Category Archives: race face

Race Report: Merrimack River Trail Race 2016

There aren’t many races that I feel compelled to do every year, but this race was such an exceptional experience, I’m adding it to the list to try to do whenever possible. It was challenging enough to feel like a real accomplishment, fun without gimmick and an experience I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

Short Version: 1:16:20, 12th woman overall.

All smiles post-race. Should have taken a shot of my shoes...yikes.

All smiles post-race. Should have taken a shot of my shoes…yikes.

Long Version:

I got to the race at about 8:00 am and after a quick porto-potty stop, headed out to warm up on the trail and was happy to find that at least the first mile (and thus mile 10) were totally runnable. The first few feet of the course were seriously muddy but then it opened up to dry pine needle or sand trail. I did 2 miles, took my Gu and a couple more sips of coffee then got in line to pee again. This is when I knew the race was going to be a blast. The Race Director, who is clearly a native given that I didn’t hear an “r” uttered all day, started heckling in the porto-potty line that everyone was on a time limit. It cut through the anxiety (although it was a pretty low key crowd) and made me relaxed going into the race. With just a couple minutes to go to the start, I decided to lose my long-sleeve because I was worried about overheating. EXCELLENT call on my part.

I knew the race funneled down to single track quickly, but when I saw the distance between the start line and the trail, I realized it was really quickly. Like 15 feet. I didn’t even bother to position myself near the front and decided I’d just try to get through the start cleanly (fall-wise, mud-wise was a foregone conclusion) and deal with the rest in the first mile. Although we did slow down significantly, I was running free within 30 seconds and didn’t have any trouble with traffic til much later in the race.

Given that I have a 10,000 meter on the track this coming weekend, I tweaked my race plan a bit to make sure that I didn’t totally crush my legs. From my course research, my plan was to tempo effort the first 3 (which were allegedly flat), survive the middle section then tempo effort the last 3. My knowledge of the course profiled was a bit off but I was proud to go through the first two miles in 6:27 and 6:28 and feel in total control. The course got harder in the 3rd mile with some mud and a few bigger hills and my pace dropped to 7:19 while my effort stayed constant. Mile 4 was even harder with hard but manageable climbs and some descents that scared the LIFE out of me. Area of Improvement #1: Learn how to tackle terrifying downhills. Enormous apologies to the guy behind me when I hit the brakes before sliding down the steepest hill I’ve ever attempted to run down. (This would become like the 4th steepest hill I’ve ever run down shortly…) I finished mile 4 in 7:41 and was proud that I was holding my pace. Trail running is fun!

Too soon, Sarah. Mile 5 starts with a bang. And by a bang, I mean a sandy climb called Powerline Hill that necessitates walking and occasionally the use of hands and knees. This is the first time I’ve walked in a race since Junior High and by later in the race, I was kicking myself for ever resisting it. By the time I got to the top of Powerline Hill (incidentally where spectators and cameras were…can’t wait for those photos), I was literally seeing stars and had some moments where I wasn’t sure my legs could go on. Incidentally, I wish I’d had a heart rate monitor on because I’m pretty sure it would have identified my actual max heart rate. I was stumbling over the trail, just trying not to fall down. Of course, what goes up must come down and I started down the other side, just praying I wouldn’t fall down because I was pretty confident I’d never get back up. Just about this time, the lead runners started coming back towards us so we started the game of “get out of the way.” In trying to get out of the way for a group of guys, I rolled my ankle hard enough to make it numb for a couple of miles, which impeded any hope of feeling confident over the terrain. As I made my way towards the turnaround, I realized that it had flattened out again and urged myself to pick it up. Area of Improvement #2: Don’t give up time on easy parts!

I went through the turnaround, was almost caught up to the woman ahead of me when I stepped in serious mud and SQUELSH. Off came my shoe. I had this ridiculous moment where I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do and literally stood there for about 10 seconds considering my options. Once I got it back on, I took off again but had lost sight of her and let my gap ahead of the next woman essentially close. I also realized that I’d forgotten to hit the split on my watch at the turnaround, so decided to just let it run til the mile 6 marker. At the next river crossing, I jumped into mud and SQUELCH again, as my left shoe ripped off. Area of Improvement #3a and 3b: Tie your shoes tighter than you could ever imagine and learn how to deal with river crossings cause clearly, mud isn’t the answer. My split for those two miles? 18:53. Seriously. It was hard…

