Monday, April 29, 2013

Race report: Flower City Half Marathon

I can't believe I got through it. I completed the Flower City Challenge this weekend, a duathlon Saturday and a half marathon Sunday.

I did the du in 2:29:37. Check out my blog from yesterday. Yesterday I did the half marathon in 2:44:37 (is 37 my new lucky number?)

I've been pretty beat up today but it's well worth it. The best part? My rack of medals is officially too heavy to hold the new ones. Time to buy a new curtain rod!

That morning was icky at best. I woke up in the middle of the night with a stuffy nose and sore throat. My quads were sore and so were my calves. I took some cold medicine and was a little better by the time 5 am came. I nervously texted Megan and played on Twitter as I got my stuff together.

The weather was perfect. I walked to the office, across from the starting line, for some quiet and real toilets before the race. At 7 we headed to the start line and met up with Megan.

We couldn't hear a lot of the Boston tribute because the speakers kept cutting out. I'm really glad they did it though. We definitely crossed the start line to Save A Horse Ride a Cowboy.

You can usually tell how a race is going to go by the first few steps, and I was thrilled that I felt strong.

The first mile took us down West Main Street to the Susan B. Anthony House, where people were out with signs in colonial garb, awesome. We circled back and took Main Street to East Avenue. I still felt strong as we cut to Park Avenue. We took Goodman through the Highland Hills neighborhood, which had by far the best crowd support.

Up until this point we were holding a steady 11 minute pace. Then the hills hit.

Drums took us up the hills in Highland Park. Those weren't bad. Then we went into Mount Hope Cemetery. That kicked my butt. This part was really long, about three miles. I was exhausted toward the end, so the next mile along the Riverway Trail was rough. We came across the bridge to Exchange, and kicked it in.

So proud of Megan for finishing her second half! I walked around the arena and felt a little nauseated.

Got my second medal, tried to wear them both but they were too heavy! I slowly walked back to Corn Hill and collapsed. Several hours later I woke up with a full blown cold. I've been down all day.

But I did it!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Race Report: Flower City Part 1

Race one out of three is complete! Now it is time to rest up for a 13.1 mile recovery run tomorrow!

Today I completed the Flower City Duathlon in just under two and a half hours. I'm thrilled with my performance but I'm also a little scared that I went too hard and didn't pace myself for tomorrow.

My times were:
5K run (just under 3.1 by my app): 30:45
Transition 1: 3:50
20 mile ride: 1:21:50
Transition 2: 2:24
5K run (3.4 miles by my app): 30:47
Finish: 2:29:37

I rode to the race, two miles away. I had attached a saddle bag and hand pump to my bike and wanted to make sure they were on properly!

It was a chilly start. I rode in wearing three layers. I'd be down to my tank top three hours later.

Run #1

At 7:20 they closed transition and we headed to the start. We started in waves, the du women went before the men, and at 7:36 I was off.

One thing I've noticed about Rochester runners that wasn't as true in Columbus is that everyone starts off so fast! In MIT they drilled pacing and running negative splits into our heads. I tried to start off slow, shooting for an 11:00 mile, and I was in the back of the pack.

Maybe it was the psychology of running in the back, but I felt like I was poking along. Not true. My app gave me the first half mile update, and it was sub-10. Woa there! I tried to back off but my legs wanted to carry me faster. Tomorrow I'll be happy for the pacers!

The course went along the river along the trail, and there was a nice breeze. Perfect running weather. I walked up the few very tiny hills, which saved energy and didn't hurt my pace.

My splits were:
Mile 1: 9:59
Mile 2: 10:12
Mile 3: 10:29

The average temperature was 43 degrees.

I went into transition feeling strong. I got on the bike and took off.


Here's the thing I love about running: No matter how much you spend on fancy shoes, clothes and hydration packs, the talent is all you. That's not true on the bike: Better machinery yields an advantage. You can buy speed.

It was my first race on my new road bike, she shall be named Flower from this point forth, and there was an incredible difference. On the Giant hybrid, I was riding around 12-14 mph. On Flower, I was riding 16 to 18. And that was during my first real ride of the season.

I was happy to be passing many, and only getting passed by a few. I rode the big chain ring the entire way, except for the hills.

We hit the hills by RIT and heading out toward Scottsville. We turned a corner by a gas station in Wheatland, around Mile 10, where a course marshal yelled out "it's all downhill from here!" I cursed her as we climbed yet another hill, but then it was mostly flat coming back through Chili.

My mile splits were consistently 3:20 to 3:40 on the flats, and as high as 5:30 on the hills. The average temperature for this segment was 45 degrees.

I felt wobbly getting off the bike, and went back into transition.

Run #2

Those first few steps were not pleasant.

Running right off the bike is a very odd sensation. It takes awhile for the legs to realize that it's time to work with different muscles. As a result, you can feel yourself moving, but your legs are completely numb.

I felt like I was shuffling along. The people around me looked like they were shuffling along. But when the app gave me the half mile update, I was close to a 9:00 mile. It was like I couldn't control my speed, and I also just wanted to be done.

