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.
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.
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.
And the briefest race report. I’m going to just frontload this by saying that I don’t think late winter or early spring half marathons are for me. This is the third year in a row where I arrive at the start line very undertrained and crabby with myself for paying over $100 to race without having a real shot ay my goal time. So the previous twoyears, I was a little closer to said goal times but now I’m older and wiser and didn’t want to have a big blowup in the back of the race. This is good in a way because it makes me really examine my intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for running. And also think about how much I, as a Southerner living in the Northeast for the past decade (!!), still don’t really like winter. We’ll see if anything changes on that front.
Monday 2/4: It was a smidge warmer than usual but I missed a morning run and already had dinner plans at the amazing Krok for some spicy Isan Thai. I had the perfect view of the route to Brooklyn Bridge Park to watch all the runners go by as my mouth slowly burned.
Tuesday 2/5: 3.4 miles on the Hudson River Park before taking a class on the erg at RowHouse.
Wednesday 2/6: Lunar New Year dinner at Golden Unicorn.
Thursday 2/7: Halal combo for lunch and dinner aka the best $6 ever spent.
Friday 2/8: Flight to New Orleans with my friend Jay. We immediately started eating everything in sight, from chargrilled oysters at Felix’s to beignets at Cafe du Monde. There was gumbo, jambalaya, and baked ham at Mother’s. Everyone else arrived later that night while I caught an all-female brass band and saw my first (unofficial) Mardi Gras parade.
Saturday 2/9: No shakeout, just more good food. Brunch at Ruby Slippers, more beignets from Cafe du Monde, carb loading with great pasta from Little Gem Saloon, then cheering on a Mardi Gras parade.
Sunday 2/10: Race Day (oh, did you think I just came to eat? Pretty much). I showed up to the starting line downtown unsure of what to shoot for. I thought about going out at 9:00 minute miles then trying for a negative split for the last 5K, which would have been my 3rd fastest half marathon (maybe even 2nd). But honestly I didn’t really feel trained for that. So I decided to run the first mile however I felt, then evaluate from there. I hit it in 9:30 and didn’t feel like it was sustainable as the sun came out a bit (then slunk back into the clouds) and the humidity worked its magic, so I slowed to a 10:00 minute mile pace for the rest of the race. I had some King Cake from spectators around mile 6 and a Jell-o shot at mile 12, determined to have a little fun with it.
We hung around the finish area as a group, enjoying the snacks and some free Michelob Ultra.
After showering and a nap for me, we went back to Felix’s for more poboys and chargrilled oysters, drinks at Carousel Bar and Pat O’Brien’s, then several pounds of seafood at the well-named Cajun Seafood.
All in all, not my best half marathon or even close, but definitely one of the most fun! I think it rivals and bests the Nike Womens San Francisco Half since the spectators wanted to get us drunk.
Post-marathon, I signed up for the Ted Corbitt 15K as an attempt to get some race redemption under my belt in what remained of 2018. I hadn’t raced much this year and got PRs at the half marathon and 10K, but not any other distances (well, just the 5K and marathon that I actually tried).
I came in to this pretty well-rested and had peanut butter toast and cold brew before. I didn’t pack any nutrition but figured I’d be fine.
Last year, my first mile was super slow (9:44) due to getting into the corrals after they collapsed, so I made sure to get in there early this year. I accidentally started my watch early then couldn’t delete it in time. So I went in with an extra bit of seconds on the clock and was very confused with my splits the whole race.
I managed to hold back a bit on the first mile then went way too hard on the 2nd mile. I finally got into a groove for the last two miles of the first loop and was feeling good (PPTC cheerers and volunteers really helped).
Then I slowed down again for most of the second loop. The last mile felt tough but with the added endorphins from smiling and knowing that I was going to get a PR, then I was able to drop the hammer on the last 0.3 and sprint to the finish.
The pace was a little faster than my 8:57 pace from the Bay Ridge Half 9 weeks ago, which was my A goal. However, it’s a little slower than it should be if you plug that half time into a calculator. My goal for my next half is closer to 8:48, so I’m hoping to bring it down as my volume and speed work comes up in the next 8(?) weeks or so.
I’ve started some heart rate training since I have a HR monitor on my new watch. I’m surprised to find I kept it steady on this run (part of me is wondering if I had any cadence lock). To be discussed in future posts.
