Aftermath: Columbus Half Marathon 2016

Done with a time 2:43:21. PR'd by 20 minutes from my last half a year ago. Hooray progress, hooray beer and hooray for the running season finally winding down. #cbusmarathon #runnergirl

It’s been nearly 2 weeks since I completed my second half marathon and it was a totally different experience from running my first half in fall of 2015.  But before I delve into that the awesome news is I ran a 20 minute PR over the AF Half!! Finishing at 2:43:21 was crazy.  If you read my last post you’ll know that I was aiming for 2:30:00, but it wasn’t to be and that’s okay because it’s still a huge accomplishment! For only being a casual runner who only follows a few basic training rules (wear good shoes, sleep, stretch and don’t starve yourself), it’s phenomenal to see that I really DID physically improve in the last year.  My training actually paid off despite a busy year.  I’m not even disappointed I missed my goal time.  It means I have another year to work and train and earn another chance to PR.

Columbus Half 2016

Obviously I had to ring the PR GONG.  What you don’t know is that that finisher medal weighed almost 3 pounds and was making my neck stiff AND my quads were cramping pretty badly. That silly face is really partial grimace because the hubster was taking way too long to take the picture.

Why was this Half different? Well for starters I had to drive an hour to Columbus and stay overnight at my brother’s house who was still a 30 minute drive from downtown where the starting line was.  That’s not counting having to drive into downtown to grab my race packet the day before and fighting traffic in, out and all around the convention center.  But I will say that because this race is put on annually by Nationwide Children’s Hospital the expo AND the race were both very family friendly and as accommodating as possible. It made the whole event feel all inclusive.

Race day started early for me, like 4am early.  I got to my parking garage at 6am after a 45 minute drive from my brother’s house to downtown and then weaving my way purely by instinct, because Google Maps wigged out on me, around closed roads and one way streets. It was not a good kind of stress to have an hour and a half before start time.  Then I had to pack my hydration belt I decided to wear at the last minute, pin my bib on, do some meditative breathing to calm my burbling stomach and walk my way to the gear check (unknown to me I’d left my dome light on! Fortunately, my battery didn’t drain in the 5 hrs I was away, how crazy is that?).

The race for me didn’t start right at 7:30am because I was in the last corral. I crossed the mat at 7:45am and off I went.  The spectators were great and it was INCREDIBLE having strangers cheering you on for 100% of the race.  It was uplifting and fun.  I high fived as many of the Kid Patient Champions as I could (kids who are fighting illnesses and are representing strength and encouragement for every child out there).  The signs were amazing, “If Trump can run, so can you!”, “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear!”, “Hurry up! Our Catan game is on hold because of you!”, etc.  The weather, a warm 70 degrees, was buffered by a nice wind.

It was a good course with lots to look at and challenging enough to keep you on your toes trying to avoid the road camber or surprise pothole.

My knees got tight due to my quads getting tired at mile 11, but I ran through it and kept pushing only stopping a handful of times to walk out the strain. When I crossed the finish line I didn’t realize I’d set a 20 min PR.  I saw my Garmin and though ok that’s MY time, but what’s the official time? Much to my amazement once I found the Husband and Wee Beastie he told me.

I cried a little, more from relief that it was over and I had managed to pull a good time for myself.  I ran the best I could that Sunday and it paid off.

Every now and then when I find myself thinking about how much something sucks, how I really hate running, or about the general crud that life throws out, I remind myself how awful that first mile I had run in 20 years felt then I look at myself now. I’ll always hate that first mile, but now I can get over it.

Remember to look back to see how far you’ve come.

Ready. Trying to find my zen. Let's hope traffic is smooth tomorrow morning for my 2nd half marathon. #cbusmarathon #halfmarathon #brooksrunning

Half Marathon Butterflies

20161006_110332

October is flying by so let’s take a moment of zen to appreciate this Monarch.

Inner peace……….inner peace……inner peace……..

