Atlanta Half 2020 Recap

Before coronavirus took hold of the US (more on that to come later, as a public health professional or maybe just as an extrovert runner in NYC), I met up with friends in Atlanta to see the Olympic Marathon Trials on Saturday 2/29. Then some of us toed the line at a hilly Publix Atlanta Half half on 3/1. I knew the course profile was a far cry from my very flat-coursed  half PR (1:57:04) but this was my first half marathon in 13 months (since a fun, easy time at Rock and Roll New Orleans 2019) and the first one I was actually trying to kind of race since Bay Ridge 2018.

The week of, I kept vacillating in my mind between 1) taking the whole thing easy, 2) racing my heart out for a PR attempt at a 8:55 pace or better, or 3) playing it by ear. Reasons I thought I could crush this: I was fairly well tapered. I had put in 8 weeks of NYRR Group Training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Main reason I thought I would falter: After weeks of solid double digit long runs in January and early February, things petered out and ended with me barely squeezing out a two-hour, 11-mile long run 10 days before race day. I also took a Tuesday speed session easy that week, but still possibly had pushed too hard. Maybe I wasn’t well tapered.

The night before, I went out with friends and dinner took a bit longer than I would have liked, so I got to bed later than my planned 10pm. I woke up at 5:45am, had a canned Starbucks iced coffee drink and a Clif Bar, then got dressed. I hadn’t brought throwaway clothes but decided on crops and a long-sleeve with gloves since it was around 40F and some wind (but way less windy than the previous day). Gabby and I met up with Elle and sped-walked to the start and stood in line for bag check. I should have used a port-a-potty but the lines were long and we wanted to get into the B Corral.

Note: I forgot my Garmin so my Apple Watch splits are quite a bit off; obviously I didn’t run perfect tangents but it still said I ran 13.5 miles, so mile estimates are generous. Actual pace from the tracker for 5K and 10K was 9:47, then overall pace was 9:33.

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As evident, I did not PR. I took the first mile at “what feels like easy/doable” which was closer to 9:30/mile than 9:00 mile. I was initially a bit bummed that that’s where things are for me (um, but would be delighted if that was even my long run or marathon pace), but Elle was with me and I felt like I could get through this and maybe even enjoy it. I decided to try to run by feel and also negative split if I could. The total elevation gain doesn’t show it well, but the grade adjusted paces do. Every single mile had some sort of hill. Some were short and sweet while others were a bit more sustained.

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Early on, I saw my friend Janna and her amazing posters. She then surprised me by cutting through across and showing up again and caught me.

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As far as landmarks, there were quite a few, ranging from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library to Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and his church, plus fun neighborhoods like Five Points and Virginia-Highland.

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At Mile 9, I felt strong(ish) and picked up the pace just a bit and separated from Elle, who encouraged me to go on. The last few miles were pretty torturous as we ran back into downtown after going through Piedmont Park. The hills kept coming and my lack of endurance started to show around mile 11/12 as my legs started to fail me at the current pace and my heart race increased. I had made it a point to only check my watch every couple miles and not obsess about the pace like I usually would.

Finally, we had the uphill finish back into Centennial Olympic Park. I grabbed chocolate milk, a banana, and what I could before grabbing my jacket and phone from bag check and shuffling back to the hotel. I managed to trip over the sidewalk 3 times on the ten-minute walk, so I was in somewhat rough shape.

Overall, I wasn’t overly pleased with my time of 2:05:09 but I was happy with my performance overall. I feel like the negative split showed grit since the course didn’t flatten out much in the later miles. I think my current fitness that week could have gotten a sub-2 (but not a PR) on a flat course, which is cool since I’ve only done that twice. This performance bodes well for Brooklyn Half as long as I don’t let my long runs slip. I also got a few actually flattering race photos for the first time in a long time because when you take it easier, you can try to actually smile for the cameras. Plus the trip itself was amazing and something I’ll hold dear for a long time.

 

Richmond 8K 2019 Race Report

My action shots from MarathonFoto are so awful, so there aren’t many photos to share. But I had a really great race, despite it being only my 2nd in the last 9 months. The others were Al Gordon in February where I was sick, then a tuneup 5K last weekend. And of course, many months of being injured in between. I’m so glad this was my comeback! I was hemming and hawing about doing the half in Richmond but knew that I wouldn’t PR and didn’t feel extra ready for the distance as my long runs had dropped off since mid-October. Plus, by the time I signed up, the half cost $100 and the 8K was only $40. Done!

