Race Simulation Weekend #1 – Complete!

I got a tiny bit of a late start but still made it out the door before 8. I tackled the first 30 miles of my ride on my own, checking out the Sligo Creek Trail for the first time. It was really nice and there was very little traffic, which is always a big plus. I did get lost a couple times but realized early on and was able to get myself situated.

Also, I only got cat called twice in Wheaton, so I think I may have been doing something wrong?

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Eventually I found my way down into Rock Creek to meet up with D and R2 (not to be confused with R2D2) who also decided to join us. We did the standard 50 mile Potomac loop…which is starting to become pretty familiar territory for me. The rain held off until about 10 (40 for me) miles in, but then it kept up pretty much until we got back to the city. I got us lost a teeny tiny bit, but it only added about 3 miles, which actually ended up to be perfect by the time I hit the overall mileage. I must say we were pretty blessed with cool temps and the rain did a lot to keep us even cooler. It’s going to be a different story if/when it ever gets to be summer.

I stayed as faithful as possible to my instructions to stay in Zone 2, especially to keep out of the higher zones on the hills. My average overall heart rate was actually high Zone 1, but that includes the stopping, looking at the map, etc…so I think I did OK on that front.

I followed my nutrition plan pretty well. I ended up downing 5-6 bottles of Infinit (over the course of an almost 6.5 hour ride), plus two stinger waffles, a half a banana, a clif turbo shot, and a packet of cheese/peanut butter crackers I bought at the quick stop (I was really in the mood for something salty!). I took the clif shot with about 10 miles left in the ride, because my legs were feeling a bit heavy. It did the trick because I felt pretty good all the way to pulling into the driveway. All in all I felt pretty darn good for the extent of the ride! I clocked in at exactly 80.01 miles. How’s THAT for route planning?  My average moving pace was 14.5 mph. Slower than I’d like it to be but at least that included slowing down and moving through traffic. Average overall pace was slower, including stops…it is no secret that the bike is where I need to work the most in the coming weeks! Even so, I somehow only ended up hearing one recent dating story from, and a short one at that. What gives?

I dropped my bike at home, tossed back half a serving of Infinit Napalm, grabbed a water bottle, and headed out the door. I turned back about 5 minutes in to grab a clif turbo shot after realizing I had left the house without any gels and I intended to really practice that sort of thing to see how my body would react. Legs were feeling heavy but otherwise I was good to go, until about 3 miles in when I had some stomach ish (*cue dramatic music*). I thought I might be in big trouble, but I powered through, and with just a couple minutes of walking the problems dissipated and I was fine for the rest of the run. With 9 minutes running, 1 minute walking, I still averaged right on at a 10:00/mile. Happy with that. Again, it’ll likely be a different story when it gets hot…

As I was finishing the run I actually thought to myself “I feel like I could really keep going and going….” Glad I didn’t though, because look what was waiting for me when I wandered back inside…

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I called my coach to give her a quick phone report on my successful race simulation. Meanwhile, she was waiting to watch her husband/my other coach pass in the process of CRUSHING Ironman Texas! He finished in 9:37, 2nd AG, and qualified for Kona! SO AWESOME!!!

Also of note – Pro Rachel Joyce (yeah Rachel power!) finished IMTX in 8:49 – 8th overall and ahead of many of the pro men! It’s majorly exciting watching so many amazing women come closer and closer to catching up with the men in this sport!

Back at the ranch it’s recovery time…don’t even pretend you aren’t jealous of my mad style.

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Btw, I’m still waiting for the cicadas to arrive. These cool temps are no doubt delaying their emergence, but I think it may be time to start a cicada watch counter here on the ol’ blog, no? Today’s count: still 0….

Anyone else knocking out big workouts this weekend?

Anyone racing or following race results closely?

Race Recap: Monticelloman Olympic Triathlon – Part 2

When we last left off, my partner in crime D and I had called it quits at the very late hour of 10 PM the night before the race. Next thing we knew it was 7 AM and the alarm was doing it’s thing. Yes you heard me right. 7 AM. That is practically noon in race morning time. The Oly didn’t kick off until 9 AM which meant SERIOUS SLEEP TIME! Amazing.

