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Rock & Roll Half Marathon race report March 18, 2014

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
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Way back when, before the winter that knows no end, and before the hellish work travel of death, I thought it would be a great idea to run another full marathon.  I ran one in 2010 and 2012, so it made perfect sense to challenge myself to 26.2 again in 2014.

Well…best of intentions and all that.  Long story short, training was lackluster and it would not have been prudent to attempt the marathon.  So, we decided to drop down to the half marathon, and the race was this past Saturday.  It wasn’t my worst half, and it certainly wasn’t my best, but overall I enjoyed myself and emerged from the experience with my head held high.

It was a BEAUTIFUL day for running – 40s at the start and 60s by the end, with a mostly overcast sky.  I love the Rock & Roll races because the bands keep it interesting every couple of miles (gives me something to focus on besides the clomping of my feet), and this was no exception – the water stop volunteers were super nice as well.  It was awesome to see the whole DC running community out in full force!  It makes me think I will do more to get involved with non-TNT running groups from here on out.

The course was different from when we ran this half in 2012, and for the most part I loved the changes.  The exception?  The MASSIVE hill coming out of Rock Creek Park into Adams Morgan.  Holy.  Crap.  It was practically straight up!  I was huffing and puffing just trying to walk, let alone run.  The payoff was a nice downhill once we got to North Capitol Street, and then a nice jaunt through our neighborhood (NoMa/H Street/Capitol Hill)!  I also appreciated that the finish was not SO far away from Metro (unlike the Army Ten-Miler).

Bottom line, I’m glad we followed through with the race, and I look forward to warmer weather and hopefully getting into the lottery for the Marine Corps Marathon!  🙂

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New challenges November 8, 2013

Posted by bettyjoan in Fundraising, Races, Running.
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You may have noticed that there are some new races in my “Upcoming Races” widget.  Not only am I running the Veterans Day 10K this weekend (on a whim, a girlfriend suggested the race and I decided to jump on board), but I am also signed up for both the Rock & Roll USA Marathon – yes, the full – and the Nike Women’s Half Marathon.

As much as hubby and I wanted London to be our 2014 marathon (I figure I’m up for one full every two years), his work situation has made international travel pretty unlikely for the next year or two.  Also, we were really missing being involved with Team In Training, so we decided to register for whatever local race they were planning for Spring ’14.  Bing, bang, boom – that’s how we wound up committing to the RnR race.  I decided to tack on the Nike half as an extra challenge (to avoid the usual post-marathon exercise slump).

Obviously, since we are training with TNT, we are also fundraising!  I need to raise $3,200 for my two races, so here is my fundraising page:

http://pages.teamintraining.org/nca/rnrusa14/bettyrh

Please stay tuned for training updates, fundraising events, and other super-fun marathon goodness.  🙂

What is everyone else’s race calendar looking like?

Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon – the sequel July 26, 2013

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It has been a long time since I trained in earnest (thus, the lack of posting), so to say I had low expectations for the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon would be the understatement of the decade.  That turned out to be good news, as I was able to put aside my usual competitive and time-centric thoughts and focus on the beauty and fun of the race.  What an idea, eh?

I would still recommend this race to anyone – it is a fantastic course, you get awesome swag (this year’s medal doubles as a coaster!), and there is lots of wine-drinking, including around mile 10 when you run right past the Gundlach Bundschu winery (definitely worth a visit while you’re in town).  The expo was in a better location this year, but it is still very small, so make sure you bring all of your own Gu/sport beans/special electrolyte powder/whatever.  I forgot my race belt, and luckily I was able to buy a replacement.

The weather was ideal for running – cool at the start, dry throughout, and only got warm/sunny at the very end (and if you finished more quickly, you probably didn’t have to deal with any heat/sun at all).  The whole trip, which was just under a week, was absolute climate perfection, especially after leaving a heat index of 110 degrees in DC.

