the final countdown…

boston3daysGiven that I am leaving for Boston tomorrow morning and hope to get in a shakeout run before I leave, sleeping should really come before writing right now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t capture some of my excitement in these final days before the Big Day in writing.

I’ve been insanely busy and haven’t had time to share my awesome 19-miler last Sunday (the 6th): basically, I ran midday to mimic potential warm and sunny weather (okay, I just wanted to sleep in because it was the one day that week I could…), and decided that my final [very] long run would have to go through downtown Hopewell. I altered the route so that I would get a gradual uphill rather than downhill on Crusher Rd., a road that far exceeded my expectations. Having only remembered being on it in a car at night, I had no idea what beautiful views awaited me. Also on the run, I learned of a new bike shop opening soon in Hopewell called Sourland Cycle, and I found the exact location of a cool quarry-turned-swim club my college team had visited during preseason (aptly named the Quarry Swim Club). I consumed two Tri Berry Gus and 12 ounces of water on this run, and the method seemed to do me well. Farewell, Shot Bloks. Gels were not the cause of my unusual stomach distress, and therefore I will take them during Boston because they are way easier to carry. I averaged 7:47 for the hilly 19 miles, my fastest average yet this spring. I was pretty pleased with that, especially the fact that I finished the last couple miles at 7:28.

The weekly elevation check-in....

The weekly elevation check-in…I honestly think Garmin went a little crazy this day though, so there may be a couple errors.

While I am on the subject of hills, I found a site that previews what some of the vendors will have to offer at the expo, and apparently Brooks is selling THIS beauty:

Brooks-Boston-Marathon-Shirt_2I may just have to purchase it. The pointing finger is quite an open-ended question, however: at first glance, it seems like the statement refers to the one wearing the shirt…but is it really for a girl who convinces her running buddies (running/standing next to her) that hills are awesome as well? Both sound good to me. Expect me to wear this whenever I want to intimidate a new running partner (just kidding).

“Taper” week 1: I did one final hard workout last Thursday the 10th, because I couldn’t bear to start my taper in earnest until the weekend before….I warmed up two miles and did a five mile tempo, and out-and-back on the towpath. The intention was to keep it flat and even, but the wind coming off the lake had other plans. I hard to work much harder when I turned around after 2.5 miles to keep the same pace. Splits: 6:43, 6:40, 6:54, 6:52, 6:45 (average = 6:47). What was most interesting about the entire run was that I averaged 7:32 on my warmup and 7:24 on my two-mile cooldown, which was uphill, and I felt like I was taking it really easy after the tempo effort. Huh. I’ll take it. The next day I did a recovery trail run without my Garmin. I fell in a stream. Not going to lie, it was refreshing. I’m weird. This weekend was a twelve-miler with the usual hills…while it felt too warm (it was 64) and somewhat tiring, it felt really short, so that was a good sign.

Taper week 2: I was a good girl this week, in the world of tapering. Shocker! It helped to be working on my feet 50+ hours…I didn’t feel like running much. I did a really easy 6.5 miles Tuesday afternoon and then some pickups yesterday which felt amazing and left me with 5.3 miles at an average of 7:18.

A year since 4/15/13: Tuesday was an emotional day. All the news reports and the coverage on the memorial ceremonies and such on Boylston Street just brought back memories of last year: how I saw it everywhere I went, and how everyone asked me where I was, what I heard, what I did, how I felt. How I felt the need to read everything about it for some reason, and how I felt unsafe on the crowded streets of my town for a couple weeks. Now that it feels more like springtime here in New Jersey, the memories of those feelings post-Boston are easier to recall and feel again, and that’s a little hard to think about. I’d reflect more, but instead I’ll announce that on this past Tuesday, my aunt Diane and I ended up sharing our experiences last year and our thoughts on running this year with a reporter for CBS Philly, and the article will be run tomorrow (Saturday)! I’ll post a link via some means of social media, but for now I’ll direct you there for what I have to say about all that.