I've been running with the app Runtastic, and it talks to you when someone online motivates you. I got two such motivations during this run, such a small thing but it really does give you a boost.

Continuing to run on autopilot, I crossed the bridge by U of R and a girl in a kayak yelled up at me, she recognized me from the pace team I ran with two weeks ago. This was another boost.

There was a paddle triathlon going on simultaneously, so we ran alongside the kayakers and the canoes, which kept me distracted. I didn't have any ability to pick it up at the end, but I kept a steady pace across the finish.

My splits were (not including the .39 at the end)
Mile 1: 9:11
Mile 2: 9:33
Mile 3: 9:02

After I stretched, laid in the grass and watched the band, rode home then went to an amazing yoga class at the Downtown Fitness Club.

Time to lay out my clothes, and get ready for Day 2.

(Typed from the tablet, I'll add in links/photos later!)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Flower City: As ready as I can ever be

In two days starts the crazy three-races-in-eight-days scheme: The Flower City Duathlon, the Flower City Half Marathon and the Capital City Half Marathon.

First, check out this video I did with some of my colleagues on the Flower City course. I'm proud of it!

So... I'm ready as I'll ever be! I got my new bike...

...have picked up my race packet...

... a very pretty t-shirt...

... and am getting my information together for the Capital City Half Marathon the following weekend!

The plan is to go slow for all legs of the Flower City Half Marathon and the Flower City Duathlon. Then I'll give Capital City all I've got!

My new family member

Per the rules, as outlined by a former MIT friend, she won't officially get her name until after Saturday, when she completes her first race, but meet Flower.

Flower is a 2013 Cannondale Synapse Sora, purchased from Bert's Bikes in Henrietta. Since this photo was taken she has had an upgrade of clip-in pedals and water bottle cages (sidenote: wondering if I can buy bike water bottles in bulk somewhere, I always lose them!)

I was looking forward to a Caad 8, but there was a slight miscommunication between the bike manufacturer and the store it did not arrive as planned. So, I got the Synapse, a slightly better bike, for the same price!

We went on a few loops around Corn Hill Tuesday. I'm pretty sleepy today, but might take her out for a small chain ring ride tomorrow. Looking forward to the du on Saturday (of which she is named after!)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Reflecting on Boston, my trip to Columbus becomes more significant

At the finish line of the 2010 Columbus Marathon, a finisher took a quick veer toward the crowd. He emerged with his daughter, maybe two or three, and carried her across the finish line.

The end of a marathon is the ultimate display of humanity. Whether they're trying to get faster or finish, whether they're trying to beat three hours or six, everyone who crosses that line had the courage to set an ambitious goal and see it through.

Just as important as the people crossing are those on the sidelines. They brave the traffic, and the crowds to cheer on friends and family. They bring warm clothes, congratulate those who make their goal, and are there to console those who missed it by two minutes.

I can only say what has been repeated at length about what happened Monday. The bombings were senseless and inhumane. Why anyone would target a marathon is as answer-less as why anyone would target a movie theater or a school. There are some bad people in this world.

But for every terrible act in this world, there are hundreds of good acts that often go unrecognized. In the running community you'll find some of the most competitive spirits, but also the kindest hearts.

Reflecting on this tragedy, which hit a little bit too close to home, my thought patterns shifted to all the wonderful people who I've met along the way, and how they've shaped my life. The funny thing is, I don't even know all their names.

Me, Evelyn and Beth at the Warrior Dash. 
My running journey began in 2010. I was watching the finish line of the marathon that morning to meet someone who at that point had just been an online friend, Bill A., and we'd head to a meet-up of others in our online forum. I'd also meet Karen B. that day, who is also a friend and has provided so much encouragement along the way.

I don't think Molly B. knows how much responsibility she holds in me becoming a marathoner. Also an online friend, she was there at the finish of my first 5K, told me she recognized the runner's high, and told me this wouldn't be my only race. Then of course there was my trainer at the time, Jason S. who helped prepare me for this life changing journey. Evelyn H. was alongside me also at the first 5K.

Molly's the one who told me about the Marathoner in Training Program, with fearless leader Jeff Henderson and Fleet Feet Columbus. At the first informational session, I met Randy O. I'd join his pace team, and he'd always be there to answer my pesky, panicky questions.

I met Beth O. in my pace group. We'd later embark upon two epic mud runs together. She was there for me when I became single for the first time in years.

My mom was there at Mile 15 of my first marathon, when I was starting to doubt myself. Michele H was the first familiar face I saw at the end. I had trained with Kim B., Sarah H. and Michelle W. all season, and looking forward to swapping stories got me through the toughest miles.

There was Jamie W., who met up with me at 3 a.m. to do my final long run before the Columbus Marathon. That morning she put it in my head that maybe I'd like to be a spin instructor, something I'm so happy I pursued.

At Columbus, there are too many names to tag, but I'll never forget approaching the finish line, every step feeling like agony, and Jeanne B. running a short ways alongside me with cowbells and a pom pom.

Me and Brandie before Cincy.
2012 brought injury. The first day I had to drop back during a long run, Bill B. wouldn't leave me alone on the trail. Brandie D. was my shoulder to cry on, and so much more. When I found out I should go Gluten Free, Kim B. met me at a workout one morning with a whole bag of goodies.

