Tag Archives: marathon

Race Recap: Geist Half-Marathon

21 May

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Another medal! She’s a beauty!

This weekend I ran the Geist “Race Around the Reservoir” Half-Marathon.  It was my second half marathon in two weeks, and I had an awesome time (truly I mean it)!  I went into this race a little apprehensive: my motivation was down, and I was really concerned about my knees.  I ended up running the half with a friend I work with, and it was a lot of fun.  We went quite a bit slower than I had planned, but in the long run (no pun intended) it was great for both my spirits and my knees.

The Prep

4:50 am: In the morning I woke up about an hour and a half before we needed to leave and had plenty of time to get ready.  I did this with the Indy mini, and I love the calm that having extra time provides.  After eating half of my bagel (I have to leave something to run back to!), strawberries, and banana, I tried a new race activity.  I drank coffee!  I’ve read online that caffeine can actually improve performance (especially if you’re not used to using it on a regular basis).  Check out articles here or here.  Because I gave up caffeine on January 7th (I’ve had it a handful of times since), I now qualify as a “non-regular user”  WOOT!  I’m thrilled.  I had a big addiction to it.  Anyways – because of this, I thought it would be a great race routine to drink a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea the morning of a race.  In my last half I did caffeinated tea and it was great.  This time I was staying at a friend’s house and went with the coffee.  I was a little nervous about trying something new on race day – but because I wasn’t going for a PR I thought this would be a great opportunity.  It was delicious, warm, and a fun little treat.  It also had the added benefit of getting things moving gastrointestinal-ly (if you know what I mean.).  This is a trick I will continue to incorporate into future races.

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Delicious and effective!

6:20 am: After dressing, taping my knees, and going to the bathroom 6 times, I was ready to go!  Adam was a doll and dropped me off at the start.  This was fantastic because there was no parking at the start – I would’ve had to wake up earlier for a shuttle (yeah – I love sleep, thanks Adam!).  I knew my co-worker, Katherine, was running the race and we planned to at least start together.  I’m a bit faster than she is, but thought it would be nice to run a couple miles with her.  Or at very least have someone to stand next to at the start.  We found each other and after one last stop at the porta-potties, made our way to the corrals. Because this race was so small you could self-select your start time.  We stood near the 2:00 mark.  After chatting with Katherine a bit more I realized that I really wanted to help her achieve a PR of 1:58.  I knew that I could get that time and I also thought it would be a smart thing for me to not go for the moon and cause too much damage to the poor knees.  My PT would be proud of that decision!  I had my PR, I wanted to get Katherine hers.  A bit of foreshadowing here: Katherine ran her first full marathon 3 weeks ago (for you non-runners, it typically takes about a month to recover from fulls, especially for non-professional/new-to-marathons runners.)  I told Katherine my plan: run negative splits starting out at 9:00 min/miles and slowly increase the pace after mile 8.  She said it sounded great – though I didn’t have to stick with her, “You’re faster than me, so no pressure to stick together!”  I thought about it and said, “Well, let’s start out together and see what happens.”  I have confidence in Katherine as a runner – I truly believe she’s faster than she thinks she is!

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Excited and ready to go at the start!

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You can sort of see the lake and bridge – it was lovely!

7:00 am: Soon the gun sounded and we were off!  The race started on a bridge over the reservoir (aka lake) and it was truly a gorgeous scene!  The excitement really started flowing through me: I was feeling great.  I was so happy to be out running – my energy really surprised me given my apprehension earlier in the week.  Katherine and I easily stuck together and nailed our first mile coming in a little under 8:30.

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In our spot ready to go!

The Race

Mile 1 (8:25): Okay, doing good.  Yikes – a little fast.  But I always start out a little faster than I plan.  This is good.  Crowds are good but under control.  Plenty of space…feeling good!  Decent weather.  I need to pee.