After flying in Thursday night and going to bed at the late hour of 11pm, I skipped doing a shakeout on Friday. After picking up my packet, I ate way too much at ZZQ, Richmond’s new Texas-style BBQ joint. Then I had some pasta for dinner and slept poorly until my 5am wakeup call. The 8K went off right at 7am, so I hopped out for a 1 mile warmup and settled into the corrals. Times under 48 minutes were Corral 1, and I was shooting for 43. My previous 5 mile best time was 43:28 and I was pretty sure I could get this under an 8:43 pace.

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Those Splits tho

I met a fellow NYC-er in the corrals and we chatted for 5 minutes, then we were off! I took it out a smidge too fast then got concerned on mile two (plus that mile had the most elevation increase). Then after the turn onto Mulberry and move to Grace Street came the cobblestones. At one point, my foot got temporarily lodged into one and I stumbled. That was a real adrenaline rush and I recovered then was able to speed it up on the fourth mile. Then came the real downhills. I remembered the finish from running the Richmond Marathon two years ago and loved it again.

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Flying downhill

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PR Victory!

I was done by 7:43 and met my parents at the post-finish party. I rang the PR bell, ate a banana and my Dad kindly purchased me some Richmond gear to warm me up until we got back to the car. My pockets are bulging with the snacks I took at the end, though I skipped the Papa John’s pizza this time.

Then I met up with college girlfriends and we ate amazing food at Perch.

If my lottery entries for Berlin and NYC in 2020 are both no-gos, then I am strongly considering running the Richmond full again. I recommend their race series to everyone.

Richmond 2019 Training

This post originally titled Richmond Half 2019 Training and was supposed to cover everything in September, but then I never published it in September. Or October. My running has been pretty good (some weeks higher in mileage than others) but I’ve kept my weekend long runs right around 10 miles for the most part.  Essentially, I feel like I could run a half at any time, but I couldn’t hit a PR. I got medical clearance from my doctor and PT to run a half this fall/winter (but not a full marathon, which is fine). But the consistency of training never really happened. So I’m just going to do the 8K in Richmond on 11/16/19.

I moved out of Brooklyn in September and have been exploring Central Park a lot more. There are so many paths and trails and things to see (namely waterfalls) off the main 6-mile path. My goal is to run them all, plus run the entire perimeter of the park on 5th Avenue and Central Park South/West/North. It’s a lot easier to get to the many NYRR and other races in Central Park now, so I’ve popped by to cheer on friends or pace long runs.

In late September, I did a Tracksmith-sponsored long run in Rockefeller Park State Preserve and loved hitting the trails. The hills were killer, but I stayed steady and on the slower side. Obviously I wore Tracksmith.

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I went to Chicago in mid-October to spectate the marathon (for the third time in four years) and see friends from across the country and eat deep dish pizza. I ran a Nike-sponsored 4×800 race at Soldier Field and was pleased enough with my time. If anything, it made me want to get back to the track a bit more. In my injury-prone state, I haven’t been doing much speed work. Also, our team met Colleen Quigley!

 

Fall by the numbers:

Longest long run: 11 miles

Fastest speed: I hit 10 mph (a 6:00 minute mile) for maybe a minute during a Barry’s Bootcamp treadmill session and didn’t die or fly off the treadmill

I ran my first race since February, a 5K on Randall’s Island in 26:26, about 90 seconds off my PR.

I ran in Saratoga Springs NY, Chicago IL, and San Juan Puerto Rico.

Plus, I went to a driving range for the first time in over a decade, got into sourdough bread baking, am a happy owner of a Theragun, and kept up eating delicious stuff all over town (and other places).

Lunch specials at Cho Dang Gol
Piña colada and red snapper in Old San Juan
Deep dish pizza and the best salad at Lou Malnati’s in Chicago
Apple cider donuts upstate
Waiting for seafood boil

Not in Training (Yet)

I’m been running irregularly for the last 6 weeks, plus a fair amount of strength and cross-training as well as weekly physical therapy. I’m not signed up for any races this fall but am building a base to start training for the Richmond Half November 16. I’ve made progress in PT in terms of hip strengthening but still have a ways to go. The plantar fasciitis is 90% gone (pain-wise). I’m definitely regretting running through it for so long before, during, and after the NYC Marathon and not getting it checked out sooner. Having my current health insurance with my job at a health system means no co-pays for specialist visits or physical therapy, which really helps. I’m planning to see my physiatrist again soon then do a re-assessment with the sports medicine doctor to see if there are improvements in my form.

