Sunday, October 28, 2012

Greenway Memory Miler

Yesterday I ran in the 10 mile Greenway Memory Miler race, which was put on by Virginia Amateur Sports and benefited the Alzheimer's Association of Central and Western Virginia. As the name suggests, it took place on the flat-as-a-pancake Roanoke River Greenway.  Since my recent long runs have included a lot of elevation in preparation for the Blue Ridge Marathon, I was really looking forward to staying on flat ground for a change. I was hoping that the hills are speedwork in disguise theory would help me to have a faster time than I expected.

The race started at 9 am a few miles from home. It was drizzling a little beforehand, but it stopped by race time to make it extremely humid. Thankfully it wasn't too hot to make it uncomfortable and it wasn't too cold to make me waiver on what to wear. I made the necessary stop at the port-a-potties and then I made my way to the start line.

I decided to be a ninja for this race
In addition to a 10 mile race, there was also a 4 mile option, and both races started at the same time. This made it really hard not to get sucked into going out too fast with the 4 milers. Even with that in mind, I kept glancing at my watch and seeing paces that were far too fast for the first mile of a 10 mile race. 

The runner on the right is Jamie, a friend of mine who was not running
 in the race but caught up with me on mile 14 of 15 of her training run
I was quickly separated from the faster pack and I was also pulling away from the slower pack. This meant that I was running by myself for the majority of the race. It was quiet and not at all what I expected during a race. Thankfully I still remembered that I was actually in a race so my pace didn't suffer too much from not having any competition to chase down. After the 4 milers made their turnaround (at mile 2.3 of the 10 miler), I could only see one other person in front of me. The faster pack was completely out of sight. I also couldn't see anybody behind me after the 4 miler turnaround, so until the 10 miler turnaround I was legitimately concerned that I was in last place (thankfully I wasn't). I finally managed to catch up with the guy in front of me and I passed him around mile 6. I ended up only passing one more person, and I only caught sight of one other runner before finishing the race. 

I had a few goals for this race...

Goal 1: Run an evenly-paced race and try to have a negative split.

Mile splits:

Mile 1 - 9:11 (a little too fast)
Mile 2 - 9:17
Mile 3 - 9:21
Mile 4 - 9:20
Mile 5 - 9:10
Mile 6 - 9:09
Mile 7 - 9:13
Mile 8 - 9:16
Mile 9 - 9:02
Mile 10 - 8:49 (last mile was the fastest!)
Mile .1 - 7:48 pace (race was a bit long according to Garmin)

These aren't perfect negative splits, but they are fairly even. If you look at the first half compared with the second half, the second half was faster. 

Miles 1 through 5 - 9:15 average pace
Miles 6 through 10 - 9:05 average pace

Goal 1 = Success! 

Goal 2: Don't get out of breath until the last mile. 

I've been trying out a few new strategies on my long runs recently. First, I've tried my hardest not to get out of breath. If I'm out of breath, I either need to slow down or walk. Most people, myself included, run way too fast on long runs, so I've been trying to make an effort to run at a comfortable pace. I've found that this really helps me to maintain a more even pace throughout the run and also to recover faster after long runs. I feel like this is sort of like heart rate training but less scientific and without having to wear a heart monitor. I wasn't sure how this would work out in a race situation, since I obviously run faster during a race than I do on a long run. I was a little more out of breath during the race, but not to the point where I was uncomfortable or couldn't maintain my pace throughout the race. I did make a final push in the last mile and I was able to make it my fastest mile.

Goal 2 = Success! 

Goal 3: Try out my new fueling strategy in a race. 

One of my other new strategies has been to change up the way I fuel during long runs. I used to drink nuun and eat one Gu every 40ish minutes. I would occasionally cramp up after eating a Gu, and sometimes I felt my energy dip before it was time for another Gu. My new strategy has been to continue drinking nuun, but I've switched to using Clif Shot Bloks and I eat one Blok every 2 miles. Instead of waiting so long to take in more fuel, I've been taking in less fuel at one time but doing so more frequently. I don't know if it's the gel vs. the chew, or if it's a matter of taking in less at one time, but I haven't had any post-fueling cramps. Also, because I'm fueling more frequently, my energy seems to stay at a more consistent level. 

During long runs I usually take a walk break to fuel, but during this race I tried to fuel on the run. The Shot Bloks are easy to squeeze out of the package and into your mouth (TWSS, I know...), and it wasn't too hard to chew them while I was running and slightly out of breath. 

