2017 Year in Review

I cannot believe we are mid-way through December and almost done with 2017. As the new year has been approaching, I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on everything that has happened in the past year, running and otherwise.

On the non-running side of things, I changed jobs which was a little scary but ultimately a good move I think. I also adopted Callie (my kitty) which was 1000% a great move and I feel beyond lucky to have her fluffy little face to come home to everyday.

As for the running…. it was not quite the year I had hoped for. My goals going into 2017 were to run a big PR in the half marathon in the early spring and then train for the Philly Marathon, hopefully running another big PR. It certainly did not work out that way. Maybe this was ambitious of me but  honestly, I think it was mostly bad luck that did me in.

I did eek out a small PR in the half, but looking back, I still feel that my time did not really accurately reflect the fitness I had or what I was trained to do.

But the real kicker of the whole year were the injuries that plagued my marathon training. First the Achilles tendinitis and then the hamstring strain. The decision not to run the full at Philly was literally gut-wrenching, though I know it was for the best.

So I rounded out 2017 with a 1-minute PR in the half marathon and NO marathon at all. Not exactly what I had in mind when I was looking ahead to 2017 all starry-eyed and optimistic about the coming year.

Strangely enough, I thought I would feel more annoyed looking back on this. But honestly, I feel a confidence that delayed gratification will be coming my way. Yes, in terms of actually meeting my goals, this year was a bust. There’s no way around it. But it was also the first year I feel I fully trained to my best ability. It was my first year working with a coach, and I truly do feel that in many ways, this was a building year for me (isn’t that what they always say in baseball when a team has a horrible season?). For the first time ever, I ran truly consistent mileage (with breaks only after goal races… or when injuries flared up).

Pre-Coach:

2017 Weekly Mileage

And with a coach:

2017 Weekly MileageJust to dive into these numbers a little bit, from August-September, I was averaging just about 40 miles a week. In 2016, I think I put in about 2 weeks in that range right before Baystate (I peaked at 49 miles for that marathon). This year, I learned it’s not really about what you hit during your “peak week” in training – it’s about steadily maintaining a high volume for several weeks (I averaged 42 miles/week for 4 weeks leading up to my goal half).

If there’s a secret sauce for improvement in running, it’s consistency. I KNOW the cumulative mileage I put on my legs this year has made me a stronger runner. And I’m also not afraid of running high(er) mileage anymore.

Going into 2018, I still have some major time goals for the marathon, but I also don’t want to make that my only focus. More than anything, I want to focus on becoming a stronger, more injury-resistant runner. I want to be disciplined about doing the small stuff that will keep me running healthy – namely PT exercises and general strength training.

In spite of all the disappointment this year, I still feel incredibly passionate and excited for this sport. I’m eagerly awaiting my next crack at 26.2 miles on February 25th (**fingers crossed because I’ve learned it’s better not to jinx things). After that, who knows? I just want to keep running with a smile on my face.


Philly Week

Hey there!
This Friday, my mom and I will be hopping on a train bound for Philadelphia. While I could be disappointed that I won’t be running the marathon, I’m choosing to be excited about running the half. I’ve been slowly working my mileage up in the past couple weeks and have been having zero pain in my hamstring so I feel confident that my body will comfortably be able to handle 13.1 miles. Not at a crushing speed but definitely in the “fun run” range.

When I look back on 2017, it really has been the year of Taking It Seriously. This was my first year working with a coach and understandably, my big focus was on PRs. It was also the first year that I actually experienced some really rough races. In March, I went after my half marathon PR at the Half at the Hamptons. It was a freezing cold day, the course was hillier than expected and I faded badly in the final miles to finish in 1:45 (my old PR). I was pretty disappointed afterwards and couldn’t even really enjoy the post race party. For the first time ever really, I did not have a pleasant experience running a half marathon.

Half at the HamptonsI then rallied my strength and gave it a shot a couple months later at the “Fast Half”. While this one was slightly better, I still struggled in the last two miles and ended up just squeaking under my PR at 1:44. While I wasn’t thrilled, I decided to view it as a success. It was definitely not the flattest or fastest course I have run so who knows what I could have accomplished on a more PR-friendly course.

Fast Half Marathon Race RecapAnd then there was the RnR Montreal half. This truly should have been a blast. And it was for the first 7 or so miles. I was using it as a workout and I felt great, nailing my splits. And then my hamstring seized up and that was that. The second half of the course was decidedly painful and filled with anxious thoughts about Philly. Despite wonderful spectator support in the final miles, I couldn’t enjoy it. I felt beaten up and depressed by the end.