Awake, dressed, checked out, and on our way to another Charlottesville standby, Bodo’s Bagels, by 7:30 for our pre-race fuel. Despite the giant pizza feast, I was pretty hungry and knew I needed something serious to make it through the morning with only drinks and gels. I went for an “Everything Wheat” bagel with an egg and tomato slice. RIGHT CHOICE. So yummy!

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Look, I finally remembered to take a photo of my food!

Before we knew it we rolled up to the parking lot and wheeled our bikes into transition. Due to a somewhat late arrival, there weren’t many spots left on the racks so a friendly race volunteer had to clear out some space from some pushy big dudes with fancy bikes. Luckily I had just enough time to get all set up before transition closed. Quick trip to the posh restrooms (with real plumbing!). Then to the body marker who, when I lamented my age-up age, helpfully reminded me to “follow my heart” and life will be good. You got it, lady.

Next it was time to wetsuit up. Oh…it had been so long. Had almost forgotten about that totally gross claustrophobic feeling. At least it kept me warm while standing around on the beach, totally unable to hear the guy giving the pre-race announcements. Something about only two buoys, blah blah blah. After the first wave went off we ran into R2 and the three of us had a bit of a pre-race pow wow. D and I stashed our flip flops, sunscreen, and body glide in a hiding place since we’d be right back there to retrieve them later in the day. And before we knew it, it was time to swim!

SWIM:

The glamorous Lake Monticello beach.

The glamorous Lake Monticello beach.

Beach start. My first ever beach start, in fact. Kinda weird not getting to tread around in the water a bit. I let the fast folks scramble out in front. Even though our wave was all women under 39, it was still a pretty small group, so I wasn’t that far from the front when we started. The water was cold but not unbearable, and since only my arms were exposed it didn’t really bother me. I hadn’t done an open water swim since the Poconos 70.3 last September, so it did take me a bit of time to adjust to the wetsuit feeling, and zero visibility in the dark lake water, but after about 100 yards I was pretty much in a rhythm. I headed straight out toward the first buoy, which I could see very well. Feeling strong and fast. I passed a woman who was obviously strongly committed to back stroking the entire course. You go, girl.

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Then I rounded the first buoy and looked up for the next big turnaround buoy…and I could barely see it. UGH. It was probably 800-900 yards away (we were on a triangle swim course) and there was only one teeny tiny sighting buoy between me and the next turn around. I pointed myself toward it and swam. At first I sighted only about every 6-8 strokes, which was a mistake. I kept drifting way off to the left. I dialed it in to sighting about every 3-4 strokes after that. But it was near impossible to determine how far off course I was. I started passing/trying not to run into some green caps from the men’s wave that went off before us. I was getting annoyed with my inability to figure out where I should be heading. At least I still felt like I was swimming strong and fast.

Finally, I made it to the second turnaround and started chugging along. I thought this should be the home stretch. I checked my watch a bit of the way through and it said around 24 minutes, so I thought no problem, I can still manage a 30 minute swim. Too bad I couldn’t see the finish. Like, at all. There was one tiny sighting buoy off in the distance but it was the exact same color as the men’s green caps from the prior wave that were bobbing up and down all around me, so I was constantly confused about what to look at. ARGH. Finally I was able to see the dock where we would finish, but it felt like I was just crawling along at a snail’s pace trying to get there! When I finally made it I swam up as much as I could until the sand was literally right under me. I crawled out and hit my Garmin as soon as I crossed the timing mat. I saw it said something around 34 minutes and I screamed “WTF” – possibly in my head, possibly out loud. Whatever. Swim was done, time to put it behind me and get on with the rest of the race!

Swim time – 34:10 (2:22/100m).

T1: Once I started pulling the wetsuit off I realized that the air outside was actually pretty darn chilly. And my hands and feet were pretty much numb. FUN! I ripped the wetsuit off without too much awkward-one-footed-squat-contortion-dancing and threw it on the ground. I was glad I had nabbed a towel so I could de-soak myself a bit to help with the warmth. Despite the numb hands, I only fumbled a little with my socks, shoes, HRM, gloves, etc. I decided to through my jacket on over my kit because I was literally shivering. Not the most aero-dynamic thing in the world (I should probably get myself a cool BRM long sleeved jersey for occasions like this!) but I was much more worried about my body temp than uber-speed, especially since I’m not that speedy on the bike to start with. The always fun run to the mount line in funny pedal shoes, and then bike time!

