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Monday, October 24, 2016

Weekly Wrap: Fall Fun

Fall color at Brant's Apple Orchard
I'm linking up with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin to for their Weekly Review. I ran my goal race last weekend, so I'm not training for anything at the moment.

Week of October 17-23
Monday: walk to work + dog walk w/Alex
Tuesday: 2 mile run + walk to work
Wednesday: walk to work + dog walk w/Alex
Thursday: 2 mile run
Friday: rest
Saturday: Bridge2Bridge 5k (recap)
Sunday: cemetery dog walk + dog walk at Lake Erie Bluffs

Total (running) miles: 7 miles (!!)
Elevation gain: 0 ft
2016 total: 817.7 miles

It took me a longer than normal to recover from last week's race. I tried to walk to work every day, but my legs felt tired. Longest recovery of the year. I was initially bummed I didn't run more because I was considering a "redemption race" in November to get another sub-2, but after enjoying a pretty low-key and relaxed week, maybe I'll kick back for the next few weeks and leave it at that. We'll see.

My training pace group had their end of season get together on Tuesday at a restaurant called 101 Beer Kitchen. Right up my alley. It was fun to hear everyone's stories from their goal races. A few still have to wait for Marine Corps or NYC, but a majority of the team ran Chicago or the Columbus Marathon. Next season starts in January and I'm not sure what pace group I'll be in. I got conflicting advice from the coaches, but I'll figure it out.

Walking the dog
I kept active this week with a few dog walks with Tobias and Alex. We went 1.2 miles on Monday and 2 miles Wednesday. We also did two mini-hikes/dog walks on Sunday. 

On Thursday I went out for 2 miles with Alex between rain storms. I told him we had to go "slow" (for him, which is fast for me). By the end we had an 8:30 pace and I was beat. I couldn't fathom running a 5k in two days! My legs and lungs were tired. Luckily he didn't want to go farther than 2 miles so we called it quits.

We both had Friday off to drive to Ashtabula (his home town) for a family fall weekend. We took our time getting up there, then relaxed at his parent's house until packet pickup for Saturday's 5k. We went to dinner after (pizza), relaxed in front of the TV, and went to bed around 10. I was dreading the 5k start. It was going to be 40-something and potentially rainy.

The newest covered bridge in Ashtabula 

Saturday morning came quick. After I finally settled on an outfit, Alex's dad dropped us off at the start. Luckily, the race began at a library and we were allowed to stand inside to keep dry/warm. It started raining as soon as we stepped on the starting line, but the sun was peaking through the clouds, so the rain didn't last the entire race. You can read my recap here. The rest of Saturday included seeing a new covered bridge, time for freshening up, meeting up with Alex's sisters, a trip to Laurentia Winery, and a fancy dinner at Rennick Meat Market. Afterwards, we watched the OSU / Penn State game, which ended up being a waste of time because OSU lost. ;)

Laurentia Winery
We got a relaxed start to Sunday (mainly due to the late football game), but Alex and I ran a few errands, then walked the dog in a nearby cemetery. Once his family was ready, we went to the local apple orchard for more tasty apple cider donuts.

Brant's Apple Orchard
Afterwards, we went to Alex's cousin's wedding celebration at Lake Erie Bluffs (the reason for the weekend trip). It was a great location. The shelter house was gorgeous and right on the lake, so after dinner we took a short hike down to the beach. It was Tobias's first time on sand and I don't think he was wild about it. After the celebration wound down we made the 3 hour drive home. We were pooped and ready to relax after our action-packed weekend.

Lake Erie. Not quite as pretty as Lake Michigan in August. 

Is it peak fall color where you live? 
What are your favorite fall activities? 

Race Recap: Bridge2Bridge 5k

One of the bridges in the race name.
The Ashtabula Bridge2Bridge race took place Saturday, October 22 at 8:30am in Ashtabula, Ohio. There were two distances: 13.1 and 5k. Alex and I did the 5k. 

Last week was very warm, but temperatures plummeted when the rain arrived. Saturday's outlook was 40-something, windy, and potentially rainy. I could not figure out what to wear and at the last minute decided on a t-shirt, capris, a hat, and a jacket. Alex almost always wears a t-shirt and shorts, but he added his rain jacket when his dad dropped us off at the start.

