Rock n Roll Montreal Race Recap

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock n Roll Montreal] as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

This past weekend, I got to check off 2 items on my running bucket list –

  1. Run an international race.
  2. Run a Rock n Roll race.

Check and check!

Montreal is about a five hour drive for me making it a very doable road trip. I enlisted a couple of friends to join me for the adventure and we made the drive up the Friday before the race.

As far as fitness goes, I was feeling extremely prepared for this half marathon (my 19th!). I’ve been regularly running long runs in the range of 12-14 miles and I was excited to use the race as a tempo workout since my main focus is on the Philly Marathon right now. Yeah, my Achilles had been giving me some issues but it had been responding very well to physical therapy and dry needling so I didn’t anticipate that being an issue at all. I was correct in that it wasn’t my Achilles that gave me issues, but I’ll get to that…

My friend and I finally got to our hotel around 5 pm on Friday. We were staying at a Holiday Inn in downtown Montreal that had been listed as one of the recommended hotels on the RnR website. This worked GREAT. We were about half a mile from the expo and right across from the metro station (which was free for all runners to use on race day!).

Saturday, I woke up a little early and went out for an easy 5 miler in the city, only getting slightly lost in the process. It was a nice quiet morning, but even at 7 am, you could tell it was heating up. According to one of our Uber drivers, this weather was very unusual for Montreal – it was 85 degrees on Sunday! Race organizers even decided to cancel the full marathon that was originally scheduled to take place along with the half marathon. While I feel horrible for all the folks who spent months and months preparing to run 26.2 miles this past weekend, I do think this was the right decision. There was not a lot of shade out on that course and those are just brutal conditions to run a marathon in. Participants had the option to downgrade to the half marathon, transfer to a different Rock n Roll event, or get a full refund, which I think was a fair solution to a bad situation.

After getting a nice carb-loaded breakfast with my friends, we walked over to the expo. It was in a large convention hall which was definitely a little confusing to navigate. We weren’t really sure if we were going the right way a lot of the time and we saw other runners who looked a little lost as well, but we finally made our way to the entrance hall. I had printed out my confirmation sheet with my bib and corral # on it earlier in the week, so I breezed right through to pick up my bib and shirt (which I LOVE!).

Rock n Roll Montreal

The expo was pretty big with plenty of vendors and my friends and I had a blast walking around and checking it all out. We had plenty of samples, did a little shopping, and tested out the coolest foot massage machine EVER (I may need to add this to my Christmas list).

Rock n Roll MontrealEven with none of us speaking French, we had no issues communicating with anyone or figuring out where to go once in the expo. I didn’t know quite what to expect in terms of a language barrier, but thankfully we never had any problems.

The rest of the day we spent walking around touring the area. If I had been trying to PR, I would have been more worried about all the time on my feet, but I knew it wasn’t going to be that type of race so I didn’t stress about it. I tried to just focus on constantly hydrating to prepare for the temperatures.MontrealMontreal Rock n Roll Marathon

Rock n Roll MontrealAll the walking around definitely tired us out because my friends and I were happy to chill in the hotel room in the evening, eating dinner from our beds and watching a couple of movies. I had a little trouble falling asleep, but slept well once I finally passed out.

Finally, it was race morning! I got up at 5 and prepared my usual pre-run breakfast of toast with almond butter and honey and coffee while I got dressed. I headed out to the train station around 6 am, wanting to be on the early side for the 7:30 start. Thankfully, there were plenty of other runners in the train station and I had zero issues figuring out where to go. I had to switch lines after a couple of stops on one train and when I got on the second train, I found myself standing right next to another Bibrave Pro, Bradley! It was great having a friend to chat with about running and other Rock n Roll races as we made our way to the start.

Rock n Roll MontrealOrange is the new fast!!

As we climbed up onto the Jacques Cartier bridge where the race began, we got incredible views of the sunrise, the amusement park La Ronde, and all the corrals stretching out across the bridge!

Rock n Roll Montreal

I was pretty excited to be starting in Corral 2 (I put 1:45 as my seed time which I was surprised put me this far up!). The only thing about starting on the bridge was that it made it logistically challenging to warm up. Most of the bridge was reserved for the corrals with a narrow driving lane on one side for police and race officials. I had wanted to run a mile pre-race, but that didn’t really end up happening. I settled for dynamic drills in my corral.