T1 time – 3:49.

BIKE: Now for the part of the race that I was most looking forward to! The bike is probably my weakest discipline, but I’ve been enjoying my time in the saddle IMMENSELY more since finally getting a proper bike fit, and I knew the course was going to be absolutely beautiful. So I was super excited.

Much of the bike is a blur to me, honestly, as it often is. I remember taking out that steep climb we had seen on our pre-race ride the afternoon before. After that, I was just having a great time in no small part because the course was, indeed, GORGEOUS. Small rolling hills all along, surrounded by blossoming forest and a mix of adorable country houses and some crazy big, new rich people summer home looking houses.

A couple points stand out to me, both of which are unfortunately bad ones. One drawback of this course is that it was pretty much open to traffic. Intersections were protected, but otherwise the roads were open. At one point I was stuck behind this one guy for a while in the most annoying of ways. He was super tall and on a super nice bike, so by all first impressions should have been absolutely schooling me. I think he was having some sort of issue because he was drinking an awful lot, and tooling along at slightly slower than the pace I wanted to go. But, there wasn’t a good opportunity to pass him between intermittent traffic and intermittent short steep climbs. Argh. Eventually he got his stuff together and took off like a boss. At one other point in the last 5 miles I got stuck behind a long line of cars, behind another long line of bikes. This definitely slowed me up a bit.

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But overall, I had a great time on the bike. Ultimately I sailed into transition to some great crowd support from the neighborhood folks, and even got caught off guard with a “Yay Rachel!” for me from R2’s husband who was on the sidelines as well. Always good to be surprised with some good race support.

And now for the learning-from-our-mistakes installment of this post: I looked at my Garmin a bit into the bike and realized that, in race mode, my heart rate zone and pace were not showing up on the front screen. This was mildly annoying. For some reason it didn’t dawn on me to hit the down button…as I learned during the run, if I would have just scrolled two pages down then I would have seen what I normally see when I’m out on a training ride. I think this would have been a huge help. Looking back at the data afterwards, my average heart rate was solidly in zone 2…probably should have been at least a zone higher for an Oly, I think. So, lesson learned.

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I definitely think I could have pushed it harder and probably had a decently faster bike overall. I’m not used to a racing-type feeling on the bike. I kept worrying about wearing out my legs on the hills, because I wanted to be able to kick it hard on the run. But in retrospect, especially after looking at my data, I could have pushed it harder and still probably have had a great run? So, lesson learned x 2! This is why we have B races, right?!

Bike time – 1:28:48 (15.9 mph).

T2: I always feel like I waste way too much time in T2, so I resolved to be speedy. I didn’t do too bad. Almost forgot to take my gloves off (which, no big), threw my race belt on, threw back a bit of gel, and took off. On my way out of transition, I saw R2 rolling in on her bike, looking strong. T2 time – 2:05.

RUN: Every time I get to the run, I think “this is the easy part, just keep running.” This time I was feeling so strong I was able to think “keep running Right out of transition, my feet felt a little numb and like my socks might not be fitting quite right on my feet. The feeling passed quickly though, and I got over my initial “ACK don’t forget you can run fast, too” shock I started cruising. The course was by no means flat, but most of the hills were short and not too steep. At about mile 1.5, we ran a long flat bridge section next to the lake. I felt like I could FLY down that flat stretch, it was so lovely.

I felt well hydrated and had a good amount of energy, so I bypassed the water/heed stations. At the last one, I took a bit of water, because why not. It wasn’t hot at all. I second guessed myself a few times on whether I should make a porta-potty stop. My stomach felt pretty good but I have been having intermittent stomach problems on the run I was a bit nervous about it. Ultimately I ran through to the end with no issues. (A sign that cheese-less pizza should become a new race ritual? Mayhaps).

By this time I had figured out how to show the screen I wanted to show on my Garmin, so I was able to keep an eye on my heart rate and my pace. Heart rate stayed in zones 3-4, and my pace was somewhere between 8:30-9:00 throughout. I walked up a couple steep inclines on the back half of the out and back, but otherwise cruised feeling good the whole time. The course stayed within the Lake Monticello gated community, and there was great crowd support from folks just hanging out in their front yards, cheering. I was feeling so happy that I started saying not only “Thanks!” (which I always try to do to supporters and especially race course volunteers), but also “Good morning!” At one point, a guy said “don’t be polite – save your breath silly!” Loved it.

images (2)After the loop around I passed D coming towards me, and she was looking strong and speedy as well!

