Monday, March 31, 2014

SoCal Trip - Workout Recap

Hi all!

Just dropping in to share the awesome workouts I fit in while on my Southern California vacation with my best friend from undergrad. California is such a beautiful state, and spending quality time outdoors was wonderful after a winter being cooped up.

But first, thank you so much for all your encouragement and congratulations before and after the NYC Half. It was definitely an "exciting" training period, where nothing went quite as planned with the weather and work, so it makes sense that the same happened with the half -- but I PR'd and finally hit that sub-2, so I'm happy! Thanks for all your support. You guys rock.

I know I seemed super down about my time. The truth is, I was happy to go sub-2, but other things have gone on in my life this year that have made one single race seem a lot less important. I'm happy with the outcome but it just wasn't that significant. If anything, I'm just grateful for my ability to run at all!

California Trip Workout Recap

Wednesday: The day before my flight to Los Angeles, I met with my trainer, Amanda, for an upper body and core workout. I felt tenderness in my left hamstring after the NYC Half so didn't want to work it too much, hence the upper body and core focus. Certainly felt the oblique work the next day when I was storing my luggage in the overhead bins!

Thursday: A fantastic and hilly 4.5ish mile run through UCLA's campus. I wanted to shake out my legs after a 6 hour plane ride and couldn't resist the sunny, 60 degree weather. Thankfully, my hamstring felt totally fine, and it was a pretty fantastic run. Also, why did I go to undergrad and law school in New Hampshire and NYC rather than SoCal??

Friday: Rest day, drove to Palm Springs and enjoyed the sun and some fantastic fish tacos.

Saturday: Started for a run but legs felt like lead so gave up and ran back (1 mile total). Ended up doing a 45 minute strength workout after breakfast, then followed that up with a 2 mile hike that took me up 850 feet to a vantage point overlooking Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley. Gorgeous!

Sunday: My legs were super sore from the hike and strength workout, so I wanted to get them moving and enjoy Newport Beach's beautiful Back Bay area. After a drive across the gorgeous-but-also-kind-of-scary Palms to Pines Highway, crossing the San Jacinto mountains, I went for a sloooooow 4.5 mile loop from our hotel through the Back Bay. Forgot to take a picture, so just gaze upon the lovely San Jacinto peaks.

Also, here's Katie and I enjoying the mountains. Katie liked the mountains too, okay? I'm not the only mountain lover now. I think I converted her.

Monday: Spun out my still-sore legs for 23 minutes on a spin bike then did 20 minutes of upper body and core work at the lovely hotel gym.

Tuesday: Fit in a yoga class at the local Equinox before hitting the road and heading to sun in Santa Barbara. Orange County was surprisingly cloudy, but when it's in the sixties and cloudy, somehow you don't mind it so much. I really liked the yoga instructor, whose class was athletic without forgoing the calming aspects of my favorite yoga flows.

When we reached Santa Barbara, we walked around the beautiful Mission Santa Barbara. It was $7 for entry, as I recall, and was neat to walk around. It's quite old for the west coast, dating back to the late 1700s, and provided a great history lesson on California's Spanish past.

Wednesday: Despite the 20 mph winds, I wanted to take advantage of the sun and beach, so I went for a 4 mile run along the beach path. Actually make that a slog, since the wind was kind of terrible, but how could I resist a view like this??

Santa Barbara is a gorgeous town nestled into the Santa Ynez Mountains. I plan to return and explore the miles and miles of hiking trails surrounding the city.

Seriously it's SO cute:

Thursday: I took a quick hike into the mountains and went up part of the Inspiration Point trail (about 2.5 miles total). I didn't want to hike for more than an hour since we were heading to LA and wanted to avoid traffic, but I managed to get some great views of the Channel Islands while hiking.

Friday: We stayed in the most lovely bed and breakfast in Santa Monica (the Channel Road Inn -- highly recommend it!), right off the Pacific Coast Highway and close to the beach. So, obviously, I had to go for a run on the beach path. I think it was about 4.5ish miles? Not totally sure since I forgot my Garmin and decided I shouldn't be a psycho and go back for it when I'm not training. Not being a psycho is a good thing.


Oh, and then Friday night, we both felt the 5.1 magnitude earthquake that hit LA. Guys, as both Katie, a Chicagoan, and me, a Washingtonian, can tell you: minor earthquakes are not a big deal. Things start shaking and it takes you a little while to realize what's happening and then you're like, "oh, so this is happening. Things are shaking." And then the shaking stops and you're like, "oh, okay, so that was an earthquake."