The return trip over Powerline Hill and the rest of the big hills in mile 7 was much better as I stopped trying to run them and powerhiked them like everyone else around. SO much more comfortable. It was tricky to navigate around runners still heading out but people were incredibly polite and stayed to the side, although I’m sure my flailing arms and sliding feet encouraged some of that. Again, apologies. Rookie. Area of Improvement #4: Know when to hold em, know when to fold em walking wise. Mile 7 passed in 8:07 and I started to think I might just survive this race. Mile 8 was much more runnable although jumping onto bridges on tired legs was a little more sketchy than on the way out. I went through Mile 8 in 7:51 pace and as we hit the flat sections, picked it up to tempo pace, cruising through Mile 9 in 6:59. My last mile is what really made me so fricken proud of myself. As we hit the last mile (which is definitely the easiest in the course), I shifted gears again and worked on quick turnover (a feat in soaked shoes) and pressing onward while keeping things at high tempo effort and came home in a 6:32 last mile, just a couple seconds slower than I went out. I crossed the finish line in 1:16:20 with just the biggest smile. (This may have actually been in my head, I’m not sure what my face looked like…)

Coming into this race, I had hoped to run around 1:10 but after seeing the course, I realize that I was unprepared from a technical (and likely physical) perspective to do so. My downhill running skills are poor and I didn’t do a good job on the way out of managing my energy. All of that is not to indicate any unhappiness with how yesterday went. I’m brand new to trail racing and I’m thrilled to both have such a good experience and to feel pretty normal today, minus very tired quads. I didn’t think I was particular fit going into this race and although I’m clearly not sharp (see, giving up time on flats), my fitness is actually in a good place and I’m excited for the races ahead.

Splits:

Mile 1 6:27

Mile 2 6:28

Mile 3 7:19

Mile 4 7:41

Mile 5/6 18:53

Mile 7 8:07

Mile 8 7:51

Mile 9 6:59

Mile 10 6:32

 

Week in Review 4.4.16 to 4.10.16

Monday: 3.25 mile recovery run with big arms and core.

Tuesday: 5.5 miles with 10 minutes at tempo pace plus 4 by 30 seconds hard uphill. Still feeling the residual of a lot of hours on the trails. Legs after.

Wednesday: 4.27 miles with striders.

Thursday: 4.4 miles.

Friday: 2 mile progressive shakeout.

Saturday: Merrimack River Trail Race, aka the “Rivah.” Finished 12th for women in 1:16:20, which was momentarily disappointing, but overcome by the realization that I a) had a ton of fun b) executed my race plan and c) smiled for almost the entire (really flipping hard) race.

Sunday: Off Day. My legs are tired from yesterday but nothing appears broken. Given that I have to turn around and race a 10K on Saturday, however, I opted for more rest so I can get a little training in this week around that.

Total Miles: 32.4

This week (well really weekend) was one of the most refreshing ones I’ve had in a while. On Friday night, I drove up to Boston and caught up with my Uncle on the drive. He’s a retired physician and has been an enormous support to me throughout this process so it was great to catch up with him. I stayed with my best friend from college and we got to giggle and catch up all weekend. Then today, I got to catch up with another dear friend on the way back to Norwalk. Medical School is BRUTAL on personal relationships and I am so grateful to have friends who stick by me and to have a few hours to just be a regular person.

The race was also an amazing experience. I’ll recap it more in my race report, but I am just overwhelmingly proud of my execution. It wasn’t my best race and I’d hoped to be faster but I did a great job of just running my race plan, putting in a solid performance without risking my race next weekend or the half in May and had a total fricken blast.

As I’ve alluded a couple of times, the 10000 meter component of the All-Terrain Runner series is coming up next Saturday. I didn’t intend to race back to back weekends but finding a 10K on the track is a bit of a feat and I can’t make the only other guaranteed date this Spring so next weekend, I’m heading up to Fitchburg State University to run in a college meet for 27 some odd laps!

All of this means that my week gets shuffled a bit. I need to recover from yesterday, sharpen for Saturday and still keep my eye on May 1st. I’ll do a glorified strider workout tomorrow even though I won’t be fully recovered, another workout on Wednesday (trying out the Greenwich Running Company workout this week) then two easy days, use Saturday as a workout/heavy tempo and long run Sunday.

 

The First Time I Tried This

When I was first getting back into competitive running during graduate school, Emmy and I had this brilliant idea to do a trail race in January in North Carolina. We had just finished City of Oaks Marathon and wanted a reason to keep training through the winter so we signed up. The day dawned sunny but cold and we learned a valuable lesson that even though we lived below the Mason Dixon, ice could still form and that even more importantly, what was recently ice would turn into mud.

My face captures it all...

My face captures it all…

Not having raced a trail race ever (Emmy) and not having raced off the roads since high school (me), neither of us were sure what to expect. The first mile or so was fine and I thought my worries were for nothing. Then I slid down an entire hill and came up covered in mud. I don’t remember specifics from the rest of the race but do distinctly recall thinking that 5 miles had never been so hard.

An hour and a half later (seriously! 1:27 something!), I finished and turned around to cheer Emmy in. Emmy and I have done tons of races together, so I have a good sense of when she should be coming in, but when 2 hours clicked by and she wasn’t there, I will admit to getting a tiny bit worried. Shortly thereafter, Emmy came around the corner and raised her hands over her head as she crossed. It turned out that Emmy had a few falls during the muddy section of the course. Once we’d banged the mud off our shoes, we vowed to never do a trail run again, a vow I kept until recently.

Rest assured that should things get rough tomorrow (it’s supposed to be cold and snowy), I will be thinking of Emmy and our vow!

Race Report: Philadelphia Half Marathon 2015

Short Story: 1:22:25 for 24th place.

First, apologies for a bit of a bummer post. To me, it’s more valuable to be honest about disappointments than gloss over them. As another runner said to me in the Elite Tent yesterday, we often learn more from our failures than our great moments.

Second, it’s always a little touchy to complain about a time that many people would love to run, so please know that it’s not my intent to be ungrateful for the time, it’s just that it is far below what I expected for myself given my training and fitness.

Philly Bib 2015

I’ll get to the positives at the end, but unfortunately, this race was one of those where you just never feel good. I slept relatively well on Saturday night, waking up just twice at midnight and at 4 am. When the alarm went off at 5, I felt rested and ready. In hindsight, perhaps I was TOO calm. I ate my bagel and sunbutter and drank a cup of coffee while I put contacts in and got dressed. I left the hotel by 5:30 and walked to the start. It was oddly warm out but the wind was already blowing pretty well. I tried to stay positive and hoped that it would mellow with the sunrise. Security was relatively seamless and I got to the Elite Tent a little after 6. Headed out to jog at 6:15 and felt okay, but not great. Striders, however, felt totally fine so I figured things would snap together.

At 6:50, they asked us to walk from the elite tent to the start so we did. The wind was blowing and it was much cooler without warmups on. 7 o’clock clicked by with no wheel start. Then 7:05. Then 7:10. Finally at 7:13, they sent the wheels and at 7:15, we were off. Needless to say, any benefit of a warmup was gone and I was happy to just not trip over the starting line. From mile 1, I felt clunky and stiff. I tried to stay calm and hoped I would warm up. I went through the mile at 6:10, a little slower than I hoped, but not an insurmountable deficit.

By the time we reached mile 3, however, it was pretty clear that it wasn’t going to be a banner day. The wind was very strong at times, from seemingly all directions, and it was hard to find or hold a pace. Beyond this, my legs just felt punky. I found myself counting the miles very early which is never a good sign. I didn’t feel like I had gone out too fast, I just couldn’t move my legs. At mile 6, I saw my girls (more on that later!!) and had a few moments of feeling good so tried to capitalize on the moment. In fact, I went through the 10K in 38:24, which is a small 10K PR. By mile 7, however, the wheels were off. The 2:43 pace group for the full went by me, I had a shitty water stop (my fault, I didn’t really need it but thought maybe a gel would help) and I was flailing through the hills. Of note, I don’t think the pace group was running the right pace and I’m pretty certain they lost everyone by the end. When I ran Philly in 2012, I barely remember any hills. Today, it felt like mile 7.5 to mile 9.5 was ALL hills. I saw Erin just before 8 and gave her a thumbs down. At that point, I was just hoping for a PR.

The good news is, I never really crashed, I just couldn’t pick it up at all. I never needed to use one of my faster breathing patterns because I couldn’t turn my legs over fast enough. Even at mile 12 when I KNEW I needed to push, I just kept plodding along. When I rounded the corner and saw 1:22, it was all I could do to not burst into tears. I crossed the finish line and made my way back to the Elite Tent, just stunned at how badly things had gone. I think I would have liked to have cried, just to get some of the hurt out, but I honestly felt too shocked to do so.