And the most exciting thing about the run! At two different points during the race, I noticed that a woman running in front of me had an age on their calf showing they were in my age group. Each was running about the same pace as me, but I knew I had more in me at both times. I picked them both off by powering up hills and maintaining my lead with a strong downhill and flat cruise. I was a little worried the second woman would come back and pass me again (this was in the last half mile) but I maintained my lead.

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Pretty proud that I gained myself two age groups spots! I don’t think I’ve ever been so “strategic” before, but it felt awesome. Must be that lovely Virginia springtime air!

Run time – 53:51 (8:41/mile).

TOTAL TIME – 3:02:43. A PR by about 5 minutes, yo! In the first race of the season! I won’t pretend I wasn’t a little disappointed to not have broken the 3 hour mark, especially when I was so close and feel like I probably had more in me on the bike especially. But after a week of mellow ‘tude, it’s hard to be too disappointed about the little hiccups I had when I ended up with a 5 minute PR. So. Boom.

I circled back to cheer in R2, and then D just a few minutes later. Everyone was happy and had PR’d with a great race experience!

Me, new friend Megan, and R2 showing off our new Monticelloman bling.

Me, new friend Megan, and R2 showing off our new Monticelloman bling.

We chatted a bit and then D and decided to roll out so we could make it back to the Disco at a reasonable hour. First stop, though, was Chipotle. DUHZ.

Thanks to Charlottesville Multisports for putting on a great race! The one major thing I think the race could stand to work on is the lack of sighting buoys on the swim. That was a major problem and it sounds like a lot of folks had slower swims than they would have liked. Otherwise, fun times all around. I would definitely do this one again – it was such a low stress way to start the tri season, on a beautiful and just challenging enough course. Tri season has officially kicked off, folks! Woo hoo!

Happy Marathon Monday!

The Boston Marathon is kind of a BFD.  It is the most prestigious marathon in the world.  Probably the most prestigious road race, period.  I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

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The chances of me ever qualifying, based on time, for this particular rite of spring are pretty darn slim.  I’m just not a speed demon on my feet.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t get swept up in all the excitement!

I was a little bummed to see Shalane and Kara finish out of the top 3 women (yes, obvies we are on a first name basis) but still as always super inspired by their awesomeness!  And it reminded me of another inspiration and just how far the sport of running has come for women in the past few decades.

In 1966, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon.  This despite the fact that women were not permitted to register for the race until 6 years later.  She tried to enter the 1966 race officially but was informed by the race directors that women were not physiologically capable of running 26.2 miles.  In fact, rules at the time prohibited women from entering races any longer than 1.5 miles.  Gibb, who had trained up to 40 miles at a time, was not deterred.  She donned a hoodie, crouched in the bushes, and rushed onto the course.  Here’s a bit from a great California Report article checking with Bobbi Gibb before the start of this year’s race:

She ran with the pack of men until she heard the comments from behind her, and realized the men behind her had figured out she was a young woman. It had taken about 30 seconds. She knew they could easily shoulder her out or report her, so instead of ignoring them she turned around and smiled. To her surprise, delight and a little chagrin, the crowd of men welcomed her.

“We got talking and they said, ‘Gee, I wish my girlfriend would run. I wish my wife would run.’ They wanted to share their love of running with the women in their lives.”

At this point, Gibb recalled, she started to get hot. She wanted to take off her sweatshirt, but knew her body and long bright blonde hair would give her away to the judges, the crowd and everybody else.

“If I take it off, I said, they might throw me out. The guys said, ‘We won’t let them throw you out. It’s a free road.’

She took off her sweatshirt and the crowd went wild. Reporters quickly figured out that a woman was in the race and started phoning ahead; a local radio station started broadcasting regular updates about where “the girl” was in the race. As Gibb ran by the crowds, she saw their reactions. Men were cheering and clapping, and women were jumping wildly up and down and weeping.

