Monday, April 28, 2014

Race Recap: Glass City Half Marathon

On Sunday I ran the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo, Ohio.  I wasn't expecting the race to go very well since my training hadn't quite gone according to plan, but I have to say, all things considered I am very happy with how the half turned out!

My expectations for the race took a slight hit when I woke up on Saturday with a sore throat.  I figured it would go away after an hour or two.  No such luck.  As the day dragged on I felt worse and worse.  I had gotten up early on Saturday with the hopes of going to bed early that night.  Instead I spent all day fighting to stay awake.  I was afraid if I took a nap I wouldn't be able to sleep that night, and with a 4:30 am wake up call, I needed a good night's sleep. Again, no such luck.  I woke up at 1:00 am feeling absolutely dreadful.  I managed another couple hours of dozing in and out and then my alarm was going off.

I had planned out my race outfit the night before, so I wouldn't have to make any decisions while I was still half asleep.  I ate a quick waffle with peanut butter and tried to sip on some water but my throat was not interested in swallowing.  I packed a cooler with some post race snacks and a couple bottles of water, grabbed a change of clothes for after the race, and then it was time to hit the road.  I managed a bit more water in the car, along with most of a Clif bar, and, more importantly, some cold and sinus medicine.

Race Swag: Tech tee, finishers medal, beer stein

Mr. Shoe got us to Toledo about an hour before the race would start. This gave me plenty of time to get through packet pick-up and stretch a bit before the race.  I was very pleased that runners were able to stay inside before the race since it was quite chilly and still dark out.  This also meant I was able to use a real bathroom instead of a port-a-potty.  Before long it was time to face the cold and get in my corral.

My plan was to line up next to the 1:50 pace team, but I couldn't find them! So I placed myself about halfway between the 8:00 and 9:00 pace signs.  As I was looking around before the gun went off, I finally found them about 10 rows back from me.  I didn't have time to move back, so I figured I would just make sure they didn't pass me.  Then the gun went off and it was time to run!

Pre race excitement.
The first mile I made sure to take it easy while keeping an eye out for the 1:50 pace team.  I checked my watch after the first mile and saw I was at 9 minutes.  Yikes! That was way too slow! So I picked up the pace and started passing some runners.  Around the 2 mile mark I caught up to the marathon 3:40 pace team.  The 1:50 half pacers should have been right with them, but they were no where to be found! I settled in to their pace and ended up running with them until about the halfway point.

I was feeling pretty good at that point and decided if I picked the pace up now, I might be able to PR.  My original plan was to stick with the pacers until 8 miles.  So I worked on speeding up a bit over the next couple of miles, which were in a really nice park.  Around 9 miles I started to get a side stitch that managed to stick with me for a few miles.  At about 10 miles in I realized my lofty goal of PRing was pretty unlikely but I should be able to beat 1:50 if I kept my pace up.  I have had trouble in my other half marathons with maintaining my pace for the final stretch, so I knew it would be a challenge.

At about 11 miles in there was a short but steep hill that I (and quite a few others) ended up walking up.  I didn't want to exhaust myself just getting to the top.  At this point I just kept repeating to myself that there were only 2 miles left and I could do it.  I ended up repeating that for the rest of the race because I never saw another mile marker.  With about half a mile to go I came across two guys, one was struggling and the other was yelling encouragement to him.  While I wasn't Joe, this motivation really kept me going!  The next thing I knew I was entering the stadium and sprinting to the finish! I can't believe how strong I felt at the finish!

Football stadium finish line.
Mr. Shoe missed me crossing the finish line, which is a bummer, but can't be helped.  Upon crossing the finish line I was handed a mylar blanket, my finisher medal, and a bottle of water.  Mr. Shoe found me and helped me get the blanket wrapped around me and opened the water for me.  This is the best that I have ever felt after a half.  In the past I have been really out of it, so this was a nice change.  I stretched a bit and pulled on a few more layers.  The wind was starting to pick up and the mylar blanket was trying to escape me.

Post race exhaustion.
We headed over to the post race party where I was able to grab some food (bagels, cookies, pretzels).  There was also some pizza and pasta, but I didn't feel up for that.  Then we headed to the beer tent to make use of my two free beer tickets.  I had the Glass City Glory, a wheat beer brewed just for this race by Great Black Swamp Brewing Co.