Ouch. No, I’m just kidding. It’s been 2 weeks and I’ve had a lost of rest and recovery (and a massage), so I’m going to try and write this up so I can reflect on it later.
The Nights Before: I stayed out way too late on Halloween night (the 31st) but went to bed early on the 1st and 2nd, then by 10pm on the 3rd.
Start Village: Back in 2016, I took the Staten Island ferry to the buses and barely made it into my wave and corral in time. This time around, I wisely wore enough throwaway clothes and packed some snacks and handwarmers for the 3+ hour wait in the start village after taking a direct bus from Brooklyn with my teammates. It was a lot of fun to catch up with people and compare our training and race plans.
I used the portapotties 3 times, pet a therapy dog, and got a photo in the corral with a teammate.
Thoughts and feelings recap:
Miles 1-4: I was smart for exactly one mile and took it easy on the Verrazzano (formerly the Verrazano but they finally changed the name to actually be spelled correctly). Us green corral folks had a slightly different loop through Bay Ridge than the orange & blue runners, then messily converged with them. I didn’t realize it, but I was flying here.
Miles 5-9: My brain’s main thought was “THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!” I saw a lot of people here on 4th Avenue, beginning in the 20’s, through the PPTC cheer spot at 3rd, and some friends at Union St. and then on Lafayette Ave. I was having such a good time, as you can tell from this succession of photos.
Miles 10-14: Oh hmm, it sure got quiet. I slowed the pace a tiny bit in efforts to conserve energy, but felt good after doing a systems check. I hit the half in 2:07, which was on pace for a PR.
Miles 15-19: This segment finally presented me with thoughts of “Oh no, this isn’t going the way I wanted it to at all”. I felt fine approaching the Queensboro Bridge but slowed considerably running up 1st Avenue in Manhattan. I started walking through fluid stations then running again.
Miles 20-23: The Bronx sucked for me and I knew it was going to be a struggle until I got back into Central Park. I saw a very well-placed friend at 129th St and my boyfriend at 116th who gave me the best “I can tell you’re hurting” grimace.
Miles 24-26: I got to finally enter Central Park and vowed to not walk again, then promptly broke that vow. I ran into a teammate who was also having a rough race, so we tried to stick together for the final mile. She sent me on ahead for a while. I checked my heart rate during this portion and 20-23 and it was really high. Like 85-90% of max. I used the walking breaks to lower it, but was definitely concerned.
The final 0.2: I got a side stitch right at the 26 mile marker! While frustrating, I was relieved that it didn’t happen sooner. My teammate caught up to me so our finish photos are together, which is pretty cool. It was so nice to have a sounding board for the long walk to get our ponchos and exit the park. I headed to my team’s meetup spot where my boyfriend was waiting with a cold brew coffee. We then went to Sushi of Gari for a pretty nice post-race feast.
Phew. While only 10 minutes slower than my marathon PR, it was a poorly executed race. I have since compared training data and realized that despite the mileage PR, it wasn’t as far and away a monster training cycle as I had wanted. I keep vacillating between wanting to do another marathon in 2019 with more mileage under my belt and just waiting until I exact my revenge on the NYCM course in 2020. More to come!
A lot of life happened in March and April. Some miles happened. Not a lot. Or, not as many as my 10 week half marathon training plan called for.
3/19 – 3/25: 17.7 miles. I did a trail run in Prospect Park Monday with a running club friend Emily who’s training for her first 50-miler. I also squeezed in some treadmill workouts, including on a Wednesday snow day, where I did a 4×800 interval workout at goal 5K pace. After running MTW and doing RowHouse Thursday with a friend, I did not run again. Grief kind of hit me hard on the weekend because of my friend’s memorial service. I got to see some out-of-town friends who were visiting that and we had some nice meals together.
And matcha kakigori from Bonsai Kakigori at Canal Street Market.
3/26 – 4/1: 26.8 miles. Back at it, with a Central Park weekday morning jaunt, late Saturday morning 9-Mile group run, and a running club Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday. My team split the win with a team captained by another Hilary.
There was also karaoke, shabu shabu, funfetti cupcakes, and pizza from Emily.
4/2 – 4/8: 16.1 miles. I had plans to run TuWFSaSu. I made it to The Distance at Mile High Run Club Tuesday, a Beer Runners loop to the bar Wednesday, then replaced my Friday run with several miles on the exercise bike before heading to Phoenix for my friend’s other memorial service. No runs Saturday or Sunday due to the hotel no longer having gym access and time crunches, but there was a hike at Saguaro National Park. And tacos. And Sonoran hot dogs.
4/9 – 4/15: I started off the week still in Phoenix (early flight back Tuesday morning), so I got to hike Camelback Mountain on Monday. Well, mostly. I ended up running 3 miles from Scottsdale to the base of the Cholla Trail, then hiked up. I got in 1.5 miles of hiking roundtrip (the trail is 1.4 miles each way; I had to turn back once I realized I was strapped for time and also had the rental car keys). I met the guys at Cartel Coffee then rented an Ofo bicycle and rode back to the car. So much activity! I had hoped for a longer run round trip, but the hike definitely got my heart rate up.
I flew back to NYC Tuesday morning and took the day off. I got a Prospect Park loop in with my friend on Wednesday then had a quick 3-Mile solo Queensboro Bridge trip Thursday after work.
Then I flew to Richmond! I went to see family but signed up for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K. I was overdue for a 10K PR (last one I raced was Queens 10K in June). Then the weather forecast turned to bright and beautiful. I was concerned because I’ve been running for months in temperatures not topping 55 and feel like the sun has been elusive. My corral was due to start at 8:45, so I hoped to escape the worst of it. I didn’t get to warm up but was just happy to find a real bathroom and meet up with Kate before we got into our corrals.
I tried to take it easy the first mile, but maybe went out a little fast. I felt pretty good at the turnaround point, but we were heading into the sun on the way back. As you can see from the Strava splits, I flagged significantly during the last miles, but was able to have a strong, painful, uphill finishing kick for the last 0.2. I stupidly thought I could keep it under 53:00 for the last minute. But this is still a 1.5 minute PR! So I’m pretty pleased.
I flew back to NYC Sunday, fairly stiff from the race. The weather was warm and beautiful Friday and Saturday, then turned cold and gloomy Sunday.
18.2 miles total, including a 10K PR.
And now I’m going to see a musculoskeletal doctor this week to see about my weird left foot/ankle pain. It doesn’t hurt while running, just when I flex it and during some walking. Let’s see!
So this was technically Week 1 of Brooklyn Half training (3/12-3/18) but I was also taking a trip to LA with Gabby and didn’t manage to get in any runs before I left Wednesday 3/14. So this is mainly about our hikes and run in LA and all the things we ate!
We flew in early Wednesday afternoon, dropped off our stuff in Hollywood, then headed in a very long car ride to Venice Beach.
It was so nice to see and smell the beach! We then had dinner with some friends of mine at A-Frame, Roy Choi’s Hawaiian outpost in nearby Culver City. No pictures because we were starving but we had loaded fries, two kinds of spam musubi, Brussels sprouts, and crispy chicken.
The next day, we took off on a Runyon Canyon hike. We took what we thought was the main route but then realized we were on the Eastern side of it. We figured out that we could keep going around the rim and back down but we had no idea how steep it would be.
We made it! It was 2.8 miles roundtrip and 740 feet of elevation gain.
After showering (I got some mud on my hiking leggings from bouldering and scooting down), we got some delicious ramen from Urban Ramen, bought snacks at Ralph’s, then walked to Hollywood to see the sights, namely the walk of fame and Mann’s Chinese Theater.
Oh, and some churros. Later on, I had dinner with a friend at Bowery Bungalow, then ice cream from Scoops in Silverlake.
On Friday, we headed to Universal Studios Hollywood. I was excited to see their version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter after going to the one in Florida in January. It was almost exactly the same, down to the butterbeer (hot, cold, and frozen). We did the hour-long studio tour, which was super cool because I got to see Jaws in action and see the set of recent favorite The Good Place.
Plus, huge donuts at Simpsons World/Springfield.
We hit up the race Expo on the way back and got to see some more of Downtown LA. I got street tacos, finally (was on the hunt after seeing the LA taco episode of Ugly Delicious). And it rained, which we were totally prepared for in our hooded jackets and umbrellas.
On Saturday morning, we ran The Big 5K, which is sponsored by Big 5 Sports and is affiliated with the Los Angeles Marathon (the next day). We signed up sort of on a whim, figuring that we were in town anyway and it would be a fun race. We didn’t look up the course profile until the day before the race because they didn’t really highlight it on the website. Now we know why. There were some brutal hills, especially for this relative flatlander. It starts off in the parking lot of Dodgers Stadium, then around nearby Elysium Park.
