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Pacers St Pattys Day 10k Recap

9 Mar

I haven’t written much about running recently- largely because I haven’t had any races since my big “A” race back in November 2015. Nuts.

With all the extra time not spent on training for a specific goal, I focused the last several months of my prolonged off-season on beating the hell out of my legs in order to gain some strength. This is a bit of a revolution for me, as I will pretty much always choose running for 90 minutes over squats, push-ups, and burpees for 30 minutes. Of course, it turns out that 100% of expert exercise science consensus is not wrong–after about 2 months of regular strength training (ESPECIALLY consistent core work…. blech), I noticed a big difference in how my muscles felt during/after runs, and an even bigger difference in the numbers ticked off by my Garmin.

I signed up for the the St Pattys Day 10k mostly because I love 10ks and just don’t think there are enough of them. I’ve been running a lot with a Oiselle Teammate who is quite a bit faster than me, and I’ve been more or less keeping up — so I had a sneaky suspicion this race could be a PR. Previously, my best was 51:30 from the 2015 Capitol Hill ClassicCapitol Hill Classic, so of course I hope I could eek it in under 50:00, but I wasn’t too sure.

Here’s how it went:

Mile 1: 7:27
Mile 2: 7:32
Mile 3: 7:50
Mile 4: 7:45
Mile 5: 7:44
Mile 6: 7:45
Last 0.29: 2:04

I spent the first two miles pretty much freaking out– maintaining any mile split that began with a 7 was absolutely new territory for me. Somewhere into mile 3, I switched from the doubting voice to the DO IT voice, and decided to commit to making this sub-50 10k happen. Per my race MO, I tuned out whatever nonsense people were engaging around me and just focused on the phrase I had chosen for the day; for this race, I went “fly fast to the finish then rest,” another Oiselle maxim.

And that’s pretty much what I did! I finished in 48:09, which came as a huge surprise and a big relief, and then went straight from the finish line to the movie theater for that rest (if you haven’t seen Get Out yet, stop everything you’re doing and go see it right now).

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Like all Pacers Races, the St Pattys Day 5k/10k is amazingly well organized. Packet pickup is easy, the race is metro accessible, and day-of logistics are a dream (plenty of portapotties, lots of volunteers, well marked gear check/info/medical/etc booths). Almost everyone else I talked to commented on how beautiful the course is- Ohio Drive is the main drag, so you pass the Washington Monument, WWII memorial, Tidal Basin, and Kennedy Center but, per usual, I was too dialed-in to say whether the course is pretty or not. It is, however, pretty flat, and I most certainly took note of that.

My next race is the the GW Parkway Classic, and I’m not sure whether I’ll shoot for another PR or just enjoy the course and the run. Both are equally appealing right about now–so only time will tell. Until then, it’s back to the burpees.

 

2015 RnR Brooklyn Half Recap: She Thought She Could and So She Did

13 Oct

Another race in the books: I ran the Inaugural RnR Brooklyn Half Marathon last weekend!

My updates here are sporadic, at best, these days so for those trying to keep track at home I’ll catch you up: I decided in March that it was time to get serious about running and make some goals. I had been chasing a sub-2:00 half for some time, and, while that was the main goal for this season, I also had less quantifiable things to achieve. I wanted to become a stronger runner who could run predictable races and get through this season injury free.

But mostly, I wanted a half time that started with a 1.

My “A” race for the season is the OBX Half in November, and my original intention for Brooklyn was to use it as a training run. I was under strict orders from my running coach to “jog it–no time goals,” and I had just completed a tough week of high mileage running, which had only gone okay, and I hadn’t performed nearly as well as I had wanted to at my track group time trial on Thursday. All of this to say, I wasn’t feeling “race ready” as I headed up to NY.