Now that my first “race” (I use the quotation marks because…well, you can see my time on the right toolbar) since Ragnar is in the books, the question becomes: what next?  I am signed up for the Army Ten Miler in October, but I feel like something in between might be smart, since N2S was a wake-up call in terms of my need to stay on top of my fitness.

Maybe a 5K/10K?  Someone suggested the Parks Half Marathon – any thoughts?

Rock & Roll USA Half Marathon race report March 29, 2012

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Well, it was bound to happen – as you can see from the sidebar, the half marathon in DC didn’t garner us the PR we were hoping for.  BUT, on the plus side, it was a tremendous learning experience and a really fun weekend overall.  Here’s how it went down…

Originally, five of us were traveling to DC, and we were all going to race – three of us were doing the half, and two crazies were going all out with the full marathon.  Well, crazy #1 suffered a stress fracture, and crazy #2 was super sick and couldn’t make the trip at all.  In the end, we still had four people in our condo (which, incidentally, was SO MUCH BETTER than staying in a hotel), but only two of us – me and my husband – ended up running the race.

We got to DC on Thursday night, and we hit the expo first thing on Friday.  I am really starting to hate expos – they always have the same old stuff, and my impulse is generally just to get the bib/shirt and get the hell out.  We ate a delicious lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, and then we tried to rest and relax for the remainder of the day.  One of the awesome parts about staying in a condo is that we were able to cook our own pre-race dinner – so we enjoyed yummy carbs in the peace and quiet of our own space.  Ahhhh!  It also cut down on our walking and waiting, so we were able to go to bed early and actually get quality rest.  As it turns out, it was the best night of pre-race sleep I have ever had.

Instead of fooling around with Metro in the morning, we decided to take a cab, which gave us about an hour of extra sleep – it was the right decision!  We grabbed our breakfast and asked the cabbie to get us as close to the start line as possible, and he did a great job, despite various race-related road closures.  I had plenty of time for a bio break and some stretching before we were off and running!

The first five miles were awesome – it was still relatively cool, and the adrenaline was pushing us right along.  We ran around the Capitol building and some really cute residential areas near the Hill, and then we turned up 18th Street through Downtown, Dupont Circle, and Adams Morgan.  Unfortunately, right around mile 6-7 (ish), as we were going up a nice hill, I noticed that hubby’s footsteps sounded labored AND farther behind me than they should have been.  For some reason, he was really struggling – I think it was because the sun had come out and the temperature had risen past his comfort level, and it just hit him a lot harder than he was expecting.

For most of the rest of the race, we did a run-walk combo, just to keep things moving.  Hubby poured water over his head when he could, in an effort to cool down.  When we saw the finish area, he dug deep and we were able to run to the end!  So, even though we were off the original goal pace, we learned a lot and decided that we would funnel all of that information into having a GREAT full marathon experience in Madrid.  I was super excited that my IT band issues didn’t surface at all – a good sign for April racing.

And, of course, we enjoyed the rest of our weekend in DC – because, ya know, 13.1 miles is 13.1 miles.  🙂

Savannah Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon race report November 6, 2011

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Well, another half is in the books – the Savannah Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon will be my last significant race of 2011, and let me just say, I felt every mile of it.  Here’s how it went down…

Hubby and I were lucky enough to take Friday off, so we left early and got to Savannah around lunchtime.  That meant the Expo wasn’t as crowded, which was nice – though it was still a little nutty for my liking (I’m getting to be pretty crabby about expos, since they all look about the same after enough races – I just want to pick up my packet and GO).  Unfortunately, it seemed like those folks who got into town a little later got stuck in MAJOR traffic, since the convention center is on an island that is only accessible by one bridge/road.  They had to keep the Expo open later than anticipated because so many people would have missed it entirely otherwise.  Frankly, I don’t understand why they scheduled the race for a Saturday – if they did it on Sunday, you could have the expo open all day on Saturday and the traffic would be much more evenly spread.  Whatev.