So… not a great year for me and the half marathon.

But something positive can still come out of not running the marathon in Philly – I will be running the half. And my only focus for the race is to run it feeling healthy and happy for the whole damn thing. I am going to smile and relax and enjoy running a race with zero pressure or expectations. I think that is what I need more than anything right now. And afterwards, I’ll get brunch with my mom and enjoy exploring Philadelphia in a way we wouldn’t have been able to do if I was running the marathon.

Another added bonus: I will be able to run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving! (This would have been ill advised if I had been running a marathon only 7 days earlier).

So maybe it’s a good thing I won’t be going for a marathon PR. That can wait till February.

How has your fall training gone?


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!

 


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.


The Next Race

First off, a HUGE congrats to all the runners who completed the Boston Marathon on Monday! Running 26.2 miles is hard enough as it is, and add in today’s warm temps and wind, and it takes it to a whole new level. You are all the embodiment of Boston Strong. ♥

The Boston Marathon | 2 Generations RunningI made my way over to the finish from my office around 12:30 in the afternoon. It was chaotic and a little bit stressful dealing with all the crowds. Nevertheless, I found myself feeling inspired and more determined than ever to run Boston. The whole experience has me even more excited to run Delaware in a few weeks too! I have a good feeling about this marathon. 🙂 I think you could say I have a touch of Marathon Fever.

But after Delaware, I’m really looking forward to putting in some work in the shorter distances – meaning half marathon and under. I mayyyyyyy even already have a race planned – the Runners World Classic Half Marathon in North Andover, Mass! Ahh, I’m so excited!!

So how the heck did I end up signed up for another half marathon before I have even run my full marathon? Well, you may have noticed a new logo on the sidebar of my blog – I am now a Bibrave Pro ambassador! Bibrave.com is a website that runners can use to review races – and to check out a race they are considering signing up for. Basically, it’s the Yelp of the running world. I’ve been writing reviews of my races for years now, so I recently started putting my reviews on Bibrave. Considering that my job involves planning races, I think I have a pretty good perspective on what it takes to plan a great event. 😉

Through my ambassadorship, I get to try out different races and running products, and the Runners World Classic will be my first one! I LOVED the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon when I ran it 2 years ago and I’m psyched to be doing another Runners World event. The cool thing is that it’s not just a race – they have a 5k and 10k in addition to the half, as well as a full day’s worth of seminars on different running topics. For a whole weekend, you can 100% immerse yourself in running. In case you need one more reason to register, Dave McGillivray, the race director of the Boston Marathon, will also be directing this event. Can you tell I’m geeking out right now?!

FangirlingIt’s only 2 months post-marathon, so it might not realistically give me enough time to recover and then train for a half marathon PR – but I might give it a shot anyway. I ran a 1:45 in Augusta, but I can feel that 1:40 calling my name! Even if it doesn’t happen at this race, that’s what I’m hoping to work on this summer.

This weekend will be another crazy work trip for me (which means tons of time on my feet, but no running unfortunately). Once I’m back, there will be nothing between me and running Delaware. I’m stoked.

Did you watch the Boston Marathon? Do you have any races planned for the summer yet? Want to come run the Runner’s World Classic with me??? 🙂


The 2016 Augusta Half Marathon

This was an awesome race.

2016 Augusta Half MarathonI haven’t been purposely trying to keep you all in suspense by lagging on getting this recap posted. Work has just been insane lately and meant that there was a ton of stuff I still had to get done outside of normal office hours (i.e., in the time I normally reserve for blogging.)

For the sake of catching up, I’m going to skip the week 5 recap of marathon training. Basically, I got some runs in before Augusta, but I kept them pretty easy and boring.

My mom and I flew into Atlanta on Friday evening last week and my aunt came and picked us up from the airport. Saturday, we enjoyed a relaxing morning of sleeping in and visiting before making the drive down to Augusta. We arrived at the expo a little on the later side, and you could tell some of the vendors had already packed up and left. They still had some pretty great stuff though!

2016 Augusta Half MarathonWe picked up our swag, which I have to say is some of the best I’ve ever received at a race. Instead of the boring (and typically ill-fitting) race T-shirt, the race organizers had adorable, cozy sweatshirts for all half marathoners. I got almost a little too excited about this. They also had nice canvas bags with the local university’s logo.the 2016 Augusta Half MarathonCurrently living in this sweatshirt 24/7.

