Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summertime Catch-up Post

It's happening again, friends. We have fallen behind on our blogging, but our running just keeps on going and going! So here we are, this summer has already been incredibly eventful, and we are falling behind on our posting. Because of this, we have decided to do a quick and dirty recap of all of the happenings thus far in the summer season. Buckle up, because we're going to go fast!

Georgia Peach Jam Half Marathon

We went to Georgia to visit my family for Memorial Day as we frequently do, and I stumbled upon the Georgia Peach Jam Half Marathon that was actually on Memorial Day. It was close by to where we were staying, and it was flat and fast and perfect! Alfredo didn't have any major goals besides to finish strong, but I wanted a PR and I wanted it bad! 2:12:33 was the time to beat, but I secretly wanted to go under 2:10, because I managed to hit 2:11 on a training run so I felt like it was totally possible. Fast forward through a rainy, but still somewhat cool race, which turned out to be pretty perfect, we both pushed pretty hard and did indeed finish strong. He finished in 1:25:59 which put him finishing in 3rd place overall! This was a pleasant surprise, as there were some strong competitors out there. I managed to finish in 2:07:14! So I met both of my goals! And I finished in 8th out of 23 in my age group, which was also extremely competitive so I will totally take it. I'm usually comfortably in the middle of the pack, so being closer the front was SUPER EXCITING! Oh and then later that day, I got stung by a scorpion. Crazy right? Anyway... moving on-- NEXT!

Our finish line photo!
My scorpion friend....

Martinsville Speedway Mile

This was such a fun event that both of us did: The Martinsville Speedway Mile. This was an inaugural event in our hometown on a real NASCAR Speedway! Two laps around the "half mile of mayhem" was all we had to do for our first official mile distance road race. We had big goals (his: finish sub 5:15, hers hit a mile PR of sub 7:16). We turned it out and kind of met our goals. Alfredo finished in 4:59 (!!!!!!!!!) and I finished officially in a time of 7:17 and was fairly bummed, but I guess I didn't take the shortest path along the route, and my Garmin said I hit the mile at 7:06. Big difference, so I don't know who to believe. Oh well, there's always another mile! MOVING ON! NEXT!

Coming into the finish line

I'm #1 ;)

First place age group for both of us!

Jamestown Olympic Distance Triathlon

Alfredo did the Jamestown Olympic Distance Triathlon on June 9th, so a couple of weeks ago at this point. I did not participate, obviously, since I still have the whole fear of bikes thing going on. Anyway,  we traveled to Williamsburg/Jamestown that Friday for him to race on Saturday morning. He practiced his transitions the night before, then when he arrived Saturday morning he set up shop in the transition area and headed over to the swim start. The goal for the swim was to survive, and he did with a time of 33:39 for the 1500 m swim. He made his way to the transition area (which was quite a long haul from the swim finish) and quickly completed his swim to bike transition. He took off on the 40K bike course and felt strong. He finished in a time of 1:09:28, which was right on his goal of maintaining 20 mph. He had an even faster bike to run transition of just 58 seconds (!!!!!!) and then took off on his 10K run. His goal was 40 minutes for the run, and you'll never believe what his time was.... 40:00. Like, 40 minutes and no seconds. Exactly his goal. Cray-cray right? This brought him to a total time of 2:26:39, 29th overall, and 2nd place in his age group. ROCK ON! MOVING ON. NEXT!

Out of the swim

Coming back from the bike

Finishing the run!

Proud finisher!

2nd in his age group out of 16

Run for Justice 5K

I was able to run the Run for Justice 5K just last weekend on June 16. There was a 5K or 10K option, but due to the hot weather and the level of my training, I figured I'd stick with the 5K distance. I was really really hoping for a PR (under 27:30) which I thought I'd be able to do based on my recent mile time trials. But I didn't quite consider that I'm not quite acclimated to the heat. It was a warm, humid morning, and the race didn't start until 9 AM so the sun was in full force by start time. I pushed throughout, but my Garmin lost satellite reception and made me angry and confused, and I kind of just gave up halfway through. I managed to finish in 27:45, so really close to a PR. I was happy to finish 2nd overall female though! That's definitely a bright side! Enough of that, moving on! NEXT!