Rock n Roll MontrealRight on time, we were off! The elites in Corral 1 started first and then my corral was up, about 3 minutes later. The first section of the workout my coach had written for me for the race was 2 x 2 miles at 8:01/mile with half mile recoveries. My first 2 miles were 7:54 and 8:00. A teeny bit fast, but the first mile was shaded and downhill, so I didn’t think it was an issue. I slowed down for my half mile recovery and gave myself a little pat on the back for hitting my first few paces. For the second set, I ran 8:02 and 7:53. I was feeling on top of the world, thinking to myself that I was going to NAIL the workout. The course was pretty flat so despite the warm temperatures, I was feeling really strong, enjoying the bands and the whole race atmosphere.

The next section of the workout was 2 x 2 miles at 7:32 pace with mile recoveries. I knew this was going to be tougher than the 8:00/mile pace but I felt pretty confident I would be able to handle it. For the first mile, I was right on target for around 7:35, but dropped to a 7:40 after slowing slightly at a water station. Still, pretty good. Then, there was a somewhat sharp turn up a steep ramp onto a bridge to take us back into Montreal. As I pushed up this ramp, I felt my hamstring twinge. I tried to keep pushing along at my 7:30 pace, but the pain along the back of my knee kept intensifying with every stride. Not good. I realized it was not a cramp and that it was not going to resolve itself, so I backed way off. Running around a 9 minute pace with smaller strides seemed to help so I settled into that while I tried to figure out what to do. I thought about dropping out. I didn’t want to do any serious damage. I honestly didn’t know how that would work though. I was worried about finding my friends after the race (we weren’t able to text since we had all turned our cellular data off) and I thought if I dropped out that I would get caught up with the medical and wouldn’t be able to connect with them.

I decided to keep going, but I let go of the idea of anymore sub-8 miles. The race really switched for me at this point. It went from being totally awesome/such a great day/so much fun to I just want this to be over/don’t cheer for me, this sucks/what the eff do I do. I tried to think back to what the hell had brought this on and I remembered when I had been strength training on Monday that week. I had gone to do some hamstring curls with an exercise ball – I did one and felt my right hamstring twinge. I immediately stopped and thought to myself, “That didn’t feel good, I think I’m done with those.” I had run plenty of easy miles later that week and kind of forgot about it since everything seemed fine.

Apparently not.

I dramatically slowed down from Miles 9-13 and tried to focus on enjoying the setting and the race itself. Back in mainland Montreal, there were TONS of spectators and so much cheering. I was really sad that my leg wasn’t cooperating because it was literally the perfect atmosphere to push yourself – I don’t think I’ve ever run a half marathon with that many spectators. I started to feel a tiny bit better between miles 10-12 and thought I might be able to finish at around 8:30-ish pace. I ran 8:49/8:37/8:18 for miles 10,11, and 12. And then my hamstring seized up even worse than the first time. It almost felt like a cramp, it felt so severe.

I pulled over to the side and tried to stretch for a few seconds, but I didn’t have much hope that it was going to help. From there, it was a slow shuffle to the end. I was constantly getting passed and mentally I just felt like a wreck again. By this time it was really hot too. Thankfully, there were tons of fire hydrants that the city had opened along the course so that runners could cool off by running through the spray.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally reached the finish line. I got a cold soaked towel, my medal and a bottle of water. My official time ended up being 1:52. I really wanted to find the med tent to get some ice but I never found it. The park where we finished was pretty big, which was great but did make it a little tricky to find things. Thankfully, my friends and I had picked a spot to meet up at and we quickly found each other.

Rock n Roll MontrealLove the medal!!

Overall, I was very impressed with the Rock and Roll experience. The bands along the course were frequent and added such a festive element to the race. They had also clearly taken a lot of precautions to keep the runners safe in the warm temps (plenty of water stations, opened fire hydrants, misters along course). While there were a few moments when I wished there had been somewhat better signage/direction, it was pretty dang smooth for a race with 10,000-ish runners. Sunday wasn’t my day, but I’ll just take that as a good excuse to start looking for another Rock n Roll race to sign up for!

