Category Archives: RunVermont

Race Report: Unplugged Half Marathon 2017

First race of 2017 done!

When I came into 2017, I had planned on making Unplugged a focus event for the spring but then life got in the way and it ended up being a workout/rust buster/engine check. My A goal was to break 1:30, my B goal was to be under 1:32. My (unstated) C goal was to finish and not get injured, which was not a forgone conclusion. I came in at 1:31:54 and felt pretty good, so mission mostly accomplished!

Despite living and training in Burlington for many years, this was my first year really running Unplugged. Until recently, it fell on Boston Marathon weekend and I was either running or going down to spectate or in the midst of VCM training. The race is truly unplugged; no awards, just water on the course, few spectators. All of this sets up for an awesome opportunity to get a good workout in without too much stress.

I was excited to have a chance to get a marker for moving forward for the Asheville Half and a fall full, but I was even more excited to see my dear friend Abbey who is my running buddy/confidante extraordinaire who was coming back to Burlington to race. Warming up with her and standing on the start line was enough to make the whole day worth it. She went on to kick ass and I can’t wait to work towards our next running (and life) goals together.

On race morning, the only piece I was worried about was the weather. The forecast called for snow, rain, windy and high 30s which is a tough temperature to dress for. While the mountains got anywhere from 4 to 9 inches of snow, Burlington was relatively dry but the start was COLD. I warmed up in two pairs of pants and two coats and for the first time ever, planned to race in full tights. Will tried to convince me to do a singlet and arm warmers but since he wasn’t at the start and I was being wimpy, I put a long sleeve on under my singlet which would ultimately turn out to be a big mistake.

The gun went off and we had a mile of out and back. I eased into the race and tried to resist the urge to chase after people. The first mile was distinctly uphill and conversely, when we turned, the second mile was downhill. I tried to stay in control but ended up running 7:03 and 6:49. I’m not sure if this second mile ultimately bit me in the butt but I did have to remind myself that I didn’t have the fitness to run that whole race in the 6:40s. The first few miles of the race had multiple turns and full circles through neighborhoods and it was hard to get into a rhythm. Miles 3, 4 and 5 were 6:50, 6:54 and 6:57. The 6:57 was the mile where I had to strip off my undershirt, a feat I accomplished without losing a step or falling down.

After mile 5, we turned onto the bike path and I was able to cruise a bit. Since the race started at 11, I was pretty hungry by the time we started and took my gel shortly after 6 in hopes that it would stave off a bonk. This seemed to work and Miles 6 and 7 were 7:02 and 7:03. I threw my gloves at another friend at mile 7 and was collected but definitely starting to feel some quad fatigue and quickly shed the idea of pushing the last 3 miles in favor of just staying consistent.

Mile 8 passed quickly in 7:03 and mile 9 was the downhill mile in 6:54. I was starting to get some confidence back after this but when we crossed into Waterfront Park, I came to what felt like a complete stop with stomach cramping and the worst GI distress of my life. I can generally tolerate gels without too much water but since I went into the day a tad dehydrated, I expect it sat like a brick in my stomach. I limped through mile 10 in 7:04 (no WAY was this race worth a GI disaster) and just hoped I could hang on for 3 more miles. Mile 11 passed in 7:07 with waves over the Causeway ala VCM 2013.  At least this time, the wind was at our back! Mile 12 was a mess and I alternated between smooth running and stomach saving pace, ending up with my slowest mile of 7:16. I was able to collect myself and ran mile 13 in 7:06 pace. I failed to stop my watch after crossing so have no idea what the last .1 was but I just tried to stay smooth and didn’t do much of a kick.

Is it easy to be excited about my second slowest half ever? Not really. Am I thrilled for the effort it took to accomplish my B goal? Yes! I have had a tough season of training and to be able to run a 1:32 comfortably off essentially no training is something even I have to begrudgingly be proud of. The best part, however, is that it left me hungry for more. I want to get back to being 10 minutes faster, to chasing that sub 1:20 and my Olympic Trials qualifier. I want to push my fitness forward. Onward and upward!

Week in Review 3.27.17 to 4.2.17

What?! A real week of training?

Monday: 5 hilly miles in Asheville. Made a dog friend on my run who followed me for 2 miles. His name was Finn and he was a sweet old guy who loved to run. Happy to reunite him with his dad, however!

Tuesday: 6.4 miles with striders. Super slushy out.

Wednesday: Humbling 7 mile progression run. Legs after.

Thursday: 6.2 mile recovery run. As I thought for 90% of this run, getting back in shape is the pits!

Friday: 4.5 mile run.

