Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Baltimore 10 Miler




Earlier this month on June 3rd, Mr. Marathon and I headed north to Baltimore, Maryland for the first time ever! We had signed up for the Baltimore 10 Miler after I found it just browsing races one day. And I got sucked in by the fact that I had never officially done a 10 mile race before, and the promise of some awesome swag. We made the drive on the Friday before the Saturday race, and boy was it full of traffic! We aren't used to traffic in our sleepy little small town, so driving through both Richmond, VA and Washington DC/Northern VA was a very stressful situation. But we made it after quite a few hours, and fortunately we were approved for race day bib pickup so we didn't have to rush on the night before.

Swag-tastic jacket!!!!!
Race day was upon us and we were instructed to be at the zoo where the race started and finished by 6:30 at the latest so that meant we had to leave from where we were staying by like 5:45. That made for a very early morning! We made it in time, and got ready to go. It was a beautiful morning, a little cloudy and cool. Both of us went into this race with some time goals. I wanted to keep my overall pace below 10:00 min/mile which would put me at finishing under 1:40. Mr. Marathon wanted to finish between 1:05-1:10.


This race was advertised as a challenging but fair course, and that it was indeed. I managed to take off  right at target pace. My first 5 miles were all under 9:40 min/mile pace, and I was right on track for my goal. The first half did have a lot of rolling hills, but was noticeably more downhill. So, I unfortunately knew that the second half would be more uphill. I finished the first half in 46:50. I plodded through the next half with most of my miles hovering between 10:00-10:37 min/mile. There were 2 major hills that really slowed my pace but overall I managed to keep my pace under my goal and I finished in 1:38:50 with an average pace of 9:53 min/mile!

My race photos are always like this...
*eye roll*
Mr. Marathon has been focusing more on short distance and speed, so this 10 miler wasn't really about hitting a certain pace, but as I mentioned before, he thought he was capable of getting 1:05-1:10. He pushed very consistently throughout.  He did mention that the course was challenging, and agreed that the first half was ok, but the second half was tough and noticeably more uphill. When he took off, he didn't quite feel like he was pushing just yet, but after a mile he realized that he was going all downhill, meaning he was going to have to finish up this same hill. That was slightly terrifying. But it didn't finish up that hill. Even better, we hit the hill coming back at mile 8, and then the course continued around a looping area of parking lot and driveways... which were all uphill. So essentially the last 2 miles were uphill. And yet he still ended up finishing in 1:05:47, which he was absolutely thrilled about!

After the race, we got to spend time with my dear friend walking around Annapolis, Maryland exploring the city! And now- PIX!

Pre-race cheesin



Crossing the finish line with my boo --
he came back for me after he finished! *swoon*
Ignore that rando photoboming us lol

That moment when you open your camera
and it's set on front facing and you don't expect it

  


Sightseeing in Annapolis

The little harbor in Annapolis

Posing at the harbor with Mr. Marathon and my dear friend!
The capital building in Annapolis

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Run for Kids 5K


This past Memorial Day, we traveled south to Georgia to spend time with my family that lives there, and to celebrate my grandparents 67th (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) wedding anniversary! While we were in that neck of the woods, we found a 5K to try out!

Because both of us have decided that we want to focus on shorter distances, we wanted to use this race as kind of a "baseline" race to know where our fitness level is. We arrived in Georgia kind of late on that Friday, so Saturday morning came really quickly and we were running (lol) on not a whole lot of sleep. We woke up early that morning and hit the road for the 30 minute drive to Monroe, GA for the Run for Kids 5K, which benefited the local Boys and Girls Club. It boasted being "flat and fast" so we thought How bad could it be?


It was a beautiful morning, sunny and 68 degrees. We lined up and took off at 8:00 AM sharp. We noticed pretty immediately that it wasn't as flat and fast as we had thought. The course was pretty simple though. It was just an out and back one way then an out and back the other way, and it finished in the park the same way it started. Along the way it had some, ahem, "rolling" hills. It wasn't drastic elevation change, but enough that it shouldn't be considered flat. Either way, it wasn't too bad. I overcame poor eating choices from the previous day and being overly tired from not enough sleep, and I met my goal! I know I said we wanted this to be a baseline race, but I felt trained up to get close to my current record. I managed to hover around my goal pace for all 3 miles, and then I crossed the finish line with a shiny new PR of 27:30, which means I cut off 22 seconds from my previous record that coincidentally I ran at the last 5K we did in Georgia!

