Sunday, September 23, 2012

QC Half Marathon - PR, Baby!

1:52:41. That's my new PR for a half marathon.

I wasn't quite sure how this one was going to go. Whenever I get myself hyped up for a race, I tend to crash. My training hasn't quite been where I've wanted it to be since I started coaching. I'm not complaining about it one bit. No, it's more of an acceptance that to do one thing I might have to adjust another. So, I've been getting in my miles at practice and sometimes after (sometimes). For me, today was all mental.

I told a few people this morning that before I didn't understand why people set numerous time goals for themselves; one should be adequate, right? How times change. Well, goal number one for me was to run under 2:00. I know I did this at the OUCH half, but that was a short course and I just couldn't get that out of my head. Goal number two was to run a 1:55. I figured I would start conservatively and then go from there.

The weather this morning was chilly. I had on a long-sleeved shirt under my race shirt but opted to remove it before the start. This proved to be the right decision as the sun came out and warmed the air a bit.

The cannon went off and it took me a little under one minute to get to the actual start line. I ran with Jen Hart and Anne Ryerson for the first two miles or so. I was surprised when my watch beeped indicating the first mile had passed. I felt good and wasn't breathing hard at all. The first mile takes runners onto I-74 and it was  a little jarring. I hate running across bridges, and this one was no exception as I could feel it moving with each foot fall. Needless to say, I was glad to get off.

I saw the PV girls' cross-country team at one water stop (around mile 3?) and then the PV boys' cross-country team at the next. Boy, were they busy! Adrienne caught up to me right around mile 4 and we passed my mom and Jessica cheering us on together. Adrienne was able to find me because of my sweet LU race team shirt! She booked it to catch me as she was at the back at the start, and she just kept going. We ran together for maybe three minutes exchanging a few thoughts. Her goal was to run sub 1:50 and I told her she was crazy. I picked up my pace to keep up with her for a little while, but then I told her I wanted to focus more on picking up my pace the last 5k.

However, I just couldn't let her out of my sight, so I ended up going faster than planned. This is just  what I needed. I run conservatively because on these longer races, I don't want to die and then have to crawl to the finish line. I caught up to Adrienne around mile 8 and we ran together until the Arsenal bridge. The surface of the bridge threw me off a little, especially because there was carpet, but it was only wide enough for one person. So, Adrienne went ahead and I just tried to keep pace. But once I got onto the road I knew it was going to be a mental battle to finish. My legs were dead.

Adrienne ended up pulling away at mile 11 (she says she kept the same pace and I slowed down - that's probably more of what happened!). I told myself I only had two more miles and then found my mantra, courtesy of Coach Troy - Now's not the time to slow down. Now's not the time to quit. Now's the time to dig deep and show some character. I tried. I really did. I'm proud of the fact that I never had a mile over nine minutes. But I slowed down at the end, and that's something I did not want to do. Oh well. I was telling my dad that the hills on Arsenal Island are what got me; keep it flat and I can keep going. He argued that there are no hills on the Arsenal, and then he figured out I was talking about the incline in the parking lot. I told him at that point in a race, if it's not flat, it's a hill!

I kept looking at my watch toward the end wondering when I would see the finish. at 12.65 we were still on the island. At 13 miles we were crossing the bridge back into Moline. I actually like the finish because once runners turn right off of the bridge, the finish is there. I'd rather that than being able to see the finish from a mile away. The course ended up being .17 long, but I'd rather it be long than short.

Overall, I'm really happy with my performance today. I cut off five minutes from the OUCH half, which was short anyway. I've got a little more than a month until my marathon and I'm feeling good about it. Goal number one for that (right now anyway) is 10:00 miles, which is a 4:22 marathon. Since all of my training runs have been under this, I have no doubt I can do it. Goal number two is 9:20-9:30 pace, which would be a 4:04-4:09. Looking at these times, I could make goal number three to run under 4:00, but one thing I learned today is that it's more difficult to drop pace time than I tend to think. I ran with Adrienne in sight much of the time and she still finished three minutes ahead of me. I ran 8:29 pace today and my legs died and I was breathing hard the entire time (in a good way). If I would have run 10-20 seconds per mile slower, I could have kept a conversation easily. I'll just have to see what marathon day brings on November 4.

