Race report: ASICS & AskMen Summer Series 5K

Why do I sign up for 5Ks? They always seem like such an awesome idea until I am actually racing one. The ASICS & AskMen Summer Series 5K was no exception to that. As a matter of fact, when I finished I was happy with the idea of never running a 5K ever again.

It all started about a month ago when I was reviewing my marathon training plan and noticed that training paces progressed every six weeks to account for natural progress during training. Me being the person that I am and needing all things to be logical and justified decided that I should run a race that fit into my training around the time of the increase. I found the ASICS & AskMen Summer Series 5K and totally did not give any thought to the fact that it was an hour away by train, on August 1st which would likely be hot, and was going to be on an exposed stretch next to the windy harbor. Nope, I just needed that justification for pace increases so I signed up.

The week before the race

I was traveling the week before the race so my training schedule got a little wonky. I ended up training 4 consecutive days in the week of the race and was only able to get in one rest day the day before. I had also delayed a full body circuit until late in the week. Who doesn’t like a challenge, right? So the day before the race I did my best to rest and recover. My hamstrings were sore and tight and later in the evening my heel started to bother me. I was also nervous about the heat and wasn’t sure what time goal to shoot for given I knew I had progressed since my last race, but I wasn’t sure how much. I decided on 3 goals:

A: 28:00 (9:00 mpm)
B: 28:31 (9:10 mpm)
C: 29:02 (9:20 mpm)

My “A” goal was based on a reasonable assumption of progress since my last race, “B” was a little less improvement, and “C” was based on my last race time. All were adjusted for an expected temperature of 76º using Jack Daniels’ VDOT Running Calculator.

The morning of the race

The morning of the race was pretty uneventful. I woke up just before my alarm at 5:15 am, ate, showered, dressed, did a little bit of stretching, then went to pick up the car. Drove down to the course, picked up my packet, checked my bag, and sat around for a bit waiting to warm-up. My warm-up was 2 miles at easy pace and I felt okay. I added a couple of 10 second strides in at the end just to remind myself what running fast feels like. Made a last minute pit stop and then hit the chute. I lined up in the crowd about 10′ back from the start line. The race director ended up popping in right next to me after making his announcements which was kind of neat.

The race

The air horn sounded and we were off. I crossed the start 5 seconds after the horn. I was mixed in with some fast runners and was running a 7-7:15 mpm pace for almost the first quarter mile. After blowing off that steam, I settled into a ~8:45 mpm pace. I knew I was running faster than anticipated, but I was trying to run by effort and figured if I crashed and burned later, at least I tried. There was a pretty significant headwind going on and I was a little nervous about effort going out, but told myself the awesome tailwind on the way back (it was an out-and-back course) would help me through the second half. I told myself when I hit mile 2, I would slow down slightly and recover a bit from the first mile before the last mile.

My race strategy was go out hard, float for the second mile, then push it home for the last mile. I found it difficult to slow down for some reason. I feel like sometimes I forget how to not push. I have noticed this on training runs, as well. At any rate, I was keeping an ~8:45 pace until mile 1.55 where we turned around. I slowed for the turnaround and the water stop directly after. By 1.7 miles I was back up to the ~8:45 pace.

Halfway point
Turning around at the halfway point.

Steve Prefontaine once said “The only good race pace is a suicide pace and today looks like a good day to die.” (I’m no Pre, but you really can’t argue the man’s logic given he never lost a collegiate 5K or 6K race.) By mile 3, I was definitely feeling like I was making a valiant attempt at suicide pace and a mile never seemed so long. Early in the mile I looked at my watch to see my race time and realized that even if I trotted the last mile at ~10:00, I would meet my “A” goal. But I didn’t slow and didn’t stop pushing even though it was feeling very much like a suicide pace. There was heavy breathing, some involuntary grunting, and a few people that passed me looking way to comfortable. One guy passed me quite easily and when I offered him a “good job” and commented on how effortless he looked, he told me he took it easy during the headwind before galloping off like a gazelle. I’m pretty sure that man was not running a suicide pace. Anywho, mile 3 was long and hard and to add insult to injury the sun decided to come out full force for the last quarter mile. It’s cool, I like a challenge.

Just before mile 3, I noticed a woman running off my shoulder. She definitely looked like she was running a suicide pace. I told myself that we would push each other through. Then she slowed down. I encouraged her to keep up, but around that time I noticed that two running team peeps were at the finish cheering for me. I picked up the pace and pulled away from the other runner to sprint through the finish. My last .11 was run at 7:16 pace. As I passed my cheering teammates, I threw my hands in the air and yelled to them “it’s gonna be a PR!!” I saw the clock and realized that I had totally shattered my PR goal. Final time: 27:16–43 seconds faster than my “A” goal.

Finish line
Crossing the finish line.

Race stats

Official finish: 27:16
Pace: 8:48/mile
Overall: 77 of 198
Age group (F 30-39): 8 of 37

Weather: Overcast, 75º, 66% humidity, 10mph wind

-Mile 1: 8:41
-Mile 2: 8:55
-Mile 3: 8:52
-Last .11: 7:16

Garmin distance: 3.11
Last comparable race (6/4, 3.2): 29:37, 9:03 pace

Marathon training: Week 4

Um, HOW IS WEEK 4 ALREADY OVER?! Seriously y’all, this is going way too fast. Just 14 weeks until the New York City Marathon! This week totally flew by. Maybe because I ran four consecutive days. Say what?!

So last Sunday, I recapped in last week’s update. Postponed my run to Monday to get some time in with friends in Chicago. It was totally the right choice and I had no regrets when I went to bed late Sunday night after flying back in to NYC late.

Monday I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck. I’m not sure whether it was the travel or what, but I felt horrible. I skipped my run and worked from home. All day I was pumping myself full of good food, vitamins, and trying to rest up. It worked pretty well because by that evening I was feeling so much better.

Tuesday morning I hopped into my first quality session of the week. It was a doozy: 1 mile warm-up, 2 x 2 miles at threshold with 2 min recovery, 4 x 200 with 200 recovery, 1 mile cool down. I could tell for the first mile or so that I had been off of running for two days, but once I hit my groove I felt really good. It was 80º out, but the heat didn’t bother me much. I think the long run in Chicago in feels like 93 heat caused some adaptation, if only mentally. I continue to run my 200s (about 5 seconds) too fast which concerns me a bit. Really got to try to get those right.

Threshold + speed work in 80 degree heat
Threshold + speed work in 80 degree heat? Sure, why not?! It actually didn’t feel too bad after what felt like 95 during my last long run. 1 mi warm up + 2 x 2 mi threshold w 2 min recovery + 4 x 200 w 200 recovery + 1 mi cool down = 7.3 miles. And a very hungry lady!

Wednesday morning I went out for the 4 miles easy that I had postponed from Sunday then had to skip on Monday. The weather was nice and cool — 70º and low humidity. I felt grateful for such a great run. I had intended to do a circuit this evening, but lost track of time so I postponed it to Thursday morning.

Catching up on miles this morning.
Catching up on miles this morning. Got my 4 in that I had to postpone on Monday (originally scheduled for Sunday). So glad I got out there this morning because the weather was gorgeous! 70 degrees and low humidity. Right hamstring tendons got a bit angry towards the end.

