Week Two of Training

I had to make some changes to my plan. This week we had a sick household.  Everyone, but the dogs, got ‘the crud’.  M had a low-grade temperature for several days, so we were the good parents and kept her home from pre-school and kept ‘the crud’ all to ourselves. The good news is we all are over ‘the crud’ and ready to face week three with all cylinders firing at maximum power.

Week Two Workouts:

Sunday: Off. It was supposed to be 8 miles, but ‘the crud’ and a minor hive outbreak made things a little tough. The latter is getting overly exhausting.

Monday:  6 miles

Tuesday: 6 miles and one hour spin class (HIIT workout) — Did not do the spin class.

Wednesday: 5 mile run with a 16lb weight vest and 1 mile 15% incline walk with 16lb weight vest

Thursday: Started off with hives, but did my circuit training, which breaks down as follows:

Each round of exercise is done 3 times for 40 minutes with 20 second recovery then 60 minute recovery between each round. This week was about making friends with the floor for plank position and push ups. Here are the exercises:

  1. Round One
    • Grab a step (like the ones they use in step class) with 2 or 4 rises for each side or a low bench, stand to one side then place one foot up on the step towards the middle, bend to 90 degrees, jump up and return to bent position. Keep the landing light, soft, as quiet as you can. Keep your form, break when you need.
    • Bent over rows
    • Down the floor, plank position, execute a push up. If you cannot do a push up with perfect form, then do a modified push up with perfect form. Return to plank position, then right leg, knee to chest, then another push up, then left leg, knee to chest. Repeat as many times as you can. Remember you form. Form is most important.  If you do the modified push up, move back to the plank position and then knee to chest and back down. No harm and dropping to modified or starting at modified push ups. We all start somewhere, we all have our weaknesses. With that said, we are all stronger in another area. So, don’t get down on yourself if you can’t maintain or start with a push up.
  2. Round two
    • Back to Step, straddle it, bend over and place hands on the far end of the step, then jump your feet up onto the step, landing on your toes and back down to the floor. Controlled and soft landings.
    • Deadlifts
    • Down to the floor for swimmers. Lay on your stomach, leg out (feet a little wider than hip width, arms out in front of you) pull your chest and hips off the floor as high as you can. Both arms and legs up and down as fast as you can while maintain the distance you just pulled up off the floor. This works your hamstrings and back.
  3. Round Three
    • Squats with overhead press
    • Down to the floor, again. Back to plank position for ‘around the world’. From plank position, lift left arm, left leg, right arm, then right leg. Repeat. You can do a left arm/right leg lift then right arm/left leg. If needed, go down to your elbow and perform the ‘around the world’.
    • Front raises, keep your stomach contracted, if needed place one foot slightly in front of the other to protect your back or bend over.
  4. Round Four
    • Jumping jacks with 2.5 lb plate. Arms —  in and out for 20 seconds then arms up to should height and down for 20 seconds. As many as you can. The jacks with in and out arms may require a bit more focus then your regular jacks. 😉

Friday: 6 mile run with stretching. Later that afternoon, a 3 mile walk with my weight vest. The three miles broke out like this;

  • Mile one at 7% incline
  • Mile two at 11% incline
  • Mile three at 15 % incline

I wanted to run 4 miles at a 4% incline. But I toned it down to just sweat at low intensity and work the cold out of my system.

Saturday: Rest day — FAMILY DAY 🙂 It included, Christmas shopping, ‘The Incredibles’ with puzzles, building blocks, play-dough, M barking out commands to Abby and time as family piled on the couch. I’m amazed how two adults, one toddler and two large dogs find a way to fit on the couch. At nap time,  J & I watched the Alabama Football game. Roll Tide! Yes, I am from the north, but I married a man from Mobile, AL.  When ‘Bama is on, I’m watching the game. I have no complaints. ZERO. When the Pats are on, he is game for watching it with no complaints. The joys of being married. Compromise. 🙂

My mileage was a wee-bit better. I did not like cutting out my spinning class, but the chest congestion really made cardio at high rates a wee-bit tricky.  The circuit training suffered do to the chest congestion, so I made the next day’s cardio a bit easier.

The weight vest training went well. Honestly, 16 lbs is a walk in the park, but with the cold the double session was tough. If you are starting out with a weight vest, stay within 2 to 5, maybe 8 lbs max for a few weeks. Work on your form. Weight carrying while running requires very good form and knowledge on how to use it. If not, you will end up with some or sever lower back pain.

