I’m a Half Marathoner

I have learned so much over the past 6 months about myself. I learned that you can make time for anything that you have a passion for. I also learned that I do not have a passion for updating this blog.

Without further ado…Half Marathon race photos!

SDC10953With Dad.SDC10954With BF. New ImageBest race number ever…1111!SDC10960Hey there!

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So happy. I know it looks like I’m walking, but I SWEAR I ran the full 13.1 without a single walk break.

SDC10965Slight hill…on the home stretch!SDC10968

One of the only pictures of me not smiling or waving like an idiot. Looking back I probably could have finished quicker had I not expended so much energy waving and thanking every volunteer. I was so thrilled I  just couldn’t help myself! Next race I’ll try to focus a bit more.

 

SDC10970SDC10971Finished! My official time was 2:18:21 which is a 10:34 pace. Much slower than I was hoping, but realistically I did not train for speed, just distance. My next half marathon I’ll be sure to focus more on speed training.

Thanks for reading! I’m signing off for now, but I’m continuing my journey as a runner off-line. In the next year I hope to complete at least one more half and have been considering a full with plans for a whole bunch of shorter races in between.

Cheers!

 

Achilles Hope and Possibility 5 Miler

“Great success!”  - Borat

Yesterday I completed my first race. The night before my race I was a ball of nerves. Luckily I was exhausted from a long day and had no trouble falling asleep at a reasonable hour. I woke up at 6:30, as I hadn’t yet picked up my race day materials.

I picked up my materials which included an Achilles Race T-shirt, my bib #, and a timing chip. I had no idea how to secure the timing chip to my shoe, so I casually watched a few other runners fasten theirs before I made my attempt. I also struggled a tad with my bib, adjusting it a few times trying to force it to lay flat. I was never on an athletic team when I attended Ithaca College, but I felt like I needed to represent my Alma matter’s gold and blue colors. Go Bombers!

Here I am with my gear, ready to go:

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Around 8:00 they made the announcement for everyone to line up. I’m a slow runner, so normally I average a 10 minute mile. I figured that my nerves would make me run a bit faster, so I lined up in the 9 minute mile corral. I probably could’ve waiting a bit longer to line up, because I kind of just stood there being nervous for a good 15 minutes. Here I am standing and waiting:

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8:20 was the start of the wheelchair race, and before I knew it the alarm rang for the rest of the runners to begin. It took a couple minutes to actually cross the start line, and the first mile it was pretty slow and congested. When I passed the first mile marker, it was approaching 12 minutes. At that time I was worried about not even making a 10 minute mile pace, so I picked up my speed from there. I skipped the first water station. I was a tad “over hydrated” (ahem…) and I was nervous about drinking too much and needing to take a pit stop.

Approaching the 3 mile mark, I really felt like I had picked up steam and caught up with the rest of the 9 minute mile group. That is until a fan yelled out “Here comes the 10 minute mile group!”  Crap. So I picked up my pace again, determined to run a 9 minute mile.

After mile four I started really pushing toward the finish. A little too soon. I started losing steam around 4.5, and started thinking that I pushed my pace up too soon before the finish line. However, I was quickly re-energized once I heard the music and crowds cheering at the finish.  With the finish line in view I sprinted toward the end. I was so fast that Brendan was barely able to snap a photo of me crossing the finish line!

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I was on such an adrenaline rush that I forgot to even look up at my time. Luckily Brendan informed me later that it showed 46:50. Not too bad!

Here I am post race with my medal:

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I knew the 46:50 time wasn’t exact, especially because it took so long for me to cross the starting line. So I checked the website today. Official time? 44:47! A 8:57 pace. Amazing!

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I’m so happy I have my first run under my belt. I felt great afterwards and this makes me so much more confident for my half marathon in October.

Rain Rain Go Away…come again when I’m not training for a half marathon…

runningI ran my farthest run on Saturday- 6 miles! I was really excited to tackle this run, because it’s the first time I’ve been able to do the Central Park loop. I’ve done the 5 mile loop before, but it really felt good to run the full loop. I was a little apprehensive passing by the exit for the 5 mile loop, knowing that I was going past the point of no return (cue the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack…).  It really was an odd experience. I’d never been to that portion of the park before. It was very serene and I don’t think I had to dodge a single strolling tourist.  But I did encounter two new challenges in that mile: rain and a never ending hill. Honestly, I think those two challenges cancelled each other out. Running uphill is hard, and I think if I didn’t have the rain to distract me I would’ve focused all my energy on the hill that seemed to go on forever. So instead I focused on the rain. I made the decision to embrace the rain and enjoy it. It cooled me down and turned out to be a wonderful distraction.

Aside from the hill, it was a fairly easy run. I think that I’ve figured out that running outdoors comes much easier to me than running on a treadmill. Every time I run on a treadmill I seem to struggle. I focus solely on the time remaining, how long I’ve run and how fast I’m running. It feels like a chore- it’s not much fun. When I run outdoors, especially in Central Park, I feel  like I could almost keep running- past whatever mile mark I’m supposed to hit. I people watch. I race past people. I try to keep up with others. I get inspired by other runners. I feel like I’m part of a community. It’s leaps and bounds more enjoyable than running on a treadmill in a windowless, stuffy, smelly, Manhattan gym. So I’ve made the decision not to let rain ruin my runs any longer. A rainy run outdoors is more rewarding and enjoyable to me than a run on a treadmill. Take that Mother Nature!

Stretchin’ It

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Last night I decided to switch up the usual Central Park 3 mile run for one along the Hudson River. I don’t have a Garmin (drool) to calculate the distance of my runs, so I have to plan them out ahead of time so I know how far to run. I found a couple cool sites to help me do just that.

RunYourcity.com

I’ve been looking for a site like this. Basically you can choose any portion of NYC (or any other large city for that matter) and it provides detailed information about runs available in the area. It even tells you where there are water and bathroom stops!

USATF.com

This is the USA Track and Field website. It’s a great resource for many things running-related, but the most useful tool for me is the “map my run” feature. Basically it’s a Google map that you can input your desired start and end point of your run. This allows you to map a run according to how far you’d like to go. I’ve found other sites that offer a similar service, but I like this one because it doesn’t have annoying pop up ads and is very user friendly.

So using those two tools, I settled on a run that took me right 1.5 miles out from my doorstep and back again for a nice 3 mile run. Running along the river was a nice change of scenery, but I have to say I think I still prefer the park. When you’re in the park you’re surrounded by nature (well, nature by NYC standards…), while running along Hudson you have the river on one side, and the West Side Highway on the other. Not exactly the most serene of settings.

The first thing I do after my run is make sure to stretch. I’m not sure if I was thrown of because ended my run at my apartment, or if I was just high from all the fumes I inhaled from the highway run, but for some reason I completely forgot to stretch. I didn’t remember until I woke up at 5am this morning incredibly sore. I won’t be making that mistake again!

Good things come in threes…I hope

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It’s official! Today I registered for the Smuttynose Half Marathon. I chose to wait until today to register for one reason alone: I’m broke and today is payday! So, now I’m financially locked in for the October 4 race along the coast of NH. After I registered for the event, this image popped up on the screen:

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Yikes! Talk about using scare tactics to hock their training program! Thankfully I’ve been right on track with training so far.  I ran my longest run so far (5 miles) in Central Park yesterday and it went much smoother than I expected. I’m by no means fast (10 minute miles…) but I’ve been consistent and so far I haven’t ended a run looking like the poor soul above. So I’ll keep chugging along.

