Monday, May 22, 2017

D3: Rain and Records


D3 feels like a lifetime ago even though it was just last weekend.  Emir went back to Colorado and getting the house on the market was no easy task.  But that's not the point of this post....



I'm not even kidding a little bit when I say that I really thought I could only have good running years every other year.  It sounds crazy and yes I am.  I'm your typical runner head case.  I may not appear to be that way on the outside or say it out loud very often but I totally am.  Why did I think this ridiculous thing?  Well because I ran my first marathon in 2011.  2012 I had Una so I guess technically that doesn't count.  2013 I steadily improved on my own but had some serious downs, returning from pregnancy and post partum were rough.  2014 I was given the gift of Coach Caleb by Emir which turned out to be the best running gift ever because 2014 was a fantastic year for me.  2015 started out just ok but I had to get my appendix out and suffered my first DNF.  Just things didn't feel good.  2016 I bounced back, had a good year again.  And that brings us to this year.  I spoke last post about how pretty much all my training since NJ One Day in November has been sucking.  I've been really slow at times and long runs felt really awful.  Combine that with a random foot injury just before Austin Marathon in February and I was convinced 2017 would be another weird, not great year like 2015, especially since we are making this huge move across the country and have so much going on, I just knew it was all too much and I probably shouldn't have set any goals for this spring or maybe even not raced at all.  But since I decided I wanted one more big East Coast race, I decided to just do what I could. 


Coach kept telling me throughout training that I was improving a lot but of course I didn't believe him.  What was he looking at?  My paces were all over the place and sucked a lot.  What does he know?  He was successful in getting me to just keep doing what I was doing and saying would be worth it in the end.  It felt good that he was so confident but I still wasn't convinced I was going to do well at D3.  Honestly I don't know how he puts up with all of us crazy runners.


Anyway, even after doing what to me was surprisingly well at the SRT 50K, I still was not convinced that I had TRULY improved.  I was thinking ok that was much better than I thought I would do (well duh it was a PR) but I'm still not sure I'll PR this 100 or if I do maybe like 23 hours, 22:30 hours, we will see.
I love 24 hour races with a small loop, I can pack EVERYTHING!

The week leading up to the race was actually fairly relaxed around our house since Emir had just completed MMT100 that weekend before D3 so he was recovering and I had only a few very short taper runs.  The race weather forecast was not looking so great but nothing can be done about that.  They were calling for a nor'easter on race day, 1-2 inches of rain, high winds.  We still until that morning held out some hope it might slide out to sea a bit more than they thought, anything that might lessen the impact a bit.  Nope.  Pouring rain when we woke up.  I'm pretty sure the weather impacted Emir, my one man crew, more than me.  He had such a  time trying to get the tent, etc set up.  Then he had to just stand around in torrential rain and winds for 15 hours until the rain finally subsided.  So I do really appreciate all he did for me.

this was no easy feat at 6:30am in the pouring rain and gusty winds

The start of the race was kind of a blur, as I was in my car getting ready and emerged just in time for the start.  I was excited because my friend and teammate Kristen was running the 24 hours as well as another running Amy who I ran with at NJ 1 day and the infamous amazing Alaskan Dave Johnston plus I knew I would have a great time getting to know all the other wonderful runners that day.  What I do remember in those early laps was thinking how much I liked running on a track sooo much more than the paved loop at the NJ one day.  I remember feeling pains and just general sluggishness very early on at NJ one day.  This was much different.  My legs felt good.  I just felt like I was on cruise control.  Plus despite the weather, crews and spectators were out around the track.  I saw people ALL the time which made a huge different for me.  At One Day, I would only see people once every 10-20 minutes depending on how long the lap took.  I was loving this way more even very early on. 

I hit the marathon mark around 4 hours and some change I think.  It was somewhere in this time frame that my stomach started turning.  Sometimes during ultras, I get in a phase where I just don't feel like eating but this was actual nausea which I've actually not experienced before.  Emir suggested it was because I had only done gels, chomps and waffles until this point which is possible but I've run that distance a million times fueling exactly that way and not been nauseous.  Anyway, he got me some coke and I forced a half a burger with no bun.  I was feeling slightly better but then my stomach was killing me.  Not to be too graphic but I spent some quality time in the potty and after that I felt MUCH better and started cruising again. 