There are many items to consider when purchasing a weight vest for running and other workouts. I will write-up a post later this week on the one I use and why. It’s been my lifesaver when training to carry M up and down mountains.

Week One of Training

Oh, it’s that time again. Time to start building for hiking, rock climbing, training for two half-marathons, a 5k for a local SPCA and a Thanksgiving run or race.

Week One Workouts:

Sunday: Easy 6 miles

Monday:  Stretching, Hatha Yoga.

Tuesday: 4 miles and one hour spin class (HIIT workout)

Wednesday: 5 miles, stretching

Thursday: Circuit Training, which breaks down as follows:

— Each exercise is done once, but 3 times for 60 minutes with 20 second recovery then 2.5 minute recovery between each exercise. Here is the exercises:

  • Curtsy lunges with 5 lbs plates in each arm raise up to shoulder height on down of the lunge.
  • Bench Presses
  • Star Jacks
  • Bent over rows to shoulder shrugs.
  • Squats with barbell
  • Crabs with altering hand and foot.  Get into the crab position, like you would if you were ‘crab-walking’. Contract your abs then Left foot to right hand (feet and hand meet in air above belly button) then right foot left hand. Make sure to keep your hips up and abs contracted. The stronger you get the easier it becomes, but NO, DEFINITELY NO, V shape from shoulders to knees. If you are at a V shape, strengthen your body. You can do so by raising your left hand, then right leg, then left hand then right leg. Just remember keep you hips up and stomach contracted.
  • Band strap jacks.
    • Place a resistant band around your ankles, bend knees, jump out and in (like you are doing jumping jacks) Straight knees do build nothing. Bend like a squat, out and in, as fast as you can, remained as low as you can for the full 60 seconds.
  • Deadlifts
  • Burpees with jumps. Oh yeah, my second most hated exercise saved for the end, dead arms, dead legs. All mental. As many in the 60 seconds as you can. Jump as high as you can.

Friday: 6 mile run with stretch and home yoga.

I took 8 classes in college my second to last semester before I graduated. I took one class, yoga, Hatha to be more exact. It was how I kept my sanity with a loaded semester. Through that class, I learned a ton enough to run my own class, so home yoga is focused and  highly structured.

Saturday: Rest day ——> FAMILY DAY 🙂 Play Day. Enjoyed our normal route,  we do very Saturday, no plans, just play and spend the day as a family. I can say it involved some play-dough, tons of dog kisses, buildings made out of blocks, walks, and Mickey Mouse Musketeers.

Overall, not a bad first week. I was a little sore Friday and Saturday. For week one and starting training this week was basic and will be built upon every week. My mileage was very low this week, but it was needed to allow my body to adjust other exercises. Basically, this week and week two (maybe week three) will be used to help my body rebuild its cellular function for increased exercise, intensity and duration.

Wicked 10k Race Weekend

This weekend is summed up as the weekend of firsts. First time, running with someone during a race, first time meeting L (after 7-8years of emails, phone calls and texts), first time not really training for a race and first time just running a race for fun. A weekend full of firsts and every single one of them were great.

I did start off training for this race with a goal of breaking 50 minutes. It is rather doable, in fact, I believe I can get down into the 48 minutes, but a few urticaria outbreaks and a really bad chest infection made training or any type of physical activity problematic. I was out for a good solid 3 weeks. In addition, my friend, L, PR’d her half marathon the weekend before, so we both needed a good solid fun run.

The Wicked 10k is held in Virginia Beach usually the weekend before Halloween. The course is flat (of course, its held in southeastern Virginia!) and finishes along the broad walk with an ocean view to your left.  You can find out more about the race, here. You can expect to see many racers dressed up in a wide variety costumes. Those who choose to dress up can be entered into the costume contest. If you choose to participate in the costume contest it takes place before the race and at the post-race party. You can check out some of the costume winners at the Wicked 10k Facebook page, here. There was live music playing during the race and the bands are good. You definitely will have a few zombies hanging around the course, so watch out!. Truly, a fun Halloween race.

