Things and Stuff from January

Well, it’s been a while. Between busyness, laziness, and general unwilling-ness to write, this space has gone by the wayside. Nothing terribly exciting has happened, but here are some races I’ve done in the last month (or so).

Run Downtown 5K: 27:32

I picked this race as a “get your butt back in gear” event since I was ridiculously unmotivated after the Kiawah Marathon. Unfortunately, this has been the slowest, most painful getting back into shape season I’ve ever had, made worse by some irritating hip pain that my doctor can’t seem to figure out. I think the fastest paced run I’d had up to this race was like…10:30? So this was a very painful 5K. Someone also told me that this was a flat course, which is a lie. And it was cold – for Greenville at least. Still, this is a good race, and a very popular one.

Tybee Island 10K: 1:00:16

Hah, my hopes of being prepared for a fast 10k were pretty much crushed after taking the week before this race off due to the aforementioned hip pain. The good news is, this seems to have helped. It’s still not totally pain free, but I can now walk and run without much trouble! This Tybee Island race is a good one, but we got stuck with some bad weather and it rained the whole morning. The course is flat and fast, though, and I would definitely go back to do the half marathon sometime in the future.

I'm just so thrilled to be running in the rain again.

I’m just so thrilled to be running in the rain again.

Green Valley 10 Mile: 1:46:32

Another race that I was totally unprepared for! This is a race that I’d been wanting to do since it was a reputation for being a pretty difficult course. When I signed up, I had expected to be a little further on in a half marathon training plan and this would fit right in, but that obviously didn’t happen, and my longest run prior to this race was the 10k the previous weekend. Still, I had a friend going, so I went anyways and it went surprisingly well.  Not particularly fast, but I got through it! The course is definitely hilly, but it was a lot easier than it was a year ago (same roads as the Resolution Half last year). The scenery is nice, too.  My running buddy blew me away, but came back to get me for the last bit like a good running buddy should.

I just wanted a nap.

I just wanted a nap.

Sunbelt Swim Meet:

I feel like this event kind of redeemed my January.  While I was busy sucking it up on the roads, I was putting in some good workouts in the pool in preparation for this meet. This was the first time I’d competed in the pool since college (so, 4 years ago) and really didn’t know what to expect going in. So I set the bar pretty low and went in to have some fun and do my best. Since I’m finally able to choose my own events, I signed up for all the 50′s and 100′s at the meet. Not really feeling the distance events still.

Anyways, my performance far exceeded my expectations, and while I’m certainly not going to go back to full-time swimming anytime soon, it was really satisfying to get back to what I’m good at. The weirdest part was that I’d swam in a meet at this pool before.  My freshman year of college we came down to Charlotte for a meet and I recognized it right away since I have this picture from back then of me and my mom:

IMG_0249.jpgAlso, we met Ryan Lochte, which was awesome.

I’ll just paste the results here for my records, but I guess now they’re saved forever on the internet thanks to USMS.
50 Free: 29.17
100 Free: 1:02.98
50 Back: 30.70
100 Back: 1:05.26
50 Breast: 41.82
100 Breast: 1:30.72
50 Fly: 29.96
100 Fly: 1:08.85 <- PAIN
Plus some assorted relays

That covers swimming and running. Biking? HA. Not so much. I’ve been making sure to hit a spin class or my bike trainer at least once a week, but until last Sunday, I don’t think I rode my bike outside since…November? Sunday was a beautiful day and we headed out for 28 miles and it was wonderful. Today? 5 inches of snow. No words.

So that’s that. What’s going on with you?

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Lazy Blogging

Yes, I’m going to do a year end recap because I have no interesting content to add from the last two weeks. Seriously, I’ve done basically nothing. I took a solid week off of any substantial exercise after finishing Kiawah (just some easy swimming). I went home to Indiana for Christmas and continued my no running streak and it was glorious. Then I got Skyrim for Christmas and it’s all I can do to not play 24/7 because I love that game. While it will be soon time to get back to real life (and stop playing video games), I’m going to enjoy lazy time while it lasts.

