Saturday, April 27, 2013

90% mental. U of I 1/2 marathon recap.

Two Fridays ago, Coach Bill came and swam with Ryan and me.  He worked on us with our form and pointed out things that we can do to help us get faster.  We had a workout to do consisting of 2 sets of 7x200 with :20 rest the first round, :10 rest the second round. Bill had told me times to hit, and, while I was hitting them, it was obvious I was getting tired.

He changed my second set to 100s instead and had me do those at a slightly faster pace.  He told me I had it in me to hit sub-1:40, but that I needed to believe it and really push myself through it.  He told me I was getting comfortable and pushing more at tempo speed than race pace, and that's not the point of the workout.  So, a bit angered by this comment, I KILLED those 100s.  And then he was happy.

While I may have come out of that workout frustrated and annoyed at Bill, I have to say the lesson has worked miracles on my training.

Last weekend, I ran the Lakefront 10mile. I ran most of the race with my teammate Columba, which was great.  On mile 5, she pulled a little ahead, and I just kept telling myself I'd catch back up to her if I just focused on good form and staying positive.  I did, and we ran together for almost the rest of the race.

Ironically, a very similar thing happened this weekend at the U of I 1/2 marathon.

As I've mentioned here before, Bill has our cycle divided up into four weeks: 1hard, 2harder, 3hardest, 4recovery week.  This past week was our recovery week, so we had briefly talked to him about possibly racing the 1/2 at U of I as it had special meaning to us.  Not only did we both go there/meet there, but I knew I had the potential of getting the course record (1:19:59) and that made me pretty excited.

On Wednesday, I threw some pickups in during my run and felt AWFUL.  Like seriously awful.  I told Ryan to can U of I and that we'd just do the recovery week as planned.  He reminded me that we'd be fresh going into this and that I still could PR after seeing what I've done so far this season.  I had just seen Earl on Tuesday to fix my hips as I could tell during Saturday's 10miler that they were out of alignment again.  Sure enough, he showed me that they were off...and adjusted them to make me feel good again!  Friday I threw some pickups in again and told Ryan I didn't want to race.  He didn't listen and we drove down to Champaign anyway.

It took us FOREVER to get there as I had to drive to the city to pick up Ryan from the event he was working before we could head down.  I was starting to feel antsy and think that our late arrival would worsen the feeling of my legs the next day.

We arrived, dropped our bags off in our (SMOKING) hotel room (yuck), and headed out to eat.  A restaurant that I had worked at, Jim Gould's, had been replaced and they had BISON--my preferred pre-race meal.  Ryan and I pulled in the parking lot and spotted the Polar rep's car, not connecting the two until....we were probably 20minutes into dinner and I realized, as talking to Ryan, that our former teammates Brian and Tim (plus their Polar rep friend, Tim) were sitting right behind us!  Brian realized it just as I did and called out to me.  It was a pleasant surprise and super fun to catch up.  This made me a little more excited about racing the next day.

5:30am Saturday, we left our hotel room to make sure we'd get parking and a proper warm-up in before hitting the 7am start.  When we went into the athlete's room, I saw my running friend Julie Ralston and was able to catch up with her for a bit, which is always nice:)  As we were leaving to do our warmup, I ran into another running friend, Marisa, who's fiancĂ© would be racing (and eventually winning) the marathon.  I was so excited to get to catch up for a few minutes with these girls!

Ryan and I warmed up, did some drills and strides, and headed to the start.  Right at 7:00, the gun went off....and so did the girls.