“I thought, “Oh my God, this is incredible,’ ” Gibb said, her voice warming. “This is really blowing peoples’ minds. I mean, women didn’t know they could do this!” She finished ahead of two-thirds of the marathon runners, dehydrated and exhausted.

She finished in 3:21:40 – nothing to sniff at.

The road wasn’t easy from then on.  Kathrine Switzer registered the next year under gender-neutral initials.  Only two miles into the race, the director rushed at her and tried to rip her race numbers off, as seen in these oft-circulated photos.  He purportedly yelled “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers.”

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Switzer’s boyfriend and others running with her surrounded and protected her, and she ultimately crossed the finish line 20+ miles later.  The attack on Switzer caused a huge uproar both within and beyond the running community.  The response?  The AAU actually instituted a formal BAN on woman competing in any road racing events with men.  A number of women continued to courageously ghost run the Boston Marathon and other races in the years that followed, but it was another 5 years before women were permitted to “officially” run Boston.

I’m celebrating these trailblazers, and the Boston Marathon, by tracking my friend Susie who is running today with Team Stork!  She awesomely raised about a grazillion dollars to help women and babies at Brigham Women’s and Children’s Hospital and now is running her victory lap of 26.2 miles…  BAA has a super rad tracking program, so I get to see a little stick figure run along a map of the race route in sync with where she is.  Fun times for a procrastinator on a Monday.  🙂  

Have you ever run the Boston Marathon?  Have a goal to run it in the future? 

What’s your favorite running event?

Race Recap: 2013 Rock and Roll USA Half Marathon

The morning started off pretty well.  I actually hopped out of bed right at 5:30 when my alarm went off, had some standard pre-race peanut butter/banana toast and hot tea while watching a BBT rerun, and shuffled about and up and down and around the house for 20 minutes trying to make sure I had everything on me or in my gear bag that I could possibly need.  I nabbed a Car2Go and drove down to park at Hubz’s work building.  It is only about 4 blocks from the race start so I figured I’d use the nice, clean, warm bathrooms there rather than brave the port-a-potty lines.  A smart choice, it turns out.  I got a text from M that she was running late due to single tracking on the Orange line (really, Metro? bad weekend for that….) so I was on my own. 

I left the office with about 25 minutes before the starting gun – which I foolishly thought would be plenty of time.  Unfortunately, I had failed miserably at pre-race recon, and thus didn’t realize that bag check was on the opposite side of the start line and corrals from me.    I busted my hump over there and realized the bus corresponding to my last name was a full 2 blocks further, so I busted it some more.  And then it dawned on me just how SLOWLY The bag check lines were moving.  Luckily mine was moving much faster than average, but I still only got to the front a few minutes after the starting gun.  One major ding for the race organizers – the bag check was not well organized or sufficiently staffed at either the start or the finish line.  People were getting ANGRY.

Luckily, I was able to get away and jog to the general area where my corral had moved up to by that point.  I only had about 3 more minutes of standing/shuffling before my corral was released and off we went!

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I LOOOOOOOVED the first 3 miles of this race!  We took off from the Washington Monument, headed down the mall toward the Lincoln Memorial, and then crossed (out and back) on the Arlington Memorial Bridge.  Such beautiful scenery and one of my favorite areas to run in the whole city.  I felt really good for these first three miles and my pace was better than I had expected (I *should* have taken this as a sign to slow down the pace just a tad, but….you know.)  The only major problem at this point was that the course was still pretty congested, but that is often to be expected early on in such large races so it was no big.  I even stopped to take a really terrible photo of the view down the mall as we were crossing back over from Virginny.

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Next, we headed straight down into Rock Creek.  Cue the part of the race that sucked.  The run in Rock Creek itself was fine: wide road, pretty trees, etc.  I tried to enjoy those three miles as much as possible because I knew what was coming.  I threw back a Gu and some water around mile 5 (turns out this may have been a bad, bad idea.)

And then, the dreaded Calvert Street hill.  Right around mile 6.  As anyone who has run in the park knows well, what goes down must come back up (ew, but you know what I mean).  Calvert is one of the major ways to exit the park trail and get back into the city.  Seriously, this doesn’t even start to do it justice:

usa13-elevation-halfOf course, I knew Calvert was coming, so I paced myself as well as I could and took a very slow, long-course triathlon approach to it (i.e. walk breaks).  Still, I was spent once I got to the top and barely had the energy to enjoy the beautiful view running down across the bridge from there.  Of course, as you can see, the subsequent mile was more and more climbing up Columbia Road in Adams Morgan.