It's that time of year again! I am once again participating in the Runner's World Summer Run Streak! (Read about last year's streak and the year before) It started back on Memorial Day and is going through July 4th. I am doing at least a mile every day, and I am 25 days in and going strong! You can follow my posts about the run streak on my Instagram. (I am doing most of my #rwrunstreak posts on my stories.) Alrighty, NEXT!

Oh wait, what is next? That's it for now, and we don't really have anything immediately on the docket as to what comes next. We are starting to think about our fall season and our big goal races, so stay tuned for that I guess?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Blue Ridge Marathon and Half 2018

OMG YOU GUYS WE ARE TERRIBLE. Or we have just been really really freakishly busy for the past month. Back in April on the 21st (so legit over a month ago) we participated in the Blue Ridge Marathon and Half Marathon and WE NEVER BLOGGED ABOUT IT. Life has been cray cray and mad-stupid busy and if we weren't actually busy, we were busy recovering from the busy-ness. Anyway, here we go-- RECAP TIME.

We ventured north to Roanoke, VA for the expo Friday night to pick up packets. The expo has moved around a few times, and this year it was in the Patrick Henry Hotel ballroom area and it was very nice! It was a perfect area for it, and there was plenty of room for vendors around as well. We are always impressed that each year the expo seems to grow and improve.

Saturday morning we traveled back to Roanoke, since it's only an hour away, just in time for the races to begin bright and early. The half and full marathons (and the 10K) start at 7:35 AM. We took off, and all races stay on the same course til they split a couple of miles in. Of course, I didn't see Alfredo as he started way ahead of me and kept getting further ahead, but I knew where he was vaguely at least. Since the courses split a little ways in, this blog post will split at this point as well.


Alfredo here. I was really excited about this year's race. I threw myself all-in to my training since January 1 of this year. I used my cross country season last fall as a base building period, and then starting in the new year, I began my Blue Ridge specific training plan. I wasn't sure how my long distance paces would be, and I had the Martinsville Half Marathon built in as a checkpoint race back in March. I was blown away by those results, so it was a great confidence booster leading up to BRM race day which was a month later at that point.

I had a BRM personal course record of 3:07:47 that I really wanted to beat. Another goal I had was to hit a Boston Qualifying time on the course, which would be sub 3:05. Even though this race isn't an official Boston Qualifying course, I still wanted to attempt it to know if I could do it on such a tough course! But of course, my main goal, like in all my races, is to finish what I started. Also, I have a BRM streak going still. I have run it ever year since its inaugural running back in 2010, so I had to keep the streak alive!

Over the years, I've realized that I can't run anyone else's race, and I just have to run my own race. That's exactly what I did this year at the BRM. I know that pacing for this race is very difficult, and you can't just set a certain pace and stick to it. One minute, you could be running an 8 minute mile, and then you hit a down hill (mountain?) and you could be able to hit a 5 minute mile. From the time they fired the starting cannon, I had this thought front and center in my mind: RUN YOUR OWN RACE. So as people were taking off, passing me right from the start going up Mill Mountain, they were running THEIR own race just as I had to run mine. As time passed by, we bypassed Mill Mountain (that's where we split from the other runners) and marathoners headed up their first mountain: Roanoke Mountain. It was smooth sailing, and everything felt great. We went up, then my fun began going back down the mountain. That's something I look forward to ever year. I always am able to hit some of my fastest paces going down the mountains in the BRM! But then, the fun is over pretty quick after coming down Roanoke Mountain, because then we get back on Mill Mountain and get to go up it to the Roanoke Star. I'm always thankful when I make it up to one of these peaks. I feel like I'm on top of the world! But then I get to come back down again, so that's fun too. 