BOSTON 2014: I am so, so, so excited. All I’m nervous about is logistical stuff about race day. I trust that everything I’ve done from January 1 until now has 100% prepared me for this race. I hadn’t decided yet, going into this post, if I wanted to publicly share my specific goals. I probably wrote a long time ago that I definitely want to break 3:20, but that’s old news now. I’ve started to have some more confidence that I can actually surprise myself even more, and so I think I’m just going to leave it at that. I do have a plan, but the plan mostly entails responding to the race itself – the course, my body, the energy, the crowds, the magic. For some reason I’m really not stressing over it. So, track me to see what happens! I am Bib # 13857 (emphasis on my lucky 13!), and for text alerts, text my number to 345678.

On that note, I should stop listening to my “Boston Pump Up” playlist so I can actually go to sleep.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…I mean…the shoulder on the side of the road.

My theory of good weeks following bad weeks proved itself valid, as I had a great week of training last week. In my world, the week begins on Monday, not Sunday, a factor that would have made the previous statement untrue otherwise, since my long run Sunday fell significantly short of pleasant. It was only 13.5 miles though, so I told myself it was better to have that run be sub-par and look forward to a solid 18-miler the next weekend.

I miss you, track!

I miss you, track!

To avoid the issue I battled the week before when I tried to do a track workout, I chose to do a workout earlier in the day Tuesday rather than at night (er, at 6:30pm…same thing). As I feared, the track was not shoveled after the snow we got at the end of the previous week. Luckily, the snow had been completely cleared from the neighboring turf field, so I took advantage of its unoccupied state and did 5 x 3 laps, or 1255 meters, with about two minute rests. It was so windy, so that definitely was an added factor, as well as the slightly soggy surface. I ended up averaging 6:30 pace for the intervals, granted my GPS was accurate while running in a square, which wasn’t as fast as I would have liked; however, I got out there and did it, and after the week before, that was okay with me. I was also very grateful to have the turf available for intervals when the track was covered in snow.

Thursday was a workout I was both looking forward to and anxious about…clearly, signs of a workout that was going to be worthwhile. I wanted to do another five mile tempo, maybe even six, but I did not want to do it on roads with shoulders covered in ice and snow, with cars forcing me to break my stride and jump to the side every few minutes. A coworker had told me she did a tempo run in Hillsborough, a couple towns north of here, and there were huge shoulders and no traffic. I didn’t have to be at work until later that day, so off to Hillsborough I went. It helped that it was almost fifty degrees with full sun: short sleeves and shorts, hooray! I will spare the details of how the few errands I had to do before this run caused me to almost pay a frozen yogurt shop worker to use the bathroom as a locker room. It happens. That is all.

I mapped what I thought looked like a good course ahead of time, and wrote the turns on my arm, like so:

I failed to write one road/turn here, which made me improvise a bit at one point, but it was all good. I used the first two miles as a warmup: 7:46, 7:48. At mile 3 I picked it up to tempo pace and held it for the next 5 miles. There were some gradual inclines and declines, and a steep, short hill during the second tempo mile, but for the most part the course was much, much flatter than places I normally run. Splits: 6:52, 7:10, 6:56, 6:51, 6:41 (34:30, 6:54 avg). I thought about going for a sixth mile, but instead decided to do a recovery mile, then do 4 x 60 seconds hard, 60 seconds easy, then cool down back to the start from wherever I was at that point. This ended up being pretty fun. The easy mile was 7:42, and then the on-off minutes and cooldown looked like this:

I was pleased that my “recovery pace” after the tempo was around 7:30; it felt very comfortable. Overall, I managed to run 10 miles in 72 minutes, for an average pace of 7:12. Although my tempo two weeks before was faster, I averaged an overall faster pace for this run and a farther overall distance, and this route had considerably fewer downhills. It was one of those runs that left me with rekindled confidence as well as a killer runner’s high. I put the windows down on the way home (for about five miles until I was freezing of course) and blasted this awesomeness:

I usually match…but when I don’t, I really don’t (not shown: traffic-cone orange shirt).

