Friday, October 25, 2013

Army Ten Miler Recap: Third Time's the Charm Right!?

After doing the Army Ten Miler now for 2 years I know exactly where to stay and how to handle race logistics. We flew down on Saturday hit up the expo and then headed back to the hotel to relax. The expo is always filled with lots of goodies. It's a fairly big one in comparison. I didn't end up with Army Ten Miler gear this time but I did find a good deal on my sneakers and some other things that I would normally have to pay for shipping.
 As I said after Tufts I had reset my goal a bit for the Army Ten Miler. I had originally hoped this year's time would be 1:30, taking 9 min off my time from last year. But following the 10k at Tufts I had higher hopes. The Runners World Pace Estimator had me thinking a 1:25 might be possible. Okay let's give it a go.

Luckily I was seeded in the 3rd wave- Blue- 10 min after the first wave starts. So I knew I would be with faster folks meaning less weaving. All positive in shooting for my new goal 1:25. This race is run just as you would think- Military Operation. You would never dream of jumping into a higher seeded wave since they have Soldier's manning the corrals. The cannon signifies the start and each wave gets its own cannon boom.

To the resounding boom of the cannon Wave 3 started down highway 110. Yes you read that right- they shut down the major highway to start this race- in both directions we start on one side of the 2 lane divided highway. The fist mile is on the open highway, in the past I have had to do a lot of weaving since I started further back but this year it wasn't too bad. I tried to avoid too much weaving and wasting energy.

I am always surprised in run races how many people run with their music either not in headphones or with it so loud I can hear it through their headphones. This race says you can't have phones or music players. I think they are a bit more relaxed about it than they used to be but even saying that you can't cuts down on the amount of people with them SIGNIFICANTLY! I was happy that for the first mile all I could hear was the shuffle of everyone's feet across the pavement. It was soothing.

We headed into DC and I was feeling good. Hoping to stay on a 8:30ish pace, knowing that would put me on a 1:25. My legs felt good. I even had time to laugh at the "Unlike Congress You are WINNING" sign. I tried to give a Looking Good or Nice Work to every Wounded Warrior I passed. I was feeling pretty good. Every once in a while I'd feel my quads twinge a bit but not too bad.

When you come down along the National Mall the course loops on itself and you can see the other runners from the faster waves, and the roar of the crowd is awesome. They usually have a band playing and the screams are fantastic. It is a great boost right before the last couple miles on I-395 back to the Pentagon. The miles on the highway can be tough. They are really quiet- again you hear the shuffle of the feet around you. And quite a few people end up walking and stretching on the barriers. I was trying to keep my eye on pace and time. I wanted to make up for the first couple miles that the pace had been a little slower than I wanted. I wanted to finish strong.

As I came down off the highway toward the Pentagon. I ended up near 2 Army Rangers. One said to the other "We are almost done. Start Fast. Finish Faster." The crowd coming into the finish screamed for those Rangers the whole way in. And that Ranger kept yelling out "Start Fast. Finish Faster." It was almost as if D was finishing the race with me. My last mile was a sub 8 minute mile! Those Rangers motivated my butt!

I crossed the line even faster than my goal 1:24:27. Thank you to those Rangers for the extra push at the end! I took 15 minutes off my time from last year!I was psyched! I can't believe how much my running is improving. I think I am still figuring out what my actual run speed/pace is but it is fun to try it out!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tufts 10K and Plans for Army Ten Miler

On Monday the ladies from The Boston LUNA Chix got together to run the Tufts 10k. I rode in to the city with Lisa and Cynthia my team mates. It is always nice to have traveling buddies. We got to the common with a little time to spare. Did last minute prep and dropped our bags, since it was a mandatory bag check.

The team and some of the regulars that run with us gathered at the LUNA tent and chatted. I had hoped I would run the 10k in 55-56min. Which is one of my goals for this year. We moved toward the start line and Danielle, another team mate, and I pushed toward the 8 minute mile area. I had hoped to keep it on the high end of 8 minute miles but sub 9s. I was shocked how few women had put themselves up in the 7-9 minute mile area. Which I had hoped would equate to me having some space to run.

The gun went off and I was quickly over the start mat. Danielle was gone from view fairly quickly. I knew she would run lower 8s than I had planned on. I hit the first couple miles and felt good. Okay- keep it up. Just push. See what you can do. I was shocked how few women were in front of me. I saw the lead pro women with their 5 minute miles- CRAZY fast! I hit the turn around and miles 4 and 5 took a little dip. But seeing my team mates as we looped back on ourselves was a good boost. I figured when I hit 5 it was time to dig in and see what I had left for mile 6.

I pushed it and thought lets just see. I crossed the finish and looked at my watch- woah! Then I got the text message of my official time 51:40. HOLY MOLEY! I killed the 55-56 I wanted to run. I actually maintained a 8:19 average pace. I had forgotten I had signed D up to get the text too and my phone rang. He was so excited for me. Danielle was shocked to see me when I returned to the LUNA tent and there was high fives and dancing! HAHA. I was so shocked and excited! The team went to a fundraiser and had some lunch it was a great day!

The race made me realize I am still learning a lot about my pace. What is my pace what I can do when I push. And really what is my max speed. It made me look to see what I could possibly attempt for the Army Ten Miler this weekend. I had hoped to go just under 1:30 before this result. Figuring that would be great after my 1:39 last year- and be a 9 minute mile average. When I plugged the 10k time in the pace predictor I was shocked it suggested a 1:25. Okay new goal 1:25-1:30. Hoping to be closer to 1:25 for the Army Ten Miler. Race day is Sunday so let's see what these legs have!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Run Around Hopkinton Marathon Relay

The Boston LUNA Chix provided some LUNA bars for the Hopkinton Road Runners race in October. As a thank you for the bars the team was offered a team spot on their Run Around Hopkinton Marathon Relay. Teams of 2-6 complete the 26.2 mi course around Hopkinton. We quickly realized a lot of the team was going to be racing in NH the same day as the race so only 2 of us were able to take advantage of the offer. Lisa and I hated to give up the free entry to a race. Lisa was in the middle of training for her 50k and had done a trail marathon training run the weekend before. I had offered to do around 10 miles since I was getting ready to do Army Ten Miler.

Race day arrived. Lisa got the word from her coach that it would be pretty cool to do back to back weekends of marathons. She thought what the heck and would give it a shot. I was still trying to figure out the course logistics to do the 10 miles I wanted to do. When it finally dawned on me- it’s a 2 loop course. Well guess I am running a half marathon then, it was the only thing that worked logistically. We walked up to packet pickup and realized the race was pretty small, about 30 teams. The Hopkinton Road Runners were so happy to have us there and thanked us for the bars again and again.

I told Lisa I would join her for the second loop. That way if she didn’t want to finish a full 26.2 we would finish the race, and she would have company on the second loop. There were a few pre race announcements Lisa put our baton in her Camelback and she ran off. It was a misty morning and I headed back to the car to hang out, stay warm, and eat some more. She had hoped to be coming in for the half marathon around 2 hours. She texted me to let me know she was right on pace. Then it started to pour rain!

I headed to the start/finish area. The race director asked if we were just splitting the race in half. I told him she was going to run the whole 26.2 and I would join her for the 2nd 13.1. He asked that we have one of us run through transition points to not completely screw up the timers. Lisa smiling came through the chute and we headed out.

The start/finish was at the camp I worked at from 16-20 as a lifeguard. I knew the property pretty well and the surrounding area. We headed down a wood chip trail that connected to a trail through the woods for the first mile or so, then popped out on the street. We kept a decent pace and chatted about how Lisa had just gotten soaked in the downpour. How she was feeling? How this back to back marathon thing was feeling? We hit the first water stop and I realized this is a small race with people planning on running 6 or less miles at a time. It was just water at the aid stations.

Everyone was so nice.  Everyone remembered Lisa coming through on the first time and was shocked to see her again. We ran and chatted. It was a nice course on a nice fall day. We went through Hopkinton State Park. I run through there on a few triathlons so I knew the area. Coming out of the park was supposed to be the TOUGH leg. It was we climbed up 135 in Hopkinton- reverse to the start line of the Boston Marathon. We stopped at the top to take a picture. The poor cops thought I had collapsed, and came over to offer help.

We hit the High School for the last transition point. As we came out of the transition Lisa mentioned she had seen apples in the front yard of a house so we stopped to pick one to eat. I commented this wasn’t in any of my triathlon nutrition plans. She welcomed me to the world of ultra marathon eating. We snacked on the apples for a bit. We stopped at the last water station and talked to the mom and her daughters that were running it.  As we came close to the Finish, about a mile out, I grabbed the baton from Lisa to be sure we showed that we had 2 people on the team. We crossed the finish together in a full out sprint. I pushed Lisa a little to sprint with me at the finish (she wasn’t too happy about it after the 26.2 mi). Everyone was coming up to us but mostly Lisa since she was the only person who had run the whole 26.2 mi course. They were shocked! They were surprised I had run 13.1 also. I guess we were the only ones who decided to be a team of 2 and split things that way.  We had 3 teams behind us when we finished.