Mile 1--5:52.  Downhill start, everyone's going fast.  Whatever, no big deal.
Mile 2--5:56.  Umm, probably shouldn't be running sub-6's this early in the race.
Mile 3--6:00.  I'm okay with this.  At this point, our group of three girls turned into a group of two girls...who were lucky enough to run with probably 8 other guys.
Mile 4--6:02.  Feelin' my groove.  Not sure who this female is that I'm running with.  Must not be from Illinois.  Hmm...
Mile 5--5:53.  This is when the girl (Christina) started to pull away a bit.  This is also where Columba started to pull away from me last time.  "She's going to drop back/you're going to catch up.  We started off too fast and it's gonna only hurt your legs by keeping up with her." Downed a chocolate PowerGel here in hopes of some instant energy--I'm thinking it worked.
Mile 6--5:51.  Yeah, um, she for sure ran a 5:45 for this mile.  She is definitely out of my league.  Stay within striking distance though; ya never know.
**I looked at my watch at 6.25 to see 37:10...and immediately told one of the guys I was running with (a running friend, Paul Erickson) "that's cool, I just ran a 10k PR in this 1/2 marathon. neat"
Mile 7--6:05.  That darn incline got me out of my groove.  Stay tough, you've GOT this. (Christina is about 30seconds ahead at this point).  Heyyy, all I have to do is run 6:10s and I'm gonna get a new PR. Yeahhhh, this is amazing!
Mile 8--5:59.  Right back in it.  Both of us are running the same pace, I can close the gap.
Mile 9--5:56.  Running through "Statues Park" felt great, but the turns probably cost me a little time.
Mile 10--6:00.  Keep it up! 5k to go.  Holy crap, 1:00:04, I just ran a 10mile PR! Yikes!!
**Fellow U of I alum and track/xc member Dan Walters (cheering on his wife Allie) passed me on his bike at this point, yelling to me to catch the girl...Dan, thank you. I needed that push.
Mile 11--6:02.  She's less than 20seconds in front! GO legs GO!!!
Mile 12--6:04. Dang it! 15 seconds! Why can't I run any faster?!?!?!?
Mile 13--5:52.  Seriously giving it all that I have.  Almost tripped here, twice. Embarrassing.
.1--1:13 (5:35 pace).

Final time--1:18:53.
First place female's final time--1:18:41.

There is NOTHING worse than watching someone else win something you have wanted SO badly and that means so much to you.

BUT, as heartbreaking as that was....the look on Ryan's face made me forget that I was 2nd.

He was STUNNED that I not only broke 1:20, but also broke 1:19.  And shattered my old 1/2 marathon time by 2min 5seconds.  And then he told me he WON and I about lost it.  Seriously almost started crying happy tears.  I was SO incredibly proud of him!

Have to also give a HUGE shout out to my friend Julie Ralston who made a KILLER comeback and ran a 1:23 1/2....incredible.  Another shout out to Julie Wankowski for her huge comeback as well-- after enduring a stress fracture, she bounces back and runs her 2nd fastest marathon ever.  A big congrats to Camille Herron (Facebook friend who I finally had the pleasure of meeting in person!) on her marathon win in a blazin' 2:45!  And finally, to my favorite relay team out there--Megan Hode, you guys (and birthday boy Todd, who ran the 10k Friday and marathon Saturday) freakin' rock!

I've discovered a few things from this weekend:

1. Swimming after last week's Lakefront 10 had to have done wonders on my legs.  Well, that plus the type of training we do.  But the swim for sure flushed out a bunch of junk.

2. It's possible to run PRs within races, which is pretty cool.

3. Running with people makes everything a million times easier than running solo.

4.  Triathlon training has turned me into a faster, stronger runner.

5 (and most importantly).  If you're strong mentally, you can do ANYTHING physically.  I just proved that today.

Thank you so much to all of my friends and family who support me like crazy.  I seriously would not be able to run (and I guess bike and swim:)) like I have been able to without your support and encouragement.

 With my love after the races.  LOVE being in Champaign<3 p="">
 It was a little sunny out.
 My speedy husband with his awesome 1st place trophy
A huge reason that I enjoy weekend races: post-race breakfast:)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lakefront 10mile recap

This past week had been pretty rough.

