24 June 2019

Achilles Hope & Possibility 4 Miler Race Recap

Yesterday, I ran the second race of the 9+1, the Achilles Hope & Possibility 4 Miler through Central Park. I didn't quite know what to expect, since I hadn't run at all the week prior due to a backpacking trip. I figured all the elevation I hit during the trip, as well as the rocky terrain, would help with the hills in the park, which I felt great on, but I simply didn't run that week and I only ran 9 miles total the week before that. hahahalol

Last week, I ran 16 miles, not including the race itself. The first two runs were in super humid conditions, and my legs felt trashed from all the backpacking. Yet, my shakeout run on Saturday went fairly well, so I figured I'd be set to run decently on Sunday.

I was pretty happy with how I ran. I told Alex that I wanted to finish in 35 minutes, and I was over that by 7 seconds, so overall I improved quite a bit from the first race. 

Additionally, I turned off auto lapping on my watch to get get accurate mile splits based on the markers. I felt like this helped me pace myself better, too.

Highlights: Because I ran an 8:47 average pace, my converted 10k pace is now 9:02, which moves me into corral H, from corral I. I wish I was aware of how close I was to the cutoff for corral G (8:57, I think), so I could have pushed a little harder. Next time!

Grievances: Ellie Goulding playing at the start. Not my favorite music. 

Hair report: French braid. The braid keeps my hair from feeling nasty on my sweaty shoulders. Also, long hair is super disgusting in this weather and I am thinking about cutting it to shoulder length.

Weather report: Warm, but considerably less humid. Hopefully it stays the same for Saturday.

Total time: 35:07
Pace: 8:47, according to NYRR

Lap 1 - 1.01 miles: 9:06
My goal during the first mile of every race in the park is to go out strong, but conservatively. The first mile goes over Cat Hill, and you usually see quite a few runners start off too fast and slow down considerably. I pay attention to how I'm breathing and concentrate on my form. 

Last race, corrals H and I did not have a staggered 45-second start, leading to a pretty claustrophobic, chaotic feeling. This time, each corral started 45-seconds after the previous corral, and I never felt uncomfortable. It also helped that I ran a little quicker, too. 

Lap 2 - 1.02 miles: 8:47
This is the downhill after Cat Hill. I slow myself down a bit, because there are more hills in the next mile or two, depending on whether it's a 4-mile or 5-mile loop. Still feeling good.

Lap 3 - 1.02 miles: 8:54
Besides there being another hill, I noticed last race that I slowed down considerably during mile 3. I focused on maintaining a pace near lap 2 since I tend to subconsciously slow down. I can work on this more, but for now I am happy that I kept the lap under 9 minutes. 

Lap 4 - 1.02 miles: 8:17
The course description says this mile is slightly downhill and flat in sections, so I knew I could pick up a decent amount of speed at the end. I am working on finishing my races strong, and one of my mental tricks for doing so is telling myself I can be tired after crossing the finish line. I did have a little kick near the end, though that might have been because I wanted water. 

Alex usually waits for me around the finish line, after completing his run. I tried looking for him, and although I apparently looked directly at him, I just didn't see him. In fact, he told me that after I looked in his direction, I started running to the outside of the curve, rather than the inside, and I was stride for stride with the woman in front of me, so the only good picture he took was the first one. I have no idea how I didn't see him, and I don't know why I ran to the outside, since it adds a little more distance and time, other than that I just don't know how to race.

Next up, I have the Front Runners 5 Miler on Saturday. I'm looking to run 5 miles tomorrow, and two 3 milers Wednesday and Friday.

I realize that I have no races for July, so I'll use that month to focus on increasing my distance, since I have 7-miler and a 12-miler in August. August is hot, so I don't know if the 7-miler will be decent in terms of pushing me into another corral, but we'll see.

Check out the awesome tan lines I picked up in New Hampshire!

03 June 2019

Italy Run 5M Race Report - and my 9+1 goal

Hey! Yesterday, I ran the Italy Run 5 Miler, one of NYRR's races in Central Park. Except for the humidity, the day was nice and I felt pretty good on the Central Park hills. 