Congrats to all runners today. Adrienne, my dad, and I ran the half. Brother Dave ran the 5k. Steve ran the marathon and finished under 3:30, using this as a training run. LU had plenty of people representing! Jessica and my mom were there to cheer us on throughout the race, which was great. Oh, and my studly husband ran 10 miles today. Ten! He's well on his way to a successful first half marathon at Rails to Trails.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One More Week...

I know it's been a while since my last posting. Life has gotten in the way (as it has a tendency of doing). I have one more week to raise money for the LU Race Team, so if you haven't donated, now's the time! Click on my race badge below to get to my Race Team page. All proceeds are donated to various non-profits around the QC area. Thank you for your support!

Marathon training has actually been going really well. I am not following a specific plan; rather, I have mapped out my long runs and am getting in runs throughout the week. This is the most mileage I think I've ever gotten in. I feel very confident about my running. Last weekend Sam and I ran 18 miles. I thought it was going to be mentally tough because I tend to run with others during long runs. I am happy to say that the run went well and was even enjoyable; if I end up running my marathon alone I think I will do just fine.

The Quad Cities Half Marathon is next Sunday and I am aiming to PR; I'd like to run sub-1:57. My easy days have gotten quicker, so, again, I'm feeling confident. I've been taking Gu's with me on my long runs and they seem to help. I've also discovered my pre-run breakfast - two Toaster Strudels. Really. They sit well!

I do have to mention that I'm so proud of my husband David. He is training for his first half marathon at Rails to Trails. He ran seven miles this morning, which is the farther he has ever run. His average pace is coming down and he's finding it easier to run. I think the fact that we're both training for longer races has helped both of our training "plans" because we encourage each other to get out and go.

I'll leave you with a picture of me planking at sea level in Israel. I couldn't help it!

Monday, September 3, 2012

5-Mile PR

This past week was a good training week; low in miles but high in energy. Saturday was the first cross-country meet of the season. I met up with Adrienne and Ali Kirsch for a shorter long run (next week is an 18 miler). This proved to be a great start to the day. The junior high kids ran really well; none of the girls walked up the last hill!

The Run with Carl was this morning and I PR-ed in the 5-mile run. My PR before was 42 minutes and some odd seconds, so my goal was below 42 minutes. I started quite quickly and saw Phil Pancrazio ahead of me. I decided to keep him in my line of sight for the first mile and then picked up my pace a bit. My legs were feeling fine and my breathing was steady. It wasn't until mile 2.5 that I felt myself not able to talk comfortably (not that I was talking...). At mile 3.5, I wanted to stop and walk. My legs were tired and I hadn't run this fast in a 5-miler before. However, I knew my training. I had run up Devil's Glen Road quite a few times and felt confident.

---You know, there is something to knowing the course. On Saturday, I yelled at our runners as they began up the last hill at Crow Creek to use their training. They know that hill. They have run it before and know how to get up. They know when they're halfway there and, by the time they got there, Coach Kirsch was there to encourage them the rest of the way. The end of a race is all mental. You have to tell yourself to keep going. You hurt. Everyone hurts. It's your mental strength that overcomes that pain and helps you finish strong. ---

David M., Adrienne, Kyle, and Kelli ran the 5k. Jessica and Brother Dave walked the 5k. Will, David Z.,  and I ran the 5 mile. Ben ran the 1/2 mile. Overall, it was a great race which led to a great family get-together at our house afterward.

This week proved to me that I am mentally and physically stronger than I tend to think I am. I don't feel stronger from day to day, but it's hard days and race days that show me just what I can do.