Gahhh….and all that climbing fed right into the next problem: tummy troubles.  I have experienced the occasional tummy upset on training runs and rides, but I’ve never been hit too hard during a race before.  Until now.  Starting around mile 8, I had major pain and rumblies in the tumblies set in.  I managed OK as long as I kept my heart rate fairly low and my breathing easy, which meant more and more walk breaks (especially on anything even barely resembling an incline).  This was *SO* frustrating, because my legs felt great but the rest of my body just started freaking out.  So I cranked up the mental game to keep moving forward as decidedly as possible.  Luckily around mile 10 there was a patch of port-a-potties with NO LINE, so I pulled off and stopped there.  After the pit stop, with a few more minutes of easy running, I got to feeling more normal and was able to hit a normal pace again, more or less.  I was even more annoyed because those miles 7ish-11ish were the part of the course I was most looking forward to – the part that goes through “real” DC neighborhoods, with much awesome crowd support from locals out on their front lawns.

I had planned to take another Gu around mile 10, but after the tummy trouble I wasn’t about to mess with putting anything else in my system.  I did take in a little water at mile 11, but that was it.  Although my legs still felt good and my tummy was calm again, the other stuff was still troubling me…my heart rate was higher than it should have been and breathing felt hard.  But I powered through with the help of some good music and an *absolute* resolve to finish in under 2 hours.  Which I did.  Just barely.  1:58:42.

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I stumbled through the finish chute and grabbed some chocolate milk, some gatorade, and of course my medal.  I didn’t get a space blanket because I figured I would head right to bag check and quickly retrieve my sweats…foolish assumption, again.  The bag check lines were, again, REDONK:

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I literally waited in line for 45 minutes to get my bag.  The first 20 minutes of which I was 100% stationary.  I haven’t the foggiest idea what the problem was.  I wasn’t in a rush since I had some time to kill while M finished up, but I was FREEZING and wanted my dang fleece!  Luckily I was stuck in line with some friendly folks so I chatted it up to make the misery pass faster.

Once I finally had my bag, I circled back around to the finish chute to wait for M to cross.  I knew she started in one of the last corrals because she wayyyy slow-estimated her finish time when she signed up.  I only had about a 10 minute wait before she texted me “Finished!”  When I found her she was like “I feel like I’m 85 years old, but I’m SO HAPPY!”  It is so fun to re-live the first race experience threw a newbie runner friend!  We then met up with M’s friend who had made her an amazing cheer squad style sign.  Look at that big smile!

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Yes, I suffer from temporary conehead disease.

Of course we promptly celebrated with a delicious brunch.  As I always say, who needs chocolate milk when you can refuel with bloody mary?!

PROS of the race:

  • Parts of the course were beautiful.  
  • There was great crowd energy.  
  • Awesome bands – I even passed both a brass quintet and an a capella vocal group, not to mention the amazing and always kick butt Batala
  • Hometown pride!
  • Decent swag – the tech shirts were nice and they even had women-specific sizes for the first time this year, which I love because I don’t like tripping over my race shirts.

CONS:

  • Serious organizational problems especially when it came to bag check.
  • I’m not sold on this Rock Creek park thing, which was part of the new course changes this year.
  • Some problems with finish area traffic flow.  I witnessed several folks who were very confused about their inability to get back into the finish festival after getting their bag check (undoubtedly, also after a long long wait to do so).  There was a way back but it wasn’t clear.
  • If you ask my Hubz, the course blocked off WAY too much DC traffic.  It took him 1.5 hours to drive about 4 miles to get to the darkroom.   

And, the primary lesson from this race is one I already knew but was ignoring – practice your fueling on your long workouts!  Because I hadn’t really been “training” hard on any long runs (and really hadn’t done that many long runs at all), I hadn’t practiced with Gus, gatorade, anything.  When both my legs and my digestive system are in running shape, I can handle Gus and they really do make a difference in my pace and energy.  But when I haven’t practiced with them…recipe for disaster.  Lesson learned.  And I have a feeling I’ll be trying to get friendly with some Infinit products in the near future.  And as my coach said when I told her about my race “Sh*t happens!”  She also reminded me that similar problems are almost certainly going to happen AT LEAST once during my Ironman, so it’s good to experience it and figure out how to tackle the problem.

