Boston 2014 Training: Week 15 of 16

Week15

Belated training update! Now that the taper tantrums have really set in, it’s only appropriate that I recap taper week #1, right?

The goal this week was: “DON’T BE A HERO SLASH STUPID-HEAD!” (it’s a theme lately)

I ran 35 miles, 5 runs 1 hour spin , 1 hour massage, and 1x (?) core.

Monday: 1 hour easy spin at the gym + core x 1 

I was happy to get on the bike today. It was a nice day if I remember correctly but I was looking forward to a dark spin room all to myself for some reason. And the ‘entertainment’ didn’t disappoint. My gym has a one-way mirror from the spin room looking to the weights section. And you can certainly tell who has and who has not been to a spin class just by how they react to the mirrors on the other side. I swear, one of these days I’m going to create a Tumblr of people checking themselves out in that thing. (It’s the weirdest thing when you think they’re actually looking through the mirror at you …staring at them…but they’re actually just staring at themselves. :))

Tuesday: [5 x 1k workout] 7.8 miles, 7:09 average

I had a tough time getting out of bed this morning for this workout before work. I’m actually glad that I waited because I went out at 2 pm to sunshine and clear skies. I couldn’t have asked for better running weather! I ran 2.5ish warm-up (the underpass that I usually take to the lakefront has been flooded for a few days so I took an alternate route), 5 x 1k with 400m recovery jog, and 1 mi down. I felt GOOD today. Although, I’m quite impressed with my consistent positive splits on this one haha — went out too fast on the first 3 (tailwind!) and the last two are right where all 5 should have been. (All of them should have been around 5k pace, so 6:15-6:20— they spanned 5:58-6:18. whooopsieeeees!) I am pretty sure the 800 speed was still in my legs from the previous week and they didn’t realize they were allowed to run a slower pace. ;)

Splits: 3:42, 3:47, 3:51, 3:52, 3:55 (see consistent positive splits! LOLZ)

Wednesday: Recovery 4.17 miles, 7:28 average

It was a morning! My legs felt GREAT today and I almost timed all of the stoplights perfectly. 4 miles seems so short. #taperproblems

Thursday: [3 x 2 mi at GMP] 8.7 miles, 7:06 average

The only bad thing about this run was the hairy buttcrack on the dude I saw passing me on a bike. Like, get it together, dude. (For those of you that asked if he was on a Divvy, I’m 78.789% sure he was.)

I was supposed to do 2 x 3 mi at GMP but I ran it a weeeeee bit too fast. 2 mi warm-up, then 2 x 3 mi with 5 min jog between. My legs were pretty heavy today. Par for the course during taper so I’m not overthinking this one at all. Beautiful night for a run along the lake (and in shorts!)

6:58, 6:59, 7:04
7:03, 6:56, 6:51

Friday: Recovery 4 miles, 7:36 average.

Quick one around the neighborhood. I didn’t really feel like running today but tomorrow is a rest day. (Something about taper makes these shorties feel pointless, but I know they aren’t.) Looking forward to some bodywork tomorrow morning!

2014-04-11 22.13.09-2

That night, Man and I treated ourselves to some fresh airrrrrrr and a few drinks with some friends. It was the most perfect spring evening–60 degrees and a slight breeze. Just comfortable enough in a light sweater sitting by the warm fire. Remind me to do this more often!

Saturday: REST + Sports Massage

Saturday was another perfect spring day. Although, I think 75 degrees is more like summer. You could tell everyone in the city of Chicago was loving life on Saturday. I woke up early (for a Saturday without a long run) and went to a massage appointment. It was just what I needed and I’m glad that I rescheduled it for the weekend — I originally had it scheduled for Tuesday 4/15, but thought that might be too close to race day. The rest of the day was spent walking around downtown, grabbing a drink with some friends, and lounging at home.

Sunday: 10 mile “long run”, 7:45 average

What a weird run! Man and I ran to the lakefront together. On the way there, we were sweating and commenting that it was the first really warm run of the season. He ran north and I ran south and after only a mile in, you could feel the weather start to change. A fog rolled in at Ohio Street beach and a really cool breeze came in off of the lake. Running south with a tailwind was smooth but running back north was FRIGID. I could barely see 100 yards ahead and all the runners appeared through the fog out of nowhere. It was 60 degrees when we started the run and only 41 degrees when we finished. I knew the temp was going to drop today, but had no idea it was going to drop that quickly—within an hour!

2014-04-13 12.39.40

Left: fog starting to roll in around mile 3. Right: lake is nonexistent and it’s freakin’ frigid!

2014-04-13 11.22.01

The entire skyline disappeared!

Last longish run before Boston! I felt strong today, even in the wind, and my legs are feeling pretty relaxed after yesterday’s massage. Followed by a Mad Men marathon and puppy cuddles on the couch :)

Thoughts:

I felt a bit “blah” and “meh” about running this week. My legs were heavy at times and super peppy at others. Again, this is all part of taper so I know to take that with a grain of salt. Later in the week, I remember thinking that I better savor each sip of coffee or beer because I’m calling it quits on both for the final week before race day. Keepin’ the eye on the prize, guys!

I’m really not sure if I’ll post before Boston. I think it’s going to be hard to put into words no matter what and I’m looking forward to spending time with my running family. I’ve been feeling the love lately and despite a few sad days as we remember 4.15.2013, I think it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to a weekend full of smiles, happiness, gratitude, and warmth.

If you’re interested in tracking my progress throughout the race, text my bib number (9615) to 345-678 to receive text updates!

-J

Boston 2014 Training: Week 14 of 16

Week 14

Major WORK this week! Last week was a mileage peak, while this week was a training peak in terms of key workouts. I did an 8-mile steady state on Tuesday and a 10 x 800 speed workout on Thursday.

This week I ran 49 miles: 5 runs, light hip strength, core x 2. 

This is how this it went:

Monday: Full REST Day 

My left calf was bothering me after Saturday’s hilly 20-miler and I knew one more rest day (after spectating the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday) would do the trick. It did!

Tuesday: 10.84 miles, 7:02 average [8-mile steady state]

I went back & forth on the decision to run outside vs. the treadmill today a million times. It was super windy all morning and I really wasn’t feeling up to battling it for a steady state workout. (The workout can be hard enough without the wind factor.) Ultimately, though, I’m really happy I decided to suck it up and run outside. There was an annoying crosswind from the west, which is easier to contend with than a headwind/tailwind situation. I ran 2 miles warm-up to the lakefront, 8 mile steady state, and 5 min cooldown. (I originally planned a 10-mile steady state as a benchmark but I figured 8 was enough of a challenge with the wind.)

Splits: (Headwind) 7:02, 7:01, 6:54, 6:55, (Tailwind) 6:49, 6:54, 6:57, 6:50.

I’m happy with how this felt (thought I’d settle into 7:05-7:10 but just went with it). 6:50-7:00 felt strong!

Wednesday: Recovery 6 on TM, 8:08 average 

Easy on the treadmill in the morning. Legs still had some pep and left calf didn’t bother me. I did a shortened version of my hip strength routine – the full routine is probably too much with Thursday’s 800s on the schedule.

Thursday: 11 miles, 7:30 average [10 x 800 with 2:45-3:00 recovery at the track]

BIG WORKOUT!

10 x 800 Yassos are always a sign that race day is near. I woke up to thunderstorms and wind howling outside and thought “maybeeeee I should do this workout on Friday instead”. I was super nervous. I usually get a bit nervous before tough workouts but usually that’s just good energy to use on the run. This time, though, I think my nervous energy could have made the workout go either way. I had a huge pit in my stomach just thinking about it. I’m so happy Corey was there with me — she did the same workout the week before and we chatted in the car on the way to the track. Luckily, the rain and wind held off (well..kind of) for the majority of the workout — the headwind picked up on the east straightaway for the last 3-4 800s.

After running 2 miles easy, switching into our flats, and procrastinating a bit (AKA doing a bajillion leg swings just for the heck of it), it was time to begin.

2 mi up
10 x 800: 3.00, 3:05, 2:56, 2:59, 2:59, 2:58, 2:59, 2:58, 2:57, 2:56

(with 2:45-3:00 rest)
1 mi down

I thought I was fit, but not THAT FIT! I honestly didn’t have much of a goal going into the workout, but I thought that consistent 3:05s would be great. Anything faster would just be a bonus. After I finished the third 800, I thought “well, let’s just go with it”. It turns out my own expectations were completely off (as usual)— I locked into that pace and there was no way I was going to slow down. When I finished the final repeat, I literally screamed and felt like pulling a Brandi Chastain…but it was 30 degrees, the wind picked up, and the rain started again 10 minutes after we hopped back into the car.

Yessssssssssss!

I know I can’t place too much of an emphasis on one workout (and I’m not sure I believe the whole “Yassos predict your marathon time” thing), but this made me feel so confident in my training and preparation for Boston. I came away from this thinking, “Ok, I am READY FOR YOU, BOSTON!”. A really great feeling heading into taper! The hard work is done now! :)

2014-04-03 15.42.05

Thanks, Corey, for snapping some pics! 

Friday: Recovery 6 on TM, 8:10 average

My legs were tired on Friday but surprisingly peppy for this recovery run. They weren’t sore at all from the track workout and the recovery felt really good. Happy to get some easy miles in before a total rest day on Saturday.

Saturday: Full REST Day 

Sunday:  15.5 easy miles, 7:32 average

I woke up early (for me, at least — winter cycles typically mean a 9 or 10 am start time) to meet up with Efo on the lakefront. I’ve followed Efo’s blog for about a year and a half now and she just happened to be in town visiting a friend. I’m so happy she asked me to run with her! We met on the lakefront so we both got a few miles in before running ~9 miles together. I felt somewhat creaky in the first few miles but the 9 miles with her went by so quickly (chatterboxes!) and I ran a few GMP miles after leaving her at her hotel.

2014-04-06 09.51.36The next time we see each other will be in Boston! 

It was so nice out there today! It apparently ‘felt like’ 29 degrees when we started but the sun made it feel much warmer than that. I also didn’t realize the Chi Town Half was today and some of the front runners flew past us near North Ave.

Followed by, of course, BRUNCH with Corey, Chanthana, and Manny. (Because our lives revolve around running and bloody marys and bacon….duh.)

Thoughts:

2014-04-06 14.30.29 [ I'm not sure what this means, but it made me mentally prepared to run fast. :) ]

I am absolutely THRILLED with how this week felt. Nobody could wipe that goofy smile off my face after Thursday’s 800s. I was shocked and relieved and elated that I ran the fastest set of 800s I’ve ever run in my life, in less than perfect conditions. This cycle has been a bit of a mixed bag, considering I wasn’t 100% in January. The first 8 weeks of the cycle felt like a bit of a slog, while the last 5 weeks or so have felt strong and consistent. I haven’t been to physical therapy for my left hip or quad since the Tuesday after the NYC Half and I actually doubt I’ll be going before Boston. I feel strong again — like I did last year leading into Boston. It’s crazy to think how much has happened in a year, but I’m still surprised that I’m here again, just a few weeks out from an amazing experience.

LET THE TAPER BEGIN!

- J

Boston 2014 Training: Week 13 of 16

 Week 13

52 miles and a couple of solid workouts (with minor hiccups) this week! And holy WUT, we are getting close to the single-digit countdown to Boston. The weather has been cooperating a bit more lately, but the wind won’t quit and that’s added a big challenge to some workouts. I’ll be happy once we have one of those perfect spring days when you feel like you could run forever. You know, when the sun is out in full force, you get the chance to show off those pasty legs, and not run against a WALL of wind. Crossing my fingers that this scenario happens soon (and if just so happens to be on race day, then I’ll be a happy girl).

This week, I ran 52 miles: 5 runs, 1 hour yoga, core routine x 3. 

[Whoops! Zero strength training? I blame Corey because she didn't force me to go the gym with her ;) I'll be back at it this week, for sure.]

Monday: 6 miles, 7:42 average recovery miles + core 

Easy around the neighorhood. Glad I scheduled a recovery run today instead of a workout, legs felt heavier than I thought they would be (makes sense after 20 on Saturday and 5 on Sunday).

Tuesday: 11 miles, 7:02 average [8 mile progressive]

I debated between a progressive or a steady state run today. A steady state probably would have been more fun because the wind heading north was pretty brutal. I stopped to collect myself after mile 2 just to give myself a pep talk to run 2 more miles against it before turning south. (When you have to stop and give yourself a pep talk, you know it’s bad.) Wind gusts were over 20mph apparently, so at least it wasn’t all in my own head. My legs felt pretty peppy today but had trouble locking into the specific pace per mile – they either wanted to go slower or faster (typical for a progressive tempo).

Splits: (headwind) 7:13, 7:05, 7;02, 6:53 (tailwind) 6:45, 6:44, 6:41, 6:28. (2 up and 1 down)

Wednesday: 1 hour yoga cross-training

I found the sunny part of the studio. It felt so good to FLOW and start my day with yoga again.

Thursday: 9.23 miles, 7:24 average [4 x 1 mile repeats on the track]

Today was a tough day.

First speed workout on a track in ….. 7-8 years? Yeah, it’s been that long. Really don’t have a track nearby that’s convenient for weekly use so I jumped at the chance to go to North Park track with with Corey this morning. I woke up early to meet her before the wind picked up and the thunderstorms rolled in that afternoon. We didn’t quite escape the wind, though, which made each lap mentally difficult with a massive headwind down the straightaway. I just had a tough day mentally and I was stupid & silly about pacing. (Corey, on the other hand, rocked her 800 repeats and looked incredibly strong even in the wind! That girl is READY to race.)

You’d think it would be easier for me to gauge my pace on a track than it is on the lakefront path. Nope, not today. Without fail, I’d run the first 1-2 400s wayyyy too fast (like 400 m-800 m pace…) and suck wind for the last 2-3. The splits look impressive on paper, but when you factor in a 15 sec ‘mental stop’ after the first 400 of each repeat, it’s a little less impressive.

Splits: 6:08, 6:02 (what), 6:10, and 6:07. If you think about it, I basically split these up into 400 cruise intervals and 1200 m repeats. Blergh. I know I still put in the work but I’m disappointed that I just couldn’t get into the right pace zone today. Normally my mile repeats would be 6:20-25 — if I had just settled down a bit, that would have felt like a breeze, I think. I think I was just nervous, anxious, and excited to run on a track again. The next speed workout on the track should go smoothly. On to the next! (I’m practicing my short-term memory a bit on this one.)

2014-03-27 09.49.23-2

Giant. Dwarf.

Friday: 5.5 miles, 7:37 average recovery miles + core 

Afternoon recovery around the neighborhood. For such a gloomy grey day, it felt so nice out there. (Probably because I wasn’t fighting against a wall of wind)

Saturday: FINAL HILLY 20-MILER! 7:37/mi average 

I drove out to Morton Arboretum with Corey and Chanthana for our FINAL 20-miler before Boston! (Say what?! 3 weeks?!) I kept thinking about how much easier the hills felt compared to our first run out there in January (and this time we didn’t have to worry about slipping and falling on the ice!) I thought I might try to hit 2:45 total for the run today if I felt good. I’ve never run beyond 20 mi in training, but my left calf started to tighten around mile 15-16 and I knew it would be silly to run the extra time “just because” so I called it at 20. (Mantra: don’t be a hero slash stupid-head.) I felt really strong the entire time– conquered the hills and the pace was more even than it has been in the past. Side-5 with Connie and Pedro F. (around mile 16) — lots of Boston jackets out there today! Especially on the longer loop, it’s cool to pick your head up and see all of the runners training for Boston heading both directions. Lots of bright colors weaving between the trees.

Gu and water at mile 9
Gu and water at mile 14

I spent that afternoon monitoring my left calf/achilles. I wore compression socks the rest of the day, used the Roll Recovery on it, and iced it twice. (It loosened up by the time I went to bed and was only slightly sore on Sunday while spectating. I think taking a full (planned) rest day and walking around that day really helped.)

2014-03-29 11.04.53 HDR

As much as I like hot chocolate, I’m going to be so happy when it’s more of a treat and less of a necessity after a cold run.

Sunday: REST

Spectating at the Shamrock Shuffle, followed by breakfast pizza, french toast, bloody mary, BEER, fried chicken, and cupcake madness. I mean, I think this is recovery done right!

2014-03-30 09.07.49 HDRChanthana. The vuvuzela master.

2014-03-30 09.19.40

Guys, we were out there for over an hour. And judging by the amount of saliva we left on the sidewalk, we worked really hard.

If you ran the Shamrock Shuffle and heard a weird noise around Mile 2, that was probably us (orrrrrr the dude wearing a cereal box and grass skirt on his head trying to compete with us from across the street).

The  Man ran his first 8k with very little training. It’s the year of the DEBUT MARATHON and we’re easing into the training a bit. I’m excited for his big year!

Thoughts on This Week:

I’m happy with the work I put in this week. This cycle has been all about making those small gains a bit at a time. And I think the pieces are finally falling into place. When I started this week, I wasn’t sure if it would be peak week. It might turn out to be peak week in terms of mileage, but I still have two benchmark workouts on the calendar this coming week that will really give me an idea if I can commit to specific goal at Boston. I’ll be running ~50 miles this week, with two big workouts and 15-16 mile easy long run. And then? And then, I truly begin the taper. Last year I did a 2-week taper before Boston and it worked out well.

I leave you with Barklee’s presentation of this year’s Boston Welcome Packet. Because, you know, her face just needs to be included in this announcement somehow.

2014-03-28 14.38.01

She’s all business.

-J

Boston 2014 Training: Week 12 of 16

Week 12

I ran 49 miles this week: 45 min easy spin, hip strength x 1, ART x 1. (Whoops, no core!)

Following the half marathon PR in NY, this was a bit of a different week. I didn’t really lock myself into two hard workouts this week before the weekend long run. I think I did a good job of letting my legs recover and putting in some solid work this week. I didn’t race the half all out and it only took me ~3 days to fully recover.

Monday: Full REST Day + travel back to Chicago

Tuesday: 6 recovery miles, 7:47 average pace.

Easy on the lakefront after work. Guess what? My legs still work! It felt good to move after a full day off yesterday. Some lingering soreness in my left calf but not too worried about it.

Wednesday: {6 x 1 min surges} 7.6 miles, 7:56 average. 

This was a ‘pseudo speed workout’ to slowly get back to workouts following the half. I had ART and Graston done on my left calf today and it was much looser than it was on Tuesday. It was still a bit tight but some more stretching after this run made it feel much better. The surges felt good too.

Thursday: {6 mile tempo} 10 miles, 6:53 average.

It’s finally nice enough for me to run to/from the lakefront instead of taking the bus (although I hear we have another freeze headed our way next week. Say it ain’t so!) Saving 30+ minutes by swapping the bus for my own legs does wonders for my mood, and running past traffic is always a good feeling.

2 mi up, 6 mile tempo, 2 down. I don’t know what happened last week, but all of a sudden my form feels super strong and paces that seemed incredibly hard are now manageable/”easy”. I love this part of marathon training when things start to click. Tempo splits were 6:35-6:42 (except last mile in 6:28). Psyched that my legs felt fresh enough to put in some solid work today.

Friday: 45 min spin + Full Hip Strength Routine

Corey is a good influence. I was planning on sitting on my butt today but she asked me if I wanted to spin and I figured some more active recovery would be a good idea before the long run on Saturday. We chatted for 45 minutes in the spin room and did the full hip strength routine.

Saturday: 20 miles, 7:29 average pace on the lakefront

Sore buns! I rarely do a strength workout the day before a long run — yesterday was an exception. Hips, glutes, and quads pretty sore but my form felt really strong (activated the right muscles at least). The headwind running north was pretty annoying but not terrible. I felt like I ‘explored’ more today. My legs were loving the soft surface trails up by Montrose (closer to the beach than the main path) and I ran through that park by the water treatment plant at Navy Pier (don’t know why I’ve never done that!).

2014-03-22 09.03.38

Seen on my run:
- Corey and Walter! He was cheesin’ so hard! (Note: Walter is a dog.)
- The HiGuy.
- A fit dad running with his two daughters, looked like twins (thought of my sister)
- Massive side-5 fail with Ken W.
- Side-5 with Vicky M. (heyooo!)
- “Pseudo-side-5″ with Kevin G. from the other side of the path (it’s the effort that counts)
- Lots of Boston jackets out there today- path was busiest I’ve seen it in awhile

Followed by 3 hours at the Chicago Beer Festival.

2014-03-22 15.42.05-2

Sunday: 5 miles, 8:10 pace recovery run 

I napped so hard this afternoon. After an hour and a half of puppy cuddles, I finally scraped myself off the couch and went to the gym to get a recovery run in. Legs are fatigued but not sore at all from yesterday’s 20. Good things! (15 min total walking as warm-up and cooldown)

Thoughts:

This week was solid. I think I was smart with recovery — I wasn’t really sure if that 6 mile tempo was in the cards on Thursday but I went to the lakefront hopeful (I’m not afraid to shut the workout down if it’s just not there). I really feel like my fitness has turned a corner in the past couple weeks. I looked back at my training log the other day and couldn’t believe how much my training paces have changed since the beginning of this cycle. (One of my first tempos was 7:08-7:03 and now I tempo at 6:40). I wasn’t 100% when I started this cycle because I still had a little hitch in my stride from the left quad injury. Now that’s not a concern and I have been going to PT less and less throughout this cycle.

I can’t believe we’re less than 30 days away from Boston. I have 2 weeks left for hard workouts before the mileage begins to taper — ahhhh!

NYC Half 2014: Race Report!

Headline of this entire post: I didn’t realize how strong I was until I raced this weekend. (And I’ve never had so much fun racing a half.)

This little confidence boost feels like it’s been a long time coming especially considering the following: a) the last time I raced (ahem…attempted to race) a half marathon, I bonked …hard. b) I suffered through a weird injury last fall and struggled to maintain an easy pace toward the end of that cycle. The last time I truly felt confident during a race was a 5k last July.

Going into the weekend, my goal was really conservative. To anyone that asked, I told them that I knew a PR was in the cards, but I didn’t want to race it all out, because Boston is definitely the priority. I would have been happy with anything near 1:32:xx. If I ran on the lower end, that would be a nearly 2-minute PR. And hey, chipping away at PR’s has been my M.O. in the past. When I told Corey what my goal was, she wasn’t having it and abruptly told me, “No way. 1:30:00 is happening.”

Pre-Race:

Corey and I flew in early on Saturday morning, which meant that I woke up at 4:30 that morning to shower, cab to the airport, and plan for time through security. We arrived at our hotel early where we dropped our bags before grabbing a quick snack and heading to the expo to pick up our bibs. We said helloooooo to Jocelyn at the Nuun booth and grabbed some extra Gu — in and out of the expo!

By the time we finished there, the hotel had our room ready to check-in. We chilled at the hotel for a little bit (hellooooo 4:30 am alarm!) before taking the subway to Central Park for a quick shakeout. The park was absolutely GORGEOUS that afternoon.

2014-03-15 14.47.47 HDR

It was in the 40s but it felt much warmer in the sunshine. I ran an easy 4 miles and did some strides while Corey finished up her 5.5. We grabbed coffee with Megan (#ReNUUNion!) and chatted for a few hours about (what else?) running. Then back to the hotel to rest and change for dinner!

We went to Ovest Pizzeria in Chelsea with Jocelyn and Laura. It was delicious (arugula and prosciutto pizza FTW!) and before we knew it, it was already past 10 pm. Back to the hotel to prep our race outfits, take some final sips of Nuun before lights out.

RACE DAY:

I was nervous about logistics on Saturday but everything about Sunday was so easy. I didn’t check a bag, but decided to carry my phone with me so that I could meet up with friends afterward. I’ve never raced with my phone in my Spi-Belt and I thought it would be annoying but it wasn’t so bad (and this might actually be a good test-run for Boston if I choose to carry my phone then).

I did a “long” caffeine fast before the half. I’ve done a 2-3 day fast before but my dependency on caffeine  at exactly 8 am every day of the week is mighty, so I decided to extend it (likely wouldn’t have been worth it to fast for just 2-3 days). On Monday and Tuesday, I gradually cut down on caffeine by drinking one cup of black tea in the morning. By Thursday, I was down to non-caffeinated tea and zero coffee. Let’s just say Thursday and Friday were not my best days. I was pretty irritable despite a lot of really good sleep the entire week and a lot of water. It took a LOT of willpower not to reach for the coffee pot on Friday– I even tried to trick myself into a caffeinated state by sipping on a decaf Americano (I know, I don’t really recognize myself anymore, either.)

So…..it comes as no surprise to myself that the very first thing I did when I woke up on race day was hit BREW on that tiny hotel room coffeemaker. Even a shitty cup of coffee can taste like heaven when you’re truly addicted and that cup surely did. Corey had 6-7 miles to run before the race to get to her 20 miles for the day so she left early.  I left the hotel at 6:45 am with a 7:30 am start time. The start line was almost exactly 2 miles from our hotel, which meant that I was doing leg swings and dynamic stretches in Central Park by 7:10 am. (At which point, Mary tapped me on the shoulder and introduced herself! Nice to finally meet you!) I stayed warm by lightly jogging around near the corral in my throwaway sweatshirt. I really didn’t get cold until I threw the sweatshirt to the side 5 minutes before the race start. Note: wearing capris, gloves, and a hat was a really good decision).

I wasn’t really nervous. I was just excited. I had that ