Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Greatest Excuse in the World

So running friends, marathon 2 will have to wait a little longer than anticipated.
Baby C coming May 4, 2011. :]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Marathon Monday!

This weekend, I finished my longest run yet. 18 miles. It was tough. It was, to date, the hardest physical exertion I've ever put my body through. At the end of it, I wanted to cry, but I was so ecstatic that I made it through that I just wanted to laugh. It was an unbelievable feeling and made me want one thing and one thing alone. To cross the finish line of the Philadelphia Marathon.

I am so amped for this race, it's not even funny. Fear is starting to turn into butterflies, the good kind, like you get when you have a first kiss, and I'm starting to up my training to a level that I've never quite hit before. With 6 weeks to go, this means, being very strict about my diet so as to ensure that I'm getting all of the right carbs, proteins, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, nutrients, etc. It means waking up at 5:30am to get in a run when I know I won't have time later in the day. It means not skipping out on a workout and not taking anything for granted. It means listening to my body and it means focus and determination.

It means that it's officially go time.

Due to a summer injury and a few things that have happened along the way in my training cycle, I'm about 2 weeks from where I'd like to be in my training, but these things happen and I'm ok with it. So, this week I start speed work with Tempo Runs. I start running 5 days a week, instead of 4.

I also start midterms and papers.

It's not going to be easy and it's not going to be fun, but it's going to be awesome and I'm ready for it.

That said, Week 8 of my training brings:
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: 4 miles easy (9:52 pace)
Wednesday: Tempo - 8 miles with 3 miles @ 8:30/mile
Thursday: Rest Day
Friday: 9 miles with 7 miles @ MP (9:09/mile)
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: 20 miles

I'm ready for it. How is everyone else's training going?

And I'll keep plugging this, but anyone who is running the Philadelphia Marathon or Half-Marathon should let me know!!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Diva's Half-Marathon at Long Island: Race Report

*This is the same Race Report I posted on my personal blog so for those of you who follow both, my apologies for the dual posting!*

With 8 weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon, I finished my second Half-Marathon on Sunday, crossing the finish line in 2:00:53, a 50-second PR!

I had mixed feelings about this race. On the one hand, I ran a great race, but on the other hand, I felt terrible.

Let’s recap:

Saturday – I woke up and went for an easy 3 mile jog around my neighborhood before grabbing a quick bite to eat, quadruple checking that I had everything and headed to the train station to catch the train to Long Island. My best friend and former college roommate picked me up and we headed to the Race Expo to pick up my packet. The expo was…slightly depressing. The race directors had sent out so many e-mails promoting the expo and I wasn’t at all impressed. I was surprised that they had an expo at all for a Half-Marathon, but it was pretty lacking. The swag bag however was pretty awesome! On top of my race shirt (pink!) and a matching pink bag that said Diva’s Half-Marathon, I got tons of free samples, a coupon 5,000 miles on Spirit Airlines (hello boyfriend!), and a $500 gift card to Red Star! So I can get some running sunglasses!

We got back to my friend’s house and it was time to relax so we put on a movie that I brought (off my list, of course!) and watched the movie before another one of my old college roommates came over and we had a yummy pasta dinner and some pumpkin ice cream before I went to bed bright and early. 

Sunday, Race Day – My alarm went off at 5:45 and I got dressed, grabbed a quick bite and headed out to the race. It was cold outside. It was about 40 degrees and it didn’t see like it was ever going to warm up. The 5k started at about 7:45 while I was stretching and we lined up shortly after. I lined up in the 8:01 – 9:00 corral but then they started telling everyone to move up and push forward so I actually started the race in the 6:01-7:00 corral which is not at all my pace but they were pushing everyone up so I didn’t have much of a choice. The gun went off and off we went. The race had about 3,000 women and the start tunnel was extremely narrow so I was practically walking through to the start line, but the group quickly spread out. I was running fast and I felt like it, but I was feeling pretty good. Miles 1 and 2 came up a lot sooner than I expected. Between Miles 2 and 3, I started to worry that I would crash early if I kept up the pace I was at, but I was still cold and anxious to warm up so I didn’t want to slow down. At Mile 3, I was at just over 24:00 and knew I had to slow down. I stopped off at the Porter Potty because I really had to pee and was able to get into a regular pace after that.

