a good year

Happy New Year, folks!

I am thoroughly enjoying my time off and perfecting my “lady who lunches” routine.  Next Wednesday is going to be cruel and painful.

First things first – RTLR turned 2 this week!  For those of you who have been reading from the beginning – (1) kudos, (2) thank you, and (3) you deserve a tall cup of coffee or a stiff drink (your choice).

I wouldn’t be a proper blogger if I didn’t reflect back on 2012 (in terms of running, of course).  If I could sum it up in one word?  WOW.

What could be better than kicking off the year with the Boston Marathon?!   90 degrees or not, it was an amazing ‘experience’ (due to the heat, the B.A.A. refused to call it a race but instead an ‘experience’).

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this picture says it all…

My Christmas ornament from Matt this year…

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After Boston, I ran my first “ultra” (50K) and discovered that running on grass isn’t as fun as it was when you were a kid.  But…ultras ARE fun!

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After that came a 5K, 2 HMs, and the Rehoboth Beach Marathon – all PRs (thank you, ultra training).  Some were surprise PRs and others (err, RBM) were I-could-have-done-better-PRs.

I also learned some things along the way:  (1) when in a rut, run an ultra and (2) drop waaay back on mileage during drop back weeks.  In the past I don’t think I was cutting my mileage back enough to really absorb the benefits of my training.

Your turn to brag!  Tell me about your best (or favorite) 2012 race or maybe something you learned about running in 2012?

Mandatory Rest Week

8 days, no running
I always take a week off from running after a marathon.  I highly recommend it.  It’s obviously a much needed mental and physical break but an added perk is you begin to crave and miss running again.  That generally happens around Day 5 for me and I force myself to hold on for 2 more days.

This time around 7 days turned into 8 because I stayed up late Sunday night to watch the True Blood season finale.  This season was a little strange, no?  Thank god for Eric and Alcide or I may have stopped watching.

Looking ahead…
Today I eased back into running with 6 miles.  I felt great, aside from the humidity.  I may do a 5K soon (what?!) to see where I am speed-wise.  My last speed workout was Broad Street back in May.  I do have 2 HMs this Fall – Philly RnR in September and Philly HM in November.  I’m toying with the idea of doing the Runner’s World HM in October.  I haven’t pulled the trigger yet though.  Bottom line – if I want to PR in any of these HMs, I need to get back on board with speed work.  Sigh.

Final thoughts on the 50K and ultra running in general
Official results were finally posted and I came in 14 out of 25 overall and 3rd out of 6 females.

I think it’s always good to wait a few days after a race to assess how you really feel about it.  That way, you know you’re not making rash conclusions and your judgment isn’t clouded.  So what did I think?

It’s such a different experience than the marathon but I liked it.  Really liked it.  As long as there is no grass running.

I train by myself so the whole running-in-the-woods-by-yourself-with-no-spectators was OK by me.  I’m used to it.  It was like a very long training run.

I love that walking is completely acceptable as is eating actual food.

I love the low-key atmosphere.  Think of how much mental energy you expend before lining up for a big race.  The logistics of getting there, parking, bag check, waiting in line for the porta potties, and getting to your corral…it’s exhausting.  And don’t get me started on the expos.  For the 50K I waited in my car until 7:50 and walked about 50 feet to to start line.

The girl that finished 2nd came in at 5:15.  I didn’t show up until 5:54.  Where else can you have that much lag time between runners?  Side note on the girl that finished 2nd:  I did some stalking and found out she has a blog.  She’s a 3:15 marathoner and a cancer survivor.  She’s only 36.  WOW.

I definitely can’t wait for my next ultra (already planning on a 50-miler!).  But it won’t be this year.  I want to relax a bit and just run HMs for a few months…and give my legs a break.

If you watch True Blood, what did you think of this season?

Do you like big races?  I do Broad Street (a logistical nightmare) and Philly RnR every year.  It’s tradition…I have to do them even though every year I say never again…

 

inal ultra thoughts 2nd place girl

Turkey Swamp 50K Recap

Remember how I said a 50K isn’t a real ultramarathon and I felt silly calling it that?  Well, forget that, I’m an ultramarathoner!

