Race Recap

Race Recap: Northshore Half Marathon (PR!)

Hey guys! I’ve got another race recap to share with you. I think I have officially overcome the fitness plateau where I was stuck on for seemingly years. It’s very rewarding to finally see the years of hard work paying off. I would absolutely work hard either way and I wouldn’t stop if I wasn’t seeing improvements, but it’s a very satisfying feeling for sure.

Last Sunday morning I ran the Northshore Half Marathon (formerly the Gulf Coast Half Marathon) in Mandeville, LA. This was my third time to run this race. The first year was 2011 (my time was 1:33:21 (7:07 pace)) and the second year was 2016 (my time was 1:32:18 (7:02 pace)). This is and has always been a very well-organized race. The parking, the bathrooms, everything along the course (volunteers, markings, aid stations, etc.) and the post-race awards were seamlessly executed and very efficient! I would highly recommend this race to anyone that is looking for a flat, fast fall half marathon.

64352357_race_0_3895848937590429_display

The course is beautiful. It starts in the Fontainebleau State Park, winds through some residential areas of Mandeville and runs along the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The race starts at 7, which is great! Usually I like it because it makes a big difference because of the heat and humidity, but this year we had cool temperatures and low humidity. It was an absolutely perfect day to run. We really couldn’t have handpicked better conditions. The temperature was in the upper fifties and the dew point was in the forties!

We went over to Mandeville the day before the race with Jessica and Wes. It was only about a two hour trip, but it was nice to get our packets the day before and also nice not to have to get up at 3 a.m. or something silly the day of the race in order to get there on time, which I have definitely done before.

Race morning was pretty low key and typical. I woke up around 4:45 a.m. and went in search for coffee (which I found in the lobby of our hotel). I drank two of the tiniest cups of coffee I have ever seen in my life (hence why I had two) and got ready fairly quickly. We were instructed to arrive at Fontainebleau State Park no later than 6 a.m. to avoid traffic issues. We got there just before 6 and had no trouble getting into the park or finding a parking spot. We hung out in the car for a few minutes and I took a gel and ate a banana while we waited (about 45 minutes before the race). Shortly thereafter we headed out to do a two mile warm up.

We timed everything pretty well and arrived back to the car about ten minutes prior to the race start. I quickly changed into my #fastshoes and made my way over to the start line and into the corral. I met a few fellow McKirdy Trained athletes while we waited, which was cool (hi Valerie & Jennifer)!

IMG-3981

The race plan looked like this:

First 6 miles: 6:20 – 6:25 pace
Second 6 miles: 6:15 – 6:20 pace
Last mile: We race!

Actual splits were:

First 6 miles: 6:26, 6:27, 6:12, 6:21, 6:15, 6:23 (6:21 average)
Second 6 miles: 6:25, 6:20, 6:26, 6:32, 6:27, 6:19 (6:24 average)
Last Mile: 6:17!

I don’t really have a play-by-play recap of this race. First of all, it’s been over a week ago now and I honestly don’t remember as much as I would have had I gotten to this recap sooner. Oh well. Life happens. Secondly, while it was a long race (relative to the other races I have done recently), there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement as far as passing people, etc. I was the second female from the starting gun to the finish line. The first place girl dropped me like a hot cake in the first half mile! She went on to run a 1:19 half marathon (6:01 pace), so that makes sense. At the time, I thought she might fade back at some point, but that definitely didn’t happen. She was smoking!

Daniel ran the first five miles of the race with me. In addition to the half marathon, there was also a 10 mile race option, which worked quite nicely. We worked together for those first five miles and then parted ways. I was jealous that he was half way done at that point and that I still had over 8 miles to go. Eight miles seemed like a really long way to run. Looking back at the splits, I see that miles 3 and 5 were a bit too quick. I felt fairly comfortable, but I wasn’t really able to pick the pace up at all during second half of the race.

NIKON D750

The half marathon course merged with the 10 mile course somewhere around mile 9 of the half marathon. This really didn’t affect me too much. We were running on a rail to trail section at that point and I had to weave around some of the runners, but it wasn’t problematic at all. Miles 9, 10 and 11 were the toughest of the day by far. I really felt like I was starting to fade. In actuality, I guess I didn’t fade as much as it felt like I did, but I definitely didn’t feel comfortable at all. I told myself to get to mile 10 and then it would just be a 5K to go. I was working possibly harder than I ever have before during a race in order to just keep the pace somewhat consistent.