Summer so far has been very sweaty, both through heat wave temperatures and a lot of working out. Vacation #1 was to Fort Lauderdale in early June, which was hot, sunny, and unbearably humid. But the water was clear and warm and we rented a red convertible Mustang and zoomed around South Florida, eating stone crabs and Cuban.

Scooting around Fort Lauderdale June 5-8
Stone Crabs in Hollywood FL

Back in NYC, I’ve been taking a lot of workout classes through ClassPass, random deals, and getting a free birthday SoulCycle class that turned into 3 when my class was unexpectedly canceled due to a fire drill. Otherwise, it’s been a lot of time on the elliptical as well as doing my PT exercises and some strength training. Runs have been mostly solo, but I’m looking forward to getting back in with a group.

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Before a run (after was red, sweaty, and with a dead gnat in my sports bra)

I only kind of have full fall marathon training FOMO because the temperatures do not have me missing the Saturday long runs. I have another month of base building before half training kicks off (if I follow a 12 week plan), and while the heat won’t break before then, I’m happy to skip it. Plus, Vacation #2 is to Austin, Texas and it’ll be even hotter there. I’ll hopefully get back on track with checking in weeklyish before then.

Now for a brief and highly curated selection of eats lately.

Ube and pandan baked goods at Purple Dough
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1/4 the menu at Clinton Hall
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Seafood Paella at Bazar

That’s it for now!

Slowly Running Again

The good news is that my plantar fibroma is gone and the plantar fasciitis has decreased in pain with treatment. I’m going to physical therapy weekly to fix some of my running asymmetries after a thorough gait analysis with a sports medicine doctor. It’s amazing how you never realize how off balance things are until you seem them on video, complete with visual cues of angles and sloping shoulders. I’m mostly working on strengthening my hips and activating my gluteus medius.

In the meantime since mid-May, I’ve been doing strength training at least weekly, spin class, and some other workouts. I went hiking upstate at Harriman State Park, which was fun and made me feel like all my aerobic fitness is not totally gone. As of Memorial Day Weekend, I’m running again a bit. I’m planning on a slow buildup in daily and weekly miles and to acclimate to the incoming heat before worrying about speed again.

The “waterfall” on our hike in Harriman State Park

I’ve managed to strike a balance between eating everything I’m craving and foods that have actual nutritional sustenance. Below are some of the more delicious dishes.

Central Park from The Met Museum’s Dining Room

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More to come once my running increases!

Week 2 & 3 & 4 of Brooklyn Half Marathon 2019 Training

So the perks of doing a 12-week plan are that even after 2 weeks (and especially after a mentally iffy second week), you still have 10 more weeks. And then you go on vacation and get food poisoning and all your runs are still at a ‘tough’ or ‘massive’ or ‘historic’ relative effort according to Strava reading your Apple Watch Heart Rate Data. Huh. Shruggie arms emoji. I’m happy with the state of my long runs this early on, since they’re already in the double digits but I definitely have work to do on the quantity and length of weekday runs.

Week 2

Monday 3/4: Rest Day, which was a relief since the Sunday night snow was heavy and wet and not everyone had shoveled sidewalks the next morning.

Tuesday 3/5: 3.2 quick-ish miles in the lower part of Central Park with a Jackrabbit store sponsored run trying out some On Clouds shoes. Got donuts for Fat Tuesday.

Wednesday 3/6:  5.7 miles in Central Park in the late morning. My plan called for 7 miles Tuesday, 8 miles Thursday, and a rest Thursday but I needed to modify. For now, I’m better off doing short runs over more days than the 4 days of very long runs and workouts. I’m hoping to adapt better in a few weeks with the increase in volume then really take to the lactate threshold workouts.

Had more donuts just because.

Thursday 3/7: Rest day

Friday: 3/8 8.4 miles in the PM around Prospect Park.

Saturday 3/9: Skipped long run in favor of getting brunch last-minute with a friend and his daughter, trying to bake a pie from scratch (dough is so hard!), and having an early dinner of omakase at Sushi Lab.

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Santa Barbara and Hokkaido Uni

Then I met my bf for cocktails and okonomiyaki at Bar Goto.

 

Sunday 3/10: Woke up to pouring rain and a lost hour of time and skipped my club’s new member run in favor of relaxing. Saw Captain Marvel and loved it! Then baked another pie and made Instant Pot sweet and sour chicken.

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Total: 17.3 miles. I shocked myself by not running at all over the weekend but I guess I still have some time to get my mental game on track and prepare my legs for the 30+ mileage again.