Now, if it were a more sizable earthquake,  I'd be freaking out. But remember, for each order of magnitude, i.e. going from a 5.1 to a 6.1, you're actually going up 10x in power. So a 6.1 earthquake is 10 times more powerful than a 5.1 earthquake. (Yes, I was an earthquake geek when I was younger.)

How was your weekend? Anyone else an earthquake nerd?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

NYC Half 2014 Race Recap

I have no idea how to start this recap because two things happened at the NYC Half: (1) I finally broke 2:00 and finished in 1:58:46, and ( 2) I felt absolutely terrible during the race.

So, let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start (name that movie/musical!).

I wore a Oiselle Lux Layer (does not seem to be on their website anymore), my best-purchase-ever C9 by Champion puffer vest, discontinued Lululemon tights, mittens, a Sparkly Soul headband, and Mizuno Wave Inspires.  

It was "feels like 23 degrees" at the start and was about 31 degrees for most of the race, but other than my face, I felt plenty warm in this outfit. I was on the fence about the Mizuno Wave Inspires for a while after I got them, but this winter I've really started liking them, and they felt great during the race.

I wasn't able to do any runs the week before the race because I was so busy at work (the shortest day, I billed 12.7 hours) and Jess said to prioritize sleep over getting a run in. However, I was able to manage a 20 minute shake out run Saturday, taking advantage of the gorgeous, spring-like weather.

I woke up at 6:40 AM after sleeping terribly. I had decided to treat the race pretty casually when I saw how busy my week was going to be at work, so I wasn't extremely anxious. I still had that stomach flutter I get for all races, but I wasn't feeling the pressure of great expectations, which helped. I think my nausea had already started a bit, since I wasn't interested in food at all and barely got down 3/4 of a Picky Bar. 

I took a cab to Columbus Circle then jogged to the entrance at 6th Avenue and Central Park South. It was pretty cold out, but since I was moving continually, I didn't notice it as much as I did last year when I waited for 30 minutes in my corral. I met up with Brittany and we jumped in my corral. Brittany had been sick the previous week with strep throat and wasn't so sure about how the race would go, but we wanted to start together at least.

Almost immediately after we'd started chatting, the crowd started moving forward and just a few minutes later we were crossing the start line. "Are we really about to run a half marathon?" Brittany asked. 

Central Park
The new course that NYRR designed meant that we immediately climbed up Cat Hill then continued on the main Central Park loop. I was not a fan of the additional out and back they added at the top of Central Park. We ran out of the Park, along 110th Street up a gradual incline, around the Frederick Douglass statue, then back to where we exited and entered the park to run up Harlem Hill. The out and back just felt so tacked-on and the road was in pretty bad condition. I could easily see people tripping. 

After Harlem Hill, which Brittany and I were both happy to be done with, we saw Sourabh cheering with Mason at 96th Street. Shortly after we saw Fiona cheering -- hey, Fiona! I knew I should try to fuel around then, so I popped a chew in, but I could barely get it down. I had started feeling a bit lightheaded and didn't try to keep eating the chews. 

(1) 9:03
(2) 8:43
(3) 9:04
(4) 9:06
(5) 9:03
(6) 9:00

After we exited the park, I got down about 3/4 of a gu between miles 6-7, but that was the last fuel I had. As the race progressed, I just kept getting more and more lightheaded, and I'm sure that was due in part to fueling, but I also felt nauseous and the thought of trying to get down more chews seemed impossible, so I just drank water from several aid stations. 

Thanks for taking this awesome picture, Kim!
We had a great pick-me-up at 52nd Street, seeing Beth, Kim, Allison, Leticia and Bernadette (did I miss anyone??), but after we hit a killer wind running east on 42nd Street, I think Brittany and I both felt like we were over the race. We both started listening to music. Huge thanks to Ke$ha and Pitbull for their fantastic duet, "Timber," which really got me through a tough time. What can I say, I love shitty music when running.

(7) 9:08
(8) 8:52

West Side Highway
By mile 9 or so, Brittany said her legs were just done, so we eventually parted ways. Those West Side Highway miles were the worst because I was feeling incredibly lightheaded. I'm not sure where it came from -- although I'm guessing my fairly sleep-deprived state and inability to take in much fuel had something to do with it -- but from roughly mile 6 or 7 onwards I felt lightheaded and somewhat nauseous. I kept wondering if I might pass out or throw up. I didn't, though, and each time I saw my pace drop too much, I just kept thinking about the people in my life who are going through way worse shit than a race that they chose to run not being perfect. 