Thursday morning I had another 4 easy miles on deck and the weather again was lovely. I did a pretty tough 45 minute full body circuit after my run then 15 minutes of gentle yoga. By the time I got to the yoga, my muscles were a little twitchy. After 2 hours of workouts, I was feeling kind of spacey while making breakfast despite having ate a little before my run (about 100 calories) and a protein shake between my run and circuit. On the way into the office, every stair I had to climb during my commute was acknowledged. Haha. Luckily it was a busy day in the office so while I was a bit sleepy, the day went by quickly.

Four miles easy
Four miles easy followed by a 45 minute strength/core circuit and 15 minutes of gentle yoga. Might move Saturday run to tomorrow since I race on Sunday. Not sure about 4 consecutive days of running, though!

Friday was supposed to be my rest day, but since I planned to race on Sunday (and was trying to PR) I decided to get my 3 easy miles scheduled for Saturday in early. I went to bed super early on Thursday night and got a little over 10 hours of sleep so I was feeling really refreshed. My body was quite sore from my circuit the day before, but not enough to affect my gait so I went for it. Had an unpleasant run-in with some dudes in a van pulling the slow down from behind and say stuff to me creeper maneuver, but otherwise it was a lovely run to the East River and back. When I got home I realized that my butt is so sore from my circuit that it hurts a little to sit.

Three easy miles
Three easy miles on a beautiful Brooklyn morning. Was super sore from yesterday’s full body circuit and had an unpleasant exchange with some dudes, but otherwise it was a lovely run. Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow then my 5K on Sunday!

Saturday was a rest day in preparation for my 5k on Sunday morning. I was hoping to PR so I took extra care during the day to rest and recover. Throughout the day I had the normal rest day creaks and tiny aches. At one point I walked down to the store in some flip flops without any cushion and found that my left heel was bothering me quite a bit. Additionally, my hamstrings were still pretty sore from my full body circuit on Thursday morning. That evening I did some gentle yoga, foam rolled, massaged my feet, and put on compression socks before bed. Had a little trouble getting to sleep because I was so anxious about my race. It was supposed to be mid-70s and humid and the course is fully exposed so it didn’t seem like ideal conditions for a strong PR which is what I was hoping for. I won’t ruin the end of the story, by telling you how it went. You’ll have to wait for for my race report which I will be posting shortly–or you can just check my Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Total weekly mileage: 26.4 miles
Total training time: 6 hours and 44 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Long run mileage: Moved long run to Sunday, 8.12 completed in 3 segments (2 mi, 3.11 race, 3 mi)

Last week’s total weekly mileage: 21.9 miles
Last week’s total training time: 5 hours and 46 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Last week’s long run mileage: 7.9 miles

Marathon training: Week 3

Week 3 done, 15 to go! I feel like this week was actually 2 weeks because of how much I packed it into it. It was a busy week, for sure, and I am proud that I was able to mostly stick to my plan.

On Sunday, I got in my 3 mile recovery run after my Saturday long run. It was uneventful and in moderate conditions–75 degrees with 61% humidity. After the run, breakfast, and a shower, I headed over to the spa for my first ever massage. It was a 60 min sports massage, most of which was spent stretching. She managed to work out the glute/hip issue that I have had for the past week or so. Once she got to the actual massage, she told me that my legs feel like they are in pretty good shape (likely because the 15-20 minutes of yoga that I do after every run), but my back is all kinds of tight and out of whack. She recommended a deep tissue massage to work the kinks out of my back.

Monday evening I did a nice full body circuit that included some single leg deadlifts. I really need to work on these more. It was evident that my ankles and hamstrings could use some strengthening.

Tuesday is a quality workout day on my training schedule which the past two weeks has been speed work. This week it was a marathon pace run. Three miles at marathon pace, one mile easy, then another three miles at marathon. It was 76 degrees out which was warm, but not brutal. The workout took an hour and eleven minutes which is a bit long to fit in before work, but I made it work since the evening was going to be much hotter. That day at work I was pretty sleepy from 4 consecutive days of workouts.

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Seven miles before breakfast. Three at marathon pace, one easy, then three more at marathon. 76 degrees and 51% humidity… Not too bad for this time of year, but still hot!

Wednesday I should have done a circuit and a bike session, but skipped them. My hamstrings were still pretty sore from the deadlifts on Monday so I gave them a bit of a rest. That night I saw Foo Fighters at CitiField and indulged in some booze and got to bed a little late.

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Waiting to get onto the field at CitiField to watch the Foo Fighters with my buddy.

Thursday morning I headed to the cardiologist to discuss the results of the exercise stress test and the two weeks of heart monitoring. She told me I am low risk for the marathon so I am cleared to run! That was an awesome way to start off the day. I was a little tired from the night before so I got in a nap before joining a friend for a nice big lunch. I headed out that evening at sunset for my 4 miles easy. The temp was close to 80, but it was super low humidity so it felt great. I surprised myself with how good I felt during the run given the shenanigans the night before.

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Four easy miles at sunset. I was concerned about this run being horrible after the rock show last night, but it felt easy. The view and weather sure didn’t hurt!

Friday is my official rest day and that morning I headed out early for the airport to fly to Chicago to visit some dear friends. I was going to try to get my long run in right after I landed so I didn’t have to worry about it Saturday, but my flight was late and by the time I got to Chicago it was already pretty hot. I tried to stay on point with nutrition and hydration as much as possible that day, but it was challenging since I was on vacation. I managed to do pretty good, but knew that I would feel the couple of drinks that I had during my long run the next morning. I did manage to get to bed at a reasonable hour and get a full 8 hours of sleep that night.

Saturday morning I got out the door before 8am and it was already soooooo hot. The temp was 86 with 74% humidity making it feel like 93 degrees! My schedule called for 20 minutes easy, 40 minutes at marathon pace, and 20 minutes easy, but somehow my recollection was 50 minutes at marathon pace so I got in extra 10 minutes in the crazy heat. I ran in Humboldt Park which provided some shade, but not much. I ended up creating a little loop that stopped by a water fountain that was constantly running with nice cold water. Every other loop I would pause for a few seconds to wet my face and hair. The heat was brutal. I was so relieved when the run was finally over and I got to walk back to the house. On the way back though, I was followed by some creepers in a van who hollered at me and circled the block. (I was staying on the edge of a “rough” area.) So creepy. I hopped into a gas station for a few minutes then headed back out down the opposite side of the road and didn’t see the creepers again. Back at the house, sweat was literally running down my arms and legs because of the heat. So gross.

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Almost 8 miles in Humboldt Park in Chicago. And it was HOTTTTTTTT. 20 min easy, 50 minutes at marathon pace, then 20 minutes easy. My pace was off by 30-40 seconds for most of the run, but that was to expected in this type of heat. I was just glad for it to be done!

Sunday I was supposed to do 4 miles easy, but decided to postpone until Monday. Sunday was supposed to be just as hot, I didn’t want to risk another run in with the creepers, and I wanted to enjoy myself on Saturday and not worry about my nutrition or having a couple of beverages with my friends. That morning I slept in and it was glorious. That evening just after landing in NYC, I finished the book I have been reading about the NYC Marathon, “A Race Like No Other.” I totally recommend the read for anyone who is planning to run (or who has run) the NYC Marathon!