Brooks Transcend group run

That evening was our group run with Brooks. I was thinking about doing two miles really easy in the Transcend, but decided against it since a lot of people ended up showing up and so I didn’t feel bad for not participating. I still have yet to test out the shoe, but I recently read Jesica’s thorough review on rUnladylike, so I will direct you there for now! What I did learn was what astronaut ice cream tastes like. I can’t say it’s better than real ice cream, but I’m not even a big ice cream fan, so what do I know.

Saturday was the first long run in my training that felt like a legitimate long run. That is, not a run I would do if I were not training for a marathon. The plan was 18 miles, and I luckily found a buddy for the entire thing. I decided to be smart and not do much besides go to a yoga class and eat dinner the night before. I was already multiple steps ahead of my first super long run last year. In short: this was the shortest 18 miles I had ever run. We talked the whole time, and made for excellent matches in terms of pace, lack of awkwardness, etc. This whole phenomenon makes me laugh when I think about it, because it’s almost like going on a date. I just wrote so much more about this and then took it out, which means…separate post to come – subject: why a first run is like a first date! But back to the run itself: I keep mapping similar things, yet adding on an extra corner or two as the run gets longer. This time, I took us down a road I’ve always been curious about, called Aunt Molly Road. Come on, don’t lie. You’d be curious too. It turned out to be a very interesting stretch of road, including an unpaved section, a farm, a lot of trees, and a vulture sitting atop a telephone pole. Curiosity satisfied indeed. Of course I added the infamous hill in reverse as well…and my running buddy still wants to run with me again sometime. I think. So that’s good. We stopped back at the car for water but that was at 16.5 miles or so…not really necessary but I took a few sips and we did a small loop for 18 (18.33, actually). In terms of fuel, I was also going to have a PowerGel on the run, and one for “breakfast.” I was hungry when I woke up, so I had both for “breakfast.” Oops. The good news is, I didn’t feel like I needed it on the run at all, and felt like I could have kept going. Summary: I feel way stronger than I did at this point in marathon training the first time around (last year). Long miles feel easier. Big hills feel easier. There is very little thirst, or bonking, or slowing of pace. I was excited to have completed this run, and am simultaneously looking forward to the 20-milers ahead of me, because I know they’ll just make me even stronger, especially mentally to be honest. [AND THE SNOW IS MELTING! BIG DEAL. SO EXCITING.]

What I did with my wet clothes after the run...sometimes you've got to be creative....

What I did with my wet clothes after the run…sometimes you’ve got to be creative….

Oh, and let’s not forget my weekly elevation report:

(Watch got screwed up, aka I forgot to restart it for awhile, hence the cut-off.)

So, I’m already well into the week after everything I just wrote about…and contrary to the pattern that developed before, it’s been quite alright! The E. Murray Todd Half Marathon is this Sunday, March 2nd. A couple weeks ago I was feeling pretty underprepared, but now I’m actually excited. The course is rolling the whole time:

emurraytoddelevationchartHowever, it looks like the hills are less massive than the ones I’ve been running. I’m looking forward to putting the work I’ve done so far – and yes, I finally feel like I have actually done some hard work – to the test and seeing what I can do. I’m not gunning for a PR, or even a PR effort, but rather a hard effort over 13.1 miles that will serve as a benchmark and confidence-booster for the rest of my training for Boston. It would be nice to run faster than I did on the somewhat hilly Caesar Rodney Half course last year, though. So while I’m not going to state an overall time goal, I will say that I would be content maintaining around a seven-minute-mile pace effort, or slightly faster.

Training check-in between snowstorms

I started this post – okay, wrote the title and saved it as a draft – over a week ago. I was having a great week of training and finally felt like I was able to do workouts and runs that allowed me to assess where I stood in terms of fitness. The week that followed was quite the opposite. This pattern is leading me to believe that we may need “bad” weeks to appreciate or even have “good” weeks of training…at least, that’s what I’m telling myself. This in turn got me thinking about all the blog posts I read that mention such “bad” or “good” weeks, and the bigger picture…which totally deserves its own blog post, but I’m pretty sure when I publish two at once, one never gets read. Anyway.