Saturday: Another snowstorm! 12 miles on the treadmill. Mind numbing but happy to get a longer run in.

Sunday: 3.4 miles plus this arm workout which was a killer. I can barely type.

Total Miles: 44.5

This week was humbling with a capital H. Almost every run (except my long run thank goodness) felt like a total slog and I spent most of the week being grumpy about being out of shape. That said, I am beyond grateful to be able to run and lift almost at a normal level (and for friends who reassure me that my out of shape isn’t that bad). I was also extremely diligent about my pre-run mobility drills and glute activation exercises, so it’s not surprising that I was sore and tired all week.

The week ahead has the Unplugged Half Marathon and I am looking forward to it! As I’ve said, I’m going to treat it like a workout. My plan is to warm up, ease into the first 2 miles then run at steady state pace until Mile 10. At Mile 10, I’ll try to pick it up if I can. I will be wearing my Garmin to make sure I don’t get over excited and to get a sense of where my fitness is. In my dream world, I would come in under 1:30. In a more realistic world, I’d like to be under 1:32 and feel like I executed a great workout and felt comfortable cruising along.

For the rest of the week, things will be as normal. I start in the SICU tomorrow morning (my last requirement EVER in medical school) and will be back to running at an inhumane hour until I figure out what my schedule looks like.

Race Report: First Run 2016

Whelp, I can already check the box under “gain more race experience in 2016”!!

Short Version: 15th overall, 1st woman, 18:47.

Slightly Longer Version:

My absolute favorite part of this race is getting to see almost all of the Burlington running community out and about on New Years Day when everyone is full of hope for the coming year of running. I got to visit with a bunch of people who were instrumental in me getting serious about running when I first moved back and connect with other area runners that I don’t see enough of with my crazy schedule.

As mentioned above, I also got a chance to work on building race experience ten hours into the New Year. Due to the overwhelming popularity of First Run this year, 700 runners showed up and bib pickup was a little crowded so there was a start delay of 15 minutes (I’m sensing a theme). However, I had anticipated this AND they announced it early and often and instead of letting it rattle me, I just did a second warm-up and set of striders (Lesson 1). It was only about 36 degrees at the start so I was a little chilly in shorts but took it out patiently (Lesson 2) until my legs felt nice and smooth.

Unlike last year where I was in about 10th for women at the half mile mark, I had passed the only woman ahead of me by then and just worked on putting as much space as I could ahead of Christine because I knew she could absolutely kick my a** if it came down to a kick. I went through the mile in a comfortable 6:01 and starting working the challenge that is Mile 2 of this course. Although I felt a little clunky for the first couple of minutes, I felt downright smooth and strong going into Mile 2. I tried not to fight the hill and just worked on picking men off as I went. When I passed Erin just before the 2 Mile mark, she told me there was no woman in site so I was able to mentally relax a bit, which was great timing because the 5K I’m going to vomit feeling was settling in. I went through Mile 2 in 6:12. (For comparison, last year I went through 1 in 6:10 and 2 in 6:30, so I slowed down a lot less this year.)

Once we crested the hill, I tried to get control of my breathing and take advantage of the downhill. I still felt smooth but was definitely aware that I haven’t done any frank speed work in a while and struggling to keep my turnover nice and snappy. Once I turned onto South Union for the last 3/4 of a mile straightaway, I tried to convince myself to pick it up but wasn’t overwhelmingly successful at this. I went through mile 3 in 5:53 and knew I would break 19 so just tried to convince myself to keep kicking through the finish. I broke the tape at 18:47 and called it good.

I’m always blown away by how gutting the second half of a 5K is and although I’m totally thrilled with my race today, I am frustrated that I wasn’t particularly motivated to kick the last kilometer of the race. I’m sure some of this was that I wasn’t under direct threat from another woman and some was that I haven’t done much real speed work, but I still want to work on the mental approach to kicking regardless of the surrounding situation. That being said, I’m really psyched that I handled the start delay and the colder temperatures well.

What was your first run of the year? Do you like to race or run or just recover from New Years Eve on the couch?

Week in Review 12/21/15 to 12/27/15

Monday am: 6 miles with 10 minutes at tempo pace on the Golf Course plus 4 by 200 on the track.

Monday pm: 2.6 mile easy run with the team plus 200 crunches, 100 pushups and 5 minutes of tucks.

Tuesday: 4 mile recovery run. First run on the treadmill!!

Wednesday: 7 mile run, again on the new treadmill. New toy problems 🙂

Thursday: 6.5 miles with 2 by 1 mile at T (6:10, 6:08) and 4 by 200. Legs after.

Friday: 3.2 mile recovery run plus arms.

