Monday, April 29, 2013

Tobacco Road Half Marathon Race Recap

My new shoes from Disney!  They solved my foot pain!  The race was pain free!  When I got home, I was so pumped to run again.

And then it came back.  New shoes, same pain in my foot.  Damn.  I got an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, but I couldn't get in until after the Tobacco Road Half.  So, I skimped on training (who wants to run 20ish miles per week when it's painful and when it's cold out?) and kind of fought through.  Then, as a last effort for TR to not go terrible, I bought KT Tape and taped myself up.  I told myself "even if it really hurts, I'll just tell myself, this pain is temporary and a PR will outlast it!"

Spoiler alert: It didn't work.

Marissa and I foud the 2:10 pacers and decided we would try to stick with them for at least the first half of the race, and our first two miles clocked in sub-10:00 pace... but only 2 miles in the pain in my feet was so severe I *had* to stop and walk and stretch.  My third mile, betwen stretching and walking, clocked in on my Garmin at over 13:00 minutes.  Not a good look.

I ran/walked from miles 3-4.  I saw Scott around mile 4 and wanted to cry.  I thought about quitting.  Luckily, soon after that I started to feel better.  That is the weird thing about my foot pain - it flare somewhere between mile 1 and mile 2, but if I stop to walk and stretch for a good while, then I can continue running -- relatively pain free.  What is that about?

Anyway, once my pain subsided (around mile 4-5) I was able to keep a decent pace... not great, but decent.  I think I could have pushed harder, but I knew there was no way I could PR, so it was hard to stay super motivated to push through.  It was an out and back course with a turn around exactly at the halfway point, and my next three miles (4-6) were almost exactly at 10:30 pace.  On the turn around, I picked it up a bit (10:21), and then mile 8 was pretty hilly so that slowed me down (10:40).

Around that time I started to think about what a realistic finishing goal could be.  I reall didn't want to PW (personal worst), which meant beating 2:27, and at the same time a PR (sub 2:13) was out of sight.  I settled on sub 2:20 as my goal, and perked up in mile 9 after the hill (10:05 pace).  Then, my knee started to hurt for miles 10-11... stupid tendonitis!  Those miles were relatively slow (10:36 and 10:55), but I was pretty sure I could still come in sub 2:20.

I started to really push myself in mile 12 and clocked in at 10:09.  My knee was still hurting, but I was able to push it out of my mind and just focus on running the best I could.  During mile 13 we were turning back into the park, so there were more spectators, and I was able to speed up (9:41).  I'm pretty good about really pushing at the end of races, so my last 0.1 (or, according to Garmin, 0.2) was at 8:19 pace.

I ended up finishing in 2:18:39, around 6 minutes short of a PR.  Pretty good considering at least one mile took me over 13:00 and I was in pain/injured!
finished half marathon #4!
new medal!
After the race, I showered and then put on my race shirt and medal to meet some friends out for St. Patrick's Day festivities.
well deserved Bloody Mary
So, although I personally did not have a good race, I will say that I mostly liked it and would recommend it to others.  It's relatively small and running on the trail is nice.  It's flat (other than a bit of an uphill at mile 8) so it's a great course to try and PR on (Marissa KICKED ASS, but I'll let her tell her own story if she wants to blog about it!).  The post-race celebration was great - free beer and pizza (and oranges/bread/etc.).  On the flip side, since it's out and back there are relatively few spectators which makes it less exciting of a race.

After the intense pain of the race, I decided I REALLY needed to do something.  On Monday I got a sports massage and was able to talk with the massage therapist for a while about what she thought was going on and what types of stretches/exercises would be helpful.  I also had my appointment with an ortho doctor, who was unfortunately useless (I won't even bother going into that), but afterwards I was able to talk with a friend who is a physical therapist here and he referred me to a friend who was a physical therapist and marathon runner.  Unfortunately her first available appointment was nearly 4 weeks later, but I put it on my calendar and tried to follow the massage therapist's advice in the meantime.  I'll save my post about what's wrong with me according to who / etc. for another day!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Nike Women's Half Marathon Goals

I'm running the Nike Women's Half Marathon on Sunday, so I figured I would put my goals out there for all to see.

My dream would be to run sub 2:10.  This is around 9:55 pace, which is probably pushing it for me, but maybe race adrenaline, etc., will make it possible.  I would be ECSTATIC.

If that doesn't happen, I would so love to beat 2:13:14 and PR.  That would mean running even a few seconds faster than 10:10 pace.  I think if I'm feeling good, I can pull that out.  We'll see.

If I can't PR, I think I would like to finish in under 2:20, or under 2:18:39 (my Tobacco Road time), because although I am still injured, I was able to run 2:18:39 at Tobacco Road and I am hopeful that I can at least do that.

You can track me live on Sunday!

Wish me luck :-)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Disney Princess Half Marathon Race Report

I've been TERRIBLE at blogging, but I do think blogging helps me to stay accountable, so I'd like to get back to it.  I figure one way to get myself into gear is to recap the races I've done since I stopped blogging, starting with the Disney Princess Half Marathon back in February.

As you may know, I had been dealing with foot/ankle pain for about a month by race weekend, so my training had been spotty at best.  I hadn't had a good run in ages, and I hadn't been great about doing long runs at all.  So, I was a little bit nervous.  Luckily, our plan all along was to treat this race as a training run for the Tobacco Road Half Marathon, so at least I didn't have to worry about time.  Also, we wanted to enjoy our limited time at Disney and go to parks, which I knew would probably interfere with my ability to run my best on Sunday.

So, Marissa and I drove down to Orlando on Friday after work, arriving around 1:00am.  We were staying with Kimmy and her parents, who were running the Royal Family 5K on Saturday morning, so we basically crawled into bed the minute we got there.  We woke up Saturday morning and got ready so that we could go to the parks with them when we got back.  Saturday we spent most of the day in the Magic Kingdom and then took the bus over the expo.  We actually already had our packets, but wanted to see the expo.  I bought a 13.1 charm to put on a necklace and Marissa and Kimmy bought bondibands!
At this point, I believed my foot pain was maybe due to my shoes, so I decided to look at some shoes at the expo.  The Brooks people told me they thought I needed size 8 instead of 7.5 and had me try on a newer model of the Adrenalines.  They felt pretty good, so I bought them and decided I would do what "no runner should EVER do"... wear new shoes on race day.

Anyway, after spending all the money on the planet, we headed over to the Animal Kingdom, because I REALLY wanted to do the safari.  Unfortunately, we just missed it closing by about 5 minutes.  It turned out okay, because we had a really great pre-race dinner (lo mein!) in Animal Kingdom before heading to bed.

The race started at 5:30am, so our alarms went off around 3:45.  Yikes.  With the terrible traffic, even leaving around 4:15am, we just barely made it to our corral in time for the start.  They had fireworks go off for every corral, which was pretty cool.  Also, this was the first race I ran that legitimiately started in the dark.
slightly creepy photo of me pre-race
three princesses, ready for 13.1!

I think the first mile had two bands and a DJ, which was pretty fun.  After that, every mile or so there were some characters or set up where you could stop and take your picture.  Unfortunately, the lines got pretty long, so Marissa and I opted to skip most of the photo ops.  However, I was loosely dressed up as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, so when I saw the Candlestick and no line, I decided to take advantage.
be our guest!
It was still dark several miles into the race for us, which was a weird experience.  The first 4 miles went by pretty quickly, and I felt okay.  It was extremely humid and probably almost 80 degrees when the race started, so I was definitely sweating a TON, but I didn't have any pain, which was great.  For the first 5 miles, our pace was in the 10:30-11:00 range, which was just fine with us considering the heat.
In case you aren't familiar with the course, the race starts in the Epcot parking lot and goes down the highway towards Magic Kingdom.  On the way there are characters or music about once per mile (or it seemed to be at about that frequency).  Then you get to run around Magic Kingdom - which is pretty cool - you even get to run through the Castle and down the main drag, and there are lots of spectators there
not sure why i look so awkward.
...but then, after you exit the park, you literally just run down the other side of the highway back towards Epcot.  Suffice to say, this is rather boring.  You run past the same characters that were there on your way out, except there are fewer of them because not all of them could redo their sets on the other side of the highway.  Also, it was getting warmer (sunshine), but we managed to keep most of our splits right around 11:00 minute pace.
There is very little entertainment on the way back.  Not that I think all races should entertain me nonstop, but I guess that's what I was expecting from Disney.  So, I was kind of disappointed about that... although we DID find Mrs. Incredible right around mile 11.
It was good timing to see her, because it was right around mile 11 that my feet started aching.  Not from the shoes .... but because I had walked for approximately 10 hours around the parks the day before.  Oops.  Like I said, not ideal race conditions.  Anyway, at the end, you enter into Epcot and run around the front of it before finishing out in the parking lot.  Again, running IN Epcot was nice, and there were spectators there cheering you on.  I just wish we had been in the park for longer or there had been more things in the 2nd half of the race rather than the first half.