The race is run by J&A Racing. They are the owners of the Shamrock Marathon Weekend. I have run many of their races and most of them numerous times. J&A Racing runs the Big Blue 5k, the Shamrock Marathon Weekend, Wicked 10k, Santa 5 Miler, the Crawlin’ Crab Half, and the Harbor Lights Festival. All the races are held in the southeastern part of Virginia, better known as Hampton Roads. I have never had one complaint about any of the races I have run by J&A Racing. Packet pick-up is easy and the vendors present are great. Many of the vendors are local companies and depending on the race, you will find a few military foundations at the expos. Race day is well-organized, corals are managed and water stops are well maintained. You can find more about J&A racing and the races they run, here.

Several weeks before the Wicked 10k, L and I tried diligently to figure out a costume. After all the brainstorming, we came up with not dressing up. We decided instead to support a newly founded non-profit organization that supports Special Operations Forces (SOF) military dogs called Warrior Dog Foundation. The foundation helps find retired or injured dogs that cannot return to service homes, helps those dogs injured in service recover and is home for those dogs that cannot make the transition into family life. Their organization website can be found, here.

There are many ways to support this organization. Here is how…

  1. Catch up on some reading and learn about what these dogs do
    • Trident K9 Warriors: My Tale from the Training Ground to the Battlefield with Elite Navy SEAL Canines by Gary Brozek and Mike Ritland
      • Here is a link that will give you may options from reading to listening  (portion of sales goes to the foundation)
  2. Sport some logo gear…
    • Find logo gear, here
      • Just a side note, to-date, there is no size chart. I have found women sizes run a little small. I am normally a medium, but passed that along to L. L normally wears a small, but the medium worked for her.  Men’s shirts are pretty true to size. J had no problems. In addition, material is good quality and there is no shrinking after washing. The company that makes the shirts is Forged, another great US company, find out more about them, here.
  3. Make a direct Monetary Donation
    • There are three main pillars for donation, K9 Outreach, Education and Handler and Gold Family Support. You can find a link on the top right corner below the menu bar on their website or you can click this link to make a donation. The organization uses Paypal for direct donations. If you like to support your USPS service, you can send checks to Warrior Dog Foundation, PO box 2450 Denver, CO 80201.
  4. You can send them items they need. As a former worker of a nonprofit organization, I suggest reaching out to them directly. You can do so via this email address, info@warriordogfoundation.org. I make this suggestion because you will know what they need and use. You will not purchase and send items they do not use or cannot use. Keep in mind, not everything can be used and most of the time organizations get overloaded with certain items and not enough of other needed items.

Before, moving back to the race. Remember to keep your receipts for Uncle Sam, especially the last two listed item, since they are tax-deductible. 🙂 There are numerous reasons to support this organization, whatever your reason is any action helps even if it is just helping to spread the word. For our family, our reasons are close to our hearts and those close to us know most of the details.

You can find the Warrior Dog Foundation on Facebook, here. Instagram photos, here. Twitter, here.

Race Day had a rather uneventful morning, which is great! M woke up with little hassle and J got his cup of coffee before leaving the house. Not bad for starting the morning at 5 with two of the worst morning people, I know. We arrived at the race start around 7 in the morning. Parking was easy and well-organized. We were able to park near the Virginia Beach Convection Center, the location of the starting line. L and I did some warming up and J got a picture of us before we headed to the starting line.  And yes, we got some blue paw print socks. If you would like a pair yourself, here is the link. They are not compression socks, but they stay up and keep your lower legs warm.

L & I before the race
L & I before the race

One of the nice things about this race is the corrals. They are actually managed and each corral has a gap of one minute. The race is rather large about 10,000 participates this year, I think. We started in corral two with Wonder Woman, the Playboy Bunny, Forrest Gump and numerous other characters. J was with M near the starting line and captured the beginning of the race.

Skelton Biker
Skelton Biker
Skelton Biker
Skelton Biker
Can’t miss those Wicked 10k Arm bands
Team Hoyt

The race was rather uneventful. L and I kept a pretty set pace around 8:50 minute miles with a two stops at two of the three water stations. We passed some zombies, live music, some dancers performing “Thriller” and numerous costumes. With the costumes,  if you can think it up — it was there. L & I finished our easy run in  54:58 on a beautiful day for a run.