Mile 2 (8:50): Hmm, I really need to back-off.  I don’t want Katherine to start out too strong.  She’s usually over 9 minutes, I need to stick more to her.  I think I’m going to do this whole thing with her.  At this point I feel I could go even faster…but…is that really the smart thing to do?  My PR is going to happen in the fall.  This race is about fun.  Stick with Katherine and let’s make some magic for her!

Mile 3 (9:03): Man alive – I need to pee!  What is going on here.   We’re doing great!  Perfection pacing.  Wow is it humid?  Does it seem humid to you?

Mile 4 (9:29): Hmm.. we’ll need to pick it up a bit more.  It’s okay – I’ll correct for the next one.  There was a water stop in there (Katherine walks through stops, I typically grab and run). Should I run ahead?  I feel really strong – I know I could go faster.  Hmm.  Katherine doesn’t seem to be particularly enjoying herself or looking amazingly strong – I’ll stay.  We can do it!

Mile 5 (9:50):  GAH!  No.  Okay well – there is still time to recover.  Not all is lost.  We are having fun.  Let’s see if I can slowly push Katherine a bit faster without her noticing.  She’s not feeling as strong now – increase motivational thoughts!!  Mission build up Katherine!

Mile 6 (10:06):  NO!  Another water stop.  Gah – losing so much time on the stops.  Hmm.  You know.  I’m thinking 1:58 is no longer a possibility.  I don’t think PR pace will be possible.  Katherine’s allergies are really giving her trouble and it is clear her legs aren’t recovered (I wouldn’t expect them to be).  Motivate motivate motivate!  Random runner tells me I need a microphone to share my motivation with everyone.  Pass huge hill.  Keep circling back to Katherine and running backwards to keep moving/continue to cheer her (I didn’t want my knees to freak out by stopping).  Probably annoying other runners with my obvious energy and enthusiasm.  Dang – I’m that girl.

Mile 7 (9:23):  Much better.  We can do this.  She’s got this.  Keep encouraging, keep encouraging her!   Still need to pee.  Lordy is it humid!  Hmm.. did I even take a gu?  Oops.

Mile 8 (10:00): Yeah.. so let’s just have fun with this one!  At this point let’s throw time out the window.  Kelly you don’t care about time, you don’t care about time.  But seriously time doesn’t matter at this point.  Let’s get Katherine the fastest time she can get and stick by her!  She isn’t feeling great and now is not the time to leave her.  Let’s tell Katherine the story of how I met Adam. :) New technique: distraction.

Mile 9 (10:31): If I sprint now I could still squeak in under 2:00.  NO.  Must. Not. Leave. Katherine.  Continue telling the story of how Adam and I met.  Random runner says they want to stay near us to hear the story.  Man – we’re going a little slower than expected, but I’m thoroughly enjoying my role as “motivator.”

Mile 10 (10:33):  Wow – I didn’t realize how fast I’ve gotten, because I’m actually, dare I say, bored with this speed!  (Silent cheer to self!!  Don’t say aloud – focus on building up Katherine.  But seriously – I can’t believe I just had that thought!  I’m becoming a better runner!  Yay! ).  Solidify 1:49:59 as goal for fall half in head.  Continue building up Katherine.  Pass Adam!!  Hello!!  Adam – cheer for Katherine!!!

Mile 11 (9:52):  Are we seriously still out here?  I’m kind of over this.  Start telling the story of wedding plans to Katherine.  Both of us perk up.

Mile 12 (11:00):  So close we can taste it!!  Starts drizzling. I guess this is better than just pure humidity.  Keep pushing her – she’s doing great!!  A little bit of walking at this point but that’s okay!  Just encourage her to keep moving forward.  Almost time for breakfast.  Mylanta I’m starving.

Mile 13 (9:15):  Boo yah grandma!  Katherine- we saved some in the tank for this… you ready?  “Yeah!”  Sprint to the finish!

13.1 (8:45):  Victorious!!  We did it!!

Finish: 2:08:07!

After our finish we walked to collect water, our medals, and food.  Major sadness: they were out of food!  They only had cookies left over.  Serious bummer.  This race had a corresponding 5K and I’m guessing all the 5K-ers ate it all up!  Little stinkers.