This happened periodically through the entire race.  I was worried how much time I was spending in the bathroom as I was forced in there to unload at least 4-5 times but if I didn't, I wouldn't have been able to keep running.  I also noticed another issue with my frequent potty stops, I had horrible chafage in some awful places that were on fire whenever I went to the bathroom.  I was just hoping it wouldn't progress to the point that it would really bother me while running.  Since it was pouring rain for hours and hours, I felt there was no point in changing clothes especially since I wasn't feeling cold or anything.  I re-applied glide several times but I think since I was soaked the entire time, it wasn't having the normal effect to prevent the chafage plus I think wet clothes just chafe so much more than dry. I do have to add, I wore only pair of socks and one pair of shoes the ENTIRE race, my zensah compression socks and Altra Paradigms.  My feet came out just as pretty as they went in, despite being soaked for 21+ hours of running.

I had a very good 50K time, not far off my PR of a few weeks prior and then I reached 50 miles under 9 hours, very solid and ahead of NJ One day.  I felt very good about how things were going.  At this point, I decided to switch clothes even though it was still raining as I was finally starting to feel chilly.  Just as I was about to emerge from my tent back onto the track, my sister Cindy and her boyfriend Todd appeared!  I had no idea there were going to come and it meant SO much to me that they came to support me especially in those awful conditions.  They probably stayed 2 hours, cheering me every single time I passed by.  It was a huge boost and I think helped me go faster those miles 50-60. 

I don't really remember a ton between when they left and when I reached 100 miles.  Eventually, I think at like 15 hours, the rain FINALLY stopped.  So at some point I changed into different dry clothes including pants which I just put over top of my wet shorts and socks.  Kristen and I's friend Sophorn came to crew Kristen so it was great to have another familiar face to see every lap, always smiling and cheering us on.  Then came Christine who is also an Altra ambassador and we finally were able to get together to run a few miles a couple weeks ago in the Wissahickon.  She asked the RD if she could run with me and he said no problem unless I was breaking a record or something, ummm no!  HAHA  So she accompanied me for a couple laps which was awesome.  

I also met the infamous Yoshiko Jo!

Miles 80-100 were rough for me.  My legs were starting to hurt BAD and I was feeling exhausted.  I just tried to keep moving.  I would walk a lap here and there but walking was starting to become more painful than my slow run trot.  This part felt like FOREVER.  Eventually after crossing the timing mats for the millionth time, Emir said "Listen, you have 12 laps until 100, you got this"  And he explained how I had to go past the main timing mat to this other timing mat to make 100.  It felt SO HARD and every lap I kept repeating how many laps were left like one million times as I slowly made my way around.  I was also getting the nausea back worse than ever but I just wanted to get to 100 and then I could worry about that.
coke break, trying to head off the nausea
Once I had a few laps to go, I realized what time it was.  I had no clue what paces my miles were since I hit somewhere in the 60s.  It was a combo of that I just stopped caring what exactly my pace was and my watch was stuck under my jacket sleeve and gloves.  I was just moving how I could and I wasn't going to do anything better than that even looking at my watch.  Anyway, I starting realizing, wow I think I'm going to have a pretty significant PR.  But you know how math is at mile 98-99 so I was thinking I needed like 30 minutes per mile and stupid stuff like that.  Finally I crossed that big timing mat with only about .15 miles to go to the 100 mile mark and the clock said 21 something, I didn't make out the rest but I was like "holy crap I will break 22 hours!"  My previous PR being 23:32.   After I crossed the 100 mile mat, I was done.  I walked the rest of the lap to complete it and went and sat in the tent.  Emir came bursting in "21:21!!!!"  Holy crap!!!  that's a 2 hour 10 minute PR.  I was feeling simultaneously awesome and completely awful at the same time.  Sitting there my legs were THROBBING and I felt more nauseous than ever.  Oh and I also could feel the chafage wounds on my back, torso and unmentionable areas.

some of my chafage, the rest is not suitable for the blog
I tried to take a few bites of stuff but couldn't.  Emir went to fetch me a grilled cheese and when he came back, I said I was done.  He didn't argue with me at all this time, unlike at NJ One Day.  My sole goal for this race was to PR my 100 mile time which I had just crushed.  That's what I was training for, not for more than a hundred.  I gave everything I had into that hundo time and I just had nothing left.  And neither one of us, was one bit upset that I wasn't continuing on.  I didn't have a single regret and I still don't.  Maybe one of these days I will say to coach, I'm doing a 24 hour race and want to do as many miles as I can, surpassing 100 and that will be my goal but that wasn't it for this race and my mind and body knew it and shut down accordingly. 
100.16 miles!

The RD Bill came over to congratulate me on my huge PR.  This was my first time meeting Bill and he's truly an incredible man.  I could tell how much he cares about his race and the runners and wants everyone to have a great day.  I enjoyed our chat even though I really just wanted to die.  I also appreciated his hard work throughout the day.  I think he probably did at least 50 miles on that track, the number of times I saw him walking the opposite way of us talking to every runner and offering soup, etc during the night.  I also wish we switched directions more than every 4 hours because I loved watching Bill dance with the Turn sign.  I've never seen someone so excited about telling runners to switch directions!  HAHAHA
Bill is one awesome dude!!