At the finish
At the finish

We wrapped up the race with a picture with the King Neptune Statue. You don’t fly from California to Virginia Beach oceanfront without stopping by and taking a picture. Even though, it adds about a two-mile walk after a running 6.2 miles. 🙂

All and all, a great race followed by a long run of 10 miles that put my weekly mileage at 30. Not a bad way to start into training for hiking season which starts the first week of November. I decided to add two half-marathons to the “to-do list” one in February and the other March. Also, to that list I added not letting another 7 to 8 years pass before seeing L, again. In the meantime, may the fun times of training begin….

Here is one of my favorite costumes from the race. Fabulous job. You can find a clip of this costume at the after party doing some dancing on the Wicked 10k Facebook page.

My Fav Costume
My Fav Costume

Lastly, I can’t have a post like this without the pups …Here’s one with L, Abby, Gabe and I.

L & I with Gabe and Abby
L & I with Gabe and Abby


First Race in a long time, 10K

A 10k after not racing or training for about 2 years. I decided to enter the Elizabeth River Run 10k race with only 4 weeks to train. Yes, I guess you can say I like a challenge.

My overall goal was to break 50 minutes, next goal break 52 minutes, next goal at least get a PR which means breaking 54 minutes.

I had to set my goals that way.  With only 4 weeks to train, those in the running world now its more like 3 and half weeks of training. It’s not a lot of time to train for a my first goal of breaking 50 minutes, but if everything else clicks with training then the latter two were definitely possible.

I used a some training that my dear friend sent me. Here is the link. It’s strictly for 10k training. I picked out a few workouts. I did 2 speed workouts a week. I will say my most enjoyable, yet hated workout was the 2 mile repeats at goal pace. Yup, I was cursing the latter way through that workout. But it helped set my mind and body for what needed to be done.  What can I say, I like a working hard.

The race went well or at least rather well. I ended up slowing down on the cobblestone road during the run, which made me sacrifice time. I lost some confidence during that part of the race, which lasted with me for about a mile or so. That was enough to put me behind my first goal. BUT…

I ended up with a time of 51:28, which is a PR of 4 minutes.

Yes, there is room for improvement, but overall I nailed 2 out of 3 goals in less than 4 weeks. Not to shabby…

My next race will be another 10k in October. After 2 and a half months of hiking in the mountains with a toddler on my back. I am hoping to break 50 minutes. I will have about 6 weeks this time to train. I am hoping for better results.

My favorite image from the race…

Moments after I crossed the line...
Moments after I crossed the line…

There is no better way to end a race with PR of 3 minutes then to get a big hug from your favorite little girl in the world.

I placed 7th out of 50 in my age group. Not too shabby.

Turkey Trot 2012, The Riverfront Swim Club

I did it! Finally! I broke the 25 minute mark. I have obtained a goal that I’ve been wanting for over a year. I cannot begin to express how happy and overwhelmed I am with it. The confidence boost in my running is amazing. I wasn’t sure how the race would turn out since I have been doing my runs on the treadmill while DD napped. Road running and treadmill running are different, both have their benefits, but when it comes to racing… road running prepares you the best. 

The other great thing about this race is that it was in our neighborhood and all the money went to our local animal shelter. As animal lovers, we were happy to help. DH walked with DD for race. I will say I love the fact that DH, DD and I did something together, but not really. After I finished, I went to find my family and finish their race with them. 

The race was small but well organized and we will do it again next year. Hopefully, I will beat my time…. oh and that time was 24:33. Yes, that’s over 30 secs faster than my best 5k! 

YMCA Suffolk 5K

I ran my first 5k in over a year. I cannot believe it has been that long, but with being pregnant racing wasn’t on the table. I did run throughout my pregnancy, which was fun and helped for labor.







The race was less than 10 miles away, so I thought why not. I was ready to get back into racing, the only issue was having to figure out the logistics of breastfeeding my daughter.  Many would just pump, bottle it and be off. That would be great, if my daughter would take a bottle. Yes, we have tried everything under the sun, but she just does not like it.

So, we were up early to get her fed, changed and everything else done. We got to the race early, so I could feed her again. This way I was not running ‘full’.

The race was not what I excepted. We ran on grass, clay and the road.  This grass was not like the soccer field grass, it was clumps of grass. I thought I would fall and break and ankle. Luckily, I did not, but I slowed my pace to run through the grass area.

I felt pretty strong throughout the whole race. I finished at 25:02, 2nd place for my age group. Not to bad for my first race back.

I am hoping to get go sub 25 minutes in my next 5k.

