Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bitten again

One of my goals for the year is to PR the 50k. While challenging, it isn't the loftiest of goals. I ran my first 50k purely with the goal of finishing. I am proud of what I accomplished, but know I could run it faster. The problem is, without actually putting a 50k race on my schedule, I can't accomplish my goal. Then this morning, I saw this on Facebook:
Oh, just take my money. Source: Yeti Trailrunners FB Page
In the comments below, I learned that this would be the last year of the race. So I am pretty sure you know what happened next.
Yep, here we go again.
It's no secret that I liked this race last year and I had already been thinking about running Snakebite again this year. After seeing this would be my last chance at it, it became pretty hard to resist. I emailed the Jayhawk to see if we had anything going on during Labor Day weekend, and he simply replied "Put it on the calendar". It's nice that he is so accepting of my ideas (I think the free craft beer helps).
Odd fact: I've worn bib #7 in both of my ultras. Yay alphabetical order.
So there you have it. With a click of the mouse my summer training and racing plans have been decided.  Time for another summer of sweating on the trails. Expect a training post soon. And discussion on treating snakebites.
Do you like to run races multiple times? How far ahead do you plan your racing?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekly Training Recap

In the first week after Miles for Maria, I felt fine, but I took it pretty easy anyway. Post race I took two days off and then went for an easy cycle on Tuesday. I waited until Thursday to got for my first run, but it didn't feel awesome. Nothing felt injured or wrong, it just felt not great, so I stopped around 2.5 miles in and took the rest of the week off. It was totally worth it and I felt fine the second week after the race (yay for smart runner moment). I also did a good job (for me) of stretching and rolling during my week off. I always find judging race recoveries more difficult when you don't have a lot of physical symptoms (soreness, tiredness, etc), but this time I knew there was no harm in a few extra days off. It's like I'm learning.

Monday: Back at it. The time off was well worth it and my legs felt back to normal. I enjoyed my run and am excited to get back at it (but not too quickly)!
Actual: 3.1 miles (9:07/mile)

Tuesday: Kept the pace moderate for another day. Trying to be more conservative with recovery these days after the shin thing.
Actual: 3.1 miles (9:10/mile)

Wednesday: The Jayhawk was late getting to the gym (we carpool to work and often use the work gym), so I got some bonus time on the treadmill. I used that time to do a ladder workout and to start to introduce pace back into my runs. It was fun! :)
Actual: 5 miles (8:53/mile)

Thursday: I took a rest day and met up with some of my Atlanta runner friends at Road Runner Sports Ladies Night out. It was sponsored by Brooks and Moving Comfort, and there were lots of snacks and giveaways. We didn't win much in the raffles, but it was great to catch up with everyone!
Actual: Rest
Girls Gone Wild.
Friday: It was a long week and I was tired.
Actual: Rest

Saturday: On Saturday group run got move to Sunday due to some crazy weather moving through Atlanta that morning. I ended up being lazy and never actually going for a run that day.
Actual: Rest

Sunday: I met up with a bunch of fellow Atlanta Lady runners and bloggers for a bit of a farewell run for Jesica from Runladylike. She is moving out of town, so went sent her off in the best way we knew how: with a long run and brunch! I ran with some ladies I'd never run with and enjoy what was probably the last of Atlanta's spring (you could feel the humidity building).
Actual: 6.4 miles (10:03/mile)
Amanda, Amy, Jess, and myself (L to R)
L to R: Myself, Jess, Amy, Jesica, Amanda, Elizabeth (Source: Runladylike)
I rested a little more than I intended this week. I am currently in between training plans and a little extra rest and relaxation for my legs is probably for the best.  Thanks to everyone who chimed in on Friday's post with some of their favorite blogs! Always great to add to the reading list and see what inspires others!

