Monday, August 25, 2014

Emerald City Half Marathon Race Recap

"Running is terrible. Meow."
Egads, this race was a doozy. 

The Emerald City Half Marathon took place 7:00am on August 24, 2014 in Dublin, Ohio. [The course]

I had a premonition this was going to be horrible. I woke up at 4:54am, got dressed and ready, then proceeded to have some stomach issues til we needed to leave at 5:30am. I won't get into the details, but yikes. Seemed like an inauspicious beginning to my day. 

Let's just cut to the chase, shall we? 

The Beginning I lined up with a slower pace group than normal. 10:40/mile (2:20 finish) instead of 10:20/mile (2:15 finish). I figured it was the smart thing to do since the humidity was very high (almost 90%) and there was a chance for high temps. Looking back, probably not a good idea. I kind of felt like I was trotting along and never found my stride. In fact, I eventually lost the pace group... and kept going slower and slower and slower... 

Just before mile 3 the quarter marathoners split off. Man, I really wanted to go with them. I started to think, "Would I really get into trouble? I'll still get my medal..." but I stayed the course (literally). 

The Beginning of the End
Miles 4 and 5 weaved through a nice neighborhood and up some hills. Hey, I was told this was a flat course! I wanted to walk. I was having a really hard time breathing in the soupy air (not quite gasping, but I could never get a deep breath). It wasn't terribly hot, but it was foggy and thick – kind of like running through a cloud on Mars (or so I imagined). Additionally, my left leg was locking up behind the knee. 

I can't remember the first time I seriously considered walking. I think it was near mile 5. I was losing sight of the pace group and people were dropping like flies all around me. One girl would run/walk so that every time I caught up to her at my slow trot she'd start running. Honestly, that was kind of annoying.

When we turned into the Metro Park (miles 6 and 7) I wanted to go home. By this point, I had a blister or two forming. I never get blisters. NEVER. So naturally it made me really whiny. My tummy still felt gross and I kept thinking about calling Alex to come get me, or faking an emergency so the nice first aid people would drive me back. Before mile 8 I had to stop THREE times to chuck rocks out of my shoes. 

Smiling for Alex / glad to be done.
The End
Miles 9 - 12 had me walking a little bit. Let's face it: I was ovvvverrrrrr it. This made Cap City seem like a dream. At one point the 2:30 finish pace group passed me. What a downer. I knew immediately that my time was definitely going to be 10+ minutes slower than Cap City. Instead of motivating me to pick up the pace, I took a little pity walk while I ate my complimentary GU. (Another thing I don't do normally - I usually eat chews.)

Ultimately, I finished strongish. I ran the last mile at a respectable pace. I smiled as I crossed the line (mainly because Alex was taking my photo and hollering at me). I'm not that sore today and I wasn't very tried after. I'm a little relived by that. My feet were rubbed raw and burned, but I took a nice bath and didn't walk around too much yesterday, so they're okay (Plus, I'm wearing fluffy moccasins today.)

In summary
The course was lovely and the weather – minus the humidity – was nice: overcast and kind of breezy, but it wasn't my day. I had a bad attitude going into it, I'd skipped my 5 and 6 mile runs the week before, and I didn't really run the beginning. I trotted. And so, the rest of the race was a trot to keep up, some sad walking breaks, and general grumblings of "why do people sign up for these? This is it. Never again."

I'm here for the chocolate milk.
Things I've learned:
  1. I hate running in humidity. I am not a summer distance runner. Give me a 30-50 degree day and I'll love you forever. 
  2. My audiobook wasn't great. I was listening to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. It's an okay book, but not too riveting. Not to mention, around mile 11 the protagonist starts drinking a ton of liquor discussing how nauseous she is. I had to switch over to music at that point... 
  3. I should have started with a different pace group. 10:20/mile didn't exist (they had 9:55), so honestly I'm not sure what I would have done differently. But Lordy, this was night and day from the 10 miler a few weeks ago (where I ran a few miles under 10 minutes.)
  4. Attitude is everything. I wasn't feeling it, I just wanted to go home, and it sucked.
  5. Well, running slower means I'm less sore. 
  6. I don't want to be in the back of the pack again. 