We were able to go inside to keep warm and dry and as we stood around scoping everyone out, you could it this was a field of legit runners. (Luckily, most of them ran the half. ha) About 5 minutes before the race everyone lined up. Of course, it started to rain. It wasn't a downpour, but it was pretty chilly and I was thankful for my jacket.

Spoiler alert: we were happy to be finished

Here's a mini recap:
Mile 1: SO WINDY. I started off at a good pace, but gradually slowed down as we got closer to the lake. The wind was brutal and my hat almost blew off several times. I could also tell my legs were still shot. Maybe it was mental, who knows. I felt like I was crawling, so I was pleased with my first mile. (7:53)

Mile 2: There was a short out and back, so I could see Alex with a few folks hot on his tail, including one woman. I was in the top 25 for sure and saw a handful of ladies in front of me. I was slowing down - mainly due to the weather - and changed my strategy from PR to "stick with the person in front of you." (8:15)

Miles 3: I stayed with a cluster of folks and passed them, then they passed me. It went on and on until the end. Just before the final downhill we had to cross a semi-busy street. The cop directing traffic was getting something from his car so we were on our own (what?!). That was my second cop in a week giving us traffic trouble. Odd. The last stretch was downhill and my legs hurt (I'm guessing from last week's steep downhill.) I was fast, but two teens passed me. Unfortunately the final straightaway into the finish chute was very narrow and only allowed for one person, so I could not pass a guy in front of me. Bummer, because it slowed me down a ton. (8:02)

Alex and his parents were there to cheer me on at the finish. My watch time was 24:42, which is pretty close to a PR, but not quite. When we signed up for the race I was hoping this would be an all-7:xx mile race, but it wasn't in the cards. They had a results station, so after collecting our apple cider donuts (mmmm), Alex and I found out we were both 1st in our age groups! We went to the local coffee shop to warm up and grab drinks, then returned for the awards ceremony. 1st place age groupers received a mug, while 2nd and 3rd place got ribbons.

Grabbing my Age Group award

Directly after the race we went to the newest covered bridge in Ashtabula. The weather cleared up a bit, so we took a short walk. The bridge happened to be at the half turnaround so we were able to cheer on a few people. It was gorgeous, but this was also the hilliest part of the half course, which made me happy I ran the 5k!

Final Stats and Thoughts 
It was a well-run race with a nice course. I'd do it again if we're ever up in Ashtabula. The overall elevation gain of the half is 868ft, so I'll probably skip that race. ;)

Final Time: 24:44
Overall: 15/60 (25%)
Gender: 5/32 (15%)
Age Group: 1 (!)

Up Next: Well, I was going to run another half to get a second sub-2 for 2016, but around mile 2 of this 5k I thought, "I don't want to race 13.1 for a while," so maybe that won't happen. Our next officially scheduled race is the Flying Feather 4 Miler on Thanksgiving morning.

The long bridge (top) is the other bridge in the race name. The small one is the new bridge.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Race Recap: Autumn Blast Half

I'm linking up with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin to recap my latest race. The Autumn Blast Half Marathon took place Saturday, October 15 at 8:00am in South Lebanon, Ohio.

Pre race
Proud of my tiger gloves
Alex and I went down the night before and met our friend Angie at our shared hotel. It was a spacious 2 bedroom 2 bath suite with a kitchen, so we made a big pasta dinner with salad and watched HGTV until it was time to go to bed. Once I finally fell asleep after midnight I got some restful sleep (no dreams about running or failed alarm clocks!). Wake up came quickly (5:50am), but everything went like clockwork and before I knew it we were on the road. 

As mentioned in previous posts, the race was moved due to construction. The new start/finish was in a park that left a lot to be desired compared to Loveland's charming downtown. Regardless of the location change, the race was still well organized and had a good turnout.

We picked up our bibs and timing chips, then went to the bathroom and stood around as the sun rose. It was chilly, but not cold (low 50s and 78% humidity). I'm so used to 30s and 40s for this weekend and the warmer temps threw me off a bit. The race was delayed a few minutes because of the bathroom lines, but soon we were lining up. At the last minute I decided not to use my headphones (they were "strongly discouraged") so I was scrambling to wrap them up and hand them off to Alex when the race began. I never heard the start!