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They ran out of food – but I still found some free chocolate milk!

I grabbed what I could and we made our way out of the finisher’s area.  We ran into Katherine’s Mom and I told her how proud she should be of her daughter.  I’m still incredibly impressed with a 2:08 half only 3 weeks after completing her first full – it’s pretty amazing!  We didn’t get Katherine’s PR, which I’m very sad about – but we did have a good time (at least I did – Katherine might say otherwise ;)) .  And I’m very glad I stuck with Katherine.  It was a great experience for me to try my hand at pacing (turns out I’m not that great) and motivating (turns out I may have a hidden talent at this).

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Aww!! Sweetest card on my desk Monday morning!

Katherine also saved me from myself.  For that I’m so grateful to her!  Sunday I woke up with some stiffness, but knees only in minor pain!  The slower pace kept me injury free and smart.  If I had been on my own I probably would’ve pushed and pushed and ended up doing something stupid… like trying to beat 1:51.  Now I’m barely sore and totally happy.  After the mini it took 3-4 days to feel human again!  After the Geist finish I actually ended up jogging back to meet up with Adam and friends…I couldn’t have imagined doing this at the mini.

Key Lessons

  • I enjoyed drinking coffee before the race.  It got things moving and didn’t upset my stomach.  I’ll keep this habit.
  • I liked acting as pacer/motivator.  In the future I would make sure the time we’re going for is reasonable given conditions, training, and tapering. Also important to know what motivates your pacee.
  • Running back-to-back half marathons is totally doable as long as one is an easier “fun run.”  I’d definitely do this again, but only if one of the halfs was with someone else and that someone else was considerably slower than me.  Racing two half-marathons in such close proximity would’ve been difficult on my body.
  • Racing is fun.  Running is fun.  Sometimes focusing on someone else allows you to think about how amazing running and racing is.  Corny but true.  I didn’t really have time to think about how much this hurt or that, focusing on Katherine kept me distracted and I just soaked it all in!
  • I can’t wait to start working on speed more.  I’m ready for my 2 weeks off of running to be up and use the summer to get stronger and faster!

The rest of the weekend was amazing with a friend’s graduation party and more wedding planning (looked at wedding bands, got closer with ceremony stuff, and looking at hotels/group blocks, analyzed photographers more).  Let me just say – I was so thankful I didn’t sprint the race… I wasn’t out for the count and got to enjoy time with friends.  All’s well that ends well!  This race was fun, exciting, motivating, and really has whet my appetite for a new PR.  I couldn’t believe how “slow” my old usual time felt.  My previous two halfs were 2:06 and suddenly 2:08 felt like I was crawling?  This was an incredibly inspiring experience.  It really is possible to get faster with training and this experience was proof.  This week I’ve already started scoping my race for the fall.  I had an awesome run this weekend and can’t wait for the opportunity to do it again!

Happy running!

-Kelly

Half-Marathon in the Morning!

17 May

Happy Friday everyone!  Hard to believe the week is almost over.  And even harder to believe that I have a half marathon in the morning!  This will be my second half-marathon race in 2 weeks and let’s just say I’m a little nervous.  This has definitely been a very good learning experience (or a learning what not to do experience) :)  I came up with this brilliant back-to-back half plan about a month ago.  I tend to get race anxiety and thought “Hey!  Another half – this will be a great way to reduce my anxiety!  I’ll have another ‘chance’ to break 2 hours if my first race goes poorly.  Oooo.. and I can join the ‘Month of May Club’ and get a t-shirt if I do 2 halfs in May.”  Goodness, what I’ll do for a ‘free’ t-shirt.  Thus my brilliant plan was born.  Now that I’m a day away, and not quite recovered from my first race, I’ll give you the pros and cons (for me) of doing back-to-back half marathons.

