Friday, April 24, 2015

Race Recap: Flannery's Pub Run Half Marathon

Holy moly! I am not exaggerating when I say that I think I ran the most difficult half marathon of my life this past Saturday. I heard the rumors that the hills for this run were ridiculous, but I kept telling myself "Lindsey, you run hills ALL THE TIME! These people have no idea about the hills that are in Sharpsburg or at the Antietam Battlefield. This is going to be soooo easy!"

Yeah...I was very wrong.

I even looked at elevation maps and was like "Meh! I have seen/done worse!" I kept in mind that I ran a marathon just 3 weeks prior that had a 1,000 ft climb for 10 miles. So this was going to be a piece of cake.



WRONG!

Still, I was not so much running this half for myself. This was Peter's half marathon. This was his first official half marathon race. He had only run 13.1 two weeks prior with me, but this race was the big test!


We parked at the finish in Greencastle, where school buses shuttled us from the high school to Main Street in Mercersburg, PA. I talked to another runner who just ran the JFK 50 this past November. It was great hearing his recap since I will be running it this fall.

The following picture was either taken while I was listening to him or waiting for Peter to return from the restroom. I think I look grumpy.


Anyway, shortly after our discussion, we headed towards the starting line. I stuck with Peter so I could cross the start with him, but we did not intend on running the half together. That probably sounds like an un-wifely thing to do, but we were both okay with this plan.


In all honesty, I was completely whipped by mile 2 (this was prior to any significant hills). I don't know why I was off my game, but I was already playing with the thought of giving up. I also had a tight right calf that was causing my foot going numb. It was just plain uncomfortable and wasn't helping me feel anymore like finishing the race.

I did regain the feeling back by mile 6, but I still kept having to tell myself "Make it to the next mile, then you can walk." It wasn't until mile 7 that I actually took advantage of walking. There was this monster hill that popped out of no where and nearly every runner started walking until reaching the top. I did start to run again, but I felt even worse than before. Every hill felt like a mountain after that and I admittedly walked most of them.

From time to time, I would turn around to see if I could catch a glimpse of Peter, but I did not see him. I ran/walked until I was about halfway through mile 12. I didn't want to walk through the finish line, so I ran to the end.


2:03:53 was my time. My slowest half marathon race ever. I am not ashamed of it by any means, but I just never imagined to have a half marathon over 2:00:00, especially since I was aiming for a 1:45 that day.

On the happy side of things, my sister had watched me finish!!! It was the first time she had ever came to one of my races so it was super special to me. She waited with me to see Peter finish, which I  just had to film!


Epic sprint down!

He finished in 2:24:23. Great first race! :)



So, not entirely certain if I will run that one again, though Peter seemed on board with doing it again. I think I will just watch him next time! It was quite the challenge, but that doesn't make it a bad race. Just a difficult one for sure!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The No/Reduced Sugar Challenge & My 18 Miler

After trying the whole "no/reduced sugar" thing, I decided, I am going to withdrawal. Although it may work for many, I just do not think it works for me. I found myself eating more through out the day instead of just having what I craved. I also do not believe it worked for me being a runner. I felt weaker and my head felt like it was going to explode during/after every run.


But the challenge was not all bad. I have realized that not everything requires sugar. In my honest opinion, coffee & tea taste better without it. The pizza dough I make, I got rid of sugar and it does just fine. I also do not put sugar in my waffles because if you are adding syrup or fruit on top, you just do not need more sugar.


I also do not see the point in sugary cereals anymore. I am good with my overnight oats, which is just oats, almond milk and I'll either add peanut butter, cinnamon, or pure applesauce. Or I just have my eggs, bacon, and potatoes.

I think there were definitely positives taken from the experience, but I really can't think that much about what I am putting in my body. A runner needs to eat and this runner needs more sugar.

Speaking of running, I ran a fantastic 18 miler yesterday. Though I am tempted to have all my long runs on the C&O Canal, I am holding back because I know that the flat trail will do nothing for my marathon in May. So I ran from mom and dad's to the C&O Canal. It was a good split of road and trail.

It was a beautiful day, to add!



Just very windy!


And it wouldn't be a windy day on the canal without a fallen tree to climb over.



But the flat trail was just a break from the hills I was going to encounter.


Then, I made it a point to run past my old high school.


I thought I finished in a decent time, considering I just came off a marathon 2 weeks ago. For an unseasoned marathon runner, I think that run was an accomplishment.


As I walked back to my parent's, I stopped by to pick daffodils for my mom.


This were actually planted by my grandfather years ago! He actually passed away about 14 years ago, so to see these flowers still flourish makes me happy.

Anyway, it was runs like that 18 miler that remind me why I run distance. It's an adventure! And you never have the same adventure twice. You never know who you'll see, what obstacles you'll have, and sometimes, you don't even know what course you'll end up on!