 


The 2017 John Carson 4th of July Road Race

Hello again!

4th of julyAs I mentioned in my post on Monday, I randomly happened upon the registration and bib pick-up for the John Carson 2-Mile Road Race while out getting ice cream with my family this past weekend. I had been hoping to find a 4th of July race to do, and this just felt like fate.

My Achilles has been feeling about a thousand times better lately, so I was excited to really race this (as best I could given that I hadn’t really run much at all through the month of June much less done any speedwork). I was hoping to get under 14 minutes, but if that wasn’t going to happen, then I just wanted to focus on continuing to push myself through the uncomfortable parts of the race. After all, it was only a 2-miler and I figured I could gut out a fast pace knowing how quickly it would all be over.

Since this is a point-to-point course, my parents dropped me off at the starting area before heading to the center of Chelmsford where the race finishes. I thought the race started at 9, but it actually started at 9:30, so I had plenty of time for a 2 mile warm-up and drills. I was feeling the heat even on my easy paced warm-up, so I knew it was going to be a little rough for the race.

Before long, everyone was gathering at the start line. It was crowded and I found myself in the middle of the pack behind a lot of high schoolers and even some walkers. I knew everyone was going to go out fast, so I figured I would be able to wind my way around people once we were on course.

And right at 9:30, we were off! As expected, most of the high school boys went out crazy fast, only holding the pace for a quarter of a mile or so before I was able to pass them. There were plenty of spectators lining the street because the town parade immediately follows the race, so it was awesome to experience so much cheering and crowd support.

I was hoping to run sub-7 for my first mile and I almost did it, but couldn’t quite hold on towards the end of the first mile – 7:03. At this point, I was feeling the heat and just focused on telling myself to keep pushing, just one more mile. Throughout the race, I was hearing cheers for a guy who had dressed in a banana costume, so I was also highly motivated to not let the banana pass me. 🙂

I may have gone out a little too fast myself, given that my “best pace” was a 4:42… Haha, whoops.
The finish was pretty awesome with tons of cheering. It also came with a long gradual hill, which kind of sucked, but I knew I was close at that point and just did my best to keep pushing. Apparently my parents saw me at this point, and cheered for me and got some pictures, but I didn’t notice them (too busy gritting my teeth I guess!).

I hit Mile 2 in 7:10, which I was pleasantly surprised with. I think I was running closer to 7:20 through the first half of the second mile, but then sped up significantly at the end with the crowd support.

John Carson Road RaceI had been hoping for ice cream at the finish, since Sullivan Farms was a sponsor, but sadly, no cigar. 😉 They had water, bananas, watermelon, capri sun, and a few other snacky things.

John Carson Road RaceOverall, it was a really fun race! While I didn’t go sub-14 minutes, I am happy with my final time of 14:18. I felt like I pushed myself and did about as good as I could have done given that I’m coming off a really light month and a slight injury recovery. I’d love to race this one again next year and see what I could do with a little more preparation.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

 


The Comeback

Happy 4th of July (in advance)!!

Hope everyone’s been having a wonderful holiday weekend. I’ve been enjoying some family time with my parents and Brady and just soaking in the long weekend. 🙂

I’m happy to report that my past couple of runs have been pain-free and my chiropractor thinks I am well on my way to recovered. I saw him on Friday last week and got another round of ART and graston (still HATE that but I know it’s doing the trick).

I’ve finally pushed past the 3 mile mark and have been comfortably running 4-5 miles.

On Sunday, I was running a couple of errands with my parents and we stopped to get ice cream. I noticed a flyer for a 4th of July 2-mile road race and they happened to be doing bib and T-shirt pick-up right there! After doing a little googling on the race while I ate my ice cream, I went ahead and signed up. I am so excited to have spontaneously found a fun race to do for the holiday AND I’m stoked to try my hand at the 2-mile distance! Automatic PR considering I’ve never raced this before. 🙂

Now that my ankle is really starting to feel better, I’m getting very excited to start training for Philly. 139 days!!!

Anyone else running a race for the 4th of July?


The Mental Side of Racing

Happy Wednesday, hope you guys are all having a good week!