Finish line shot! My time was actually 27:30 though FYI
Mr. Marathon got a good feel for how much he is able to push at this point. He was tired from lack of sleep the previous night as well, and he was tired from some tough workouts during the week before the race. He was tired and sore, but he still pushed and went all out on race morning. He was hoping for a sub 20 minute finish time, and he managed to hit his goal! He finished in 19:05, which he was very happy with. We both met our goals, but to top it all off, there was tons of pizza at the finish! Oh, and we both placed 1st in our age groups! And last, but definitely not least, we got to spend a great Memorial Day weekend with my family!

This past weekend, we traveled to Baltimore, Maryland for a 10 mile race, but we will get around to a recap for that one soon enough. For now, enjoy some more pictures from our 5K!

Last turn to the finish!

"I'mma just hang out like this while
my wife takes a pic for my Instagram"

That was a lotta pizza for such a small crowd!

1st place 25-29 F age group!

1st place 25-29 M age group!

Showing off trophies

Trophies with the event shirt

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Super Run 8K

Yesterday was a big day for me! I had set a goal at the beginning of this year to update some of my current personal records, the 8K being one of them. I haven't really run many 8Ks, so I hadn't set a PR in that distance since 2012 when I ran the HCVa 8K in 51:54. I really wanted to run another to see how much I'd improved since then.


So I decided to run the Super Run 8K in my little hometown. This race is just wonderful! It's the celebration event for the end of the spring season of the Girls on the Run and STRIDE running teams from local elementary and middle schools, and since I am a Girls on the Run coach this race was extra special to me. I had 4 girls running the 5K, and spoiler alert: they totally rocked it!!!!!!!!!!

Girls on the Run coaches: my friend Mary and me

After we all gathered and took some pictures first thing in the morning, we all made our way to the start line. I took off a little bit too fast (I got excited sorry!) and I finished the first mile about 30 seconds too fast for my goal pace. My goal was to just PR, but of course I wanted to see just how fast I could go. I found my groove for the next couple of miles, despite some hills. I have run this course a few times before so I knew about these hills, so it was no surprise. However, the last time I had run this course, I got a stomach cramp around mile 3.5. I blamed it on my nutrition that day, so I was hoping on race day if I ate my usual breakfast I wouldn't experience any cramping. Unfortunately, I began cramping around that same time. I ran through it and kept pushing because as I approached the turnaround I got to see all the other runners coming back. I noticed the first several men, then I saw one woman, then I got to the turnaround, and I hadn't seen any other women. Granted, there was a small turnout for the 8K as the 5K is the main distance for this event, but still, I was 2nd place female! I saw another woman a little bit behind me, so I knew despite my cramping, I had to keep pushing to maintain my spot!

"THE FUTURE IS FEMALE" Love it!


I pushed through to mile 4, then I made my way back to the last road before the final turn toward the finish. My cramp was coming and going, but the woman who was behind me still hadn't caught up. I kicked it up at the end around the last turn. I ran the last straightaway to the finish line without even looking down at my watch. I was expecting a PR at this point, however I was not prepared for what I saw: a time of 46:29! It was a PR of 5 minutes and 25 seconds!!!!!!! I would have been thrilled just with this time, but it made it even better that I managed to place 2nd overall female.

Mildly unflattering finish line photo....
I expect nothing less from myself!

The only picture of me on the podium....
we were about to get down haha!
Now, it's time to get sappy. I haven't raced short distance in a while, but I am just so happy with my time and the effort I was able to put forth during this race. If you recall, I got sick back in November with pneumonia that put me down and out for quite a few weeks. Then I got sick again in February after just coming back to running after the pneumonia and I was out for a few more weeks. I was so nervous that I had lost all my fitness, endurance, and speed. But I ran so much during March and April training for my half marathons (RnR Ral and BRM), and luckily for me, it brought my speed back to where it was (and then some)!  As for what's next, I have a few more goals that I would like to accomplish coming up here soon, including a goal for a 5K and a 10 miler!!!

Two of my coach friends and me!

Had to get a picture of the race shirt with my bib!

.... and my kitty Fat Harry had to be part of the photo shoot!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Blue Ridge Marathon and Half 2017

Last Saturday, we had another his and hers race extravaganza! Mr. Marathon has been tackling the Blue Ridge Marathon- America's Toughest Road Marathon since 2010! Read about years past here and here and here and here and here. Last year, I decided to join him and do the 10K. Last year, we received entries as we were official BRM bloggers. I jokingly said if we got entries again this year I would bump up and do the half. LOL right? Well, SOMEONE entered us in the "Running is for Lovers" contest, with the prize being two free entries to any of the BRM races. He entered our adorable picture from crossing the finish line together at the Ft. Lauderdale Marathon. So obvs we won. And so I had to bump up to the half this year!

#runningis4lovers !
We went to packet pick up the night before on Friday, then ate our pre-race pasta. On race morning, we headed to Roanoke, VA to RUN THOSE MOUNTAINS! All 3 distances (10K, half, and full) took off at 7:35. So now, because this was a his and hers race extravaganza, we will have a his and hers recap.