I planned to start slow, make it through the hill(s), then re-assess my race goals after the downhill. I don't really remember mile 1 besides turning to see a hill right off the bat. When that was finished I concentrated on keeping an easy pace. The big hill came at 1.9 and even though it was over by 2.5, it was steep and knocked me out. My legs were super tired, but I didn't stop to walk and even passed some people. We coasted along the top of the hill for a bit, then it was time to come down. There was a gorgeous view from the top (cows, hills, fall color) and I decided to speed up on the downhill to make up for my slower mile 1 and 2.
Miles 1-3: 9:25, 9:17, 8:57

This is a screencap from Google street view at the top of the hill. It was pretty.

Miles 4 and 5 were nerve-wracking: the streets were not closed to traffic. Normally this isn't an issue, or at least runners are encouraged to stick to the shoulder. However, there wasn't a shoulder and we were taking up the entire right lane, so cars would speed around us in the left lane. At first I thought there must be a flagger directing traffic because folks were driving around us in no passing zones, but then oncoming traffic came. At one point I was running with a car directly behind me, waiting for oncoming traffic to pass. I was not wild about this section and very thankful when we crossed the river and made our way onto the bike path. I ate my first gel around mile 4.5, but I was already starting to feel weird. Definitely tired and a little weak.
Miles 4-5: 8:57, 9:11

This part was nice because we began a short out and back segment and could see the race leaders. It was starting to get tough. Looking back, I probably should have slowed down a bit, but I really wanted to make it to the turn around at 7 and keep banking time. When I got to the turn around I tried to keep myself motivated by running until I saw Angie. Along the way, a guy came up behind me and said, "I've been trying to catch you this whole time!" Instead of saying something nice, I was in such a state of exhaustion I said, "oh no! Well now you're going to pass me!" I quickly added, "but that's really cool!" before he passed. Ha! I saw Angie - she looked great - and said something about feeling terrible, then kept on trucking... until the mile marker at 8. All of the sudden I started to feel terrible and could not keep running, so I walked!
Miles 6-8: 9:03, 8:53, 9:08

Map and elevation
I texted Alex as soon as I started walking... then started to run again. I decided to run til mile 9 and was trying really hard to split the race into chunks (which normally works), but I was defeated. I wish I would have had my headphones. I don't know if the distraction would have helped, but as soon as I started walking, I didn't want to stop! My walk breaks were very short, but they did their mental damage. I ate my gel during one of my two mile 9 walk breaks.
Mile 9: 9:55

Just after that mile another weird thing happened: a group of us (4 ladies) approached a road crossing with a policeman. A truck was coming through and I think we all assumed he'd stop the traffic after the truck, but he didn't. He made us stop! What!? I've never experienced this in a race. He said, "Sorry. I know you all hate stopping." and that was it. It didn't last too long, but 3 vehicles went through before we were allowed to continue. Boo.

I took this while walking. See? Lovely!
After the police stop I was able to regain some mojo and run the rest of the mile. I decided during that mile that I'd run the rest of the race, even if it was super slow. I was also trying to calculate my finish time, but it seemed ridiculous: I was at 1:32 at mile 10 -- not very far off sub-2 pace. No way. I calculated a finish time with a slow-ish final 3.1 and I knew I'd be under 2:05 even with my difficulties. On a normal day I think this would have motivated me to keep running and stick with it, but I was done both mentally and physically.

I walked again at 10.4 and texted Alex. My stomach was cramping and I wondered if eating 2 gels was to blame, but I also felt dizzy and little lightheaded which usually indicates I should eat more. I was pretty defeated and tried to go through all of my mantras. Nothing stuck. I just wanted to be finished. I even found myself thinking, "I'm so glad this season is over. I don't want to run 13.1 again for a long time." My breaks didn't last longer than a minute, but between mile 10 and the end I walked 5 times. I kept looking at my watch during this section in disbelief: I was still going to finish under 2:05! I can't believe I walked during mile 12, but when we emerged from tree cover into full sun, my stomach pains worsened and I was taking loud, ragged breaths. I took one final walk break at 12.5 to concentrating on my breathing and told myself to suck it up and finish. I was embarrassed to walk in front of the other runners (there was another out and back from 11.7 to 12.7), but even those feelings barely convinced me to run.

