Monday, February 15, 2016

Nail the Rail 9 Miler

I'm pretty sure that we have mentioned just how much we love our small town races, right? If not, WE LOVE OUR SMALL TOWN RACES! Our local YMCA has a race series called Miles in Martinsville, and they put on quite a few races each year, from 5Ks, 10Ks, a mud run, (this year) a trail run, all the way through a half marathon! The first race on the 2016 calendar for Miles in Martinsville was the Nail the Rail 9 Miler. This race takes place on the Dick and Willie Trail, where we usually run, and it starts at one end at the 0 mile marker, goes out to the 4.5 mile marker (which is the end of the trail), and then back. This is a course that we frequently run when our training plan calls for 9 miles, and if it calls for more, then we'll veer off the trail for a bit to add the mileage. Either way, we run it all the time! It's also part of the course for the Martinsville Half Marathon. However, we have never run just a 9 mile race. And so, this concept is pretty cool. It's where we usually run, but not where we usually race. It also had the added challenge of finishing it in under an hour. Any runner who can finish the whole 9 miles in under and hour will have their name put on a plaque at the trail head. Now, I didn't stand a chance at achieving this, but we thought that Mr. Marathon might be up to the challenge. He wasn't all the way recovered from What's Your Wall? but he was going to try his best.

Race day was Saturday February 13. Now, I understand that people from Minnesota, Alaska, Canada, the North Pole and other places that are ridiculously cold in the winter are used to frigid temperatures. We are not. I cave in and use the treadmill for temperatures below 35 degrees usually. Mr. Marathon has braved colder temps, but he does not enjoy it. At the time of the race, it was a whopping 21 degrees with 20 mph winds, putting the windchill at 9 degrees. Um, ok that's really cold for us! Regardless, we bundled up and hit the trail because we sure do love our small town races!

Our YMCA was considerate enough to have their bus there at the starting line cranked up for heat pre/post-race. So that's where all the runners gathered before the run. When it was about 6 minutes to start, we had to venture out into the arctic conditions. Brrr! About 30 runners of varying ability levels hit the trail for the 9 chilly miles, Mr. Marathon being in the top of the pack, and me being closer to the middle. He wasn't sure that he'd be able to "Nail the Rail" in under an hour, seeing as he had just run 105 miles in a week, then picked right back up marathon training with only one rest day. He ended up rocking it out and finishing with a time of 58:40! He was one of 4 that nailed the rail, and he came in 3rd place overall. I ended up finishing with a time of 1:37:48, which means I beat my goal of finishing in under 1:40 (under 11:00 min/mile pace average)!

Race shirt + age group award for me!
Despite the freakishly cold weather, we both were pleased with our run. Also, this run fit perfectly in with training for the Martinsville Half Marathon (which will be March 19th). That run is on the docket, along with Blue Ridge and Boston. Those are the main events of Spring 2016, but hopefully I will be doing some 5Ks and 10Ks to not only supplement my training, but I'm also in pursuit of potential new PRs! Wish us luck in our training, and keep up with our weekly updates on our new Facebook page! Follow us here

And as we mentioned above- Miles in Martinsville has plenty of great races planned for this year, so check out the website. We'd love to see you (Yes you! Any of you! ALL OF YOU!) at any of their upcoming events!

Monday, February 8, 2016

What's Your Wall? 4

As many of you loyal readers may recall, last year we both participated in a 7 day endurance challenge. I ran 6.2 miles each day for 7 days, and he ran 15 miles a day each day for 7 days. (Read about it here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here!)

Anyway, this year, The Brick Running and Tri Store put on this challenge again! Last year, we used this as marathon training since it was the month before the Ft. Lauderdale Marathon. However, this year, it came after our marathon. Since I just came out of my training cycle, I figured I needed a break so I wouldn't become burned out. Of course, that didn't stop Mr. Marathon. He decided to tackle the What's Your Wall? challenge again this year. And since last year he completed the 15 mile distance, he had to do that again! Because that makes sense!