When we hit Mile 4, the wind started picking up. I wasn’t running against the wind, but it started to feel really cold. At Mile 5, my knee started bothering me but I saw my mom at the mile marker so that was exciting! Miles 5-8 were brutal. I was so cold and my muscles were tightening up. I was wearing capri length pants and a t-shirt and I thought I would be fine with that. The forecast had called for high 50s in the morning and it was definitely much colder than that. I had been taking Power Bar Energy Blasts through the race (my go-to fuel) and they weren’t sitting right with me. I started feeling really sick to my stomach and at Mile 7 I had to stop off and use the Porter Potty again. When I got back into the race, I was still cold but feeling much better. I was definitely running slow though and I could feel it. When I hit Mile 8, I saw my mom again and knew I wanted the race to be over. I thought to myself, I run 5 miles every Tuesday and Thursday and this is why, so that when I get to this point in the race, the last 5 seems easy. So I started to pick up the pace. By Mile 10, I was hurting again but feeling good. I knew at this point that I could finish and I knew I was close to the threshold of finishing in the same time I finished my last Half and that was not going to happen. I was going to PR no matter what. The last few miles had local high school cheerleaders at each mile cheering the runners along which was pretty cute. Just before Mile 12, they were passing out hot pink feather boas and tiaras. In the true cheesy spirit of the race, I donned my crown and my boa and I started to (excuse my French) haul ass. 

Eying the finish line just after Mile 12!

I ran to that finish line like I had never run before and as soon as that line came into view, I sprinted like I was running for my life. As I crossed the finish line, I threw my arms up and nearly collapsed into one of the fire fighters that was handing out red roses and champagne. I proudly took my rose, my champagne and my 10 pound medal (it felt that heavy after the race!) and went over to where my mom, and three of my very closest friends were waiting for me at the finish line.

I felt pretty awful after the race but, at the same time, I felt great – how can you not feel great after that kind of accomplishment? When I ran Katie Lynch back in May, I had to stop and walk a few times and this time, I never did that. When I was at my lowest point in the race, I looked around and saw everyone around me walking and I was not going to do that. So I kept running. I had to stop twice but I never stopped running because I felt like I mentally could not continue to run. 

It was a tough race since I never quite warmed up and my lesson learned is to bundle up for Philadelphia no matter what the forecast says so that if I need to throw away layers I can, but if I want them, I have them.

Now, I have 7 weeks to go until Philadelphia and I’m feeling pretty good. I have a lot of work ahead of me and my training is going to take on a new, more rigorous shape next week but I know I can handle it and I’m ready for whatever the elements throw at me. I had a great recovery run yesterday I have an 18 mile run planned for this weekend. I’ll be testing out some new fuel options and gearing up for the 3 hardest weeks of training before I start to taper down for the race. 

I want to thank all of you for your support because you guys have been amazing. Thanks for following along and thanks for your words of encouragement. Keep ‘em coming because they keep me going!

If any of you are running Philadelphia, or if you know anyone running Philadelphia, drop me a note! I’d love to organize a Meet-Up the afternoon before the race!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Featured Runner: Cynthia from Balls in the Air

Well after having not one featured runner in the month of September, we're finally {hopefully} back into the swing of consistent things!  This week we have Cynthia from Balls in the Air, and you'll be blown away by some of here crazy running stories.  And does she have a story as to how she met her husband!  Man!  Anyway, hope you enjoy today's feature and without further ado...

Meet Cynthia.
{pictured above at the Island Girl 10K}
1. What inspired you to start running in the first place? Back in the 80’s, I took aerobics classes and felt I couldn’t push myself anymore. So, I started teaching them. Once again, I reached a level where I didn’t feel I was getting anything out of it. So, I turned to running. Since then, I’ve never felt bored; twenty-some years later, I still feel that I can push myself more.

2. What is your most memorable running moment? Meeting my husband. We were racing a winter half-marathon in Peterborough, Ontario. I got really dehydrated (yes, in 20 below temperatures, you can still dehydrate) and sick; my arms were having muscle spasms. My husband saw that I was in agony and offered to massage my arms. Three months later, we were living together; five years later, we got married….

3. What piece of running gear will you never run without? Shoes. I think. There is a huge revolution moving towards Vibrams/Barefoot/minimalist running. I think it’s great but it’s not for me; I’m far too conservative. However, I have suggested to my husband that he try it and he seems to like it. I guess there will be more to follow on that next summer.

4. Any upcoming races? I always have a race in mind – sometimes, many. Right now, I’m gearing up for Road2Hope, the November marathon in Hamilton, Ontario. I’m really nervous about it as it is my first in almost 20 years (19, to be exact).

5. What is your *dream* race or distance? I love the 10 mile distance and race. During my training for Hamilton, I realized that there is a need for more 25 to 35 K races. For me, who trains to race and races to train, they would be great to help me gear up for the marathon distance. Are there any Ontario race directors out there reading this?

