Austin 3M Half 2018 Recap

Hello from the other side…of the second hardest half marathon of my life. This was my 9th Half ever and the 7th that I really raced (I treated both Nike Women’s Half San Francisco 2015 and Fred Lebow 2017 as training runs due to injury and low mileage, respectively).

Pre-Race: I had peanut butter and banana on toast with some canned iced coffee from local spot Cuvee. Gabby and I took a Lyft to the start (our driver was impressed with our early morning activities) then met up with other PPTC folks. Bag check was easy and portapotty lines weren’t too long. Then came the corrals, or lack thereof. I waited for friends, then realized there was no way to get close to the 1:55 pacer without shoving my way.

The good: Miles 1-5 were great. Having only been in Austin a few days, I had no idea where we were North of the city (somewhere near The Domain?), so I just took in the sights. Like the industrial office parks. The width of the roads early on (everything’s bigger in Texas?) let me pass folks and get closer to the pace I wanted early on despite the crowded start.

The bad: Pretty much as soon as I hit the 5th mile, everything started to get tough. My legs felt heavy and my breath was a little more labored. I was pushing hard to maintain the same pace. I had a gel around mile 6, but that obviously wasn’t enough to save me. I also had 2 salted watermelon Shot Block chews at some point. I declined the Bacon Station, but maybe I should have partaken.

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The ugly: Mile 10 and its last major hill. This course has a net downhill, but you never quite feel like it throughout the rolling hills. I am delighted to say that there are absolutely no photos of me on the course. I looked like death at the finish.

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It was raining again at the finish, so I grabbed my medal and goody bag and shuffled 1 whole mile up the hill to Gabby’s to shower off. That mile was not easy, despite drinking some Gatorade.

Final time of 2:02:46 which actually makes this my 4th fastest half marathon despite what I consider a ‘bonk’ in the second half. Not bad.

Don’t worry, we got Gourdough’s after!

I was pretty sore that day and the next but did an easy recovery run around Austin to see more of the riverfront trail.

I needed some time to recover both physically and mentally from this race. Not every race goes the way you want for a variety of reasons, so I’ve tried to reflect on my training and preparation and race execution. On to the next one.

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Austin 3M Half 2018 Training Weeks 9 and 10

After hitting a one-week mileage PR 12/29/17-1/5/18 of 39.5 miles in 7 days, my training motivation slipped and my planned 2 week taper kind of became a 3 week one without a final long run. Whoops!

Week 9: 11.2 miles over 3 runs. Final “long” run of 5 miles, where I found some money. I also ate some really delicious things with my friend Lori on account of her instagram @girleatsnyc.

Banh Mi and Chicken Poutines at 375 Fries

Donuts Galore at Stax Ice Cream

Ube Ice Cream in a Fruity Pebble and Condensed Milk Glazed Donut at Stax

Week 10: My travel began to Austin for the Half. But first, Disney World! And Universal Studios! I ate everything.

I walked around a lot in Orlando but didn’t hit up the fitness center. I did eat Mickey ears ice cream, Dole Whip on top of pineapple upside down cake, and half the menu at Le Cellier steakhouse in EPCOT Canada.

Dole Whip made even better with pineapple upside down cake (had this twice in a day)

Dumbo Forever

Ears and more ears

I flew from Orlando to Austin on Wednesday the 17th, just missing an ice storm by a day. I did a shakeout run on the hotel treadmill once in Austin but hadn’t brought enough cold-weather clothing for their surprise post-ice storm cold snap.

Austin 3M Half Expo

Getting our bibs at the Expo

I also ate a lot of queso and brisket.

Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ

Torchy’s Tacos Visit #1

Banana Pudding at Holy Roller

17.1 miles including the Half Marathon and a cool-down mile afterward. Race recap to come!

Austin 3M Half Training Weeks 6 and 7 and 8

So we just zoomed past the halfway mark for half training and now are in the homestretch. Everyone knows about the Arctic blasts of cold weather and Blast Cyclone, so I won’t dwell on those. I had gotten pretty comfortable running in 20F temperatures over the last couple of years, but the added wind chill with single digits and precipitation made it really hard to get out there.