After registering for the half, I began my search for a shorter run to do this month. I found and registered for the Achilles Hope and Possibility 5 Mile Run on June 28th in Central Park. The run is the exact loop I did yesterday in the park, so I felt that was a good omen. According to the website, the run “brings together athletes with disabilities and able-bodied athletes in a celebration of running”. The race was inspired by the book “I Am The Central Park Jogger: A Story of Hope and Possibility”, by Trisha Meili (check out the Runner’s World article here). The book is an account of how Meili was attacked while running in the Central Park over 20 years ago. I have a feeling the race is going to be an inspirational experience.

Shortly after registering for those two races, a friend emailed me and let me know that he had just registered for the Central Park Run 4 Mile Run on July 18. After checking my schedule, it turns out that July 18th was the only weekend all July that I was going to be in the city. So I decided to go for it, and charged my card without a second thought. Who needs rent money anyway?

My Training Schedule

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After doing some online research on half-marathon training programs, I designed one for my race. Most plans I found were 8-12 weeks. Mine is 18 weeks. Basically I increased my mileage each week, with my longest run landing four weeks before the half marathon. I’m not sure if the plan is too intense, especially those last four weeks leading up to the race.  I don’t want to burn out in those weeks.

Next week I’m going to Jack Rabbit to buy new running shoes. It looks like the staff there knows their stuff, so I plan on bringing along my training schedule to get their input.  I’ll let you know what they say and post any revisions to my schedule if necessary!

Franken-Banana and Kamikaze Birds

mutant fruit

Saturday I was scheduled for my “long” run. I use quotes only because this run was four miles, only one mile longer than my regular runs this week. Anyway, I woke up Saturday really excited to tackle my run. It was a beautiful day and my plan was to loop twice around the reservoir (three miles) then run back to Brendan’s apartment for the last mile.

Knowing I needed some fuel before my run I ate a banana with some peanut butter. Normally this would have been a great snack before a run, however I made two mistakes: 1. I ate it quickly and immediately after I finished it I ran out the door and 2. I ate the whole banana. I know what you’re thinking, “What’s wrong with eating a whole banana?” Well nothing, but this wasn’t a normal banana. It was a Franken-banana. It could have fed a small family for a day.

So here I am, filled to the gills with banana and pumped for this run. I walk 15 minutes to the reservoir and start running. Thirty seconds in (no exaggeration…) I get a terrible cramp in my side. The Franken-banana came to life and it did not feel like going for a run. The Franken-banana wanted to sit like a rock in my stomach. I was not going to let this horrible monster of a banana ruin my run. So I keep running, but the cramp only intensified. After I finish ¾ of the loop I finally slow to a walk, hoping to stretch the cramp out. This doesn’t work. I keep starting and stopping for the next half mile but to no avail.

As if the run couldn’t get any worse, I was passing by a lovely family with two little girls when all of a sudden two birds fell from the sky and landed in the exact spot I was about to plant my foot. Thankfully I have reflexes like a ninja and I was able to make an extremely awkward leap to the side to avoid the kamikaze birds.  I also managed to swear very loudly in front the family. The Dad, seeing the whole thing, just said “Whoa!”. I’m hoping the “Whoa!” was about the birds, and not about my swearing in front of his two kids.

By this point I’m just beside myself. The run became a comical mess. After one loop (1.61 miles) I decided to throw in the towel. I only came to that decision after I promised myself that I would tackle the four mile-er again the next day. And I did.

Sunday Brendan accompanied me on the four mile run. It was a pretty uneventful run along the East River. Around mile two an elderly gentleman asked us how we were doing and told us we were doing great. Normally I would’ve passed him off as a crazy old man, but his encouragement actually gave me a little boost. By mile three I was struggling a tad. Brendan seemed to be doing fine because he was trying to hold a conversation with me. All I could to was grunt, even though I really wished I had the effort to say “I love you, but please shut the hell up.” By mile four I had a surge of energy (runners high?) and I felt fabulous by the end of it.

Next weekend I add a mile. I think as long I as can get past the mile three slump and avoid eating mutant-sized fruit beforehand, I should be good to go.