Do you follow a low/no sugar diet as a runner? Do you like it? What obstacles did you encounter along the way and how did you get through it?

What is your favorite thing about running distance?

When you run in your old neighborhood, where do you have to run by?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Silent Saturday Because It Has Been Too Long Since I've Updated

Well...not that silent of a Saturday. I haven't updated in a while because I have been challenged with some personal issues. They have taken up the remainder of my free time. Yet, there's no excuse to not at least post some pictures from my long run today!

It was a great run!









Monday, March 30, 2015

Just One More Mile

Still reeling from this marathon high...

When I think back to the pain I felt and my growing desire to quit as I ran 10 miles uphill, I am impressed that I was able to push my body through boundaries it had never passed before. I kept telling myself "Just one more mile, then you can quit." Once I reached that mile, I let it pass knowing that I could endure the pain for a bit longer. My hips burned, my ankle screamed, and my fingers were numb. Still, I grunted through it. Cursed even. I found myself speaking to the pavement about how badly everything hurt since there was not a single runner around me I could talk to.

Then I saw the the sign for mile 25 and realized that I was at the end of this grueling race. After 4 hours and 20 minutes of running, I had only 10 minutes to go until I crossed the finish line. In 10 minutes, I would be able to sit down, I would see my husband, and I could shovel whatever food they had in my mouth. Are those few things worth the pain of running a marathon? Absolutely!

You never realize how amazing the visual of your spouse or your family is after putting your body through hell. The sight of them can bring tears of joy to your eyes because you know that you are okay and they are there for you! You never realized how good food tastes until your body is starved from hours of exercise. You never realized how good it feels to relax on a couch after being on your feet for 26.2 miles.

I have become more thankful of my body and how strong it truly is. I feel like a machine sometimes! I have become more thankful of my mind and how powerful it really is. Five years ago, I didn't know if I had the strength to continue living each day, but after pushing myself through 26 miles once again with the simple thought, "just one more mile," I was able to get through something that was so challenging for me.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Race Recap: The Queen City Marathon for Active Water

I did it! I finally got around to running marathon #2 after an entire year!

In all honesty, I never truly got amped up for this one since it was just in the training plan for the Rock n Roll Marathon in San Diego, but I was wrong about how meaningful that finishing this race was to me.

The week prior to the race, that's when I actually decided to research the course. I knew it was on the C&O Canal and that it would transition on to the Great Allegheny Passage, but what I did not know was that this so-called "gradual, steady incline" was a bit more than I expected.


That there, my friends, is an incline of about 800 feet for 10 miles! So I took to Facebook and asked those who have run before what to expect with this 10 mile battle. Here are some of the responses:

"Not steep, but unrelenting for the better part of 10 miles. So, not easy either."
"It's roughly an average of 4 to 5% with some spots of 7%. Your typical Interstate off ramp is about 4%. The up side is that the last 10 miles are downhill and flat to the finish!"
"It's a grind so be mentally tough."
I'm just going to pretend it's flat." - My favorite

I got a bit nervous, but I tried to remind myself, I have run some pretty steep inclines in my time and have conquered them. A gradual incline shouldn't be a bad thing...right?

On marathon eve, I carbed up (gluten included!) so I was ready to conquer this 10 mile hill. I was more worried about that than distance or time!

We went to Olive Garden where I pigged out on breadsticks, flatbread, and seafood alfredo!


I also threw in a 2 miler just to reactivate my legs for the big day.


I went to bed early that night, as I needed to get up to travel over an hour to get to the race on time. I was NOT prepared for the cold.

Literally, the day before it said that it would be around 40 degrees at 8am. So, I packed shorts and a t-shirt to wear. Thank God I had a running jacket and opted for compression socks because that race did not see anything over the 20 degree range. I also wore wool gloves since I didn't think I would need my running gloves.


Don't be fooled by my smile, I am freezing!!!

The race started promptly at 8 and I was relieved to be running. At least the blood would start pumping through my freezing veins.

The course started on mile 184 of the C&O Canal (I typically run around mile marker 81 at home). This part was relatively flat and follows along the Potomac River. I must say, I was expecting the canal portion to be much like my usual route at home, but it was not. I was not surrounded by trees and wildlife, which is what I prefer. Everything was quite open and the path was just...different. Needless to say, I was disappointed that it was not like home, but hey, it was a great warm up, still scenic and no hills. Yay!

After about 3 miles of canal running, you are prompted to turn around and return near the start. I was able to catch a glimpse of Peter and told him how cold it was.


He just laughed and told me that I would get over it.

I made my way towards the Great Allegheny passage, which was, from what I understood, to be where that "gradual incline" was waiting for me. I was worried but tried to remember that as soon as I climbed that hill, I had 10 miles to run down it.