Goal 3 = Success! 

approaching the finish
Overall I was really happy with this race. My final official time was 1:32:24. My official average pace was 9:14, but my Garmin pace was 9:10 (there is a difference since the race was .1 miles long according to my Garmin). I was 48th out of 75 total runners and 2nd out of 6 in the 25-29 age group...which means I got some bling!

I think I'll take feeling lonely during a race if it means I can score some bling!
Smaller races = better chances of an AG award :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

RIP Garmin 305...

Garmin 305 came into my life in April of 2011. He was my favorite new running gadget. Garmin went on every run and every ride with me, always faithfully chirping to celebrate my accomplishment of one more mile. He was there for me on my longest run to date...

and also on my longest ride to date...

We've run together in the cold and the hot, in the sunshine and in the rain. We've ridden countless miles on the trainer and raced down the road together.  When I said "go", he'd go, and if I said "stop", he'd stop. He always told me how far we had been and how long it took. He knew just how fast my feet were going or how quickly my legs were pedaling. He let me analyze how many feet I had climbed and he even helped me justify eating dessert by telling me how many calories I had burned.

But towards the end of his days he just wasn't able to keep up. I could tell that it was something deep within that was keeping him from lasting longer than two hours, and I knew he couldn't be fixed without a price. So today I must sadly say goodbye to my Garmin 305, who has been my most faithful running partner for the last year and a half. Our time together was short but sweet. You died too young. 

Every ending is just a new beginning, so it is with great joy that I welcome the Garmin 310XT into my life...may we have many great miles together.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Be Who You Are

I was talking with someone recently about social media (specifically Facebook and Twitter) and they said something about how annoying it is when people post their workouts or pictures of food. You know what I'm talking about...

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you know that I post the majority of my workouts from dailymile. And anytime I eat or make something extraordinary, I take a picture of it. I post statuses (stati?) and tweet about running and food...a lot.

Why? Because those are the things I really enjoy. I love running and cycling. And I love to cook and eat yummy food. To borrow the Road ID slogan, It's Who I Am. 

That's not to say that I don't feel awkward and insecure about posting this kind of stuff (please tell me I'm not the only one who feels this way...).  Nothing says I think I'm awesome like posting about how I've run ridiculously far (by most of my friends' standards). And I know most people couldn't care less about what I'm eating. Sometimes I feel embarrassed that I have a blog about being a sweat junkie (What a dork, right? How can someone seriously write a blog about that?). I feel insecure about this because I know I'm not particularly awesome.  I don't want to sound like I'm bragging or trying to make somebody else feel bad for sitting on the couch all day and eating Ramen Noodles for dinner (yes, we have those in our pantry, too). If I happen to inspire you to get off your butt or cook real food - great. But that's not my intention.

I post my workouts because I feel like they aren't any different from any other status. And I post pictures of my food because I really love good food. People talk about what they love. You love your kids and your pets? Cool. Post pictures of them. You dig knitting or collecting cigars or selling jewelry? Awesome. Tell me about it.

Unless you're being offensive, don't worry about being "annoying" by being who you are. Only you can be you. If you're not who you are, you're being fake.

It is better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not.
~ Andre Gide

So don't worry about what other people think about you, and just be who you are. If someone doesn't like you for who you are, they aren't worth your time or your energy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Technology: a Win & a Fail

I think it's safe to say that most people have a love/hate relationship with technology. For me it's mostly love, but when one of my gadgets isn't working it can be really frustrating. First world problem, I know. In the past decade technology has invaded the running scene with just about everybody and their mom running with a GPS watch (yes, my mom has a GPS watch). And thanks to ever-shrinking MP3 players, we no longer have to worry about this problem:

Technology Win:
If you have an iPhone, you should check out the Find My Friends app. While my first impression of the app was that it's super creepy, I'm convinced that it's actually a great safety tool. Before I go running I try to tell Andrew where I'm going, but I don't always like being locked into that route and sometimes I want to go farther than I said I was going. I always carry my phone with me, not only for safety reasons but sometimes I need the music flowing through the speakers to get me through the second half of my long run.
With the Find My Friends app, Andrew can track me during my run, and he can be alerted when I get back home or get to a certain point. I can also track him when he's out on a ride or see where he is when he's on his way to pick me up from work. Creepy? Yes, a little. Incredibly useful? Absolutely. To take away some of the creep factor, you must approve of anyone who follows you before they can do so, and you can "go dark" when you want to be stealthy.