Run on the Wild Side 5k

Another 5k with a goal of going sub 25 minutes, I missed it by 17 seconds. An overall time that is worse than the race running on grass and clay! It was mainly, because I started out too fast and did not know the course. The latter had more to do with it, but they never posted the course. Beginner errors, but oh well.

This race started at the Virginia Zoo and was an out and back loop. Overall a nice morning run. We are getting a bit more streamlined with getting M up feed, changed, etc and feeding again before the race.

Mile one — 7:44 minute mile, a little fast, but not something I couldn’t handle, but I knew I needed to slow down.

Mile two – 8:30 with water stop, a little slow, but I thought I could make up the different.

Mile 3 – 8:15, I spent this mile deciding on when to open my stride, I did so a quarter-mile out, but that was too late.

I finished at 25:17, 3rd in my age group, 50th out of 500 runners. Not too bad, but I missed my goal. I have decided to take June and July as months to train, pick up my weekly mileage and add some intense speed work.

We spent the reach of the morning and early afternoon taking M through the zoo. She loves the giraffe and black bear exhibits.

Running Pregnant

Yes, my running shoes are still collecting some miles.  The first several weeks of my pregnancy, I really didn’t accomplish much of anything.  However, I did become the master of sleeping at all times of the day.  Around week 11 or 12 hit I was gaining strength and manage to head out for a few runs.  Of course, I got the okay and ground rules for running while pregnant from my doctor. I was a little nervous to do it with the early issues in the pregnancy, but after the lengthy conversation with my doctor my fears were reduced.

Running while pregnant is quite unique. I have given up running for mileage while on the treadmill. Instead,  I try to complete between 35 to 65 minutes.   Since, I am running at a slower rate completing the idea of multiple miles seem a bit daunting.  This is simply, because going from running an easy pace 845 mm to 1100-1130 mm makes a mile seem much longer than it really is.  Running on the treadmill has given me the benefit of getting water bottle refills.  I have my trusty Ultimate Distance Fastdraw Hand-held bottle for when I am out on the road, which is usually empty by the time I get home.

I am still running with Abby, when the summer weather is manageable. We head out for our early morning runs (430 – 5am). We  run about 3 to 5 miles. She has improved her cardio and focus. We still have a few hiccups in the first mile, but once she gets going she is hard to convenience its time to call it a day.

The only complaint I have with being pregnant is this heat and humidity.  120 degrees of heat and humidity is just not fun…

Ukrop’s 10K Richmond

This race was not on my list this year. I came across this race on http://www.runnersworld.com during a video that was describing some 2011 races to look into.  The video got me interested, so I headed over to the race’s website read through it. Proceeded to check the calendar and noticed a Saturday race, not Sunday. Oh, this would be nice. Sunday races are great, but they make Monday morning a little tough. So, this race would give us an extra day to relax before the work week began.  So, I scheduled in the Ukrop’s 10k only 2 weeks after the Shamrock Half.

This race is in Richmond, Virginia around the VCU area. Packet pick up would be a challenge, since we live 1.5 hours away and there is no packet pick up on race day. To me this is unusual for a 10k race, but after attending and running the race, I fully understand why there is no race day pick ups. We picked up our packet at 8:54 PM on Friday, the last day and 6 minutes before closing.

I did get to walk through the vendor area and speak with the Runner’s World table. I picked up some products for their rwchallenge in Chicago and Philadelphia. Wished the runner good luck tomorrow and was off back home and in bed shortly after walking through the door.

Saturday morning, the alarm went off at 0430. I didn’t move out of bed until 0445. I repeated my morning routine before race day. We were out of the house on the road up to Richmond by 0540.  The ride up wasn’t too bad. I believe I dosed off and got some extra zzs while my husband drove up.

We arrived in Richmond around 0715 and found parking very easily.  We walked through Monument Park where the race ends and saw a large amount of runners and some very creative costumes. A few of my favorites were the canoe/crewing team, and the bowling pins with bowling ball. As, we made our way over to the starting line to find my “H” seeded corral. I got shocked by the length of the starting line.  I knew that there was about 40,000 runners/walkers last year, but once I was there I grasped how long the starting line is for 40,000 +  people.

I must congratulate all the workers and volunteers for how smoothly the starting line went. Each corral moved up to the starting line in an orderly fashion with a visible clock countdown for when the runners could start and the excitement within the corral was great. I was in the “H” seed, which started 8 minutes after the first group started the race. I was seeded with other runners that excepted to finish the 10k (6.2 miles) between 53:00 to 54:00 minutes, each of us had qualifying times to be in the “H” seed and the max cap for my corral is 750 runners. Great rules.  As the clock ticked to 8 minutes and as the other corral was moving out of sight, the rally for our corral began to take form and before I knew it — we were off.

I was one of the first waves of runner in my corral to cross the starting line. I rather be able to set my pace and have the runners behind have to work around me than me having to move around runners while reaching my pace and settling into the run.  My dad the cross-country runner and still running 5 miles a day, taught me that at my first 5k race when I was 10.

As we moved through the first mile,  I was feeling great. My goal was to finish with a time of 52:00 or better. My husband believed that I would and could break 50 minutes, but I was not so sure that would happen. At the end of the first mile, I as at 8:10 minute miles (mm) and feeling confident that 52 minutes was in reach. I got to pass numerous monuments along the way up to the turn, which is shortly after mile 3, but before the 5k mark, a.k.a, half way.

Mile two went by with little struggle. I noticed I was passing more runners, I check my watch at mile 2 marker – 7:59 mm. I made myself back down a bit, I still had 4.1 miles to go and I didn’t want to burn out at the end.

Ah, mile 3 — the turn — went rather well. By this time, the runners were somewhat thinned out, so there was not much a pace slowdown during the turn.  I crossed the 5k mark at 25:18, a PR for me for a 5k. Mile 3 marker was back to a good strong pace of 8:13. I began to think maybe, just maybe, my husband was right.  On the way back, I got to see the other runners across the median. Holy smokes! A sea of runners dressed in black and yellow. I never felt that I was running with that many people.

Mile 3 into 4 came and went. During this mile, I got to see the bowling crew perform a perfect strike in the median.  Everyone was having a great time. Other than seeing the bowling team, I was in a total daze and rhythm that I would not have even notice I ran another mile. If it was not a big yellow and black sign saying mile 4, would have never heard my watch beep for the minute pace for the mile. I decided not to look at my watch and just continue forward. I felt great and really didn’t care what my watch said.

Mile 4 to 5  went the same as the mile before. I heard the cheering, claps, and cow bells, but not one struggle, not one negative thought crept into my thoughts. At the 5 mile marker, I looked down at my watch and my total time was 40 and change. My first thought was I can do this, I can beat 52 PR and possibly break 50. Mile 5 was the slowest with a pace of  8:18. Later I realized, I was 2 minutes and 58 seconds faster than my half marathon time. Not too shabby — even though it does make sense why its faster than my half pace, but still its faster than any other time I completed 5 miles.

Heading to the finish line was great. I heard more cheering and saw a large crowd of people. This is where I ran into my first issue, NON- RUNNERS where actually on the road and crowding it. I almost ran into someone trying to cross the road. Really people, walk the  additional few blocks and cross the road where you aren’t interrupting the race.  I was lucky and didn’t knock them down or get knocked down. I completed 6 with an 8:07 pace.

Now, I am only .2 away from the finish line. I picked up my pace and pushed through the finish line. I saw the clock over the line tick to 58:44 – subtract the 8 minutes from that since I started 8 minutes behind the first pack.  50:44, Official time was 50:42, a PR for a 10K race, and sorry dad for saying this — its one minute faster than your fastest 10k in the last two years!  🙂

My Total Placement

Overall place 3,673 out of 33,322 runners

Gender Place 883 out of 20,261

Division Place 222 out of 3,368

Overall this race was very successfully, not only because of my PR, but 41,360 (runners and walkers) crossed the finish line in an orderly fashion just like they started. The roads were packed with cheerleaders of all ages. The finish line party at Monument Park was great. I got to ‘introduce’ myself to Bart Yasso and get a picture with him. He is such a gentlemen and always has an encouraging word.  His training plan is one reason I have been able to succeed on both races this year. I missed out on meeting some of the Runner’s World team, but there is always Philly.

Even my husband enjoyed the race from the sidelines. Below are some pictures taken at the race.

Shamrock Half Marathon (a little late)

2011 race season has begun. I can’t say it started off on the best note, but the first race is crossed off the list.