Grand Army Plaza, starting line for the 2015 RnR Brooklyn Half

It took an inordinate amount of time to get from DC to NY, and after finally fighting all the traffic 95 had to offer, the heavens opened up and let down a deluge of rain and wind pretty much the second I entered Brooklyn. The expo was just about as poorly planned as I’ve seen– the Brooklyn Expo Center is RIGHT on the water, which means it’s surrounded by one-way streets… not the best plan for getting 17,000 people in and out. Plus, they put the t-shirt pickup outside (though the chocolate milk people somehow got to stay indoors… go figure), so everyone was forced to trek into and out of the pouring rain at least twice to complete expo errands. No bueno, RnR.

Things were not looking all that positive, but I finally made it to JetSet and KimmieKef’s house, where I was greeted by Mr. Met himself,

photowho made the brilliant suggestion of getting my customary pre-race gluten-free pizza from Telio, where they have GLUTEN FREE SPANAKOPIZZA. Yes, that’s right my dearies– glutenfree dough covered with onions and spinach and feta. I am so sad to report that we did not take a picture of this gift from God, but rest assured that it was kefi in a box. Man, oh man.

Flash forward a few hours and the Mets have won their first playoff game since 2006 and it’s race day! After some coffee, eggs and a GF waffle, I got on the train and made the long trip out to Brooklyn. I sat there feeling kind of tired, a bit rundown the miles I had already put in that week, and just let the loop of negative talk run for awhile, until this question came to me:

“Who has time for thoughts like this?”

And then, just like that, I decided to be happy, see how I felt, and run whatever race I had in me that day.

It’s a good thing I decided to stop being miserable before I got off the train, because what awaited me was… chaos.

rnrstartofficialThink that picture is actually a starting line shot? It may also double as the line for the portapotties. I didn’t count, but it seemed like there were approximately 9 portapotties for 17,500 people. I got there with exactly 6 minutes to spare and thankfully talked my way toward the front of a very.long.line, which is more than I can say for this guy,

rnr guy who cut the portapotty linewho looked at a half-mile long line of women who had to pee (and at least one of us who had to poop!), darted into a portapotty and came out flipping everyone the bird. Not cool, dude. Not cool.

Anyyyyyywaaaay, so now I’ve taken care of business and am ready.to.go. I made the last-minute decision to run with the 2:00 pace group. We exchanged niceties and then waited… and waited… and waited for the 7:00 start.

At 7:31, we got going. Apparently, the other 17,499 runners had to wait in some insane security line. Not sure how I missed that trainwreck, but for once I was glad to be left on the platform!

Miles 1-3

Our pacer was Garrett, who is a superstar on the Dashing Whippets. It was his first time pacing, and his plan was a 9:05 pace for a 2:00 finish. Great, sounds like I could stick to the race plan of “just jogging” and still make my goal time of sub-two.

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Garrett and someone who is not me.

Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. The start of the race weaves around a traffic circle and it was tight and crowded. Garrett was a gem and charged through. We picked up a few more pace group members and pressed on. We were just ahead of that 9:05 pace, which at first really freaked me out, but then I realized that I felt GREAT and banished the last of those doubts lingering in the back of my mind. Miles 1-3 8:57, 9:15, 8:56.

Miles 4-6

Now we were getting into the meat of the race, and Garrett was going nuts. First he was running at an 8:30 pace, then a 9:30 pace… it was an emotional roller coaster for me and I decided to get off the ride. I was still feeling really good, so I let the good times roll and took water at each aid station. I was grateful for the flat course and the AMAZING crowd support–there were spectators everywhere!

The 10K mark was the point at which I realized that I was really going to do it: I was finally going to go under 2:00. In a race. I had expected some big emotional moment at the finish line when I did this because I have known for so long that I can do it and have come just short of the this goal 3 or 4 times, but you know- the most emotional moment for me was right there at the halfway point, when I realized I would do it and my first reaction wasn’t so much surprise or shock as it was, Well, of course you are. I feel like the phrase “She thought she could and so she did” has been going on on a lot of runners’ instagrams that I follow and it felt particularly true on Saturday: I had put in the work, and now it was time to reap some results! Miles 4-6 8:35, 8:49, 8:57

