Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Seattle Marathon recap

On December 1, I ran the Seattle Marathon. Spoiler alert: I really liked it. 




Before the race
I was, of course, a bit anxious. My training had been much stronger (running six days a week, higher mileage weeks) than any other training I've done. But, I cut almost all of the longer tempos and speedwork short.

I trained with paces for a 4:15 finish, but never, ever thought I would finish in 4:15. That's just pretty much what the charts in the Hansons book told me to do, so I went with it.

My husband and I stayed in a hotel a few blocks from the start to avoid a 4am wake up for the 5:20 ferry. Such a great decision.

We left our hotel around 7:45, walked the two blocks to the bag check (very well organized), jumped in the (short) line for the potties, then headed to the start. We just stopped where the crowd got thicker, which was a ways behind the 4:40 pacer.  There wasn't a 4:30 pacer, that made me kind of disappointed. I knew my Garmin would be off (it has been in every race I run in a city), and thought if I got a sub 4:30, I'd be really, really happy.

Within five minutes, we were off.



The race
The first 2 miles of the race run down 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle. There were a lot of spectators cheering, and it was a lot of fun.  I really wanted to run this first mile much slower than the rest - like an 11 minute mile. I stayed well behind the 4:40 pacer and would slow myself down when my watch had me going  a bit too fast.

I checked last year's results and saw that a lot of mid pack runners positive split the course. The major hills come at the end, so I wanted to make sure I didn't use all my energy too early and completely bonk once I got there.

At mile 2, we rounded a bend to head on to the 1-90 express ramp. The race volunteer shouted "hold on to your hats". After a few yards, I realized she wasn't kidding.  The weather forecast had heavy rain and wind. Fortunately the rain held off, but we did get the wind. Running up the on-ramp hill against the wind was a bit of a challenge, but it made it more funny than frustrating.

Running across the I-90 bridge was fun. The views of the water and Bellevue were nice, and the lead runners were heading back towards us. I ran in the middle of the bridge to lessen the effect of the wind, and to see my husband coming back. He trained for a 3:45, and when I saw him a few minutes behind the pacer looking good, I shouted out to him and waved. Since the race was not too huge, he actually heard me and waved back with a smile.

Around mile 6, a bit before the turn around, I saw the 4:25 pace group heading past. I took a gel at the stop, turned around, and decided that I would gradually catch up with the 4:25.

It didn't take too long to reach them. The pace seemed a bit too easy at the time, but I decided that sticking with them for a few miles would be a good idea to conserve some energy.  This part of the course is flat and makes a loop through Seward Park. It was really pretty - the lake, the trees (the usual northwest fall-ness.) I remember feeling like a weird excitement around mile 10 or 11.  The scenery, the way the pace felt so easy, the crowds. Three days before, I ran a Turkey Trot with my girls and my 10 year old kept shouting "this is awesome" at random. I laughed because I felt myself thinking the same thing here (but figured the pace group didn't want to hear me shout it.)

from the Seattle Marathon facebook page.  Leaves. Water. Pretty

I decided to leave the 4:25 group after the half point. I was feeling great and  ready to kick it up a little bit. The hills start around mile 20, but I knew if I wanted to try to bank any time, I should do it during this stretch.  My "strategy" was to change it a bit here - keep it comfortably hard, not the "extra" comfortable I was keeping in the first half, walk through every water station, eat a gel or shot blok every 2-4 miles, drink Gatorade at the stops where I didn't eat.

Miles 14-18 went by fast. The scenery was awesome. The crowd was awesome. The wind picked up at times. My hair kept getting blown out of the bun that I adjusted so many times.  I finally decided to  give it up and run the rest of the way with a big, messy, ponytail beating me up.

proof  - that I kept messing with my hair

At 18 I turned on my music. We came in to the fancy-fancy area (after miles of just regular fancy.)  Past Daniel's Broiler, Seattle Tennis Club, and two teenagers walking with tennis rackets who looked like they were out of some pretentious Ralph Lauren ad. It made me laugh out loud. I was still having fun.

