Sunday, March 20, 2011

March Madness... not the basketball tournament...

7, 5, 3, 1. That's all I was telling myself after last year's Cary Hillstriders 1/2 Marathon. My first year running, I was the 7th female overall. In 2009, I moved up to 5th and in 2010 I was 3rd. I will say I was joking when I told my family and Ryan that based on the numbers, I'd win this year. But I also said that before I was being coached.

Throughout this training cycle, I have yet to have a "bad workout" that runners so often complain about. Even with the hour long tempos I had to complete, I was expecting to not be fit enough. Last year, on my "easy days," I was running 7:30 pace. My coach, Cari Setzler (, is VERY knowledgeable about running, and not just "do this to run that" type stuff. She knows the science behind EVERYTHING that she has me doing and knows the importance of certain workouts and everything. So when she told me 7:30 pace for an easy run was ridiculous (Tera Moody runs 7:30 pace for easy days, and I'm WELL behind her!), I listened when she said to run easy days at 8:00-8:30 pace.

Apparently running your easy days super easy does have major benefits. My hour long tempos were able to be completed at below the pace I needed to hold for a big PR. The first tempo I ran on Ryan's treadmill because I was nervous that I couldn't hold the pace outside (plus, having TV shows to distract me seemed nice as well). The night before my next hour long tempo, I decided I didn't want to wake up at 4:15, so I'd sleep an extra 20 minutes and run the workout outside. I ended up blowing my last tempo out of the water.... I averaged 6 seconds per mile faster! After telling Cari this, she knew I was ready to PR big today.

The tricky part about the Cary 1/2 is that the first three miles are fairly flat, if not downhill, so many people make the mistake of running them fast. Boy, are they in for a surprise come miles 6-11. I did my best (Ryan too) in warning those who I knew would be running so that they didn't suffer the same fate I had during my first run here. Cari had me promise her that I would go through the first two miles at 6:30 or slower and then progress to 6:25 pace for the next four.

Mile 1: 6:40. A fellow Dick Pond-er asked me if I was using this as a training run. She then went on to PR on this crazy hilly course after dominating a stair climb yesterday. She's one tough girl!

{This had to have been near the beginning--look at that smile!!}

Mile 2: 6:31...stay focused. This is where I passed one of the girls and she started to go with me... it was SO hard not to push myself to stay ahead of her.

{Right around mile 4}

Mile 3: 6:21... in my defense, this is a HUGE downhill (the same one you go UP right before mile 10). Side note: it was down this hill that Ryan caught me (he was doing a workout since he has a BIG duathlon this upcoming weekend) and later told me that two deer came BOLTING out of the woods, saw the runners and retreated. A Hillstriders member told us at the after party that two deer came running out (not knowing Ryan had also seen this a few minutes prior) and one retreated while the other SKIDDED to a halt as a runner was jumping over the deer, narrowly hitting it with his foot. How crazy!

Mile 4: 6:26. Perfect pace. This mile is where I saw one of my 7th grade Science students from Marlowe. I was about to pass a girl as I saw him, but was unsure it was him. After I pass this girl and can no longer see him, I hear, "Go Miss Aubert!" I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job and the students I teach!

Mile 5: 6:12...yikes. There might have been quite a few of my dad's friends cheering at this point and that might have influenced me to go faster. Oops.

Mile 6: 6:24. This is up the first hill "shoe tree hill." I was surprised that I was able to keep the pace, but obviously very happy.

Mile 7: 6:39. This is the mile everyone dreads. After you go up a decent hill, you reach a school and that is 1/2 way. Of course I looked at my watch to see 42minutes. I was happy with that and just kept plowing along. Funny thing was, it was exactly this point last year where I passed a former Woodstock High School boy runner, so after the race he came and talked to me about how crazy it was. Next year, I'm haulin' him with me:)

Mile 8: 6:25. Back on track. Thank goodness. I was worried for a second....until Cari told me I needed to run a 1:23 today if I wanted to run a 2:46 marathon. Eek! Run faster!!!

Mile 9: 6:09. I again saw my student John, was so touched he was still out cheering for all of the runners. How many 12 year olds do that from 8:45am-10:00am? This is the extremely flat part of the course too, so I pushed a little hard here. Plus Cari motivated me quite a bit;)

Mile 10: 6:48. If anyone needs a good hill repeat hill, use this one! It will kick your butt for the 2+ minutes it takes you to get up it. Oh, and it's never ending.

Mile 11: 6:27. Ryan started running his cooldown from his workout at this point, so I had him pretty nearby the entire time. It was really nice since he had a specific pace to stay at, so I could gauge how I was doing based on how close he was to me.