Last Friday night, Ryan and I swam with our coach.  We had some all out 200s and 100s and during one, I inhaled a bunch of water through my nose.  I still had 75m to go, so I wasn't going to stop as I felt I was swimming fast (this is a rarity).  When I finished, I felt probably the worst sinus headache I've ever had.  It continued throughout the night, as did the sneezing and runny nose.  Saturday and Sunday were the same, and come Monday I went through an entire box of tissues at school alone.  Physically I felt fine (and actually ran and rode great workouts!), but it was just an annoyance of constantly blowing my nose.  I finally started taking some Cold & Sinus on Tuesday in hopes of improving.

Monday was incredibly emotional with the bombings in Boston.  Ryan and I both got home from work, not wanting to do anything, until we realized that we should be celebrating and working out because we are able to.  We continued to follow the story while biking/running in hopes of some resolution, but would have to wait a few days for that.  Thank you to all of my friends and family who texted to see if I (or anyone I knew running the marathon) was okay.  Monday again reinforced for me that we cannot take things for granted, something I would plan to use in my race strategy for Saturday.
Me, Ryan, John and Ryan's dad after Boston 2010.

Tuesday, I proudly wore my 2010 Boston Marathon shirt and jacket and discussed the marathon with my students.  They were so intrigued; some had family members there, some hadn't heard the story, some were impressed that people can run for 26.2miles without stopping.  I ended this day with an awesome "minuter" workout on the Cary March Madness 1/2 marathon course, getting down to 4:30 pace for the later half of the workout.  I was feeling pretty darn good.

And then it hit me.  About an hour after my run, I couldn't breathe.  I blew my nose...which led to sneezing and a runny nose.  My mentor had told me since Monday that it would be okay if I needed to take a sick day, but being the person I am, I felt too guilty doing that to my students.  I had put together sub plans just in case my nose caused me other issues, and decided since I couldn't breathe, it was time to call the sick day.

Wednesday, I slept in and woke up feeling like a new person.  I was able to breathe, and I only had to get up one time to blow my nose throughout the night, so felt very refreshed.  I hadn't swam since Friday, so thought maybe I'd try today since my nose felt a million times better, but the thunderstorms ruined those plans (LifeTime Fitness closes their indoor pool if there's lightning).  Just another sign that my nose needed another day to recuperate, no big deal.

Thursday I woke up and ran some mile repeats: 1mile at goal 10mile pace (6:00), 1mile just faster (5:56), 1mile at 10k pace and 1 mile at 5k pace all with 90sec between.  I felt amazing and ready to race on Saturday.  I swam after school and felt strong and fast in the pool, too....that day off really seemed to have helped!

Then Friday hit.  We had an Institute Day, which was good since school might have been canceled anyway with all of the flooding.  My sinuses started acting up again (possibly due to the temperature changing every few hours?!), but I only had cold medicine.  I rarely take medicine, but was pretty sure I couldn't focus in our Institute Day if I didn't do something.  About an hour after taking the medicine, I started feeling exhausted.  Like can't keep my eyes open exhausted.  Yep, you guessed it....the medicine I took was nighttime medicine.  Awesome.  I seriously didn't think I would be able to make the drive home, that's how knocked out I felt.  Luckily, I made it home okay....and fell asleep for almost 3 hours.  My swim workout never happened, which again was probably a good thing, but I was pretty upset that the sinuses were still an issue.

I thought about re-evaluating my race plan for Saturday, but decided to make the call on race day.  I woke up Saturday feeling pretty darn good.  I took a Cold & Sinus just in case, seeing that I had been in this situation before and had watched things turn ugly.  I warmed up with Ryan, Nic and my old running partner Joe before heading to the start line.