Week 6 (12/18-12/24) included travel home for Christmas on Saturday the 23rd. I ended up doing my Long Run on Christmas Eve, with 9.5 miles in and around Richmond (half trail).

Week 6 Total: 17.6 miles.

Week 7 (12/25-12/31) encompassed travel back to NYC and some bitter cold temperatures. I managed to get a solid 6 miles on country roads with Dad riding his bike alongside me, a treadmill run while doing laundry, and essentially 2 long runs. It was snowing during the first one with Gabby as we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and ran up the Hudson River Greenway before turning around and ending near City Hall. I hit 11.5 miles and was glad to get some hot chocolate after having a marshmallow Gu on the way.

My Sunday long run was a loop of Central Park with my friend Chaya and I tacked on some extra to hit 9 miles, thus ensuring I would get 1,100 miles for the year. My original goal was 1,000 so I was delighted to surpass this. I ended up doing 9.4 and ending my run at Bo’s Bagels in Harlem. By then, I had 3/4 of a Caramel Gu ooze out on and in my handheld water bottle. Chews next time for sure.

Week 7 Total: 32.1 miles, including the 0.2 where I ran home from the subway Saturday to get through the snow more quickly.

Week 8 (1/1-1/7): 2018, baby! I was so excited that the year started on a Monday and was planning to hit an all-time high mileage week. Then my motivation waned after 6 straight days of running and harder workouts (plank challenge, the return of push-ups at work) that I took a few days off. The good news is that I did still hit an all-time weekly high mileage from 12/29 –  1/5 with 39.5 miles! I did several straight runs on the treadmill, which takes a slightly different kind of mental fortitude (easy to get down there and on it, hard to keep going) than getting outside (hard to get outside and geared up, but great running once you’re warmed up).

I took The Distance at Mile High Run Club and hit a new ‘pace PR’ with 5.6 miles in 57:30. My ClassPass has been ‘on hold’ since September during marathon training, and I’m still trying to figure out if and when to take it back up to 3 classes a month, combined with my gym membership.

The Brooklyn Beer Runners had their 2-year anniversary run that ended at Covenhoven, a local beer bar with a very full list. I joined 2 other runners for a loop of the park then several other folks at the bar and had a S’Mores stout to celebrate.

Week 8 Total: 17.8 miles, missing a less than a mile where my watch didn’t catch. 13.6 of these were done on treadmill runs.

Austin 3M Half 2018 Training Weeks 4 and 5

12/4 – 12/10: 19 miles (actually 19.4 but half my warmup didn’t make it onto Strava), including the Ted Corbitt 15K in Central Park. I started off too far back (runners from other corrals had already moved up to where mine was), so the whole first mile was off. But then I got into my groove and was able to hit some goal half pace miles! The snow started really coming down at mile 8 but I was able to hammer it in.

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12/11 – 12/17: 23.1 miles. I was hoping to make it a cool 30 but skipped my Sunday recovery run due to seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi late the night before then having earlyish brunch plans. I had some cool runs, namely 3 miles in the snow in Williamsburg (2 of them around a half-snowy McCarren Park Track), the Pace Checker workout from Kara Goucher’s Half Marathon plan (8 x 800m at goal half pace, done on the treadmill since sidewalks were slushy and icy), and 10.1 along Brooklyn Bridge Park and across the Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan.

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Can you believe I took no pictures of my food for two weeks?

Austin 3M Half 2018 Training Weeks 1-3

A few months ago, I signed up for the Austin 3M Half so that I could visit Gabby in her new adopted city, which I have never been to in my previous trip to Texas.  It just so happens that the 3M Half is famous for its downhill course profile and is a great PR opportunity. Also, NYC is freezing in January and Austin is not. Sold!

I’m using Kara Goucher’s 10 Week Half Marathon Training Plan and am excited to try some of the midweek speed workouts. I’m hoping to nestle myself somewhere in between Plan A (lower mileage) and Plan B, depending on time crunches and the holidays. I’m shooting for sub-1:55 as my A goal, but I might adjust that if the race pace miles are elusive. Stay tuned!

Week 1 (11/13-11/19) of the 10-week training began two days after the Richmond Marathon. I did not begin. I only did a 5-mile shuffle that first week, skipped the long run due to travel plans, then got a nasty cold.