I know Bill doesn't want to hear what's great about the race, he wants to hear what he can fix.  But honestly I can't really find anything wrong with his race (he has been doing it for YEARS).  The timing at the race was OUTSTANDING!  They had a screen just past the timing mat/tent area so that as you went by you could see your mileage and place as you went by.   They would even move said screen every four hours when we changed direction.  They also moved the mats as needed so that we could get official 50k, 50 mile, 100k and 100 mile times.  They had kids from the Valley Forge Military Academy working hydration stations for us, two of them plus the main food station.  All that on a track!  It was awesome.  You could just leave your bottle(including the awesome handhelds Nathan gave us!) at the hydration station and they would fill it for you and pick it up next loop. 


I would be remiss, if I didn't mention how much running with my friend Kristen meant to me.  This may be it for a long, long time of us doing a race together and I loved seeing her out there, chatting with her and watching her push herself lap after lap just so calm, cool and collected all race long.  It was also nice to share laps with Amy Mower again who I met at NJ One Day.  She too had a huge 100 mile PR and went on to have a 24 hour PR with 109 miles.  Even though I didn't really talk to them I LOVED watching Dave and Tara zoom around the track like it was nothing all day and all night, so inspiring. 
Kristen and I making one of the turns together, with Amy on our heels

So I still haven't figured out my stomach thing.  There is a chance I had a slight stomach bug as Una had one over that weekend as well or maybe it was just the stress that running my fastest 100 time put on my stomach, who knows.  It took days for me to not feel nauseous when I ate.  I still don't feel 100% completely normal in the stomach but my legs feel very good although I won't go for a run until tomorrow so we will see.  What I do know for sure is coach was right (ugh) and in his words I
"see the value of doing the work even when you're unsure of whether or not you are making progress. Patience and persistence!"  I'll see how well I do at remembering that next training cycle ;-)


I will end by sharing my numbers from the race:


50K: 5:04:58 
50 miles:  8:54.35
100K:  11:26.22
100 miles: 21:21.47


Also aside from my big hundo PR, I set 2 PA state records for my age
I set the record for fastest 100 mile time and for most miles in 24 hours 100.16
Two PA state records in my last race as a PA resident!!


And yup I can't wait to do it again!



Monday, May 1, 2017

SRT 50K

I have to admit, I've been kind of slacking on my blogging.  I didn't even write a post about the Love Run Half that I ran a month ago or write the Colorado post that I promised.  Life has totally taken over all of my time.  But honestly I don't care.  I'm out there doing things with my family and friends and loving every minute!  If you want to see more of that, just check out my IG and FB, there ya go, no blog needed ;-)

Things have finally calmed down for a bit so that I can actually write about the race I ran on April 22nd.  My big race of the spring is D3 24 hour race on May 13th where I plan to try to PR my 100 mile distance.  I usually try to do some kind of lesser distance ultra during my training cycle for a 100 miler but this time around I had nothing.  Things have just been SO hectic with preparing to move across the country, Emir working in Colorado alot and the kids having one million things going on.  Who gives 4 year olds a book report and projects?!  Anyway I just didn't have time to put thought into it and I certainly didn't have time or money to travel anywhere.  One day something popped up in my FB about the Schuylkill River Trail 50K relay.  I was curious so I clicked on it.  Turns out aside from the relay there is a 50K solo option which is an out and back on the SRT.  It was really perfect.  It was to take place 3 weeks before D3 which is peak mileage week, it's on a mostly flat trail (D3 is on a track) and the start/finish is only 25 minutes from my house.  Oh and most importantly it's sponsored by Sly Fox Brewery, SOLD!

I really didn't think about this race much once I registered.  It was to be my last big training run for D3 and I had some big things coming up the week before the race.  Emir was in Colorado the entire two weeks before the race.  He left on a Sunday, we joined him Wednesday and came home Tuesday and he stayed until that Friday night, the night before the race.  It was a crazy time to say the least.  The couple days before we left on our trip was me running at the crack of dawn, getting the kids to school and me working all day to race around picking them up and racing to whatever sport was that night.  We had the best time on our trip.  We did so much yet I felt so relaxed and so at home there.  I made a running friend there already and we all love our new neighborhood.  None of us wanted to come back.

Running in Heaven
Aubrey!  can't wait to run more with this lady!