The run didn’t feel like much more than a workout, so there may be hope to use the fitness for another race soon. I can’t discount the effect of the wind either; at race time, it was a steady 15 miles per hour with gusts up to 25 miles per hour. Even a modest adjustment for a 5 mph headwind predicts a 1:18 without wind. This is very, very, VERY little solace but at least I feel like it wasn’t all on me. The start delay didn’t help me at all either. Looking back, I wish I’d decided to run the first two miles much slower to warm back up. Ultimately, I don’t think it would have cost me a lot of time and I might have actually been able to make some gear changes.

On the great side, my girls team came down to Philly to surprise me. I was sitting in my hotel on Saturday (in my robe, having just showered) when the front desk called to see if I would take a package. I didn’t know who would send me something but thought maybe Will sent flowers. Imagine my surprise when I opened my door to see my girls!! They had been planning it all season and I had NO idea. They came equipped with giant pictures of me, tinsel and all their screaming voices. I will never, ever be able to articulate how amazing that gesture was but they saved the weekend for me. It would have been very easy to mope for the rest of Sunday but having them there made me realize I have to practice what I always preach to them about moving on from rough races.

I'll never be able to explain to them how much this meant to me.

I’ll never be able to explain to them how much this meant to me.

It’s similarly hard to articulate what I’m feeling right now. Devastated, heartbroken and humiliated all come to mind. I know that one race doesn’t define anyone but I don’t know when I’ll get the opportunity to give it my all again. That’s the risk with taking a big chance! You might not get the result you want and when you put it out there and are vulnerable, failure stings that much more. As my sister said when I was pathetically texting her, it’s just going to be raw for a few days. And as the much more brilliant Lindsey said, some days you just don’t have the magic.

For the next week or so, I’ll just take it easy, run when I want and try to figure out what went wrong, what I can do to salvage the cycle and where I want to go from here. If anyone knows a great December half marathon, I’m all ears!

Race Report: Downtown 10K 2015

A wee bit late on this write-up…

Downtown 10K is one of my favorite races for a few reasons. First, it almost always has good weather (save for 2014, which was a gusty disaster). Second, it’s well organized and results are always accurate and fast. Third, it’s a 10K which are remarkably difficult to find but hugely useful for a half marathon training cycle. Finally, there are cash prizes which can help motivate you when say, you want to give up at mile 4. The organizers were new this year but they kept all of these good things going and besides a really odd start command, everything was smooth.

I’ll get to the odd start momentarily. I came into Sunday feeling really anxious and to be honest, had I not preregistered, I probably wouldn’t have run. On Saturday night, I had a dream that Joe came home from the race and told me that I shouldn’t have skipped the race because no other women showed up and they had no one to give the money to! Needless to say, when I woke up on Sunday, I decided I’d better at least show up.

The weather was perfect at 50 degrees, cloudy and a north wind, which meant a headwind for the first half of the race, not the second. I did an easy warm-up for 2 miles plus some striders and didn’t feel entirely horrible. I handed my watch to Erin and lined up. The race start was hysterical; the new sponsors thanked us for being there and then in the middle of a sentence, the speaker just plainly stated “Go.” Twice. None of us moved. Finally he said with more emphasis “GO!” and we were off. Hopefully someone educates him for next year…

Start? We think?

Start? We think?

The course has a screaming downhill in the first mile so my only goal was to be controlled and not smash my quads up early. About halfway down the hill, a girl went shooting by me and by the bottom of the hill, she was 20 seconds ahead. I told myself to stick to my race plan and that if she came back to me, she came back to me. While I wasn’t wearing a watch, I would guess I went through the first mile in about 6:30 pace based on where I was off Joe who was wearing his watch. The effort felt super easy, a lot like a steady state run. I kept it here until we hit mile 3 at Leddy, where I clicked my effort up to tempo as planned. I had passed a couple of people at this point but the first woman was still ahead of me by about 20 seconds. Another guy caught me around Leddy and was about halfway between she and I.

As we were coming out of Leddy, the first woman stopped to tie her shoe (what?!) but shot away again as I got closer. The few seconds I was near her, however, I could hear that she was breathing hard while I felt totally in control, which gave me a boost that I might not be out of first. As we turned onto North Avenue and started the rolling hills, I kept my eyes on her and held tempo effort while trying to remain confident. I was pleased, however, that 5K was done and my legs felt totally fine with none of my recent concrete-anemia feelings. As we worked up the hill, I caught the guy who had passed me in Leddy and sat on his shoulder for a few strides then made a hard pass around him which brought me within 10 seconds of the first woman. We crested the hill by the high school and I leaned forward and let the downhill carry me. As we rolled up the next hill just before the cemetery where I’d planned my next gear change, I caught and passed her easily. As we crested that last hill and hit the cemetery gates, she was still hanging on to me.

With 2 miles to go, I clicked down to interval pace and started pressing hard. I could still hear her footfalls, but they weren’t right over my shoulder. As we hammered down North Avenue, my effort was definitely hard but I still felt in control. When we turned into Battery Park, I gave it what I had left and just prayed that it would be enough to get away from her for good. The curve in the park gave me a momentary glance that showed that at the very least, she’d fallen back a bit. In full disclosure, I actually spent most of the race thinking it was a local runner I know who is a miler and thus has a crazy finishing kick so I didn’t want to leave it until the last 200 meters.

Turning onto Church Street, I experienced the oh so fun moment of seeing the finish line but realizing you have almost a minute to go before you’re there. I just kept trying to push as hard as I could and prayed no one was coming up on me. When I passed my friend Will, he just cheered for me, so I knew I was in the clear. As I reached the final block, I saw the clock turn to 38:00 and realized a PR was a possibility. I had tunnel vision but just hoped I’d hold up til I got to the finish line. I did, and squeaked out a 5 second PR!

Definitely working hard here and seeing stars.

Definitely working hard here and seeing stars.

While I’m happy (thrilled) about the PR, I’m even more happy about the execution of the race. A week before the race, I went out and previewed the course and came up with my race plan. Having a race plan and following it, however, are two different things and I’ve made the mistake of going out too fast at this race in past years. It would have been tempting to do the same thing this year as the initial first woman pulled away from me but sticking to the plan worked out well for me in the long run and gave me a much needed boost of confidence after a hard cycle.

Put the wrong foot up to have my timing chip cut off about three seconds before this picture. Classic.

Put the wrong foot up to have my timing chip cut off about three seconds before this picture. Classic.

 

Race Report: 10th Annual Montpelier Mile

Alternate Title: Years of marathon training do NOT prepare you for a road mile.

I made the last minute decision to run the Montpelier Mile instead of Clarence DeMar earlier in the week, in some part because I wanted a new experience and in some part because there was a lot of cash on the line. Regarding the latter, I should learn that if in any other year I would have won going away, assume that if I’m there, at least four other faster women will show up. Sarah Luck. Anyway, with a $15 entry fee and the opportunity to race through my hometown in front of tons of people, I signed up to donate my lungs to the streets of Montpelier.

Since I’ve never raced a road mile and my last 1500 meter run was literally in the 90s, Will and I hit the track on Wednesday to try to calibrate me for a 5:30 mile. My job was to run 3 200s in 41 seconds. I was not successful. The first was a 36, the second a 39 and the third a 38. Eff it, we’ll do it live.

I will admit to being incredibly nervous. I spent most of yesterday worrying about how to approach the race. I realize that the plan is to run as fast you can for a mile but I worried that I’d either go out too fast and suffer for 300 meters or go out too slow and run out of real estate. The course was set up well with two turns and a round-about. The best part, however, were the crowds. I’ve never run a race with so many people out to cheer us on! Brilliant to have the race just before the parade.

I didn’t wear a watch because the course wasn’t marked, so I have no idea what my splits were. There is a “Dash for Cash” built in for the first 400 so I just tried to stay clear of all the people sprinting for that line. The top 4 women (of which I was a part) were all within steps of each other at the 400 meter mark but a high school girl (she’ll come back into play later) got there first then as we rounded the turn, dropped back quickly. I had my eyes on Christina’s back (ok, her braid, it’s swingy and easy to watch) and the woman in 2nd but was just trying to stay calm. Just before the Roundabout and 800 meter mark, I heard my godparents cheering. As I moved around the Roundabout, people were dropping back quickly and I actually felt pretty good. Somewhere in here, however, Christina and 2nd Woman got away from me. I’m not sure if I was slowing down or they were speeding up but I lost contact big time.

My original plan was to round the last corner and kick for home, which seemed like a lovely plan when I was talking it out with Will. When it came time, however, I rounded the corner and wanted to die. The finish banner was SO SO SO FAR AWAY. And by so far away, I mean 400 meters. I just tried to keep it together but my legs were done with the idea of a mile. As we closed in on the finish, suddenly the high school girl from the start was back and before I could respond, we were over the line. 5:31 for her (and $125) and 5:32 and $0 for me.