How was your week? How much time did you like to take off after races?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Five: Running blogs to read

Today I'm joining in on the Friday Five link up with Cynthia, Mar, and Courtney for their 'Blogs to read' theme. I'll be honest, I like to read and I read a lot of different types of blogs (including the blogs of everyone who stops by here). I am not always on top of the most current posts or commenting, but I get to them (it's all about pacing yourself, right?). This is in no way an exclusive list of what I read, but just a few that I like and thought you all might enjoy checking out. Happy Reading!

1. Sweat Once a Day:
What you'll find: Amazing trailporn, great craft beer recommendations, and lots of trail and ultrarunning. What more do you need?
Why you should read it: Not only does Emily put up some serious mileage and explore some of the most beautiful trails in the Northwest, she does it all with a sense of humor. Expect stories about chips, learning to love yoga, and impressive race placements.

2. NYC Running Mama
What you'll find: Training, coaching, and racing recaps!
Why you should read it: Another speedy lady who shares honestly about her training (physical and mental). I enjoy reading about the ways in which she challenges herself, balances life with training, and shells out some pretty solid advice (you should never go 'all-out' in a work out, embrace patience).

3. Fast Cory
What you'll find: A lot of 100 milers (yes, plural. He ran one a month last year), trail pics, and a love for junk food especially hostess products.
Why you should read it: Cory is candid, hilarious, and so mentally strong! This is a man who ran a 100 miler ON A TRACK by himself. With all his joking aside, he is truly a strong runner with incredible mental stamina.

4. Sally Mcrae
What you'll find: Running tips, motivation, great trail pics, and amazing race recaps.
Why you should read it: Sally is a Nike sponsored trail runner with some pretty impressive finishes (including a top 10 finish at Western States). She blogs about her training, racing, and real life (yes, pros have real lives!). Her tips, strength training routines, and recipes are great for all levels.

5. Ginger Runner
What you'll find: Gear reviews, trail running, lots of video posts.
Why you should read it: Not only does he provide entertaining and informative gear reviews, but the Ginger Runner interviews elite trail runners, recaps his own impressive races, and share great trail footage all with the slogan "Train, Race, Beer".

OK, now your turn. What are some of your favorite blogs? What makes you return to blogs time after time?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Miles for Maria 6 Hour Race Recap

Miles for Maria Spring Fling Run for Epilepsy, Kennesaw, GA
Field: ~70 in all the events(1hr, 3hr, 6hr, 12hr and 24hr). The fall version tends to be bigger.
Spectators: Just a handful a family members and race volunteers, but you got to see them every lap.
Start/Finish: A nice little green space to hold your cooler, snacks, and chair.
Course: Loop course around a small lake. The trails are not technical and are great for beginners.
Schwag: Water bottle and super soft shirt. Medal for all 6 hour or longer finishers. Personalized belt buckles for all 100 miler finishers.
Other: The race is named for the race director's daughter Maria, who has epilepsy and a portion of the proceeds go towards epilepsy research. Maria is 5 and loves to come run laps at "Her Race". The 3, 6, and 12 hour divisions have two possible waves you could run (one starting in the morning and the other in the afternoon).
Spoiler alert: I finished.
To sum up the race in one sentence, I ran in a circle for 6 hours, nibbled on snacks, and had a great time. But since you all probably want to hear a little more of a recap than that, here are some of the highlights.
Lucky number 7.

The Format

Timed events are very low key. People are constantly getting on and off the course (we came through the lap mark before hitting the camping area and aid station, so stopping didn't effect lap count). It is hard to tell during the race who is leading (except if you remember they have passed you a ton), and everyone seems to be out to reach their own goals. I really enjoyed the format, and it was really easy to convince myself to go out for one more lap or bribe myself with a snack after 2 more laps. I found myself nibbling as I came by the aid station frequently in the last 3 hours, as opposed to fueling every 45 minutes or so as I do on the road. I didn't really even have to stop to grab a snack, except when I was filling my handheld, as most of the snacks were individually portioned. I never really got bored running the same route for 6 hours. I zoned out several times, chatted with other runners, and just enjoyed being outside. It was a different mindset for a race, in that it isn't over any faster no matter how quickly you run and focusing on achieving a certain distance really helped keep the feet moving.
 Pre-race the tent/gear area and the wonderful snack table.