Marissa and I stayed together until around mile 12 when we were in Epcot.  My feet were killing me and my training hadn't been great, so I was really struggling, while she was feeling great... so she took off!  This ended up being quite good for me, because I was determined to finish WITH HER, and chased her through the last 1.2 miles until I finally caught up to her!  Mile 13 clocked in at 9:37 and the last 0.2ish (my Garmin said I ran closer to 13.2) was 8:33 pace!  We crossed the finish line together, for the first time since our 10k back in 2010!
M makes me really run it out.
Official Finish Time: 2:27:06
My shoes didn't hurt (although my feet were tired from so much walking and running!).  We took post race photos and then waited for Kimmy and then took more photos.

Kimmy's parents got us roses!
So, overall, I'd say that the race was a good experience and I'm glad we did it, but I probably wouldn't run a Disney race again.  I'm not a big enough Disney fan to want to stop and take photos with characters - I'm generally more concerned with my time! Plus, Disney races tend to draw a lot of first-time runners and the courses are a bit crowded, so it would definitely be a difficult place to PR.  On top of all that, the races are pretty expensive - which is probably worth it if you REALLY love Disney, but otherwise, more of a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

Anyway, after the race we went back to our place to shower and get ready for another full day at the parks! Obviously, I convinced the girls that we needed to wear our race shirts and mdeals to match.  Not only to each other, but to approximately 7,000 other race finishers, hah.  We saw Epcot and the Magic Kingdom again

We definitely spent a full day in the park.  In Epcot's Japan, I got a pearl out of an oyster and made a necklace out of it - which went perfectly with my 13.1 charm!  It's my new favorite piece of jewelry!  We also had the most epic sushi lunch ever in Japan... delicious!  When we got home we got some margaritas and relaxed in the hot tub - our attempt at giving our very sore feet a nice break.  Monday morning we woke up relatively early and drove back to NC.  Overall, it was a fantastic weekend and I'm so grateful to Kimmy's parents for allowing us to stay at their place and show us around Disney all weekend!

Thursday, April 18, 2013


“We may be momentarily knocked off our feet, but we will pick ourselves up. We will keep going. We will finish the race.”

I started this blog in 2010 - nearly three years ago, after watching my best friend Susan run the Boston Marathon.  At that point, I was just starting to run with 2 minute running / 1 minute walking intervals.  I had always wanted to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and Susan had always wanted to qualify for Boston.  Seeing her achieve that goal and cheering her on at the marathon was inspirational, and is what lead me to get more serious about running and to start blogging (albeit inconsistently).

Since that first blog post, I've completed 3 Cherry Blossom 10 Milers, 4 half marathons, and a handful of other races.  I'm not sure exactly when, but at some point in that journey I think I made the transition from "someone trying to run" to "a runner."  Running has given me more than I can express.  Through running, I've strengthened friendships, increased my self-confidence, kept myself sane through graduate school, and so much more.  Running has become a part of my identity, and I love that.

So, while I may never run a full marathon and will likely never qualify for Boston, this attack felt quite personal. I've spectated that race before - I probably will be spectator at it again some day.  We have family in Boston; we've talked about moving there one day.  Susan ran Boston this year, and to quote my friend Kevin on Monday, "Today we can all be thankful that Susan is fast" - because I knew she had already finished when the bombs went off so I was relatively sure she was safe (which twitter quickly confirmed for me).  But not everyone was that lucky.  A girl I knew in high school was standing at the finish line, with her sister and brother-in-law, waiting for their mom to finish.  Their mom was about a half mile from the finish line when the bombs went off, and was diverted from the finish line.  But my friend, her sister, and brother-in-law all sustained injuries, and the two sisters are still in the hospital.

I don't think I really have anything novel to add to the thousands of blog posts and news articles that have been written on this topic, so I won't try  (go read Susan's blog).  What happened doesn't make any sense, and probably never will. And it's scary.  I've run races as big (in numbers of participants) as Boston, and crossed those finish lines exhausted and elated at my accomplishments.  It is impossible to imagine the horror of being at that finish line when the bombs went off.

In 10 days, I will run another large-scale race in a big city.  I refuse to spend those 13.1 miles worrying or fearing the worst.  Instead, I will hold my head high and run the best race I can.  And when it feels too hard to keep going, I'll be thinking about my friend and her family, about Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, and Lingzu Lu, and about the other 170+ people who were injured.  I'll run for the people who weren't able to finish Boston, and for the ones who won't be able to run it next year.  So in 10 days I will do what Obama quoted from Hebrews in today's service: I will "run with endurance the race that is set before us."