Let’s start at the beginning and I promise to get to the good stuff quickly.

The weather was perfect.  At the start temps were in the high 50s!  Talk about luck being on my side.  50s in August?!

The course…oh my god, the course.  I ran 12.5 x 2.5 mile loops, with the first loop being 3 miles.  That’s already over 31 miles.  And the 2.5 mile loop wasn’t so much 2.5 miles.  I knew going into this race that there was a strong possibility of running over 31 miles.  Turns out all the 50Kers ran about 32.4 miles.

The course consisted of…

1.  a dirt road – no issues there

2.  trail running through the woods – I was OK with this too; everything was well marked so my fears of getting lost were put to rest.  The trail had some tree stumps in areas which required some fancy footwork.  Bonus – I didn’t fall once!

3.  grass running – about 50% of the loop was grass running (a la Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie, although I wasn’t nearly having that much fun).  The grass was long, the ground was uneven, and it was slow going…like running in sand.  I detested this part of the loop.

After each loop you had to cross over the timing mat in order to count your loops.  More on this later…

After the first loop I knew it was going to take me awhile to finish.

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loop 2 or 3, heading towards the timing mat

The race for the most part was uneventful.  Loop after loop passed and I felt alright.  My legs were more tired than normal because of all the extra effort on the grass portions.  There was just so. much. grass.

Around Mile 24 or 25 (?) I asked Matt (my awesome 1-man support team) to find out from the race timers how many loops I had left.  Doing the math from my Garmin, I figured 2 full loops and then the 1/2 loop to the finish line.

I already knew the course measured long.  The guy that won the 50K told me (as he lapped me again) that I should “be prepared” to run at least 32 miles.

So imagine my surprise when I find out that I only have 1.5 loops left (after mentally preparing for 2.5 loops).  OK, well I guess my Garmin is measuring short?  While everyone else’s Garmin is measuring long?

Me:  “Really?! Are you sure?  Oh my god, that is the best news I ever heard!!!”
Matt:  “Yes, that’s what the race timers told me” (not sure of his exact words but it went something like that).

I cannot tell you how happy I was.  I bid adieu to the grass and finished my last full loop with a huge smile on my face.

As I neared the timing mat (about to start my 1/2 loop to the finish) Matt’s face didn’t look so happy.  Turns out the race timers were counting wrong and everyone got the awful news that they had to run 1 more FULL loop.

I wish I could say I handled this well.  I was pissed.  F-bombs flew.  How could they mess up?  Mentally it was a HUGE blow.  1 more FULL loop + the 1/2 loop to the finish.  F$%k!

I was exhausted and I was starting to get hungry.  I walked for a bit to regain some composure and forged onward for some more grass running.

Somewhere out in the grass field my Garmin clocked 31 miles in 5:38.

I crossed the finish line in 5:54, running 32.4 miles, 10:57 average pace (Garmin stats).  I’m slightly annoyed that 5:54 will be associated with a 50K even though it wasn’t a 50K.  But that’s how these races go and I need to get used to it.

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so happy to finally stop running

After I crossed the finish line the race official shoved a small trophy in my hand and says “you were 3rd female, congratulations”.  What?!  It was hard to tell where everyone was but I thought I was bringing up the rear of the 50K for sure.  There were some speedy men and women out there.

Full disclosure:  the field was very small (see pic below) and I counted 7 women total, including myself.  Official results haven’t been posted yet but I do know 1 woman dropped down to the marathon distance (there were 3 other races besides the 50K).  So 3rd place out of 6 isn’t so impressive but I’ll take it!

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the 50K was a lonely race

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ultramarathoner

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with my 1-man support crew – thanks Matt!

This race was definitely my toughest – tougher than Boston in the heat.  I completely underestimated how much trail (and grass) running slows you down.  I definitely need a lot more experience running “real” trails before my next trail race… which isn’t anytime soon. For now, I am going to savor my mandatory rest week and enjoy the post-race high!