So what did I accomplish this year?  Well, I wrote some goal back in January, which is stupid because I’ve always found year-long goals pretty useless. When I decide to do something, I don’t putz around until the start of a new year to do it; I just do it. But I jumped on the bandwagon this past year and paid attention to them for all of like 3 months. But I can at least look and see what I had intended to do.

-13 in 2013…yea that didn’t happen. I started out the year thinking this would be a fun way to help me improve at running since it’s not exactly my strongest sport, then the day I decided to sign up for my first 70.3, I said “forget it”…and forgot about it. Priorities change. I think I did 6 half marathons races this year, including the 70.3, which is still a lot.

-2 hour half marathon. Again, didn’t happen, but not to say I didn’t come a whole lot closer. I dropped from a 2:32 in April 2012 to a 2:10 at Kiawah last December, and then took another 4 minutes off out of nowhere in March and I’m just pretty damn pleased about that. While I trained hard in running this summer, I just didn’t have it in me to take another 6 minutes off.

-More marathons. I tackled 2 this year. I signed up for both of them before I decided to dive back in (literally?) to triathlon and I spent the last 2 months wishing I hadn’t picked Kiawah.  I went to Nashville in April and ran 26.2 in 4 hours and 55 minutes of torrential downpour then was miserable in Kiawah for 5:13. I’m not completely finished with marathons…but we need a break. Something about how I’m training is not quite right and I need to sort that out before I try again.

->1 hour 10K.  This was great. I only did one, but that one was enough.  And I definitely rode the high of two big PRs in two weeks (Reedy River Run and GHS Half) for a good while because it just feels good to do well!  I ran the Reedy River 10K in 2012 and it was terrible. I gave it everything I had (and negative split the race) and finished in just over 55 minutes.

-Replicate the 25 minute 5K (to make sure it was for real, haha). I ran all of 1 stand-alone 5K this year. It was in August – so hot, humid, and not a race I was planning to go all out on since we rode 40 miles afterwards. I finished in 26:42 – pretty close!

-Triathlons. I was thinking at the beginning of this year I would do a few sprint triathlons to get back into the sport (I did none in 2012 to focus on the Spinx Marathon), with a “someday” goal of doing a 70.3.  While I was wrapping up training for my second marathon on vacation with my family, I mentioned that “someday” to my dad and he told me he thought I could make that happen now. I got to thinking…then I “hemmed” and “hawed” over it for a month or so…then decided to make that “someday” today. I took forever to pick a race that was far enough away to train for without being too close to my (already paid for) running races. I also had some issues picking races due to some uncertainty in my professional life, but that was sorted out at the beginning of the summer. I picked a brand new race just north of Charlotte and made “someday” my reality. I trained for a 70.3 while working full time commuting 70 miles a day and it was exhausting and fantastic and the race was everything I hoped it could be. I also completed my first Olympic distance triathlon and had some good sprint races.

Some other highlights:
-I rode with clipless pedals for the first time, then a few months later, upgraded to a brand new bike. I love it so much and can’t hardly wait to race on it. Also, something really clicked with cycling this year. Two years ago, it was definitely the most hated of the 3, but I would not say that today. I think it has a lot to do with me being a lot fitter, and therefore able to tackle the hills where two years ago, I thought I would die =)

-On that note, I did my first bakery ride.  This is kind of a local thing where we ride up into the mountains to a bakery in one of the small towns up there. It was way more fun than I expected and not too terribly hard.

-Started a new job (in the same company)! While not fitness-related, it certainly has had a significant impact on how I manage my time!

-Swam 2 miles open water for the first time since high school. I have no record of how fast I swam it back then, so no comparison, but it was fun.

It was a good year =)

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Kiawah Marathon (AKA The Worst)

Well everyone…

The good news: I did finish the Kiawah Marathon

The bad news: It was 5 hours and 13 minutes of misery.