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This photo contains some of my favorite people in the world! Had an awesome time in Chicago visiting these peeps.

Total weekly mileage: 21.9 miles
Total training time: 5 hours and 46 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Long run mileage: 7.9 miles

Stay tuned here for next week’s recap. You can also follow my training throughout week on my Facebook page and on Instagram!

Marathon training: Week 2

Week 2 done, 16 to go! I feel like it has been longer than 2 weeks, but that is probably because I have spent most of the past few months preparing for marathon training. I hit a few walls this week which I will get into more detail about in a bit.

Sunday I needed to get in 3 easy miles so I headed out the door first thing in the morning. I wasn’t really feeling like running after my long run the day before and after a week of hard training, but I got it done. I ran over to the East River and out onto a walkway that expands over part of it to add some interest to the run. Again, I definitely need to start thinking about new routes so I don’t burnout on the easy miles.

Monday morning I headed out early to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan for my Exercise Stress Test. It was an, um, interesting experience. I had dressed in what I thought was appropriately for the test: tech tee, sports bra, running tights, running shoes. Little did I know that this test is done TOPLESS. That’s right. I had to strip my top half so they could ultrasound my heart both before and immediately after the treadmill. The pre-treadmill ultrasound was pretty lengthy and intensive. It took about 10-15 minutes for her to get all the shots she wanted. There was lots of shifting of body position, breathing and holding, exhaling and holding, all with the x-ray tech wrapped around me on examining table and my top almost fully exposed. If I were a shy person I think it would have been very uncomfortable.

After the ultrasound, it was time for the treadmill test. The test has 5 stages, each are 3 minutes and increase in intensity via increased incline and pace. You stay on the treadmill until you hit your max heart rate and sustain it long enough to be winded. And of course I was hoping that wouldn’t happen in the 15 minutes because I am just so fit. Haha. So the treadmill gets going and I get to walking. Stage 1 comes and goes as does Stage 2 and Stage 3. I’m thinking the tech is impressed with my fitness based on our convo. The treadmill cranks to Stage 4 and instinctively start to jog, but the tech instructs me to walk. What?! So I try to speed walk the best I can. I can notice my heart rate has elevated to 90-92% of max at this point so I focus on my breathing and manage to control it long enough to hit Stage 5. Okay, Stage 5. Stage 5 felt like I was running up a freaking mountain. Which I have done, but maybe not at that pace for that grade. Stage 5 is 18% grade at 5 mph. Now, I have friends who could probably do this with a 2L hydration vest and at a much faster pace, but for me it was challenging. About a minute in, I hit my max and the nurse asked if I wanted to stop. Of course I said no. So I watched as my heart rate went into the red zone a few times and repeatedly told the nurse no when she asked if I wanted to stop. After 3 minutes, I had completed the stage and the test.

Immediately, I had to lie down on the examining table with my arms over my head for the tech to ultrasound my heart again. I was breathing heavily and sweating like a crazy person. The tech kept telling me to slow my breathing because she couldn’t see anything! After about 10 seconds, I got my breathing under control and we started the ultrasound–breathe in and hold, exhale and hold. This time the ultrasound only took like 5 minutes. Before I knew it, I was putting my top back on and heading out. Since they didn’t look freaked out or send me to the ER, I am assuming all looked good. I should hear from the doc next week. I skipped my circuit training that evening and opted to get in some rest.

Interesting side note on the BRUCE protocol test: You can calculate your Vo2max from this test. They didn’t do this for me, but I was able to find online how to do it. I was pretty impressed by my estimated Vo2max until I compared it to what I am actually racing at. The good news is that my lungs are great. The bad news is that I am not running to their potential!

On Tuesday I woke up and was feeling a bit worn out. I debated whether I should train or not especially since it was a speed day. I had forgotten to pick up my laundry the night before so I had to wait until the laundromat opened which got me to the track later than planned. It was 80 and 80% humidity and I felt like crap, but I told myself that if I got through the first interval after the warm-up and didn’t feel well, I would cut the workout short. The workout was long and complex: 1 mile warm-up then 1 mile at Threshold then a 2 minute recovery. Then it was 2×800 with 3:00 min recovery and 4×200 with 200 recovery followed by a 1 mile cool down. Total distance was 5.5 miles. The 800s were tough, but I was pleased that I got the pacing pretty close to expected. My 200s ended up being about 6 seconds too fast again. I really have to work on getting the paces down!

Running-track2
The track–more specifically lane 4–has become my Tuesday home.

Wednesday morning I planned to do a 60 minute cross training session on the bike, but discovered that morning that my back tire was flat so I skipped it. That evening I did my circuit training and noticed that my hip was still popping on my crunches. This has been happening for about 2 weeks now and as much as I try to stretch and roll my glutes and hip, I can’t get them to loosen up on my right side. I managed to get in my entire circuit, though.

Thursday morning I just needed 3 miles easy. Again, I was feeling pretty worn out, but since Friday is a complete rest day it was a little easier mentally to get out the door. My Garmin acted up for the first half mile or so which made me seriously consider just turning around and going home. (Yes, I was that fatigued and therefore my brain that fried.) I pushed through and ended up enjoying the last mile. I was super grateful to have a rest day coming, though. That night I went to bed early and slept 10.5 hours. I was still tired when I woke up on Friday morning.

Running-recovery
Feeling the need for lots of stretching and rolling already. Trying to take good care of my body.

Friday I rested. I met up with a dear friend after work and I indulged in some gluten in the form of a hamburger, a few beers, and some Indian food. I also got to bed much later than planned. Despite my best effort to salvage my Saturday morning long run by heading to bed as quickly as possible when I got home, I was sabotaged by some insomnia. I got about six hours of sleep with the help of a sleep aid.

Saturday morning a good friend ran over from Manhattan to meet me so we could do our long run together. I was scheduled for the lesser of 10 miles or 90 minutes of easy running. We planned to do my 4 bridge crossing route — over the Pulaski and Queensboro bridges and back. It was already hot at 8am when I left and I was tired. Surprisingly though, my body felt pretty okay. We kept a very easy pace, easier than I would usually run and tackled all 4 bridge crossings like champs. My friend was finished with her run before me so I tacked on about 6-7 minutes without her. I ran close to marathon pace which felt very easy even in the heat and after the 4 bridge crossings. After dropping her at the train and heading back to the apartment, I got in a good yoga session and got in a good brunch. I was very surprised at how good I felt all through the afternoon. I didn’t have the usual fatigue and need for a nap until much later in the evening. Around 8pm or so I started to crash, but that could have also been from a long day traveling to Jersey and being at a birthday party (eating less than ideal food) all day.

I ended the second week on a high note which was great. The entire week I felt a little worn out physically and mentally so it was nice to finish strong. I definitely want to try to figure out how to deal with the mid-week blahs of training. Next week I have 7.5+ hours of training on deck. That is all of my runs, post-run yoga, strength training, and cross-training on the bike. I don’t want to burn out early so will need to make a good plan of how to manage this load.

Total weekly mileage: 19.34 miles (20.9 planned if I hit my 10 on Saturday)
Total training time: 5 hours and 39 minutes (Runs, post-run yoga, and strength training)
Long run mileage: 7.57 miles (90 minutes was less than 10 miles)

Stay tuned here for next week’s recap. You can also follow my training throughout week on my Facebook page and on Instagram!

