Weekend part one: Warriors!

August 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Posted in races, weekend | 4 Comments

I tried not to really learn anything about the Warrior Dash before we headed up to Windham Mountain on Saturday so that I wouldn’t get freaked out. But I did know that it’s an adventure race where participants run a 3.2 mile course that is littered with crazy obstacles on a mountsinside. Chuck and I were convinced to sign up for this one by our friends back in January (when August seemed so so far away!).

I should have known better than to worry about the obstacles; the real torture was running UP the mountain! We started with a little jog before quickly realizing that we would have to just walk/hike most of it. It was steep! There were only two obstacles on the way up, and those two were nothing compared to the hike itself.

On the transverse and on the way down, though, there was a lot more excitement. We went through a giant puddle/mini-lake where we had to climb over four logs that had been suspended in the middle (we were chest high in water so this was no small feat). That was followed by a balance beam, a 19 foot high rope wall (I was so scared at the top!) and the biggest slip and slide ever (among many other things that I have already managed to block out). We ended by leaping over two walls of fire and scurrying on our bellies through muddy water under barbed wire.

The truth is, it was totally awesome and I would definitely do it again! I mostly liked the obstacles, but my favorite part was the trail running in the woods between the obstacles. It was beautiful on the mountain. Plus, we got t-shirts, medals, and awesome Viking hats. And we had a lot of fun doing the whole course together.

I am a sore bruised mess now, but it was worth it.

Hope & possibility.

June 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Posted in races, weekend | Leave a comment

Yesterday I ran the Achilles Hope & Possibility 5 mile race in Central Park.

It was a beautiful morning. I went to the race by myself, and I wasn’t planning to meet anyone, which was nice – I could just watch and think and enjoy. (I did end up seeing my father-in-law, and we ran the first two miles together, but after that he left me in his dust!)

I wasn’t interested in running a fast race. I wanted to be totally in the moment and not rush to the finish. So that’s what I did. I moved at a pace that felt comfortable and tried to be grateful with every step that I have two strong legs to run on.

Achilles International is an organization whose “mission is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics in order to promote personal achievement, enhance self-esteem, and lower barriers to living a fulfilling life.” It’s so incredible to see the way this group has empowered people who might otherwise have given up because of their injuries or other issues. I saw countless wheelchair racers, plus a number of people with prosthetic limbs – including one very young war veteran missing both legs and one of his arms – and several blind runners. All of these people could stay home and feel bad for themselves, but they choose to participate, and they are an inspiration.

So, every time I complain about it being too hot or cold or an ache or not having enough time, I will try to think of them and remember how lucky I am that I can run.

Eleven seconds.

June 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Posted in races, weekend | 6 Comments

…is all that stands between me and glory! I finished the Covered Bridges Half Marathon in 2:00:10, just eleven seconds shy of the sub-2 hour time I dreamed of. But I came closer than ever before, shaving 8 minutes and 49 seconds off of my pervious half marathon best, and I’m surprised and happy with the results.

The weekend started with the long drive to Vermont. (We were travelling with our friends Sarah and Sam, who were actually the ones who discovered this race.) We got hungry for lunch half way through Massachusetts and checked Yelp to see where we could eat. We found the Siren Café and it was incredible! Lots of vegetarian sandwiches and fresh pressed juice and smoothies. I had portabella, avocado, and provolone on toasted wheat bread and it was delicious.

I also had a green juice – one of the best I’ve ever had – romaine, cucumber, apple, celery, and other green goodness.

We picked up our keys and settled into our rental condo, which was perfect for us:

And then headed out to carb up at Three Tomatoes (all the way over in New Hampshire!).

Our alarms were set for five, but I woke up at 4:40, pretty much ready to go. It helped a lot that the sun was already up! I made coffee and toast and ate a banana and we were on our way just after 6. We parked our car near the finish line, and boarded school buses to the start!

It wasn’t even 7 am yet when we arrived at the start village, which was around the Suicide Six ski area. There was water and food, but I didn’t partake. We just wandered around for a while.

A little after 8, we headed for the start.

And we were off!

The weather was completely perfect for running – totally dry and just a little bit on the cool side. The first mile was slow, but that worked out just fine because I wanted to be careful about starting too fast. Soon, though, I was in a groove. I felt fast, which made me a little nervous, because I wasn’t sure I could maintain. But I decided that I had to just go for it. My body was cooperating – no stitches, no bathroom issues, strong legs – so I felt that I had no excuse.