To say I spent the first few minutes (like 30 minutes) seriously effing pissed is an understatement. I actually took my singlet off and threw it. Dramatic. I don’t know why I expected to have an amazing mile in the middle of a 70 mile training week, after years as a marathoner but somehow I did. I was more frustrated that instead of staying focused and kicking it in, I just let someone by me in the last 10 feet. Yes, the prize money would have been nice but I was (and am) more frustrated that I didn’t fight all the way to the line. Definitely a race lesson that I need to learn and improve upon…

All in all, it was a great experience to race a totally different distance and I’d actually like to continue to do more short races, both because it hurts in a completely different way (I mean seriously, what’s with the lung pain?) and because it forces me to be razor-focused from the start. I’m already looking forward to the next track meet to keep honing my speed skills!

Race Report: Falmouth 4 Miler 2015

Long story short, this was not one of my favorite race experiences. From a very stressful pre-race experience to a course that was anything but flat, I didn’t leave yesterday with a lot of good feelings about racing or my progress.

I left Lewiston at 7:00 am, plenty of time to make the trip to Falmouth, collect my bib and warm up. When I arrived in Falmouth, however, there was no signage for the race near the address provided and I spent 25 minutes driving around deserted neighborhoods and Falmouth High School trying to find the start. Finally, I saw runners warming up and followed them back to the well-hidden community park. Granted, this was more of a community event, but any signage would have been much appreciated. I finally parked and got my bib at 8:15 for an 8:30 start. Suffice to say, I was not calm, cool and collected as planned.

I jogged a mile in some serious wind to warm up, then stripped off my layers just before the start. The air temperature was great but the gusts of 30+ mph made standing at the start uncomfortable. Thankfully we started only a little bit late so I didn’t have time to fully freeze.

I wouldn't necessarily call this flat and fast...

I wouldn’t necessarily call this flat and fast…

Mile 1: Not warmed up, at all. This was also a visibly hilly mile and I struggled to get comfortable. Because of my lack of warmup and the hill, I was prepared for a slow first mile but was still frustrated to run a 6:21.

Mile 2: Finally up the first incline and into some rollers. Starting to feel a little smoother here and passed a few people as I found a sort of groove. 6:14.

Mile 3: The mile began with a 360 on a side street to turn around and headed back up the hill I had just cruised down. We also started to face the tailwind we’d enjoyed on the way out. I was in no man’s land but started working my way up through the few guys ahead of me to get some protection from the wind. Started to feel much smoother in this mile. 6:19.

Mile 4: Downhill! Legs were feeling great here but unfortunately, we were headfirst into seriously strong wind. Despite my best efforts, my hands and arms were flailing just trying to go forward. When we turned into the home stretch, the wind faded some and I started to kick. I was surprised to find a ton of acceleration and disappointed that we didn’t have much race left. The chute wasn’t marked, like at all, so I had a bit of an odd finish as I hooked left after crossing what I thought was the finish line. 6:05.

Finish Time: 25:04

7th Overall, 2nd Woman.

wpid-20150411_094255.jpg

What I’m Happy About: Despite a bad pre-race routine, I managed to keep my wits about me and not just flip out during the race. I am working on not getting frustrated in the wind and give myself a B+ for not fighting it today. I was really happy to feel like I had a lot of gears left at the end (just wish I’d had them earlier) and to find that I’m not tired or sore at all today. Incidentally, yesterday was also a 4 mile PR of over two minutes. That being said, my only prior 4 miler was a 27:11 in 2008.

What I’m Frustrated About: I’ve had some really good workouts recently even with my legs being exhausted from third year and I don’t feel like yesterday was reflective of where I’m at. Even on Wednesday when I was post-call, I cranked out 1200s faster than I did when I ran my half marathon PR (which is faster than I ran yesterday…) I feel like I’m slowing down despite more speed work but Will assures me that he’s not worried so I’m trying to believe him.

Where I Go From Here: We’re working on finding another fitness test soon, which will probably be the weekend I head back to Vermont (May 2nd/3rd). I’m going to keep focusing on short stuff and speed into the summer, both because my schedule just doesn’t accommodate longer training right now and because I need to figure out how to move faster. In the interim, I need to facilitate recovery to the best of my ability and take opportunities to get off my feet and get as much sleep as possible. I also need to keep working on strength training and remember to drink even during the busiest clinic days.