When we got back into the park and made the final turn towards the finish line, I found another gear and added a bit of extra pep to my step. I averaged 10 seconds per mile faster during miles 12 and 13 than I had during miles 9, 10 and 11! I’m happy with that. Even though I was completely uncomfortable and working insanely hard, I still managed to dig just a little bit deeper. I repeated to myself over and over again to “finish strong,” and I feel like I did just that!

IMG-1651

I crossed the finish line in 1:23:22 (a one minute twenty second PR!) as the second female and eighth overall finisher. Daniel captured the above photo of me at the finish line. I knew he was running strong for the first five miles of his race, but after talking to him at the finish, I learned that he ran strong the entire race and came away with a 10 mile PR in a time of 1:03:51! We went back to the car briefly and then eagerly waited for Jessica to come in. She came in at 1:34:53, which was a PR as well! Woo hoo! PRs ALL AROUND. We were all ecstatic!

IMG-1677

Jessica and I headed out to do a two mile cooldown, giving us 17.5 miles for the day! Definitely a good day of quality marathon work. We stayed around for a little bit after the race and waited on the awards. The post-race party is always fun at this race and it was a beautiful day to be outside and soak up the sunshine and bask in the triumph of our PRs!

Race Recap

Race Recap: Shrimp Festival 10K (PR!)

Howdy friends!

I can’t believe that I am saying this, but I ran a PR at the Shrimp Festival 10K yesterday morning! After years of seemingly no major PRs, it feels absolutely incredible to see the pieces coming together and the hard work paying off.

I had a 4:45 alarm set for a 5:30 departure Saturday morning. I made coffee, looked over my race plan and wrote my paces on my hand before we left the house. I’ve mentioned it before, but I really think that the process of thinking about the paces and having it “tattooed” (temporarily) on your body, makes you more accountable and more invested in the plan. We dropped my car off at work on the way to the race (it was on the way anyway) and arrived at the Orange Beach Sportsplex around 6:30. I still needed to get registered, which was a very quick, seamless process. They had laptops for us to use to get registered day of and the race was actually chip timed this year (so fancy)!

My pre-race “plan” had me doing a 2 mile warm up about thirty to forty minutes out from the race, taking a gel about ten minutes out and then doing a few strides right before it was time to roll. Daniel ran the warm up miles with me. It felt absolutely ahh-mazing out. The temperature and dew point were in the LOW 60s, which is quite the change from any racing conditions we’ve had over the last 6 months. We ran into Lizzie and Jill along the way. We don’t get to run together as much as I’d like for us to, but it’s always so nice to see sweet friends.

We made it back to the car right on schedule and I made a last-minute wardrobe change into my McKirdy Trained singlet. I had on a different tank that started to feel like it was weighing me down (it was falling down in the front and becoming a dress) during the warm up and I didn’t want to deal with that mid-race. I changed into my #fastshoes, took a Huma gel and made my way over to the start line.

The race plan looked like this:

Miles 1 and 2: 6:05 – 6:10
Miles 3 and 4: 6:00 – 6:05
Miles 5 and 6: 5:55 – 6:00
Last two tenths: Roll Tide! My coach actually wrote this in my race plan, which I thought was both hilarious and amazing!

I had a wonderful pre-race pep talk with my coach on Thursday evening and after that conversation, I KNEW that I was ready to do this thing. If I ran at the upper end of the range for each mile, I would’ve been close to 38:00 and if I ran at the lower end of the range for each mile, I would’ve been close to 37:30. My previous PR was 38:32, so either way, it seemed like a PR was within reach. Granted you never know what might happen out there, but it felt really good going into the race knowing that my fitness was there and I was ready.

The race starts and finishes at the Orange Beach Sportsplex and runs on the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail (a trail system with over fifteen miles of trails throughout Orange Beach, Gulf Shores and the Gulf State Park). The trails are all paved and it’s a great location for a race. The only minor drawback is that the GPS satellites have a tendency to be a little wonky. Thankfully, I didn’t have any issues with mine yesterday!

shrimp1.jpg

I started out pretty much right on the start line. I felt pretty confident that I would be within the top 5 to 10 runners, so I didn’t feel bad about taking a front spot. I wasn’t sure who, if anyone, I would be able to run with going into the race, but as it turned out I had two guys to chase for the majority of the race. I LOVE having someone to work with and chase during a race and I was so thankful to have those guys up there. I settled into third place overall within the first half mile and that’s where I stayed until the fourth mile. I know that isn’t super exciting or anything, but it is what it is.