I didn't randomly decide to run this, though. Earlier in the year, I gained back a spark of ambition and declared to Alex that I'd like to try running the New York City Marathon next year. Since I'm a slow runner, my only guaranteed way to do enter is through NYRR's 9+1 program, where you run nine qualifying races and volunteer once. After I complete the 9+1, I will be able to register for the marathon next year. 
With that, I planned out all the races that fit into my schedule. From now until December, I will be running around one race every month. It just so happens that I have two more later this month, which I'm excited about. 

As for the Italy Run, here's the mile split breakdown: 

Total Watch mileage/time/pace: 5.09 - 46:39 - 9:10
Total Race mileage/time/pace: 5 - 46:37 - 9:20

Because of all the weaving that occurs in the slower corrals, my watch has slightly higher mileage than the official course. Once the first mile split went off, I realized I forgot to turn off auto lap, since I want an accurate pace that reflects the course mile markers. As such, these splits are off by about .04 miles from the official split.

Mile 1: 9:37
This mile in in the direction of Cat Hill, so I knew better not to push the pace. I didn't warm up beforehand, so I made sure this mile felt comfortable. And honestly, with how crowded it was, I feel like it'd have been impossible to go faster without running into people.

Mile 2: 9:25
My second goal was to pay attention to my effort. There are a few hills in this course, so I didn't want to run too fast for me early in the race only to slow down during the end. I continued feeling good here and my pace quickened a bit.

Mile 3: 8:58
I was handling the hills very well. I wasn't slowing down considerably on the uphill, and I managed to run down smoothly, yet conservatively, based on my effort and breathing. I credit my leg's ability to handle the hills with the elevation gain of the recent hikes I've been on.

Mile 4: 9:19
While i was hoping to keep this split closer to 9, there were a few more hills here, so I wasn't upset by it. I haven't raced in forever, nor have I done any speed work, so race pace is a foreign concept to me right now.

Mile 5: 8:39
Even though these splits were off from the official mile splits, I was still happy that I had the energy left to put out a quick final mile. I passed a lot of people during this mile, whereas I would usually be one of the runners slowing down.

Mile .09: 0:39.37
This was the last little tidbit, according to my watch. Hopefully I remember to turn off auto lap next time.


02 May 2018

Norvo Nordisk New Jersey Half Marathon Race Report - 2:04:46

Hello there! Let's see, this is the first road race I've entered since the Army 10-Miler way back when. As I've mentioned in the past, I've been struggling finding motivation to run, since I just wasn't enjoying it very much. Alex paces the marathon every year, and I've been wanting to run the half each time, only I was never prepared. Finally, though, I was prepared enough this year.

A little backstory, if you will:

In December, a climbing friend asked Alex and I if we were interested in a 10-miler trail race in February. Instead of thinking I wouldn't have time to train, I decided to use it as an opportunity to return to running. All the while, this race was in the back of my mind. The trail race came and went (pro tip: walk the uphills of a trail race), and I hadn't yet registered for the half. My semester also picked up, and I used that, the cold, and early morning wake up times as an excuse to slack off. Yet, I knew I would be disappointed for putting it off once again.

Eventually, I finished up with three 10-mile runs, which should allow me to at least complete the race.

About the course:
The NJ half marathon features a decently flat course through the surrounding neighborhoods of Long Branch, finishing on the boardwalk of the beach. The only inclines are bridges, and maybe one or two slight uphills on the streets. There is water and Gatorade at every water stop, and they hand out Honey Stinger gels around mile 7-8. The only con is the construction along the first section of the boardwalk, resulting in some tight turns before heading onto the straightway of the boardwalk. Those condos gotta get built, though!

I'd definitely run the half again next year.

The weather was cool, slightly windy, and drizzling at the start, eventually warming up to a respectable temperature with no rain. The sun came out during the three hour mark of the marathon. By that point, though, I had finished and was wearing all four layers of clothing from my gear bag (pants, fleece top, Uberlayer, and rain jacket.)

Outfit report:

Energy gels: Boom Nutrition. The ingredients include actual fruit purees and are some of the best tasting gels I've ever used. My favorite is the apple cinnamon, though I like all of them, except the orange vanilla.