Another race experience done!

Another race experience done!

Week in Review 12/29 to 1/4/2015

As weeks in running go, this one was pretty exciting. I looked back over 2014, kicked off the new year with a race win and finally put another race on the calendar. In so doing, I’m feeling a lot more motivated to get out there which coincides perfectly with the arctic blast headed our way. No temps above 20 for the foreseeable future = potential for quite a bit of indoor running.

Monday: Super icy early morning. Cars all over the road but I avoided disaster. 7.7 miles with a mile of 200 ins and outs plus glutes, balance and a foam roll session.

Tuesday: Ski race at Mount Hor so skied the course, then ran to the top and back while coaching. 2 miles of running, god knows how many of skiing.

Wednesday: Hour of classic skiing plus 5.8 mile run with striders. Arms afterward.

Thursday: First Run! 2.5 mile warm up, 5K in 19:11, 1.5 mile cooldown for 7.2 miles. Happy to find out I can still run a 5:49 mile…Glutes and legs afterward.

Friday: 4.2 mile recovery run around campus then skied to the Cabin at Trapps. Hairy conditions, so happy not to fall.

Saturday: 11.3 mile long run. Absolutely frigid out. Definitely did not eat enough Friday night to fuel a long run!

Sunday: Rest day before kicking off the spring cycle.

Total Miles: 38.15

Two leg sessions and 1 arm session.

Happy with the way this week went and even happier to feel ready to train again. I’ll spend the next 6 weeks rebuilding a strong foundation (fartleks, hill runs, basic tempo) as I look forward to the 10 miler on February 22nd.

Race Report: RunVermont First Run 5K 2015

It has been a LONG time since I’ve raced a 5K and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious about what this morning would bring. I’m in good general shape but have done very little in the way of workouts since Vegas and have almost no memory of how to race a 5K. I’ve run the course before and my plan was to go out moderately for mile 1, survive the hill and headwind of mile 2 then kick it in for mile 3, which features a great downhill finish.

It was cold and windy this morning with a “feels like” of 11 at race start. I hate to be hot when I race so I gambled and wore capris and a long sleeve. Although I froze at the start, I was generally happy with this choice during the race. The start went out FAST and I was in about 10th place for women at half a mile but worked to just run my race. This turned out to be a good approach; I was in second by the mile. As we turned into the wind, I caught the woman who was in first and when she threw in a little surge, I decided to just tuck in on her as we battled the wind for mile 2. At about the 3K, however, she was starting to slow way down so I gave it my 10 quick steps and pushed past her to the next group of people.

WHERE is the top of this hill? And why does this have to be the headwind?

WHERE is the top of this hill? And why does this have to be the headwind?

Once we crested the hill at 2, I ground down and worked on just keeping form solid through the final mile. The Beech Street downhill was FREEZING but once we turned again, it wasn’t too bad for the last stretch. Somewhere along here a woman told me I was first woman, so I just kept pressing to the line. I finished feeling strong and got to break the finishing tape! I reflexively threw my arms up, so stay tuned for that picture…

Coach was not on his photo game today...grinding towards the finish.

Coach was not on his photo game today…grinding towards the finish.

I’m most thrilled with my race splits as they reflect that I respected the course and pushed when it was appropriate. I have a bad tendency to fight the wind so I’m thrilled that I trusted myself enough to just settle in through the windy mile and get it back together when we turned.

Mile 1: 6:10

Mile 2: 6:30

Mile 3: 5:49

.1: 5:31 pace

19:11, First Overall Female, 17th overall.

All in all, an excellent day that bodes well for 2015!

Race Report: RockNRoll Las Vegas Half 2014

Short Version: SO not my day with almost everything conspiring against me. Still ended up 9th for women and 86th overall with a 1:25:02. Had an INCREDIBLE vacation with my family (more on that in a separate post).

Results from Vegas

Long Version:

I didn’t even get out of Burlington before the fuck-ups began. I boarded my original flight at 6 am on Saturday morning and spent 4 hours trying to get out of Burlington, including getting towed back to the gate and swapping airlines entirely. The real fun began somewhere over Detroit, however, where we circled the airport for over 40 minutes and landed at 11:46. My flight for Vegas left Detroit at 12:02. From Terminal C. I landed at A. Thankfully I’d worn my Converse and sprinted (I mean all out sprinted) for C26, making it with seconds to spare. The door closed behind me and I scrambled to my seat and climbed over my poor seatmates with sweat dripping off of me.