Lisa finished in 4:15. A great marathon time for just dong one the weekend before and on a course that wasn’t 100% road. I did my half marathon in 2:08. Just about 6min off from my half marathon PR. Not bad for randomly deciding to do a half marathon this weekend and again not 100% on road. Like I said I had only planned to do about 10 miles.  I looked at the half marathon as a training event and just ran with Lisa to enjoy the distance. I had a great time running with her like always! Both of us had great training runs! We both realized that we are nuts and it isn’t normal running behavior to go out and run a marathon or a half marathon as a training day. But hey both of us had the ability to on that day and we had a lot of fun doing it!

Shoulder Update

After 5 weeks of racing, and of course some training between each race, my shoulder was done! When I was swimming in college I had issues with my shoulder that finished my career. At the time I had a MRI and was diagnosed with shoulder impingement and bicep tendon issues. The doctor at the time just handed me 800mg motrin and said take these before practice! I did a lot of icing before and after practice and a lot of time was spent at the trainer. As I said this pretty much was the end of my swimming career, between the injury and my horrible grades I was getting I decided not to join the team the next season.

So after 5 weeks of races, each of which with about a mile swim. My shoulder hurt. I was getting pain and tingling down into my hand. Oh man I may have overdone the swimming. I had kept a pretty steady season of swimming at least 2 times a week and then add in this topper I was done. My doctor thought it was time to have it checked out. My doctor had got me thinking it was possible there was a tear in my labrum tendon or other muscles.So I started to prepare myself for okay you are 30 you have been swimming since you were 6 its probably time for surgery. I had actually even joked with my hip surgeon that at some point I would see him for shoulder surgery.

 Last week I had an MRI Arthogram on my shoulder. Lucky for me the hip is the most painful MRI Arthogram and I already had that. They don't feel good by any stretch but it didn't hurt nearly as much as my hip.The day was not fun with all the injection and the time spent with my shoulder turned out or overhead to get images.

But- I got the results the other day. No rotator cuff issues. No labrum tear. No bicep tendon tear. WAHOOO! I have impingement syndrome again, which is the general bucket for shoulder issues. And I do have some thickening of the ligaments. So time for some PT to get the junk out and some lifting to help strengthen the shoulder.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Great End to the Season: Nationals Qualified

I received some awesome news. This season has been full of surprises and rewards!

 I qualified at Mill City with my 1st place in 30-34! I am so excited. Time to start planning for 2014!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mighty Merrimack Swim- Repeat?!

So in my previous 2 race recaps I talked about 5 weeks of racing but I had left out the swim race recap thus far... UNTIL NOW! ;-) Honestly I love OWS races. It is my thing. This is my 3rd year of the Mighty Merrimack. Last year I won- so even with the already planned tri's I was contemplating going back to defend my title!After everything with D crashing at Timberman and the mess of a week leading up to and racing at OOB, I had written off spending another entry fee. Then in a very sweet gesture for taking care of him while he was injured D bought my entry to the swim. He wanted me to go back and defend my title. OH okay if you insist! Haha ;-)

I convinced my friend Jen to join me. She raced it with me last year and had won our age group. D played support with his still healing rib. The water was pretty chilly. I went sleeveless but I could have gone with the full sleeve wetsuit. Swim only races can be interesting. There are usually a few crazy fast young swimmers who show up. Lucky for me most of them don't own or wear wetsuits.

We headed off and D walked the whole wall along the course with me. I could hear him screaming when I was taking a breath. As I hit the turn around I tried to draft off the guy next to me and he pushed me off after a couple strokes. Okay fine I get it we are out here alone I'll leave you alone. So I took the lead hitting the turn around. And luckily the swim back is with the current so I always make up a bit of time.

Then all of a sudden I felt it, if you are a swimmer you know what I mean, the guy behind me hopped on  my feet. That bastard wouldn't let me draft him for more than 2 strokes and now he his hangin off my feet. I was pulling him along. SERIOUSLY?! I could hear D screaming on the wall, I had no idea what he was saying. I knew the course well and I could tell from the things along the wall I was getting close to the finish so time to find that other gear.

I dug in and found it. Luckily my leech behind me didn't have it and I lost him. 1 male finished before me in the 1mile wetsuit. I got first female in the 1mile wetsuit, with a time of 30:22. Not my fastest 1mi swim but I always seem to think the course at Lowell is long. A minute faster than the year before. Jen even came in second female wetsuit! YAY! So happy to repeat and thankful for the entry!

After we went across the street for a bite to eat. I decided to jump in the kids rides outside and I have not laughed that hard in a LONG time!