Sunday, September 29, 2013

Busy Babes Half Marathon 2013

My sister, who recently got into running, sent me the link to her 10K for which she had been training.  The race also had a half marathon and it was only $20.  TWENTY DOLLARS!  How can you not sign up for a race when it's only $20!!!

But things got complicated leading up to the race.  First, I found out Dave was going to be in San Francisco for work this week and would not be back in time for the race, which meant I somehow had to figure out how to run it and do something with the baby.  Luckily, my parents were going to spectate my sister anyway and agreed to watch the baby.  And because it was such an early morning, I just spent the night at my parents house.  Secondly, I had a really tough time recovering from the 40K last week.  I was so sore at the beginning of the week I could barely walk.  And by the end of the week I was still hobbling.  Lastly, I have been battling really, really bad shin splints that may or may not be a stress fracture.  Running on pavement was probably not a good idea.

I put on my big girl panties, sucked it up, and did the race despite all that.

The race was small, maybe about 30 people and totally laid back.  Like, the start finish line was a chalk line on the path.

But, for a small race in only it's second year, I thought it was pretty well organized.  The miles seemed spot on, there were a good amount of water stops (though understaffed and not at regular intervals), and pretty good swag (shirt, medal, grab bag).  The only down side I saw was there was only one port-a-john on the course and it was only at the turnaround for the half marathon course.  This was an all-women's race.  There needed to be more port-a-johns.

Anyway, the start of the race was almost a little too casual.  They didn't give us any countdown or any warning.  We were all just standing around talking, back from the start line, when the DJ (yes DJ) said, "3,2,1, go".  Oh!  Okay!  And then we were off. 

I ran with a girl for about a mile, who eventually won it, and then I was all by myself for the rest of the race.  Like really alone.  The girl who won it went about 2-1/2 minutes faster than me and then the girl behind me went 5 minutes slower.

I hit the first mile in 8:30, which is right where I wanted to be.  Having done no speed work and having shown in my training that I still have no speed post-baby, I expected to be around a 1:50 for this race.  But then my second mile was low 8:00s and then I started flying.  I was actually dropping 7:30s pretty easily.  I was ecstatic!  I haven't hit paces like that since I had the baby!  This pace continued until maybe mile 9 or 10 and then I started getting tired.  My pace slipped to around the 8:00 range, but I was still doing good and knew I would be around a 1:45. 

My finish time was 1:44:19 for second place overall.  While I am happy with my placement, I am even more excited with my time.  I have had a hard time getting my speed back post baby, but this race was a great improvement.  Not where I was before baby, but certainly getting closer.

My sister and her friends had a great time at their first 10K and even invited me into their pictures.  I am so excited that my sister is enjoying running.  She has even hinted at maybe doing a half marathon next year.  It's so fun to share this experience with her and I hope we have more races together soon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hocking Hills Indian Run 40K 2013

We watched the weather all week.  It looked like it was going to rain overnight on Friday and maybe on Saturday morning.  What should we do with the baby?  Sure the race started at the lodge, but what fun would that be for either Dave or Anderson to be stuck inside the lodge during my race?  We would have to leave for the race around 6:00am; could we get Anderson over to my parents' house before we needed to leave?  Could we make a morning decision?

The day before the race I checked the weather one last time and it said 70% chance of rain race morning.  All morning.  Crap!  I called my mom and before I even asked her anything, she giggled.  She already knew that she and Dad would be watching the baby all night long.  We were leaving the baby all night at Grandma's and Grandpa's.  This was a big step for us and I wasn't sure I was ready, but it was really, the choice we needed to make.

And what a good decision it was.  I was awoken that night by POURING rain.  It didn't stop either.  I woke up and it was raining.  We drove to the race site and it was raining.  I lined up for the race and it was raining.  And it kept raining the ENTIRE race.

I mean, if you're going to do a trail race it should be in the mud, right?

 This wasn't a big race, maybe 40ish people, so I started conservatively in the middle of the pack.  But not a mile into the race I discovered I was running second female with first place right in front of me.  For the next couple of miles we traded places until we struck up a conversation around mile 5 or so.  And she was nice and I thought, "you know Meredith, you haven't made a whole lot of friends being super-competitive".  So we talked and we ran and talked and ran.  And before we knew it we were done with the first lap, refueling our packs, heading back out for our second loop, and sharing first place.