Rocky Mountain National Park
 When we finally did it was not a pretty 3+ days of single parenting.  I completely missed getting a run in on that Tuesday because by the time we got home from the airport, got Niko's glasses fixed and went food shopping, it was so late and I was so exhausted.  I also had to wake up at 4:45 Wednesday morning to get my run in.  We had baseball, softball or track all 3 nights and Una had a project due Friday.  Pretty sure I cried a couple times with how overwhelmed, tired and just stressed I was.  And the house was A MESS.

one of my stressors although I'm damn proud of it! Earth day project
Friday night before the race Niko had a track meet which didn't end until almost 8 so we didn't get home until 9:30 from eating dinner with my family.   I was exhausted and really didn't feel like getting my stuff together but I did.  Luckily the race had staggered start times as not to overtake the trail which wouldn't be closed during the race so my start was actually 10:15 so I did get to sleep in later than usual for a race day.

The weather forecast changed somewhat last minute and they were calling for rain.  The temps were going to be 50s-60s so I still went with shorts and a singlet but brought my Altra pullover.  The start of the race was interesting as it was a solid half mile from the pavilion area where all the race stuff was.  I was walking for a bit and couldn't even see it in sight and was wondering if I was even going the right place but some other runners were headed that way too.  Eventually we got there.  The RD explained how they could only send 8 people off at a time so even though there was a larger group of us with a 10:15 start time, he could only start 8 every couple minutes.  Didn't matter since we had chip timing in our bibs.

My goal for this race was just to run easy and fuel well.  I had prepared myself while waiting to start that it didn't matter what people were doing around me.  It would be hard to know who was running a relay and who was solo so there would definitely be people sprinting their 4-5 mile segments and I couldn't let that affect how I was running.  I also had to keep in mind that people were starting at all different times from 9-11:30 so no way of knowing what time people started either.  And also it shouldn't matter to me anyway since I just needed to run my own training run.

I felt like overall I did a really good job of this.  I stayed very relaxed and honestly didn't care at all about what anyone else was doing.  The staggered start times really helped with that so we were all spread out everywhere and having relay people all mixed in, I just always assumed people blowing by were relay people.  I fueled early and often.  I had everything I needed in my pack since I wasn't sure what to expect as far as aid.  There were 3 transition points (technically 5 since you hit two of them twice on the out and back) for the relays.  The race info indicated there would be water and maybe some bananas but I didn't want to rely on that since it was a relatively smaller group of us doing the ultra solo.  I was pleasantly surprised however at the goodies they had for us.  I didn't stop at all until I got to the halfway transition at Conshohocken Brewery.  I filled up my water and a volunteer offered me all kinds of snacks and even coke.  It was great, definitely a pick me up after slogging 15 miles in the pouring rain.  I really had to pee and she said we could use the bathroom inside.  I ran in but there was a huge line, lots of people enjoying some beer on the rainy day.  Even though it was a training run, things had been going well the first half and at that point I was on pace for a good time so I didn't want to stand in line.  I knew eventually I would find some secluded area on the trail which I did.

I had started to lag a bit the last couple miles before halfway but probably the coke, the brief stop and a couple snacks picked me back up.  I started really cruising again.  I had thought going into it that 5:15 would be a good time.  It technically would be a 50K PR for me.  I think my fastest stand alone 50K is 6:20 but I definitely ran a low 5 something at C &O canal 100 so then again technically not really a PR but still 5:15 would be a very solid time for me and a great training run going into D3.  With about 7 miles left I checked my time and did a little math, kind of hard not to when you are running solo for 31 miles.  I started to realize that even if I couldn't maintain below 10 minute pace for the last 7, even if I went 10:30s I could still finish sub 5 which would be a big PR for me.  So while I wanted this race to be easy pace, I did push myself that last part a bit because now that I knew it was within reach, I wanted that sub 5.  I was able to maintain under 10minute miles until mile 28 but I was only slightly over and still had a cushion.  I reached the part of the course back near where we started but there was nothing there and it was quite clear that was not the finish.  I was right around 31 miles and would hit 50K at 4:52 which HUGE PR but crap I wasn't finished the race.  Even though I knew the finish line must be back over where the pavilion was and that it was a solid .5miles away, I was determined that my race time would be under 5 hours.  Adrenaline just took over because the way I felt those last few miles I never would have imagined I could have picked up the pace and run sub 9 pace at that point but I did and I finished in 4:56.   People were cheering for my finish and I was pumped.  There were several groups of relay teams that congratulated me and said they watched me all day because they saw me come through all the transition points.  I received lots of compliments about how strong I looked and many questions about ultra running in general.