The week of February 3rd…the “good week”:

Actually, take it back to the preceding weekend. I did a solo 15-miler on Saturday, and it was SHORTS WEATHER! This was glorious. I also think I was a bit dehydrated. When mid-forties gets you dehydrated…that just says the weather we have been having otherwise is just wrong. I found a new giant hill, and was loving life while running up it. Seriously. It was one of those awesome top-of-the-world kind of hills, with a view that only lasts a moment before you descend, but it stays in your mind for the rest of the run.

feb1hillsI averaged a little slower than I would have liked on the run for feeling so good (8:00 pace), but to be fair this was probably the hilliest loop so far, and I didn’t want to look at my watch much, just go by feel.

Monday was the first snowfall of the week…I went for a sloppy run once the snow stopped and some plows had made their way through town in the evening. It wasn’t horrible, but obviously pace went out the window with the footing I was dealing with. Oh, then I had this. I nearly forgot (man, that was a good week…):

20140203_215105

It was worth the snowy trek. And here are some necessary snow pictures…for those of you jealous of us freezing, buried New Jerseyans! (Anyone, anyone?)

snow

Tuesday was Intervals practice and I was really hoping our plan to improvise would work! You never know what is shoveled….We really lucked out, because we found a turf field that had been snow-blown. The perimeter of two lacrosse fields ended up being 0.27mi, so we went with that and did a down ladder workout of sorts. After, I ran right to the gym and did some lifting and abs…I can’t say my half-mile run home from the gym was very fast or pleasant, but it was an evening well spent, in every sense of the word. Wednesday was the day New Jersey turned into an ice skating rink, and I ended up working all day and that was it. I didn’t feel like myself at the end of the day – just sort of restless – and it was a reminder that a.) I’m getting used to more training, and b.) running and cross training is definitely not all physical. The latter is a simple concept, but I forget it too often.

This was taken by someone else who scoped out the possible workout locations a little early...no photos of the actual loop we did but it's inside the fence! The lights weren't on...but that was okay, snow makes quite a bright perimeter.

This was taken by someone else who scoped out the possible workout locations a little early…no photos of the actual loop we did but it’s inside the fence! The lights weren’t on…but that was okay, snow makes quite a bright perimeter.

Thursday I did a five-mile tempo in the middle of a nine mile loop. I was planning on going alone, but I ended up with a great partner/pacer at the last minute. We warmed up three miles (during which I forgot to start my watch at one point, so my perfectly-planned, mile-by-mile workout was kind of messed up before it started…oh well), all uphill…then did the next five of the loop at tempo pace. Going into this, I had no idea how any sort of pace in that range was going to feel, because I’ve only ran faster or slower than that since the Philly Half. I thought I’d aim for what felt like 6:50-7:00, but told myself I wouldn’t be discouraged if it was slightly over 7:00, because the route was rolling (and the shoulders were covered in ice…). I just wanted to see what my legs would decide “tempo pace” was on this day in early February. It was probably more downhill than uphill, but there was more elevation gain in the third mile for sure. My splits were: 6:46, 6:45, 7:03, 6:39, 6:37, giving me 33:50 for 5 miles (6:46 average). I was really pleased with this, because we were talking at times. Just a few words, but I didn’t feel like I was racing or anything. It was definitely a relief to know my tempo pace is 6:45 at this point in training. Pretty sure that was a 5 mile PR!

The week of February 10th…the “bad week”:

First, it wasn’t really a bad week. It would have been if the IT band soreness I felt after my long run Saturday had developed into anything remotely bothersome for longer than a day after. In my typical paranoia, I started the week by taking two days off of running completely, icing twice a day, and constantly assessing how I felt on stairs. Oh, and wondering if Boston was out the window. Let me emphasize that I actually had no pain, I’m just that paranoid. I skipped the Intervals workout Tuesday (hill repeats) and did an easy run to test out my leg instead. It was totally fine – no discomfort at all. PHEW. You must understand that with me, something can go from “bothersome” to full-on, season-ending “injury” in one simple run. So, I wasn’t hurting but that run was still awful. So tight, so tiring. Further proof that I want to take fewer days off than I used to feel comfortable with. I think I can handle it now, and I think it will help me, not hurt me.