6. Have you ever run for charity? If so, what charity? No, that takes a whole new level of commitment. Between family and work, I feel that I am stretched a lot with my own running goals. To raise money for someone or something requires a lot more work. That being said, though, I started my own running event, Kids Running for Kids, for SickKids in Toronto. This was the first year and I hope that it will grow into something bigger next year.

7. What advice would you give for someone who is thinking about taking up running? Set a goal. That can be time, distance or a race. We are a goal-driven society and running is no exception to it. Goals give focus and a reason to stick to the plan. It’s important to keep in mind that goals will change as your own fitness level does and life interferes. That’s okay. Just always look at the big picture; what do you really want to get out of this thing called running?

8. What advice would you give to a first-time marathoner? That’s funny because, even though I have run 5, I feel like a first timer after being off for 19 years. I think the best advice is to respect the distance. This means that to run the marathon successfully, whether it is just finishing or running within a certain time, you have to be prepared to work hard for it: plan your training, eat to run, rest and mentally get ready for the big day.

9. What's one thing you don't like about running? Laundry, especially in the winter time. I pulled out my tights and layers for the first time last night and am already moaning the laundry season.

10. What is your favorite form of cross-training, if any? Cycling – it helps maintain my cardio without putting stress on my body. After long runs, cycling takes away the aches and pains. And, I can cycle on my windtrainer on days that I can’t get out for a run.

11. Tell me about your very first race. It was the Pointe de Pointe in Toronto, Canada and it was a disaster. I had no idea what to do – except run. I went out way too fast but finished respectfully. However, my quads were killing me for the next few days. Despite this, I was hooked on road-racing.

12. How do you get yourself out the door on the days that you hate running? I tell my boys, 4 and 9, that I need to get out for a run. They keep reminding me that I need to get out and try to coerce me to take them. In better weather, I do – almost always – as one bikes and the other sits in the jogger. Now, it’s dark, wet and rainy so, while they want to tag along, I leave them at home.

Me and my boys playing in Lake Ontario (yuck!) after The Chocolate Race.
13. What running shoes do you swear by? I love my Asics but I’m also wear Saucony now. With a marathon on the horizon, I want to have two pairs to train in so that my foot muscles don’t get use to just one position; this seems to help them feel better after my long runs and tempos. In the next two weeks, I’ll decide which pair is my marathon shoe.

14. Have you had any running injuries that sidelined you for a period of time? If so, what did you do to recover? Years ago, just over 20, I tore my groin. Initially, I pulled it running in sub-twenty temperatures but I didn’t take enough time for it to heal. Two weeks later, I raced in that same sub-20 weather and tore it. That was the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through; okay, childbirth may have been worse but that was short and sweet. My groin tear lasted for two months. I ran in the pool (boring), cycled and got on the stairmaster everyday to keep my cardio up. Once I was able to run again, I found that I hadn’t lost that much conditioning.

15. What are five of your favorite songs from your running playlist? I don’t run with an iPod so I don’t have a playlist. I’ve been thinking about picking a small one up to get me through the end of my marathon training but finding music and making a playlist would just be too much work right now. I’m busy enough with my real job. Besides, I hate earphones. I suppose I could always go wireless, though. Oh, yes, the playlist again.

Waterfront 8K in Burlington

16. If there was one running accomplishment that you wish you could achieve with no possibility of failing, what would it be? Running Boston. Actually, I have qualified – a couple of times – but I’ve never gone, and I don’t regret not going because the timing just wasn’t right. Now, almost 50, I’d really like to go in the next year or two and take my family with me. Who knows if my boys will ever get a chance to see Mom run the Boston Marathon again?

Thanks so much, Cynthia!  You are truly an inspiration of someone who really makes time for her sport. 

Okay so I think it's about time to revamp {again} the system of how we choose featured runners.  I do appreciate everyone nominating bloggers who they are particularly fond of, but sometimes people forget to do so, and we have 2-3 people in the running for one particular week.  Not sure if this is the best way.  So perhaps if you would like to be featured, just leave a comment once again nominating some running bloggers of whom you are a fan, and you and all those you nominate will be put into a list that we will continue to choose from week after week.  People can and will be added to this list as time goes on, but you can't be on the list twice.  I think is the best way to get a big variety of runners from whom we can all draw inspiration and hear some awesome stories we never would have heard otherwise.  So what do you think?  Good idea?  Or am I going nuts?

Regardless, hope you enjoyed our feature and good luck for next week!  Maybe YOU will be chosen next!