After a lovely home-cooked pasta dinner at our Tybee rental house, we hit the sack, and before we knew it, it was oh dark thirty on Saturday morning and it was time to head out to the shuttles that would take us to the start line.  There were supposed to be 2 pickup locations on Tybee Island, with two pickup times each (5:30 and 6 AM).  We got to our pickup location at quarter of six, but there weren’t enough buses and we ended up standing outside (in 40 degrees and 20 mph winds) until almost 7 AM when they finally sent another bus to get us.  It was an absolute clusterfuck.  We barely made it to the race in time to hit the port-a-potties and get to the corrals – so I was super tight and tense from being in the cold, and I didn’t have time to do my usual stretching routine.  I was VERY stressed, and I started the race more nervous than I’ve been in a long time.

I was pleasantly surprised with the course support.  Even though the race took us through the less fortunate parts of Savannah, all of the residents were out cheering and welcoming us to their city.  I was feeling really good until about mile 5, when my left knee started to act up.  Thankfully, the course was flat and the weather was nice once the sun came up, so I was able to focus my energy elsewhere and push past the pain for a while.  Right around mile 10, when I stopped and walked in order to drink some water, I realized that my knees were in real trouble.  I told my husband that I couldn’t stop to walk anymore, as I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to start running again.  Bottom line, I dug deep and cranked out the last three excruciating miles (while making some troubled grunting noises, I’m told), and we finished in 2:18:48.  A PR by nearly 9 minutes, woo hoo!

The medal is great, but the shuttles BACK to Tybee were just as big of a mess as the ones in the morning.  I hope the Rock & Roll group works out the transportation kinks before next year’s race, as I think it was a pretty significant black mark on an otherwise well-organized event.

As for my performance, I’m pretty sure that the cold, the lack of stretching, and my lackluster taper (brought on largely by work travel) caused some painful IT band issues – but, I’m pretty sure that after I rest and recover, I’ll be back to normal and ready to start the next training cycle.  I’m excited that I was able to PR, even with some less-than-ideal circumstances, as it proves that my base level of fitness and running ability is MUCH better than it was even a year ago.

Next up: Madrid training officially begins next weekend!

“Wine”-ding down August 5, 2011

Posted by bettyjoan in Races, Running.
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The past two weeks have been virtually exercise-free.  Other than a dog walk here and there, I’ve enjoyed a nice, long break.  And I earned it, gosh darnit, after two races in July!

First up was the Peachtree Road Race, on July 4.  There were certainly ups and downs to our race experience – on the plus side, an administrative glitch meant that I was erroneously assigned to the top-seeded womens’ corral, which basically gave me carte blanche to start wherever I darn well pleased (and to use the special no-line porta-potties near the front, haha).  Also, a bunch of our friends were racing, so we had a fun sleepover the night before.  On the other hand, the expo was a NIGHTMARE (just way too crowded), and it was brutally hot and humid, even in the early morning.  It was hubby’s first PRR, and I was really hoping he’d love it, but I think the miserable weather combined with the tough course made him wonder why it’s such a beloved Atlanta tradition.  🙂  Bottom line, it was far from my best race, but I did manage to shave some time off last year’s time and turn in a 10K PR.

Two weeks after Peachtree, we headed out west for the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon – our first half marathon together, since I was unable to run Publix in March.  Let me just say – I would absolutely, positively, no questions asked, recommend this race to ANYONE.  It wasn’t perfect – the expo was teeny tiny, and due to the nature of the course, there wasn’t a whole lot of crowd support – BUT, it was definitely my best half marathon to date.  The weather was perfect (dry, mid-50s to mid-60s), the scenery was ridiculously gorgeous, and the volunteers and staff were awesome.  Oh, and did I mention that we got medals AND commemorative wine glasses, AND that there was a mini-wine tasting at mile 10 (hilarious), AND that there was a free wine festival (with lots more tastings) at the finish line?????  We had an absolute blast.  The PR (2:27:07, a good 15 minutes faster than my fastest half marathon) was a nice bonus, too.