The People

As I mentioned in my pre-race goals, I didn't know what to expect of my first 6 hour race and that feeling extended all the way until the start line. I woke up on race morning groggy. That kind of groggy, where you are confused, not really hungry, and definitely not yet awake. I managed to scarf down a Picky Bar on the drive up to the race, but it was definitely less fuel than one hopes to take in before an ultra. Other than that, it was a really easy race morning. Directions to the the race were spot on, there was plenty of parking available a mere few hundred feet from the course, and packet pick up was a breeze. With less than 70 participants, this race has an intimate and family feel. The race director greets people by name, many of the participants are returners (including a dog with her own bib and very pregnant woman), and many familiar faces from the local trail and ultra-groups. I had a great time chatting with other participants through out the race and as I pillaged the snack table when my 6 hours was over.
Looking a little sleepy and rocking my super soft race shirt. I love it.
Better shot of the logo.

The Course

The trail was mostly double wide, not technical, with a mix of wooden boardwalks, wood chips and dirt. Since there was a pretty solid spring monsoon the night before, we were also treated to some fresh mud as well. The morning was perfectly cool (50s), and though we weren't in a rural location, the trail felt like a nice escape from the city (the trail is a well maintained walking path in an office complex). It is mostly tree covered and flat (though the very little rises were definitely noticeable after a few hours). As I came through the first lap, I glanced at my garmin and saw that it was around 1k and decided that would make estimating my total distance a whole lot easier for the next few hours.

A Glimpse of the course. Some areas were more root filled.

The Fuel

Always the potential Achilles heel of any distance event, fueling is in some ways easier in a timed event. With the lap length being relatively short in timed races, there really isn’t much of a need to carry fuel (note: I did carry my handheld full of NUUN after the first hour so I could sip as needed). Every kilometer we passed by a very well stocked aid table with everything we could dream of (chips, cookies, bananas, candy, etc) and I had also brought a few personal favorites just in case (Island Boost, Stinger waffles, and salt tabs). For the most part fueling went well. I started fueling after the first hour and then realized I was kind of hungry at the 3 hour mark (I didn’t fuel well pre-race because I had a lot of trouble waking up on race morning). I probably nibbled a little too much at this point and had a lap of feeling icky/sugar blues, but once the fuel got in my system, I hit a strong groove for the next hour. After that, I had small snacks every few miles to keep the blood sugar more stable. Personal snacking favorite during this race: corn chips.
All the essentials. Not pictured: magical coke.

The Distance

Initially my goal was to not really have a distance goal, but to see what kind of rhythm I got into and how I felt. I knew mathematically I could potentially cover a 50k in 6 hours, but with minimal long mileage and the potential for a warm day (highs were in the 70s), I kind of left that idea at the back of my mind.  As I began to tick off laps, I realized that I was running about 5.5 miles an hour (including snack stops, water bottle refills, and sunscreen applications) which would put me right on target for a 50k. By the 3 hour mark I was at 16+ miles and I wasn’t sure if I could keep the pace up, but I was planning on giving it a try. At the 5 hour mark, my garmin died, so I was running a bit blind after that point. I knew I was over the marathon, so I kept plodding along. With about 18 minutes left I swung by the scorer’s table and asked for a lap count, and I was at 48. I went back out, grabbed the last two laps to make it an even 50 (I like round numbers) and called it a day a few minutes early (i.e. B-lined it for the pizza I’d seen recently arrive at the snack table). I had estimated each lap to be about 1k, so I felt confident (and happy!) that I’d finished a 50k. When final results were posted, I actually finished 32.5 miles as each lap was 0.65 miles and that extra 0.03 really makes a difference after 50 laps! I was pretty happy with the results and also a bit surprised to find out I ran the most miles in the 6 hour event.
I celebrated with one of my favorites when I got home: a frosty Bell's Oberon.