Miles 7-9

Previous to the 10k point (or there about), the course is on residential-ish streets. Miles 6-10ish were an out- and -back on a long, boring stretch of almost highway. I was lucky enough to happen upon a woman named Hayley (whose name I only learned because she had a HUGE cheering section at the turnaround) who was not only running a perfect 8:55 pace, but also blaring music out of her phone because she had lost her headphones. Hayley and I ran pretty much in sync and together for 4 miles without exchanging words or acknowledging that we were doing it! This is when I realized how much I like running with people (which I hadn’t done at all in this or the last training cycle) and decided that I would bring that part of my training back. Thanks to Hayley who got me through some boring middle miles with her tunes and on-point pace! Miles 7-9 8:52, 8:56, 8:52

rnrhayley

Thanks, Hayley! Also, isn’t the internet scary that with very little info I could find her?

Miles 10-13.1

There was a small off ramp that had a fairly steep incline, and I decided to power up it and I was back on my own again. I was starting to feel it here, but I reminded myself that I had no time for negativity and kept it moving. Pretty soon, we were in the park! Crowd support in Prospect Park was so good that the entirety of the last 5k felt like being in the Finish Chute! It was also the worst part… most of mile 12 was up a long, slow hill. I just focused on getting to that last mile marker and making sure nothing catastrophic was going to get between me and this damn goal! And then, there it was: the FINISH! I clocked in at 1:57:44 for a 5-minute PR and finally-FINALLY- A SUB-TWO HALF!!!!!
Miles 10-13.1: 8:43, 8:48, 9:07, 8:10, 2:37 (0.39–my watch said the race was a bit long).

rnrbk

Race recap:

Pros:  this was a mostly-flat course with awesome support and especially good aid stations– 10 water stops in 13 miles? Yes please! Getting to the start was super easy on public transportation. Oh, and did I mention that medal is also a BOTTLE OPENER? Big ups to whoever thought of that one. And, of course, Garrett and Hayley, my official and unofficial race pacers!

Cons: a poor choice for the expo location + crazy security lines + way too few portapotties meant you had some really pissed off New Yorkers on your hands before they ran 13.1 miles. Add mile markers that were consistently off, a lackluster smattering of post-race food (shouldn’t bagels be required if the race is in NY?) and really poor post-race signage (how the hell am I supposed to know how to get out of Prospect Park?) and you have some disappointed runners–isn’t the whole point of a huge event company like RnR buying up all the little guys that they can execute these details anywhere?

Take Home: I’ll run this race again next year if it works for my schedule, but I won’t plan a season around it.

TriTalk Tuesday: Nation’s Tri 2015 Recap

15 Sep

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It’s Tuesday and that means two things: 1) in one (!) day I will be thirty and 2) it’s time for some TriTalk, and I’m linking up with Cynthia, Courtney, and Phaedra to give you the scoop on this year’s Nation’s Tri.

Last year the swim was cancelled due to heavy rain in the days leading up to the race. The weather this year threatened to make the race a duathlon yet again, but thankfully Mother Nature kept it together and we had a beautiful race day morning. Pre-race expo was easy as pie–in and out in less than 10 minutes–and bike racking was uneventful (I seem to have FINALLY learned my lesson from the drama of racking my bike for the 2014 NYC Tri!) . I was looking forward to getting home, stuffing my face with a gluten-free pizza, and going to bed.

…but first, I had to run 17,249 post-wedding errands. After a trip to Costco, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, the Post Office, Anthropologie and Athleta (which really were all wedding-related, even though I know that’s a strange list of wedding stores), I was finally home. All that running around made falling asleep around 9:30 easy, and I was grateful to be so sleepy that even pre-race jitters couldn’t keep me up!

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Photo credit: SwimBikeRun Photo

Pre-Race

There are pretty much two ways to approach transition prep: get there insanely early and organize your stuff so that it would pass military room inspection standards, or get there with only as much time as you need and hope for the best. Any guesses as to which your Type B+ triathlete friend here picks? Exactly. I do not like to get caught up in other people’s mess on race day, so I try to get to transition 20-30 minutes before it closes, set up my stuff, and go claim a shady spot to sit by the swim start. I don’t bring a ton of extras with me (except for goggles–always gotta have a spare set of those!), I do not try to get fancy with balloons or other bike markers, and I do not try to fashion a bench out of a cardboard box or a cooler or what have you.