At first, it didn't seem so bad. You could barely notice that you were even going uphill. Yet, it seemed that after a few miles of the climb, it started to wear on you. For me, that wear was on my hips.


You can barely see an incline in pictures, but it is there!! Oh and don't worry, that smile...


Fake!

I was so uncomfortable. At some points, my cheeks stung because of the frigid wind blowing directly in my face. At times, my legs were so numb it didn't feel like I was wearing shorts (nothing is worse than thinking somehow you lost your shorts during a marathon). Hell, it even snowed while making my way up!

At about mile 10-12, my bottle froze as I made my way up in elevation. I couldn't drink through the nozzle which was super frustrating. I stopped only once to unscrew the cap to sip out of it, but I hated stopping and restarting because I ultimately wanted to walk back to Peter.


Yet another fake smile.

Since I was ahead of my set pace, I played with the thought of walking for a few minutes, running for a few, etc, but I knew better. I knew that if I started walking, I would give up.I just trucked on until I reached about 16 miles. That was where the long-awaited turn around spot was.

Three lovely ladies sat atop the hill and cheered as I reached the turn around. I managed to say aloud "Oh thank the Lord that's over!!!" I started sailing down the hill, but it only provided some relief. The damage that hill did to my hips was done. They hurt so bad and although I was able to get some of my miles under a 10 minute pace (my average pace goal was 10:30-11), my hips screamed.

With every mile that passed, I continued to play with the thought of walking for just a few minutes and starting again. I thought that the walk may reset the pain, but I pushed the thought away as I reached every mile. The only time I stopped was to grab a sandwich cookie (I haven't had one in months!) at an aid station at mile 21. I deserved it with the pain I was experiencing. The volunteers were like "Do you need water?" I answered honestly, "I'm just here for the cookies."

As I started loosing elevation, my bottle finally began to melt and I was able to drink again and somehow, I was passing people left and right. I didn't understand how it was possible since I was in some serious pain.

Yet, I still managed to smile AND give a thumbs up!


Once I reached flat land around mile 24, I was in no-man's land. I didn't see a single person in front of me and I couldn't see anyone behind me either. This allowed me to talk out loud about the pain I was experiencing. I think it helps to verbally talk about pain. I definitely let out some audible grunts and curse words as I went from gravel to concrete and pavement, but the finish line was right around the corner so the pain would be over (in a sense) very soon!

I don't know what it is about finish lines, but I get a boost to tear through that finish line like I just started the race. Once I stopped though, I felt like I was hit by a bus. All the race volunteers looked at me, asking if I were okay, if I needed a blanket, but honestly, stretching was the first thing on my mind. I wasn't even cold anymore. It was probably because I was numb.

So after getting my medal, which was pretty sweet...



I sat myself in the grass, did a few stretches, and then decided it was time to go. I grabbed a cookie and a cup of soup to join me, but I was ready to be on my couch. My hips were killing me so walking to the car proved difficult. Once I sat down on those heated seats, ah, it was a feeling like no other.

Here's the stats from my run.


My goal for this race was 4:45 only because that is the women's JFK 50 qualifying marathon time. Since my only marathon was at 4:47, the only way I could participate was running for charity. I have no problem doing so, but there is also joy in running a race because you qualify! So the fact that I not only beat the qualifying time by 15 minutes, I also beat my best by 17 minutes! I also got second in my age group (though there were only 4 of us...still!). So I think I deserved eating a whole large pizza to myself yesterday.

As for my review of the marathon, I loved the volunteers. They were ultimately what made this race come alive. They stood in the bitter cold cheering us on and I NEEDED that. But I don't think I will participate in Queen City in upcoming years. Not because it wasn't a great race, but because I told myself last year, no more March marathons! The weather is unpredictable and it's hard to properly train when there's snow storms coming at you every few days. Still, I give this race a 7/10!

1. What is the worst incline you have ever dealt with in a race? What made it so hard? Aside from this race, one of the worst inclines was at the Freedom Run 2013. They had to alter the course due to the Government Shutdown. We had some dramatic climbs, one which was at the end. It ultimately led to the slowest half I ever ran in a race.

2. How do you cope with pain when barely halfway through a race? I try to remember what is waiting for me at the end. Like Peter or pizza. I also try to keep the mentality "just one more mile." It has helped me in several 20+ mile runs.

3. Do you try to stretch immediately after finishing a race? I don't typically. But this year, I have made it a point to stretch after runs and running a marathon race is no exception to this rule!

4. What body part do you find hurts most after competing? Almost always, my hips get really sore. And my lower back.

5. What is your favorite food to eat after a completing a race? Pizza is my go to when I run anything over 20. Or Chipotle.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Silent Saturday: Marathon #2 in the Books

So I ran a marathon this morning. And it was freezing. Don't be fooled by my shorts.




Not gotta lie. I kinda kicked ass. More later!