As I was heading into the corral, who do I see but Tera Moody.  You know, the lady who just ran a 1:12 half marathon a week ago.  I had been feeling pretty darn confident on my good days leading up to this, but seeing Tera immediately erased the "maybe I could even win this thing" thought.  Instead, I told myself how cool it would be to run out of my mind and say that I placed second to Tera Moody in a race--I mean, how many people can say that?! [For the record, she ended up running a 56:xx...insane]

I knew I'd be running for awhile with my teammate Columba, as we had run 4 of the almost 5miles of the Shamrock Shuffle together two weeks ago.  The gun went off and so did we.  The first two miles flew by and I was feeling fresh.  I couldn't believe how much of a change this was from Friday.

Mile 1--6:12. This and mile 2 were all about not slipping on the ice.  Yes, ice.  In mid-April.
Mile 2--6:11  This is where we encountered "Cricket Hill," which wasn't nearly as bad as people had made it sound.  Maybe it was the snow covering it, or my love for cross country, but whatever it was, Columba and I just flew up.  Coming down, our teammate Meg was cheering like crazy for us, which brought a huge smile to my face.
Mile 3--6:11 (nothing like being consistent, right?)
Mile 4--6:05
Mile 5--5:59....I knew we had picked it up, and had even considered slowing down a bit myself because it felt hard for me.  As soon as I saw my watch, I knew we'd have another 6:0x mile and I'd be might have just been the crowd that got us going a bit on this mile.
Mile 6--6:04. Perfect.  Feeling alright again.
Mile 7--6:13.  We had the turnaround at this point and just plowed into the wind. So that was fun.
Mile 8--6:17. This was a lot of weaving winding and going on/off the path that the runners heading out were on as well.  I felt like we were slowing a bit, but couldn't get around to help pick up the pace as we had to stay on "our" side of the path. This probably explains the next split. Oops.
Mile 9--6:02.  We could both tell that the last mile was slow (and received confirmation via our watches) so this one picked up the pace.  The path FINALLY split so that we could spread out more and I got ready to step in front.
Mile 10--5:43. Just after we hit mile 9, a volunteer yells out, "only one of you can be second!" and Columba just took off.  Naturally, I followed her and we were just hauling.  With probably 0.75-0.8mi to go, I could hear that she wasn't with me anymore, so hoped she was okay.  I found out after finishing that she hit some uneven ground and had a funny feeling in her ankle but was okay.  Glad to hear that, but still felt bad for her as we had just run so much together.
(my extra part since I sucked at running tangents--:27, at 5:30 pace).
 Columba and I near the start....yep, that white stuff is snow.
 Heading up Cricket Hill.
 early can kinda see the ice on the path...stinkin' weather.
 2nd place overalls!!! So proud of this guy<3 p="">
Top 3 women:)
It was an awesome feeling, seeing a 5:43 ending mile.  I knew I had more in me, but it was hard for us to pick up the pace from mile 8 on.  It was so awesome to run again with Columba as there's nothing better than having that constant encouragement throughout the race.  While we obviously knew "only one of you can be 2nd," we worked together in hopes of achieving our sub-60 goal.  We fell a little short, but we also had some ice patches in the beginning and lots of weaving during the second half of the race that I certainly hadn't anticipated.

All in all, I know that I can continue that 6:05 pace now for a 1/2 marathon.  I'm not sure I'll have an opportunity to do that before we race our 70.3, but just having that confidence is a good feeling.

A HUGE congratulations to all of my teammates who ran this weekend....PRs happened in multiple cities and multiple states, and it is SO cool to be part of such a talented and complimentary team.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a pain session with a massage therapist.... :/

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Double Race weekend (April 6/7th)

After adding all the numbers up, it's official.

I ran for longer than I slept last weekend.
I drove for longer than I slept last weekend.
I biked for longer than I slept last weekend.
And, let's be honest, I probably ate for longer than I slept last weekend.

While I would never recommend doing this, ever, it happened to work out in my favor.