HERS
I went into this race with not a whole lot of expectations. This half is part of America's Toughest Road Races series, and it boasts 1,897 ft total elevation gain and 3,790 ft of total elevation gain/loss. I had told myself a few months ago when I found out we had won entries that I would incorporate hill repeats into my training, but yeah, that never happened.... yikes! So because I hadn't gotten much hill training, I really didn't have high expectations. I just wanted to be able to finish the half before my mister finished the full. Anyway, the first part of the course goes through downtown Roanoke and it only has some rolling hills for the first mile or so. Then, I started the ascent up Mill Mountain. This part of the course is the same as I did last year at the 10K, so (fortunately/unfortunately) I knew what to expect. The climb up Mill Mountain was tough last year, but what made me the most nervous was that people kept telling me the second half of the half marathon (Peakwood) was tougher than Mill Mountain. So I tried to keep some gas in the tank going up and coming back down Mill Mountain.

Half marathon elevation map.... eek
Turns out, everyone was right about Peakwood being worse than the first half. Even though the elevation gain is more drastic up Mill Mountain, Peakwood is a more gradual kind of torture. And it faked me out a couple of times. We climbed, climbed, climbed, and then we would go downhill for a hot second, then climb some more! And to make matters even better, it started raining pretty steadily at around mile 8 for me, which was almost at the top of Peakwood. At the turnaround at the top of Peakwood, I was so relieved to have some more downhill. After enjoying a few miles of downhill, there was more uphill and I was thinking WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS MESS. But nevertheless I did the darn thing. The little overpass bridges in downtown Roanoke that seemed like nothing in the beginning seemed steeper than Peakwood coming back in. But I finished in 2:38:19, which was before Mr. Marathon finished his full. GOAL MET!


HIS
As mentioned earlier in this post, Mr. Marathon has run this race every year since 2010, which is its inaugural year. He loves it so much (lol?) that he keeps coming back for more. He knows the course like the back of his hand, but each year and each race are drastically different, this year being no exception. Last year, he ran Blue Ridge on a Saturday, then 2 days later on that following Monday, he ran the Boston Marathon. This year, he ran the Boston Marathon on Monday and Blue Ridge was 5 days later on the following Saturday. So this year, he was drained from a tough race at Boston, but was still looking forward to his favorite race.



This year he decided to tackle BRM with one goal in mind: to finish it to continue his streak. This race isn't like any other race for him. And no, it's not because it's America's Toughest Road Marathon (which it is if you recall), but instead it's because this race is the race that started everything for him. This race holds a special spot in his heart. He took off like every other year at the front of the pack, however he knew his limitations. He knew in order to survive it, he was going to have to change his game plan from previous years. In years past it's been his goal to run without stopping. But this year he was planning to fartlek (run to a certain point and then walk for a bit to recover) up any major hills. He started this about 4 miles in. Sometimes we forget that we are our biggest competition and in a race, when someone passes you, we can't help but to chase them down and pass them as they passed us. But not that day. As he walked up the hills, people passed him, and just like any other race, he cheered them on as they passed him, but he refrained from attempting to chase them down. Now with this plan in place, he would take full advantage of all downhills to balance out his walking up the hills. And mile after mile, he did this, evaluating every step of the way. Nevertheless, he was cracking jokes and keeping a great sense of humor throughout the race like he always does!



However, this didn't mean that he wasn't going to push himself.  Closer to mile 22, things began to hit hard. But he stayed with it, continuing his fartleking. He also found some extra motivation in a new friend he met along the way. This individual began his final leg of the relay as Mr. Marathon was side by side with him. This guy said "Don't you worry about me, I'm just doing the relay," and he made him realize that he was putting in effort, and it was nice to have a complete stranger recognize and acknowledge that. They ran together until one of the last major downhills that was very wet from the rain, so the other guy was a little bit more cautious and careful. But Mr. Marathon was not. He just let it rip down the hills to try to carry him the last mile and a half. With one mile to go, he said "Thank you" to a police officer who was at an intersection directing traffic and the officer said, "Not a problem, just focus on the race." And yet again, that made him realize that other people were recognizing his effort. So for the last mile, he carried this feeling with him and was able to finish strong. Another BRM in the books with a time of 3:31:02!







 

As for what's next on the agenda, we are looking to doing some shorter distances in the near future. What races exactly? We don't know yet. I'm looking into an 8K and a 10 miler (I realize that's not exactly shorter distance but it's shorter than a half right?) and he is looking into working on 5Ks and 8Ks. But don't worry- whatever we decide on doing we'll keep ya posted!