Unfortunately this year, coming down Mill Mountain, I started experiencing some hip and knee pain. I had been battling some pain and soreness in these areas for the last couple of weeks of training, and everyone kept telling me they were more than likely just “phantom pains,” but I still tried to rest them in case it was something more serious since I was in taper anyway. But I'd come to realize at this point that they were probably not phantom pains, and they were pretty real. Despite the pain, I knew I was going to finish strong. I figured I'd already made it halfway, so even if I was suffering, I was going to keep on trucking! Fortunately I was able alter my gait a little for some relief on the uphills and the straightaways. However, my fun parts trucking down the hills were no longer fun since they were causing the shooting pains in my legs. This also made me realize that it may be time to upgrade my racing shoes. Unfortunately this thought came too late so I just had to suck it up and learn from my mistake (and order new shoes ASAP!). This hurt my time coming back down the final mountain: Peakwood. Coming up Peakwood is always challenging, but I usually make up for lost time going back down, but not this year. I saw the 3rd place overall guy coming back down as I was going up, so he was probably about a minute ahead of me at this point. We both waved, said our “good job/good luck/keep it up” words of encouragement, and he kept going down Peakwood, and I kept on climbing. The nice part about this course is that the marathoners get to run alongside the half marathoners for most of their course. The marathoners just split in the beginning to up Roanoke Mountain, and then at the end at mile 22 to add 4.2 lonely miles to their course. I always enjoy running with other people, so the little extra 4.2 miles can be a real bummer. It is kind of easy to fall behind without the added motivation of spectators and other runners. That's when you really have to get in touch with your own motivation and DIG DEEP. I'm sure this is just from my point of view since I had no one around since the other marathoners hadn't come through yet either. But I made it through and managed to stay steady. In the last 3 tenths of a mile, I climbed the last little slope and took off on the last downhill to the finish and gave it all I had til the end. With a time of 3:07:12, I walked away with a new BRM course record for myself, a BALLIN' finisher's medal, as well as fourth place overall/first place age group placing. I did, however, fall a bit short of my BQ goal though. All in all, the day was painful yet successful I would say. And the BRM 26.2 streak continues! And I'm already signed up for 2019...... Am I stupid? Am I crazy? Nah, I just got a 50% off code for completing the post-race survey, so I'm just savvy!

Elizabeth here now, taking back over. I was so impressed with myself that I ran the first 3ish miles of this year's course, which included the beginning of the ascent up Mill Mountain. Last year, I only made it a mile and a half before I had to walk. It wasn't a sprint by any means, but I kept on chugging along. I took a brief break at mile 3ish then I took off down Mill Mountain. I relished in the little flat-ish section in between the 2 mountains and I got my pace back down and kept it there. Then once I went through the tunnel at the River's Edge Sports Complex, I knew I'd be heading up the neighborhood hills before entering PEAKWOOD: THE SECOND MOUNTAIN! Those neighborhood hills are really draining, considering you have to do some rolling hills before you go up the final mountain, then you have to go through them again once you come down Peakwood. But this year, I was pacing pretty well. Last year I completed the course in 2:38:19. I had the goal in the back of my mind to at least beat last year's time, but I also wanted to break 2:30. I knew that would be a stretch for me on such a tough course, but I ran beside the 2:30 pacer for a little ways up Peakwood, but then she had to leave me. I was crushed. Devastated. And I wanted to give up. But I knew I would still have to go back down Peakwood. I definitely regained some time going back down, and lo and behold, I caught back up to the pacer at around mile 12. And then I passed her. And I finished in 2:28:28! Goals met!

NOW: Other random pictures from race day to tide you over until we do our blog post recap of the Georgia Peach Jam Half Marathon  that we did on May 28 (Memorial Day). We'll get around to it... eventually.... 
Unfortunately, this year we have a similar complaint--
Photographers and volunteers were in the way of the finish line.

He couldn't even stop running til he got past them!
They need to BACK UP from the finishing chute!

1st place age group award!

Close up of his award

A with a buddy of his who's run every BRM since 2010

Aren't we presh?

Melvin (left) is another Martinsville/Henry County runner
who loves the BRM! Just like us!

Love this ice bath shot haha

I love that BRM used A in their cover photo on Facebook!
Love this shot!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

2 Halves = 1 Whole Blog Post

Mr. Marathon here. But more recently, it's been Mr. HALF Marathon. I did 2 half marathons in the month of March. And they were 2 very different experiences, but eventful nonetheless.