Saturday: 6 mile run.

Sunday: 10 mile run and so happy to have the treadmill with the horrible weather out!

Total Miles 45.3

Happy with this week of training. I got two good workouts in, exactly the mileage I was hoping for and felt pretty good for the whole week!

I’m racing on New Years Day, so I’ll aim to get an early week (probably tomorrow) speed workout in then just relax with easy runs until Friday. We have some winter weather (finally) coming our way, so not sure how the conditions will be for Friday but I’d at least like to break 19 and get a solid race effort in. The course can be really fast if you respect it, so we’ll see what happens once the gun goes off.

 

Product Review: HOKA ONE ONE Clifton

I’ve been a devoted Saucony runner for a long time, but since I found out I didn’t get picked up to be on the Hurricane team this year at about the same time I won a pair of HOKA’s at the RunVermont New Year’s 5K, it was a great opportunity to branch out and try a new shoe.

Bringing new shoes home!

Bringing new shoes home!

HOKA has been around for about five years and is best known for the “fat shoes” that started as an ultramarathon niche and have slowly made their way into the mainstream. Most notably, they sponsor Leo Manzano and recently the entire Northern Arizona Elite team. The idea is that the shoes have more foam and better rebounding than a “skinnier” shoe and admittedly, that thickness was part of what deterred me from trying them earlier. Last Spring, however, my friend Annie started running in them (she is also a Kinvara girl) and absolutely loved them.

I chose the Clifton because at 6.6 ounces and a 5 mm drop, it was the closest to my Kinvara. The weight and drop is where the similarities end, however. Whereas Kinvara is fitted and flexible, the Clifton is spacious and somehow simultaneously firm and foamy. I highly recommend trying the shoe on in store and going a half size down from normal for you. Protip from Skirack: they do come with two inserts, so if you have a size issue, you can try putting both insoles in at the same time.

My first run in the Clifton was very, very awkward. Because of the padding, I found myself sort of bounding along and overstriding and found it very difficult to land on my midfoot. As I got used to them over the next few runs, however, the shoes worked their way into my heart. They are extremely comfortable and when you stop running like an idiot in them and just run like normal, they behave like any other shoe. I especially like them on rough terrain; because of the thickness of foam, no sharp rocks can poke through and bruise your footbed.

I’ve done long runs, workouts and races in them and it wasn’t until I wore a new pair of Kinvara 5 recently that I realized I preferred the Saucony to the HOKA for speed work. The HOKA is fine, but it’s not particularly maneuverable and I do find that I heel strike more in the Clifton than in other shoes. As I got more used to the shoe, the aesthetics of running 6 inches in the air bothered me less and I found myself reaching for them on long runs or recovery runs when I just wanted a comfortable, cushy shoe.

About 150 miles in

About 150 miles in

All in all, I’m very impressed with my first pair of Cliftons and when these are retired, I’ll probably pick another pair up. They are relatively expensive ($130) but not that out of line with the other top of the line shoes currently on the market and hold up much, much better than my Kinvaras that almost invariably have a hole in the fabric by 100 miles in.

Best For: Neutral footed runners looking for a shoe for long runs, recovery runs or runs on terrain with roots and/or rocks. Totally sufficient for mid to long races (actually bet they’d be great for the marathon, just haven’t run one) or longer tempo efforts.

Not Great For: Interval or Full Speed work.

 

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!

USATF NE Grand Prix 2015

The USATF NE Grand Prix was announced on Monday, which may not seem like headline news to most. For me, it will help finalize my calendar for 2015. The biggest item is that the marathon was moved to be Vermont City. I didn’t plan to do a spring marathon this year (because I am focusing on a fall OTQ attempt) but VCM being the USATF marathon changes a lot for me.

USATF NE Schedule

Have you done the USATF Grand Prix races before? Anyone racing as soon as February 22nd?

Week in Review 5.19.14 to 5.25.14 and a VCM Half Report

This was a really solid training week and my first above 60 in a long time.

Monday: 7.7 mile recovery run with a still-broken Garmin.

Tuesday: 9.15 miles with 4 strides at the end. (4 by 60 meters at a pretty-darn-quick pace).

Wednesday: Best workout post-surgery!!! 8 mile structured fartlek on the Causeway. 2 mile warmup, 5 minutes at slower tempo effort, 5 minutes recovery, 4 at faster tempo effort, 4 minutes recovery, 3 at interval pace, 3 minutes recovery, 2 at interval pace, 2 minutes recovery, 1 all out, 1 minute recovery, 30 seconds all out, 30 seconds recovery, 2 mile cooldown. Felt awesome the whole time which was a miracle given that I did this at 1 pm in 75 degrees and sunny. So encouraging to have a good workout. Hipcore after.