I quickly went about finding my finishers beer and award.  I wanted to watch my friend and teammate Kristen finish so I sat around stalking the finish line.  I was getting chilly now that I was done since I was soaked so I ran to the car to grab my sweatshirt.  Somehow I must have missed her :-(  But I saw some other people finish and listened to the band.  It was a shame it was so miserable out because it was a fun after party.
BEER
Anyway I was about to leave as I realized I definitely missed Kristen when the RD got up to announce the top 3 finishers in the ultra and the relays.  He was announcing the female ultra first so I was interested to see what the times were.  He announced 3rd then 2nd place but he didn't give their times so I was like oh bummer I don't know how I compared, I guess I'll look it up later and was starting to turn around when " First place overall female ultra AMY DEDIC!"  And yes I'm pretty sure I squealed a bit as I almost tackled the guy to get my trophy.  It was a small local race but damn I don't win races regardless and I knew I ran well that day so it felt REALLY good to win.  AND it felt even better when they posted the results online the next day and I saw that the 2nd & 3rd place ladies had the same exact time as each other so they must have paced each other and I won by 25 seconds.  This made me just even happier.  It was a great race with great competition but I pushed myself that extra bit at the end and that's what won me that race.  I'm giving myself a pat on the back right now ;-)  HAHAHA

Beer can trophy, yes!
Of course whenever you have a good race you always feel inclined to say how great the event was in general.  But even if I wasn't as successful as I was, I still would recommend this race whether you want to do it as a relay or solo.  They had lots of fun little details such as when I got my bib there were extra glasses from sly fox which were there for the taking and a HUGE pile of running head bands which were help yourself.  The pavilion area was huge and nice since it was raining and hello INDOOR bathrooms.  As I said the transition points were a huge surprise with how much they had for the ultra runners.  And of course post race was great with all the beer, food trucks and bands.  It was definitely a fun day.

Now back to me.  I'm definitely feeling more confident about how D3 will go now that I ran this and just felt so good.  I'm hoping not to feel like I did at NJ one day.  My legs were hating me at like mile 20.  I'm also just so glad to not feel like I'm struggling to finish long runs anymore.  Jan, feb and march were ROUGH as far as my long runs.  I just think I wasn't quite recovered from NJ one day plus I was trying to work on speed which I hadn't done in forever.  And yes coach I know it takes time, blah blah blah but to put it bluntly, I felt like shit and now I don't so I'm happy.  A little less than 2 weeks to go, time to put on my hundo pants!!!
trail runnin in the Wiss this weekend

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport

Disclaimer: I received Eagle Creek Pack-it sport lockers as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The latest product I was able to try out thanks to Bibrave is the Eagle Creek shoe locker and the wet/dry fitness locker.  Both are part of their Pack it Sport collection.  You maybe familiar with Eagle Creek from their extensive luggage and backpack collections but now they created multiple solutions for gross, smelly and wet clothes. 


I always find myself using one of those drawstring bags from a race or something to stash my dirty running stuff when I'm away at a race or on vacation.  This method is o-k but sometimes moisture leaks through and definitely the smell infiltrates my whole suitcase and spills over to any clean items in there. 
I am not a good packer...
So far, I've found the Eagle Creek lockers to be a great solution.  The material is super light so it doesn't add any weight to my bag.  It's water resistant and has antimicrobial treatment to prevent odor and prevent any gross things from growing.  I used them both on my recent trip to Colorado.  I found them useful for going there and coming back.  On the way out, I put all my running outfits and gadgets in the fitness locker just to keep it separate from regular clothes (some of my stuff always smells and it's just nice to not have everything mixed together).  Unless you are taking new shoes, running shoes are always dirty so it was awesome to pop them in the shoe locker and just toss them in.  Obviously, it all came back in those same lockers however my running stuff was WAY stinkier.  I realized just how effective the fitness locker was at locking the odor in once I opened it when I got home.  It practically knocked me over but everything else in my suitcase was nice and fresh. 
4 days of running clothes!

From the looks of the fitness locker, it seems small however I fit 4 days of running outfits in there no problem.  It also has two compartments for keeping things separate which is nice.  While I will use the lockers mainly for travel, they would also be great for the gym.  I also used the fitness locker yesterday at my 50K race.  It was pouring rain so when I was done I dumped a few soaking wet items in there to keep my car dry and was very happy with the results. 
Running in Colorado is beautiful but my clothes still did not smell beautiful...

Currently you can use the code: SPORT15 to get 15% off any of the Pack-It sport products

Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Philly Hot Chocolate -- Niko's first 5K!!