THE SLEDGE Trail Half Marathon

On March 3  March 10, I ran The Sledge in Danville, VA. (It had to be rescheduled due to high winds and downed trees from the day before.) I had taken an off week from my marathon training to have a 1 week taper for March 3. However, since it was postponed, my training did not allow me to take another easy week. So I had to hit the week hard and just see what I could do on tired legs that next Saturday. Needless to say, about 1 mile into the race, after hitting the first small hill, I knew it was going to be a looooooooong 12.1 more miles. My legs were feeling very shaky, tired, heavy, and overall taxed. So regardless of my placing, this was truly a 100% training run for me. It still ended up being a fun race because I normally don't run trails and I really do like them!

The best part about this race is that I have created a lot of friendships within the Danville running community, and it was nice to see so many familiar faces out there running, volunteering, and spectating. I really do enjoy events where a whole community can come together like that. Anyway, back to the struggle. I managed to stay steady, even though the hills were extremely draining, and there were plenty of them. As in, the whole race was hills. Yes, with the uphills, you get downhills! I love downhills.... just not that particular weekend. Since my legs were completely drained from the uphills and all my training, I was unable to use the downhills to my advantage like I usually do. Throughout the whole race, I stayed in 2nd place, just waiting to get passed. But surprisingly, that never happened. I crossed the finish line still in 2nd place overall with a time of 1:37:48!

Martinsville Bulletin Half Marathon

A short 2 weeks later, I was ready to run one of my favorite races again. On March 24, I got to run the Martinsville Bulletin Half Marathon in my hometown. This race was the real test for me, since it's on a challenging hilly course, but I have run it plenty of times and I train on the course very frequently. I had trained up for this race to be a "check in" of sorts before I do the Blue Ridge Marathon on April 21. I was really hoping for a personal record, but I honestly did not know what to expect.

I took a pre-race GU....
Birthday cake flavor since my birthday was 2 days later!

Every single week, my training has been incorporating cross training, strength training, speed work, easy runs, and tempo runs. So I knew that I had a pretty solid base, but there's always that doubt in the back of your mind. I knew I was going to get to find out my true fitness level at this point. I did packet pick up the morning of the race. At the start, it was 30 degrees. It felt cold, but I still dressed in shorts and a tank because I figured (or hoped) that I would get warmed up pretty quick. As the gun went off, I had a goal to stay at about a 6:05 min/mile pace. However, I knew it would be difficult gauging this pace because of the uphills and downhills throughout the course. I knew I'd have to relax the pace going uphill and then kick it going down. I felt a lot better than I did 2 weeks ago at the Sledge. Over the years I have learned to run my own race, and that has helped me drastically. After half a mile, I settled into 2nd place. I knew that it was still early, so I just continued running my own race.

right at the beginning... like half a mile in

Someone caught me
struggling with my shorts!
I felt great and strong running up and down the hills except for having a small snag with my shorts pocket. Long story short, I fought with the zipper and the zipper ALMOST won. I had all my Honey Stinger gels in the back pocket and had to wrestle them out. At this point, the guy who was in 3rd place was right on my heels. But I didn't stress about it because we had a quarter mile until the next big downhill. With this downhill, I opened the gap again, which I was able to see because we passed the turnaround point at around mile 8.5. I was feeling good, and at this point, I still didn't know what my finish time would be. After passing the 10  mile marker, I looked down at my watch at noticed that my overall time was 1 hour 1 minute. All I had left was a 5K..... a very UPHILL 5K. But I was on target for a PR so I knew I couldn't let up now. I stayed focused all the way to the finish line. When I was finally able to see the clock, reading 1:20, I took off sprinting and gave it all I had left and I ended up finishing with a new PR of 1:21:07, beating my old PR by 2 minutes and 4 seconds! I cannot express how ecstatic I felt! I went into this race not knowing what I could do, and came out with a great confidence booster. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I didn't have too much time to celebrate though, because I had to go out and finish the remainder of my 22 mile long run for that day.

