Archive for the ‘warrior dash’ Category

The Richmond Marathon

It’s been a few days now. Nothing on me hurts anymore. My legs still feel tired, but not bruised. I am not going to lose any toenails.

One of the things the Marathon Training Team coaches encouraged us to do was to write down our race experience soon after the race because it would fade quickly. Nothing I write down could do the event justice, but maybe my words here will help me hold on to those little moments that were so special. I have been building this write up for a few days.

Saturday morning was cold and dark to start, and it never really would warm up, but it did turn out to be a perfectly blue, crisp, bright autumn day. Byram dropped me near the Capitol a little after 6:30 and I watched as the sun rose slowly over the City. The training teams all gathered for a chaotic photo on the Capitol steps and then we disbanded into our smaller units. I joined Team Pink Nation for our final Benediction. Coach Blair spoke briefly, but focused on the gratitude we should feel to even have this opportunity. Not everyone gets to do this. Running 26 miles is a privilege.

He was right.

They say over and over to never do anything different on race day than you did on your longest training run. Well, that was problematic; my 20 miler was run with temperatures in the 70s. The Richmond Marathon coincided with our first “Arctic Blast” this year and it was 29 at 6:30 that morning. I had “charity” clothing to shed at the starting line, but I wouldn’t be able to run just wearing my team singlet. My arm warmers disappeared, so I decided the night before to wear my long sleeved technical fiber shirt, with the singlet over it. Another benefit of running with MTT was the clothing drop station they had at Mile 2, so I wore my running jacket for the first 2 miles without having to worry about donating a not cheaply replaced article of clothing. I also purchased a pair of $2 throw away gloves at the Expo with the intention of shedding them once I was warmed up.

I was warm enough while waiting for the race to start, except for frozen toes. Nothing to be done for that and my toes did warm up eventually. I was concerned that I would wind up too warm at some point during the day and would have to lose the green long sleeved shirt, but that never happened. In fact, I never shed the gloves either. The only times I felt nice and warm were when I was in the sun. It was really cold in the shade all day long.

So the race itself. I found Pink coaches and some ladies I knew who ran a pace I wanted (I was looking for 12:00 min/mile averages for the start). I introduced myself and we all ran together for the first 4 miles, at which point Coach Judy had to peel off to meet us later on Forest Hill Avenue. MTT coaches are spread out throughout the course to keep an eye on the team and give encouragement where necessary. This is why you wear the team shirt on race day, so you can be identified and assisted as needed.

The first 2 miles are so boring but it was nice to have company and chat along the way. There were some good signs, and lots of spectators. I have run the Half twice now, but this was the first time I have ever turned Left on the Boulevard, not Right, like the Half route. It was kind of cool to make that turn away from what is familiar. I shed my jacket as planned at the clothes drop and the next two miles were spent still chatting with the other ladies. After Coach Judy departed at mile 4, the group I was with began dispersing. It was time to run Our race.

Now the first memorable moment occurred around mile 4.5.  We had just made the turn from Westmoreland Street onto Grove Avenue, where there was a huge cheering section and a lot of familiar faces from MTT in the crowd. They were giving high fives and I was taking them, and smiling and enjoying the moment when I saw a familiar face who is NOT associated with MTT.
Bart Yasso.

He was giving out high fives and cheering the racers, and you bet I got a high five. That was a pretty cool moment.

That excitement carried me along Grove. At the Starbucks near Libbie, I saw a coworker who I thought had been in the race, but he was drinking coffee and cheering us on. I don’t know why I thought he was racing, but he wasn’t. It was cool to see a familiar face and he cheered me on.

We then turned onto the only portion of the course that I had never run on before; Maple to Cary Street. This was a nice downhill area for the most part and it was nice to see a new-to-me part of town (from on foot, anyway).

The party zone before the Huguenot Bridge was fun, but I was gearing myself up for the Bridge. Now, I like the Huguenot Bridge as much as I dislike the Lee Bridge. It was beautiful crossing the River and most importantly, there was no shade and the sun was nice and warm. It was picture perfect. And it was the only spot on the course where I made a minor mistake. I had been trying to cut the corners (or vectors) and was positioning myself on the route to stick tight to turns and I had assumed that we would follow the right side ramp off of the Bridge and down onto Riverside Drive, so I ran on the right side of the Bridge. Only to discover that the route took us down the ramp on the left side of the Bridge. Not a huge deal, but I essentially ran across all 4 lanes of  Huguenot Bridge twice. Oops.

Riverside Drive is hands down the most beautiful part of the course. I hit 8 miles just at the end of the ramp and took my first GU as planned. I felt amazing. I know this will sound a little silly, but at one point, a perfect yellow maple leaf fell from a tree, and it landed perfectly in my right hand; I didn’t see it coming until it was in my hand. It was really pretty and I considered keeping the leaf for a moment. Then decide that was a little crazy and I let it fall.

Things were going well. I felt good. I had to stop at a little blue house for a few minutes just beyond Mile Marker 10. I suppose that meant I was well hydrated, but I hated losing those 3 or 4 minutes. I don’t mind admitting that I walked the steepest hills coming up and away from the River. I knew that Forest Hill Avenue was next and I wanted a little gas in the tank for that portion of the route.

At that point I started seeing my coaches; Coach Blair checked on me and I told him I was doing great and he gave me a thumbs up and went to check on other runners. There was a really awesome party zone at Forest Hill and Westover Hills Avenues. The crowd was really cool and lots of people were cheering me by my name (on my bib). I was really pumped up through that crowd.

I took my next GU as planned at Mile 14, just past Crossroads Coffee. The Lee Bridge was approaching and I knew I would need the energy. There were fire fighters out cheering for us in front of their station around 20th Street and Semmes. They were cool.

The Lee Bridge was tough. It always is. I think it’s because we are headed north, and the wind there tends to be blowing straight into your face. Or it could be because right after the Bridge, everything is uphill for a while. It was tough and I pushed through it, happy to have that part behind me.

Main Street was only interesting because of the seriously drunken spectators. I think they had been going at it since about the time the race started, and that was almost 4 hours ago. I wasn’t feeling as good or rational as I had been earlier in the morning so for some reason, these screaming drunk spectators annoyed me.

At Mile 19, in front of The Diamond, Team Pink had a table set up. I didn’t want any food or water and I didn’t see any familiar faces, so I skipped it. I was not feeling very stellar anymore.

At Mile 20, I took my 3rd and final GU and that didn’t go especially well. It had gotten cold and thickened up and it was hard to swallow and didn’t feel like it would stay down. It was also time to put in my call to Byram so he could start heading downtown. I made the call and as soon as he answered, I completely choked up. I couldn’t breathe properly, couldn’t really speak to him, and a little ball of panic formed in my midsection. I struggled as he tried to talk me through it, but hung up as soon as I could. I focused on my breathing and forcing my shoulders to relax and let go and very soon, I was feeling much better as the GU kicked in and the panic faded out. I called him back a mile later to reassure him I was actually fine and just had a moment there when it wasn’t all fine.

And honestly, I really was fine. Yes, everything hurt but the hurting was increasingly unimportant to me. Somewhere on Brook Road, it really sank in that I was going to be alright. My right ankle was killing me but it wasn’t injured. My legs hurt but they didn’t feel heavy anymore, just sore, and sore wasn’t really a problem at that point.

Still, I must not have looked like my finest when I approached the last half mile around Grace and 3rd Streets because an MTT coach that I didn’t know decided I needed company. She asked me questions and I answered, but I don’t remember either her queries or my responses. I know that the more I tried to speak, the harder it was to breathe, and the harder breathing came, the closer I pushed back towards that panic I felt near Mile 20. She stayed with me, which was probably good, but at Cary Street, I told her I was good and basically asked her to leave me alone to finish. That hill is both wonderful, in the sense that your effort level goes way down, and brutal, in the sense that your balance and energy levels are wrung out and just staying upright and not face planting is a legitimate worry. I didn’t have it in me to push more than the 9 min/mile pace I pulled out on that hill down to the finish mat.

I tuned my ears in and listened. I was not in a crowd so if the announcers were still paying attention, I knew they would call my name as I crossed the finish.

They did.

“Kim Moore of Richmond!”

I crossed the line, made the final right hand curve onto Tredegar, and some really nice volunteer handed me my finisher’s medal, which felt shockingly heavy on my tired neck and shoulders.

My phone was ringing in the pocket of my running tights. I couldn’t answer my grandmother’s call to surely see if I was okay. At that point, I was single-minded. I needed to find my Sherpa and get some more clothes on.

I also really, REALLY, wanted a slice of cold pizza, but, well, pizza is for runners who manage to run faster than 12:30 minute miles. I found Byram who gave me a hug that actually hurt (my whole body hurt by that point) and we found my discarded running jacket in the clothing pile. I signed out on my team sheet, and then, careful not to trip and fall into the canal, I pulled on my extra clothes, posed for a few photos, and unceremoniously made our way back to the van and to home.

It was over. I can call myself a marathoner.

I was so cold when I got home that I couldn’t stop shivering and my lips were a deep shade of purple. I took a long hot bath, but kept having to add hot water because my skin was chilling the water around me. I was literally behaving like a human ice cube.

I thought the medal would mean more to me, but it is just a thing to wind up in the pile of medals in my underwear drawer. My memory of my high five from Bart Yasso, the maple leaf in my hand, and running backwards to give a very small boy the high five he ran into the street to give me; these memories mean so much more to me than that medal. Calling Byram the second time to reassure him that I was really okay is so much more important. The conversation with the lady who was running her 7th marathon where she confirmed that I was feeling awful but normal for that stage of the race. The random chatter with Coach Judy. The sight of Coach Blair on Forest Hill, and knowing I didn’t need his assistance. The seemingly naked dude holding a sign on Riverside and Lookout. The incredible feeling of invincibility I felt around mile 12 on Forest Hill, spreading my arms out wide and wanting to yell out loud. These are the things I want so desperately to  hold on to. These are the only reasons I would put myself through this again. No, the medal holds surprisingly little meaning to me.

Would I do it again?

I don’t know. Training for this became a way of life for me, especially in the last month. I have so many other things in my life to devote time and energy to, but most do not hold the positive energies that running over 26 miles did. I think I would do it again. Maybe. The timing would have to be right. With that said, I loved the energy and the positivity connected with running with Team Pink (and Cocoa to some extent) and THAT is what I crave to have again. NOW I understand why some people sign up for MTT, fully intending to switch to the Half Marathon teams later in the season; it’s to surround yourself with positive energy and people who share the same, positive, connected goal that you do, as soon as possible.

I have a couple of new goals for myself, none of which have to do with miles or speed. Once I tackle those, I might look at taking on another marathon. For now, I am content with what I have accomplished.

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Smile

I have been working really, really hard on retraining my brain.

You see, I believe it is my brain holding me back more than my legs, lungs, or heart. Right before the Instant Classic, I wrote about how I was practicing smiling while running. It works! I know that sounds stupid, but if you make yourself smile, you think about why you are smiling. When I smile when I run, even if I am forcing it at first, all of these great thoughts start moving through my brain.

“Man, this is actually FUN!”

“Bet that lady who sees me grinning thinks I am an absolute nutter. Cool.”

“I could be sitting at my desk looking like I am ‘chewing glass’ right now. Glad I am out here smiling instead.”

When you are smiling, you can’t think “God, why do I choose to do this to myself?” It helps banish the thoughts like the one I had yesterday: “How in the HELL is Broad Street uphill both ways on Church Hill? It simply isn’t possible!”

It’s working and I can empirically prove it. My pace is coming down. I can see that on my Daily Mile training charts. The major improvement I have been looking for, which is getting faster, is finally happening. More and more of my runs are averaging mid 10 minute miles rather than mid 11s. I am even getting some averages in the low 10s, and on the treadmill I am starting to see some upper 9 minute mile averages.

I started running 3 years ago this month, in April of 2010, 3 months post gastric bypass surgery. Back then, I didn’t know a thing about pace or distance or anything. I was just running laps in the bottom of my parking deck, trying not to die after a single minute of running, and hoping to God that no one actually saw me.