Live Greater

It’s race week!

My 50K is Sunday and I’m more excited for this than anything…

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payback for a hot Boston Marathon

My legs feel fresh and my mental state is sound with only minor fits of taper crazies.

My list of items to pack is made and I’ve been prepping Matt about what he’ll need to do for 5+ hours.  He’s a lucky guy. 

I’m excited at the prospect of running further than I ever have before.  I feel silly calling it an “ultra” even though it technically is.  In my mind (and from what I’ve heard) real “ultras” are 50-milers and beyond.   

I’m not discounting the toughness of those last 5 miles (more like 5+ miles, since the course historically measures long).  No matter how many marathons I run, I’m constantly humbled by how far 26.2 miles really is.

I have some new inspiration though, something to repeat when the going gets tough…”live greater”. 

I have mentioned numerous times how much I love my college, St. Joseph’s University.  Love may not even be a strong enough word.  Obsessed?

Anyway, SJU launched their “live greater” campaign – during the Olympics no less – and the commercials are brilliant.

I love the title — “When Good Enough Simply Isn’t”

I have never been more proud to be a SJU alum. 

To an outsider the commercial may seem cheesy and a little Brady Bunch-esque but it’s an accurate representation of my 4 years there. 

So now I have the prefect mantra to help propel me during those last 5 miles. 

See you on the other side, folks!

Just What I Needed

Two days away, no running, some easy hiking, some sleep, time with Matt, dinner and drinks with family, and lots of Olympics watching is exactly what I needed to snap my mind and legs out of their funk.

Matt and I headed up north this weekend to the quaint town of Milford, PA for his birthday. Never heard of it? Either did we. It’s just south of where PA, NJ, and NY meet and right near the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area so there are lots of trails to hike. And the town of Milford is very pet friendly so Hawk was able to join us.

Before we headed north on Friday, I got my long run out of the way and it wasn’t as miserable as expected given how heavy my legs felt last week. 18 miles at 10:00 average pace. Done and done.

Our weekend in pictures…

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Very late on Saturday night (after many drinks) I was faced with 2 options: (1) sleep in and watch the women’s marathon once I got home (and avoid all social media on the 2+ hour trip home) or (2) get up at 6AM and watch it live. Option #2 won and it was well worth the lack of sleep.

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Amazing

London Olympics Athletics Women Marathon
Also amazing

The men’s 10,000 meters wasn’t bad to watch either!

Did you watch the marathon live or sleep in?  Or don’t care?  Is that possible?!

Taper Talk

I thought that once I started to taper for this 50K, I would feel better and relax a bit.  Instead my motivation has hit an all time low. 

Last week was my “peak week” of training and I hit 60 miles.  A good chunk of that was my marathon training run.  After that it looked a little something like this…

26.2 (yeah!) –> 10 (my legs feel great!) –> 6 (my legs feel OK) –> rest day –> 10 (crap, my legs are bricks) –> 7 (I should have stayed in bed) –> and so on…

My legs have felt beat up all week (hello, DOMS).  I’m not surprised; I generally take a week off after running a marathon. 

My motivation is also lacking.  I just don’t feel like running.  Plain and simple. 

We are going away this weekend so I’m scrambling to fit all my runs in this week so I can take Saturday and Sunday as rest days.  That’s rough and I’m just…cranky. 

I’ve also been up way too late watching the Olympics.  I though the Olympics were supposed to motivate?

Speaking of the Olympics, does anyone else think Ryan Lochte is a tool? 

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exactly…

Why is Ryan Seacrest at the Olympics?

Did anyone catch this hurdler’s pre-race routine?  You better win after that!

Ryan Lochte – like or dislike?

A marathon as a training run

This weekend I ran a marathon as a training run.  My last big run to kick off my 3-week taper.

I was a bit giddy at the prospect of running 26.2 as a long run but also dreading it at the same time.  Mother Nature has been relentless with the heat and humidity and I was envisioning a repeat of Boston…without the amazing spectators, ice, and sprinklers.