My day started at 0445. I was up early to walk and feed the pups, make some coffee and breakfast for my cheerleader and for myself – hydrate and fuel. We left the house shortly after 0530. The race is about 45 mins away and well, finding parking will be a bit of luck. And since, I am part Irish – luck was on our side. We found parking with little effort and close  to the start, yet closer to the finish line.

I signed up for corral 1, which was for runners with an excepted finish line time of sub 1:50. The keyword in that statement is “excepted”.  Finding the corrals was not a problem at all, just slide in line and follow the mass of runners ahead of you.  The wind was very active and since it came off the ocean (the start is only 2 blocks away from the beach) it was cold. While fighting the wind all the runners packed closely together and played our parts as the announcer talked, pumped us up and gave the countdown, just after the National Anthem.

What you may or may not know. The Hampton Roads Area is a highly military populated area, so it would not be an event without honoring our men and women and Old Glory.

The first several miles went well. At the 5 mile marker I was at 42:07, which is a 8:25 minute mile, half marathon completion time 1:50:25. Great, one of 3 groups of 5 completed. I breakdown the 13.1 miles into 3 sections, 2 five milers (total 10 miles)  and a 5K (3.1 miles). I was feeling great, strong and confident.

Remember that wind while waiting to start the race. Well,  the wind was not much an issue during the first 6 miles, give or take some meters. The wind was blocked by a good amount of trees surrounding the road on both sides. It wasn’t until we hit mile 7 shortly after making the turn into Fort Story that I noticed some cool refreshing air.  The road we were on while inside Fort Story is parallel to the ocean with the ocean on the left side . Yet, has the ocean straight ahead.  The road curves around to the right as it continues through and exits the base. This makes it so ocean the is always on the left, but that’s not until traveling about a mile 1.5 run, again give or take some meters, straight into the winds coming off the oceanfront. Fun times! I maintained pace, I live by a riverfront, which is just as windy, so I was prepared for the wind. It wasn’t a wind that makes your feel like your ‘running in place’, but it was gusting. I ran most of that leg enjoying the view of the waterfront.  It’s a calming part of the race for me. I look out to my left side and see numerous cargo ships coming in or out and the various wildlife in the sky or on the sand-mounds. (I don’t call them dunes, because they aren’t that big to me).  Of course, I passed some military members cheering us on or just guiding us through the base.

I passed mile marker 7 and 8 feeling great. Then heading out of the base around mile 9.5. I started to have a mental block that was building in the back of my thoughts and noticed some discomfort in left calf. At mile 10, this discomfort came straight forward with a sharp “quick” cramp in my calf that shot right up to my hamstring. The words “crap, shoot, dang it” (formatted for PG-13) came to my mind.

I fueled with GU chomps at the last 2 water stops. GU Chomps require 4 chomps to make a full serving.  I break it up into 2 since  its difficult to eat or swallow 4 chomps at a time. Unfortunately, as of right now,  these chomps are the only item I have tried out of 10 that does not make me sick/upset my stomach while running.

I had to slowdown and stretch, getting hurt was not an option for my first run of 2011. At that point, I decided to make it to the finish line with very little stops and problems. I continued through mile 10 with a pace of 9:05 and at mile 11 I was at 8:47 and feeling alright. I just wanted to get there, so I picked up my speed and fought through mile 12. When I made the final turn on the broad walk, I pushed my pace to finish strong or as strong as I could.

I crossed the finish line at 1:54:31. Not the time I wanted, not the finish I wanted, but unlike the others who don’t have the courage or guts to make it to the starting line or quit during the race — I crossed the finish line. I felt pretty proud of myself. I have replayed the race over and over again. There is nothing different I would have done. I ran the race, I trained for. Sometimes, there are unexpected things that happen that make runners have to dig deep and realize that today was just not the day.

So, my lessons for my next half marathon on May 15th. Is to find a different fueling product, go out a little slower to be able to power through the mental block that may come up. I will train with more confidence, a few new mantras and the knowledge that sub 1:50 is in reach. Oh, and the next several weeks of training with require some massive hill training. The Marine Half in Fredericksburg as some nice big long hills. The hardest ones are at mile 11, nicknamed “Hospital Hill”. There is a hospital at the top, hence the nickname.  The last battle is within the last mile a runner will have to re-climb the hill they enjoyed some much in the beginning of the race — getting to the finish line will be earned.

Below are some images taken during the race.