Once I became conscious of things like pace, I knew more that I wanted more than anything to run a sub-12 minute mile. That was my first real goal once I had more or less succeeded at the Couch to 5K training program (which took more like 6 months, not 6 weeks for me).

I did eventually succeed at that goal, but I have since languished in the 11-12 minute mile range. Looking back, I realize I was doing just enough work to call a workout a run, but not really putting in the work to make real gains.

Now, all I want in the world is to get under 10 minute mile averages on a regular basis. My legs, lungs, and heart can do it; it’s my head that gets too heavy to carry. It is more than just smiling, of course, but the act of smiling does help ground my brain and shift from a negative headspace to a positive one.

Yesterday, a coworker saw me running down Church Hill and he said I looked like I was having a good time. At that point in my run, I was. After climbing Libbie Hill and then going up to Chimborazo Park, I had suffered a bit, and so that steep downhill of Broad Street heading west back towards the Downtown area felt kind of like an easy treat, and I definitely running a sub-10 minute mile pace. But I was also smiling and focusing on how glad I was to be out and about and running.

It’s Tuesday and Tuesdays are for speed, which is why I am particularly miffed that I left my gym bag at home today. It’ll have to be an evening run in the Chester YMCA, and the combination of the Chester Y and evening runs are especially hard on my brain, so tonight, I will practice smiling, and keep working on retraining my brain.

Working Now But Thinking Ahead

I am committed. I paid my fee, chose my t-shirt size, and I am officially a part of the SportsBackers Half Marathon training team. I am actually pretty excited about this because this is the first formal training team I will work with, and unlike the informal group I trained for the Instant Classic with, there will be a dedicated support team, the routes will be well-organized and planned, and I will actually run the same race as the people I am training with.

I just got done with a 3 mile lunch run. It is finally “normally” hot in Richmond, as opposed to the abnormal heat we had the last week of June/first week of July. It is somewhat easier to get miles in when its 90 rather than 105. Tomorrow will be wretchedly hot, but tomorrow is also my scheduled indoor intervals day (Tuesdays are for speed, you know). I am very focused on getting my miles under 11 minutes, but that is only happening on the treadmill. I just have to keep at it and hope that with falling high temperatures this autumn will also see falling pace times.

The rest of the month has a moderate training plan set out to help keep me motivated, active, and focused heading into Pennsic. Mondays and Thursdays are always 3 mile runs; easily accomplished on my lunch hour. Tuesdays have been speed work days for a long time, and right now, I am focusing on intervals for the sheer intensity I can squeeze into the 20 minutes I get on Tuesdays when I have phone duty (I lose the other 40 minutes to getting to the gym, changing, changing back, getting back to the office, and very quickly throwing something in the microwave to eat at my desk). Wednesdays are for weights. I still love picking up heavy things and putting them back down; I am still in pursuit of shoulders like Michelle Obama. Not to mention, Warrior Dash is still coming.

Fridays are free days. I can cross train (weight lifting, cycling, walking, etc.) or I can just rest. I like having the choice. Saturdays are supposed to be for long runs, 5 miles for now, though for a very solid reason, I skipped my long run this past Saturday. On Sunday, God rested, and so shall I.

After Pennsic, distances will go on the increase. I am really starting to think about Warrior Dash and being better prepared for it this year. I want to slaughter my time last year, and I think I can do a lot better now that I know a) what I am up against, and b) that I really CAN do it. I will be far less hesitant at those 12 foot walls because I have already done them. I won’t wait FOREVER for the perfect length of rope to scale a wall. I doubt I will have to swim in 6 feet of water this year, since I bet we will NOT get 10 inches of rain the week before the race.

I am 1000x more confident just having done it once and having run 4 times its distance now, as well. Neither the length of the race or the obstacles hold any mystery or fear for me now. The only thing I fear is a repeat of my 58 minute performance of last year. Oh no, that won’t be the case this year. No way in hell.

Also, this year, I have decided to go in costume. Oh yes.

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4 Months Until The Richmond Half

My reduced mileage and this heat is taking its toll on my training this summer. Next Monday (payday), I will pay up for the American Family Half Marathon Training Team, and in about a month, training kicks off for the half marathon on Nov. 10. This heat makes me so glad I am not planning on running either of the two relatively large half marathons that take place in Virginia in August. (Whoops, Pat. Henry is in August, but Rock & Roll is Sept. 2).