Will I run another half? 
During the race (miles 5-end) I kept thinking how stupid long races are. They are SO self-indulgent! "Look at me run a stupid distance! Look at my medal!" In the car on the way home I told Alex it was ridiculous. I told him I wouldn't do it again. I was so totally bummed with my result and it wasn't fun. I said I'd keep doing 5-15Ks and 10 milers, but never a half. 

Then I sat around at home for a while. I really like running far with my running group. I woke up today and thought, "Well, I still have half a season left. Everyone else is training for October 19*, so maybe I should train for October 19." Get a shot at redemption! *Can I also add: it totally sucked to be on a separate training schedule from my running group. It certainly didn't help my summertime running sadness. One point of commiseration: the only other dude in my group to run Em City also had a horrible day. Yay for shared misery!

So, in conclusion: It sucked. I hated it. It was slow. I wanted to die (quit). BUT I might sign up for one more half in the (cooler) fall.

Mile splits:
1 mi    10:42 min/mi
2 mi    10:31 min/mi
3 mi    10:19 min/mi
4 mi    10:33 min/mi
5 mi    11:06 min/mi
6 mi    10:44 min/mi
7 mi    10:44 min/mi
8 mi    11:34 min/mi
9 mi    13:45 min/mi (I was pouting with my GU here)
10 mi    11:42 min/mi
11 mi    12:04 min/mi
12 mi    11:34 min/mi
13 mi    11:53 min/mi
13.6 mi 10:40 min/mi

Final time: 2:33 (Cap City was 2:19) :'(
What a change from the last two races. Bummer. Oh well... onward and upward!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Books of July 2014

Let's start a new feature, shall we?

Welcome to the inaugural installment of "Books of [Insert Month and Year]!"

July was a strange month. Lots of regular work, lots of freelance work, dog sitting, mini-trips, and catching up on sleep. (I had many 10 hour nights last week. I needed it.) Travel included a work trip to Dallas, a friend trip to Cleveland, two weddings, and a two-winery tour of Ashtabula county. Weird month, but these books got me through it:

Finished July 2, 2014
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Review: 4 / 5
I'm torn: On one hand, this is a great book about an important subject. On the other, it felt very... flat. Haley and her father would go into rages, but for some reason I didn't get upset. I didn't cry at the end when I was "supposed to." I didn't start liking either of them more as the book progressed. In fact, I think I liked Haley less.

Back to that other hand: military-induced PTSD is not something I've read about in fiction, let alone YA. I think this was great attempt. In the end, I wish there was more feeling (but maybe we were supposed to be numb like Haley?). And I do wish the author would have given us a better ending and not one of those wrap-up chapters I hate so much.

My rating goes from 3 for blah feelings to 4.5 for interesting subject matter.

Finished July 5, 2014
Blessing the Hands that Feed Us...
by Vicki Robin

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway... last year. It took me a long time to read... I started in April. That's not a reflection on the book, just a reflection on my non-fiction reading. 

Review: 3 / 5
I enjoyed the subject matter of this book (eating local), but felt it took a turn about 100 pages from the end. The 30 day challenge was complete and even though the author still had interesting points to cram in, they felt very disconnected. I found myself zoning out and skimming.

Overall, excellent points and an interesting challenge. I'm not sure this would work in locations with extreme climates, but her island seemed like a perfect testing ground. There were many do it yourself activities at the end of each chapter. Though I skimmed them, I appreciated the guidance.

Some parts were 5 star thought-provoking, but the repetition later on canceled out my initially high rating.

Finished July 15, 2014
The Girls from Corona del Mar
by Rufi Thorpe

Review 4 / 5
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Well-written debut novel. It was a quick read that covered a few disturbing topics. I enjoyed Lorrie Ann's last response -- it was an interesting look at the narrator.

I'd recommend this novel to most of my Goodreads friends.

Finished July 16, 2014 (eBook)
by Nora Ephron

Review 3.5 / 5 
The ending was great but the rest of the book hovered around a 3. It was fun to see lines that eventually made it into When Harry Met Sally... Based on the writing style* I'm sure this made a better movie. Now I need to watch it.

*This would probably make a great audiobook.