Mile 12: 6:26. It was here that I knew I could break 1:25. I was fairly confident throughout the race that it was possible, but I was also uncertain how the wind and rain would affect me. While passing through mile stop 12, the girls cheering me on really motivated me...I started running sub 6 pace. Thanks girls!

{Right around the finish... the next picture is cooler with the stoplight in it!}

{Pretty neat picture with the stoplight and rain!}

Mile 13: 6:17. SO much energy. All I wanted to do was haul it in. I could see the finish, it was starting to downpour, and my legs were getting pretty tired.

{Literally everything I had!}

.1: 52seconds. My dad and mom (who both came up to me, despite having race duties, right away to hug me and put an umbrella over my head and get me warm clothes) said I looked like one of the guys surrounding me sprinting in. This is super surprising to anyone who has seen me run before because you KNOW I have zero "kick" at the end. I don't know what got into me.... I was just so excited to have finally won my dad's race! I don't think I've ever seen him so proud in my life. I can honestly say that it is pretty high up in my rankings of important and meaningful days in my life. There is no feeling that can beat making your family proud.

Hopefully I can get pictures of this race soon. It was my first time racing as a Saucony Hurricane! My dad was able to spot me from far away with my bright orange arm warmers! Our uniforms really stand out AND they match the Dick Pond Fast Track Racing Team's uniforms, so it's incredible to see the mass of orange at the start line. I am looking forward to not only racing (and training!) with the DPFT team but also meeting my Hurricane teammates.

Thank you SO much to everyone for the congratulations and wonderful comments. It means the world to me to have such supportive family and friends. I could not have done this race without your support and faith in me. Speaking of faith, I've been reading the Bible (yes, I downloaded an "app") and the verse I read the other day from Matthew was about asking God and you will receive. Nothing like seeing God's word in action. Amazing.

Next up: Race That's Good for Life 5k.

Friday, March 4, 2011


While looking over my training during the cruise, I had noticed that my coach was planning on having me do two indoor track meets. One meet was going to be a Masters USATF sanctioned event, so I wasn't too worried, while the other was going to be a college race, which I did worry a little bit about. I did my research and saw there usually weren't too many females in the Masters races compared to men, so I figured I'd do okay; the college race, I wasn't so sure about. I mean, these girls are TRAINING for this kind of stuff... I was just hopping in a race to see where my fitness was at after the longest training week of my season.

The first Indoor meet I participated in was the Masters meet. Well, it was worse than I figured: there were ZERO girls signed up besides me. I was put in the 1500 race with the men. I figured it would be alright as I would just try to stay up with as many as I could. I ran my warmup inside as it had started snowing pretty hard, was all warmed up and ready right at 10 (like they had said), and they didn't start until 10:30. I was pretty antsy doing my strides and trying to keep myself warmed up. The first lap was a shocker: right away I could feel my throat on fire (which I assume happens to everyone during indoor?). I went through in 35, which was 1 second faster than my coach wanted me to. Shoot. I held back a little and just ran the rest of the race at a pace I could hold. It was pretty frustrating to go around the guys just to have them then try to pass me again...I felt like I could never really get a strong sense of how I was doing and what my speed was. Anyway, with one lap to go, I sprinted and passed a few guys and almost caught the second "lead" group. I actually continued to the "100" so Ryan could get my mile time. 5:30. I guess that's what you have to expect after running a 16-miler on the Friday before and closing the week with 62 (an all-time high) miles. We knew I'd be tired going into this, but I will say that I didn't give up:)

University of Chicago Meet
The next meet I participated in was three weeks later at the University of Chicago. A huge thanks goes out to Eric Wallor for getting us in the meet. For the mile, there were probably 12 girls running in my heat. I felt much better going into this race than the prior mile, so I knew I could be up near the top. I had Eric seed me at 5:25 just to make sure I got in the fast heat. The first lap was terrible: the girls TOOK OFF and I was immediately boxed in. Because I had seen the other girls' seed times, I KNEW I had to get out. I sprinted the first straight away so that I could get ahead of them before the second curve. Turns out, I didn't need to do that, and I paid for it. The next laps I stayed strong and pretty close to a girl. With one lap to go, I heard Ryan yell at me to pass her...usually when he says things like that, I just shrug it off, but I was feeling good and confident and passed her quickly. I ended up finishing in 5:20 flat, exactly what my coach wanted. I ended up going 71, 2:36, 3:59, 5:20. I was happy with it as it was very close to what I was doing my freshman year in high school, yet I did it while marathon training. Oh and did I mention that Ryan ran a 4:20 mile with little competition? If he could focus on running, I honestly think we could see him in the Olympics....