Redeux.

After my race on Sunday, I wanted a do over.

Honestly, on the way home I was already planning the next one.

The next time, I thought, I will go out a little slower, maybe a 8:00/mile, stay conservative in mile two, and then kick it up at the end.

And never, ever walk.

So I asked Jeff last night if he minded if I signed myself up for another 5k.

I think I found a race. Sunday, June 3. Early enough start time so when I’m done I still have the whole day in front of me.

And it will give me a couple of weeks to let my legs recover from my half and the hard races, but also attack some tempo runs and speedwork.

I know I am capable of breaking 25:00 in a 5k.

I just need to go and DO it.

So that’s the plan for my 5k redeux.

The Best Plans…

… apparently don’t come to fruition sometimes.

Funny, I had confidence that I could break 25:00 in a 5k. I was gunning for 24:00.

My official time from Sunday’s race?

25:27.

Took me longer than I expected last week to recover from my half. Even though I had no real residual soreness when I was sitting/standing/walking, my runs felt really hard.

Even so, I’ve been working my speedwork at a 22-minute 5k pace. 25 SHOULD have been easy.

Just didn’t work out.

My first nice good and solid. I went out pretty fast, but it felt good, and I was taking advantage of the short downhill start to coast and keep my breathing even. I paced off a girl I know in my club and in the clinics; she’s a little faster than me but I figured I could probably keep up with her.

Mile went by pretty quickly and I was feeling good.

Mile 1 – 7:36 (garmin time)

The second mile was harder. I expected it; had read on the course description that there were a couple of hills. I tried to keep my breathing even and deep, but it was harder. I knew, though, from the course description, that the third mile was downhill, so I really just tried to hang until I could recover on the downhill. I knew I lost time, but was still sub 8 and still thought I had a chance.

Mile 2 – 8:17 (garmin time)

Except there was NO DOWNHILL MILE.

Instead? It was a slow incline from mile 2 to mile 2.90.

It nearly killed me; I couldn’t control my breathing, and a couple of times I was certain I was going to throw up.

I couldn’t hang on; needed to walk briefly to recover.

The moment I did I knew I wasn’t going to make it work.

Mile 3 – 8:48 (garmin time)

And during mile three, I was ALL in my head, and it wasn’t good. I was thinking, Seriously, what made me think I can run a sub 25? Let it go. I can’t do it.

And then my two running club girlfriends passed me. In the past two races we’ve run this year, I’ve finished behind them both times. Seriously, I am always last.

I hate being last.

I let them go by me, but when I saw the turn before the finish, I couldn’t do it. I needed to give it my all.

Luckily for me, there was a pretty sweet downhill before the finish.

I actually yelled out loud, YEAH! Let’s DO this!

And I let my legs fly.

And I passed my girlfriends, and I FLEW into the finish chute.

For that last .13 (by my garmin), I ran a 5:10 pace.

It’s a PR for me – my best official 5k time before now was 29:07 in August 2010. Yeah, yeah, PR blah blah blah.

But I was really disappointed. I AM CAPABLE OF MORE.

I have speed in me, I know it.

I just don’t have the tools to put it all together in a race.

Yet.

What Next? Oh, How About a 5k?

I wasn’t really paying attention when I scheduled my races this winter – wasn’t until later where I realized that I had scheduled a half-marathon, 5k, and 5 mile race each Sunday starting with last weekend’s half marathon.

This Sunday I’m running a 5k.

From the course website: “The course is flat for the first mile and there is a hill at the two mile mark and the last mile is pretty much downhill.”

My best 5k time before now is 29:07, which was posted in July 2010.

I did try my hand at a XC 5k on a local golf course this spring and managed a whopping 30:20. Freaking hills and grass and stuff. Tough.

I think, though I can run one pretty fast.

Why? Well, I’ve been doing a running clinic with my running club, and for my most recent track workouts, I’ve paced with the 22-minute 5k group.

According to the coach, doing a workout on that means I am actually CAPABLE of running a 22 minute 5k.

But a 5k is different than 400s and 800s and 200s and 300s with breaks in between. I’m certain I could run a 22 minute 5k if I got 90 seconds in between every quarter mile, that’s for sure.

Thing is, I don’t actually KNOW what I’m capable of. I’m only two and a half years into this running thing. I know I’ve gotten faster, but how fast can I run?

How much can I really push myself?

It’s time to see what I can do.

I feel good after my half – much better than I expected to feel. It means I can actually race this weekend like I had hoped to.

Whenever I go into a race, I have a time goal in mind; one that’s a stretch for me. I also, though, have a realistic time goal in mind which I KNOW I can do.

I KNOW I can break 25:00 on Sunday. That’s my first goal – I want to be in the 24-minute range.

I am aiming at 23:59, though.

So my plan for Sunday’s race?