2nd place
Since these races, I have kept up my training and now I am ready to tackle the Blue Ridge Marathon on April 21... this Saturday! And my lovely bride is doing the half!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Slow and Steady"
Wrightsville Beach Marathon bonus post

Right now I am 4 days post-marathon. I went for an easy 3 on the treadmill last night, and I felt ok. I can now climb stairs without hobbling and go from sitting to standing/standing to sitting without my quads rebelling. But I have one thing still nagging me from race day this past Saturday.

As I was running along one of the straightaways through the town area with plenty of spectators, I heard a lady shout "THAT'S IT! GOOD JOB! SLOW AND STEADY!" and I was shocked. Appalled. Confused. Enraged.

Slow and steady? Who are you talking to, lady? I don't know if this lady was talking to one runner in particular, like someone she was there to watch, trying to give them a friendly reminder to go slow and steady, or if she just chose her words rather poorly, but I took it as a personal attack. Slow???? I am pacing perfectly. I was spot-on for my achieving a personal best and my dream-big goal for this race. Who was she to call that slow? I knew I needed to just calm down and let it settle.

Well, I have thought about it. And I'm still mad. Even if she was talking to one runner in particular, even if she herself is a runner and thought it was actually good advice, I was really just baffled that someone would say that. And I stewed about it for my remaining miles on race day, after my race, and I've thought about it every day since then.

I felt the need to correct her at the time, but I didn't as I was a little busy. I still feel the need to say something, but of course, I have no idea who she is and so I obviously will never be able to express these thoughts to her directly, so I'm laying this out here for anybody and everybody. Runners are a... ummm.... "different" breed of people. When we run races/events, we all train so hard, and we spend huge amounts of time and energy dedicated to our training. Sometimes we get so involved that we really do eat, sleep, and breathe running. Like, almost literally. And when we race, it is (hopefully more often than not) a life-changing experience. Especially with a dream-big goal race like mine was on Saturday. And to hear somebody belittle that, even if it was unintentional/accidental is enraging.

So whether you're a 2-hour marathoner or an 8-hour marathoner, an ultra-runner or a sprinter, an athlete or a spectator, or anybody in between: run your own race. And run it slow and steady at your own pace and strong AF.

(end rant) 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Wrightsville Beach Marathon Madness 2018

 You've heard of March Madness right???? Well unfortunately I am not super into college basketball (Don't hate me! Stay with me!) so I found Marathon Madness instead. I have been training since the first week in December to get ready for the madness because I set out with some pretty exciting goals.

After the Outer Banks Marathon, and only cutting 2 minutes off my previous time at the Marshall University Marathon, I was ready for some big changes in my marathon time. I worked with my unofficially official running coach (aka my darling husband) on creating a 16-week plan to help me meet my new goals. Goal A was to finish, Goal B was to set a personal record (get it under 4:54), Goal C was to get my time in the 4 hour 40 minute range, and Goal D (for Dream BIG) was to get my time in the 4 hour 30 minute range. It was a pretty cool process to develop my own personalized training plan. The plan that I had for Outer Banks and the MUM had a great progression of long runs, so I kept the long runs pretty much the same, but per coach's orders, I had one 22 mile long run instead of only going up to 20 miles like in my previous plan. We also totally revamped my weekday workouts to include 1 goal HALF marathon paced run (~9:50 min/mile) ranging from 3-10 miles, 1 speedwork session (4-6 miles of 400 m all the way through mile repeats), 2 easy runs of 3-6 miles, and a strength session. And lemme tell you-- SPOILER ALERT-- IT WORKED.

Fast forward 16 weeks and over 450 miles of training. The time has come for me to travel to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to pick up my packet for the day I've been working so hard for. I had no idea what I'd truly be capable of on race day, so I tried my hardest to not get too much in my head. Alfredo and I made our way the expo and I picked up my bib and my PAJAMA PANTS (!!!!!!!) and we looked at all the vendor booths, then we finished up and headed to the hotel to check in. We called in dinner from Olive Garden (can't mess with pre-race spaghetti ritual) and we ate and turned in at a decent time for my 4:45 wake-up.

have to get my Flat Lizzy in order
the night before!
I woke up the next morning with plenty of time to get ready and make my way to the start. We were only about 10 minutes away from the starting line in Wrightsville Beach, but we left at 6:00 AM to be sure we made it in time for the 6:40 AM start. Since Alfredo was letting me run this race, he was able to chauffeur me to the start line and drop me off. He was going to ride his bike along the course to meet me at the different mile markers! I made my way to the starting area after I was dropped off and of course had to wait in line for porta-potties (AS ALWAYS......). They were delayed by about 10 minutes starting, but that's ok since it allowed more time for using the porta-potties. I ended up making my way to my place in the corral right as they were giving final pre-race instructions! And before I knew it, we were off!!!!