The guys in front of me were only a few yards ahead and their pacing was right on point with what I planned to do. My splits for the first four miles were 6:06, 6:04, 6:03 and 5:57. I didn’t look at my watch during the miles at all. I did, however, look to see my splits. Sometimes I get into a bad habit of looking down during the mile as much as every quarter-mile, which I think only seems to make the miles feel longer. I didn’t do that and the miles truly seemed to be flying by. I felt strong, smooth and in control.

I knew that miles five and six would be a challenge. John and I talked about this a good bit during our pre-race chat. He told me that I would have a gut check around mile five and that was when it was time to really get serious about racing. He also suggested focusing on anything that wasn’t hurting (eyelids were his suggestion :)). I passed the second place guy and caught up to the first place guy during mile five, so that mile really didn’t seem to be that bad. I had other things to focus on at least. My split for mile 5 was 5:58.

As it turned out, mile six is where things really started to feel tough for me. The great thing about that was that I knew I only had about 5 or 6 minutes to go. I knew I could hold on. I also knew it just might hurt a lot in the process. I was running right behind the first place guy at this point and I assumed that we would work together for the duration of the last mile. Unfortunately, just passed the fifth mile marker, he almost took at wrong turn! We were turning right to head back along the same trail that we had run out on, but the 5K runners were going the other way and he started to turn left. I said, “I think we go right,” and continued right without any hesitation. He lost a second or two at that turn and I hated to make the final pass in a situation like that, but at the same time, it is the runners responsibility to know the course.

shrimp2.jpg

Even though I was struggling a bit, the last mile also went by very quickly. The 5K runners are running the opposite way on the trail and it’s always motivating to see all the other runners and get a few words of encouragement. I love out and back courses for this reason. I told myself to stay strong, to finish strong, to run strong … basically just BE STRONG. Before I knew it, I was at the sixth and final mile marker. My split for mile 6 was 5:59! All that was left was to kick it in (or roll tide it in as the plan prescribed) to the home stretch. I tried to make a conscious effort to pick the pace up. My final two tenths were 5:41 pace! Whew. My official time was 37:30! Just over a one minute PR! Holy smokes. I was on cloud 9 and over the moon. I think I paused at cloud 9 briefly on my way over the moon!

I stumbled back to the car, feeling tired but incredibly euphoric at the same time. I texted my coach and he immediately called me to talk about the race. I was still a little bit out of breath as I tried to tell him how it went. I texted everyone I could think of that would be interested in the outcome (not that it is a long list) and then headed out to do a couple of cool down miles. Daniel ran the cool down miles with me as well, which was nice. We called it a day after two miles and made our way over to the post-race party and the awards.

I needed to get back to go to work, but I couldn’t not stay for the awards after a race like that. I’m so glad that I stayed too, because not only did I get to visit with my friends for a bit longer, but also I got all the amazing prizes. I got a medal, a coffee cup and a really pretty shrimp painting (that just so happens to match the “color scheme” of our house). Sweet! I honestly would’ve probably just been happy with the medal and the coffee cup, but the painting just really put it over the top.

shrimp4.jpg

Even after all that, I still made it in to work by about 10:30. I felt like complete and total garbage when I got there, but I went and got it done. My head was poudning, my stomach was “unsettled,” and my heart rate was definitely still elevated, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I knew I had done some solid work that morning and I was so happy about it. Runners are so weird. After my solid work on the roads (or paved trails in this case), I did some solid work on the taxes. Just two more returns to wrap up by tomorrow (and yes, one of those is my own)!

 

CIM, Marathon, Weekly Recap

Training Log – 10.07.18 (CIM Week 6)

Hey friends!

Life is a bit crazy and tax deadlines are a bit stressful. While I am a bit behind on my training log post this week, I am frankly just doing good to know what day of the week it is at this point (and I do know that it is Friday :))!

Last week will forever been remembered as the week of all the thousands!

Here is what training looked like the week of 10.01.18 – 10.07.18:

Monday – Easy: 8 miles (9:29 pace)

Tuesday AM – Easy: 8 miles (9:21 pace) + PM – Pilates

I’m still going strong with the Pilates and still enjoying it very much!

Wednesday – Quality: 10.5 miles (8:02 pace)

Wednesday’s workout was a two mile warm up, 8 X 1000 @ threshold pace w/ one minute rest, 5 X 200 w/ 200 rest and a two mile cool down. We took the workout to the roads Wednesday, as threshold pace is more manageable than what would have otherwise needed to be taken care of on the track. I set the workout up on my watch the night before and tried to map out a good location on the road for the repeats.