NYC Marathon training: Week 1

One week down, 17 to go! This week kicked off on Sunday, June 28th. I was scheduled for a 3 mile easy run, but since I thought I would have my exercise stress test the next day (and had just PRed a race before and had speed work the the day after the anticipated test) I decided to skip. On Monday morning, I went to the cardiologist expecting to get my stress test, but instead she took a baseline EKG and because of my arrhythmia asked me to wear a heart monitor for two weeks. I will get my stress test, but not until this coming Monday. My marathon clearance will come a week from this coming Thursday.

Running-HRM
My heart rate is live streaming to a monitoring center for two weeks.

Monday evening I got in a good strength and conditioning workout. Lots of squats and walking lunges both weighted and unweighted. Some weighted crunches, planks, supermans, pushups, tricep dips, bicep curls, and well you get the idea. It’s a familiar circuit and I realized halfway through that it was feeling pretty easy so I think it’s time to add some reps, a set, or some additional weight.

Tuesday I got in my first marathon training session–speed work! I headed over to the track bright and early for a mile and half warm-up then 8 x 200 meters with 200 meter recovery. I have never done speed work before so pacing for a short distance will need a little practice. I was supposed to be running 1:03s and kept hitting them at 0:57 until the last 3 or so which were within a second or two of target. It was super fun, though, as well as tiring. My mile and half cool down was pretty slow. That evening I indulged in a glass of wine while out with a friend for dinner.

Running-Track
Speed work on the track. I feel like a “real” runner!

Wednesday I took an unscheduled rest day. I was supposed to get another circuit in, but slept in that morning and then had dinner with a friend that evening instead.

Thursday was just five miles easy. I got them in before work. I was scheduled for 4, but wanted to add a mile from the missed three on Sunday. This run was nothing special and I think I need to find a new route for my easy runs. I am getting a little bored with the same thing every time. It was good run, I did feel a little tired, but I got in the miles. I got out of work early for the holiday so that afternoon I got in my skipped circuit and incorporated some different core stuff–mainly a lot bicycle crunches. That evening I was off the clean eating wagon again and had a couple of drinks.

Friday was a complete rest day! I went to Westchester to visit some friends who just moved there. We had lunch and again my clean eating was out the window and I had a beer. I knew I was going to pay for it and the three previous days choices the next day. That evening I got a good, clean dinner in and went to bed a little early.

This morning I got in my last workout of week 1! It was scheduled to be 9 miles easy, but again I wanted to add a mile from the missed three on Sunday. I met up with a friend of a friend (now my friend, too!) for a little jaunt over the George Washington Bridge and up the Long Path along the Palisades. I was definitely feeling both my food and drink choices from the week and Thursday’s circuit. But I got it done and with great company!

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We saw 4-5 fawn just off the trail head less than 10′ off trail. They were so sweet.
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From Rockefeller Lookout. That’s George Washington Bridge and Manhattan behind me.

So that was the first week! Tomorrow I have a short recovery run, Tuesday is more speed work, Thursday another easy run, and Saturday another long run and my schedule stays pretty consistent with that rhythm throughout my training. Monday and Wednesday will be strength and conditioning days as well as low impact cardio days. Fridays are full rest days and I am sooooooo grateful for those! Right now I plan to continue to run my long runs on trail until my mountain half marathon on August 1st. Then it is all road until November 1st!

I almost forgot to mention my PR last weekend! Last Saturday I ran the Front Runners Pride Run which is 5 mile race in Central Park. Last year I ran it and it was my longest distance to date. This year, I PRed by 8:21 with a time of 47:19. I can’t believe how far I have come in a year. I’ve put in the time and seems to be paying off. 😀

Total weekly mileage: 19.98 miles (20.9 planned)
Long run mileage: 10 miles (9 planned)

Stay tuned here for next week’s recap. You can also follow my training throughout week on my Facebook page and on Instagram!

Marathon training starts in a week!

Photo Jun 20, 2 48 39 PM

I’ve had a few people ask me about my training plan. I ordered it from RunSMART. The plans are based on training schedules designed by the legendary coach Jack Daniels. Jack Daniels is a two-time Olympic medalist in the Modern Pentathlon and world-renowned exercise scientist. He was also named “The World’s Best Running Coach” by Runner’s World. He has lead many runners to the podium over his long and successful career as a coach.

I have been loosely following his training formula since the beginning of the year with amazing results. I shaved almost 5 minutes off my 5K in less than 3 months after returning from injury. (32:55 to 28:06) It was a minute and 43 second improvement from my PR at the end of last season. (29:49 to 28:06) I’m sure some of my development has come simply from an increase in mileage over the past few months, but I don’t think I would have seen such dramatic results if I were still heart rate training. (I’m interested in taking out my heart rate monitor for a little MAF test at same point to see how that has improved!) Heart rate training certainly did me well for 2 years especially in regards to keeping me injury-free. Daniels Running Formula has not only built on that base, but is far less boring than HRT/MAF.

Daniels divides running performance into six components. Daniels argues that each of these components requires a specific training intensity to improve. Daniels uses five specific training intensities to improve the different components. A runner can determine the correct speed for each intensity based on the VDOT from a recent performance. There are many videos of him online where he says that you when you head out for a run you should always know the goal of that run–if you don’t, you might as well sit home.

His training plans are different from those you will find for free online. All of my workouts are created to work a specific system which means running at a specific pace. I have 2 “quality” sessions a week and the rest is easy running. For my marathon training I do not have any 20 or 22 mile long runs. I think the longest distance I do is 17 miles. Not all long runs are done at easy pace, though. Some are done at marathon goal pace so I can practice running at that speed. He also incorporates “bunched runs” which are long runs scheduled within 12 hours of each other. This is to reduce the risk of injury during training. I will get in at least one 20 mile bunched run during marathon training.

If you are interested in a customized training plan you can order one on the RunSMART project site. You tell them what days you want to run (at least 4-5/wk), your average weekly mileage, and at least one recent race result. It takes 5 business days for them create it for you. After it is created, you can add races into the online calendar and have it update your training paces based on your performance. If you don’t want to enter races, they do naturally progress your paces over time to account for development. (It’s kinda crazy to see my paces in October!)

There are plenty of reviews online, but the most compelling I found was at The Running Jones. He not only used it to get back into shape for a marathon, he ended up BQing by 21 minutes at the NYC Marathon. I’m not looking to BQ, but I certainly want to know that the time that I am putting into training is optimal. Marathon training is huge commitment so why leave it to generic training plan that may get you to the finish line, but may not get you there at your best?

Race Report: GLIRC Greenbelt 25K

It’s Tuesday night and I am headed to a bar in EV. It’s not typical that I would be headed to a bar on a week night. I’m headed there to meet up with a bunch of trail and ultra runners from my new running group, Trail WhippAss. After 2 ciders and a little conversation about race schedules, I have committed myself to my longest race to date–the GLIRC (Greater Long Island Running Club) Greenbelt 25K.