My last run from 12.5 to the end included some encouragement from volunteers and one final hill over a bridge. As I came into the park Alex was cheering for me and when I turned the corner to the finish I was so shocked to see 2:01 on the official race clock.
Miles 10-13: 9:10, 9:38, 9:35, 9:56

Running in & posing at the finish line
Post Race + Real Pain
I collected my medal and got my timing chip chopped off, then went to find Alex. He was so supportive! From mile 8 to the end he sent nice texts as I updated him on my progress. We waited a bit for Angie (who had a 4 minute PR of 2:14!!), got some snacks (I ate more than usual), and hung around for a while before we went back to the hotel to clean up.

After checking out of the hotel, we went to a local brewery (MadTree) and my stomach still felt terrible. We ate pizza and shared a flight. I was in good spirits, but still felt gross. If I'm honest, the pain felt like lady cramps, and they ended up lasting the entire day and into Sunday. I truly thought I was imagining the pain during the race, but I guess it was real. Looking back, I remember my stomach hurting a ton on Friday at work, but I attributed it to nerves at the time.

Final Stats and Thoughts 
I won't lie: this race felt like an epic meltdown. I was not "in it to win it" mentally. I convinced myself the pain was all in my head and that I was a big failure who needed to take a break from distance running. But man, I cannot believe I finished in 2:01 with all the stuff I was going through. Of course I'm completely (and irrationally) bummed I didn't get a sub-2.

Official Time: 2:01:02
Overall: 96 / 239 (40%) - walkers are sorted into a separate division
Gender: 32 / 121 (26%)
Age Group: 6 / 15 (40%)
Mile Splits: 9:25, 9:17, 8:57, 8:57, 9:11, 9:03, 8:53, 9:08, 9:55, 9:10, 9:38, 9:35, 9:56

Here we are again!
Misc Thoughts:
  • Somehow this was still my 2nd fastest 13.1. WHAT?!
  • I didn't really love the new location. The course was gorgeous, but the start/finish wasn't great compared to the last two years. Alex didn't have anywhere to hang out and ended up driving to a Starbucks to kill time. If I lived in Cincinnati I would be back in a heartbeat. However, the 90 minute drive and hotel makes it a "destination." If they move it back to Loveland I'll probably return. 
  • I wish I would have carried my headphones. My podcasts could have saved me. 
  • I didn't have a game plan and that didn't work. 
  • If I'm honest, I'm thinking about signing up for a "redemption race" in early November. I mean, I'm already in decent shape... What's three more weeks? 
Up Next: Bridge to Bridge 5k next Saturday. We're going to a wedding in Alex's hometown and there's a (flat) 5k the same weekend. Lucky coincidence?

Have you ever had a race meltdown that didn't affect your time that much?
How do you get over a mid-race meltdown?
Do you believe in redemption races? 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Five: Autumn Blast Half Prep

Hola, I thought I'd join in on the LAST Friday Five ever (sobbing) and document my prep for tomorrow's race. But first, I want to thank Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia for the awesome linkup. I've "met" so many inspiring folks through Friday Five.

Changes to the Race
The Autumn Blast Half used to be the Loveland Half and was my favorite race of the year. It was a beautiful course with a start/finish in the quaint town of Loveland, which included a few diners for Alex to relax in while I ran. Unfortunately, Loveland is under construction and the race was moved to the nearby town South Lebanon. Gone are the diners (for Alex) and the confidence (for me) that comes with knowing a course inside and out. On top of everything, I talked a friend into running it with me, so I'm really worried the new location will suck. Don't you hate that?

The Weather 
In years past, it's been gray and overcast with temps from the upper 30s to low 40s. This year will be a bit warmer: 53-62º from start to finish. That's quite a range. I plan on wearing a tank, shorts, and gloves. Oh yeah, and due to the warmer weather the trails won't be full of fall color. Bummer!

The Course 
The old course had a long-ish hill in the first three miles, then we turned onto a flat bike path. This year's course has one steep, quick hill (and downhill), then we go on to a bike path with rolling hills. I don't really know if it's better to get one terrible hill out of the way or if it will use up all of my energy. Elevation gain is about the same. 238 vs 243 ft. 

