Monday, March 19, 2012

RnR USA Half Marathon Recap

This past weekend I ran my fifth half marathon. And it was awesome.

I started training for this race only seven weeks ago, after I took a month off from running due to a(nother) tibial stress fracture. I ran only three to four times per week (my max, after getting a stress fracture from running five times a week when training for the NYC Marathon!), and did P90X five or six days a week.

I didn't expect much from this race. I mostly followed my training plan (a mix of Hal Higdon and Runner's World's SmartCoach), but I missed a couple runs (including one long run!), caught a cold, started a new job, and was coming back from an injury. I decided it would be a "fun run," one I'd run at least part of the way with my friend Christina (whom I had convinced to sign up as well...we had both originally signed up for the FULL marathon, by the way...), and one I just wanted to get under 2:06 (the time I achieved for my first THREE half least I'm consistent?).
Signs of spring on my last long run before the half!
Going into this race, I was feeling pretty chill. I didn't study every single detail of the course ahead of time. I didn't bring my own bagel to Christina's apartment. I didn't fall asleep with nervous butterflies in my stomach. I didn't even Google how to get from Christina's to RFK. In fact, I ate a giant burger and fries for lunch the day before the race, and a PB&J and banana served as dinner the night before. I didn't sleep enough (blame DC2NY for a late bus).

I was definitely winging it...and I actually think that might have helped me, in some way. I didn't have any expectations, there was no pressure. Once I got to the start though, a few little butterflies kicked in. The good kind though, the kind that makes me feel excited and a bit of adrenaline needed to get through that first mile, the kind that builds as you run mile after mile and propels you to the finish. It was just what I needed, right when I needed it.

If I'd run this whole race feeling kind of "meh" and unexcited the whole time, there's no way I would have made it through the entire race. I would have given up, said it didn't matter, and taken it easy the whole way. But luckily, that's not me. Don't get me wrong - I wasn't excited and having tons of fun the whole entire time...the first half was very tough for me. I thought about dropping out, about taking it easy, about giving up. But as soon as a turned on my iPod halfway through the race, I knew I was in it for the long haul and that I'd run the crap outta that race. Especially when a Girl Talk song (Oh No) came on and said, "Move bitch, get out the way, get out the way bitch, get out the way..." Yup. THAT really got my butt in gear.

You can actually tell from my splits - check out mile 11 - the moment when I realized that a PR was in reach was at mile 10. I hit the 10 mile marker at 1:30, and realized that even if I ran just under 10-minute miles, I could STILL get under two hours.
Half marathon splits
That revelation at mile 10 led me to an 8:09 minute mile in mile 11. Yeah, mile 12 is almost a minute slower (can I blame a hill there? Not sure...), but you can actually SEE when I realized that I could beat my PR of 1:58:59 (when I ran the Staten Island Half).

And PR I did. I crossed the finish line in 1:57:44, 1 minute and 15 seconds faster than my previous PR. It wasn't a goal I had in mind. I just realized it was possible, dug deep, and made it happen. (If only it were always that easy...) Every time I hit a hill, instead of cursing it, I thanked Central Park for preparing my legs. Every time I wanted to walk, I decided to run faster instead. I pushed myself. 

RnR recorded a few times along the way:
  • 5k: 28:37 (9:14 pace)
  • 10k: 56:31 (9:07 pace)
  • 10 mi: 1:30:19 (9:02 pace)
  • 13.1 mi: 1:57:44 (8:59 pace)
Was it the fastest I could have possibly gone? Probably not. But I got faster as it went on. And I am so incredibly proud of myself for running this race the way that I did, going into it with no pressure and shattering expectations I didn't even know could be there. I completely surprised myself.

And I walked away with a PR. Not to mention a banana, bagel, apple, yogurt, Snickers Marathon bars, chocolate milk (the very first thing I had to drink after the race - so good!), fruit bites, water, Gu, Gatorade and a heat sheet. Plus, a pretty sweet little medal:
First RnR race medal!
It was a great race, and I'm so glad that I did it. I'm even happier that I ran a race that I'm proud of, PR or no PR. I feel like I gave it my all, ran my guts out, and left it all out there. And I plan on doing it again and again in all of my future races.
Finish line in sight...determined face!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Falling behind

It's been over a month since my last post...I know, bad blogger! I fell a bit behind on P90X, but I took a week off, rearranged the schedule, and now I'm on day 63! (Except for two Kenpo X workouts I haven't gotten in. That's probably my least favorite DVD in P90X.) Nine weeks down - four to go!

I'm still really enjoying P90X. It's a butt-kicking good time, and I like the variety it provides. The only thing is that I've pretty much memorized everything that Tony Horton says, so I've started rocking out to the Pandora workout radio station instead of listening to Tony's stupid jokes. Way better, and it's giving me some ideas for songs that need to be downloaded for my running mix!

So what's been going on this past month? I've had some pretty good runs, both indoors and outdoors. Tempos, intervals, easy runs, long runs...I've kept on the goal paces for them and have mostly pushed myself, but haven't experienced that all too familiar burnout that can come with overtraining, which is great! I'm only two weeks away from the RnR half-marathon in DC - a race I'd like to do well in (i.e. under 2:06, my first half-marathon time), but I'm not gonna kill myself over PRing. My friend Christina and I are going to run for fun (like me, she's experienced some injuries during this training), which I think will be great! And the race is on St. Patrick's Day, so green beer will be a must following the finish line. Always a good thing.

A few weeks ago, I got to run with my friend Shawna, who really originally introduced me to running when we were in college. We went into it thinking we'd take it easy - we've both been plagued with injuries and didn't want to push it. My Garmin wasn't working so we relied on Shawna's for the majority of the run. At one point she looked down and said we were at an 8:45 pace - and of course, we didn't slow down. It was great to run with a buddy - I definitely need to do it more often!

Last week I had a great 8-mile run. I ran the entire loop of Central Park (yup, including running uphill on both Cat Hill and Harlem Hill!) and then some, and ended up with a 9:11 average for the run. I was pretty pleased, especially since I was aiming for a 9:30 pace. Plus I got to rock an obnoxious outfit (hot pink top AND hot pink compression socks!):
My running tights were in the this was the only option!
So I've been pretty on top of my workouts...except for this week (and one missed Kenpo X workout last week). I totally did not do my long run this week. Oops! The week of Feb. 13, I tried to get going on week 8 of P90X, but I found I was utterly exhausted and couldn't do it. I decided to move that week to another week, and have rearranged my workouts so that it works better with my half-marathon training. Sometimes I'm doing back-to-back workouts or morning AND evening workouts to get in the runs and the P90X workouts, but I am feeling a lot less overwhelmed with the "scheduled" workouts. On top of the workouts, I've been busy with after-work hangouts with friends, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and more.

One more thing that's added to my busy schedule? I accepted a new job! Friday was my last day at a job I've held since June (I know, just nine months at that job, but the new opportunity was one I couldn't turn down), and tomorrow I start at the new place. I accepted it on Valentine's Day, so I celebrated appropriately...with friends and some bubbly!
My "I got a new job!" face
One more thing I've done in the past month?
Chicago Marathon registration confirmation!
CHICAGO MARATHON! I'm coming for you on Oct. 7! (Also known as the day after my 28th birthday.) Shawna and I are both running it - I was supposed to run Chicago two years ago, but I got a stress fracture that put me on the sidelines for two months. Shawna and I want to try to train some together and train smart - we have both had a ton of injuries and don't want to get injured again training for this one. We also want to make sure we get in some good strength workouts and cross training too. No injuries allowed!

I should probably get to bed...can't go into the new job looking exhausted and haggard! Night!