Sounds like I have it all together, right? Well, I do… once I get to transition. To have met me in this life is to have waited for me–so even though I plan to get to transition with 30 minutes to spare so as to avoid other people’s madness, I inevitably get there with about 10-15 minutes to spare and get caught up in my own shenanigans. This year, I had totally forgotten that Rock Creek Parkway was closing at 630, and I got stopped by a grumpy cop and had to go pretty much all the way back home and take the long way around.  C’est la vie.

The Swim

Like last year, there was lots of waiting around for the Olympic racers to all get off before the Sprint race started. Luckily, it was a stunning morning and then this rainbow appeared–truly a sign of a good race to come!

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Photo credit: Live Free and Run — go check out her awesome blog!

I was Heat 30, and we got moving sometime around 845. Here’s where things get interesting. In general, I do not race triathlons–I just really like doing them. However, sometimes even a Type B+ woman can be driven to Tracy Fleck dimensions. While chatting with this very nice woman, I mentioned that I often sign up for the Athena category (which is a triathlon class for women over 165 lbs… which is to say everyone over 5’6″ or so whose name is not Heidi, Cindy, or Iman). She looks me up and down and says, “Oh, wow. That’s crazy–you look like a normal person, I’m surprised you qualify for racing with those people.”

Now, I know she thought she was being complimentary, and I know that it is practically compulsory in this culture to meet even the slightest comment about fatness with an EMPHATIC “but you’re not fat! You’re just athletic/big boned/curvy/whatever!” but for whatever reason I was just not in the mood for this bologna, and so I decided right then and there that, even if I wasn’t racing the other 1,000 people on the course, I was going to race her. “Those people.” Hpmh.

I usually kind of lollygag my way thought a swim, but since I was suddenly competing, I put my head down and got that thing done… sort of. Twice I got so caught up trying to pass big bunches of people that I veered way off course and probably swam an extra 75 meters or so… whoops. Probably serves me right. The course is a little bit of a cluster because it’s a 9-at-a-time timetrial start and you’re swimming INTO the current for the first 200 meters, so that means there are just throngs of people struggling and bottlenecking for the first third of the course–not my favorite way to swim, but I got through it. I was pretty sure I was one of the first in my heat out, so I just took off for transition and hoped that lady enjoyed the view of my ENTIRE over-165lbs-since-middle-school butt as she watched me from behind. (Swim: 17:05)

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Apparently, this is THE #nationstri photo to take–I, sadly, did not strike such a pose, but thought these people did it the best out of everyone who did! Photo credit: Susie Goggs.

The Bike

I tried to zoom out of T1 as quickly as I could, with mixed results (4:10). I had used PAM Cooking Spray on my arms and legs to help get the wet suit off, and I think that was helpful. I was most slowed down by some mud on the 0.25 mile run from swim to transition, which had me running slowly to avoid falling and took some extra time to clean off

Pretty much as soon as I got on the course, I had the wildly pleasant surprise of finding that my legs felt AWESOME. Head winds were strong going up Rock Creek Parkway past the Kennedy Center, so I moved down to the drops–which I almost never do because I think riding on the drops is a bit unsafe, but since it was the last weekend of my twenties, I felt like reckless impulse was the way to go. Like last year, I just focused on picking people off, so I still couldn’t tell you much about the course… but it was flat, and it was fast. And I was not playing.

On the way past transition on Independence Ave (mile 11?), some woman zoomed by me and was weaving in and out of people (rather than pass on the left, where there was an ENTIRE PASSING LANE at her disposal). While she was breaking all the rules, she was rudely yelling at people who didn’t anticipate what she was doing BEHIND them in order to move out of her way… so uncalled for. Luckily for me, my selfrighteousness burns like the fires of Mordor, and I decided that I was, once again, in a race. She was speedy on the bike and stayed just out of reach, but–as tri luck would have it– her bike was racked near mine and I saw her head out of T2 just before me. Game on. (Bike: 55:28)

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Everyone else in the world got better pictures than I did and I think them for sharing! Photo credit: Jessica Margarit.