I really have tried to focus on improving my speed this summer, but it has been a wickedly hot summer. I can make some blistering paces (for me anyway) on the treadmill, but those are not translating to the road runs. My first mile is always right around 10 minutes (sometimes even less than 10 minutes) but then that’s it. The heat sets in and I start wilting, and when it is close to 90 degrees, I find myself walking a lot of the last half mile, fighting off a swimmy head.

I am getting excited about running again. I didn’t sink deep into post-race blues after the Dauber Dash, probably because the heat kept me from being interested in running at all. But now its July, the Richmond Half is starting to feel more real, as is Warrior Dash on September 29. I am planning on running the Instant Classic in March again because, damnit, I still want a 2:30 time or better there.

I need to go back to my Saturday long runs (5 miles or better) and start getting back in the habit of early morning runs on Saturdays, since I will be paying for the privilege of doing that for 14 weeks this coming Autumn. Frankly, I need to simply sit down with a calendar and plot out my workouts between now and after Pennsic, when I will begin the training team.

I seriously want to nail my 2:30 goal in November and I have exactly 4 months left to get right and get fast. Time to get cracking.

Post-Race Blues

I posted my write-up on the Virginia Warrior Dash Race over at my regular blog; you can read it all here.

After such an insane weekend, post-race blues are setting in a bit, combined with two bits of bad news. The first is related to the length of time my beloved dog has left to be with us (hint: only a few more days) and the second was the single worst hemoglobin reading I have ever had taken in attempting a blood donation, in spite of heavy Fe supplementation over the past month.

I need to address some health issues, nutritionally and habit-related.

I also need a new goal to work towards. Warrior Dash is over and I have no races on my schedule until April at the earliest. I have been desperately searching for some kind of New Year’s eve or New Year’s day race, but the only local one I found was already sold out of spaces. I thought it would be really need to set the tone of 2012 with a race.

I am more depressed than ever that I am not running the half-marathon on November 12, like I had so badly wanted too. Money issues and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever set in at the exact same time that I needed to sign up and start hard-core training. I set aside my 13.1 mile goal at that point. Too sick and too poor to even get off the ground.

I am looking for charity runs, 5Ks, 10Ks, mud runs, whatever. I am also trying to avoid conflicting with major SCA events. Rugged Maniac on May 5, 2012, is therefore out. Henricus Dauber Dash (is there not a more perfect race for me?) is a possibility as it will run the week AFTER Pennsic next year, but that is mid-August and I need something to run soon. Like now.

I could run the Ukrops 10K in April next year, but honestly, the race sells out every year and it is capped at 40,000 entrants. I really don’t want to run with 40,000 other people unless I am going into something really big like a half or full marathon. Crowds give me issues, and it was tough enough running in a wave of 500 last weekend.

There is the MGD Filthy 5K, which is part of the Dominion River Rock games, next May. It is cheap ($25), within walking distance from my office so I can hit it straight up after work, capped at 2,000 participants, and looks like a ton of fun. Again, it’s in May.

I just stumbled across this Pumpkin Run at the end of the month. It hits all the right things for me. Close, inexpensive, running for charity (autism!), and family friendly (free kids run).

Maybe that’s what I will go do.

But first, I need new shoes.

-17 Days – Climb the Hill

The saying goes, if you want to run faster, run uphill.

The best hills to run up near me is either running west up Main Street or heading east on Broad.

One direction or the other, today, we do some hill training.

18 Days and Counting

2.2 miles today in 26:15. 83 degrees and sunny.
Stopped to walk twice, once at about 1.5 miles for 2 whole minutes, and once after the uber hill coming up Byrd Street: 45 second recovery walk. A bit disappointed with the 12 minute pace.

Seemed hotter than it was. 83 was definitely a far cry from the mid-90s weather of this summer, but truthfully, I ran precious little in the heat.

Want to run in the 50’s weather they are predicting for Friday and see if I can get a bump up in pace.

Need to get in a 3.5 mile run this weekend at home, which means it is time for fun with Google Earth.