As I mentioned before it rained this entire race.  The ENTIRE race.  There were several races going on too: 60K, 40K, 20K, 10K, 5K, all of them sharing the same course.  So the second loop was more congested and more muddy.  This course had a lot of road running, something I was not expecting.  Mile 3 and 15 go down, down, down, down, down to the point it hurts and you'd rather walk downhill.  Then you make a left onto Steel Hill which goes up and up and up.  I hiked this hill both times.  You stay on the trails for a while which are fire trails, nice a wide, and my new friend and I could run beside each other and talk.  The last part of the loop is pretty technical with lots of single track and roots and switchbacks.  The second time around this was messy and around mile 21 I just kept sliding down a hill until I fell.  Thank goodness it wasn't a hard fall this time and my new running friend waited on me.

We ran the whole 24+ miles minus two uphills two times.  We crossed the finish line together in a time of 4:05:19 (9:54 pace) for first and second place females and 6th and 7th overall.  I asked if they could give us a tie, but they said no.  In the end I guess my time was a fraction faster, so I won the race.  But, really we tied. 

With the win in this race I set one of my "super secret running goals" from my 13 in '13 list, which was to win a race.  I'm kinda liking this trail running stuff.  It really suits my running style.  I'm looking forward to a few more longer trail races this year.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tunnel to Towers 5K 2013

I have a goal to run a race, regardless of distance or type, in all 50 states plus DC.  Before we went on vacation this year we scoured the internet to find a race.  Of course, in Hilton Head there was a race the week before and the week after we were there.  But I was able to find a 5K in Savannah, Georgia, which was somewhat close by.  So, Dad, Dave and I signed up in advance.

As it turns out, Savannah might be close in miles to Hilton Head but it takes a whole hour to get there and you have to cross this monster.

This was a pretty big 5K, in a state and place I've never raced, but wouldn't you know I was lined up right next to a former Trakkers teammate?!  What a small world.

As soon as the race started my legs said no.  It was like my brain was saying run and my legs were saying, "are you crazy!"  But things started moving and I was feeling okay.  I missed the first mile mark so I have no idea what was my pace.  The second mile was so cool.  You ran down this really long road and there were tons of boy scouts and girl scouts out there all holding pictures of firefighters who had died in 9/11 and everyone was waving little American flags.  Because I wasn't taking the race all that seriously, I made sure to slap high-fives with all the kids.

The third mile was full of twists and turns through the cobble stone streets and all the different squares.  Somehow I made it back to the start line where Dave was waiting for me and we waited for Dad.  My finish time was exactly 23:00. 

There was quite a good (not nutritionally) spread at the finish: hot dogs, beer, soda, etc. Of course, at 8:30 in the morning it tasted amazing.  The results were quickly posted.  Dave finished 5th or 6th in his age group.  I was fourth, and dad won his age group.  We stuck around for the awards.  I thought I might have a chance to get pulled up into the age group awards since the winner of my age group finished second overall.  Wouldn't you know they only gave first overall and nothing else overall?  So, I finished 4th in my age group.  Shucks!  And my dad, well, he didn't really win his age group.  I guess when I signed him up I accidentally signed him up as a female.  Woops!  We waited an hour for the awards and got nothing.  We could have been sitting on the beach.  :) 

Overall, it was fun and I picked up my 16th state!!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Running on Vacation

No rest for the weary when training for long races and on vacation.

Our very first full day of vacation I wanted to get in another 20 miler.  My only rule for vacation is that I got to sleep in and well, that was pretty stupid as I didn't start the run until after 10:00am and it was already hot!!!

 This is my, "I'm hot and it's only 8 miles" look.

Dave was my navigator and carried all my water and gels for me.  (My parents were watching the baby.)  It was so nice to have company.  I miss him riding with me during my long runs.

Lots and lots of refreshments.  Late in the run I actually stopped at McDonald's and added a lot of ice which I put down my shirt and into my water.

The run was long and I suffered through a lot of it.  I might pacts with myself that I could drink every half mile, or that I could stop when I reached the next mile marker.