Let’s also appreciate the fact that butterflies are also taking up residence in my stomach as race day for the Columbus Marathon is 4 days away.  It’s pretty typical for me to get anxiety and think my training isn’t enough and I’ll totally fall apart mid-race.  But the fact is I’m already better than I was last year at my last half. I’ve seen and felt my own improvement and it’s amazing to think of what I’m once again going to accomplish.  If the weather doesn’t totally crap out on us (as of today there’s a 90% chance of rain/thunderstorms and breezy 12-17mph winds) then I’m all set to land a crazy PR.

I will not worry about my shoes being at the end of their mileage, I will not worry about the forecast, but will embrace the insanity that may be. I will arrive early and be excited.  I will find a port-o-potty well before the gun time.  I will encourage as many nervous runners as I can and I will cry all the tears if I hit my goal time of 2:30:00.

So while I feel like falling to pieces inside at the moment the practical side of my brain is telling me I will definitely kick ass.

I may just attach those butterflies to my shoes and put them to work.

Keep an eye out on my Instagram (@thelittleredthread) to see any race day shenanigans!

Life Lessons From a 3 Year Old

Life lessons from a 3 yr old over on the blog later today. Link in profile!

Friday night at the 5k I ran there was a kid’s Fun Run. Fiona ran in it and right before the finish an over eager dad, who was dragging his little boy along, tripped Fiona (on accident). She fell pretty hard and I thought for sure she would just sit there and start crying, but instead she pushed herself back up and finished her run.

For some reason I got a little teary eyed as I caught up with her at the end. Her palms were scrapped up and she skinned her left knee pretty good (would’ve been worse if she’d been in shorts) but I couldn’t help telling her how proud I was that she’d got back up after falling and finished. She was pretty excited for finishing after her fall. I hope I made a big enough deal over it to have it stick with her because it’ll definitely stick with me.

It’s inspiring and complicated raising a self-assured mini me in today’s modern world. And let’s face it, it can be a huge pain in the butt to keep pushing the important matters to the forefront of their minds.  But after a very rough week of working 30+ hrs at the garden center, Fi figuring out how to escape through the front sliding windows to go play with the neighbors, and a very smooshed banana in my couch and blankets her popping back up after falling was a stark reminder to myself.

That small niggling thought stayed with me as I went on to run the 5k 10 minutes later.  I pushed hard through the miles (I haven’t been running with any regularity due to work) up the hills and down and ran like I hadn’t run in a long while………all the way to a 2 minute PR on my 5k and a 3rd place age group finish.  Yeah, my first ever race medal for placing!

It was a nice way for our family to end the week.

Not every fall in life is a crisis, so push up and soldier on. There’s always someone cheering you on to the finish if you listen hard enough.

5k PR! And 3rd place age group finish

The Running Goal

This was taken last Sunday.  At the top of a hill around mile 4.5.  Pretty proud I made it all 5 miles non-stop and finished just under an hour!  I  mean I’ve barely gotten back to running since I worked October-December.  This feels huge.  It also made me realize that I’ve actually managed to change my endurance and overall fitness since last year!

ORRRCFrostbite 5 miler 2016

Look at that sexy tomato faced beast.  So majestic in all the agony.

I’ve never been one to sketch out a detailed running/training plan to help meet my goals.  I just kind of have a general “idea” of what I want to accomplish per week and then possibly overall for the month, but you know, LIFE.  Yet I’m thinking this might be the year that I need to start planning out weekly and monthly mileage.  Get a touch more serious.  Why you ask?  When I signed up for the Columbus Half Marathon this year I noticed that they asked if you could finish under 3:30:00.  Thinking back to my AF Half finish time I thought, sure I can totally manage that. I completed that course in 3:03:16 which means I technically qualify to run in Columbus. So away I flew thru the registration forms and releases and signed up.

Then I thought to myself, yeah you finished under their cut off time for your first half marathon, but you did struggle. I mean mile 10 was like utter ruin, dig deep and push.

I don’t want to struggle my way to a finish this year.

I’m not looking to set any kind of crazy PR or anything but I don’t want to be anywhere near that cut off and face the possibility of being forced off the course and getting a DNF (did not finish).

This is the year I get a little pocket planner and try to step it up a notch.  I have a solid year of running under my belt and the Columbus race isn’t till the end of October so I have plenty of time to make sure I have a steadier, more consistent increase in running.  I’ve got goals so time to put them on paper.