Disclaimer: I received entry to Philly Hot Chocolate 15K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Those of who follow my social media, are already well aware that Niko ran the Philly Hot Chocolate 5k with me last weekend.  But I bet many don't know the real story about how it happened and probably think I'm a crazy running mama who forces her kids to run like her.  Nope totally not.

Niko got really into swimming this past year.  He swam on the summer swim team and the winter swim team.  He basically practiced 4-5 days a week from June until February.  He also loves soccer and baseball but there was a bit of a sports gap between when swim team ended and baseball begins.  I thought he would be happy for the break (I know I was!).  Literally the first day that he didn't have swim practice, he came to me and said "Can I please run on the treadmill??"  I was shocked.  I didn't think a treadmill would be of any interest to a 7 year old boy.   He asked if he could use my headphones and off he went on his first TM run.  And that's how it started.  He began running a few times a week.  One day Emir said "It would be awesome if he could do the Hot Chocolate 5K"  And I said "well why not?!"  I was signed up for the 15K as I have done the last two years but if Niko wanted to do the 5K, I had no problems switching.

To say Niko was excited when I asked him if he wanted to do the race would be a serious understatement.  We talked about it daily.  Not to say his training was easy because it wasn't.  There were times it was like pulling teeth to get him to run.  It was also tough to get him to go past the 1-1.5 mile mark which I do think was more of mental thing and a 7 year old boy not having a long enough attention span thing.   I did manage to get him to run 3 miles on the TM two weeks before the race.  He definitely was hurting afterwards but at least we all felt good that he could make the distance.




Since this was going to be Niko's first big race, my sister and her boyfriend decided to run with us which made Niko even more excited.   The Friday before the race was a torrential downpour all day which made traffic and stuff a nightmare.  My sister lives in the city so we sent her our race emails and she picked up our stuff for us.  We met her down at her place, Niko fueled on a GIANT cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake.  It was pretty impressive how fast he ate all that.  We had a fun sleepover and then met up with Cindy's boyfriend down by the race.
Niko demonstrating the thumbholes

It was a little chilly but overall great weather to run the race.  Niko was a little antsy in the corral but once we started he was good.  One of his main problems during training is that he would sprint as fast as he possibly could the first few minutes and then cramp up or just completely bonk.  Both Emir and I tried to work with him on pacing ALOT but I was pretty worried with how excited he was that he would just take off like a bat our of hell.  As it turns out, he was pretty nervous and worried about making it all 3 miles.  He said when he ran 3 miles on the TM it was hard and he got tired and his legs hurt which he didn't understand because "mommy and daddy run like a 100 miles"  I told him that our legs get tired and sore all the time too which seemed to make him feel better.  In any case, he definitely took it easy the first mile.   He ran the first mile in 12 minutes which included his candy stop.  He was shoving m&ms and chocolates in his face, it was pretty funny.  He seemed to be enjoying it and feeling good and I was thinking, ok if he makes it in like 38 minutes that's great for his first 5K.  Mile 2 he definitely picked up the pace.  I think it was antsy to reach the turn around point and once we hit it, he started taking off even faster as he was excited to be halfway done.  Cindy's boyfriend did a great job of keeping his mind off of how much we had left.  He was racing with Niko since Niko's main goal was to beat us all. 


We ran mile 2 in 10:40 something and Niko seemed to be feeling great and totally ready to finish that last mile.  The sun had come out and it was so nice out.  Niko started taking off on these sprints that a few times I had trouble keeping up.  I was so occupied with chasing him down that next thing I knew we had finished.  Also the finish line was kind of ambiguous this year and all of us were kind of like "was that the finish?"  We realized it was and I looked down and we had finished in 33:30!!  Niko ran his last mile in 9:26 and was running the last tenth in 8:25 pace.   He was beaming and we were all so proud of him.  He did a great job! 

Obviously everyone always enjoys the chocolate goodies at the end of the Hot Chocolate, I mean why else do we run it?!  But Niko especially was so excited to get these rewards for finishing the race.  He had a great experience.



As always, I had tons of fun at the Hot Chocolate.  Obviously this year's will always be extra special sharing Niko's first big race.  I didn't notice any changes from year's past other than there actually was a candy station full of candy.  The past two years I never saw any candy on course during the 15K so it was fun to get to indulge while running this year, it was definitely the highlight of Niko's race.  The jackets this year were probably the best yet.  They are a nice, thick material and have THUMBHOLES!  My only wish is that they would have a kids size.  There were close to 200 kids in the 14 & under category so I feel that is more than enough to offer a kids size, even just one kids size.  I felt so bad for Niko because I got him a men's small since he doesn't want anything to do with a women's anything and it was GIGANTIC.  He will absolutely never get to wear it even in a few years and he was definitely disappointed to not have a jacket he can wear around to show his friends.  Other than that a great time was had by all and Niko asked if there is a Hot Chocolate in Colorado that we can do next year so looks like we will be doing HC Denver next year!
Niko in action!  Free race photos!
You can also check out my recaps of the 2015 and 2016 Philly HC!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Feelin' the OOOOO!