With the Fast Half being only 2 and a half weeks away at this point, I wanted to do a post on the mental aspects to racing. It’s no surprise that I was disappointed with my results at the Half at the Hamptons. All that work to run the exact same time as my current PR. Yes, there were a lot of factors that made that race a challenge – the wind, the cold, the hills… But when I look back on it all, I realize my thoughts going into the race were essentially along the lines of I’m in the best shape of my life, shiny new PR here I come!

A tiny little part of me thought it was going to be easy.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew I was going to have to push, but I think I had kind of forgotten just how hard that would be. I understood conceptually it would be tough and require some serious mental grit, but when it came down to it, I kind of shied away from the pain when I was in the thick of it. I think some part of me thought it was a given that I would PR considering the quality of the training cycle I had put in. But I think it’s safe to say the days of ‘easy’ PRs are gone.

Once I finished wallowing in my disappointment, I immediately began thinking about the next steps to keep that from happening again in a race. Obviously, I can’t control weather and all the external factors at play, but I CAN control and improve on my mental strategy. After some review browsing online, I purchased How Bad Do You Want It by Matt Fitzgerald.

How Bad Do You Want ItIt’s not an instructional manual; it’s more of a series of anecdotes about various athletes who have overcome mental barriers to reach the pinnacle of their sport. He then explains some of the more technical aspects of the coping mechanisms demonstrated. As a psychology nerd, I loved this.

With the Fast Half, I don’t plan to take anything for granted. I know I’m going to have to work. I know that there is a doozy of a hill at Mile 6. Yes, I’ve put in the work and run some great times in workouts, but that doesn’t mean executing on race day is going to feel comfortable. It doesn’t feel easy for me to run a 7:30 mile split in a workout, so why would that feel easy at the end of a 13 mile race??? That’s going to be the time where I am going to HAVE to dig deep. I plan on keeping the disappointment from March close to my heart. I fully plan on letting those frustrations fuel me during the tough times in this race when I have to decide between cruising comfortably and giving it everything I’ve got.

I’ve already put it out there that I want to try to BQ at Philly in November (for my age group, I would need a 3:35 or better). My coach thinks it’s doable, and I have no doubt that my fitness will get there under her training. But the mental toughness has to be there too, especially when we’re talking about 26 miles. It’s something I want to continue to focus on, paying it the same attention I give to my weekly mileage and paces.

Any runners out there have any tips for mental strategies in races?

Do you have any goal races coming up?


Boston Marathon Weekend 2017

Hello and happy Marathon Monday!

I hope you all had a great weekend. As expected, mine was packed with running. If I wasn’t actually running, I was hanging out with runners, listening to runners give inspirational talks, or shopping for running stuff at the expo. 🙂 It was a lot of fun.

Happy Dance I had Friday off from work so I slept in and went for a nice relaxing 45 minute run.

2 Generations RunningThis past week I felt so solid in my runs. Even my easy runs were on the ‘fast’ side of the easy spectrum. Despite some digestive issues Thursday evening during my workout (*Note to self: Don’t eat Chipotle for lunch when planning to run after work.), my paces were right there where I wanted them and I felt fast.

In the afternoon, I went to the expo for a little bit before hitting up a yoga for runners class. In some ways, I’ve been glad I’m not running on Monday since I was on my feet A LOT walking around the expo and jumping around to different presentations/seminars. It’s been a ton of fun, but not what you want when you’re about to run 26.2 miles.

After the yoga for runners class, I hung out at the Runners World Pop-Up store, to hear the presentation on how to run your best Boston. No, I’m not running it this year, but I definitely see this race in my future, so I figured it would be fun to get some tips. Ryan Hall was one of the speakers for this seminar (did you know he ran 2:04 at Boston in 2011?!?) He was SO funny and interesting to listen to. He joked that he likes to think of Boston as really only a half marathon since all the downhill sections are “free miles”. That got a good laugh. 🙂

On Saturday, I had the BAA 5k in the morning, which I had been REALLY excited for. While it was a cool race and I’m glad I did it, it was not quite what I expected. My plan had been to do 30 minutes easy as a warm-up before the race before using the race as a workout to do some 7:30 miles. Well, I guess I forgot that the race had 10,000 people in it. By the time I finished my 30 minute warm-up and got over to the corrals, they were already packed with people.

BAA 5kI jumped in where I could, but within the first mile, I realized there was not a shot in hell of me running a 7:30 mile. The streets were narrow and I was bobbing and weaving around walkers and slower runners. It was still cool getting to experience running part of the Boston Marathon course.BAA 5kCitgo sign!

So lesson learned. Don’t plan a workout for races where you know it’s going to be overcrowded. The shirt and medal were super nice though, so that was a nice little bonus.

BAA 5kAfter the race, I made my way back to the Runners World Pop-Up to take in a couple more seminars. First up was a discussion from the First Ladies of Running – this panel included Bobbi Gibb, Sarah Mae Berman, and several others.

Runners World Pop-Up

It was so amazing listening to them talk about getting started running races when it was still seen as improper for a lady to break a sweat (they also used to say a woman’s uterus would fall out if she ran too much. LOL.) Next up, was a presentation by Kathrine Switzer to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of her first running the Boston Marathon.

I have to say, I think I have a new running idol. (If you want to learn more about her story, I highly recommend listening to the Runners World podcast interview with Kathrine). She was so funny and just amazing to listen to. I was so inspired listening to her talk about how she went from a 4:20 marathon to a 2:51 through hard work and training (especially during a time when running was seen as such a bizarre hobby for a woman).

If I wasn’t excited to start marathon training  again soon, I sure am now!

Hope you had a great weekend and are ready to watch the marathon today!

 


What’s Next?

Hello, I’m back again!

When we last left off, I was disappointed in the result at the Half at the Hamptons and pondering next steps. I think I definitely tend to experience a sort of let-down/depression after big races when that feeling of chasing a big goal is over (I distinctly remember feeling this way after my first marathon). It’s easy to feel a little lost when something you have been looking forward to for months comes and goes.

Half at the HamptonsThe one good thing about not hitting my goal at the Hamptons is that I don’t feel like it’s over. I didn’t hit my time so that big exciting goal is still sitting there, waiting for me to catch it. Only a few days after the race, I was searching for another race to give my PR a shot and I’ve settled on one – The Fast Half on May 13th. Can’t beat a name like that, right??

Fast Half | 2 Generations Running

I’m hoping this race really is the flat and fast course it’s advertised as.

I’ve taken the better part of 3 weeks almost completely off (some of that due to travel for my job and not necessarily by intention). Either way, I am well-rested and ready to dive back into some hard workouts again. I want to really focus on my nutrition and mental toughness as I feel like those were areas where I experienced some shortfalls as well.

I’ve got a few other races on the calendar as well that I am SUPER excited for! Coming up in only a few short weeks is the BAA 5k! No Boston Marathon for me this year, but I am really looking forward to being part of the festivities by racing the 5k on Saturday. There are also a bunch of McKirdy Trained athletes running the marathon and I’m excited to finally meet some of these folks in person! Marathon weekend is probably one of the most fun times to be in Boston and I can’t wait!

I’ve got a few smaller 5ks and 10ks that I’m looking at doing in the spring. But the race that I am REALLY excited about is my first international race – Rock n Roll Montreal!!!

Montreal Rock n RollI will be running this race as a Bibrave ambassador and I cannot wait. I’ve never run a Rock n Roll race, but I have heard amazing things. It’s not until the end of September, so anyone who wants to join me has plenty of time to sign up! Code BIBRAVE15 will get you $15 off the half or full marathon. 🙂


Half at the Hamptons Recap

Hey All,

I’m back! Apologies for disappearing the past few weeks and leaving you hanging on the Half at the Hamptons. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know the race was not really the result I had been looking for and I needed some time to process it. The week after the race, I was traveling for work so writing the race recap got pushed back even more.

But I’m here now. 🙂

So let’s rewind to two weeks back when my mom and I headed up to Hampton, NH for the race.

When I first started weather-stalking the race (ie, checking weather.com every few hours for the raceday forecast), they were calling for temps in the high 40s and sunny. I got so excited I was even contemplating wearing shorts.

Half at the HamptonsI jinxed myself the minute I posted this tweet.

As the race drew closer, that high temperature steadily dropped. We ended up having a high around 32 and a very cold wind off the ocean. Not exactly ideal racing conditions.