The good thing about the long run though, was getting to meet Hollie in person! She, Greta, and I slid up and down hills (okay, I made it sound too easy there) for sixteen miles.

Photo credit: Hollie.

Photo credit: Hollie.

The rest of the week was a comical failure, honestly. I had a workout attempt just like this one from April, but I couldn’t try again because there was a snow and ice storm the next day. And I still felt sick. Ultimate combo of un-motivation and frustration. What did get me motivated for a 75-minute bike trainer ride in my shed?

House_of_Cards_title_card

THIS.

I only wish I had stumbled upon it sooner so I wasn’t so behind everyone else as they’re starting the new season (released in full this past Friday)!

The ending (please let it be the ending!) to this sub-par training week deserves its own post, so up next: what I learned on Valentine’s Day. I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with treadmills dreadmills. There will also be glitter.

Perfect 10 Miler Course Preview: 1 week to go!

The Perfect 10 Miler is next Sunday! With a course like THIS (see below), I thought I would be a responsible runner and check it out as part of my long run a week early. This ended up being a great idea. For all readers who don’t/didn’t have a chance to run the course, or are coming from far away to run next week’s race, I’ll write some details about it for you here! Disclaimer: I used it as a workout so you’ll also have to read allll about how that went. 🙂

I woke up to 100% humidity in both the air and, it seemed, in my head (nose, throat, etc.). Not an ideal combination (I think the roadtrip to GA, plus a busy week and hard running caught up with me). Ten miles of sweat would be a great way to flush it all out, but I was concerned I also wouldn’t be able to breathe. Oh well. It needed to be done. The plan was to run the first four miles at a normal, conversational pace, then bring it down to 7:00 pace (average goal race pace for the first half or so) for the next four miles, then run the last two easy and/or “normal.” And, of course, to learn the course. We had done a packaging-tape-laminating job to a miniature version of the course map to be pocketed during the run and referenced when necessary.

Miles 1-4: 7:28, 7:36, 7:28, 7:30

start

We imagined the start line to be precisely where the dog park parking lot narrows into a road, which leads to the main park road (Paxson Ave.), so that was where we began. The course turned right onto Paxson and did a u-turn onto the other side of the two one-way roads just  before the park sign at the end (close to Old Trenton Rd.). The first mile was just after that. Mile two is on the same stretch, just before the Marina lot entrance.

At the West Picnic Area entrance, the course takes a right. The surface changes here slightly, to rougher pavement, but not enough to make a difference. I just noticed. I usually park in this lot when I come here to run, so it was very familiar territory. There is a grass hill in the center of the parking lot – the lot loops around it. The course follows this loop and heads back out the same road, then makes a right back onto Paxson. The third mile is on the far side of the parking lot, when you are about halfway across it. A note about elevation: this course only fluctuates by about 87 feet, which is nothing. There was a little downhill during mile three, which might get you excited for about ten seconds, until you realize it’s, um, already over.

wpicnicarea

Miles 4-8: (goal: ~7:00) 6:57, 7:00, 6:46, 6:57 (6:55 average)

My watch hit 4.00 miles about 200 meters from Hughes Dr., where the course takes a left. I felt pretty decent for these miles, but I knew they would feel easier come next Sunday if I manage to kick this head cold (and I will).

ontohughes

So, left onto Hughes and then the first (real, don’t turn onto the dirt road) left onto Mercer County College’s campus. Then, the course takes the second right (the first right that makes sense) onto the road that circles the campus and initially borders a parking lot. The fifth mile comes up just before the road veers to the left.