That makes it slower than my first marathon, and therefore my slowest marathon ever. UG. I have to remind myself constantly that 1) any day you cover 26.2 miles on foot is a good day and 2) it was still just a race. Not a life changing event.

Still it’s a pretty big disappointment to go in with some solid training and fail so miserably.

Anyways, the race. We got stuck in a big traffic jam in Charleston, so we didn’t get to Kiawah until pretty late.  We made the (really smart) decision to rent a condo that was just a block or two away from the start line/expo so we could walk over to packet pickup.

And fool around...

And fool around…

We had a really nice view of the marsh behind our condo, though we didn’t get to enjoy it much since it was either dark or raining the whole weekend =( Still, it was very pretty.

IMG_20131214_064716

Race day came and I woke up with a way bad attitude. I really did not want to run this race. Not a good start. Still, I got dressed. It was sprinkling a bit, but it was really warm (enough to not need any throwaway clothes).

CAM00189There were people out there in full tights and coats and stuff. Whenever I see that, I’m like, “are they not dying???” I was sweating before I even started running.

The race started out really well.  I was right at my goal pace, maybe just a little over. I wanted to make sure I saved enough for later. I did a good job of not getting caught up in the rush at the beginning. Things were going great and I was totally going to hit my goal.

IMG959905

You maybe can’t tell from that picture, but I was totally drenched in sweat at this point (around mile 11). It was very warm and humid. I made a quick bathroom stop just past mile 12 (still haven’t figured out how to avoid that…) and started to pick up the pace around mile 13.  This was good for a few miles, but I was just so hot! I couldn’t get cooled off at all and there wasn’t really a breeze or anything.  Around mile 15, things started to really fall apart.  I started walking, just a little at first, then a lot. I was tired, though my legs still didn’t feel bad. I was just so hot and sweaty and miserable and I wanted to quit so bad.  There were people just sitting down on the side of the road and quitting…and I seriously considered it too.  Then I reached mile 16, where I could see some volunteers handing out blondies to the runners at mile 20. OMG I WANTED A BLONDIE. I decided to keep going because I wanted to reach mile 20 and get a blondie. I was still really struggling, and when the 5 hour pace group passed me around mile 18, I felt really frustrated. I didn’t want to run anymore. So, I did what I can do best. I power-walked. I totally passed a bunch of people doing that. I can power-walk really fast. This race was going terrible but I would have that blondie! It was amazing. I kept going like that until mile 22, then I started a jog/walk combo again. My legs were a little stiff my that point from the power-walking. I was a little concerned because I was very thirsty and the next aid station was until 24 so I took it easy until I could get some more water. It wasn’t like I was going to PR at that point, so I just focused on finishing without injury (or dehydration!).  I was able to run the last 2 miles without too much trouble, and even picked it up for a fast finish in the last mile.

IMG950796This kind of tells me that I never really hit “the wall”, like I did in Savannah…so what the hell happened?? Was it bad training? It’s possible, but my last few long runs were pretty good and were all right around the pace I wanted to hold at this race. Certainly not 12:00 minute miles.

My attitude wasn’t great and that probably didn’t help.

The heat and humidity? Possibly. I’m generally much warmer than most people and really struggle in humid weather (as chronicled by all my terrible running this summer).  That combined with the fact that it’s been 30 degrees or below for almost all of my runs (and all of my long runs) since mid-October.  There’s no doubt that I was miserably hot and completely soaked in sweat (seriously, I was nasty).

IMG959913Maybe a combination of all three. It’s hard to say. It just wasn’t my day. Still, I finished even though I desperately wanted to quit.

Thankfully I finished when I did because it started raining pretty hard about five minutes after I was done! While I’m kind of thankful I didn’t have to run another marathon in the rain…it might have been able to cool me off a little, which would have been nice.