In hindsight, doing this workout on the road (in the dark) was maybe not the best of ideas, but I knew that I was going to be doing more thousands at a quicker pace on Saturday and I just didn’t like the idea of running at the track for both workouts. I also think that it’s good to do some workouts on the roads too, since the marathon will be on the road and there will be gradual ups and downs in the terrain along the way. We found a stretch of road with minimal traffic and got it done!

My splits for the thousands were 3:52, 3:50, 3:47, 3:46, 3:52, 3:47, 3:48 and 3:46. My goal pace for these was actually 6:17 pace and I somehow ended up averaging 6:07 pace. I’m not entirely sure how that happened, but I just went with it.

My splits for the two hundreds were: 40, 42, 43, 41 and 42.  Doing the 200s on the road was definitely a bit tricky, but all in all, we managed to get this one taken care of, which is a victory in and of itself.

Thursday – Easy: 10 miles (9:47 pace)

My easy runs somehow seem to be getting slower and slower, but my coach has actually reassured me that this is perfectly acceptable. He’s even mentioned a couple of times that I am very good at taking it easy when needed. Don’t have to tell me twice!

Friday – Easy: 8 miles (9:29 pace) 

Saturday – Quality: 12.75 miles (8:47 pace) 

Saturday’s workout was a four mile warm up, 6 X 1000 @ 5K pace w/ two minutes rest and a four mile cool down. The thousands on Saturday were supposed to be done at 5K pace, which was made this workout a bit more challenging than Tuesday’s threshold workout. The four mile warm up and four mile cool down also made this workout a bit more challenging, but also made it a great marathon prep workout!

My splits for the thousands were 3:44, 3:38, 3:37, 3:37, 3:38, 3:37. My goal pace for these was 5:46 pace and I ended up averaging 5:51 pace. It’s still quite difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that this is my 5K pace! I was very pleased with the consistency of the last 5 repeats, which were all within 1 second of each other. I couldn’t do that again if I tried. While I was a bit slower than my goal pace, I felt in control the entire time. I even felt like I could have done another one or two repeats at that same pace. Granted, I didn’t want to do any more than I did, but if I had to, I think I could have.

I had a runner fail moment during the cool down, as I forgot to start my watch back when we started running and I didn’t realize it until it started to go into power save mode (half a mile later). I was temporarily devastated (slightly exaggerating for effect), but was quickly relieved to remember that Jessica could “tag” me in her run on Strava and I would get credit for all of my miles! Phew.

Sunday – Easy: 8.4 miles (10:01 pace)

Total – 65.4 miles

Have a great weekend!

CIM, Marathon, Weekly Recap

Training Log – 09.30.18 (CIM Week 5)

Happy Sunday Wednesday! Better late than never I suppose.

I ran lots of easy miles and two quality workouts last week! Here is what my training looked like the week of 09.24.18 – 09.30.18:

Monday – Easy: 8 miles (9:20 pace)

Tuesday – Quality: 10.35 miles (7:47 pace) 

My workout Tuesday was a two mile warm up, 4 X 200, 4 mile tempo, 4 X 200 and a two mile cool down. We had a good little group that met for this one! Always nice. We did the warm up and the first set of 200s on the track and then took it the road for the tempo portion. Daniel made a 4 mile loop that started and ended at the track, so that we were able to hop back onto the track for the final set of 200s after the tempo. Those final 200s were tough!

The goal pace for the 200s was 43 seconds (5:46 pace) and the goal pace for the tempo was 6:20 to 6:30 pace. Splits were as follows:

200s: 41, 44, 42, 42
Tempo: 6:33, 6:31, 6:39, 6:23
200s: 42, 42, 44, 43

The first set of 200s felt great! The tempo portion definitely felt harder than I was expecting. I struggled in the third mile, but somehow managed to rally a bit and finished with a solid final mile. It started raining on us halfway through the tempo miles, which perhaps wasn’t ideal, but felt quite nice. It was lightning and thundering a little during the final 200s and the cool down, but thankfully we were able to finish up the workout before we had to deal with any sort of major storms.