(the rest of this post is told from Mr. Marathon's perspective)

Each day I allotted 2 hours and 15 minutes (plus time to change and all that good stuff) for each day's run. My Monday/Wednesday/Friday class schedule was pretty tight, so I literally had 3 hours to change, run, swim, change, and eat lunch. On Tuesday and Thursday I was even more pressed for time because I only had 2 hours and 15 minutes in between classes. That meant I had to skip lunch those days and grab it after my 1:00 class, and then I got my swim in after that, then be ready to go into work at 3:00. Now, let me explain the swimming. Swimming was not part of the challenge, but I decided that in addition to my 15 miles a day, I wanted to find a way to keep my muscles loosey goosey and relaxed, and what better way to do that than to swim an easy 500 meters? I did my swim every day except Sunday (Day 7).  Anyway, this post is intended to give you the RUNdown (lol) of each day. So buckle up and away we go!


After my morning classes ended at 12:00, the clock was ticking until my afternoon class. I had 3 hours to complete today's run and swim. So I headed on down to the Danville YMCA, got changed, and was out on the trail by 12:15. Now, I don't know exactly how long the Riverwalk Trail is, so I just headed out the way I knew first. It was a 4 mile loop one way, so I had to do an 11 mile loop the other way. And it turns out that it was niiiiiice and hilly!!! Yay!  But who doesn't like a challenge on top of a challenge???? (don't answer that) Oh, and by the way, the temperature was 70 degrees! So it was HOT! And by the time I was coming in to finish my run, I realized that I had been sweating and I was not taking in enough fluids, since my body was not used to that temperature anymore. I felt a little light headed, and my legs felt as if they were swollen and very tingly. But I swam it out after my run and felt a little better. So moving right along to....
Day 1 Elevation (green) and Pace (blue)


Tuesday's run was a little more stressful due to my time constraint: having exactly 2 hours and 15 minutes between classes meant I had no choice but to run from the school parking lot to the Riverwalk, but hey that gave me 3 miles there and 3 miles back, so I knew I would have 6 miles not even counting the trail, so all I had left to do on the Riverwalk was 9 miles! It was a nice downhill for the first 3 miles from the school to the Riverwalk.... However, this meant that I was going to have those same 3 miles uphill to the finish. And I was not excited. But as I ran, I said "Eh, future me can deal with that..." and kept on going. Fortunately for me I had a Honey Stinger gel with me (didn't have one on Monday) and took it at mile 10 when I was very tired and feeling drained, and by mile 12.5, I started running, yes, running up the hill and as I kept running, I felt weird because I was supposed to be walking, tired, defeated, out of juice, but instead, I had a great stride going up the hill and I felt strong all the way to the finish! And it was a good thing, because I had to get my bookbag out of my car and go straight into class. No time to stretch, no time to eat! (I did get time to hydrate though, learned by lesson from Day 1) After class, I ate lunch and headed over the Y to do my swimming. That's a wrap on Tuesday now....
Day 2 Elevation (green) and Pace (blue)


My flight instructor at school had scheduled another student during my scheduled time with him on Wednesday, so that meant I had all morning off until class at 3:00! Plenty of time to run! I had no worries, I just checked the temperature, got dressed, and headed out... and headed back inside the house to get a rain jacket, then headed back out. Womp womp, lots of rain. I figured I could do Wednesday's run on the Martinsville Half Marathon course (plus some obviously... I CAN MATH) since I got to run at home instead of in Danville since I didn't have class. So I headed over to the Martinsville Y to start my run there. It seemed to be just a little sprinkle coming down. I stepped into the Y to get myself ready to run, and when I stepped back out, it was POURING rain!!! And to top it off, we were under a severe weather warning as well as a flood warning! I had no choice but to do what I do. So I did. Another hilly course, but I knew what I was getting myself into with that. And to top it off, I got 15 miles FULL of HYDRATION! Hydration from the sky, that is. Yay? As cars were flying past me, I'm sure they had to think to themselves "What an idiot... does he not know it's raining?????" But I will be honest, that run was one of the best runs I had all week, simply because not many people would have been out otherwise, and I got to thinking about all the other participants in the What's Your Wall challenge and felt kind of proud of everybody. So I just took a bad situation and tried to turn it into a good situation. Fast forward, I had a great run, swam afterwards, and I headed to class on my merry way. NEXT!
Day 3 Elevation (green) and Pace (blue)