Finisher I Am

I survived! Finished in 3:03:16 (14:00 pace) I think that’s how most first time half/full marathoners feel once they cross the finish.  It’s been a few days now and I’m fully recovered with only a few minor twinges, mostly in my upper back.  Who knew running could make you feel sore in your upper body so much?  I am kind of bummed that there was a snafu with my racing bib and I had to get a new one reissued without my “racing name”….*sad panda* Still, there’s always next year.  The weather was sorta ideal, but that wind was really wearing people down early.  You can see how overcast it was and I truly wanted it to rain but all we got were some sad sprinkles (at least during my race, it did rain a bit later).

Oh yeah, I’m totally doing this one again.  I plan to drop 30 min off my finish time because I’ll actually be running the whole race.  Now that I know what to expect I can train smarter for it.

Some things I’ve learned since then:

  • There’s definitely a technique and difference between running a distance and racing a distance.  I’ll never race at this kind of level, but I can certainly race myself for PR’s each year.
  • My quads need more work.  That’s what got tired and crampy around Mile 9-10 the most.  Really annoying when one of the biggest muscle groups suddenly starts protesting with barely 3 miles to the finish.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t dehydration or an electrolyte defecincy because the cramping wasn’t severe enough to make me stop altogether.  I blame it more on general muscle fatigue.  There were quite a few more inclines than I was expecting on the course (2 BIG ones and then lots of little roly poly hills).
  • Need to refine my morning fueling routine.  Nerves and excitement tend to make my stomach not feel like food until I’m half way out on a run or in this case the middle of Mile 5.  A banana isn’t going to cut it even if I ate well the day before and ate a pack of gummies mid-race.
  • “The Wall” is sucky, but you really can push thru it, and it’s not impossible.  It hurt but it wasn’t like an OMFG I’M GOING TO DIE!!!! feeling.  More like a, omg I’m so f-ing tired how is it only Mile X?
  • I need to train longer (a few miles past 13 should do it) and at a faster pace so I’m not running in the middle of a herd of sweaty humanity.

A little bit about running mid-pack.  I knew that from my previous long run paces I would probably fit somewhere in between 2:45 or 3:00 pace groups.  It still placed me in the dead middle and it was cramped.  This is a national race so there are lots of local folk AND out of state runners.  I can only imagine that this is how running NYC, Boston or LA feels like.  If you’ve run a large race before then you’ll know the feeling and aggravation that can come from having to dip, dive, duck and dodge your way thru a throng of people for the first few miles and even afterwards like at the finish line.

It wasn’t pleasant and I don’t recommend it, but really the only way to avoid this is to become faster so you can start out in a better pace corral so the group thins out sooner.  So it’s something to work towards and maybe next year I can saunter over to the 2:30 pace group and hold my own.

I did get queasy post race after I got thru all the gates of food, fluids and finery and was at last able to just sit (don’t worry I stretched and forced myself to walk after 10 minutes).  I really wish I’d had the presence of mind to snap a picture of what I could only describe as a vast Sea of Foil Wrapped bodies strewn across every available free surface.  Runner carnage.  Alas, I was too busy dying in the grass trying to sip a protein shake without barfing.

Things that were totally AWESOME:

  • Seeing a U2 “spy plane” do a fly over before the Marathon started.  It had a HUGE wingspan.  If I remember right they said it had to drop about 22,000 feet in altitude just to do the flyover.
  • The wide assortment of horrible tattoos.  My favorite was on a lady.  She had a puma on one shoulder and a cat on the other.  It made me grin for about a mile. So random.
  • The FREE BACON kids.  You’re so cruel.  If you’re there next year I’m totally bringing bacon and eating it as I run by.
  • I saw a Beat the Blerch shirt on an old lady. Brilliant
  • The Death Metal band that played at the beginning of the toughest hill.  Thank you!  You gave me an adrenaline push and a good laugh. You were awesome.  Which makes me think maybe I should listen to music when I run (?)
  • Being encouraging to others.  I’ve been told the faster you get the less “talky” things are and more competitive.  That’s fine, but where I was I like to think I was helping others get through those final miles when we were all raging and struggling.  And whoever that full marathon guy was who told me, thank you…I needed to hear that, right before my Mile 12/ his Mile 25.  You made my race feel like something better and I hope you finished strong.