Half at the Hamptons

FML.

My mom and I drove up Saturday night as I had decided to book a room in the hotel that was hosting the packet pick-up and post-race party. It was a really cute hotel, right on the ocean. You could tell it was the kind of place that would be PACKED during the summer, but it was very quiet for the beginning of March.

We had a quiet night on Saturday, eating dinner at the hotel restaurant and relaxing with some movies on TV before turning in early. I felt relaxed and honestly I was just excited to race. It didn’t even occur to me to be nervous.

The race started at 10 am on Sunday so I was able to sleep in comfortably. I had my pre-race bagel with almond butter and honey and layered up in my warmest clothes. I picked up my bib easily in the morning and headed out into the cold for a light warm-up.

It became obvious very quickly after going outside just how cold it was. I jogged along the beach for my warm-up and while the views were beautiful, it was kind of hard to enjoy in the wind. Still, I focused on jogging a couple miles knowing how important it would be for my muscles to be nice and warm for the start of the race.

After discussing with Mary, the plan for the race was to go out around 7:45 and to hold that for the first 3 miles. Most of the tempo work we had done during the training cycle was around 7:36/mile, so I knew that was a nice, conservative pace to start with. From there, the plan was to steadily drop the pace, hopefully leading to a negative split. The plan was a solid one, but sometimes even the most well laid-out plans don’t end up happening.

I lined up in the corral with all the other bundled runners and right on time, we were off. This was it. Months of hard work and 5 am wake-up calls were all coming down to this. I was definitely feeling the excitement during the first mile and I had to reign myself in a bit to keep to the 7:45 goal.

Mile 1: 7:46

Mile 2: 7:45

Mile 3: 7:46

My splits were RIGHT ON for the first 3 miles and I was stoked. I felt strong. Then came the straightaway along the ocean. We were running right into a fierce headwind. I tucked in and prepared to dial the pace down a notch.

And nothing. I felt like I was pushing harder than I had in the first 3 miles, but the split on my watch was going UP not down. Mary had advised me not to panic in the event of wind, so I sucked it up and figured I would make up the time in the next few miles once we were off the ocean a bit.

Mile 4: 7:49.

At this point, I still wasn’t too nervous. I thought I’d settle in and be able to work my way down to the 7:30s.

Just as I was thinking this came the hills. I had NOT expected any sort of incline. From what I had been able to find online, the race was supposed to be flat and fast. Well, I overheard another runner say that they changed the course this year so all my research and planning was out the window. I was peeved about the hill, but I sucked it up and did my best to keep running hard.

Half at the HamptonsYeah, that’s not flat.

Mile 5: 7:50

Mile 6: 7:53

At this point, I think I realized that things were really falling apart. Every time the wind would die down and I would think to myself it was time to push, I’d hit a hill and even with the increased effort, my pace would slow. If there wasn’t a hill, then it was the wind slowing me down. I tried to do my gels but I felt like I couldn’t breathe and swallow them at the same time. During my training, I had typically done my gels in between intervals which is all fine and dandy, but when it came down to it, I didn’t feel comfortable trying to take them while running fast. That was a stupid mistake on my part and something I need to think about more for my next half.

Mile 7: 8:16

Crap. At this point, I had really just been hoping to keep all my miles sub-8. So much for that goal.

From there, it was an absolute grind to the finish. I was still hoping and thinking I would finish in under 1:45, but my lofty goal of 1:39 was 100% out the window. Mentally, I just wanted this race to be over.

Mile 8: 7:58

Mile 9: 7:55

Mile 10: 7:58

I felt like absolute crap and knew I only had a 5k to go. I wanted to push. I really did. But we were back at that straightaway along the ocean and the wind was blasting me. I watched the pace fall off on my watch and felt absolutely powerless to do anything about it.

Mile 11: 8:00

Mile 12: 8:12

Mile 13: 8:21

I crossed the finish in 1:45. I immediately felt a sense of defeat upon seeing the clock. Not only did I miss my goal, but I didn’t even break my PR. After all the effort and all the training, I failed.

Half at the HamptonsHappy to be done. Not happy with the result.