I treated the marathon as a dress rehearsal for the 50K.  I tested out my sausage casings groove shorts.  I bring a whole new meaning to wicking fabric.

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I was completely drenched by mile 10

I stuck to my hilly long run loop of 5 miles.  And around and around I went.  My car doubled as an aid station.

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Shot Bloks and salt – the essentials

My legs were tired at mile 15.

At mile 18, I questioned (1) why I was training for a 50K so soon after Boston and (2) why I chose to do a 50K in August.

I fueled every 4 miles or so.  It was a mix of Shot Bloks, PB crackers, and PB-filled pretzels (my new favorite).  Add in a little salt and over 100 ounces of water, and I felt pretty well hydrated and fueled.  If you include my post-run chocolate milk, I consumed around 1350 calories.  I took care of the 1250 calorie deficit with 4 slices of pizza and some Miller Lite.

I don’t care how many times you run a marathon, 26.2 miles is tough.  It was hot and humid and I felt spent at the end.  I could not run another 5 miles.  Not in that heat.  I kept thinking that if August 19th is a day like today, I won’t finish.

Then I remembered to never, ever listen to the craziness that creeps into your mind after you run a marathon.  You are delusional and not thinking straight.  You say never again and then, 1 week later, start looking for your next marathon.

I did finish…in 4 hours and 28 minutes.  5 minutes faster than my Boston time.  Hooray for heat acclimation.

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And, about those crazy thoughts, it sounds like someone is in desperate need of a taper, both mentally and physically.  Thank god it’s here.

Ever say “never, ever again” after crossing the finish line?  I said it after my marathon in 2007 and definitely said it after every 5K. 

Monday Updates

Blogging lately has been sporadic at best.  Either I don’t have much to say or don’t have enough time to string it together in a post (which is usually the case these days).

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So annoying and so true…so I will just stop right now with the OMG sooo busy!

Booty shorts
Last weekend I bought these:

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lululemon groove short

Normally I shun away from anything that may make my thighs look like sausages.  I was surprised with how flattering these look and how comfortable they feel.  So they are not technically booty shorts (compared to these), but I was a tad self conscious the first time I wore them (I’m already over that).  During the summer my shorts are stuck to me anyway because of sweat, so why not wear shorts that stick to you to begin with?  Makes more sense to me…

Olympics
OMG sooo excited!  The women’s marathon is Sunday, August 5 while the poor men have to wait until the very last day – Sunday, August 12.  That sucks.

50K training
This is my last big mileage week before the taper, which will be a 3-week taper this time around…as opposed to my 2-week marathon tapers.  I’m feeling really good and my legs are holding up just fine.

Last week’s training…

MON:  7 miles
TUE:  10 miles
WED:  6 miles
THU:  5 miles
FRI:  9 miles (9:27 pace)
SAT:  17 miles (9:32 pace)
SUN:  rest

54 miles total with most of my runs Garmin-free.  This weekend I’m attempting 26.2 as a training run.

Do you run in booty shorts (i.e., spandex)?

Which Olympic event(s) are you most looking forward to? 

The best laid plans…

…often go awry.

That sums up running for me this past week.

MONDAY
My alarm went off at 5:00 and when I lifted my head off the pillow, it immediately snapped back down.  I could not get up.  Normally I have no trouble getting out of bed for a run (I’m anti-snooze button) so when this happens, there’s definitely a reason for it and I better take a rest day.  So I did but cringed because it was an unplanned rest day.

TUESDAY – the heel incident
I ran 9 miles before work and felt great.  I had to wear heels for an hour on Tuesday so I switched into them at the very last minute, took one step with my right foot, and audibly yelped.  This is exactly why I hate heels and never wear them.  I shaked it off but felt some pain below my knee, off to the right side.  Damn heels.

WEDNESDAY
I was nervous about how my knee would feel on a run after the heel incident but I was fine.  Another 9 miles before work.  I wore my CEP compression sleeves to work (under my pants, of course).  I could still feel some slight pain below my knee later in the day.