Shoes: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v7 Brooklyn Half.
I got them on sale. I had been developing a hot spot on the inner side of my right foot almost each time I ran, unless I taped that spot up. The other downside is that they're not very cushioned, and I don't think I'd buy them again. I had considered wearing an old, comfortable pair of shoes for the race, but wasn't sure if that was a good idea. Nothing terrible happened to my legs in them, though I know I'd benefit from a softer shoe.

Socks: Wrightsock in size large (for a women's 9.5 shoe size). I bought these last minute at work. With the shoes mentioned above, the thicker socks I usually run in make my wide foot feel too squeezed. I really enjoyed these socks and would buy more.

Shorts: Patagonia Strider Running Shorts. My old Pearl Izumi racing shorts are too small and my Nike Tempos are blagh. These are very comfortable and include a small zippered pocket on the back. I'm gonna get the Strider Pro shorts next time because they have more pockets for gels and such. I wear a size small in these.

Watch: Garmin 230. Measurements always seem off from the course.

Top: An old Adidas top that doesn't chafe. It's a little long, and normally that's not a problem, except I wore a Nathan running belt underneath so that I had my phone with me after the race. The belt was too big and my shirt rode up the entire race.

Bra: Brooks Frontrunner in size small. This is a seriously flattering bra with good support for me. I have two of them and love it.

Hat: An old Brooks hat I picked up a while back.

Hair report:
Low pony.

Race details:

Watch time and distance: 2:04.47 - 13.43 miles

Despite what my training paces indicated, I thought I might have a chance to break two hours if I paced decently. I opted to start near the 2:00 pace group and see how I felt.

Mile 1 - 9:19.24
Decent. My "fastest" 10-miler had been with the half marathon's training group, with an average 9:20-ish pace. I felt comfortable here.

Mile 2 - 9:00.47
Seemed a bit fast, since a 2-hour half is a 9:09 pace. I felt okay, and figured the pacer would adjust eventually.

Mile 3 - 8:55.43
At this point, the pace group began pulling ahead of me. I immediately knew that trying to keep up would be futile, so I attempted to keep them within sight. Still feeling okay.

Mile 4 - 8:57.61
Still trying to figure out why the pacer kept pulling further and further ahead, but was not trying to catch up.

Mile 5 - 9:02.73
Beginning to realize that I'm out of practice regarding pacing, and I should have stuck to my own plan.

Mile 6 - 9:01.53
While I'm maintaining my pace, I'm beginning to feel tired, which isn't a good sign halfway in.

Mile 7 - 9:12.46
The slowdown begins. Had I paced correctly in the first half, this is the pace I should have sped up to by this point in the race, not slowed down to.

Mile 8 - 9:12.54
It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to finish the race at this pace.

Mile 9 - 9:25.64
Unfortunately, I was just unable to maintain it. I was feeling worn down, my hips hurt, and I simply didn't have the base mileage to back up what I was trying to do.

Mile 10 - 9:30.09
There was really nothing I could do at this point other than to focus on my form and look at the restaurants through the downtown portion of the course. I was fortunate that this course is relatively flat.

Mile 11 - 9:29.22
I'm still relatively pleased that I hadn't slowed down more than my training paces, but, boy, was I struggling. I kept thinking about my last half, in Pittsburgh, where I mentally lost it the last two-three miles and walked. At this point, I knew a sub-2 wasn't happening, but I could at least finish the race running.

Mile 12 - 9:39.41

Mile 13 - 9:56.84
This is a pretty slow mile. I think it was part boardwalk congestion, partly the wind, partly that my body just would not speed up.

Mile .1 - 4:04.19
My watch measured every mile short by about two tenths. It's never fun, because whenever my watch signals a mile, I know I have to wait for the race markers to see what's actually happening. According to my watch, I averaged a 9:18 pace over 13.4x miles, but according to the race website, it's more of a 9:30 pace.

Clearly, and this has always been my issue, I have yet to learn the art of pacing. Regardless, I'm very pleased that I actually got myself together in time to run it.

My PR in the half is 1:51.xx, and I believe that with actual training, I can break 1:50, so that's going to be my goal for the fall. If not sub 1:50, then close to it.

Thanks for reading!

What was your first race back from an extended period of time off like? What would you have done differently in retrospect?
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