It’s been a while…

I haven’t written a post in quite a while. There has been plenty going on worth writing about, but I have been happy to just embrace the experiences for myself instead of rehashing each and every one in its own blog post. Now that the year is (WAY too quickly) winding down, I felt like catching up the blog would be fun. So here’s what I’ve been up to during the summer and fall:

I tried some new things in the running/racing department through the summer. Coming out of training for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, I was surprised to find that I wasn’t remotely sick of running. But I knew my mind and body needed a break from strenuous training. So I ran a few races for fun including my first trail race (a 7k in 37:35), a local half marathon (1:44:39) my first 8k (36:54), and a 5k (25:07). I learned that I am certainly not as strong at short distances as I am at half marathons and marathons. The 8k and 5k were both in some pretty ridiculously hot temperatures. But even if the temperatures had been ideal I doubt the results would have been impressive. The feeling of trying to sustain faster paces for a shorter race proved to be pretty foreign to my body and I could never maintain my pace in the later miles.

'Please just kill me now...'

‘Please just kill me now…’

I ran a new half marathon PR. Several of my Bull City Track Club teammates were traveling to race the Lehigh Valley Marathon in Pennsylvania in September. I jumped at the chance to make the trip with them and race the half marathon, knowing that an early fall race would be my best chance to train for a good performance since the later fall months were booked solid with wedding and honeymoon plans. I ended up running a really solid race. I perfectly executed negative splits, starting around a 7:37 average pace at mile 1 and ticking down to 7:25 average pace by the time I reached the finish line (my last mile was 6:51, which surprised the hell out of me). The end result was a shiny new half marathon PR of 1:37:11 and I couldn’t have been happier.

A new PR and third in my age group. And beer, of course.

A new PR and third in my age group. And beer, of course.

I was accepted into the Boston Marathon! No explanation is really necessary except to say that, after over two years of very hard work, it felt so incredible to get that acceptance email.

 

I helped pace somebody for the first time. Last week I ran the Richmond Half Marathon alongside my friend Amelia. It was her second half marathon and she was hoping to improve her time from last year of 1:46:30 to somewhere around 1:45. I had a great time running with her and even felt like I was a helpful motivator at a few points along the way. We crossed the finish line together in 1:43:12 – an incredible new PR for Amelia!

 

Most exciting and hands down most importantly… On October 24th, a perfectly beautiful day in Wilmington, NC, Jeremy and I got married! Part of me wants to go into great detail about each and every part of that weekend, but every single time I try to do that the words that come out don’t seem to adequately capture our happiness and gratitude. The best I can do is say that we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend celebrating with all of our friends and family. The ceremony and reception were fun, stress free, and fit us completely perfectly. At the end of it all, we both agreed that we felt at peace, like everything was exactly how it should be now that we were officially husband and wife.

Announcement

Reception

We topped off a great wedding weekend with 8 days of complete relaxation in Jamaica. We enjoyed plenty of quality time together unplugged from email and social media, ate all the food, drank all the adult beverages, and simply enjoyed the view.

Jamaica

The view from our room. I definitely still miss it.

It’s good to be back on the blog after an extended hiatus. Now that I’m somewhat caught up, maybe I can do a better job of making this into a regular thing again!

Advertisements

The 2014 Richmond Half Marathon

After a (mostly) great experience at the Richmond Marathon in 2013, I knew I wanted to come back and run this race again. I love that it is such a big running event but still seems to flow as smoothly as any small town race that I have run. And spending a weekend in Richmond always gives me a chance to spend time with my family.

This time around, I chose the half marathon since I had sworn off marathons for the remainder of 2014. And I was truly excited to sign up for the half. Since I hit the wall around mile 19 of the full marathon last year, I wanted to get a chance to really enjoy every mile of the race this time around and the half marathon is easily the most fun distance for me. To add to the excitement, a best friend of mine from high school decided to run Richmond as her first half marathon. I was really happy to be able to spend time with her and be a part of her first half marathon experience.

Of course, there’s no way everything can go according to plan. And in the week leading up to race day it became obvious it was going to be a VERY cold morning in Richmond (in the upper 20’s around the starting time). I obsessed over what I should or shouldn’t wear for multiple days.

After much debate, on race morning I stuck with my stubborn side’s inclination to wear shorts, my Bull City Track Club jersey, arm sleeves, gloves, and ear warmers. It was cold but really not bad at all after a few miles in. Amelia and I got there somewhat early and jogged around the start in throwaway sweats for a while which got us pretty warm.

My estimated finish time put me in the front corral so with 15 minutes left until the start I gave Amelia a hug and found a place in my corral to keep warming up. My watch decided to test my nerves and absolutely refused to catch a signal before the start. When the start came and it still hadn’t gotten with the program, I thought I was going to have to run watch-less. But, finally, a tenth of a mile in I heard it beep and come to life. A huge relief.

My goal for the race was to run a PR – under 1:43:30 – or even, if things went magically, get my first finish under 1:40.