Then, the unexpected happens. The course makes a left…over the grass?! I’m going to call this a grassy knoll, because that’s totally what it is. It’s a very slight (emphasis on very) incline to get up and over the grass, and then you basically roll down the other side, over one walkway, and turn right onto a second, parallel walkway. I’m sure on race day this will all be marked with cones or caution tape. I had no idea there was grass involved, but luckily my trusty pacer leader did (I’m not saying pacer – yet – because he ended up almost running out of my sight during these four faster miles!).

Garmin's path is a little wonky as usual, so look at the white arrows.

Garmin’s path is a little wonky as usual, so look at the white arrows.

Then, you basically blaze through the center of the campus between academic buildings on a wide brick path, which opens up to a wide sidewalk leading to another parking lot. There was apparently a walk for autism this morning, through which we ran through the middle…but they were putting away the clock so it was all good. The course turns left after passing two grass and tree medians and goes through the lot to meet up with another path by the athletic fields.

I started to feel better around this point, as my watch hit 6.00 just before the softball field. This path is fairly narrow and windy, so it’s a good thing it isn’t in the first couple miles of the race. It spits you out right at the side of the Welcome Center, and then you get on the main road almost all the way to where you first entered the campus…but there is a sharp right onto a paved path that leads back to the park. This snuck up on me, and it kind of felt rebellious, like I was recklessly abandoning normalcy and heading for the hills (hey, why not make this description more fun?).

The course just runs along the paved trail north until it intersects with the path that runs parallel to Paxson, where you make a right. That path gradually curves toward Paxson, where it will intersect and the course makes a smooth right again.

In general, the paths were fine; while some of them were windy (read: wind-y, not talking about weather here), I didn’t really feel like it made them “slow.” Footing was just as good as the road except for one small spot as you cross over the powerline overpass in mile six…there was a  bit of sand/dirt (nothing to trip over though). The eighth mile ended on Paxson, so I slowed down to a recovery pace at that point, taking it pretty easy to get myself feeling back to conversational pace, but not stopping.

Miles 9 & 10: 8:08, 7:28

One thing we were unsure of was the turnaround point to head back to the finish, during this little out-and-back that happens in these miles. This right turn is at the same road where the race started, but after you enter it, the course goes on a road to the right (that is, do not turn left; continue). This out-and-back road is arc-shaped, with grass on the right (heading out, that is), and parking lots and basketball courts on the left. We ran all the way to the last side parking lot and did a loop around the grassy median, as the course map suggests:

The finish: We didn’t run into an issue until the very, very end. In fact, not until after we had ran a perfect ten (well okay, 10.06) miles. The issue was, we stopped running at the end of that arc-shaped road, not where we started the ten miles. You can see the tip of the “stop” icon at the top of the above picture (that “9” is on the way down to the turn-around, by the way), and how it isn’t anywhere near the green “start” pin. The official course map groups the start and finish together, like so:

…but if we were to make a right and head back to the spot where we started, it would put us at about 10.22 miles. So…is the course fairly long? Is the finish at the end of that road where we decided to stop? Is it somewhere in between? We’ll find out right away next weekend, when we see the “FINISH” banner positioned in its proper location. Perhaps I can shoot an email to the race director since we’ve met before; it’s a simple question.

Overall run stats: 10.06 miles in 1:13:50, average pace of 7:20

One more note about the conditions…

weather10.6

Yeah, that is 100% humidity. So don’t knock on me for looking like I jumped in Mercer Lake.  I virtually did.

Thoughts on the preview run…I’m very glad I did it. Specifically, I’m glad I didn’t decide not to do the uptempo portion because of feeling congested, or shorten it to three miles, which I could have easily done since I wasn’t sure whether to do three or four in the first place. I was glad I hit those miles in 7:00 or under, feeling like they were more like 7:05-7:10. The fact that the faster miles were also during the entirety of the technical part of the course is also advantageous; I have already ran through those sections at race pace, so next week I’ll know exactly where to go and what to expect next. Even writing this blog post (OMG it’s actually taken longer than any one – besides HTC – to date I think…) has helped me draft some racing/pacing strategies in my head! I was having a rough training week from Wednesday onwards this week (mostly because of feeling sick-ish, not really leg-wise), and since that hasn’t happened in awhile (yay!), I was a bit discouraged about the race heading into this run. I’m learning,though, that I have reached the point where excuses aren’t options: barring rare, extreme unfortunate circumstances for legitimate reasons, I just run the pace I want to run because I said I would, I want to, and that’s that. It’s simple.