A few thoughts on the course…it’s very flat! It’s nice, but very boring. There are a lot of out and backs on some side island roads where there’s not much out there but trees. It’s all pretty, but it all starts to look the same after a while. I know some people prefer the new course to the old one (2 loops of the 1/2 course), but I think I would have preferred that since the half course was more scenic. Oh well. And the weather…well, what can you do? It’s freaking 70+ in December. If the race had been Sunday, the weather would have been perfect.

Still, it’s done. I think this is a race that will need to stay in 2013 =)

IMG_20131215_172427

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Pre-Marathon Things

Where to start? I’ve been keeping busy since my last race to prepare for the Kiawah Marathon.  I’m definitely starting to feel some burn out though. I signed up for this race last December when there were no plans to do a half ironman. But here, we are, one week out and I’m as ready as I’m going to be, so I might as well go out there and do my best!

The week after Savannah, I took a few easy recovery days (swimming mostly) before getting back into things. I didn’t really have too much trouble, which definitely makes me think that I didn’t race my hardest. After my last good half, it definitely took a lot longer. I had planned to do a ~9-10 mile long run the weekend after to get back into things, but it was dreary and gross all weekend, and I had zero motivation to run…so I did maybe 6. Eh.

I also had a groupon deal for CrossFit that I bought back in January (or so), so I took advantage of the down weekend to go to the required Elements class. I definitely used some muscles that I don’t normally use because I was so sore the next day, and we didn’t really do that much lifting and while it was 3 hours long, it was mostly standing around. I enjoyed it though.

I also did some swimming since I wanted to do the “Thanksgiving Workout” with the master’s team. I can’t usually swim with them since I don’t have a Y membership, but they opened up this practice to anyone, so I joined in the for 100x100s. I haven’t swam that far in forever, but apparently, I still can (though not completely without consequence. I strained my shoulder and couldn’t move my arm for the next few days. OW).  I also got in an 18 mile run, which was not bad considering I swam for 3 hours the day before.

I went home last weekend for Thanksgiving, so I did 16 miles in some very chilly (but thankfully, snow-free) weather. And then I ate EVERYTHING and it was great. It was nice to go home for Thanksgiving since I had to stay here last year.

Yesterday I did my last “long run” of 10 miles. It was a pretty good run, and luckily the rain cleared up a bit before we took off, since it looked like a monsoon outside the few hours before. Unfortunately, it still looking like rain this Saturday too. HUGE BUMMER. While it won’t be very cold, I’m not really looking forward to running another marathon in the rain, so I’m super selfishly praying for the forecast to clear up!

Still, all that’s left is to make it through this last week of taper without getting sick or injured! Here’s to marathon #3!

Anyone else racing this weekend?

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What’s Next?

Crazy as it seems, it’s already time to start looking at races for next year. Seriously, what even happened to this year? I think during a summer of triathlon-induced crazy, I lost track of time and now it’s practically Christmas.

It’s hard not to get too far ahead of myself, since I do still have a marathon this year. Speaking of which, I signed up for way back in December 2012. It feels like that was 2 weeks ago. It’s now just 4 weeks away. While I still have a few big training weeks left in preparation for Kiawah, I kind of feel like most of the hard work for it is done and now I can just enjoy the ride out to the race. I’m never going to be a particularly fast marathoner, and there’s basically no reason to not PR since Kiawah is flat as a pancake. Unless, of course, it rains, and then I might cry a little since running another marathon in the rain sounds incredibly unappealing. But hopefully it will look like this again, and all will be wonderful.

IMG_20121208_171322

SO. What then? Well, first, I’m pretty much just going to take the rest of the month of December off. Not saying that I won’t work out at all (because it will be Christmas and I will gain 20 lbs), but it will probably just be whatever strikes me as fun for the day. Probably this means some swimming, some group X, and maybe some running if it’s not to cold while I’m in Indiana. This is kind of a huge relief because trying to train through the holidays is a pain with last minute shopping, travelling, eating, whatever.

