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

Brooklyn Half 2017 Recap

Spoiler alert: I got a PR and did it under 2 hours with a time of 1:58:54.

I was hoping for more course photos but there were only a few of me from the finish from GameFace plus a couple more that teammates took along the way.

This was my 7th half marathon and my 3rd in 2017 (I did 3 in 2015 and 1 in 2016). My first was 2:10:08 and some along the way were during injures (Nike San Francisco Women’s Half Race Recap) or lower training periods where the race wasn’t a goal race (Weekly Mileage (and food) recaps 1/16 – 2/19) but I’m glad to finally be in the 1:50:00s.

Getting in the corrals:

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It’s definitely harder to write about this so many weeks later, but the splits tell the story. I held back a little up the hills but tried to keep a steady pace. My splits averaged out to be just about 9:09 or under and I knew I was on pace when I exited the park.

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I was still rolling on Ocean Parkway, even when the cheering crowds thinned out substantially. I was pretty sure I had a PR in the bag and sped up to lower 9 minute miles, then was able to drop below 9 for the final few miles. That last mile got to be painful but I felt like that meant I was doing it right. My struggle up the boardwalk was apparent and my final “0.2” was at an 8:23 pace.

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I collected my medal, got a bag with yellow Gatorade that I traded some dude for because he had blue Gatorade (best flavor). Then I tried to get my stuff. Well, turned out the truck with my stuff had broken down and it wasn’t there yet. They gave us heat sheets and vouchers for a free hot dog but eventually it pulled up so I could put my jacket on. Then the rain started, just as I finally pulled up to our club’s beach picnic.

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Relieved to finally get our bags

Eric photo

 

NYC Half 2017 Recap

I started drafting this post immediately after the race (3pm from my couch, recuperating with bagels), but left the ‘Intro’ portion blank. It’s definitely hard to write about races (and running in general) sometimes when things don’t go exactly your way, but it’s time to push it out there anyway since I’ve officially done two races after the NYC Half anyway. And yes, my Mom noticed its absence. This will be woefully short on photos because my few MarathonFoto shots aren’t great.

Fun fact: This was my FIRST half marathon EVER in 2015. The 2017 iteration was my 6th half.

2015 Post-Race Elation

I went to the expo the day before fairly early and grabbed my shirt (long sleeve this year in a great bright blue) and bib. I had just stocked up on Gus at Jackrabbit during my Ghost 9 shopping spree, so didn’t need to linger too much. I did grab pre-made pace bracelets for 1:55 (ha! just saving for another time), 2:00, and 2:05. My A Goal: Sub 2:00, B Goal: Under 2:02:11 aka a new PR, C Goal: Under 2:05 just to prove that I was in fact in shape enough to get under 2 next time.

After a lot of hemming and hawing the night before on temperature, I chose to wear my Sugoi Subzero tights (rather than the Midzero ones, just in case we did get some flurries after all since they are somewhat more water resistant), my PPTC short-sleeve t-shirt, and my blue Lululemon Go the Distance jacket. I pinned my bib onto my pants since I wasn’t sure if I would end up keeping my jacket on the whole time. I knew not having the red shirt be super visible would make it harder for cheerers to spot me, but there are enough people out on the course that I wasn’t too worried. I also had a neat NYRR National Running Day buff that I was planning to wear around my neck but ended up using as an ear warmer/headband. The finishing touches were some sweet homemade arm warmers made of men’s socks from the pack I bought for the NYC Marathon last year as well as my beloved Lululemon Run With Me gloves, which were a Christmas gift from a Secret Santa friend.

I got to Central Park with more than enough time to spare before dropping my stuff off at bag check by 6:50AM. It was so cold before and at the start and I was very lucky that a teammate had some extra disposable hand warmers to slip into my gloves.

Miles 1 – 3: It took a full 2 miles for me to feel my toes. Cat Hill was over and done with pretty much immediately in the first mile, then you get to enjoy the rolling hills on the East side of the park. It was around here that I saw my first Golden Retriever of the morning and started counting dogs. According to NYRR, my time at the 5K was 29:00 exactly, but my watch was around 27:30 or so.

Miles 4 – 6: They had to change the course a little bit this year because of construction near the finish, so they added an up-and-down to 113th street during the out-and-back along 110th St. I hit the 10K in pretty good shape and realized that I had hit a new 10K PR of 57:42. Yay! I pulled my tube sock arm warmers out from under my jacket and tossed them into Central Park. My dog count ended unofficially at 50 dogs because I was losing my mental focus a bit around #40.

Miles 6-10: This section includes the exit from Central Park, the very surreal experience of running through down Broadway and through Times Square, then the move along 42nd St and down the West Side Highway. I got to see my teammate Brittany cheering at 50th St. which was such a nice boost.

I ate 2 salted margarita Shot Blocks around mile 8 and chased them with water. I saw the PPTC cheer squad around mile 9.5 and went in for much-needed high fives. Thanks, guys!

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Miles 10-12: These were the worst miles of the whole race but still faster than the frozen first mile. It’s not that the wheels fell off entirely, but my pace slowed, my feet were tired and my form suffered. I caught myself awkwardly straddling the main buckle in the road as I ran and couldn’t really seem to stay in a straight line on the crown of the road. My breathing never got raggedy, but I was worried that it would if I tried to push the pace. I had started just in front of the 2:00 pace group, then they passed me, then I passed them, but this is where they passed me for good and I knew I couldn’t keep up. My race plan had been to negative split to make up for the slower hills in the first half, but I couldn’t drop the hammer as much as I had wanted. I knew I was 40ish second off from 2:00 but it was just not happening.

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This face says it all

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Finally seeing the finish

Miles 12-13.1: Sweet relief! The tunnel felt great, if a little longer than before, but the uphill finish shredded me. My legs would just not move faster.  Final time of 2:00:49.

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Mile 7 through Times Square is way, way off

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In summary, I missed my A Goal got a sweet new PR. My 9:13 minutes per mile pace means that my best Half pace is now faster than my recorded NYRR paces for the 10 Mile, 10K, 5 Mile, and 4 Mile. Ok, so I haven’t raced as many of those, but this is still an exciting start to Spring 2017 racing season. I’m trying to race all of those at or below a 9 minute mile. But I did get a new PR and nabbed some unofficial 10 mile and 10K PRs during this race, so felt like it was a strong foundation.