I persevered and dropped back to a slower pace group, where Michele H. led me on some of the most memorable runs. Richard B. was the ultimate inspiration, fighting through as much injury as he has had, it kept me going.

This led to my slowest and most fun marathon, the Flying Pig, with my dear friend Rebecca E. who has also always been there for me.

Richard B. encouraged me to start coaching, but I only lasted a few weeks before I got the job offer in Rochester. Leaving this group made the decision hard.

Now, in Rochester, I'm realizing I need to come out of my shell. I have some great training partners, Megan D. and Victoria F., and I can't say enough about John H. and the folks at the Downtown Fitness Club. Matt S. helped me with my strength training which helped my speed and my swimming and encouraged me to go for a Century, but it's time to seek out a group.

Sara and I cheering at Capital City in 2012
There are so many I haven't mentioned here. Jess F., Deb V., Sara W., and others. But if you've joined me for even one run, I can promise you've shaped my life in some way.

I'm looking forward to returning to Columbus for the Capital City Half Marathon, where I can see everyone. I've been thinking about all of you since Monday, and realizing I need to build a similar support system here in Rochester.

To repeat a Facebook meme, if this bomber wanted to stop us, he targeted the wrong group of people.

Because running is a team sport.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Race weekends (plural) are fast approaching

This morning I switched into race mindset :)

Fleet Feet held a preview run for the Flower City Half Marathon today, so my training partner Megan D. and I met there for our final long run before taper.

This was my first time running in a big group outside of the smaller races that I've done. We stuck with the 12:00 pacer, the group of 20 was wonderful to run with and it made the run go so quick!

Megan and I did a little bit beforehand to make sure we'd get at least ten miles in. We ran 10.3 miles in 2 hours.

I felt strong through the entire run. I struggled on some of the hills through Highland Park, so I'm going to get some hill repeats in before the race.

Which I'm getting excited for!

I have three races coming up in rapid succession. Race #1 is the Flower City Duathlon, a 5K run, 20 mile bike, 5K run on April 27.

The very next day is the Flower City Half Marathon. My plan is to take the entire thing at a 12:00 mile, and stick with a pacer to hold myself back.

Finally, the next weekend is the Capital City Half Marathon in Columbus. I cannot put into words how excited I am to go back and see all the people who got me hooked onto this wonderful sport! This one I hope to race to the best of my ability!

I'm excited but getting nervous!

My goal this week is to stick to my training plan. I've been switching the workouts around, but it's designed to be done as written.

Friday, April 12, 2013

New bike, new bike, new bike, NEW BIKE!

I have a deposit down and it's ordered. Within a week I will be the new owner of a Cannondale Caad 8 Sora road bike. I didn't know it prior to buying but it's No. 1 on Bicycling Magazine's list of bikes on a budget (which makes me glad I picked it, my other top choices aren't on the list)! 

This stock photo will do for now.
I've been wanting a new bike for awhile. I toughed it out with a hand-me-down Giant hybrid from my mom (thanks Mom), completing my first Century with more-professional types whizzing by me like I was nuts. Sure my back hurt a little when I was done but I got my triple digits in (during a torrential downpour to boot)! 

Thanks to a nice tax return from Uncle Sam, I was finally able to make the move. 

I like the Cannondale because it's light and handles well, plus the shop I'm getting it from is nearby which will help with any repairs. 

There are a number of great bike shops in the area. I loved Full Moon Vista in the South Wedge, in Rochester, and I'll definitely support the shop in the future. Same goes for Park Ave Bike Shop in Brighton. But they had smaller selections and in the end didn't have what I needed. 

I tried a Felt (don't remember the model) at Towpath Bike in Pittsford. They didn't have one in my size so I was riding on a smaller frame, they had some on order so maybe I would have liked it had I gotten to try it! I still extended that test ride a bit because it was a beautiful day to be along the Canal Trail!

I was tempted by a Specialized Dolce Sport at RV&E Bike and Sport in Fairport. But in the end, proximity won and I got the Cannondale from Bert's Bikes and Fitness in Henrietta. 

At Bert's I first tried out a Trek Lexa (a couple different models in the $1,000 price range). I didn't like it at all, it didn't seem to handle right. I also tried a Schwinn something-or-other. Way too bulky, despite its dainty pink appearance.

I also tried the Cannondale Synapse, which I liked a lot, but I liked the Caad 8 better. 

Most of the bike stuff is basically a foreign language (I'm surprising myself at how intelligently I'm writing about it... or am I?) When I went to the store with my mom she showed me the different shifters and I realized how much better Sora 2013 is over whatever the cheaper one was on there. The one I got doesn't have the thumb thingys (technical term). I tried a bike with Tiagra, nice but out of my range!

Next up: New shoes and clip-in pedals!

I know the road bike world is a dangerous slippery slope. Sure, the entry-level road bikes are enticing now because I'm used to the hybrid, but as soon as I get it I'll be drooling over bikes that cost more than my car! 

Now Rochester's weather MUST get with the picture, the first duathlon of the season is in two weeks!