Goals…

I always said “sub-70” when anyone asked me about it, and that still stands. What I really meant was “sub-7-minute pace,” so if the course is in fact ten and a quarter miles, those won’t mean the same things. I would like to average sub-7 pace. I would like to negative split in my recent fashion. And I would like to have awesome amounts of fun. I may have another thing in mind too but I’ll just tell you how that worked out afterwards. 😉

Last pre-race workout + Oiselle shorts review

Tomorrow is RACE DAY! It sounds so foreign to say that, because it doesn’t happen often….

My training over the past week has left me fairly confident in my ability to just run fast and have a good time, in both senses of the word. Last Sunday, I ran about 11.5 miles with fellow Running Company shoe nerds. We met at Summit Running Company at 8 AM…which felt like 7 AM due to DST (which, by the way, am I very glad is in effect). We set off towards the Watchung Reservation and enjoyed some slippery, muddy trails, then ran back to the store. Whenever I run with a group of guys (um…most of my runs), I’m never sure if I’m going to get dropped or not. Fortunately, I did not, but at times I could tell we were definitely moving up the hills. We chatted about work, past and present, for the whole run and it was lots of fun. The fact that we stopped after an hour and a half and that felt like a short run to me was very, very good. I like it. My only complaint is that I destroyed my white compression socks…which I wanted to wear in the race. My black ones were dirty, so I risked staining the white ones with mud. BAD CHOICE. The mud did not come out. Anyway, sock crises aside, we snapped a nice group picture:

RunC

Tuesday was my last PI workout before the half! We ended up doing our 30 minute tempo on an out-and-back, straight (but hilly!) road instead of the planned half-trail pond loop, because of  several inches of rain. I had no one to run with or chase, but I felt strong and it made me excited for Sunday. I don’t have splits, but I ran 31:59 for 4.7 miles of rolling hills. Afterwards, I did 4 x 1/3 mile around six-minute pace. At work last week, I found out that I could get a sweet discount on Oiselle apparel off their website. I have been searching for the perfect compression short for forever. I raced in Lululemon’s Groove Short last summer, even for the triathlon, and that seemed to be perfect. However, it’s not actually meant for running (or biking or swimming…), so the waistband is a little thick, and the inseam is a little longer than I would prefer. Oiselle is known for their top-notch, flattering women’s running apparel, so with my discount code in hand, I ordered the Stride Short. A four-inch inseam sounded ideal, and I am a sucker for reviews – the second I saw a comment claiming that they don’t ride up, I bought it. Luckily, they came in the mail in time for Tuesday’s workout! I tested them out and even before I began the tempo, I was convinced they would be my go-to racing short. Seriously, if you are still racing in Nike Pro shorts and yanking them down at the crotch, please buy these. I promise they will be infinitely better. No adjusting necessary (they were also true to size, fyi).

The stride short! And yes, I wore a tank top for the workout - it was WARM on Tuesday night!

The stride short! And yes, I wore a tank top for the workout – it was WARM on Tuesday night! And yes, I am in the fitting room at work because I spend too much time (and showers) there, you know that.

The ten total miles I accumulated that day didn’t leave me feeling too great Thursday, but the work is done and I am excited to see what I can do tomorrow! I was really nervous at work yesterday, and tried desperately to shake the nerves off. I think I will be fine once I start running tomorrow. Seeing people’s times from the RnR USA half and full today, I know I can accomplish my goal if I stay in it mentally…and if the hills don’t kill me. But let’s not talk about that.