Finished July 18, 2014
by Cecily von Ziegesar

This was just about when life started catching up with me an I needed a good veg out!

Review: 4 / 5
I've only read book 1 and got this for 80 cents. Made for a good stress-free summertime read. Having watched the show, it was fun to see which stories made it onscreen. I enjoyed the book version more. Everyone's much more likable in my head. Blair and Nate together really works. Vanessa and Dan aren't as obnoxious. But Chuck and his pet monkey? No, thanks.

(I just read the summaries for the other books and I'm not sure I care. I think I picked the perfect one for skipping ahead.)

Read July 22, 2014
Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction's Most Beloved Heroines
by Samantha Hahn

Review: 4 / 5
A beautiful book and a quick read. I have to admit I had some issues:

First, ONE Asian and ONE black character. Surely there are great non-white female characters in popular classics (there are). Second, the quote from Elizabeth Bennett was poorly chosen as a representation of her character. And finally, while I LOVE the art, the quotes and art became repetitive: quotes of suffering next to beautiful, young, white women.

Oh, and where was Tess?!

Mainly this got a 4 because it is gorgeous and I might be overly sensitive to the inclusion of POC. Anyone else?

Read July 25, 2014
by Wolfgang Parker

Review: 4 / 5
I found out about this book from a co-worker. Missing is a cute children's (chapter) book set in the Columbus neighborhood Clintonville. It was fun to read about familiar places, changed just enough to add drama. I'd definitely read another! 

Finished July 25, 2014 (Audiobook)
by Lauren Oliver

Review: 4 / 5 
3.5-4. MUCH better than the first. Things actually happened! A few "twists" were really predictable, but that seems to be the norm with this new wave of dystopian novels. I'm not sure if this was better because I listened to it while jogging (vs. reading), but it was an improvement, regardless.

- - - - - - - -

These reviews are ripped straight from my Goodreads. If it's not working, perhaps I'll write longer reviews next month. 

What did you read in July? 
What are you reading now? 

What I'm looking forward to: Gasp by Lisa McMann, Landline by Rainbow Rowell, The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman, and making a bigger dent in House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.
As always, be my friend on Goodreads.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Pinterest and Tumblr

Just a reminder you can find me on Pinterest and Tumblr. (Mainly because I update them more frequently.)

Scioto Miles 10 Miler Race Recap

Yesterday I woke up at 4:50am to run a 10 mile "race." I'm feeling pretty achy today, but overall it was an improvement over the half marathon in May.

Bright and early!
Getting Ready
The race was point to point, so we had to take a bus from the finish line to the start. Because of this, everyone had to arrive an hour to an hour and a half before the 7:00AM start time. I was lucky to get to bed by 10 (I'm a night owl) and get a decent night's sleep, so waking up at 4:50 wasn't terrible.

I made a friend on the bus and we chatted until the race began. I recognized several people from other races and my running group, but it was nice to have someone to talk to to take my mind off any pre-race nerves.

The Run
I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel like walking after mile... 1? I was tired. There was a large (for Columbus) hill at the start and a few others in the first 4 miles. I realllllly need to start training on hills. I live in a relatively flat city, so a tiny 50 ft incline kills me.

I texted Alex during those first miles. I knew he'd be around mile 4.5 so, in addition to warning him that I was close, I also complained about the hills. ;) It was kind of fun to text and run. Maybe not the best idea for speed, but it was entertaining. I didn't have my phone during Cap City, so perhaps I was amused by the novelty of being able to text him.

Anyway, I passed him at mile 4.5. Just before that a few girls near me started to walk. I really wanted to join them, but I persevered and told myself to at least make it halfway. By this point, the field was spread out. I was between the 1:40 and 1:45 finish pace groups. My goal finish was 1:45, but I was feeling pretty good about my pace. Tired, but it seemed sustainable.

Around the 4.5 mile mark. Lots of pavement.

Around mile 5 we took a turn onto the bike path. It was gorgeous. The tree canopy was a welcome relief from the rising sun. I kept running. I didn't want to stop! (Ok, that might be a lie.) I was in a group of 4 or 5 runners with space between and I kept them in my sights. Around 6.5 I thought, "Maybe a 10k or quarter marathon is my optimal distance! I feel ok." Everything was going pretty well...