I had a good time and that’s what I set out to do.  I wanted to finish at 3 hrs but 3:03 is still cool.  I finished.  I even sprinted the last 400 meters to cross the finish.  I mean, where the hell did that come from?

And you know what? I’ve got another 5k race lined up for this weekend!

D-Day

I am surprisingly not nervous or anxious about my first (ever) half marathon tomorrow.  Seems like just a few months back I was making grand statements of how I wanted to do this kind of race to prove to myself that I could accomplish something brutal and rewarding after becoming a mom.  But it’s more than that now.  I feel grateful that I can do this kind of race and there will be quite a few people on my mind as I pass thru each mile: Teddy, my Grandma, my sister Sarah, Fiona, my friends, my mom, the Hubby and on and on.  It’s nice to feel emotional BEFORE the race and to have an overwhelming sense of completion already.

With that said, things I’m not looking forward to are having to get up at 4:45am so I can do “runner things” like stretching, eating a little something and then going to the bathroom.  The one main thing I have learned about runners is that they are obsessed with bodily functions, disgusting but true and I don’t want the urge to go #2 when I’m 15 minutes from the gun going off and there’s a line at the port-o-potties or 10 miles in and I get the tummy burbles.

I hate having to get up before the sun. I am NOT a morning runner even though I’ve had to force myself to become one over the last 4 summer months.  But this time it’s pretty necessary. You know parking is going to be hectic if they’re opening the gates to the parking areas at 5am and the first race doesn’t start till 7:30.  My half isn’t even till 8:30 but I need to make sure I’m at least IN the parking area by 6ish am. I most likely will have to walk a mile (I wish I were joking) to the check-in point.  Nothing spells “fun” like having to park in a field at 6am with a bunch of half awake people in the dark.

The forecast looks interesting too. Upper 70’s, with a 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms….and wind 10-15mph.  I don’t mind the rain or even wind, but I do mind running in driving rain.  That’s just not cool.

Even though my first Half isn’t going to be ideal. I know with certainty that it will be one I’ll remember. Plus I get a free beer, so HOORAY!  Here’s to fresh legs and a bit of luck and lots of grit!

Adventuring

There has certainly been a flurry of things to do in the last month, but now we’re in the middle of a summer lull and I must admit it’s very pleasant.  Now that the rain has finally stopped we can enjoy the outdoors a bit more.

Though the mosquitos have been unreal this year thanks to a very rainy first half of summer, we’ve been managing to get in a few good woodsy hikes without being eaten alive.

I’ve also been keeping up on my running and have been progressing well both physically and mentally.  My body has been adjusting to the heat and humidity that plagues Ohio this time of year and I’ve rediscovered that I still need to take my Advair inhaler (I stopped while I was pregnant almost 4 years ago and no, my asthma is only exercise induced and not overly debilitating or life threatening).  I’m bummed about the inhaler but at the same time I’ve noticed a huge improvement on how winded I get on longer runs.  I guess I was only running with half my lung capacity?  Ugh. I hate being dependent on something like medicine.

Regardless of that small glitch I completed my first 10k this past Saturday with my friend Hilary.

It was a hot, humid and grueling 6.2 miles, but it was the end of July.  My gps volume was turned down for the first 3 miles so I had a hard time judging my pace and it turned out I was running much too fast, go figure.  Mile 4 was spent mainly walking and trying to cool down, but we managed to run/walk 5 and 6 and I even dug down to sprint the last hundred feet to cross the finish.  I can’t really say that it was a PR since I ran my first 6 mile long run in 1:15:00 the weekend before as practice and my 10k race time was 1:21:51ish.

I tried out a new hat too which became a godsend once we started.  My only complaint is that they need to start this race earlier than 9:30, especially since it’s a summer run.

Only 8 more weeks till my first half marathon! Until then the Dublin Irish Festival is this weekend and I plan to party it up as it’s one of my absolute favorite festivals all year. There’s also the wonderful blessing of having my brother and sister-in-law babysitting for that Saturday night so the hubs and I can go be adults!