Disclaimer: I received OOFOS as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

 

I have seen and heard a number of runners raving about their OOFOS recovery flip flops and sandals including some of my Bibrave friends that tested them last summer.  I, myself, didn't have the opportunity since I was away in the Balkans.  They always intrigued me especially now after having the recent foot injury so I was happy to take the opportunity to do some OOFOS testing when it came up last month. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Austin Marathon or maybe just the Half

Well considering this was me, 9 days before the marathon, I am just happy that I toed the starting line at all this past Sunday at the Austin Marathon.


I still have no clue what is actually wrong with my foot or how exactly I did it.  What I do know is that during mile 5 of a taper week run, suddenly I had excruciating pain in my right foot and I had to stop running.  I actually had a hard time walking home.  Once home I iced, massaged etc and next thing I knew, the pain was so bad that I couldn't even bear a tippy toe on the floor.  I had to crawl just to get to the bathroom.  It was no better at all when I woke up so off to urgent care I went.  X-rays were negative for any tears or fractures so they gave me crutches so at least I could stop crawling around.  After that each day got better.  I still walked with a significant limp for a solid week.  I did a few short runs the few days before the race.  I could feel soreness but was hopeful maybe it wouldn't be too bad during the race. 


Normally, I would be freaking out with an injury so close to race day but this just felt different to me.  I cared but not really all that much.  I've been working really hard this training cycle on improving my speed.  I've spent the better part of two years working mainly on endurance so that I could be successful in completing my super long ultras.  My speed has definitely taken a big hit.  Even before I actually went back to working on my speed, I just felt that the Austin Marathon would be too soon for me to be able to run as fast as I want.  I wanted to run it anyway because we would be there visiting friends and I love running races in different places and it would be nice to see where I'm at but I was not really considering that it would be a PR race.  And as it turns out this training cycle was pretty awful for me.  Everything was a major struggle.  I even had a couple long runs where the second half, I would hardly be able to maintain 10-11 minute paces.  It's like my legs forgot how to run.  Anyway it led me to believe I had no chance in hell of running fast in the race. 
We got up at 3:30 Saturday morning to catch our flight to Austin.  We were in Texas by 11:15.  Our friends picked us up and we headed to the expo.  I forgot to mention that the week before the race, Emir decided he would prefer his long run to be the marathon rather than 20 miles on the TM Friday night after getting home from a week in Colorado.  We got our stuff really quickly and the kids had fun playing some mini golf. 
LOVE these people!!!

We spent the afternoon exploring downtown Austin and drinking a lot of beer at Austin Beerworks & Oscar Blues Brewery.  We haven't seen our friends in at least 3 years and it felt so good to be spending time with them.  Our kids also were having a great time together.  My foot was definitely sore from traveling and walking but I felt like I didn't even care.  I was happy. 
 

Rocio made me cookies!!! :-)
It was another early wake up for the race Sunday.  We were both really exhausted.  I also checked the weather since they were calling for possible storms.  No storms, just cloudy however 95% humidity, ohhhhh boy.  And as soon as we stepped outside, ummm yeah we were soaked.  It was pretty gross. 


Parking near the race was very easy and FREE!  We did our usual start line rituals and I could already feel my foot when I stepped off a curb.  I was just trying to stay positive that I would be able to tolerate the soreness for 26 miles.  Before I knew it, we started.  I tried to run around 8:30 pace which is slower than my goal pace but it was what we had deemed reasonable for the first few miles since they are mainly uphill.  It was SO hard for me, I started feeling really bad right away so I backed off.  I did manage 8:50 but after that I just slowed way down.  I felt bad for Emir because I know he could have ran way faster but one of the reasons he decided to run was to help me out because we were worried about my foot and if it did feel good he would help pace me.  Anyway, I'm not sure if it was the foot pain, the humidity, the fact I had been popping Ibuprofens like candy for 9 days, the Sudafed I had been taking that week, the lack of sleep or probably just the combination of all of it.  But anyway it was hard to run any speed at all.  I felt like my race was over before it started. 


Emir kept having to stop to wait for me or circle back a bit because my pace was pretty bad.  Probably about 5 miles in he said I should probably just do the half.  Usually I would argue and say that I could finish but I knew he was completely right (arg!).  My foot was getting more sore the further I went and I kept having flash backs to the severe pain which had me crawling around my house.  I definitely did not want that.  Maybe if I still was gutting out close to a PR time despite pain, it would be worth it but not for a slow-for-me time.  So we slugged it out together until around mile 11.  We walked through water stops which helped me ease some of the pain.  We also, even though we had our handhelds with Tailwind, kept running out of water and were so thirsty.  We were just not adjusted to this level of humidity at all.  Emir also was going through gels like candy so I even gave him my remaining ones to take with him. 


At mile 11 we went our separate ways, his to finish the rest of the full and me two more miles to finish the half.  It was pretty uneventful other than a couple more pretty steep climbs.  I finished in probably what is my slowest half time ever but honestly I was so happy to be done, I didn't care one bit. 


I passed the time waiting for Emir by responding to texts from my beloved #brf's who were concerned that my tracking showed I was going so slow and that I had finished the half marathon.  I also chatted with my sister, sent coach an email and then spent the rest of my time in the Oscar Blues beer garden.  Time went pretty fast and before I knew it, Emir was going to be crossing the finish any minute.  I hobbled over and he came through a few minutes later. 
Our new Altra apparel is the bomb!

We went and had some compression treatments on our legs and more beer garden before heading back to our friends' house.
 





All in all we had a nice morning together from the getting ready to the dragging me along the first half of the course to sharing some post run fun.  It's always nice to run different places so I enjoyed seeing some new sites.  There were a decent number of spectators including ones with beer and margaritas for runners which is always a huge plus in my book.  We both agreed very strongly that even on my best day, this would not have been a PR race for me.  Emir went faster for a few miles after he left me but he said it was very hard to maintain due to the humidity which is so true.  I drank SO much water the rest of the day and night and hardly peed.  The other thing was that we knew this was a hilly course  but it was actually way more climbing than we thought.  I ended up with 700 feet of climbing in the half and he with about 1400 for the full.  I am not good at uphill so even with the downs in between, I'm sure I could not have gone anywhere near the pace I need for a PR.  So while yes obviously it's annoying and disappointing to have injured my foot, it really wasn't that big of a deal compared to if I was hoping this to be my "A" race.  I still got to run a bit with Emir and really the main point of our trip was to visit our friends which we had a wonderful time with them, it was just a nice bonus that there was a race to do so we could get in some miles. 




That night and the following day, I had pretty significant foot pain, not as bad as when I needed crutches but bad enough to bring back my limp.  Even now, 4 days later, I'm still feeling the effects so I know it was truly the right decision.  I usually feel like a slacker or that I'm making excuses if I don't do what I set out to do which honestly doesn't happen very often at all, but in this case I'm very much at peace with my decision.  I'm also very grateful Emir was with me to help me come to the correct conclusion.  Man I hate when he is right!!!  HAHA

 
So the good news is I don't have any big races coming up for a while so I can take it easy for a bit to let this foot get all the way better.  I know, it was just not enough time to let it get better before the race but I couldn't not try to run because what if it did feel ok enough.  It's one of those things you don't know for sure until you try it out.  My next race is the Dawn to Dusk to Dawn right here in Sharon Hill, PA.  All the races take place on a track, yup a track!  I'm doing the 24 hour race and gunning to get a 100 mile PR.  I'm actually very excited for this race because it's so close to my house that many friends and family can come cheer me on.  I'm thinking I'll get more people than usual to come out since it will be my last race here in PA before we move this summer.  I'm not saying I'll never do one in PA again because obviously we will be back to visit our family but I can definitely play it up ;-)  HA HA



 
 




In the meantime while I train for that, I only have the Philly Hot Chocolate which I was going to run the 15K as usual however Niko has really improved his endurance lately being on the summer and then winter swim teams.  He has been swimming 4-5 times a week and then he started hopping on the TM after swim season ended and ran 2 miles pretty well.  So I decided to ask him if he would want to run the HC 5K with me and he was very excited by that so I switched so that we can run his first 5K together.  I'm really looking forward to this, I know we will have a great time.  I may also do this local 50K that's on a flat towpath as a training run for the 24 hour but I haven't signed up yet.  We have been gradually working on packing and purging our house.  It's ALOT of work and it still seems like so much more to go.  Plus Emir has had to go to Boulder a lot for work anymore (big part of why we are moving).  So for now, I just don't want to get too much on my plate.


Well I might not have many race reports to write since duh I don't have many races coming up, but I will probably write a few training progress reports and moving progress reports plus we have a big family trip to Boulder in April to show the kids their new home so lots of mountain pics coming your way!!!
CHEERS!!!!!