(race recap from April 6-7 weekend)
Ryan and I race in Alabama every March to qualify for the World Duathlon Championships.  With Easter screwing everything up this year  being so freaking early this year, the Double Oak Duathlon was moved to the first Saturday of April (normally the last Saturday in March).

This was okay....until we realized another race we had signed up for, Shamrock Shuffle, was the next day.  So, we decided we would make a decision as to what to do the Thursday before the races as we know from experience how exhausted we are after putting on the Egg Shell Shuffle.

For whatever reason, this year wasn't as stressful or tiring as the past two with putting on the Egg Shell Shuffle, which is strange considering we were out of the country for the 6 days leading up to the race!  Regardless, our bodies recovered nicely and we were HUNGRY for some racing come Thursday.

Our plan was to leave Schaumburg right after I got out of school on Friday, drive until dinner time and then switch off driving every 2 hours until we arrived in Alabama.  This initially put us there at ~1am, which was okay as we had just planned to get up at 6:30am and would be sleeping in the car.

Not surprisingly, we hit traffic (I know, it's hard to believe that there is traffic in the suburbs on a Friday afternoon).  We didn't arrive at our hotel until 3:00am.  All we wanted to do was lay down for 2.5 hours.  Instead, we spent 15minutes waiting outside the hotel lobby for the Front Desk guy to wakeup? let us in the hotel. We arrived to an incredible hotel room....I had wished we could have actually spent time in the room as it had everything you could have wanted for a weekend trip!  [sidenote: the hotel was a Residence Inn by Marriott for all of you looking for an awesome hotel]

I had no doubts I would pass out right away...except that I didn't.  I kept closing my eyes and tossing and turning, having nightmares that my alarm wouldn't go off and our trip would be wasted (if we didn't race, we obviously wouldn't qualify for Worlds).  The alarm did go off, at 6:17am.  We got ready and headed to the Elite meeting at 7:30am just before assembling our bikes and putting all of our stuff in transition.

At 7:55am, all of the Elites were introduced and at 8am we were off!

The run course had changed slightly from last year, something I was suspicious of as my "5k" time seemed off.  On the first mile, you go straight up hill, which has been the same start since I've raced here.

We go up this probably 0.25mile hill and then straight back down it, just to go up another one, run some more til we hit the mile (6:01!) then go just a bit further to the turnaround and back....only we don't go back down the hill we originally went up; instead we head into the woods for some trail running....
This is the section that had a part added onto it.  I didn't think anything of it until I came at the 5k mark in almost 20minutes.  I realize that the trails and hills would slow me down, but last year I ran a 38minute 10k on this course, so to run half of that in 20minutes seemed a bit off to me....especially since I KNOW my run is better than it was last year.

Nothing I could do about it besides accept the fact that the 10k would be long, so I decided to push harder to widen the gap between myself and the second place female.  I ended up almost doubling my lead, but unfortunately she caught right back up on the bike.

The eventual winner was the Alabama state Time Trialist for biking (something like that is what Ryan told me, but basically what it means is that she's one of the fastest riders in the whole STATE of Alabama).  I knew coming into this race that 2nd place would have to be the goal as, after looking up the winner's races, my biking wasn't nearly as good as the first place female's.

However, I ended up biking 5minutes and 2seconds faster than I did last year, so I walked away from the race extremely happy and confident that my training with Coach Bill is paying off.

 At transition. Check out my sweet new bike!
Double Oak Duathlon top three Elite females.

I finished my 5k in 19:xx....., which is the pace I run for marathons, so I was pretty sure that was long as well.  In any case, I accomplished my three goals coming into this race:

1. qualify for the Duathlon Worlds team
2. have the fastest 10k and 5k runs
3. crush my bike split from last year

After the awards ceremony, we went back to our awesome hotel to clean up and grab a bite to eat before heading home.  Ryan had suggested the night before that we just leave straight from the race and  shower when we get back to his parent's house in Schaumburg, but I nixed that idea as I did not want to be sweaty in a car for 12+ hours.  