As far as my time is concerned, I’m not thrilled, but I’m not crushed either.  I was 5 1/2 minutes slower than last year.  BUT I’ve been training hard, most of which is not speed-focused running training, and I didn’t taper, so I was far from having fresh legs.  Plus, I lost serious time to the upset stomach.  All considered, I took it happily (and moved right on to my bike workout less than 24 hours later…)

I will definitely run this race again.  It’s hard to say no to a local marathon or half.  Plus, the St. Patrick’s day scheduling makes it a super fun vibe all around…all the way to the end while you’re heading to get on the Metro to leave RFK as attendees of Shamrock Fest are emerging to begin their debauchery.  I would also consider running the full next year, depending on how other training and life considerations are going.  Maybe next year I’ll even resurrect my Four Courts tutu for the occasion!  Or a full body Green Lantern-ess costume?

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Link

I’ve been saying it for years.  Music is for more than just killing boredom on a long run.  Check out this NY Times piece explaining research into human physiology when it comes to preferred walking and running cadences.  Bottom line: if you’re looking to hit or work toward a specific cadence, the best way to do it is to put on those headphones and blast something in the right BPM range.

Gretchen Reynolds, Getting Into Your Exercise Groove

Just say no? Not really my thing.

Let’s start by recapping a recent conversation I had….

Lovely coworker M: “Are you planning to run the Rock and Roll USA this year?”

Me: “Well, I haven’t really decided.”  [Meaning…I really shouldn’t because it doesn’t fit into my IM training, but….]

Lovely coworker M: “I have been thinking of running the half marathon.  It would be my first.    But I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit to it.”

Me: [Oh geez, here it comes.]

“Oh well of COURSE I will run it with you if you need moral support!  Running is awesome yayyyyyyy!!!!”

Lovely coworker M: “Really?  That’s great! Thanks!”

Me: [Ruh roh…that so doesn’t fit into my IM training plan does it.  Like, at all.]  “I am so excited!!!”

Excited as I was, and am, to rock another half, I realized that I may have a problem.  A problem saying “No.”

This March is a prime example.  I was already committed to a 4 miler on March 9 and a 5K on March 24.  Both of these are short races that could easily be factored into my training.  And both are annual events that I do with friends, so not to be missed.  But throwing a half in the middle there on March 16 complicates things a bit more.  I mean, I’ll do it and it will be awesome, but I’m going to stress about how I’m overtraining my run at the sacrifice of my bike and swim…which let’s face it, both need more work…especially the bike because ugh I am not powerful on that thing and really promised myself to work on it this season so 112 miles doesn’t DESTROY me…and I did so well recognizing that February marathon wasn’t a good thing and NOW what have I gone and done?!  And WHOAH I just need to breathe sometimes.  And yes, that is what being inside my brain is like for about 10 seconds.  You’re welcome.

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So, I recognize I need to dial back on the road racing sometimes, but I don’t always follow through.  Like, I *may* have already pseudo-committed to running an 8K literally the day before my first Oly Tri of the season this May.  It’s another annual charity event for a friend, so I don’t want to miss it, but I may have to suck it up and pass on the running.  At least I can join the fantabulous bag check crew (if they’ll have me.)  Because you know, sometimes it’s nice to be able to walk on Mondays.

*Ahem* Let’s just skip the psychoanalysis part about how I hate saying no to anything or anyone and blah blah need for approval blah, shall we?  Good.

I do not at all regret agreeing to run the Rock and Roll USA half this year.  It’s been a really great race for me two times around, including last year when I blew my half PR out of the water.  And unlike the last couple, while I won’t have Matthew here with me this time (UNLESS…you know you want to!), I will have the chance to share my love of running and racing with my coworker who is a relative newbie to racing.  And that’s about as awesome as it gets.

But seriously, in the future…how do I do this?  Take a deep breath and count to ten?  Plan a ranging party for the night before any particularly tempting races?  Actually learn to exercise self control?  Yeah.  Unlikely.

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