My mom and I hurried back into the hotel to warm up. It seemed like it would have been a pretty nice post-race party with free beer, soup, and hot chocolate, but I didn’t feel much like celebrating. My stomach also felt like it was tied up in knots, much the way it gets after a marathon.

So obviously, I’m still disappointed that I didn’t reach my goal. But here’s the thing: I KNOW I’m in awesome shape and better trained than the last time I ran a 1:45. I KNOW I’m capable of a faster time. And now that I’ve had some time to let that sting of disappointment fade a bit, I look back and think ‘hey, I raced really freaking well for those conditions.’ My average pace ended up being 7:58/mile and to run that on such a terribly cold, windy day on a course that threw a few significant climbs my way? That’s actually a solid performance.

Everyone has races that don’t go their way. That’s part of the sport. You try to control everything you can in training, but on the actual day of the race, you also need a little bit of luck for everything to come together perfectly. It didn’t happen for me at the Half at the Hamptons, but that’s ok. All it means is that I need to start hunting for half marathon #18 so I can give sub 1:45 another shot.


Holiday Running + Yulefest 5k

Happy Monday folks!

Can you believe we are almost halfway through the month of December?? And almost to Christmas?!

Christmas is coming | 2 Generations RunningIn keeping with the holiday spirit, I ran the Yulefest 5k in Cambridge on Sunday. With it being my 3rd 5k in a month, I decided to treat this race as more of a workout followed by a fantastic post-race party (my running club was one of the biggest teams to sign up so we had our own tent, supply of soft pretzels, Bolloco breakfast burritos, and of course, beer/hard cider).

So in spite of the frigid temps (low 20’s), I was pretty excited for this race.

Our club did a group warm-up (1 mile easy paced followed by some drills) and then it was time to go! My goal was to reign myself in on the 5k and then I was going to finish up with 4 x 2 minute intervals to round out the workout.

I got into the starting corral with only a couple minutes to spare and couldn’t work my way backwards to my desired pace group, which probably contributed to me going out a little faster than intended. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel like I was killing myself (which is how I typically feel in 5ks) so I thought that was a good sign. I hit the first mile in 7:21.

The course was mostly flat with a couple of gentle hills. While it felt super cold standing around, I have to say, the temps felt MUCH better for running than they did in the 5k I ran in Orlando last week. Plus, it was tons of fun running with all the reindeer (I was wearing a pair of antlers myself), santas, and elves. I even got a high-five from Santa outside a bar. 🙂 Mile 2 was slower but more on target for my desired pace – 7:39.

In mile 2-3, I was running next to an older guy who was breathing extremely hard (really more like gasping). I wasn’t listening to music so I felt hyper-aware of it. The good news was that it reminded me to tune in to my own breathing/effort levels. I still felt pretty solid. I knew I was working, but I didn’t feel like I was running myself into the ground (the way the guy next to me was). I hit mile 3 in 7:40 and then had an exciting .1 finish with tons of folks cheering. It amped me up and I managed to run the final stretch at a 6:53 pace, overall 23:42. Not a PR, but also not a bad time for me.

I happily grabbed a water and then made my way past the crowd to find an open area to finish up with my intervals. The sidewalks were crowded, but I quickly found a little park, which was the perfect size for my 2 minute intervals. The first was a little slow as I dodged the folks on the sidewalks – 7:33 pace. The last 3 were much better and made me pretty excited (as tough as they were).

Interval 2 – 2 min @ 6:56/mile

Interval 3 – 2 min @ 6:54/mile

Interval 4 – 2 min @ 6:48/mile.

And all after running a 5k at an avg 7:31/mile pace. 🙂

I know the intervals are short but it does make me pretty excited to see sub-7 min paces popping up on my watch. Gives me good feelings about what will happen in half marathon #17. 🙂

After finishing the intervals, I made my way back to enjoy the post-race party. It was chilly, but still an awesome time. And my running club won for fastest team!

yulefestHow was your weekend?

Did anyone else race? Any holiday themed runs?


The Race that Wasn’t

Remember how I said I was running a Turkey Trot this year and was all excited to try to beat my time from the Boston River Run? I had it all planned out – I was going to show up an hour early, pick up my packet, warm up, and then race. My plan was to drive over by myself since no one else in my family was joining me for this 5k. At the last minute, my dad decided to come along to watch.