And then it will be January, which is somehow already a totally full month! I’m hoping to start out the year with a good old 5K. I don’t race a lot of them, mostly because I’m usually too busy training for something longer and it seems like a lot of hassle for just a training run. Right now I’m looking at either the Resolution Run or the Run Downtown 5K.  I’m just waiting to see what the Resolution Run course will be since they are apparently changing it to be less difficult (which is great, because I did the half this year and it was BRUTAL). After that, I have the Annual Sunbelt Championships swim meet that I’ve been told I *have* to join in for. So I’ll probably be doing at least some relays with the Greenville Splash and who knows what else. I have some mixed feelings about racing swimming again, but it should be fun.

The next weekend is the Tybee Island Half Marathon, which I have a trip with some friends planned. There are some other race distance options available, and I’m really tempted by the 10K. I’ve only done 3 10K’s, all of them on some pretty hilly courses, so I like the idea of doing a flat 10K. I’m not sure that I could be ready for a good half marathon by then anyways. I am looking at the GHS Half again to try my hand again for a half marathon PR. It’s a good race, the timing works, and I did really fantastic this year.

After that, it will be time again for triathlons! The season here in the south is pretty long thanks to the warmer weather, so there are races starting as early as March.  I’d like to get one in early if I can since I’d like to do two 70.3 races next year. Right now, my top two choices are TryCharleston in April and Beach2Battleship in the fall.  I’m dying to do Augusta, but a few friends and I have a little trip to make that same weekend.

Since apparently the only (non-stressful) way to get into an Ironman event is to volunteer, we are going to volunteer at IM Chattanooga in September and get registered for 2015! The race is nearly 2 years away and I’m still excited about it. Barring some crazy injury or life event, I will be registering for and racing IMTN 2015.

No doubt, I have a lot of work to do before I get there, but I can’t wait.

So that’s where I’m headed. I’ll probably do a few shorter local triathlons during the summer as well. I had qualified for AG Nationals in Milwaukee, but between the travel time and the cost, it’s not very practical. I also don’t have any marathons planned for next year. I’d like to focus on running faster without having all the pressure of marathon training on me.

So there’s that. =)

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Savannah RnR Half Marathon

The best part about running in Savannah? No freaking rain.

The worst? Not the best run.

In reality, I did not do all that badly, but I’m still pretty disappointed. While I definitely left it all out there, I don’t feel like I ran to the best of my ability.

Nevertheless, I still ran a half marathon in a reasonable time (for me) and had a good time, so it was still a successful day! So, here’s how it all went down.

I planned to get up pretty early (though, after a summer of 4:15 wake-up calls, that doesn’t seem so bad anymore…) so I could make sure to get a spot in the free parking. Savannah’s pretty cramped, so there was definitely a tight parking situation, but the race provided free parking at the convention center across the river, and then we could ride a ferry back over to the start line.

PicMonkey CollageThis was pretty hassle free, though I was in line for the ferry at 5:30-ish. I think maybe the ferry ride is supposed to be a little smoother than it was that morning. Maybe they were trying to hurry? It was pretty nauseating.

I still had plenty of time to check a bag, have a snack and hit the bathrooms a few times before the race actually started. I was in corral 4 (why?? who knows) so I got to take off just a few minutes after the race started.

I started out way, way too fast. I normally negative split my races, so I wanted to try to go out fast and hang on as long as possible. For the first six miles…this worked great!

Fullscreen capture 11102013 35747 PMIt’s maybe obvious where things started to head south. I definitely started getting tired into miles 4 and 5, but I thought I could still keep a 9:40-9:50 pace and finish with a 2:05-ish. Those next 5 miles were not pretty and I think that’s why I’m so bummed about the race in general. Obviously, I was walking a good bit, where I would normally only walk through the water stops. I did my best to finish strong through the last mile, but it was painful.