...Until mile 7 when we had to climb a hill to cross a bridge. Ouch. At the same time the 1:45 pace group passed me (10:30/mile). Bummer. According to Map My Run I was maintaining a just over 10 minute pace. I was confused.  By the time I got to mile 8 I was dead. Two girls in front of me started to walk. Then a really tall dude, then two other guys that looked fit. And then, I walked. I KNOW. Terrible. I walked an uphill and told myself that would be it. Unfortunately, I ended up walking a few uphills. In my defense, they were uphill and full sun. After the woods, I was not ready for the hot glare of the sun! I texted Alex, "8 had to walk." And he replied, "That's ok! Almost there!" How nice. I kept run/walking through mile 8, as did the three individuals near me. I wonder if they'd kept running would I have willed myself to follow? I'm not sure... I was pretty freaking tired.

So, mile 8 sucked. Mile 9 arrived and I told myself I had to run the whole thing. I walked a bit up a hill, but for the most part I kept myself going. As I turned the corner to the finish I had a little bit of energy left, so I picked up the pace. I didn't sprint in, but ran a little faster. As I crossed the line, the announcer said something about "there are still finishers on the course, cheer them on!" so I immediately knew I wasn't breaking any records. ;)

In a good mood at the end.
This was a FAST field of runners. This was a runners race. Generally if I run around a 10:00-10:30/mile I know my finishing place will be around 50% . I was 72% (330 our of 458)! The winner ran 10 miles in 54 minutes! I won't lie, it was a little disheartening, but only because I kept wondering how I'd do if I actually ran the whole thing.

I slacked off this summer. I didn't run all of my runs during the week and I've been avoiding challenging hills. The compressed training schedule to get ready for my upcoming 1/2 didn't help, but I'm still glad I ran this. I'd do it again next year.

It's weird that I don't run the whole time in these long races. I guess I need to work on the mental part of the run. Sure, I'm tired, but I think I need to jog a bit slower for a while instead of stopping. Once I stop, it's really hard for me to keep running consistently.

I wanted a 1:45 finish. Well, really, I wanted a 1:43 finish. My official finish was 1:47.

Again, I'm kind of bummed because obviously those extra minutes were spent walking. I'm also confused because my Map My Run said I rain 10.41 miles at a 10:20 pace, while my official finish says I ran a 10:40 pace (I'm sure they're using 10.02 miles for distance). Am I taking the long way around a course? I know part of that accounts for the starting line, but was I really weaving that badly or did my app lie? I do weave around a bit, so perhaps I need to focus on taking the shortest path next race.

Sweet medal.
My mile splits
1 mi         09:43 min/mi
2 mi         10:00 min/mi
3 mi         09:59 min/mi
4 mi         10:12 min/mi
5 mi         10:22 min/mi
6 mi         10:34 min/mi
7 mi         09:56 min/mi
8 mi         10:17 min/mi
9 mi         11:39 min/mi (whoops)
10 mi       10:18 min/mi
10.4 mi    09:49 min/mi

Overall, I'm happy with the run. I'm still confused by Map My Run vs. reality, but whatever. I'll pretend I ran a 10:20 pace. ;) Pretty nervous about the 1/2 in 2 weeks considering I wanted to die around mile 8, but maybe I'll be in better shape...

At Home:
As I mentioned before, I'm achy, but feeling pretty good leg-wise. Unfortunately, I spent the day yesterday with a terrible stomach ache I couldn't do anything about. I ate a normal amount of food, but constantly felt like crap. Still feel like crap today. Apparently this is a thing some runners deal with (?!).

Next time
  1. Run it all. (duh)
  2. Do not skip any training runs during the week! 
  3. Do not skimp on the distance of your training runs (lately I've gone 3.6 miles instead of 4, or 4.2 instead of 5. No bueno.)
  4. Train on hills! It sucks. You'll have a slow time, but just do it to prep for races!
  5. I probably ought to cross train... maybe I can focus on that later. ;) I run so I don't have to do anything else!
And this concludes another race round-up.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cap City Half Marathon Recap

This race recap is months in the making. Better late than never, but unfortunately I've probably forgotten some of my stronger feelings from the day.