In the meantime, I am staying off Facebook so I don’t see a thousand statuses and pictures involving St. Patrick’s Day, bar crawls, and beer. I am not sabotaging my race after all this training. I will resume celebrations tomorrow evening. Also – SNOW, DON’T YOU DARE STICK!

One week to go!

I can’t believe there is only one more week left until the half marathon! I realized I never “announced” which one I was running! Back in January, I decided a half marathon around the third week of March would be ideal for my training plan and my history of when I tend to feel best in a training cycle. I thought about the RnR USA Half on March 16, but thought there were too many logistics to worry about (place to crash, etc.), so I chose the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in Wilmington, Delaware on Sunday the 17th. (It was cheaper than USA, too….)

This sounds strange, but I set my goal for this race on July 30, 2011. That was River to Sea, when I averaged 7:05 pace for both my first 6.5-mile leg and my second 7.95-mile leg and felt even better at the end of that last one. It was then that I realized I could probably run a half marathon, race it, fast. Obviously, things did not work out at all regarding this plan since that day. So, I am finally running this half marathon that I planned to run, hypothetically, in 2011. I had done two workouts prior to the relay…as in, two workouts in July having not been ready for them since the prior March due to injury. My goal right now, for next week? I would like to run under 1:35:00, meaning 7:15 pace or faster. Doable. I know it is. Some days I am really confident, others I am not. I think that means this is a good goal. 

I skipped the Intervals workout Tuesday for the first time this season, so I could finally  get this tempo run over with. It was sad. But I am glad I did the tempo. Tempo day was Thursday, but it may as well have been Tuesday, because I was flying on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I paid for it Thursday, because I was tired. I mapped a five mile route…actually, like five of them, but I finally decided to do a mix of towpath and hilly roads, to mimic the elevation profile of the race, on a smaller scale. Oh, want to see it? It’s beautiful:

More on this later.

The weather was strange, cold and warm at the same time, humid, snowing, raining, not raining – just confusing. I wore shorts, obviously, and sweat like crazy of course. I did a longer warmup than I intended. At 7:38 pace. Short story: it was not my ideal tempo day, but in the end, I thought this might be a good thing. All my workouts have been mentally easy, and somewhat physically easy, so I needed to be prepared for this come next week, just in case. I wrote the mile marker landmarks on my arm. I hate writing on myself for some reason, but I had to do what I had to do! Reason #1 why I need a Garmin!

…does anyone else do this for tempo runs? Or am I just a lone, sad GPS-less runner?

Splits…well, approximately (+/- ~2 seconds?) since I did not specify which side of each house/driveway I was supposed to split my watch: 6:44 (flat towpath and climbing up from the lake), 7:12 (hilly roads, mini shock to the system for a moment), 7:11 (more hilly roads, almost quit), 6:54 (uphill, flat, and downhill roads), 6:29 (all flat towpath, might have stopped a little early, around 20 meters?). The splits sound so varied, but the “course” I mapped was even more rolling than I thought it would be! At the end, I was sufficiently spent. The nice cooldown felt well deserved and good, like cooldowns post-workout should be. 

I literally ran to work, and later that day, we received a visit from our New Balance rep, who is super cool. There was this movement around Princeton a couple years ago called “Eat More Kale.” It is a Vermont thing, apparently (and a hipster thing…a vegetarian thing, the list goes on…), but it was big here; people had bumper stickers and t-shirts. Anyway, now we are going for “Sell More New Balance!” They have reinvented themselves, make good running shoes, and deserve to be known, and worn! I like any excuse for dinner and drinks post-work, so it was a good night. 

I am a bit behind on writing, but next up will be my run at Watchung Reservation with fellow RunCo employees this morning, and some interesting, thought-provoking (if I say so myself) musings about life that came to me this (great) weekend. 

In the meantime, a few questions for you: What are your initial thoughts when you hear “New Balance” in regards to running? Have you/do you run in NB? How much longer can I get away with training without a Garmin and not waste a ridiculous amount of time mapping routes and writing on my arm?