My first 3-4 miles were kind of forced. I never understood why people say it takes them a few miles to warm up. Usually my first miles are the fastest and then I slow down. But on race day, I definitely got that feeling. I finally got my groove after a few miles and managed to keep my pace right on target from then on (around 10:30 min/mile). It definitely helped seeing Alfredo every few miles along the way!
Around the half mark
Crossing the bridge at mile 15ish?

I was feeling footloose and fancy-free for most of the race honestly. I was surprised at how well I was feeling, and how well I was pacing still. I passed the half marathon mark feeling great, passed some more mile markers, and before I knew it I was at mile 20! And still on pace?!?!? Around this time, we entered a little park that was surprisingly hilly for being so close to the coast. And then I saw the mile marker for 23 soon after I saw 20, and I realized that this was one of those places that the course does another loop on. I was starting to slow down, and I was getting pretty anxious about how my body would feel on the second loop. By this point, my Humas and my Gu were not doing me any favors. I didn't feel like I could physically eat or drink anything else besides regular water, but I knew I had several miles left to go. As I made my way around the park, I was sipping on my handheld water bottle and trying to fight down a Huma. I grabbed some Gatorade at the water station at around mile 22 before starting my second loop in the park. I was having a major issue trying to run through the water stops (I was desperately trying to run the whole thing) and I kept getting Gatorade up my nose but that's neither here nor there.

Entering the park at mile 20
Fast forward to mile 24. I had run the WHOLE DAGGONE THING at this point. And as I saw Alfredo, my scrunchy crying face starting to form. "I gotta walk. I can't keep running. But I'm afraid if I walk, I won't be able to start running again," I said to him, fighting back my tears. He told me, "Don't you start walking. You can keep going! You're almost done!" and I was honestly pretty disappointed because I was fully expecting him to tell me to take a quick break. So I took a gulp of my water and kept on trucking.

Actual footage of me crossing the finish line
jk of course this is Full House
Then reality hit me as I was approaching the UNCW campus where the finish line was. I passed mile 25, crunching numbers in my head. I knew I would make my A, B, and C goal at that point based on my time. I kept going, even though I felt like my legs were dragging through molasses at this point (BUT I WAS STILL RUNNING.... NO WALKING!). I rounded the corner (and realized that I missed the 26th mile marker? or it didn't exist????) and there was the finish line. My time was still in the 4:30s range. SO I KICKED IT. I told my legs, "GO, LITTLE LEGS, GO GO GO!" and I knew I was going to make it. My scrunchy crying face was trying to form again (but out of joy this time, don't worry) but I told it NO GO AWAY I NEED TO SMILE RIGHT NOW and I channeled my inner Shalane Flanagan and let a F*** YES fly and crossed the finish line (STILL RUNNING) with a time of 4:38:34!

Shalane is my HERO!

Goal A: check.
Goal B: PR'd by 16 minutes. So needless to say, check.
Goal C: blown outta the water.

After I crossed the finish line, I rang (and broke) the PR bell, got my snacks and water, and shuffled back to the car. Unfortunately there were no finisher medals due to a shipping situation, so that was a bummer, but the race director said they will be mailing them out when they get in. So there should be an exciting mail day in the near future at least.

Finish line!
As for what's next, I would really like to try to continue chipping away at my marathon time, and now that I know what works (and what doesn't) in training, I can hopefully keep improving. I'd love to get a sub 4:30 marathon next. So... instead of calling this "The End", we're going to say "To Be Continued..."!!!!!
PJ pants!
You can't go to the beach and NOT go to the beach right?