Man, I have no idea. I had a lackluster training season. It was really hot and I cut midweek runs short. My paces have been pretty quick, but I have no confidence. As I mentioned in Monday's weekly review, I originally planned to run my second sub-2, but who knows. A month ago I ran Indy Women's in 2:02 without paying attention to my pace, so maybe I can pull something off.

With the unknowns in mind, here are my rough goals:
AA: I'm just adding this to be funny. If I could control everything and if I feel better than ever, I'd love to run a pace with an 8 in front. 1:56-1:57 finish. Honestly, I haven't trained for this.
A: Perfect day: another sub-2. Maybe not a PR (1:58), but a 9:09 or better pace.
B: Reasonable goal: under 2:05 finish
C: Don't walk. But man I hope I don't have to resort to this goal. I think I'm beyond this now.

Tonight and Tomorrow
All I can do now is my 2 mile shake out run, finish packing, eat well, drink plenty of water, and get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's race. I'm more nervous that usual. I'm hoping I can channel that into a strong race... somehow!

Have a great weekend! Don't forget to visit Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week 17: It's Race Week!

Clifton Mill on Sunday
Happy Monday! Welcome to another weekly review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. Read more about my fall goal race here5 days!

Week of October 3–October 10
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 3.5 miles  + walk to work
Wednesday: 5 miles ("speedwork") + walk to work
Thursday: rest  + walk to work
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6.5 miles with group; 2.1 miles beer run
Sunday: 4.5 mile hike

Total (Running) Miles: 17.1 miles
2016 Miles: 791.6 miles

Monday was my normal rest day and Tuesday I ran 3.5 "progression" miles before celebrating Taco Tuesday.

Alex and I ran together after work on Wednesday in 78º. I had 5 miles scheduled, including 5x1k repeats. I thought I was skipping speed work by running with Alex, but haha joke's on me. We ran faster than I would have solo, so I got my 1k repeats in a roundabout way. He ran 3.5 with me (took a break for pull ups while I ran a loop) and while our pace was a bit over the Hanson's pace for 1k repeats, it was close enough! (That's kind of the theme of my current training: close enough!)  

Tobias all drugged up post tooth removal and cleaning
Thursday is my other scheduled rest day, but I ended up taking Friday off because Tobias got some teeth pulled (so I made sure he was ok the rest of the day) and because Saturday included a double run...

Beer run + friends
I had my last group workout of the season Saturday morning, including a long hill at the end to mentally prepare for a steep uphill in my race. Later, Alex and I met friends for the Columbus Beer Run. I may do a quick recap this week because it was so well-organized and we got some great swag. After the second run of the day, we went to pick up my Run Like a Girl award (!!), then went to the aforementioned friends' house to watch the Ohio State/Indiana game. Afterwards, we met up with Alex's dad for dinner. It was an action-packed day.

John Bryan State Park
On Sunday we joined different friends to hike Clifton Gorge and John Bryan State Park. We only went 4.5 miles, but parts were rocky and hilly, so it was a good workout. The weather was perfect: mid 60s with warm sunshine and a breeze. After hiking, we went to a local brewery and ordered pizza. YUM. When we got home, Alex and I made the most of our downtime by vegging out and getting caught up on The Walking Dead (which I think has lost its luster, but we have 5 more episodes to go, so I may be in for a surprise).

Enjoying fall
So, It's Race Week:
My goal for Saturday's half is up in the air, but I know the hay is in the barn – or whatever – and there isn't much I can do besides eat well and stay healthy. Originally, I planned to run my second sub-2, but the summer humidity and a bit of burnout caused me to scale back. I hit my paces, but not all of my mid-week distances. I also abandoned the full Hanson's plan by week 6 and instead chose my favorite parts (Saturday/Sunday back-to-back long-ish runs and speed work).

Old vs. New (click to enlarge)
I think it's fair to say my heart isn't in it the way it was in the spring. I knew I could sub-2 by the time I ran Xenia. This time? Well, I could sub-2 if I'm having a good day. Or not. The forecast for Saturday's race includes a small chance of rain and temps between 52º and 60º. In year's past it's usually clear and in the upper 30s to low 40s, so the "warmer" temps may be interesting. Oh yeah, and the race was moved to a new location, so who knows what the course is like!

Are you watching any good shows?
Are you going to take time off after your goal race? 

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