Pre-race

Mike (Stinkfoot & Chafe) picked me up around 7:15 am. It was a cool and grey morning, but the forecast was for sunny skies and a high of 77. It only took about 30 minutes to get out to the start in Plainview, NY on Long Island. Nestled in a small industrial area, the GLIRC headquarters provided a humble start to the race. We grabbed our bibs, got geared up, and headed to the start where everyone was very friendly and chatting about the course. The 50Kers had headed out an hour earlier so it was just 25Kers hanging out and waiting for the start. Pre-race announcements were made and me, Mike, and two of my friends, Natalie and Ash, lined up at the back of the very small pack of runners. The plan was to take it easy and treat it as a training run not a race. Most of us will be racing the Brooklyn Half Marathon just a week after this race.

The race

The beginning of the race leads out of the parking lot and onto a few roads before you hit trail. We were pretty much back of the pack with just a few people behind us. Natalie set a good conservative pace and I was feeling good. We hit the first aid at 2.16 miles right after our first road crossing. I wanted to stay on top of nutrition and hydration so I paused at the station to take some pocketfuel, drink some water, and refill my water bottles. The rest of the group headed off without me and I told them I would catch up. Back on the trail it took a little longer to catch up to the group than I had planned since I was taking it so easy. We stuck together at the next aid at 3.46 and headed up to the meadow at 3.76. In the meadow we ended up breaking up into two groups with me and Mike taking the lead. Mike and I stayed together for a short while. I’m not quite sure where we got separated, but he wasn’t very far behind me.

When I got to the Route 108 crossing (5.66 mi) there was a runner that was injured and I asked if he needed help. He asked if I could call headquarters to have someone pick him up. I had left my phone in the car, but Mike was headed towards us at that point so I asked if he could call. No reception. So we told the runner we would let them know at the next aid station and headed back out on the trail.

Course shot 1
I really wish I would have gotten good shots of the REAL steps that were to come. I was too focused on making my way through them, though.
Course shot 2
Some more of the more tame part of course.
Course shot 3
This and the meadow were may favorite parts of the course. This was heading out to the halfway point.
Course shot 4
Another shot of my favorite part of the course.

I knew that going into miles 6, 8, and 10 there were substantial climbs. What I didn’t realize was just how substantial. The substantial climbs meant there were some significant descents as well. At some points there were steps built which were a foot or two difference between steps. Following my typical trail race protocol, I power hiked the ascents and charged the descents–well, the ones that I could anyway. By the time I got to the halfway point at 7.86 miles, I was feeling good, but really over the hills. I was in great spirits and had been saying “good morning” to all of the hikers that I passed and cheering the runners that had passed me on their way back to the finish. I paused for a bit and ate and drank and chatted with the volunteers. After a minute or two, Mike appeared and made his way down to the aid station, too. I took my time eating and refilling my bottles and chatting. I had found out that the only restroom on the course was just a little walk next door to the library so I decided I should go. (It ended up being a quarter mile round trip.) By the time I got back, Mike was gone, but Natalie and Ash were there. They were also in good spirits, but also over the hills. The three of us took off together hoping to stick together for the mean hills. At the first good descent I charged down and before I knew it they were no longer behind me. At some point soon after I noticed that my knees were bothering me a bit, but I didn’t think much of it and kept pace. I was hoping to catch up to Mike.

Race shot
Feeling strong before the halfway point.
Race shot 2
Feeling good before the halfway point.

Just before mile 9, I caught a glimpse of Mike ahead of me on the trail. I gave a loud “YIP YIP” and he hollered back. I figured it would just be a few minutes before I caught up. But it wasn’t another minute or so before my knees really started to act up. It was the outside of both and it was a sharp pain so I knew it was my IT bands. My hips were pretty tight before the start and I had thought maybe they would loosen up once I warmed up. I stopped for a minute after the next road crossing just after the 10 mile mark to stretch my IT bands. There was an unmanned aid just a few hundred feet from there so I headed over to fill my bottles and take a salt pill. That’s when I saw Natalie and Ash. I gave them my other two salt pills and we took off for mile 10 together.

Course shot 5
Favorite part of the course, but on the way back. It was right around here that my knees started to really hurt.
Course shot 6
Roots anyone? Not sure how people were running through this part of the course!

Natalie set the pace and I tried to hang on. I was able to keep up with her for most of it, but my knees were really hurting. The downhills were especially excruciating and I could no longer run them. I just needed to get to the meadow at mile 11.66. The meadow is flat and from there it is less than 4 miles to the finish. “Where is the meadow?!” I kept asking with each turn even though the distance on my watch told me we still had a little while to go. Finally, FINALLY we reached the meadow. Natalie and I paused for a celebratory photo and to make sure Ash was still behind us. Ash and I took a couple more photos as Natalie ran ahead. With the end so close, she was ready to go.

Meadow selfie
OMG WE MADE IT TO THE MEADOW!!!

The next 2 or so miles to the last aid station were difficult. I was able to keep up with Natalie, but just barely. She got a little ahead of me, but I caught up at the aid station. I had to pee at this point so no bottle refill needed as I hadn’t been drinking much over the last mile or so. I did indulge in a few candies which were the sweetest tasting little slices of heaven. Since it was nearly 12:30 there was much more traffic on the turnpike that we had to cross. We waited several minutes to cross, but at this point we were getting near 4 hours on the course so I couldn’t have cared less. We finally crossed. Just 2 miles to go.

Through two fallen trees
No said anything about obstacles.

The last two miles were hell. No really. Every step I took while running hurt and I could barely walk down hills. As I hobbled down hills, Natalie pressed on. I could still see her, but there was no way I was catching her. I decided I would just walk until I got out of the woods or at least until I came across the next course marshals which happened around mile 15. I put on a smile and did a slow trot passed them, thanking them for coming out and volunteering. When I turned out onto the streets for the final half a mile I could see Natalie ahead of me. And then she was gone. The last half of a mile was downhill, then uphill, then downhill before entering the parking lot to finish. At this point all I could do was walk. As I headed back to the parking lot for the finish, a runner who was leaving rolled down their window and offered encouragement. And as I got within earshot of the course marshal directing us into the finish in the parking lot, he encouraged me to finish strong. He said, “if you start running now, no one will know you were walking!” I told him there was no way that was happening. I didn’t think my legs could even run at that point.

The finish

As I turned into the parking lot, the first thing I saw was my friends, Chris and Erik. They had surprised me and showed up at the finish. There was no way I could walk it in. I started to shuffle my feet. That’s when I started to hear everyone at the finish line cheering for me and saw that Mike, Natalie, and another trail buddy were there hollering with cameras at the ready. I felt a little silly that I couldn’t actually really run and made jokes as I hobbled in. I tried to push myself into a run, but my legs just wouldn’t do it. (And I felt a bit like I would fall over if I tried.) A man at the finish held up my medal and I felt my face light up. I shuffled directly to it with both hands reaching for it. Mike got a photo and I don’t think I have ever seen that level of joy on my face in a photo. It was pure bliss. It took me 4 hours, 15 minutes, and some change, but I got it done. Longest race ever (15.78 miles total) and most elevation change ever (2231 gain, 2267 loss).

Finish
Shuffling into the finish. My legs refused to work how I wanted them to, but I was still smiling.
Receiving my medal
So.freaking.happy.
Post-race selfie with friends
Non-runner buddies surprise me at the finish. Can’t even put into words what this meant to me!

Post-race

The next few minutes are pretty blurry. I know I hugged a lot of people and there were photos taken. I also heard there was beer and rushed off to grab one. It was a Yuengling, but it might as well have been the best craft beer that I have ever had. It tasted magical. By this time it had started to lightly drizzle. I stood in the rain and drank my beer with my friends. I didn’t want to keep my non-runner friends waiting in the rain so I headed out with them while Mike hung back to cheer in our friend that had run the 50K. I proudly wore my race medal to lunch where I enjoyed soooo much barbecue and a couple of beers.

After I got home, I started tending to my “wounds.” I iced and elevated my legs. I did some gentle yoga focusing on IT band stretches. Later that night, I laid on my back with legs up against the wall and massaged my IT band from hip to knee. I went to bed hoping for the best. I was a bit surprised when my I woke up after just 7.5 hours of sleep. Surely my body needed more? I gently rolled out of bed, sure that my legs were going to be stiff and painful. To my surprise, my knees felt pretty good and my only significant soreness was in my hips and glutes. Heading downstairs for brunch was slow going, but not necessarily painful. The human body is truly amazing.

Final thoughts

This is the second race in row that my body has “betrayed” me. Last week at Bear, I suffered from abdomen cramps and this time it was my IT bands. I now truly believe that “bad” races are the most rewarding experiences. I’ve learned so much about myself through the past two experiences and I wouldn’t take them back for the world. At the end of the day, it’s the heart not the clock that counts. I can try to convince myself that my finishing time is an indication of performance improvement, but it really just serves the ego. I think it is totally natural to want to be better than you were before. Or even to be as “good” as your peers. But I want to hold on to the fact that I am not doing these races for performance. I am doing them for the experience. For fun. To spend a day out on the trails doing awesome things with awesome people. There is no way to quantify an awesome experience.

Race fuel & hydration notes

Gear
Nathan double 9oz bottle belt

Pre-race dinner & breakfast
Mashed potatoes & chili (for both meals!)

Fuel
170 pocketfuel .5 hours
100 vanilla stinger 1.25 hours
170 pocketfuel + 53 1/2 banana = 223 2 hours
100 vanilla stinger 2.5 hours
100 vanilla stinger 3.25 hours
 2 small gummy candies, a few chips at last two aids
1 salt tab at unmanned around mile 10
Total: 700-800 calories for 4.25 hours, 165-185 calories per hour
Water
Start: 18 oz
First aid: 18 oz refill
Second aid: 9 oz refill
Turnaround aid: 27 oz refill (Could have been 18 oz)
Unmanned aid: 18 oz refill (Could have been less/more)
End: 5 oz left?
Total: 85 oz of water total, 5.5 oz per mile
Notes
Felt great the entire time. I think the salt tab was timely. Definitely drank more than I do typically and think it helped. Don’t think I could have skipped the bathroom at the turnaround through without having to use the woods on the way back. Didn’t drink nearly as much on the way back as I did on the way out. Didn’t get through 18oz after the unmanned aid around mile 10.

Race Report: North Face Endurance Challenge 10K at Bear Mountain

Back in the Fall of 2011 when I was just getting back into running via a Couch to 5K program, before I had even run my first race, I stumbled across The North Face Endurance Challenge site. I was immediately intrigued. I had no idea at that time just how challenging the courses are, but I knew I wanted to do it someday. All of the running delays in those first few years lead to this race being put off several times. I had no intentions of registering for the North Face Endurance Challenge this year, either. While I felt confident I could tackle the 5K, I had gotten it into my head that I now wanted to race it at a longer distance and would put it off yet another year. Enter Stinkfoot & Chafe.

Trail Twins

I met my trail partner, Mike (sorry buddy, I know you were hoping for a boss trail name, but I am at a loss at the moment), through an online running group. We crossed paths a few times at Fall road races and kept in touch through the Winter sharing race links and checking in on each other’s injuries. During this time, I had been thinking a lot more about trail running–watching lots of documentaries and even daydreaming of moving from the city to somewhere with more access to trails. So when he texted me on November 25th with an invite to a trail race, I really wanted to jump at the offer but was injured with more guarantee races to finish so I had to decline. Flash forward to early February when I was returning from injury and Mike was generous with the race links and persistent on getting me out on the trails. After a reluctant acceptance to an offer to run an easy 3-4 mile in Pound Ridge, I was hooked on trails. By the time Mike had gotten his mind set on the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon, we were both signed up for several other races in the weeks leading up to it and after it. Needless to say, I was apprehensive about signing up for this race. After 6ish snowy and icy miles during a recon run on the course, it was apparent that the half was a little overambitious. I still wasn’t 100% on adding another race to my calendar, but since he agreed to do the 10K and another friend expressed interest, I registered. So it was officially happening. I was going to race TNEFCS on Bear Mountain.

Trail twins
Same shirt, same hat, jeans, we even have a pair of the same running shoes. It’s like we were trail twins separated at birth.

The North Face Endurance Challenge 10K at Bear Mountain

The course for the 10K is pretty straight-forward. You run 600 feet and change up the mountain and then 600 feet and change back down the mountain. It isn’t a straight climb the entire time nor is it a straight descent, but for the majority of the first half you are climbing and the majority of the backside is downhill. The course is pretty technical in places with plenty of roots and rocks while other parts of the course are very runnable trail. This was going to be the most elevation I had done to date so I was a little nervous, but given I had a few (3) trail 10Ks under my belt along with some solid training runs I felt like it was going to be manageable. Maybe a little challenging and painful, but definitely manageable.

Course information
This is no joke.

Race weekend

We decided that it would be ideal to try to stay up by Bear Mountain the night before. We could grill out, enjoy the finish festival, and hopefully cross paths with some of our pals running the ultras on Saturday. We got lucky and scored two rooms at two of the places right on site. When we arrived, I scored an upgrade on my room so me and my friend, Alicia, got to stay in eye shot of the festival. We setup the grill and popped a couple of beers and took in the atmosphere. We even got to meet up with some of our running group buddies. It was an awesome time. But there was a race the next morning so in addition to being aware of nutrition and hydration, I was also aware of getting enough rest. We retired to our room early, around 8, and were shutting off the lights by 9pm.

IMG_5643
The start/finish festival with our inn in the background.
Run club meet-up!
Run club meet-up!

Before the race

The next morning I woke up with plenty of time to get to the start right outside our inn. Got some coffee, spent some time lounging in the lobby and watching runners trickle in to the festival, and leisurely got ready for the race. At this point, I was regretting a little bit that we had decided against the half marathon. My return to running has gone better than anticipated and the challenge of a longer race was alluring. But we had others joining us, another girl friend and her roommate, and we had missed the window to change distances. So I mentally prepared myself for the shorter, more intense distance and headed out for a nice warm-up loop around the lake. By the time I got back, went to the restroom, escorted everyone back up to the room for some bug spray, and made it back down to the start we only had to wait about a minute to start moving. I looked around at the runners in our wave and made a last minute decision to hop into the wave before. We started at the back of the pack, but I figured since it was a faster wave we would end up with a nice cushion between that wave and the wave behind us.

Warm-up run view
Not a bad view for a warm-up run.