According to Strava/Garmin, you are climbing for 33% of the time. Most of the first mile started out great and I was on pace for a PR. There was a slight downhill coming out of the parking lots, then boom, climb #1 just before 1 mile. I chugged my way up and hoped that was the worst of it. But of course, what goes up must come down. Then back up again. Then down. Then up.
My grade adjusted pace for the first mile says it all; I went out hard then couldn’t hang on. Around mile 3, I got to laugh with other runners at what felt like an onslaught of hills. But I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t handle the hills.
Gabby and I grabbed our medals and snacks (she got the swag bag, I passed on it not realizing I could have had another Clif Bar). Then it was time to eat! I tried a pastrami egg and cheese burrito as well as a smoothie from some food trucks that were there. I was tempted by the taco truck too, of course.
We took a Lyft home, showered off, then headed back to Runyon Canyon for a gentler hike. We took the easy, paved road up this time then came down on the east side (where we had headed up on Thursday). It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday and so many people were out! It was impressed to watch all the runners, but we had a good time taking it easy and recovering. Lots of foam rolling that day! We had Korean BBQ bowls on the roof, coffee from nearby Blackwood Coffee, then I met with my friend Gina to hang out with her pup Riley and get donuts from California Donuts.
Before we headed to the airport (I had a red eye), we stopped off at a mural that Mabelle had wanted to check out. And it’s right next door to See’s Candy factory and store.
Then I spent the extra time before my flight screaming at the Houston-Michigan basketball game and eating chilaquiles. I missed out on all the NYC Half action, but I’m going to enter the lottery for next year.
Mileage: 3.6 miles of running, most of it spent wheezing up hills. 4.6 miles of beautiful, sunny hiking.
I took a few weeks mostly off running after the Austin 3M Half. So this is mostly going to be a food post! I know that’s y’all’s favorite anyway,
1/22 – 1/28: I had a few easy runs but was definitely sore for a couple of days after the half and the shakeout. 17.8 miles total. I also used my guaranteed entry for the Brooklyn Half in May. It’s my current half PR (1:58:54), though I didn’t race one in fall during marathon training. I’m of course hoping to shave a few minutes off of it, depending on how training goes.
I led the 10 minute mile pace group at the PPTC new member run for 6 miles. We ended it at Dekalb Market Hall, which I’ve been to at least half a dozen times. I have a few favorite stations (name jian bing with scallion pancakes) but love trying new dishes as well.
I ended up trying the namesake Doner Kebab from Kotti Berliner. It was enormous and delicious and super messy. The boyfriend’s super healthy roasted veggies and chicken are in the background. He was detoxing from the (unpictured) cookies from Chip at Gansevoort Market AND the two types of red velvet cake the day before.
1/29 – 2/4: A week of desserts (and a nice cold loop of Central Park on Saturday). I had cakes and pie (green tea and Earl Gray crepe cakes from Lady M and matcha custard from Four and Twenty Blackbirds), more matcha crepe cake at Patisserie Tomoko, and cereal-blended ice cream from Milk and Cream Cereal Bar.
2/5 – 2/11: I only ran once! I donated platelets on Tuesday after work and volunteered at the Empire State Building Run-up on Wednesday, so I earned $50 in race credit to use with NYCRuns. I’m still trying to pick out a spring 10K to use as a tuneup for the Brooklyn Half or maybe a 5K as well.
Savory meals included Peruvian roasted chicken, Korean fried chicken and japchae, barbecue eel bento box, and the breakfast ramen + char siu pancakes at Talde. I’m trying to rein in my portion control now that my mileage is lower, but it’s hard!
2/12 – 2/18: On Monday, I brought in Fruity Pebbles marshmallow cookies to work. Then on Tuesday, I teamed up with a coworker to get some packzi from the Polish point of Greenpoint. We got a variety of fillings, from raspberry jam to Boston cream to rose jam. And this was after having a few supersize bao from Great Northern Dumpling in Flushing.
Nothing says romance like undercooked red meat. We went hard at Gallagher’s Steakhouse. Prime rib, oysters, filet mignon, coconut cake, and more.
It’s been all restraint since. I got back on my running game a bit, logging 21.7 miles for the week over 4 days of running. This included a 3.33 mile loop of Prospect Park as part of the Cherry Tree 10 Mile Relay with my teammates/friends The Crystals. Yes, they’re both named Crystal.