Bad idea.

Instead of leaving at 11:45 (right after awards), we left at 1:00....and almost immediately hit traffic.  We know to try to avoid I-65 if at all possible as the last three years there has been some sort of accident that caused 2+ hour delays.   My GPS showed us only being on I-65 for a little while before meeting up with I-24, so we figured it would be okay.


We ended up barely moving for THREE hours.  Yep, you read that right, we were pretty much sitting in traffic going 15mph tops for 3 hours.  About 40minutes into this horrible experience, I googled "traffic on I-65" and explored a few websites before finally finding this awesome chat board.  I was able to post questions and see what mile markers were bad.  One awesome person wrote what exit to get off and then the detour they took to avoid about 2 hours of just sitting in traffic.  Unfortunately, we had another few miles to go before we could get to that exit.  

We were supposed to arrive in Schaumburg at 1am, giving us approximately 5-6hours of sleep plus whatever we did in the car.  With the detour and huge traffic jam (which we found out was caused by an 18-wheeler that tipped over), we arrived in Schaumburg at 3:50am.  We didn't even bother taking our contacts out, as we'd just be getting up in less than 2hours anyway.

I had seriously thrown out the idea of just not racing the Shamrock Shuffle.  However, Ryan was dressing up as a "green guy" with his best friend, so I figured if he was going I probably should too.

We headed into the city at 6am, painted Ryan green and tried to jog over to our respective corrals.  It probably took us an hour to do this as EVERYONE wanted pictures with "The Green Guys."  

It was SO nice to get into the corral and tent with my teammates.  It made me recognize that my decision to come and run the race (despite not feeling like I wanted to, with only 2 hours of sleep and racing the day before) was a good one.

The Shamrock Shuffle makes all runners get into their corrals 15minutes early.....which doesn't make sense to SO many runners as we just spent this time warming up and loosening our muscles, just to come stand in a roped off area where we can't do drills or strides to stay loose?  So, we just considered this team bonding time and just hung out while waiting for things to get going.

My teammates (Columba Montes, Shannon Teunissen, Jessica Langford and Emma Keenan) and I used this time to strategize and decided to go out for the first mile at 6:00 or just under.  Sure enough, we saw the first mile split come in at 5:56.  Perfect.

Columba, Shannon and I ran together for the first 1.5miles-2miles of the race, which was SO nice!

 How sweet are our new uniforms?!
 Pushing forward with encouragement from Columba and Dave.
Columba just kept powering through and began passing people left and right.  I figured I'd stick with her for as long as I could as I knew my legs would fatigue at some point.  At about mile 4, there's a slight incline, and that's where I lost it.  My body finally realized that I had done a Powerman race less than 24hours ago and proceeded to sit in a car for 14 hours and sleep for 2 hours. 

 Luckily, I was able to hold it together and still finish in a PR worthy time.

The best part was seeing this guy at the end:
Ryan waited for me and I'm pretty sure his jaw actually hit the ground when he saw the time I ran.  

At Snow Fun Run (a 5mile race in Lake Geneva in January, with a few hills), I ran a to run a 29:21 ("gun time"....real time was 29:15) after the craziness that had occurred in the past 24 hours was just ridiculous.

Again, I would never recommend doing this to anyone as situations don't normally (and shouldn't!) work out this way, but I was very lucky.  I credit a lot of this to my new training.  Bill has us beat up our bodies for 3 straight weeks before getting a week of recovery (still running, swimming and biking, but no actual workouts).  Bill LOVED our idea of doing both of these races (though he, like us, thought we'd actually be sleeping the nights before our races!) as it is the kind of racing that fits perfectly into his plan.

Overall, it was a super fun weekend, but it took a few days for my body to recover.  My workouts this week were still actually really good and I swam some 100 PRs, but I felt just exhausted throughout each day.  

Lesson learned: sleep helps speed the recovery process and should never be avoided if possible!