Fleet Feet was one of the vendors still at the expo when we arrived, and my mom and I were excited to see they were doing a sale on all their winter apparel – buy 1, get 1 free! You can pretty much count on Massachusetts having some chilly days until the end of April, so we each picked out nice long-sleeve running tops. We also checked out the new GU flavors! Maple Bacon sounded a little weird to me, so I went with chocolate coconut (which I highly recommend).

Augusta Half MarathonThe rest of the day was pretty much spent taking it easy and doing a little beading. My mom is pretty talented at making jewelry and worked on some fun necklace and earring designs with my aunt and niece who were joining us for the weekend. There was also some fantastic afternoon coffee.

Augusta half marathonThat night, we went to bed on the earlier side hoping to get a good night’s rest before the race. Unfortunately, that didn’t really happen, at least not for me. The hotel was NOISY. Our room was next to the parking lot and there were a lot of crazy intoxicated people coming and going until at least 1:30 in the morning. Every time I’d start to drift off, people would start making a racket again. The kicker was the guy who set off his car alarm because he couldn’t find his car…

Augusta Half MarathonIt was probably one of the worst nights of sleep I’ve ever had before a race. My mom was smart to have brought earplugs and she slept fine.

FINALLY, our alarms were going off and it was race morning! Start time was 8 am and our hotel was only 1.7 miles from the start, so my mom and I jogged our way down as a warm-up. It was a little chilly in the morning (probably in the 40s), but sunny and bright and the temps were forecasted to reach the high 60s. Basically, perfect running weather.

Augusta Half Marathon

Augusta Half MarathonDespite a little confusion finding the bag check area, the start was well organized and very scenic, located along a paved trail right on Lake Olmstead. The 10k went off right on time at 8 am and we lined up right behind them to start 10 minutes later. I felt excited and ready to go.

My mom and I wished each other luck and lined ourselves up in the corrals, which were self-seeded. I found myself relatively close to the front with the 8:00/mile group. Before I knew it, we were off! It was the start of lucky half marathon #13!

My plan was to go out conservatively (between 8:15 and 8:20/mile) for the first 3 or so miles, and then steadily increase the pace as best I could. I knew the hills were going to be tough, so I didn’t worry about those.

Mile 1: 8:14 ♦ Mile 2: 8:10 ♦ Mile 3: 8:09

Right on for my pacing. I was glad that I held back on these first few miles, even though it felt like everyone was passing me.

Mile 4: 8:08 ♦ Mile 5: 8:03 ♦ Mile 6: 8:25

Mile 4 was right around the time I started passing some of the folks who had gotten out a little too fast. Miles 4 and 5 were still pretty flat and I felt good picking up the pace. Then, I hit the hill that was miles 6-7. This was definitely the toughest part of the course. You can just see the hill rising up in the distance ahead of you. Then, you reach what you think is the crest, go around a curve and BAM – more uphill. I focused on maintaining a steady effort on this section and didn’t worry about my split. I knew everyone was struggling. I felt particularly bad for the 2 wheelchair athletes who had to struggle up those hills – I can’t even imagine how painful it would be to rely on arm strength to power up that kind of incline.

Mile 7: 8:46 ♦ Mile 8: 7:33 ♦ Mile 9: 7:46

Yes, that uphill section between miles 6 and 7 kind of made me want to kill myself. But PRAISE THE LORD for the downhill section that followed!!!!!

Augusta Half MarathonI knew I was seriously cruising on the downhill, but I was still kind of shocked to see the 7:33 split. I knew that was going to go a long way towards making up for the slower pace on the uphill. Another girl wearing a Oiselle shirt who looked to be in my age group passed me just before the downhill began and I chased her for a while. I didn’t end up catching her (though she stayed within sight for a long time), but I think she gave me the extra oomph to really give it my all on this stretch of the course.