Technology Fail:
I think it might be time for a new GPS watch. I'm pretty sure my Garmin 305 is on its way out. The battery life has been getting shorter and shorter, despite being fully charged before being used.  The "low battery" warning started flashing after just 48 minutes today, and it completely died on my long run last weekend after just 9 miles. That's just not going to cut it.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries do gradually lose their ability to hold a charge over time and I've had this watch for a year and a half.  But going from an advertised 10 hour battery life to a 1.5 hour battery life is really frustrating, especially since it's out of warranty and the flat rate for fixing it is $79. I've cleaned the charging connectors and I've made sure that the software is updated, but these things haven't helped the battery life one bit.

I know that $79 is way less than dropping $150-$250+ on a new watch, but I'm not sure that I want to spend $79 to put a band-aid on an older piece of technology when I could spend some more money and get something new that is supposed to have an even longer battery life.
Do you have any suggestions for a new watch? Since I use my watch for both running and riding, I need one that works with a speed/cadence sensor on a bike. I'm thinking that the Garmin 310XT is going to be the best bang for my buck for what I need it to do, but I'm open to other suggestions.

Do you think the Find My Friends app is too Big Brother-ish? 

Star City Women's 5K

As I mentioned in my last post, I ran in a 5K this weekend and it was the first non-trail 5K I've done in a long, long time. Like 2 years long time. After I ran my first "real" 5K (as in, not the Marine Mud Run) in August 2010, I started training for my first half marathon. Ever since then I've enjoyed going long more than going fast, so that's what I've been focused on for the past 2 years. So this means I hardly ever do any speed work. Yes, I know I should throw it in the mix even with long distance training, and I have done it occasionally...but we all know that speed work isn't that much fun and most days I just want to enjoy running. With all of that said, I really had no idea what to expect going into this 5K.  My only goal was to beat my last 5K time of 30:31.

Me 2 years ago at my first 5K...I've come a long way! 
The evening before the race we walked down to packet pick-up at a nearby church. The race entry fee of $20 also included a free pasta dinner for runners and extra tickets could be purchased for $5. You bet I was going to take advantage of a "free" dinner! The dinner was nothing fancy, but since fancy isn't my thing I really enjoyed it...salad, pasta with homemade sauce, soft sweet rolls, and homemade brownies for dessert. I think there was a little program after dinner but we didn't stick around because we had a homecoming football game to get to.

The morning of the race I did my usual pre-race routine, which consists of eating a bagel thin with peanut butter, banana, and honey, drinking a cup of coffee, taking a shower to warm and wake me up, and going to the bathroom 800 times.

I ran down to the start around 8:20. In hindsight, I probably left too early because I did a lot of standing around before the start. There weren't any port-o-potties but thankfully the owner of the Healthy Stuff Cakery/Cafe told us that we could use his bathrooms. How nice! I'm definitely going to go back and get some treats from there because everything looked delicious!

We all gathered to start right at 9. One of the runners sang the national anthem and she did a spectacular job. And we were off! I immediately started passing people left and right. After a little bit I ran past my house and my mom got a nice shot of me running by.

We stayed in the neighborhood the whole time which was nice because I was really familiar with all of the roads. I felt pretty good for the first 2 miles but after that I was definitely starting to feel the effects of running too fast without being properly prepared. I found myself in a strange spot during the second mile...I was behind all of the super fast people but ahead of the slower group. It made it a little hard to stay motivated without anybody around me.

I grabbed a cup of water at the water stop and walked to drink it (I can't run and drink at the same time). I knew there was a short but tough hill coming up so I was already dreading it. Once I got to the hill I actually had to walk for a little bit because I really felt terrible. I tried to convince myself that I didn't have much farther to go by visualizing the rest of the race course. This was somewhat helpful but I did have to walk for about 10 seconds a few more times. I kept experiencing that sharp shoulder pain that you get when you are running way too fast (I think this has something to do with not taking in enough oxygen to handle the demand of your muscles...but I'm not sure).  Anyways, this forced me to walk a few times in the neighborhood, which I was a little disappointed with.

Once I got back to the main road where we started, I knew that I only had about .6 miles left and much of it was downhill. So I tried not to think about how out of breath I was and how it would all be over soon. I really started to pick up some speed so this helped to make up for walking a little bit. The finish line came into sight which made me run even faster. I don't think I've ever felt that much like vomiting at the finish line. Thankfully I didn't!

Once I crossed the finish line I was handed a finishers medal and a rose (loved this!). I looked at my watch and I was very happy with what I saw. My official time was 25:46, which was an average pace of 8:19! I quickly realized why I felt so terrible. I don't think I've ever run an 8:19 mile, much less 3 in a row. My fastest miles (not on a treadmill) have been somewhere around 9 minutes/mile, and my average comfortable pace is usually somewhere around 10 minutes/mile. On long hilly runs my average can get up to 11+ minutes/mile. I seriously have no idea where these 8 something minute miles came from.