The clock at the 20 mile timing mat read 3:18:something and I was excited! (and mistakenly thought I could totally do the last 6.2 in under an hour, oh well)

The first hill was steep, but short. I kept going, shortened my stride, changed my breathing from a 3:2 to a 2:1, and it was done. Not bad. The long hill on Madison was harder. It wasn't steep, but seemed to go on forever. A lot of people were walking. I was just about ready to do the same when I saw the water station ahead. After that we headed down a bit, and in to the arboretum. My hips started to get a bit tight a few miles back, so I stopped a bit before an up hill to stretch them out.

The arboretum is the tough part if the course. I studied the elevation map and read plenty of race reviews that gave me an idea of what to expect.  I told myself that it was supposed to be hard and to let it hurt. Seriously out of character for me. I kept repeating to myself, let it hurt, let it hurt. When I was running through it, it really didn't seem that bad and went pretty quickly  (I didn't think this section slowed me down while running, but looking at my results it actually did quite a bit.)

still with a stupid smile

Once we were through the arboretum a bit before mile 24, I grabbed some pretzels at the aid station and loosened my shoe a bit. The top of my right foot near the ankle took a beating during the rolling hills.

We crossed over the freeway and headed down the ramp back in to town. A huge gust of wind hit me at this point, pushing me up the ramp. I laughed about it with the Marathon Maniac guy next to me. Then we went down a steep hill (that really hurt), and were getting so close. I skipped the last aid station and kept going, as fast as I thought I could. What I didn't realize earlier was that the course included the hill that is right before the Rock 'n' Roll finish. I hate that hill. I got up without walking (though walking might have been faster) and kept going to past where Rock 'n' Roll finishes, made the turn to head in to the stadium and the finish line.

As I approached, I saw that the race clock read 4:24:something.  Since my previous marathon time was a 4:54, I kicked up my pace even more to get a 30 minute PR (but wasn't thinking that I started a couple minutes after the gun went off.)

Hello, mid-pack. My favorite thing about this graphic is the lower right hand corner - over the final 6 miles I passed 222 runners and 1 (guy) passed me. That shows how tough the end was.


I crossed, smiling, happy, and looking quite haggard (evidence so rudely captured in my race photos.)

My hips hurt, the top of my foot hurt, but I didn't care.

After a few texts and calls, I found my husband who finished in 3:48! Just 3 minutes off of his goal time for his first marathon?! Awesome. It was also awesome that he grabbed me a chocolate milk and banana because the after race area is a mess of runners and families, and we heard the food runs out pretty quickly.

After the race
My hips were super sore and stiff for a day or two. I went to work on Monday, which was pretty much the last day that stairs and those first few steps after getting up were crazy hard.

Though I didn't follow the Hansons plan exactly, I would definitely say that (mostly) six days a week running made a huge difference in my race. I didn't feel overly fatigued at anytime, and recovery was surprisingly easy.  Does that mean that I didn't push enough or 'leave it all on the course'?  Probably, yes. That is something that I've been working on, and I can see some progress there. After this, I think a 4:15 is totally doable.

Thoughts on the event itself
I loved this race. Big enough to have a lot of energy, but not too big that you are stuck weaving in and out of people.  There were plenty of aid stations, and the volunteers and spectators were great. So many reviews that I read before the race said that there wasn't much of a crowd at this race, and the later sections felt 'lonely'. I didn't find that true at all. Maybe because is was like 50 degrees and dry?

The course itself was was more scenic than Rock 'n' Roll (though I've only run that half, maybe the full is better?) Some people complain about the 1-90 bridge, but I liked it. Miles 8-23 are seriously beautiful. I may have to make this an annual thing.

Monday, December 2, 2013

my 2nd marathon

I actually did go through with it yesterday.