Mile 10: 8:13 ♦ Mile 11: 7:33 ♦ Mile 12: 7:48 ♦ Mile 13: 7:32

Mile 10 had another hill, though not nearly as intense as mile 6-7. I knew it was coming and I knew it was the final hill between me and the finish. I managed my effort up it and then I was really ready to kick it in. The final stretch brought us back to a loop around Lake Olmstead where we had started. It was one of the prettiest parts of the course and gloriously flat. Going into the final 3 miles, I knew I had a PR in the bag, but I could not for the life of me do the math on what that final time was going to be. In the last mile, I could see 2 girls ahead of me who seemed like they might be in my age group (different than the Oiselle shirt girl) and I focused on reeling them in. I managed to catch them both. 🙂

I’m thrilled I managed to run my fastest mile in the very last mile (even if it was only by a second). Not only that, but I’m more used to seeing this pace when I race 5ks – the fact that I was able to run this after having already run 12 tough miles is pretty exciting to me. I ended up crossing the finish in just over 1:45, shaving 3 minutes off my PR, with an average pace of 8:00/mile according to my GPS watch.

The post race food was pretty good, though not super exciting. The cookies were probably the best part!

Augusta Half MarathonI was able to watch my mom finish a few minutes later, claiming third in her age group!! She was also very excited to see that she ran faster than all the women in the next youngest age bracket. We actually checked the results before we left this time so my mom was able to claim her plaque!

Augusta Half MarathonAnd a big thumbs up from my cousin!

Augusta Half MarathonOverall, I thought this was an awesome race and very well organized. The crowd support was definitely minimal, but that tends to be the case with smaller races. I just love the little touches the race organizers went with to really make this event stand out, from the sweatshirts, to the gorgeous medals, to printing our names directly on the bibs. I loved the race and most importantly, we’ve got another state down. 🙂 40 to go!!

Maple Bacon GU – would you try it (or have you tried it)? Do you prefer small, well-organized races (that may lack spectator support) or the bigger events that can be a little more hectic and stressful, but have that big name recognition and cheering support?

 


Labor Day Weekend Training Recap

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you’re all enjoying the day off – I know I am!

Good Times Summer Series 5kSome Final Thoughts on the Good Times Summer Series:

I could not be happier about how this series went. Obviously, I was stoked to get first in my age group for the series, but that was just the cherry on top of a whole bunch of 5k PRs (I think 3 to be exact). I believe I mentioned in a post here on the blog before the series started that I was hoping to carve down my 5k time a little bit over the summer, but I really did not expect that to be by as much as 30 SECONDS. Even more exciting to me is that my new PR is 23:01 – right on the edge of breaking 23 minutes. When I first started running 5ks, I was NOWHERE near this time and I never would have thought I would be able to realistically think about breaking 23 minutes (much less do it!). Again, this is just one of the reasons I love running. It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to measure my progress in running over the years down to the second. 

So with that in mind, my goal is to keep the positive momentum moving forward, even though the Good Times Summer Series has now come to an end! Now, my focus is on the Baystate Half Marathon on October 18th. It’s a nice, flat course and very local for my mom and I, so it should be the perfect opportunity to try for another half marathon PR.

With that goal in mind, I challenged myself with some tough runs this weekend. Saturday, I decided to try out a 60-minute tempo run, aiming for a sub-9 minute pace. I really wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do this for a whole hour, especially since my legs were a little sore from a strength training workout the day before. After I ended up doing my warm-up mile at 8:49/mile kind of by accident (I had figured I would take the first mile slow to warm up), I decided I had to really give it a shot. And I did it!! I only had one mile that wasn’t at a sub-9 pace, and it was when I was on this little trail section that I had to slow down on to make sure I didn’t trip over a rock, and even then, my pace for that mile was still 9:01, so close enough. 🙂 I ended up covering 6.89 miles at an average of 8:43/mile.

Sunday, I joined my mom for a section of her 20-miler. We drove to a nearby rail trail, since we thought a little variety would help the miles go by faster.

2 Generations RunningWe got a bit of a late start, and didn’t end up running until 9:45 or so – not the best idea when the forecast for the day was a high of 88 degrees. Whoops. Despite the heat, we managed to have a pretty solid run. I had originally thought I would just do 10 miles, but then I was feeling pretty good and figured I would try to keep my mom company as long as possible, so I ended up doing 13. After I finished, I walked to a nearby cafe where I waited for my mom to finish up before we got some delicious breakfast sandwiches to refuel. 🙂

2 Generations RunningAfter 13 miles, I was RAVENOUS and ate this in about 90 seconds.

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, cooking, and catching up on some blog reading for me. Not super exciting, but just the kind of chill weekend I needed. 🙂

How has your weekend been? Are you doing anything special for Labor Day?