The Cap City Half Marathon took place on Saturday, May 3, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. [The course.]

Setting the scene:
This was my first half and my first time running 13.1 miles. My training plan had me up to 12 miles a few weeks before, but that was my distance PR until race day. About six months before the race, I'd only run 5 miles!

My running group met up before the race, so I was able to see a lot of friendly faces and get pumped up. It was hard for me to eat my breakfast (my normal pre-run toast and peanut butter), but I forced it down and took a few bathroom breaks before we walked to the starting line. I did my long runs at an 11 minute pace with a social group, so race day brought a new challenge: pacing myself.

Some of my Winter 2014 running buddies
I'm a pretty terrible self-pacer. I tend to run 9-9:30 miles when I'm running anything under 5 miles during the week. This is not a sustainable pace for me across a long distance. Luckily, I realized that. According to my running group, on race day you should run 1-1:30 faster than your Saturday long run pace. That would be about 9:30-10:00/mile. I knew I wasn't ready for that, so I chose to stick with the 10:20/mile group and aim for a 2:15 finish.

I did really well for the first 6 miles. In fact, I got a bit ahead of the pace group miles 1-6 (whoops) and my 5 mile time was 51:37. Not a good plan, but at least they were just a bit behind me. Miles 5-8 made up a long straightaway down High Street (with a bit of a hill). I knew Alex would be around mile 8 to cheer me on, so when it started to get really tough around mile 7, I kept thinking about seeing him at mile 8! Coincidentally, this is about the time the 10:20 pace group passed me.

Mile 8, still smiling!
As I passed Alex around mile 8 he whooped and hollered and took a few photos as I waved. I was so happy to see him! About a mile before, the quarter marathon folks had rejoined the half course and I found myself dodging and weaving around some walkers. I also found myself very jealous that they were about to split off again and head for the finish!

When I got closer to mile 9 it dawned on me that I've NEVER run farther than 5 or 6 miles on my own. Any distance PR was with my running group... I was starting to get lonely and I knew I still had 4 miles to go. (Longest 4 miles of my life!)

Crossing the highway and heading into German Village was a bit of a downer. I was beat. I saw a guy from the running group a few people ahead of me. We didn't know one another so I didn't feel comfortable saying hi (if I could talk), but I aimed to keep him in my sights. The weather shifted and it started to sprinkle. I was so thankful for the cool down, but it was still getting harder and harder. I hadn't memorized the map for miles 9-13.1. I had no idea we were going so far south! It started to dawn on me how much farther I had to run.

The slow down:
I saw a water stop on the horizon as we came down 3rd Street. I didn't need it as I had my own bottle (though my reserves were running low), but I kept hearing some running group advice in the back of my mind: "walk the water stops." Well, I walked that water stop and it was a MISTAKE. I lost my mojo. Looking back, I wish I'd kept running, even if it was hella-slow. At least I'd keep my rhythm. Going around Schiller Park was one of the longest, most terrible run/walks of my life (dramatic!). I forced myself to run, but I also allowed myself to stop and walk for 30 seconds to a minute every so often. Again, big mistake!

Finish line. Happy to be done.
Once we turned the corner to Front Street I wanted to dieeeeee. I knew I still had 2 miles! Normally I can break a run down into manageable mental chunks, but by this point I wanted to be finished. I think I ran most of this stretch, but there may have been a tiny walk. I noticed a lot of fellow runners having a tough time, too. That actually helped. I knew I'd see Alex again on reentry into downtown (around mile 11.5) so I tried to focus on running for him. This time, I didn't smile as much and instead yelled, "this sucks!" or something similar. But he cheered me on and made me run for a while longer than I would have if I was out there alone.

Another challenging stretch was on the horizon. We turned left to cross a windy bridge instead of going straight into the finish. I could hear the finish line!! I was so close, yet had another mile and a half to run!!! And did I mention the race photographer was parked on the bridge? Those photos were pretty bad! (In fact, my official finish line photos were terrible. I am so happy Alex took nice ones.)

The last mile was hard, but maybe better than miles 10-12. I walked another water stop (I was pretty much out of water by then), but I forced myself to run when I knew there was only a half mile to go. And on the final straightaway I was able to pick up the pace and SMILE. Alex yelled for me again and it really helped me cross the finish line with a spring in my step.