Let's take a look at my pre-race goals:

  • Complete 20 miles. Check!
  • Don't get sunburned. I applied 50SPF before I left the house and again at hour 4.
  • Keep the pace comfortable and conversational. Check! Obviously, nothing speedy about this effort.
  • Continue to work on fueling long efforts. Check. Learned a few more likes and dislikes.
  • Be proud of the effort I put out. Check! I am happy with my final distance and overall performance.
  • Have fun! Double Check!
With that it's time to crown a winner! The closest guess to my total mileage without going over was 29 miles by Susie from SuzLyfe! Susie, I will drop you an email. Thanks to everyone for all the confidence you guys had in me!

Do you enjoy trying out new racing styles? Have you run a timed event?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Miles for Maria Goals and Contest!

It's Miles for Maria week already! Wow, that went fast. I am not feeling fully prepared for a 6 hour effort, but I had always seen this event as more of a learning experience than a race. With less than 24 hours until the starting gun, it's time to put together some expectations and goals for the event.
For the most part, I am keeping my goals a little non-traditional. I am participating the 6 hour race starting at 8am (there are also 3, 12, and 24 hour waves). With a new to me race format, not a ton of long distance work during my training, and an expected race forecast as 70s and sunny, I'm keep my mileage goals to a minimum.
  • Complete 20 miles. Yeah, I know I just said that I wasn't making a lot of mileage goals, but even if I keep it to a slow run-walk, I think I can get in 20 miles.
  • Don't get sunburned. I can't think of anything worst than recovering from a long race with a bad sunburn.
  • Keep the pace comfortable and conversational. I feel like going out quickly in a timed race is a recipe for disaster. Let's not do that.
  • Continue to work on fueling long efforts. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Long races are all about metabolic management. This is a great opportunity to learn more about what works for me.
  • Be proud of the effort I put out. 6 hours is a long time to run and stay focused, but I hope to give my best effort throughout the event.
  • Have fun! I chose to do this. Enjoy the sunny day and the company of the other runners.
Alright, now time for a contest. The person who guesses how many miles I complete during the 6 hour race will receive a special surprise (spoiler: it will probably be fueling related). As usual it will be Price is Right rules, (closest without going over). Just submit a comment below this post by 8AM on April 11th (i.e. before I start running) to be entered! In the event that rain is a factor in the race and we don't get to run all 6 hours, I will randomly pick one person from the comments.

Contest rules: One guess per person. No anonymous comments if you actually want to win. All guesses must be submitted by 8AM EST on April 11, 2015. As usual, I am the judge and jury and have final say in all contests. This is purely for fun. Winner will be contacted once I recover from the race.

Monday, April 6, 2015

March Recap

Miles: 75.8

Races: Georgia Publix Half Marathon

Highpoint of the month: Racing again. I know it had only been a month since I pinned a bib on, but it felt so great to be at a starting line and to not be stressing over my shins. Exerting during workouts has also been really cool.

Not so highpoint of the month: My karma was off or something this month. Not only was there the tire/bent rim debacle, but work has been a bit of a stress scene, and my computer has been flirting with dying.  Not my strongest month of the year. On to better things in April!

New item for March: I had never been to a group run at a running store before and this month I made it to two! Woot. Even more exciting: I dragged the Jayhawk along to both of them (though dragged is a relative term since there was beer at both events). We both had a great time and have already started putting more group runs on the calendar for April!
What I'm looking forward to in April: Many things including (but not limited to): my first ever timed event, becoming an aunt, and core work! I can really feel your enthusiasm on that last item. ;) I'm bringing back ABSolutely Awesome April again this year because it really helped jump start my strength training routine last year.  I noticed major benefits heading into the high mileage training that I did last summer and an additional focus on strength training will help with some of my goals for the year. Feel free to join me!
How was your March? What are you most excited about in April?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Georgia Publix Marathon Recap