When I reached the unexpected bridge I stopped, turned around and declared, NO!  I'M NOT GOING!!!  But I sucked it up and went anyway.

At 18-1/2 miles we were in Coligny Square where there were dancing fountains, and well, I joined all the kids in a refreshing dance through them.

Finally we were back in the neighborhood where we were staying.  We got a little lost, I finished the run, and then jumped on the back of Dave's bike to ride back to the house.  I did not want to walk one more step.

Jen Harrison-ing after the run.

I did a 10 mile run a few days later and had a great run.  At least it was redeeming from this sub-par 20 miler.  And then I ended the week with a 5K race.  More on that in another post.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

TFL and Shin Splints

You would think after 12+ years of endurance racing that I would be a little smarter.  I thought because I ran through my pregnancy and kept myself mostly in shape that I would have no trouble transitioning back to running.  I guess I forgot that my body had changed shape; I'm still carrying around 10 extra (stubborn) pounds; and really I was walking 10 miles a week, not running.  And for a while I took it slow, but then I quickly ramped up my miles and I started to get aches and pains, niggles and jiggles.  The pains have not gone away and my mileage has started to slip.  I've got big, long races coming up and I'm a little nervous.

I first started noticing some pain in my left hip.  This pain is pretty usual when I reach higher mileage (40ish miles per week, for me) and I had been to the doctor and PT before about it so I kinda knew what to do.  I would ice and do some exercises, but the pain wasn't going away.  So I went to the doctor who sent me to PT (duh) who told me I had a weak TFL muscle.

I went to a session of PT and was given a better explanation of exercises and stretches.  I've been doing them and the old hip seems to be getting better.

However, I kept running through the hip pain which means I was favoring one side, which of course means things started to hurt in other places.  And that's how I developed some bad shin splints in my right leg.  Further complicating the pain in my shin is the fact that I got a bad calf cramp in the same leg while I was running on vacation.  So, I basically have pain from my ankle to my knee on my right leg.  Awesome.

I'm taking my running slowly and carefully.  I'm icing and stretching and strengthening and doing some cross training.  My running has moved to the elliptical and treadmill for softer surfaces.  Hopefully things will improve soon so I can keep up with my training and racing schedule this fall.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A&F Challenge 5K 2013

My sister has recently taken up running.  This, of course, makes me so excited!  So when she asked if we were doing the A&F Challenge and if she could run it too, we jumped at the chance.  The thought was that I would race it, Dave would run with the stroller since he had just done his half ironman, and Amy would probably run with Dave.  But when it came time for the race, I was just feeling like I wanted to have fun, so I decided I would run with the stroller and with Amy. 

I didn't wear a Garmin and there were no mile markers, so I have no idea how we were doing.  I was talking Amy's ear off and in her own way I think she was telling me to shut up.  :)  We stayed together until maybe a quarter mile left.  I tried to get her to race me to the finish, but she was not having any of it.  I finished the race in 29:05, which was just fine and fun to push the stroller and hang out with my sister.  Amy finished closely behind me with a new PR of just under 30 minutes.  And Dave, that daggone Dave, went out and blasted another PR of 20-something.  Anderson just hung out in the stroller feeding himself a bottle.  He's a pro at racing already.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm Back

Because of the nature of my job, I spend a lot of time on social media and can easily get sucked into it.  I try, very hard, to watch what I say online as you don't know who is reading it and how it might affect others.  However, social media is a tricky thing as everything is written/typed and sarcasm, anger, happiness, etc. cannot always be easily interpreted.  A few weeks ago I put a comment on a Facebook status that was meant to strike up conversation and not controversy, but instead I got a nasty little email from the person basically, in a word, bitching me out for everything I've ever written.  What was said was very hurtful and kinda shook me.  I needed a break from social media.

I had planned to write every day in September.  I had/have lots to talk about.  I needed a little break and I think I will continue to kinda stay away from Facebook and Twitter (although I love me some Instagram), but I love my blog.  I love to write about my adventures and my little peanut.  So, I'm back.  And I have lots to write about.  Stay tuned for race reports (I'm running 4 races in September!!!), something I'm calling Operation: BAMF, a little injury I'm nursing, and pictures and stories from our vacation.