I decided to stick around for the awards, just in case I happened to place in my age group or win a door prize. Sadly I didn't walk away with any extra bling, but it was great to see all of the women who did win awards.

What I was most impressed with was the number of older women who participated in the race. There were 13 women in the 60-64 AG (the winner of this AG had a 9:43 pace), 11 ladies in the 65-69 AG (the winner of this AG had a 8:50 pace), and 10 people in the 70+ AG (the winner of this AG had a 11:13 pace).  I was also really impressed by the oldest participant, who was 86 years old. She walked, but she had a 17:10 pace, which is actually walking at a good clip (3.5 mph). I hope I'm still able to do all of this when I'm that old!

Looking at the race results the next day I saw that I came in 4th (out of 17) in my age group and I missed placing by just 18 seconds! I finished 25th overall out of 186 participants, which also made me happy.  I might have placed if I hadn't had to walk a few times, so maybe next year I'll try to be a little more prepared ;)

I really loved everything about this race. I loved that it was a women's only race. Nothing against men, but the race atmosphere just seemed more fun and friendly with it being just women. I loved the pre-race pasta dinner, I loved the course, and getting a finisher medal and a rose at the finish was such a nice touch. The entry fee was only $20 and the proceeds went to the Children's Trust of Roanoke Valley. Needless to say, I will definitely be back next year.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Three Things Thursday

I'm so glad it's almost the weekend! And a 3 day weekend at that thanks to Christopher Columbus landing in Cuba and killing a bunch of natives.

I have a few random things to share, which is why I love Three Things Thursday and Five Tings Friday posts! Here we go...

I'm running in a 5K this weekend. It starts very close to my house and the route actually goes right by it. Believe it or not, I haven't run a (non-trail) 5K since August of 2010, which was my first "real" 5K and also what gave me the running bug. I'm excited to see how far I've come since then, but honestly I haven't done any speed work recently since I've been focusing on long slow runs and taking it easy.  My back has been bothering me a little bit recently so I don't have any expectations, but I would really like to beat my previous time of 30:31. We'll see how it goes...

I updated my Road ID to indicate that I have a seizure history, in case something should happen again (hopefully it won't!). Why do you care about this? Because they gave me a "Tell a Friend" coupon that is good for $1 off any Road ID order. Just use ThanksLauren18343376 when you check out. If you don't have a Road ID or some other form of ID to carry with you when you're running or riding (or if you're like me, to wear all the time), please get one.  Here are the top 10 reasons to wear a Road ID, straight from their website: 
  1. If you can't speak for yourself, Road ID will speak for you.
  2. Road ID enables First Responders to immediately contact family members and friends.
  3. Road ID enables family members to provide additional details about your health or give consent for potentially life saving procedures.
  4. Road ID enables hospital staff to locate vital medical records.
  5. Road ID can communicate medical conditions or allergy information to medical staff.
  6. Road ID can prevent serious delays in treatment by saving crucial time during the "golden hour" of medical treatment.
  7. It's far better to have Road ID and not need it than to need Road ID and not have it. It's not just a piece of gear, it's peace of mind.
  8. Accidents happen far more than you think they do. Each year approximately 450,000 of us are taken to hospitals unconscious and without identification.
  9. Road ID looks good on and makes a statement about your athletic lifestyle – not to mention that studies would probably prove that people that wear Road ID are considerably smarter than those that don't.
  10. Road ID can save your Life. Period.

Speaking of seizures, tomorrow marks 4 months of not having another seizure, which means I only have 2 more months of no driving! It will be so much more convenient to be able to drive again, although Andrew has been really great about taking me anywhere I need to go and it's pretty nice to have my own personal driver ;)

Monday, October 1, 2012

And the winner is...

I really loved everyone's comments about why they want to run America's Toughest Road Marathon. Some of you wanted to celebrate your past accomplishments, others wanted to enjoy the scenery, a number of you wanted to prove to yourself that you can do it, and a few crazies think that it'd be a good "cool down" after another race. I really wish I could give each of you an entry into this awesome race! 

There were 61 eligible entries (a few people entered too late - sorry friends, I have to play by my own rules...). I entered everybody's entries into a spreadsheet and I made Andrew hit the "generate" number on revealed that the winner was lucky #19: James

James - send me an e-mail ([email protected]) and I'll get you all hooked up with your free entry. 

If you didn't win, be sure to check out Krissy's giveaway HERE. Or, you can just go ahead and register. Currently the half marathon is $65 and the full marathon is $80. Prices go up by $10 on December 31, 2012. Trust me, it's totally worth it and you won't regret it!