Post race blues:   
After crossing the finish I was corralled into the receiving line. My legs were tired and feet were sore. I was hungry (I ate energy chews along the way), but my stomach felt kind of gross. I met up with a woman from my running group. We ran near each other from miles 2-6, but she got ahead of me. She admitted to slowing down a lot at the end and having a tough day. I'd asked her before how many half marathons she'd run and there'd been so many she couldn't keep track! It was nice to see I wasn't the only one struggling, but also made me realize distance running never gets EASY -- some races are great, and others are tough. It depends on the day.

#1 Running buddy
I picked up all the freebies I could handle (and my medal) and headed to my designated meeting spot to find Alex. It started to drizzle and get very cold (now that I wasn't moving). The crowd was epic and it took me a while to find the meeting spot. Alex had my extra clothes and my phone. I didn't have anything except some water and snacks. All of the sudden I felt very lonely and very nauseous. I sat on the grass and kept looking for Alex. I was dead. I think I even saw spots at one point. I needed to refuel but I didn't feel like eating! (I did it anyway.)

It felt like a million years before Alex showed up. Apparently he couldn't get across the finish line and over to the park. He had to take some convoluted path that took him through the statehouse and a giant crowd. When I finally saw him I was weepy: "Where were youuuuu???" At that point I would have NEVER signed up for another half. Probably after mile 10 I kept thinking "this sucks! Why am I doing this?"

After changing my clothes, my closest running buddy appeared. She was so happy and cheerful and brought my spirits up immediately. We posed for photos, then Alex and I headed off for my free sparkling wine, beer, and chocolate milk. I've had a post 5K beer before, but post half marathon drinking is crazy. I'm not sure how people had the stomach power to drink... but the chocolate milk was amazing.
Who can drink after a long run?!

At home and beyond:
I don't remember much about the rest of the weekend. I think I sat around after my shower. I don't think I took a bath.... Maybe I should have. I don't remember if I napped. I do remember being sore through Monday, but it wasn't unbearable. My toes were probably more sore than my legs. I do remember that even with my 1300 calorie deficiency, I wasn't very hungry after the race. We didn't go out to gorge on a large feast like I saw some facebook friends do. Maybe next time!

Final time:
Oh yeah! You probably want to know my time. I get so disheartened when I read a race recap and the blogger doesn't post their time OR it's something insane like, "Gosh, this was the hardest day of my life. I ran so slow. My final time was 1:35:45. I wish it was faster." BARF.

My time was 2:19:56. I aimed for 2:15, but with my issues at the end, 5 minutes slower than my goal isn't too shabby! I really wish I could do a sub-2, but that's not realistic for a loooong time.

I ran 10:20 pace until mile 9. I WISH I had used my phone and Map My Run. I thought it would freak me out to know my times, but I knew my rough time anyway since there was a timer at every mile marker. I wonder if having MMR would have kept me motivated in those last miles. I'd be curious to see how much I slowed down from 9-13.1 because my final pace was 10:40.

Things I've learned:
  1. For me, walking the water stops is not a good option. MAYBE if I had started walking them near beginning. I don't know. 
  2. I should use Map My Run. If only to learn more about my slow downs.
  3. Next time I'm going to try the 10:20 pace again. I'm a bit worried because it will be August and HOT. 
  4. Try not to walk because I KNOW I can run 12 miles at an 11 minute pace. (I guess we'll see how my 10 mile race this weekend goes.) 
  5. Get a larger water bottle for summer (I did). 
  6. Bring a change of clothes, flip flops, a towel, and Gatorade for after.
  7. I should really practice more.... I tend to leave off one run per week and I don't tackle hills so even teeny tiny hills are tough for me. I'm just about the laziest moderately-paced middle-distance runner there is.
Next up:
August 3, 2014: Scioto Miles 10 miler
August 24, 2014: Emerald City Half (This will probably suck because my training schedule is shorter and I took off May and most of June.)
Fall: TBD. Looking into a trail run (5K or 10K depending on my agility) and another half. Not interested in the Columbus Half in October, so looking for alternatives.
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