Week 3

Monday 3/11: 5 easy miles, trying to keep it in Zone 3 for heart rate which invariably involves some walking and jog shuffling.

Tuesday 3/12: Rest Day and dinner at Ani Ramen to celebrate my friend’s 50K instagram followers milestone.

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The namesake Ani Ramen

Wednesday 3/13: PM Central Park loop for 6.5 miles.

Thursday 3/14: AM Central Park recovery run including the reservoir for 4.4 miles.

Friday 3/15: Early flight to SF and bopping around, visiting friends and exploring the city.

Saturday 3/16: 12 mile long run along the Embarcadero and piers of San Francisco.

Bay Bridge Sunrise
Golden Gate Bridge
Unreal SF Hills

Sunday 3/17: Light hiking around Big Basin State Park in CA and checking out the Santa Cruz waterfront. Dinner at Din Tai Fung.

Some of the Din Tai Fung Spread

Total: 27.9 miles

Week 4 – Scheduled Recovery Week

Monday 3/18: 5.2 miles exploring UC Berkeley’s campus. The hills!

Tuesday 3/19: Flight to Seattle and dinner at Walrus and the Carpenter.

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Steak Tartare
Sound Views from Ray’s Boathouse over a bottle of wine

Wednesday 3/20: 4.2 miles around Seattle. Poke and Dole Whip for lunch in the International District, buying too many Japanese Kit Kat flavors, then beers and burgers for dinner. Falling in love with Seattle one bite and view at a time.

The Gum Wall in Pike Place

Thursday 3/21: Light hiking and exploring Deception Pass State Park. Then I got food poisoning on the way back to town from Anacortes.

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View from Deception Pass Bridge

Friday 3/22: I had planned to run 8 miles but chose to take it easy in light of the food poisoning. I went to the UW campus to see a James Turrell exhibit and some other art, then flew back to NYC later afternoon after some final Seattle coffee and touring Pike Place Market.

Saturday 3/23: Rest day – platelet donation, lunch, then seeing US and my friend’s band.

Sunday 3/24: 7 miles as a cutback long run, enjoying the weather. My plan actually called for 9 miles but I had told myself it was only 8 and that 7 was good enough. Yoga in the morning (my first time since late January, whoops). Had huge Italian sandwiches in Bensonhurst after.

Lioni’s Italian Heroes

Total: 16.4 miles.

Other Running and Food in Between Halfs

Halves? I’m already kicking off my next half marathon training plan (this one being 12 weeks and very aggressive with the workouts and mileage) for the Brooklyn Half on May 19th. I have a couple tuneup races in April and May but am trying to just build the mileage in March. But I got back from New Orleans February 12th and the rest of the month flew by. Below are some eats and such from the tail end of New Orleans and back in New York.

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Jackson Square
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Cochon: rabbit and dumplings, gumbo, fried gator, brussels sprouts, catfish and rice
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Strawberry Cream Cheese King Cake (we did not find the baby)
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Muffaletta from Central Grocery
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(Fried) Seafood Eggs Benedict at Stanley
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Back in NYC; prime rib and mutton chop and sides at Keen’s for Valentine’s Day
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Some of the Galentine’s Spread
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Mochi cake, ooey gooey butter cake, chocolate chip mashmallow cookies, and my favorite salsas
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Ravioli Pizza. It’s a thing.

I did a little recovery run around the Marigny and French Quarter the day after the race, then had to skip a run the day we left New Orleans because it was downpouring and I needed to do laundry and pack. I barely ran the week I got back from New Orleans because I got a cold on Friday the 15th and took 3 days off on what was supposed to be a busy running-filled weekend. I did manage to host a small Galentine’s party and volunteer at one of my club’s races.

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I had to test that the finish line tape would break away

I started running again on President’s Day, then showed up to the start line of the Al Gordon 4 Miler Saturday the 23rd feeling pretty unprepared speedwise and still pretty snotty. I was able to do it as a progressive run and not blow up in the back half like last year, so that was nice. I’m hoping my next 4 mile race in April will go a little better. I’m not racing at all in March, but doing lots of easy/recovery miles, going long with double digits pretty much every week, and trying out some speedwork. I’m planning to post training recaps in the hopes that this is my fastest dedicated Half Marathon training cycle ever. My PR of 1:57:04 is from this past October but that was during the height of marathon training. My A Goal at this point is under 1:55, but I’ll see how the tuneup races go.