I started at a pace that was fast enough to PR (around 7:42 per mile) but not sub-1:40 speed. I didn’t want to crash and burn at the end and lose the chance to PR, which is what I did in the Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon just a month ago. The first 4 or 5 miles I wondered if even a PR was going to happen, though. My legs felt fatigued even though it was early in the race. The first three miles were also a bit dull running straight down one road through the city. Mentally, I wasn’t feeling very positive at all.

Richmond 2

The next chunk of miles (5-8) I got a little more comfortable and confident that the PR was going to happen. We ran through a park and some residential areas and the changing leaves were so bright in some areas it was breathtaking. Mile 8 was hard (and my slowest mile) but I was still hovering at the same 7:42 per mile average pace. I felt like I could hold onto it but not like I could pick it up any faster. So I had kind of let go of the sub 1:40 idea.

Around mile 9 was a huge turning point. I don’t know what sort of good running karma I earned to deserve it, but so many things happened seemingly all at once that totally changed my mentality, and the outcome of my race…

  • Bull City Running Company, the local store that sponsors Bull City Track Club, had set up a huge display of Durham running signs on the side of the street. It was so good to see some familiar signage at this point.
  • A friendly stranger named Amanda came up from right behind me, told me my pace was awesome and how much I was helping her keep her goal pace. We ran together for a little bit until…
  • I saw another bright orange Bull City Track Club jersey ahead but couldn’t figure out who it was. So I picked it way up to catch them and say hello. Turns out it was a teammate I had yet to meet named Jen.
  • Another teammate, Jennifer (who I also hadn’t met), was right near by and introduced herself to me. She had been near me a lot of the race and even waved a few miles earlier but she was wearing a different top so I didn’t make the connection.
  • I saw some other familiar faces from the Durham running crowd out spectating. They were speeding by on the sidewalk riding on ElliptiGOs cheering like crazy. You can’t ask for better motivation than that.

By the time all this happened it was mile 10ish. All the motivators had me picking up speed without even noticing it. I looked down at my watch and suddenly my average pace was 7:38 per mile or so.

Jennifer picked up the pace and started to move ahead and I chased after her. I did my best to keep her in my sights for the entire last three miles and was completely amazed by what was happening. It was the last three miles of a half marathon, my pace was ticking faster and faster (as opposed to the usual slower and slower), and I was having fun and feeling surprisingly good.

Richmond finishes on a notoriously steep downhill. I knew that was coming so I pushed myself hard up to it. I was so thankful for that downhill too, because my calves were on the verge of cramping completely by the time I got there. But all my legs had to do was not give out and take advantage of the gravity for a speedy finish.

My chip time was 1:39:39. Almost a 4 minute PR and breaking below the 1:40 mark for the first time. I couldn’t be happier with it!

The thing I am probably most proud of is my split times. Every mile from mile 8 on was progressively faster and miles 9 through 13 were my fastest miles of the whole race:

Mile 1: 7:44
Mile 2: 7:40
Mile 3: 7:41
Mile 4: 7:39
Mile 5: 7:39
Mile 6: 7:42
Mile 7: 7:39
Mile 8: 7:48
Mile 9: 7:32
Mile 10: 7:29
Mile 11: 7:26
Mile 12: 7:18
Mile 13: 7:04

Richmond 1

Amelia also had an amazing first half marathon result and finished in 1:46! A cold but successful day in Richmond and I couldn’t have asked for a more fun weekend!

What’s the coldest temperature you’ve ever raced in?

Fall race season fun

I’ve been pretty negligent blog-wise over the past few months. It’s a good thing I’ve been doing the occasional race update here and there or else I may have dropped off the map completely.

I’ve been doing some real important things like working, wedding planning, and training. And even more unimportant things like watching too many episodes of Revenge and Breaking Bad and getting completely sucked into Gone Girl. I’m very close to finishing the book so if you’ve read it or seen the movie and are dying to comment about the ending just keep it to yourself until tomorrow, I beg of you.

Somewhere in there, the fall race season crept up on me. I’m running the Bull City Race Fest half marathon on Sunday which should be a good time. I got a free entry for volunteering last year so it was an easy choice to give this race a try. There’s also a food truck rodeo at the post-race party so I would probably have shown up even if I wasn’t running just to eat all the food.

Bull City Race Fest

I’ve heard it’s a pretty hilly course which I’m not REALLY worried about but I’m not NOT worried about. I’ve been doing some hill workouts this training cycle which is beyond shocking for me. You see, usually my game plan is to deliberately hunt down and sign up for races that have no hills instead of attempting to train myself to run up them with any sort of skill.

I also signed up for the Richmond half marathon recently, which is November 15th. I loved the Richmond marathon, so I thought it would be nice to run the half and be able to enjoy the race from start to finish instead of spending a couple of miles in between cursing the sport of running and my poor, aching legs.

AnthemRichmondMarathonLogo

I have no idea how these races are going to turn out. I have progressively felt mentally stronger after spending the last months of summer feeling less than stellar about my training. But I am not so sure where I am physically or how it will translate on race day.

I would love to get close to 1:40 in either one of my fall half marathons, but I won’t be crushed if it doesn’t happen.

How about you fine people: What races are you running this fall? Or, if you think running is just for crazy people (and you’re right), what is something else big you have planned this fall?