Pros:

  •  I already know I can get the miles in.  After all, I just did it.  Right?
  • Hypothetically I have another chance at getting a fast time (note: not going to happen in a million years).
  • I enjoy racing; neat to have another race! (this is true, not sarcasm)

Cons:

  • I am tired – physically my body is just not 100%.  I still feel muscle fatigue – often.  I just feel like I can’t do what I did just a few short weeks ago.
  • I am missing the pre-race anticipation.  I already went through that and 2 weeks isn’t enough time for me to get excited all over again. Yeah debbie downer, I know!
  • I’m bummed because I’m going into this knowing I won’t be fast.  That’s kind of deflating.  My runs since my half have been slow.  I mean, full minutes slower than usual.  Yeah – multiple minutes.  And the kind of runs where you think ‘man can I even finish this short run?’  I know running isn’t all about speed, but lately that has been a goal of mine, so it’s disappointing to not realize those goals.
  • I’m not as motivated.  Due to above reasons I just don’t feel as excited and motivated to run this one.  It’s essentially an after-thought of a race.
  • I have injury-anxiety.  My knees aren’t doing amazingly and I’m worried about over-use.

Okay – clearly you can see where I’m at as far as readiness/excitement for the race tomorrow.  Man – I am such a whiner!  But it’s not all bad!  It’s just a matter of wrapping my mind around the fact that for me, tomorrow is not going to be a speed-oriented race.  It is going to be a chance to do a nice long run on a beautiful (hilly) course.  It’s a chance to proudly wear a bib and be out on the course with many other runners.  It’s about the opportunity to run: that’s not something everyone has the privilege to do.  Tomorrow is about relaxing, having fun, and knowing that this isn’t going to be my PR.  And that’s okay!  Sometimes I think racing is all about expectations.  I’m trying to set the appropriate expectation so I walk away feeling excited and not disappointed in myself.  I got a 1:51 two weeks ago.  And that’s awesome.  No one can take that away.  If I run a 2:15 tomorrow it doesn’t take away my 1:51… it just means this wasn’t a speedy race for me.  I don’t think it’s healthy for me to think that every race is about a PR.  Setting goals is awesome and you can bet your bottom dollar I will have some goals for my fall half.  But the goal for tomorrow: enjoy running!  It’ll be my last long run for a few months at least (thanks knees!) and gosh darn it – I’m going to have fun!!

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I get to run this lakeside beauty of a course!

The Plan

Well… here’s the thing.  I don’t really have a plan.  HAH!  (Yeah – I know, am I feeling well?). I haven’t studied the course.  I haven’t marked my water and gu spots.  And you know what: I don’t think I will.  Eek.  Yeah, scares me a little bit.  But honestly it’s a small race, I’m not going for a PR… so I sort of just want to go out there and relax!  I’m going to see how my body feels and wing it. I’ll let you know how that strategy goes.

The Course

It’s hilly, around a lake reservoir, and supposedly beautiful.  It’s one of those ‘your spectators are people drinking their coffee and walking out to get their morning paper in their bathrobe’ kind of races.   Haven’t done one of those in awhile – sort of looking forward to the change.

The Prep

Adam and I have some awesome friends that live right on the course.  We’ll head up there tonight for an evening of fun and hopefully a relaxing morning of cheering from the house for them.  This part of the race is amazing – I can’t wait to run by them!  Tonight I’ll do my usual spaghetti, ice my knees, tape my legs, say a little prayer and hope for the best.

The Goals

  1. Have fun – relax and enjoy
  2. Finish the race (yep, this is a real concern)
  3. And last and definitely least: going for a 2:00-2:10 finish

It’s a little too early to say “I’d never do back-to-to back again” or “I wouldn’t recommend this.”  I think it is all about training.  For me, I’m realizing this wasn’t maybe the smartest plan.  But I know many people who do this sort of thing often and have great success.  I’m sure I’ll have some opinions tomorrow concerning whether I’ll do it again ;)  No matter what: my race will be a great start to another awesome weekend!  Man alive, I love May.  Have I mentioned it’s the best month ever?!

I hope you all have an amazing weekend!  I’ll be tweeting my results (good or bad!) so you can see them here on the blog homepage or follow me on twitter @racesrepsramble :)

-Kelly