I had to share this one, it was so terrible

I had to share this one, it was so terrible

This is what riding the pain train looks like! I’m pretty sure this is one of the worst pictures, so I couldn’t help but laugh a little.  My legs hurt so bad. By the time I hit 10 miles, I knew a PR wasn’t going to happen, but I could probably finish under 2:10 if I kept running as much as possible. I ended up in 2:08:42. This is only 2 minutes off my PR (from GHS back in March), so really not bad at all.  I’m just disappointed in how I raced. At GHS, I felt strong pretty much the whole way through and raced smart by not taking it out too fast. I will DEFINITELY not be doing that again.

IMG_20131109_093023Post race, I spent some time listening to the band in Forsyth Park and enjoyed the nice weather, since I was robbed of that experience at Nashville. I’ve been to Savannah before, but I didn’t spend any time in the park, so it was nice to relax for a while and wander around.

PicMonkey Collage2I also found lunch at a little cafe near Leopold’s (the famous ice cream place). They had sweet potato bacon soup and a ham,  cheddar, apple butter sandwich. I think it was called The District?  I really liked it.

Anyways, Savannah is a great race. It’s a beautiful city, and very flat and all the shops and restaurants are welcoming to runners. Now, I just need to think through a better plan for my next half marathon!

 

 

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Still Running…

Yup, still here.

Nothing too terribly interesting around here, but I do have some races coming up fairly soon! At the beginning of this year (when I signed up for these races), I had some pretty big goals for them, especially since I planned to spend the summer focusing on running speedwork. That did not go as planned. Doing a half ironman this summer really didn’t enter my head until April, and I really didn’t decide to actually do it until June-July.

After that, my focus really has moved from running speed to triathlon, and I can’t seem to stop it.  Now that I’m seriously considering an Ironman as an option, that seems to sit in the front of my mind more often than my dreams of a sub-2 hour half marathon.

This is not been helped by my seriously sluggish running lately. It may just be because I’m tired and I need a break, but it hasn’t instilled me with much confidence for the two races I have in the coming months.

In fact, Rock and Roll Savannah is a week from tomorrow!  While I’m certainly ready to finish 13.1 miles with no problem, I don’t feel super confident about my speed. I’ve been struggling with the paces I want to hit on my short runs and my long runs are….slow. Since I’ve been running marathon distances, I’ve just been focused on hitting the long distance and not so much on pace.  Three weeks ago, I got in a pretty decent 17 miler on some serious hills, then the week after I went for 19, but didn’t quite get there. My legs felt like lead from the get-go and then I forgot to bring my fuel out with me because I apparently forgot how to train! I had some friends tag-team the run with me so I wouldn’t have to go by myself, and when I got back to one of the cars at ~17.5, I called it quits and had her take me back to my car. So, pretty close, but it was just such an awful feeling run.  I had some decent 4-5 mile runs the following week and a pretty good 20 miler this past weekend, but this week I’ve just been dead. Hopefully a short taper will improve that!

So my plan is to do a shorter run (7-ish miles) this weekend, then hopefully run a PR at Savannah, which means 2:06 or less. I don’t think a sub-2 is in the cards for this race, but a PR seems possible. If nothing else, it will be an amazingly flat and scenic run!

After that race, I plan to take an easy week, then tackle two more hard weeks of marathon training before it will be time to taper for Kiawah. Thanksgiving weekend is in there, which means I’ll probably be freezing my feet off in Indiana for a long run. I actually feel pretty good about Kiawah, as far as a PR goes. Considering my last marathon was in hilly Nashville in the pouring rain…there’s pretty much no reason I won’t and I’ve already got a decent 20 miler in. A 4:45 seems reasonable, but it’s hard to say since I’ve yet to run a flat marathon. We will see, but I don’t think that finishing will be an issue as long as nothing terrible happens between now and then!

I’ve been keeping up with a little bit of swimming and biking as well, since I’m already starting to consider a big spring triathlon, but I haven’t made any decisions on that yet, so we’ll see!

Anyone else have any good races coming up? Or will you maybe be at Savannah or Kiawah and want to say hi? =)

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