Wednesday AM – Easy: 8 miles (9:15 pace) + PM – Pilates

Thursday – Easy: 8 miles (9:12 pace)

Friday – Easy: 6.5 miles (9:22 pace) 

Saturday – Quality: 12.4 miles (8:18 pace) 

Saturday’s workout was a four mile warm up, 7 X 800 and a four mile cool down. Jessica came over and ran this workout with me! We used our same four mile route from Tuesday’s workout for our warm up and cool down miles. The 800s were done at 5K pace, which was definitely challenging. My coach texted me Friday asking if I was ready for the “big dawg” workout the next day. I knew it was going to be tough, but I hadn’t really thought about the fact that my “new” 5K pace was much quicker than I have ever run for 800 repeats. My goal pace for the 800s was 5:46! Eek.

My actual splits were 2:56, 2:50, 2:51, 2:49, 2:53, 2:56, 2:53, which averages to 2:52 and exactly 5:46 per mile! The first few 800s felt super easy and relaxed. I was shocked! Then all of a sudden, on the second lap of the fifth repeat … things got real. The last two repeats were very challenging. My pace faded a bit, but nothing too crazy. For a hot minute there at the end, I thought that the four mile cool down was going to be the hardest part of the entire workout, but once we got moving, we settled into a good groove and got it knocked out.

Sunday – Easy: 10 miles (8:58 pace)

Total – 63.3 miles

Have a great week!

Monthly Recap

September Recap

Hey friends! Can you believe that another month has come and gone? I feel like September absolutely flew by.

It’s time to recap another month of running!

Month Recap: September 2018

unnamed (4)

Training for CIM is trucking right on along. We are actually only two months out from the race right now, which really seems a bit scary. Part of me still really doesn’t feel like I am doing enough as far as marathon training goes. I haven’t really done many long runs yet, which is different from the training that I am used to. I am also not doing any doubles, which is different as well. However, I completely trust my coach and I know that I will be ready. I feel really good and I don’t feel worn down at all, which is excellent (and quite a refreshing change from past training cycles).

I can actually see tangible improvements in my fitness as well, which is amazing. I was essentially stuck on a fitness plateau for about three years and I think I am finally coming out on the other side of it. I am hitting paces in workouts that I have never hit before and feeling comfortable hitting them. It’s crazy!

Workouts: I had five solid workouts this month, as well as a few longer runs. The workouts have been challenging, but doable.

2 mi. WU,  5 X 1000 w/ 1:00 recoveries (4:01, 3:59, 3:58, 3:57, 3:53), 5 X 200 w/ 200 recoveries (37, 40, 38, 38, 39), 2 mi. CD

2 mi. WU, 8 miles @ marathon pace (6:57, 6:54, 6:42, 6:47, 6:55, 6:39, 6:47, 6:48), 1 mi. CD

1 mi. WU, 8 X 800 @ threshold (3:20, 3:18, 3:18, 3:14, 3:14, 3:10, 3:11, 3:08) w/ 800 recoveries, 1 mi. CD

2 mi. WU, 4 X 200 (41, 44, 42, 42), 4 miles @ threshold (6:33, 6:31, 6:39, 6:23), 4 X 200 (42, 42, 44, 43), 2 mi. CD 

4 mi. WU, 7 X 800 (2:56, 2:50, 2:51, 2:49, 2:53, 2:56, 2:53) w/ 1:30 walk recoveries, 4 mi. CD 

Favorite workout: My favorite workout was probably the 8 X 800 w/ 800 recoveries. We did this workout on the track and while it seems like might get a little bit boring, it was actually fun! Fun might not be the right word, but it was enjoyable. I liked alternating the paces throughout the run and the nice thing about this workout was that it was done at threshold pace and not at an all out effort. the 7 X 800 workout was done at 5K pace and that was TOUGH!

Races: I only ran one race this month, but it was quite memorable! I ran the Hurricane Run 5K on September 8th and got a long-awaited, much-anticipated 5K PR. It only took 3+ years and 20+ 5K races, but I finally got the elusive 5K PR I have been wanting.

unnamed (3)

Favorite race: Not that it would’ve been any sort of contest anyway (due to the above-referenced PR), but the one race that I ran was definitely the best race of the month.

Paces: My paces ranged from 5:47 (second mile of Hurricane) to 10:30 (on the beach).

Miles: 257 miles this month.

Longest run: My longest run was 15.5 miles!

Shortest run: My shortest run was 5 miles.

Rest days: I took one rest day.

Strength training: I got over 3 hours of Pilates in this month! I’m happy with how adding some strength stuff into the regular routine is making me feel. My instructor told me that I was getting stronger too, so that’s nice! I’ve changed a lot of variables up this training cycle, so it’s hard to know exactly what has been the catalyst of the improvements that I’ve seen. I have a feeling that Pilates is one of the major factors!