The race

The start was pretty gentle. Run across a field, through a parking lot, and then hit the gently rolling trail. At about a half mile in though, we hit a pretty steep downhill that was also pretty rocky and wet and it was a complete bottleneck. So right off the bat, I started leap frogging passed runners who were cautiously hiking down the rocks. We then hit a good incline which I power hiked part of then a nice flat then another incline and well, you get the picture. The first half of the race was pretty slow going. I tried to power hike up most of the steep inclines to save myself for the flats and more runnable inclines. My friend, Alicia, ran with me most of the time and just before the aid station at 2.6 miles we caught up with our other friend who had come out for the race. I downed a Honey Stinger at the aid station along with some water and was excited to put the first half of the course behind me and fly down the mountain.

Leader of the pack
Evidently I was leading a pack at some point.

It was right around the half that I start I getting an abdomen cramp. I’m not sure if it was my pre-race food choice which I had changed up for the norm, the salt tab I took before the race which isn’t my norm, if I wasn’t drinking enough water, or if just the banging of running up and down hills was the cause, but it forced me to walk for about two minutes before it faded. After that little hiccup, I started attacking the downhills, flying passed runners, and even had a little tail of runners following me down the mountain. The descents were pretty rocky and the rocks were loose so foot placement was key. At one point I realized that I was running so fast with so many people following me that I didn’t think I could stop and if I fell it wouldn’t be pretty. Alicia was more cautious on the downhills, but would catch up on the flats. (She is a much, much faster runner than me!) At 5.65 miles, I felt a very sharp stabbing pain in my abdomen. It hurt so bad that I doubled over in pain and yelled. I had to step off the course and was stopped for a full minute. I knew Alicia was behind me and there was no way I could run so I just camped out for a minute. She came by and I tried to run, but couldn’t. So for the next three excruciating minutes, we walked. It hurt so badly that I was concerned that it was some kind of internal organ issue. I pushed on the pain and mentally prepared myself for the possibility that I was going to have to walk the rest of the course. I was swearing and angry and a little scared. And also very lucky that my friend stuck with me to support me!

Running downhill
Charging down the hills! I was feeling strong and ready to tackle this race.
Running through the mud
Mud makes me happy!

Around 5.85 miles and four minutes after the initial stop, I was able to resume running at an ~8mpm clip fighting the pain. Around mile 6, with just .2 miles to go I had to walk yet again for less than a .1 of a mile. At this point we were back to the parking lot and just had a short run on asphalt to the grassy finishing chute. I told Alicia to leave me, but she refused. Even when we got to the grass and the finish was within our sites and she asked if I wanted to race to the finish and I told her I couldn’t she stuck with me. When we got within sprinting distance, I said, “LET’S GO!” and took off for a finishing kick. 1:15:42 official finishing time.

IMG_5647
Post-race. Ready for a shower and food!
Me and Alicia
Love this girl and so glad she spent the weekend with me! Thanks for not leaving me at the end of the race, Alicia!

Post-race

After the race, we grabbed our medals and headed over to grab our shirts which were being screen printed with our race distance. The inn had a buffet brunch and we had time for all of us to shower in our room so we made a reservation for brunch and dined like kings and queens. It was so awesome to shower and change into clean clothes post-race and so much fun to have so many friends racing with us and join in a celebratory brunch. There were five of us in total. Three were trail race newbies which made it even more special! As we packed the car and started to head back to the city, I couldn’t help but be a little sad to leave the mountains. I’m really looking forward to spending the rest of my long runs through to my July 4th race (excluding the Brooklyn Half) on trails. I definitely feel like I have found my home.

Mountain views
Can I wake up to this every morning, please?!

Letting go

Just after the race, I was happy that I completed the race, but also super bummed that cramps had taken me out twice with the second being during a particularly speedy clip of downhill. I had been saving myself on the first half of the race to race the second half full out and to be taken out and finish with gas in the tank was truly disappointing. I estimate that I lost about 4 minutes in total to my mystery ailment. It’s even more of a bummer given my 1:10:32 finish at VCTC UEC 10K a little over two weeks before. That race had a lot less elevation so to come close to that time would have been pretty awesome and a great indicator of improvement. These thoughts plagued me in the hours following the race despite my elation of having done the race and with friends. I guess old habits die hard. I had told myself that all I care about with trail running is getting out there and finishing, but I can’t help pushing myself to do my best and measuring myself via finish times. I’m not sure whether it was just because this race has been so important to me for so long, but I intend to be more mindful of shutting these types of negative thoughts down in the future. I truly believe that no one cares about your times but you and that it is such a horribly egotistical thing to focus on. I want running to be a joyful experience, not some goal-oriented activity! To that end, I won’t be sharing splits for this race.

Time flies when you are having fun

It’s only been a little over a month since my last update, but it feels like a lifetime. I’ve raced 3 more trail races and run a couple more training runs on trails. I signed up for 16.5 mile trail race and am about to sign up for two more trail half marathons. You may have noticed there has been a healthy amount of trails happening with more in the future. It’s probably safe to say that I am love with eating mountains for breakfast.

Trail runs 3 & 4

Back on March 22nd, my trail partner and I headed up to Bear Mountain to scout part of the North Face Endurance Challenge Series half marathon course. He was convinced that we should do the half marathon and I was apprehensive. It had snowed that week so we knew that there would likely be snow on the ground, but what we didn’t anticipate was for it to be iced over. We also didn’t anticipate some of the route that I mapped to be non-blazed roads which with the snow cover were difficult to track. We put in 6.85 tough miles, postholing for some to get back on route, and over breakfast at a nearby diner decided we should only do the North Face 10K. A week later I hit the trails of Wissahickon Park in Philadelphia. It was gravel road with rolling hills so much easier than the week before so picked up the pace and extended the distance. It was a great time.

Top of the Pines at Bear Mountain
Highest point on our Bear Mountain training run. The trail actually had us scramble up over these boulders.
Snowy tracks at Bear Mountain
It was iced over snow in most spots at Bear Mountain, but there were occasions where we had slight reprieve on melted spots.
Stream crossing at Bear Mountain
Caught my trail partner mid-jump during one of stream crossing at Bear Mountain.

Trail race 2: Van Cortlandt Track Club Urban Enviro Challenge 10K

Two weeks later on April 12th I raced my second trail race. It was in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. I didn’t really intend to try to race it hard, but once the horn was sounded I couldn’t help myself. I had run part of this course last year for a cross country race, but this course took us into another part of the park which had more technical trails (read: roots and rocks) and some single track (read: limited ability to pass). It was a nice hilly course that did a double loop with a nice flat, gravel road finish. There were lots of road team singlets and obviously fast runners who were being taken down by the hills–trying to run up them then having to walk at the top to catch breath and cautiously tiptoeing on technical descents–and I felt a bit of pride at my strategic approach to the race. I power-hiked up most hills and was able to keep pace with the runners ahead of me while not getting winded. On the second loop I was able to plan better to pass people before single track and technical descents and made up time by being more aggressive on those downhills. I hopped over logs others were climbing over on all fours and basically just felt like kind of a bad ass. And it all paid off when I ran through the finish in 1:10:35. I felt so great after that I came home and ran a 3 mile tempo run. Two days later my lower back hurt so bad that I needed to take some vitamin I for a few days. Bubble officially popped.

North Brooklyn Runners at Van Cortlandt Park.
Was surprised at how many of my road team showed up for this race. Didn’t see any over trail running group. Probably because of the short distance!