Georgia Publix Half Marathon, Atlanta, GA
Field: ~7,000 including the 5k, half, and full.
Spectators: Fewer due to the rain this year, but they were cheering hard!
Start/Finish: Centennial Olympic Park in Downtown Atlanta
Course: Loop through many of the different neighborhoods in the city.
Schwag: Day glow tech shirt and medal. I won't be getting hit by a car in this one.
Other: This recap only has a few sad photos because the rain zapped my cellphone (it was later revived).
All smiles after the race.
My 5th running of the annual Atlanta sufferfest/half marathon. I love and don't love this race all at the same time. While it is one of the biggest races in the city (besides that little Peachtree race in the summer you may have heard of), the only full marathon in the city, and a great tour of different neighborhoods, it is also a great tour of the hills of Atlanta. And every year, even though I sign up during the registration blitz a year ahead of time, I show up not trained for it. Part of it is because I've never set it as a goal race, so I usually approach it as a great, aided longrun with several thousand of my fellow residents (Atlantans? Atliens?)

This year the pre-race forecast was a bit omnious. Mid 50s with 100% chance of rain. To be honest, I wasn't that upset with it. Not only do I not mind racing in the rain (See Hospital Hill Run Recap), but I fear heat far more (for the record, wind is my least favorite running weather). I knew that if it was the 70 degree temps that we had several years ago for this race, my poor preparation would really show and I would struggle throughout the race. I actually had my fingers crossed that it would rain a little during the race to help break the humidity (the Atlanta running community may be cursing me right now).
I'm in the yellow in case you missed me. It's much brighter in person.
Given my training, I didn't have any crazy races goals. A PR wasn't happening, but I also didn't want to treat it as a long jog. After some improved training recently, I didn't want to let myself off easy so I gave myself a few minimums: Break 2 hours, maintain a solid effort, and no easing up in the late miles if I know I am going to break 2.

I arrived at the start a little later than planned. I forgot that MARTA would be running the weekend train schedule, and so I didn't get to the start until a mere 12 minutes before the gun. This meant no pre-race port-a-john visit (motivation to run faster?) or photos (though pitch black and raining isn't great for photos). I also realized when I got to the start that I was 1 or 2 corrals behind the 2 hour pace group. I was a little bummed by this because my plan was to tuck in with them until I decided how my legs felt that day. I hadn't really done too much hill work during my shin recovery and build up, so this was going to be by far the hilliest workout I had done in a long time. Though they weren't checking corrals too closely, I was an honest runner and started in my assigned spot (One of my pet peeves is people who start in corrals that obviously they shouldn't be in. It's dangerous for everyone). So I readjusted my race plan and decided to track down the 2 hour group and see how I felt from there.
The medal is the Atlanta skyline with all of the neighborhoods along the course engraved below.
I caught up with the 2 hour pace group about 1.5 miles in. I encouraged myself to slowdown a bit because I didn't want to go out too  fast, but to be honest, their pace just didn't feel great to me. I went out ahead of them knowing that if I did slow down, I could still run with them when they catch me and that would still bring me in sub-2.
The Hills are alive with the sound of runners panting.
It rained on and off during the race (nothing like the monsoons of Hospital Hill) and some faithful fans still came out to cheer (Thank You!). I felt strong through about 10 miles and started to work beginning on the climb coming out of Piedmont Park. The course is constantly rolling, making it a great workout and challenge. I kept at it through the GA Tech portion of the course (the students always have the most spirited water stops) and tried to stay focused during the final mile. Mile 13 is pretty much a straight shot (making it the longest mile in my opinion) and you turn just around 13 for the last 0.1 into the finish. I felt good crossing the line, tired but not completely spent. I was happy with the result and signs of progress with my fitness.
Not bad job of running the tangents.
Post race I got my medal and food bag, but didn't hang around too long this year since the rain and wind were picking and I was soaked. Usually it's a great spot to relax and enjoy the race, but I didn't have any extra clothes with me and I was cooling off fast. Overall, I had fun, hit all of my prerace goals, and didn't get injured. Win-win for the day.
Do you like racing in the rain? Do you like the challenge of hilly courses or do you avoid them?
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