Go out aggressive, stay the course on the hill at mile 2, then use the downhill in the last mile to run hard to the finish. To push when my body is screaming to stop. To focus on my breath, keep my legs moving, and dig deep.

I want to discover my capabilities.

What am I made of?

Middlebury Maple Half Marathon, May 6, 2012

(aka: The Day I Broke Two Hours in a Half Marathon)

I had a 3 mile run on Saturday morning planned, after two days of scheduled rest. And during that run, which felt nearly effortless, I had this thought.

I was breaking two hours.

Wasn’t even a question.

______________________

Jeff, Owen and I got to the Middlebury Inn on Saturday afternoon around 4:30, just about the time that registration was open in the lobby. I picked up my number (60 this year!) and my tech tee shirt.

We checked in, dumped our bags, and walked around Middlebury to find something to eat. Ended up at Two Brothers Tavern, which had a great local menu. I had a mushroom flatbread, which was very tasty. I probably ate more than I should have, but eh, whatever, I was running a half the next day, right?

When we got back to the hotel to get Owen ready for bed that night, we realized – there was a wedding reception going on, literally right underneath us. As Owen was showering I called the front desk to find out what time it was over; mostly for Owen’s benefit rather than mine. Because the last time we stayed at the Inn was in 2010, when he was two… and he was up for 2 hours overnight, enough that Jeff drove him around the area in the car from 3:30 – 6am so that I could get some sleep.

So when we ended up driving Owen around at 8:30pm that night, because he said, Mommy, it’s too loud, it was a funny sort of kismet. We were back in the room at 9, though, and sure enough the wedding was over, and Jeff and I hit the sack not too long thereafter.

Gotta say, I slept like crap. Was one of those nights where you believe you’re awake all night but know at some point you must have slept. It was a relief to get up at 5:30 on race morning, that’s for sure.

Jeff went and got us bagels; I had a sesame bagel with cream cheese. I know it’s breaking a rule to eat something you don’t normally eat before a race, but I had the same thing the morning of my marathon last October with no issues, so I thought I’d be safe. Through the race nerves I managed to eat the entire thing but couldn’t stomach my coffee.

The weather said that it was going to warm up and that by 11am it would be in the low 60s, so I dressed light – tech tee shirt and capri running tights. I brought a long sleeved shirt to wear over top before the race started. My barometer before races is how cold I am. If I’m shivering, I’m dressed well enough for the race. 🙂 And I was chilly when we first got there, so all was good.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that for this race, I was going to use music. I don’t often listen to my shuffle when I’m running, but I thought it would help me focus and allow me to dig deep when I knew I needed it. So at the start, I put on my headphones and started things up.

My goal for the race was to run to feel but aim at 9:00 until the massive hill at mile 7, then accelerate if I had it in me. I knew that it wasn’t going to be a steady 9 minute mile, though, given the hills on the course, so I really tried to focus on running to feel instead of being ruled by the numbers.

The race course is a downhill for the first couple of miles, which I could tell as we started, so they went by pretty quickly. I averaged 8:51 for both miles, which I knew was fast, but not fast enough to worry me.

Pretty steady incline at miles 3-5 as we turned towards the horse farm. Here I tried to keep running to feel, not pushing it too much, keeping my breath in check, and recovering on the (too few!) downhill rollers. Here, also, was when I first started to feel nauseated, like I was going to puke. I kept burping, felt unsettled, and wondered if this race would be my “boot and rally” claim to fame. Which, I admit, worried me. If I was close to puking at mile 5, what would it feel like at mile 12?

Told myself that the nausea was a sensation, and the FEELING about it was fear about something in the future. I was in the NOW. I’d worry about the puking issue later.

My average pace ticked up to about 8:58 here, so I just tried to stay the course.

Mile 1 – 8:51
Mile 2 – 8:51
Mile 3 – 9:08
Mile 4 – 9:06
Mile 5 – 9:12

And then, mile 6 was a dowhill and flat section, which felt effortless after spending three miles climbing. I wanted to make up a little bit of time and bring my average pace back down without going crazy, so I let myself go a little faster. And the puke sensation stopped, thank goodness. I felt pretty good.

But then, THEN was the big hill at Middlebury College. I remembered this from 2010 – was where I walked for the first time.

No way was I walking it again. Oh man, it hurt, but whatever, I ran the whole damn thing. And yep, I was pretty sure I was going to puke. Ugh.

Mile 6 – 8:34
Mile 7 – 9:06

At the top of the hill, I saw Jeff and Owen for the second time (saw them once at the start), and ran over and gave Owen a HUGE hug and kissed Jeff. I was seriously on top of the world – felt SO good and strong and READY. Decided while I was at that point to choke down a Carb Boom at the water stop just past mile 7; I knew even though the pukey feeling was still there, I probably needed SOMETHING while I could tolerate it.