The Run

Rude Passing Woman aside, I really enjoyed my time on the bike, and felt strong and speedy for once as I headed into T2. I made a quick shoe change, guzzled some Nuun, and headed out to enjoy my favorite part: the Run! (T2: 2:15)

The Nation’s run route really is spectacular. Down Independence Ave, along the Tidal Basin, a quick uphill toward the Holocaust Museum, then down around the front end of Haines Point before a long chute on Ohio Drive. In the first quarter mile, I saw a patient of mine from a couple years ago cheering from the sidewalk, so of course I had to double back and see her and her supercute toddler–what a happy surprise to see them again! Last year the short-but-steep hill heading into the first water station killed me; this year I owned that little beast (but was bested by the GU I was struggling to open the whole way up… you win some, you lose some).

I thought I was running somewhere in the neighborhood of a 9:30 mile, and could not believe when my Garmin dinged off that I had completed the first mile in 8:20-something. This was insane! I had never felt this good this far into a race (even a sprint) before, and I was on track to match my 5k time from the beginning of the season.

As I rounded the 2 mile mark in Haines Point, who comes into my view? You guessed it: Rude Passing Woman. I’ve been working on my finishes, so I decided to hold steady for another quarter mile or so before turning it on and trying to catch her. As we headed up the Tidal Basin bridge onto Ohio Drive, I tried to conjure the sweetest aura I could so that as I went by she would just FEEL that I was doing it nicely and feel so badly that she had yelled at all those on the bike course. In fact, I bet if you go to RudePassingWoman.com, you’ll find a blog post about how this really nice, supportive, thick woman passed her in the final mile of the run and did it so nicely that she is turning over a new leaf and will be transitioning to NicePassingLady.com for the 2016 tri season. Okay, so actually she paid me NO mind as I went by, and–fine–it isn’t really nice if you’re only being nice to prove a point, but … delusions are key to selfpreservation so we’ll just leave alllll of that right there and move right along.

Before I knew it, I was in the chute! I let loose and CHARGED for the finish line… I was not going to be passed in final seconds like last year. I got the run done in 25:48, almost a 2-minute improvement from last year.

Once I crossed, I realized I was pretty much surrounded by men and figured I must have finished pretty high up in the women’s rankings. I headed over to the timing tent, and was SHOCKED to see a number “1” in the Division Place column… I had WON my age group!

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Use your imagination. Looks like the photo credit’s been taken care of for me on this one!

I waited around for awhile before calling MrKef and my family to see if maybe people who had started after me would have finished faster, but it turns out that this time I had really won. This still feels so insane to me, mostly because lots of triathletes would argue you’re not even in contention for the podium without a fancy tri bike, and without having done a BRICK workout a week, and without an aero-helmet blah blah blah. I didn’t meet any of that criteria and here I was, my agegroup winner. How crazy! Total race time: 1:44:31

photo 3I thought I would have a lot to say about this, but I am still kind of shocked. I know, I know– it isn’t THAT special to have won an age group award, but in this world that equates thinness with fitness, it just feels like a HUGE win for me. Whenever I show up to bike groups or races, people are constantly assuming I’m a newbie, or that I won’t be able to keep up with the pace group, or that I need them to demonstrate complicated parts of the workout for me… and this is just confirmation that hard work and good training pays off–period.

It also confirms something that makes me really proud of myself: I cannot be bothered to let other people’s hangups get in my way. If I had waited for the right time, or the right weight, or to look the right way before I tried a triathlon, I would still be waiting, and I never would have found this sport that has brought me lots of joy and contributed immensely to my mental and physical health. This is a lovely thing to realize about yourself as you leave your twenties behind. To all my people out there who feel smothered by the totally effed collective that is American body image (however it affects you) I’ll say this: Bump the haters, don’t believe the hype.

And to “Those People” Swimmer and Rude Passing Woman: I’m coming for you again next year.

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