Training resumes again tomorrow, this time for the Savannah Rock & Roll Half Marathon in early November.  For Publix and Napa, we just used the Hal Higdon beginner training plan, mostly because hubby was still in the early running phase where he wasn’t confident that he could complete the distance.  Now that he has two half marathons under his belt (and I have three halfs and a full under mine), we are going to step things up and try to run better and faster.  We got an intermediate plan from a friend, and it includes some speed/track work.  My biggest fear/question at this point is how in the heck we are going to do those workouts when it is so.  Damn.  HOT.  I don’t want to rely on the treadmill (for MANY reasons), but the weather makes it really difficult.

How do YOU get your training in during the dog days of summer?

Zooma Atlanta race report November 10, 2009

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Way back at the end of the summer, one of my triathlon teammates convinced me to sign up for the Zooma Atlanta half marathon.  “Come on!” she said.  “It’ll be fun!” she said.  “It’ll keep your training on target!” she said.  I figured it would be a good idea to have an endurance event on the fall calendar, as it would force me to stay in shape and avoid the off-season slump.

Well…so much for that.

Between my September wedding and some crazy work travel, my training regimen was decidedly unregimented.  I ran when I could, but it was usually on a treadmill, and it definitely wasn’t for distances that were acceptable for half marathon preparation.  So, as November 8 approached, to say that I felt apprehensive about my commitment would be the understatement of the year.  Still, even walking 13.1 miles is quite a feat, so I decided to stick with the event and just do the best I could.

I woke up bright and early on Sunday, and I put on my lucky running skirt, my “Will Run For Wine” wicking shirt, and my badass visor from the Chattanooga tri (it makes me feel like a real athlete, what can I say).  A friend picked me up, and we headed to Atlantic Station to start the race.  At the start line, I actually ran into a friend from high school who was attempting her first half marathon.  We chatted for a bit, and then it was off to the races!  I felt pretty good for the first couple of miles, happily bopping along to my workout playlist (this was an iPod-friendly race, which I hadn’t experienced before).

I paused for a bio-break at the first water stop, and I kept right on running when I was finished.  For the first 5-6 miles, I was pretty pleased with myself–after all, I was maintaining 11-12 minute miles, and I wasn’t feeling any pain.  Maybe I would PR after all!

Not so fast.

As Spring Street turned into Techwood, which turned into Centennial Olympic Park, and as we ran past the CNN Center and the crowds of Falcons fans already tailgating near the Georgia Dome (man, did their grilled meats smell good…), I started to poop out.  Specifically, around mile 7, my hip flexors began to THROB, and a stabbing pain occasionally flared up in and around my left knee (already braced).  Other than at the water tables, I hadn’t been walking–but the exceptionally hilly course, combined with my lackluster training, meant that my ability to truly run was more and more compromised, and I found myself slowing significantly.

We circled Turner Field, passed the gold-domed state capital, and then stayed on Piedmont Avenue for a while.  With every step, my joints cursed me.  I tried to play peppy, positive music, but my brain wasn’t buyin’ it.  I’ve never been so happy to see the 17th Street bridge and Atlantic Station.  As I spotted the finish line, I saw the clock and realized that I could finish in under three hours if I just gritted my teeth and pushed a little harder.  It may not have technically been a sprint to the finish, but I used every last bit of energy and gumption that I had and crossed that line at 2:56:16.  That was about 13 minutes slower than my ING Half Marathon time, but I felt like the Zooma course had a whole lot more climbing.

Instead of a medal, the Zooma half marathon finishers got a cool silver necklace–it’s a peach with a runner inside, and on the back is the date of the race.  I may not have set any records on Sunday, but I earned that piece of jewelry for sure!  While I wasn’t a huge fan of the course (it took us through some…unattractive parts of Atlanta, and there was virtually no one out on the roads cheering), I definitely appreciate Zooma for reminding me that I have to get back on the training wagon if I want to do better at these events.

Next up?  Who knows…maybe a Christmas 5K?  What do y’all have on your racing calendars for the holidays?