Week 2 (11/20-11/26) was mostly spent with said cold, so I finally tried to run again that weekend, putting in 13 miles.

They moved the OY/YO to Williamsburg from DUMBO

Week 3 (11/27-12/3) found me excited to run again and also curious to see what speed benefits my aerobic base had brought me. Jackpot! I hit a pace PR at Mile High Run Club’s The Distance on Monday, had a fast 4-mile morning fartlek Wednesday, some easy treadmill miles Thursday, an 8.2 mile long run Saturday, and a 7.3 mile recovery run Sunday. I’m now on track with the recommended mileage for the training plan (27.5 out of 27 miles) and excited to put in some race-pace miles in the coming weeks.

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Waiting for the Pajama Run to begin

Richmond Marathon 2017 Race Report

Ok, finally. I think many of you already knew from Strava or other forms of social media, but I had a great race on Saturday 11/11/17. This post will be a little light on the images because my parents were so busy cheering (and it was cold before and after) that they didn’t take any photos and I didn’t run with my phone.

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Start: It had dropped below freezing the night before and was still in the low to mid 30’s for the 7:45am start. I wore a longsleeve cotton shirt and pajama pants as my throwaway clothes over my PPTC tech t-shirt, Lululemon shorts (same outfit as last year’s NYC Marathon), makeshift arm warmers, DarnTough socks, and Lululemon gloves (a Christmas gift from a friend last year). I ended up choosing my Brooks Launch 4s as my shoe since I did most of my marathon miles in them, especially the last 8 weeks.

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Flatlay from the night before sans cold weather accessories

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Miles 0-7: My corral (#4) was pretty crowded, but we got off to a decent start 6 minutes after the first wave did. We turned a corner and then we were running west on Broad street. And boom, at mile 0.5, there were my parents cheering in the median. Nice! I took the first several miles faster than I meant to, closer to a 10:00 pace than the 10:15-10:30 I meant to do.

I meant to take a gel at 45:00 but due to the spacing of the water stations (every 2 miles, I believe), I held off until closer to 1 hour on the clock. I started with a Salted Watermelon Gu, one of my favorites. We were climbing up a hill at Mile 6 but I didn’t notice too much, as I was chatting on and off with other runners, I had started behind the 4:30 pace group, then I passed them, they passed me, and I passed again. At Mile 7, there is a significant downhill after crossing the James River to go from the West End to the South Side. This felt great. I spent the next couple of miles along the river taking in the beautiful views and sunshine. I chatted up a woman wearing a JMU long-sleeve (my alma mater) and took in some of her cheers as my own. If I do another Richmond race, I’m definitely rocking the purple and gold.

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Miles 8-15: South Side was fairly uneventful, as I was mainly trying to not overdo the pace. After we climbed out from the River, I still felt pretty strong. I chatted with a runner from Chicago who was shocked at my choice of shorts and a NYRR employee. I had my second gel of the day, Toasted Marshmallow and it was AMAZING. I hadn’t tried it before (I know, nothing new on race day) but it was delicious. Around the half mark, I took some mini gummi bears from one of the candy stops. We ran alongside traffic for several miles of Forest Hill Ave and Semmes Ave, which I didn’t love, but some of them lended us cheers or music. Right as we turned to take the bridge back north across the James River, my parents surprised me at the 15 Mile marker. The bridge is fairly windy and an incline, but the boost from my parents helped so much. I had also latched on/decided to draft a couple who was also shooting for under 4:30 but wasn’t with the pace group. On the bridge, the pace group caught up to us, then we peeled away and I never saw them again (spoiler alert).

Miles 16-20: I still felt good but tentative, as I expected things to get harder in the 20’s. I slowly ate my mini gummi bears and had another gel, plus water every couple miles. We ran through some more familiar territory of West Main Street, then past the Diamond on Boulevard. I remember still feeling strong and passing people who were starting to fade. The stupid grin hadn’t left my face yet.