THURSDAY
I had 4 easy miles planned but woke up with some lingering knee pain.  Damn heels.  Knowing that Friday and Saturday would be big mileage days my gut was saying rest.  Although my brain was saying it’s only 4 miles.  The gut always wins.  Unplanned rest day #2.  Ugh.

FRIDAY
I had 24 miles planned.  The rest of FRIDAY may be TMI for some so feel free to skip to SATURDAY.

I always use the bathroom before long runs, just like everyone else.  In rare cases, I can’t and it always comes back to haunt me.  I woke up Friday at 4AM and couldn’t use the bathroom.  I don’t know why – maybe it was too early?

My stomach started to revolt at mile 5.  I toughed it out for another 15 miles before I waved the white flag.  I felt amazing – no heel incident pain, no nothing.  I could have easily done another 4 miles.

Damn heels, damn stomach.

SATURDAY
I planned for 12 miles but ended up running 13.  Again, I felt so good.  My legs are finally warming up to the back-to-back long runs.

SUNDAY
Rest day (yes, another one).  Matt and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary a little early and I wanted to sleep in, spend time with him, and go to brunch.  I’m always running Saturday and Sunday mornings so it’s nice to get a day off once in awhile.

I can’t complain – although that’s exactly what I just did – I ran 51 miles in 4 days.  Was it an unexpected drop back week?  Yes, but I still got in some quality workouts.  And aren’t I supposed to be relaxed about ultra training?  Isn’t that what I said?  Please remind me of that.

Do you wear heels?  Considering I trip in running shoes, I should just stay away from heels altogether.  Aside from weddings and special work occasions, I never wear them.  I’m either in flats, running shoes, flip flops, or Uggs. 

My Strange Addiction

Apparently eating salt on the run is strange?  This isn’t a common practice?  Should I be on My Strange Addiction with people that eat couch cushion and sniff pine cleaner?

I did receive a few questions and it’s worth mentioning on the blog.

First and foremost, I sweat a lot.  When people say they are dripping with sweat, I literally am.  After last Saturday’s run, my shoes were soaked from all the sweat that poured off of me.  I threw them directly into the washer when I got home.

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I have come close…(via)

Second, I have visible salt lines on my skin after runs.  If I wear a black visor, you can really see it.

Third, that horrible hungover feeling generally haunts me after long runs.

My Shot Bloks contain sodium and potassium but it’s not enough.  I’ve tried Gatorade, Nuun, and salt tabs…still not enough.   I’m a serious sweater.

So last summer I brought in the big guns and went straight to table salt.  I was amazed at how much better I felt during and after a run.  I was hooked.

To clarify, I don’t stash a salt shaker in my Stow-N-Go bra.  I take a small amount of salt and put it in a baggie.  Every 5 miles or more, I eat a very small amount of it (small amount as in I dip the very tip of my pinky finger into the bag and eat whatever sticks).  I don’t mind the taste probably because I’m so salt-deprived.

Overall, I consume a small amount of salt.  Probably on par with runners that dip boiled potatoes in salt.  And I don’t use salt every time I do a long run, just on the hot and humid days.

I definitely attribute salt with getting me through Boston in one piece.

My advice would be to not jump to salt without trying other things first:  Gatorade, Nuun, salt tabs, etc.

Now you know my strange addiction…

I haven’t been recapping my 50K training consistently so here’s a look at last week’s runs…

MON:  4 miles Garmin-free
TUE:  8 miles, 9:52 avg pace.  Ugh, GI issues strike.  Once in a blue moon my stomach revolts.
WED:  8 miles, 9:22 avg pace
THU:  rest
FRI:  4 miles Garmin-free
SAT:  22 miles, 10:30 avg pace.  Hot as hell.
SUN:  10 miles, 9:54 avg pace

56 miles –> a new mileage PR!  Not by much though…only 1 mile.

Are you a serious sweater like me and rock the sexy salt lines post-run?  To clarify, I rarely sweat outside of running.  I’m more likely to be the person with a hoodie on in the summer.