The weather forecasts of heavy rain were wrong. We ended up with (almost) my favorite running conditions (I prefer my winds a bit less than 25 mph, but really, I was so lucky and am not complaining.)

Since it was not sweltering, red-flag heat, and since I ran a lot more in training, I was able to knock 30+ minutes off of my first marathon time.

proof it really did happen, though it kind of feels like a dream now

My husband ran it too (his first, at age 44) and finished in 3:48.  So proud of him - not just his time, but that he actually followed a training plan, fueled and hydrated during the race, and that he didn't push too hard (like he can) and have an asthma attack or something.

I just loved the race and the course so much that I might actually write a recap post tomorrow (2 posts in a week?!)

Well, maybe in a few days. Right now I am focusing on walking up and down stairs, re-hydrating (woke up feeling a bit hung over-ish), and finally decorating the Christmas tree that we cut down on Friday and is just standing naked in our living room. 


P.S. The marathon is my favorite. I wonder how many more my old, weak body can handle?



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I ran a marathon last weekend

kind of (but not really)



I have been training for the Seattle Marathon for the past 15 weeks.  Initially, following the Hanson's plan exactly.  Things got a bit tricky when the mid-week tempo runs jumped to 8 miles (10 total with warm up and cool down.)  

Even at a tempo pace - that is like 2 hours of running for a slowpoke me on a weekday.  Our family's current work/life lack of balance situation doesn't permit that. So I had to modify the schedule a bit.

I  still ran a lot more than I ever have, but kind of hate that I did not follow the plan as written. My changes meant shortened tempos, and reducing the number of strength intervals (like speedwork, again sometimes 2 hours worth). I kept all the weekend runs, and most weekday runs.

Since I was not running all of the miles that the plan called for, I worried that topping out my long runs at 16 was a recipe for a major marathon bonk disaster.

So I decided to add 4 miles to my long run last weekend. What's 4 miles, right? (but there is so much out there that talks about how BAD 20 mile runs can be on a person, particularly a slower runner like me. As much as I wanted to do 20, I was also afraid that it could do more harm than good and I'd end up injured. Again. I obsessed over this all weekend, then decided to just shut up and not take it, or myself, so seriously.)

The schedule called for 6 miles on Saturday and 16 miles on Sunday.

I did 6 on Saturday, then 20 on Sunday - (almost) a marathon in a weekend (but not really)

The 20 was at my 'long run' pace, per the Hanson's plan.

Actually a little faster (kept it a bit slower for the first 10, picked it up a little miles 11-19, then did a slower mile 20)
I know Garmin shots are worthy of an eye-roll, so go ahead. I totally get it.

And it felt great - way better, and 14 minutes faster than the two 20 milers I did a year and a half ago while training for Pittsburgh (I was able to find that out by looking at my old Garmin shots.)

I love long, slow running. There is such a stigma attached to being a slow runner in a marathon.  I do take the race seriously (though I think the whole 'respect the distance' thing sounds a cheesy as 'beast mode'.)

This didn't bother me because, marketing.
I want to improve my time, but I really enjoy longer runs at a mosey pace where I can still smile and maybe sing out a bit of a song on my playlist (Not the whole song - I know that is not working hard enough, and no one wants to hear that much of my singing)

To practice the whole eat/drink during the race thing, I took short walk breaks every 2ish miles to take a drink from my water bottle and have a gel or a Shot Blok (like almost a whole pack), but I didn't stop my watch.  I always walk through water stations at races, so I thought this would give me an idea of how much time I might lose - turns out none, really

So now - it is time to taper.

Since I didn't peak in the 50+ mile per week range, I'll need to modify (ugh) some more to get the miles down for the next couple of weeks.  I'm not really sure how I'll do it. Cutting an easy run would seem like a simple way to do that, but I really enjoy running six days a week now (rest days make me feel anxious, and make me feel like I forget how to run when I start up again.)

Ever done a self-designed taper? How did you decrease your mileage? By a certain percent or number?

Friday, November 1, 2013

I am a liar (and a jerk)

So...

I didn't run that half marathon. That same half marathon I didn't run last year, but swore I would this year.

It was last weekend, and by the looks of things was a great time.

I am not injured (unlike last year). The truth is, it was just inconvenient.



Getting there and back (early morning, ferry boats), working it around my husband's marathon training and a birthday party my daughter was invited to attend.

So I made the decision to sit it out (again).  Not very "real" runner of me.

I did actually run 16 miles that day, but it wasn't as pretty (or flat) as the course, there were no people offering me water every few miles, and I didn't get a medal or hot soup when I finished.

I am jerk for passing up the opportunity to run an awesome race - and an even more awesome free entry offer the race director so generously extended this lame back-of-the-pack runner.

Congrats to those who ran (and I hope a few saved some $ by using the discount code).

Next up is that marathon in a month. Let's hope I can't find any excuses follow through.


Monday, September 16, 2013

over 30

When I trained for my first (and only so far) marathon, I plugged some info into Runners World's online Smart Coach tool and just went with what it spit out.

Each week was basically like this:
  • 1 easy run of 3 to 6 miles
  • 1 speed or tempo (alternating weeks) about 4 to 8 miles
  • 1 long run (staring at 8 miles, with two 20 milers, one 18 and two 16)


My longest training mileage week 30 miles.  My longest mileage week total on the plan was 35 including the race.

I finished, but was clearly just miserable looking left feeling a bit under-trained (not to mention over dressed and dehydrated)


Now I am (kind of) training for the Seattle Marathon on December 1st.

I say "kind of" not because I am half-assing it - I am actually killing every workout so far (knock on wood).  I am just not fully 100% committing to running it because time constraints may make it difficult to fit in some of the longer mid-week runs. See, my husband is training for the race too, and also just started working, so my running early in the morning everyday doesn't really work out when he needs to run, and I now have to get one of the kids off to school.

My current plan is pretty much like this:
  •  1 easy run of 5-7 miles (at a snail really slow pace)
  •  1 speed interval session of 6-8 miles
  •  1 tempo at marathon pace (started at 5, will go to 10 miles)
  •  1 easy easy run of 5-7 miles (again, at a really slow pace)
  •  1 slightly faster easy run of 5-8 miles (slow, but about 30 sec faster than really slow)
  •  1 long run (topping at 16 miles) at marathon pace + 45 seconds


If this looks familiar, it is a Hansons beginner plan.

My husband and I bought this book and read it this summer.  A lot of if really made sense. But what do we know? We figured it was worth a try.

I just finished week 7 of my 18 week plan and ran 36 miles.

That is my longest running week ever.

And yesterday, after my long run (of only 10 miles), I felt so, so tired.

But...

I hit my goal pace

and I don't feel injured.

Those are good things.

From here until December 1, each week is scheduled to be over 30 miles - peaking in the 50s (I think like 55, but am too lazy to look).

I want to be able to finish the plan and run the marathon.  I am curious as to how this training plan would work for me.

If I were really looking to PR, I would have picked another race like Chicago or CIM but I am too poor and cheap to travel, Seattle was a steal with Zozi credits the most practical.

Practical from a financial/time point of view - not from an ease-of-race (is that a thing?) view.  This course is tough.

From what I hear, the "slight upward slope" and "upward slope" sections at mile 22 are killer.

If for some reason I can't get enough training time, I will run the half marathon.

In week 13, I'm going to run the Snohomish River Run half marathon.


It's not too late to register. Use promo code  SRM_SRR13 to save $10 on registration.  I don't make any money if you use that code or anything - but I was offered a free entry to the race to help promote it.