When I arrived in Vegas, my family was already there waiting. We picked up our rental car (a souped up Camero, bucket list item for my Dad) and headed to the Expo. Pickup was really smooth, which is just about the last thing that was smooth for the next 24 hours. After waiting 60 minutes to check in at Bally’s, it was time to race to our show for the evening so I didn’t get a run in.

All things considered (time change, moderate altitude, sprinting in Converse), I felt pretty good when I woke up on Sunday. I was a little achy from travel but my legs felt good enough. We kicked around for most of the morning and I just enjoyed the time with my family. At about 2:30, my sister and I headed off for the start line and the shitshow began. On the monorail, I started to feel sick to my stomach. Not nervous sick, but sick-sick. I hoped it would clear once we got outside again but no dice. When we got towards the start area, they diverted us into the Start Festival. As much as I like Macklemore (and hearing Thrift Shop live was pretty great), I just wanted to find a place to lay down by the Start. After some near tears halted by a great Competitor Group volunteer, I found the Start Line. When we got there, however, there were almost no CG employees and certainly no one who knew where elites were supposed to go or where we were supposed to use the bathroom. There was nowhere to pee and nowhere to warm up. Now in full tears, I found a photographer who let me use the media bathroom and a kind start line volunteer who promised that if I ran down the median, he’d let me back in. I did manage to get a few minutes of warmup in but no striders and no decrease in stomach pain.

As we got loaded in the Start Line, it was utter chaos. 2 hour half marathoners were standing on the line with the elites. Some over eager guy ripped my shoe off my foot. We were told we had 5 minutes til the start. 90 seconds later, the gun sounded. I sprinted off the line and still got knocked around and started to fumble with my Garmin to try to get splits.

Start of RnR

From Meb’s Twitter (thanks Meb!). Pretty sure this is right after aforementioned dude ripped my shoe off.

My original plan was to click in with the 1:20 pace group (6:08 pace) and hide behind them in the wind for the first few miles of the race. This plan quickly evaporated when they cranked through the first mile in 5:40 pace. Not for me, in even the best scenario. To make it worse, my stomach was not calming down. By 2 miles in, I was already counting miles and running splits. I settled for just trying to find a comfortable pace and kept my eyes on the people ahead of me. When my stomach felt stable, I pushed. When it started to threaten disaster, I backed off. As I went by my family around 4, I knew things were grim because my sister didn’t even tell me what place I was.

At about mile 6, the woman who was second in the marathon came back to me and we ran together until the race split off at 9. I was actually feeling okay around here and made a big move forward at 10 to pass the woman who was in 9th. This wouldn’t last however, and I spent the last 3 miles just praying I could find a porto-potty in time. Even as I saw the clock clicking towards 1:25, I couldn’t sprint for fear that my stomach would give up entirely.

Since my Garmin didn’t start, I don’t have much in the way of splits but the timing mats have the following:

5K: 19:47 (6:22)

10K: 39:42 (6:23)

10 M: 1:04:20 (6:26)

Last 5K: 20:42 (6:39, dear god)

Obviously I would have preferred to go into my down period on a high note, but it is what it is. Even if my pre-race prep had been perfect, my stomach was clearly not up for the task (my Dad got sick on Sunday night and my mom on Monday, so we had something kicking around) and every day just isn’t going to be a banner day. I also got to have a great time in Las Vegas with my family and decompress after what’s been a long fall of school, training and coaching.

So what’s next?

Two weeks of down time, doing whatever I want for exercise then figuring out what’s next! During down time, I’ll be looking back (and posting) about what I thought worked well this cycle and what needs improvement and also figuring out what the next year will look like for me. I fricken hate vague blogging, but I’m not ready to float the ideas totally publicly. Suffice to say that the things I’m thinking about are big enough (to me) that I want to make sure all my i’s are dotted before it becomes public knowledge.

Despite the snafu’s, I do want to thank the Competitor Group for comping my entry to Las Vegas. While I wouldn’t recommend Las Vegas for a PR race because of the afternoon start and general chaos of a big-city race, I would recommend it for the experience. Running on the Strip after dark is just an insane experience and one you can’t replicate anywhere else. If RnR Las Vegas is on your bucket list, there are some specials this week that make CG races (a little) more affordable; at $99, this race can form the beginning of a great reason to go to Vegas in November.

Who else raced this weekend? Anyone running Philly this coming weekend? Have you run a RockNRoll race before? Experience?