Sarah and I ran the first 5 miles together, but a point came when I was ready to surge ahead, and we had agreed to split up if necessary, so off I went. The next three miles were good – mostly flat, and on trails, which was a nice change of pace. I knew there was a big, steep (though short) hill at mile 8, and it worried me. I was thinking about just walking the whole thing so I didn’t exhaust myself, but I didn’t want to risk losing any time. (I knew that if I was going to do this in under two hours, it was definitely going to be by the skin of my teeth.) When I got there, I decided to try and run it, but half way up, I realized that I was going so slow anyway that I might as well just give myself a break and walk the rest, in hopes that I would recover faster on the other side.

After that hill, it took me a long time to get my breath back, and my legs never felt as good or as strong as they did for the first 8 miles. I thought it was time to let go of my time goal and just get myself to the finish. But then I crossed the marker for mile 9 and I realized that I had just run the last mile in 8:50, even though it didn’t feel that way. I had hope!

The last 4 miles were really hard, but I knew I had a chance, so I forced myself to go as hard as I could. I tried to imagine myself crossing the finish line and seeing the clock say 1:59:59. It helped! As I approached the final bend and the finish came into sight, I tried to focus on the clock.

When I was close enough I could see that it read 2:01:45. I knew that we were at least a minute behind the gun, but I didn’t think we were that far, and I figured the dream was lost. But I powered through anyway, just in case (and because I wanted it to be over!). Once I crossed, I felt really happy. I still didn’t know what my time was, but I knew that I had a HUGE PR and that was something to be really proud of.

I don’t really know how I did it. I am just grateful that the stars aligned and that I had the best conditions possible for this race. It was a really wonderful experience.

Afterwards, we were starving and we dug into lunch at the Farmer’s Diner. (It was only okay.)

Then we napped and lounged around before heading to a leisurely dinner.

The next morning we explored a bit more of Quechee before heading home.

It was such a wonderful weekend. Now I am officially obsessed with traveling for races and I can’t wait to do it again! Anyone have any good suggestions for fun races around the country? Maybe a 10K?

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go.

June 3, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Posted in races, running, Thursday group, weekend | 2 Comments

Just kidding. All I have in my suitcase is a pair of sneakers and a cat.

 

I did choose a race outfit, though, and I bought some Gus.

(My Alzheimer’s jersey is at our apartment and I don’t know if I can get there to retrieve it before tomorrow morning.)

Last night we ran the usual loop for the last time before the big day. I hoped that I would have an amazing run and feel great and super confident about the race, but no luck. I hope that means I’m saving myself for Sunday.

I’m not sure how I feel going into this one. Will it be my first sub-2 hour half, as I hoped back when I decided to sign up? I don’t know. It’s no secret that I didn’t put 100% effort into my training. But I wasn’t a terrible slouch either.

I’ve been very lucky in my brief running career: I do seem to have some kind of switch that flips to GO when I race. I always dig deeper when I’m against the clock. So I do have some hope that I’ll be able to find a way to go sub-2. But it’s an ambitious goal for me, with or without a totally perfect training record under my belt; if I do it, it will be a PR by almost 9 minutes.

I keep trying to imagine what will be going through my mind when I step into my corral on Sunday morning. I hope I’ll just be happy. After all, I’ll be in my favorite place in the world with Chuck and our good friends, running for my favorite cause. A sub-2 time would definitely make it extra special, but I think I’ll be able to enjoy myself no matter what.

Race report: Run for the Parks 4M

April 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Posted in races, weekend | Leave a comment

Saturday was pretty nasty, and I was in a time crunch, so I revised my weekend plan: instead of 8 on Saturday and the 4 mile race on Sunday, I would do 3 at the gym on Saturday, and run home from the race on Sunday for a total of about 8 miles.

It worked!

Three miles were easily checked off at the gym on Saturday. I am getting more comfortable with treadmill running.

Sunday started off gorgeous. When I arrived at the park, the sun was shining and the air was cool. Excellent running conditions.

I tried to take it easy in the race, knowing that I still had to get through another 4 miles after it was over, but I couldn’t help giving a little oomph. Honestly, I wasn’t feeling great – I had a cramp for the first couple of miles – and I just wanted it to be over. I finished in 37:42 (9:26 pace).

The race ended on the 72nd Street transverse, so I walked over to Central Park West. From there, I jogged to the West Side Highway. My legs felt strong and I was confident about the next 4 miles. But as I approached the water…

Holy WIND!

All of a sudden the sun was hidden behind lots of clouds and the wind was so strong I thought it was going to rip the race bib right off my shirt. My eyes were watering and my ears were burning! It was nasty.

By the time I got down to 18th Street, I was exhausted. The last time I ran more than 6 miles was… at the Marathon in November. So, my body was a little surprised. I finished the second half of the run, 4.41 miles, in about 45 minutes, which, considering the wind and having to wait for traffic lights, is not shabby at all.

There’s no running on the schedule today, but I am much overdue for some yoga. I’ve honestly been trying to go for weeks, but I’m constricted by a 9-5 work schedule, and I’ve found that there are very few level 1 classes after work. Alas. I know I have to make it work. I think yoga is a key to running injury-free. Plus, it’s good for the soul!

Race report: Scotland 10K

April 11, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Posted in races, weekend | 2 Comments
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Hooray, I had an awesome race on Sunday! I finished the 10K in 57:41, which is 9:18 pace, almost as fast as I need to be for a 2 hour half.  (Granted, that distance is 10K x 2 + a little more, but still. Baby steps.) I have only ever run one other 10K, but this was a huge PR over that one. And I just realized that it’s actually my fastest race pace ever!

It was chilly and grey at the start, but comfortable. There were almost 8,500 runners, which is a really enormous field for Central Park. I was in a corral near the end, as usual, but since I was a speed demon, I actually spent most of the race passing people. It was fine – I just ran a little outside the cones. I had no plans or goal times when I started, but once I saw that the first mile, which felt slow (especially because of the crowding), clocked at 10:20, I felt pretty good about having a fast race. The next two miles were both at about 9 minute pace, so even when I got tired around mile 4, I was able to relax knowing that I had built myself time to slow down near the end, while still coming in at under 60 minutes.

I had to push hard to get through the end of the race, but it was so worth it when I saw the results! I am super pleased with my time. I had been getting nervous about the 2 hour half, but now I think it’s a real possibility. Exciting!

Running to Scotland.

April 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Posted in races | Leave a comment
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I mean, running for Scotland, of course.

As it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried about not registering in time for the Scotland race on Sunday, since apparently I signed up back in January and then forgot that I had ever done that. Whoops. But I get to run after all, so I’m happy! It’s a 10K which is perfect – my schedule calls for 7 miles on Sunday, so I think 6.2 is close enough. (Maybe I’ll run home or something to make up the difference.) (Just kidding, I would totally never be so ambitious!)

My weekly running group is finally getting together tonight (after several weeks of weather-related false-starts). We are totally open and anyone is welcome to join us, so please do. We meet at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park, near the loop, at 6:30. We’re doing 5 miles and we have a variety of paces.

Speaking of races…

March 31, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Posted in races | 2 Comments
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I signed up for a LOT this morning! What can I say? I love little races in the park. It’s so much fun to pin on your number and line up with everyone else (and wear my Alzheimer’s jersey in front of as many people as possible!).

When I saw that the race I had logged on to sign up for was sold out (the Scotland 10K on April 10), I immediately signed up for every other race that was available (and that I was available for):

City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks (4M), April 17

American Heart Association Start! Wall Street Run (3M), May 17 (after work! This is a fun one we’ve been doing for years)

Portugal Day Event (5M), June 19

Front Runners New York Lesbian and Gay Pride Run (5M), June 25

Achilles Hope & Possibility (5M), June 26 (an awesome race for runners with disabilities – so inspiring. And last year Prince Harry was there!)

Who else is in?

The road to a race.

March 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Posted in races | 7 Comments
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I ran 6 half marathons last year, and I didn’t train for any of them. I had never run a half before I ran the full, so I had a pretty arrogant attitude for the first one (“Oh PLEEZE, I have already done double this distance, it will be cake!”). THAT was something of a reality check. The second was just a few months later, but it was still winter and I probably only ran once a week beforehand. And all the rest fell during marathon training.

This year I’m dedicating myself to properly training for a great half. We are signed up for one in June that just happens to be in the beautiful part of Vermont where we spent a weekend last summer. I didn’t think the mountains would be a good place to go for a PR, but it turns out the course is all downhill! So I’m going for it. I want to run a sub-2 hour half. (My current PR is 2:08:59 so I have a long way to go.)

I decided to use Hal Higdon’s 12-week intermediate training program. I’m trying to stick to it to the letter (except of course for my “vacation” last week).

This morning I had to do 6 x 400 meters at 5K pace. That means run a quarter of a mile (yes, I had to look that up) at 5K pace 6 times with short walk breaks between. This was the best, shortest, and easiest workout ever! I was definitely uncomfortable during the running portions (I did them at 8:30 pace, which is a bit faster than my 5K time, but I figured I’d better kick it up a notch), but the breaks were great and the whole thing took less than 25 minutes. It was awesome.

Has anyone else used this training plan? If not, which one do you like?

This is not a promise, but…

March 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Posted in races | Leave a comment

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