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Miles 21-25: These miles turned out to be both well-populated by great spectator groups and the ones where I felt great and realized I was going to surpass not only my A goal of 4:29:xx, but my A+ goal of 4:26:03 (a 30 minute PR from NYCM last year). I believe that in lieu of a 4th gel, I just had a single Salted Margarita ShotBlock and increased the blue Powerade consumption since the frequency of the tables increased. I supplemented this with a banana from a nice lady around Mile 22. I turned down the beer and other junk food on offer, as well as the pickle juice. I had told myself to hold off the pace from miles 21-24, then up the gas if I was still feeling good. My parents showed up for the 3rd time at Mile 23.5 and I yelled to them “See you at the beer truck! Hurry, I’m picking up speed!”. It was true! See my splits above after Mile 21; I knew the end was near and almost nothing could stop me.

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Extra gels in my pocket can’t slow me down

Mile 25-26.2: There were a few small bumps/hills before the big finish. At 25.5, I was passing people left and right and really turning on the juice when a woman told us the finish was “around the corner”. Well, we knew it wasn’t. I heard a girl comment on this and despite running at my half marathon pace now, I agreed with her and we talked about how we hate when people shout stuff like that about the finish when we just want to SEE the finish. I turn to look at her better and boom, she’s an internet running group friend! I managed to choke out my name and we both screamed. What are the odds? I knew we would get the final half mile in together, and boy did we ever. The downhill was ours. All of the pictures are of me talking to her (lol) and flying down faster than my 5K pace. We hit the finish, threw up our moose ears, and were done.

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Final: I hit the clock at 4:21:34.2, which apparently rounds up to :35. I beat my A+ goal by 4 and a half minutes, which still seems unreal. And I had the best time doing it! Everyone I talked to on the course was sweet and beyond pleasant. The crowd support was impressive for a marathon of this size. We were handed our medal, the blanket, and the mug, plus a bottle of water.

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Then I went off to find my parents at the Beer Truck. Sure enough, I beat them there. I grabbed a slice of pizza and some blue Powerade. I didn’t have my ID, only a sweaty $20 bill, so I couldn’t even get a beer. By the time they arrived, I was able to change then requested that we skip the beer and get straight to Bottoms Up Pizza, the source of my favorite pizzas from my Sweet 16 to my high school graduation. They actually had a table open and I had a Southern Tier Imperial Pumpking, a huge slice, and some Oreo pie to go.

A million thanks to everyone who has commented here, on my Strava, or out in the ‘real world’ plus my parents who cheered and cowbelled so hard. Y’all the best.

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Until next time, Richmond! 50 weeks until NYC Marathon!

 

Weeks 15 and 16 of Richmond Marathon Training: The Taper Weeks, 10/30 – 11/10

I drafted this on the train home to Richmond on 11/9 and meant to post it on 11/10 but was busy carb-loading and furniture shopping. I’ve changed almost nothing to keep my original feelings of nervousness intact. I also took no photos on my runs in this two-week period, which really says something.

After my midweek 20.5 miler on the 25th, I was cooked physically and mentally. But I still had another 2.5 weeks to go before the big race. I got what Elle calls the Taper Lazies (as opposed to the Taper Crazies). I wasn’t crabby or antsy, but I did want to eat everything. Oh, and I moved apartments in this time which sort of rechanneled a lot of would-be running-related stress into moving stress. 5 days later and I still can’t find my speed shoes!

10/30 – 11/5: Just a couple runs once the long run DOMS ended. I wanted to try and get that 10-mile run in that I had missed, but it made more sense to just do 8 one week out before shortening my runs. I spent Sunday the 5th in my favorite race activity of cheering my heart out during the NYC Marathon. It was so inspiring to watch my friends and teammates crush it. Well worth the spitting rain and cowbell blisters. I had some celebratory drinks and cookies with folks afterward and was overcome with excitement.

Cheering my heart out at Mile 7 of NYCM

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More cheering and Levain cookies at Mile 21

11/6 – 11/10: A few treadmill 3-milers Monday and Wednesday, then just 2 Thursday before packing and hopping on the train down to Richmond. Compression socks on just in case (to be laundered and worn again after the race). On Friday the 10th, I did a slow 3 mile shakeout with my Dad riding alongside on his bicycle to calm my nerves. With 11 miles this week and fewer runs (but longer ones) the week before, I was definitely worried I was overdoing it too late in the game.

Race report and separate ~training schedule feelings~ posts to come after the marathon!