:28 for those two miles, which I was mentally prepared for because the wind in this race 2 years ago caused the same problem. I didn't look at my watch so I wouldn't get frustrated with the pace. I just kept pushing forward, not knowing where any other females were and hoping I could just hold anyone off. My final mile was back down to 6:04 with a strong finishing kick thereafter.

38:37 was the official time which is over a 2 minute PR anyway that you slice it, I also held off for the win which secured my overall series standings. I stood at the finish line cheering in runners for a few minutes before starting my long cool down for a 16 mile day. I had company from another runner on my cool down, which certainly made the extra miles pass quicker (almost too much though...we missed most of the awards ceremony without realizing!).

Overall I am really pleased with how the series went. Sure, some might say "well of course you are, you won". Honestly my level of happiness doesn't have much to do with that at all. I ran hard, I got out in different weather conditions, I spent time with other runners (I train solo 95% of the time) and made some new friends. I also set a 10k PR twice, as well as a 5 mile PR twice (my second 10k PR also included a PR for the 5 mile split). I mean, the personal victories combined with the social and training aspects I went in search of for the series are better than any prize.

Until next year Freezeroo....
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