We headed over to Ayer and got there in about 20 minutes. I thought it was a little surprising that there were so few cars on the road, but figured that most people didn’t want to show up an hour early for a 5k. Similarly, there were some spectators standing along the course, but no runners. I didn’t think much of it and hurried over to the fire station where packet pick-up was.

Inside, there was a busy group of volunteers doling out the post-race apple crisp. I was surprised to not see anyone handing out race packets. I asked an older gentleman if I was in the right place for bib pick-up.

“Packet pick-up? It’s over – the race is almost over!”

And that’s when it dawned on me. It was 8:12. I had thought the race started at 9, but nope. 8 am sharp. $h!t. I think I got confused because when I had been looking for a turkey trot to sign up for, I had been between 2 options – one at 9 am and this one, at 8 am.

Embarrassed, I hurried back outside to explain the situation to my dad but found him talking to a couple of runners from my running club. He’d clearly heard the news. I had missed the race.

img_1980-editedSmiling, but I’m actually pretty embarrassed and disappointed.

We hung around for a bit and watched as the fastest runners started coming in and crossing the finish line. The only saving grace was the most adorable yellow lab puppy that was there with a spectator that I got to pet for a bit while the pup attempted to play with our giant, 10-year old lab that my dad had brought with us.

We went home after a while and I channeled my frustration into a 5-mile progression run. M1 – 9:20, M2 – 8:59, M3 – 8:58, M4 – 8:45, M5 – 8:32. The rest of Thanksgiving was a wonderful day with my family and plenty of delicious food. I was bummed about the race but I definitely did not let it spoil the rest of the day.

I’m happy to have another 5k coming up on Wednesday this week at a running conference I’ll be attending for work. I’ll have the chance to redeem myself and you can bet your life I’ll be double-checking the start time, my alarm, AND the packet pick-up times. Generally speaking, I’m a very organized person and I love to plan things in advance. We’ll call this one a wake-up call to give my own races a little more attention to detail the next time around. 🙂

Have you ever missed a race? What was the cause?


Half Marathon Training Has Begun!

I ran my current half marathon PR (1:45) at the Augusta Half Marathon back in February. That race was essentially part of training for the Delaware Marathon – I wasn’t following a specific half marathon plan, though I felt very fit going into it from marathon training. To date, this is still one of my favorite races.

2016 Augusta Half MarathonWhile I have 16 half marathons under my belt, most I trained for without any real time goals. When I first started out and my mom and I ran our first half, it was all about finishing. While I did start to think about faster times with each subsequent race, I would say I was pretty disorganized about it. Generally, I would just look up what pace I needed to run to hit a PR and then hope for the best on race day. Maybe I would try to do 2-3 runs at that pace during training. But it was pretty low-key.

That’s easy to get away with when you’re first starting out and able to make huge jumps in progress just as you become more experienced as a runner, but it gets harder as your times get faster. For example, between my first and second half marathons, I shaved 10 minutes off from a 2:15 to a 2:05. For me to shave 10 minutes off my current PR, and run a 1:35, I would have to run a 7:15/mile pace for 13.1 miles. That’s not going to happen by accident.

First Half Marathon | 2 Generations RunningSerious throwback to our first HALF MARATHON EVER!! I am running in soccer shorts. Clearly still have a lot to learn.

Baystate Marathon 2016 Race RecapLost the soccer shorts and added compression sleeves. I finally look like I know what I’m doing. 😉

 

I’ve already noticed that my PRs are shrinking in size with each race. From my previous personal best in the half to Augusta was a 3-minute drop. My first marathon to my second was a 40-minute improvement (26.2 miles makes for a lot of opportunity to make up time!). But my second to my third was a 4-minute improvement.

What all of this means is that at this point in my running career, PRs are only going to come with clear and goal-oriented training. I can’t wing it anymore. With that in mind, I’ve picked my next half marathon where I’ll be gunning for a new PR – the Half at the Hamptons on March 5th in Hampton, NH. It won’t be a new state unfortunately, but sometimes it is easier to go for a big goal without adding the stress of travel on top of it. And this will be a big goal. Because I am hoping to break 1:40 for the first time.

Wish me luck!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow – who will also be running a Turkey Trot???