Thursday's run was the same course as Tuesday, with just a few additional challenges. Remember the rain from Day 3? Well, that completely flooded some parts of the Riverwalk! So during my run, I tried to avoid the flooding by jumping, prancing, inching, sliding, shuffling and even climbing over a fence! Yes, I climbed over a fence during my run. No, I did not get any kind of extra credit for it! But then, it occurred to me that I got very muddy trying to avoid the flood, so I sucked it up and ran through the flooded areas on the way back after the turnaround. So I ended up running through knee-high water that was pretty freezing cold and nasty and muddy! But whatever. Then after my swim, wait, I mean my run. Yeah that was just my run. Anyway I got my bookbag and went to class. As I was sitting in class, I was like "Man, my left shoe got really muddy! But it's like really red mud, not like normal mud color..." So when I went to do my INTENTIONAL swim, I took my shoe off and as it turns out it wasn't mud that had stained my shoe... it was blood. No big deal, I had no time to worry about that. I still had 3 more days to go! Moving on!
Day 4 Elevation (green) and Pace (blue)


Friday was similar to Monday, the only difference was that I was not looking at my watch. I didn't want to put any more stress on my body than I had to. Each day, I had unintentionally started the first hour of my runs at an easier pace to warm up. Then after that, typically around mile 7, I would begin to find my stride. Friday was no exception. I started easy, then fell into a rhythm, and finished feeling ok. And I got my swim in afterwards, and I was ready for the next day!

Day 5 Elevation (green) and Pace (blue)

This was work day. I was scheduled to work at 10:00 Saturday morning. This meant I could use my whole afternoon/evening to run after I got off. However, would I have done that? Don't know, and I didn't want to find out. All I knew was that I didn't want that run nagging at me all morning and most of the afternoon at work. So I got up at 5:30, left the house at 6:00, and arrived at the Danville Y at 7:00 (for those of you who don't know I work an hour away in Danville as well as go to school there). I took off on the Riverwalk and headed towards Main St through Downtown Danville and just kept running until my watch said 7.5 miles, then I turned around and did the exact same 7.5 back. I got to the Danville Y at 9:00, got my swim in, showered, and headed on to work. Without my run nagging at me! I must say, that was a great feeling! But not as great as....
Day 6 Elevation (green) and Pace (blue)
DAY 7: SUNDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday was a great day for most of America. Not because of some football game, but because it was the last day of the What's Your Wall challenge! A few friends of mine were going for a long run on Sunday morning and extended the invite. And so I took them up on the offer and met with them at 7:00 am and ran the Dick and Willie Trail. They were going to run an hour and forty-five minutes, which gave us about 11 miles by the time they finished. The last 4, I was going to knock out by myself. However, I had great motivation because Sunday runs are BREAKFAST RUNS with our normal running buddies. So I knew at the end of today's run, there would be a joyous feast awaiting me. And by joyous feast, I mean BISCUITS!!!!!! So I finished successfully (with the motivation of biscuits of course) and the rest is history!
FYI- History is very hard to download from your watch. Especially when you haven't downloaded said history in over a year.... 
Enjoying my joyous feast! ALL THE BISCUITS!!!!!

Day 7 Elevation (green) and Pace (blue)

So, after 7 days, 105 miles, some blood, sweat, a few blisters, and a questionable-looking pinky toe, (I'll spare you the gory details...) I got to take today off! And I get to hop back onto my marathon training plan tomorrow! Woohoo! Man, this day feels like a whole week off! I'm rested and ready to get back at it! I think!