The next couple of miles passed pretty quickly, and I was still feeling good. Kept trying to bring my average pace back down but also run to feel. Legs at this point were starting to get tired, but still pretty good. I was still burping, but felt a little better than I had before. And I was thrilled that I had sustained a sub 9 minute mile average pace this long.

Mile 8 – 8:49
Mile 9 – 8:50

It was at Mile 10 where my legs were fatigued and ready to be done, the out and back portion which includes a couple of hills. I managed to hang on during Mile 10 and 11, but mile 12 I couldn’t do it. I had to walk the big ass hill there, lost a LOT of time. I was spitting and trying not to puke and watching my average pace tick up and my timer get really close to 2:00… and and and…

That was my low point for sure. But then I realized, hey wait a second, it’s only another mile. I can run a mile.

Mile 10 – 9:16
Mile 11 – 9:11
Mile 12 – 9:53

So I started running. And OMG my legs screamed with every step, and I decided to run with the girl next to me who was seriously slow but staying the course, and I kept with her until we got back to the pavement and I could see the turn for the finish line. And then I just shut up and ran. And Jeff says my face showed how much I was suffering, he said, You were gritting your teeth. I’ve never seen you without a smile at the finish before!

But I ran. And when I made the turn to go up to the finish line, I found the speed muscles and activated them and sprinted my way to the finish line. Passed a couple of people, too.

Mile 13 – 9:12
(.10) – 6:56

My garmin time had me at 1:59:06. They have results up on the website for PLACING, but not time, so I’m not actually sure I will get an official time. I started my garmin very close to the start line so I’m pretty sure that the official results would be within a couple of seconds from my time.

Either way, I did it. I broke a 2 hour half. On a hilly course. Without puking!

Seriously, I love looking at this. No wonder mile 12 was so awful – look at that hill. Ouch.

And the best part? NO issues with my IT band. Not one. My calves and hamstrings were screaming at the hills at mile 12, but not ONE twinge in my knee OR hip.

YEAH.

Always after a race, I look ahead. I clearly needed more hills in my training – a couple of long runs on hills isn’t really enough for this course. I didn’t consciously AVOID hills, but next time I will do some real hill training, which I know helps a lot. I think, too, I’d probably benefit from a couple of longer-than-half-distance runs, a couple of 13 and a 15, maybe, so the distance is a little more comfortable.

Doesn’t mean I’m not happy with my performance. But I can tell you – I have a 1:55 in me. I could have done 1:55 yesterday on a flat course.

Next one! 🙂

Shut Up and Run.

I won’t spend a lot of time telling you why I haven’t posted here in a long time. But it involves rehabbing with a SECOND physical therapist,  a resurgence of posting on another blog, and some other miscellaneous excuses reasons for my absence.

So, uh. Hi. I’m back, I think.

When I started dealing with ITB pain back in January, and my current PT told me, You are doing too much. Scale back your running miles! even though I was logging maybe 10 miles a week, I decided to Get Serious about getting better.

And by luck a friend on dailymile started seeing someone for the very same thing. She HIGHLY recommended him to me, so I jumped through the hoops to get a script for PT and went to see him.

He GOT it.

Seriously, in the first 15 minutes of talking with him he answered every question I had on my own, the questions about form and prior injuries and SOME root cause of the reason for ITB.

The diagnosis: tight calves, weak glutes, weak core, weak back.

Enter strengthwork. Which HURT.  But it worked.

I ran a half marathon at the end of February, even though I wasn’t pain free and had only done 7.5 miles to date.

That, my friends, was the end of the Fear of ITBS.

Since then, I’ve hit the weights and the runs pretty hard. And I’ve seen my average pace increase as a result of being stronger. Whereas last year my average run was 9, 9:30, I’m at 8:30,-8:45 now.

_________________________

So this coming weekend is the Middlebury Maple Half Marathon. This was my first half back in 2010; I ran in it in 2:18:18, and finished it without ANY energy left in the tank.

This year I am hoping it’ll be the race where I break 2 hours.

Every race I’ve done, ever since that first one where I couldn’t run another step at mile 10, I’ve kept an eye on my garmin, on my average pace, and with every mile, I’d WORRY. Oh no. I’m going too fast, better slow down. I’ll speed up later. Wow, it’s later, but it hurts. I’m going to keep this pace; guess breaking two hours is not in the cards for me today.

Problem is, EVERY race hurts by the end. Always has for me.

It was during a running clinic I did this spring where the coach said something that has really resonated with me.

He said, You have to teach yourself how to run through pain.

So true. Because when things hurt, you start to worry.

Fear. Fear of pain, of injury, of hitting the wall, of hurting for a long time.

The more you run through the pain, the more you realize you have nothing to fear.

So this weekend, my mantra is SHUT UP AND RUN.

I will find that edge, the point where my brain is screaming GIVE UP! and run through it. I will force myself up every hill, keep running when I want to stop,  focus on my breath and form. Fight my way through the worry and fear.

And hopefully, I will emerge victorious at the end.