The plan suggests running this at marathon pace, but I'm not going to listen going to shoot for a bit faster and a new half PR.  Unlike Seattle, this is a flat, fast course, so I hoping to use that to my advantage (but with my luck, I can't count on that helping.)

So, that's what I've been doing with my spare time lately.  How about you?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

smile

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened"

The youngest said this a few days ago when we were discussing the end of summer and the beginning of the new school year.  She was trying to get her sister to have a more positive outlook about school starting.

She said she read the quote somewhere at one of the hotels we stayed in last month.

We had a lot of fun this summer.

Most recently, the nine days we spent driving to and from California with plenty of fun stops along the way.

The Redwoods. Driving through the Avenue of the Giants was so amazing and totally worth (almost) getting car sick.


The ocean! (way different from our Puget Sound beaches).


We pulled off the highway in Crescent city and ran around on the sand, explored the tide pools in my mom's back yard  (almost literally - pic above), boogie boarded in Avila Beach.

Everyone braved the rides at the Boardwalk  - including the BIG roller coaster (sorry we couldn't get anyone to ride the drop thing with you mom), and kept cool on a 104 degree day riding slides and splashing in the wave pool at a water park.

This picture cracks me up. Don't worry - he was smiling when the ride was over.

We ate In 'n Out Burger, bread bowls full of chowder, Baja Fresh, Ghirardelli ice cream, chocolate covered bacon, Voo Doo Doughnuts well.

And got to run in some cool places (West Cliff in Santa Cruz, overlooking the ocean, American River Trail in Sacramento, Pre's Trail in Eugene.)

Now we are back and adjusting to some changes.

Good or bad, changes are not always easy for the members of this household.

My husband got a J.O.B. after six years as a stay at home dad, and one year of searching.  I am thinking that it all worked out perfectly because this is a  really good opportunity with tons of potential (and benefits that include free peanut butter.)

The fact that he is not just around 24/7 to watch the kids and drive them where ever they may need to be has made it a bit more difficult to figure out how to fit in marathon training runs. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, (you damn overachievers say) if it is important, you'll find time, blah, blah, blah ... I am still fitting them in for the most part.  I did miss yesterday's 12x400's - who has time for that on a weekday?! (Okay, a lot of people I guess, but not me - see title of blog.)

The oldest started middle school. We bit the bullet and enrolled him at the private school we had been so indecisive about.

He still looks so little to me
We may have to eat pasta a few nights a week, and he has to lug a heavy old laptop we had at home around from class to class (since we're not yet ready to purchase a new lighter model), but I think it was a good decision for this kid, this year.

Then the girls started today.

and are so over the back-to-school posing, apparently


So far, so good.  We made it through the whole day without any phone calls from the principal, so I'll call that a win.

And a reason to smile for a bit longer (while still adjusting, but let's focus on the positive.)











Wednesday, August 7, 2013

(I WILL run) Snohomish River Run 2013


Last year, I had my sights set on a big PR on Snohomish River Run's  fast, flat course.  Injury kept me out of the race (standing on the side cheering on the husband and everyone else wishing I could just jump in).

The husband pulled off a 5 minute PR.  He liked the course, and said there was plenty of support.  The organizers say they have made some improvements to both the course and start/finish areas for 2013.

I am really excited to finally give this race (and that PR attempt) a try.

Same day, October 27th  - on a Sunday instead of Saturday this year

If you are looking for a flat, fast, fall half marathon or 10K the Seattle(ish) area - take a look.

Look at those low entry fees!


Like last year - I have a discount code to share - use code SRM_SRR13 to save $10 on registration. Register by 9/30 and use that code, you are looking at a $35 10K or a $55 half marathon - a total steal.

Check out their facebook page for more info and special registration contests.   Who doesn't love free stuff?



Last week they gave away a Garmin 10, this week an Oiselle tee.



This is five weeks before the Seattle Marathon (which I started training for this week). Perfect timing for a pace check race and to finally get that PR.

Who wants to join me?






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