Slow Tempo: 6:45

Faster Tempo: 6:35

Interval: 6:10

All Out: 5:40

Thursday: Scheduled Off Day, prorated 7.5

Friday: 8 mile run with Annie, extremely humid out.

Saturday: 4.5 mile run with Will and Annie with 4 strides after.

Sunday: 20 miles. 2 mile warmup, 13.1 at tempo effort in 2-person Vermont City Marathon relay, 5+ miles of jogging around the course afterward.

Total: 64.9 miles

Finally feel like I’m hitting my stride this week. I still need to be better about the extras, in particular lifting, drills and core, but things are starting to feel better and I don’t feel so clunky all the time. I see Dr. Kevin on Wednesday and am hopeful he can help me keep working on improving my form/getting back to pre-surgery form.

VCM Half Marathon Race Report

Giving Laurel her singlet pre-race.

Giving Laurel her singlet pre-race.

I was really happy to only be running the half this year. It started off as a very humid morning and progressed to just plain hot by the time the second half of the race rolled around. It was reminiscent of 2011 when I led the pace group and people were just dropping like flies. I saw multiple pace leaders drop out yesterday and many experienced runners come in far off goal times. The weather really is getting too darn unpredictable at VCM recently.

I ran a full volume week so this race was intended to be a big workout for me and another opportunity to get back into racing. My only hope was to pop up a VDOT level with my performance and get through it without hurting myself or ruining this coming week of training. I’m glad for that, as I was drenched with sweat by mile 2 when I am not typically a heavy sweater. I didn’t wear a watch but remember a few splits from the course clocks. We went through mile 1 in about 6:45 pace and then Katie took off. I spent the rest of the run working through the pack (people went out SO fast) and just focusing on keeping good form. My pace was between 6:40 and 6:50 for the whole run and the only negative was that I felt like I could never get into a groove. My higher gear felt too fast and the 6:45 pace felt too slow. I was in the process of beating myself up for my second slowest half ever but corrected my attitude as we went through Church Street the second time when I reminded myself to be grateful that I was running a half 5 months after surgery. I finished the half in 1:29:05 (6:47 pace) which pops me up a VDOT level. Mission: successful!  Even after hours in the sun and lots more miles, my legs felt fresh. I’m happy to find that although my quads are a little tired today, everything else feels great and I’m ready for another week of training.

I have 2 weeks until the Causeway 15K and am looking forward to another opportunity to race the 15K on a flatter course with a few more weeks of fitness.

How was your weekend? Anyone race? How do you monitor your progress?

The Student Becomes the Teacher

Last Saturday, I went to the State Meet to cheer my chickies on. I figured they needed me there for another familiar voice as they ran around the track. It turns out that I needed them. As long as I’ve been coaching them, I’ve enforced the rule that one can’t be mad about a PR and that you can’t control bad weather or how anyone else runs. I’ve heard myself say these things a hundred times but wasn’t sure that they heard them. It turns out that they did, because all of them came up throughout the day to remind me that I don’t get to be disappointed with my run at VCM because it was a PR, because the weather wasn’t in my control, because my run had nothing to do with anyone else’s run. And they were/are right.

VCM was a 7 minute PR over a year ago and an almost 20 minute PR over my first marathon five years ago. That’s a lot of time. It’s okay to learn from mistakes that I made during the race, but it’s not okay to dwell on and be disappointed in my performance. As such, we move on.

So what went well at VCM?

1. Nutrition. We nailed it. I had plenty of energy, my stomach felt great and I never had foggy moments of glycogen depletion. For no other reason, this makes VCM a complete success because nutrition can be such a wild card. Taking this element off the “to-do” list is a huge accomplishment.

2. Patience. The women’s field went out fast. Really fast. And I didn’t go with them. I stuck to my race plan and felt great throughout the entire race. I didn’t have a lot of drive to do much at the end (the word that keeps coming up is bored), but I moved from 14th at the 10K to 9th at the finish, and that doesn’t count at least two invited women who dropped out. I worked hard throughout the early parts of the race to remind myself that the marathon is a long race and that anything can happen between the start and 26.2 miles.

3. Recovery. After my first marathon, I was so sore that I could barely walk for a week. Last year, it took me over an hour to walk half a mile in Waterfront Park. This year, I was walking and talking almost normally after a shower and a snack. Although my shins were inexplicably sore on Monday and Tuesday, I was able to walk without a hitch by Wednesday. I also took an entire week off of running, which I often don’t do. Even this week, I’m keeping runs short and still taking rest days to let my body and mind heal.