Celebratory beer.
Before getting back in the car, I was able to look up my official finish time.  1:49:00.  My PR is 1:48:13, so I was less than a minute slower.  I am so very happy with the result.  My PR was set at the end of my race season last year, and I am starting this race season basically at the exact same fitness level.  Only two weeks until my next race which will also be the first race for Mr. Shoe's season.  It will also be a chance for us to check Michigan, our home state, off of our 50 states list!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April Gear List

Look at all the pretty running presents I bought myself this month!

The new gear that I was most excited to buy this month was a pair of New Balance Minimus Zero v2 running shoes.  I've been running in Vibram Five Fingers since I started running three years ago.  I still love my VFFs, but for the past year I have been having some problems with them.  They started blistering the inside of my arch, so I had to start wearing socks with them.  Then the socks started slipping off my heels this winter, which was so uncomfortable while running. My shoe requirements were that they be zero drop road shoes that weren't too heavy.  These Minimus Zeros seem to fit the bill perfectly.

With new shoes in hand, I decided I needed a couple new pairs of socks as well.  Especially since this was the first time I would be able to any running socks I wanted instead of just the toe socks!  I've worn the New Balance No Show Minimus socks on 2 long runs and the Lululemon no show run socks on a couple of shorter runs.  I haven't had any problems with either pair and will likely be purchasing more soon.

Strawberry Lemonade Nuun was a new product that I decided to try this month. I had heard about Nuun from an athletic friend and was intrigued by the low calories and lack of sugar.  In the past I have relied on Gatorade for electrolyte replacement, but I felt like I didn't need the extra sugar.  After a hard run, I can just pop one of the tablets into a bottle of water and two minutes it is ready to go.  These are great after a run, but I tried one once just because and the taste was pretty bad.  So they are great for a post run beverage when I'd drink just about anything, but not so great at other times.  I'd like to try some other flavors and see how they fair.

Finally I decided to treat myself to a long sleeve Chi top from Athleta.  This is my first purchase from Athleta. I was looking for a long sleeve shirt that wasn't cold weather specific like everything else in my running closet.  It also has thumb holes which are a must!  The fabric is so amazingly soft.  I just bought it on Monday, so it has only done one run so far.  I wore it on a four mile run in weather that was about 56 degrees and super windy.  It was perfect! I wasn't too cold at the start of my run and I didn't get too hot before it was over.  The last quarter mile or so I pushed the sleeves up to cool off a bit, but that was it.

I will want to give it a few more wears before I run out and buy a bunch more from Athleta (even though they have an awesome return policy).  I tried on the Chi tank top while I was shopping and I can't wait to pick up a few of them too.  So soft and comfy.  The tank tops also come in an extra long version which fit nicely since I am all torso.  I wish the long sleeve came in extra long as well, but I was glad to find that the regular length worked just fine on my run.

Did anyone else treat themselves to some new gear lately? Are there any new products that I should be trying?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

One week til race season!

My first race of the season is just one week away, the Glass City Half Marathon in Toledo, Ohio.  When I signed up for the race, I had really high expectations for it.  I was going to train hard all winter and come into spring ready to set some new records.  It was a really good plan, until the record breaking snowfall and the subzero temperatures hit Michigan.

I was forced to modify my training plan so many times this winter.  First in January when I was sick.  Again in February when I hurt myself running on the treadmill.  Then again in February when I realized I couldn't run on the treadmill and I couldn't run on ice.  Finally in March I scaled back to the same training plan I used for last September's half.  So much for my plans of training harder and longer this time around.

I've pretty much come to grips with the fact that my chances of setting a new PR next Sunday are basically nonexistent.  And that is okay! I should still have a decent race.  My plan is to stick with the 1:50 pace team.  If the stars align and the race is going perfectly, I'll try to pick the pace up a bit for the last 3-5 miles. If not, I'll just aim to cross the line with the pacers.  Either way, I just hope to enjoy the race.

On the other hand, I am feeling exceptionally good about my chances of setting a new 5k PR on May 10th.  I ran a time trial on Saturday and beat my current PR.  Right now I'm counting this as an unofficial PR of 22:48 (official PR of 22:59, so just a touch faster).

What races do you have lined up this year?  Any PRs you are trying to break?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Austin Day 2

A few more pictures from Texas.
This giant start was in front of a museum, I think, that I passed on my way to the capital building.  I liked it so I snapped a picture.
What I think is actually the back of the capital building, but it was the side that I got to first on my run. 
This came as a surprise; I must have missed the memo that Texas has their own little Statue of Liberty.
I think this is the front of the building.  I was not the only person enjoying the sunshine!