Trail race 3: Leatherman’s Loop 10K

Two weeks later on April 26th my trail partner and I headed out for Pound Ridge for the historic Leatherman’s Loop 10K. This race has been around for 29 years, refuses to take on sponsors, just recently moved to timing chips, and features mud flats with shin deep mud, multiple stream crossings, and a couple of sand hills. Needless to say, we were stoked. What we didn’t anticipate was the sheer volume of runners and the inevitable congestion on the trails. The first quarter mile is run across a grassy field then all 1000 runners bottleneck onto narrow, technical double track. Add to that some mud and streams and runners who for some reason are afraid to get their shoes wet or dirty and you have a recipe for frustration if you aren’t reminding myself about your zen place. After the first couple of miles it did thin out enough that you weren’t forced to walk because of people ahead of you making that choice. The mud flats were fun, but a little concerning–the mud had so much suction that I could feel it pulling off my shoes! Again though, I felt like a bad ass because I seemed to be one of the few okay with getting dirty. I wasn’t feeling 100% for this race because I had done a training run the day before, had a couple of mimosas with brunch after my training run, and didn’t sleep well the night before and only got about five and half hours of sleep. So I felt like I was really pushing myself through most of it, but not keeping my expected pace. I was able to pick it up a bit towards the end in The Pines and was flying through at 9-10:00 min mile which felt awesome. By the end I had made friends with an old dude wearing red pepper shorts and we ran through the finish together. Official time: 1:24:49. And I was officially pooped. Not much soreness after this race, though, which let me know my cross-training and form adjustments were paying off.

Sand hill at Leatherman's Loop
Climbing a sand hill at Leatherman’s Loop. Notice the guy in front of me on all fours. It was steep and slippery.
Mud flats at Leatherman's Loop
Mud flats at Leatherman’s Loop. I felt lucky to not lose a shoe.
Stream crossing at Leatherman's Loop
Final stream crossing at Leatherman’s Loop. Was still muddy after this!

You can see more photos from Leatherman’s Loop on The Distance Traveled on Facebook.

Trail junkie

As I mentioned at the start, at some point over the past month I also added myself to a wait list for 16.5 mile trail race that is taking place on the 4th of July and am eyeing two more trail half marathons–one two weeks after I run the Brooklyn half and one a month after the 16.5 mile race. After the Brooklyn Half I am planning to do all my weekend long runs on trails. At some point I will have to go back to road running for my NYC Marathon training, but in the meantime I am going to eek out every little bit of dirt pounding that I can. I have a shirt in my closet that says “Loyal to the road” that I bought at the 2013 NYC Marathon expo. It’s funny how things change.

Cold Feat 10K Race Report

Just a note, I am writing this three weeks after the race. For some reason I just haven’t found the motivation to write out a report for this one despite writing up a report for this past Saturday’s road race the same day. I think this pretty much epitomizes my attitude towards structure in regards to trails and why I am beginning to love them so much.

Props go to my trail running partner-in-crime, Stinkfoot & Chafe, for encouraging me (read: harassing me) into doing this race. At the time of registration, I had been on exactly one real trail run in the snow which happened two weeks prior and was as challenging as it was fun. I was reluctant to toe the line so early in my trail career (haha, I said career), but after viewing an entertaining video of the course about 10 times and ordering some legit trail shoes I decided I was in. My shoes arrived the day before the race after yet another eventful couple of days trying to actually receive my delivery (#nycproblems) and I was worried that they were going to be a little too big. Other than that, I felt pretty prepared for the 20 degree (12 with wind chill!) run in fresh snow.

 

New trail shoes
New trail shoes! Unfortunate that the turned out to be a full size too big. Anyone need a Women’s size 8?

 

The course was just off a golf course on Staten Island. We got there early so we could pick up our bibs and swag (fleece cap and NUTELLA!) and make a pit stop at the clubhouse. The one thing I really hate about winter races is how cold you are in the corrals at the start so I was very happy that we were able to hang out in the clubhouse until just before the start. We made friends with an older fellow who told us lots of interesting history about golf courses on Staten Island. When they announced five minutes to start we started out towards the start line for a course description and then wandered over to the start. No corrals, no colors or numbers dictating pace, just line up and then head out. In less than a minute, we had left the signs of civilization behind for the of the snowy woods.

 

Swag
Swag score! Embroidered fleece hat AND a jar of Nutella?! This is my kind of race!

 

The course was great. It was fairly packed single track and we had placed ourselves fairly well in the pack so not only were we not getting passed, but we didn’t do much passing throughout the duration of the race. Stinkfoot and I stayed pretty close throughout the course with him getting away from a few times which was expected as he is a faster runner. We eventually ended up behind an older gentleman who I nicknamed “Crazy Tights” because of his graphic print tights. We had picked up another in our small pack, a woman who easily and readily added to my and Stinkfoots meandering convo. At a certain point we all needed to pass Crazy Tights which became interesting as I think he may have been hard of hearing. This was made evident when overly excited snowshoer almost ran him over after making all kinds of witty remarks for him to move on his approach. I ended up finding a little run-off single track and we passed him without incident.

 

Jumping
I love snow running!

 

Approaching the half mark and only aid station, I knew I needed to do three things: Tighten my shoes, blow my nose, and eat a Honey Stinger. The aid station volunteers were super nice and luckily one of them had a tissue. She was kind enough to not only give me one, but shove a spare in my hydration vest while I fiddled with my laces. We continued our pause with a quick photo and Honey Stinger then started back on the course. It was around this time that I noticed that my water had was starting to freeze in my hydration pack tube! I tried to keep sipping regularly so it wouldn’t freeze completely.

 

Aid station
Looking good at the halfway point!

 

The second half of the race seemed more challenging than the first. The elevation profile didn’t change much, we picked up the pace by about a minute and my heart rate followed. By the time we got to 5 miles, I was feeling it but pushed through. We managed to pass a few people in the last mile or so of the race which felt oddly satisfying. By the time we got to the final stretch and saw our exit from the woods I was ready for the end, but also bummed it was almost over. The last stretch of the course was covered with patches of ice which made for a pretty anti-climatic finish excluding the man in a gorilla suit that was cheering us on and the other runners who were hanging out in the cold to cheer us in. After our finish we returned the favor for a few more runners.

 

Running the snowy course
Running the snowy course.

Splits   Elevation and pace

 

The finish was the same as the start so we were back by the clubhouse which was awesome. We were able to grab our bags from the car and get some warm gear on and have a beer in the clubhouse! After the beer we headed for our now traditional post-trail run diner breakfast. Hot food after a long, cold run is so amazing!
I ended up placing 7th in my age group out of 17th which translates to front half of pack which I have never been! Not bad for my trail race debut, if I do say so myself. But it’s not about placing or pace for me and it never has been. And that is part of the reason why I feel myself enjoying road racing less and less. It is awesome to do a supported, uninterrupted run in which I push myself for no other reason than to check my training progress, but all that goes along with that–the cost, the crowds (oh dear lord, the crowds), the PR-driven post-race chatter, all of it–is just so unappealing to me. My heart feels free and happy on the trails and the community is so, so wonderful. My “A” race for this year is the NYC Marathon so I will continue to focus on road through 2015, but I fully intend to keep sneaking out to the trails whenever possible!