(9) 9:08
(10) 9:17
(11) 8:59
(12) 9:16 [<-- I think this mile is messed up because I had overrun the course by .1 until the large buildings in the Financial District and the tunnel, and then my watch said I finished in 13.11; this mile was probably a bit faster]

Last year, I hated the Battery Park tunnel, since it seems to go on forever. This year, I loved it because it meant we were almost done and it was a bit less cold than the highway. As we emerged, I tried to push with everything I had left, but there just wasn't a ton left. I think the lack of fueling probably really hurt me when it came to that last mile, but I still was able to kick it up a bit.

(13) 8:45
(.1) ?? [tall buildings messed it up, it says 12:00 and there's just no way]

As I crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch and looked down with an "oh, 1:58, cool" shrug. It's funny that something I worked so hard for last year felt good, but not overwhelmingly exciting. It was almost an after thought to the happiness that was no longer having to run. My primary thought was, "where is Sourabh, I need someone to get me out of here because I am too woozy to navigate on my own." 

After walking through the exit chute for what seemed like forever (but let's be honest, it was probably no more than a half mile or so), Sourabh and I were able to meet up. He gave me a big hug and helped guide me to the subway. As soon as we got home, I ate a bowl of cheerios (basic carbs were all I wanted) then slept for two hours.

After a nap and some food, I think I'm happy with my time. I am 99% sure I could run a faster half, especially on a flatter course when it wasn't below freezing and I wasn't sleep-deprived and incapable of fueling, but I have finally reached my goal of going sub-2, and that's pretty damn exciting. 

SO MANY THANK YOU'S to Coach Jess! I have no idea how I would have navigated training for this half marathon and working an increasingly demanding job without her help, giving me guidance on what workouts to prioritize and which would be okay to skip. Jess: you are the best!

Did you run the NYC Half? If so, how did it go? Post your recap here, I want to read it! Super curious about how everyone else's races went. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pre-Race Day Catch-Up

Hey guys!

I sort of feel bad about not updating my blog during this training cycle, but it's been such a crappy one overall that I'm happy that every treadmill run wasn't captured. Not that I haven't put in the effort -- I really have! -- but the weather's been so miserable for most of the winter that a ton of runs have been treadmill-bound, and the ones outside have been less than stellar.

Winter gloom is not that exciting, when I actually get outside.

So... Sunday is race day! I would love to say I'm super excited but I'm not. It looks cold and I've been working so much that I'm pretty sleep deprived (I was in the office till 2:30 AM on Friday night). As I've said before, I'm not complaining... or at least not complaining much. I feel like I'm learning so much, and I'm on some interesting/complex projects that I'm enjoying. I just wish the past two weeks had been a bit heavier on sleep!

Let's just say I've been seeing a lot of this building, my work "neighbor."

Anyway, Jess put together a great training plan for me, and I tried to follow it as best I could. I am excited to push myself hard and see what I can do on Sunday. Brittany and I plan to start the race together and see how we feel. If it's "not our day," at least we'll have company!

Yay run buddy! (Who is much more photogenic, clearly.)

Brittany is actually the one part of this training cycle that has been awesome. We've done several long runs and midweek runs together and she's been a fantastic training buddy. We're roughly the same speed, but both of us tend to push the pace a bit more when we're together, so I feel like we have really "productive" runs. Oh, and yes, I like talking to her, too... kind of essential in a training buddy. (I think we've both ranted about the state of the student debt situation in America about ten times on runs.)

The Central Park Lake is thawing! Progress?

I don't expect work to be any less busy in the next few weeks, but I do think I'll have more to talk about. To start, hopefully a race recap will be up next week! I'm going on a vacation with the bestie and can't wait to soak up some California sun and stuff my face with salad and fruit. I just don't crave those things when it's freezing out, but give me summer temps and I'm all about a nice kale salad. As New York thaws out, I'm hopeful that I'll be more inspired to write about race training and exercise plans. I have a general idea of what I'll be doing post-NYC Half, but I need to flesh it out more.

How excited are you for spring??? If you're running the NYC Half, are you excited or apathetic? How has winter training been?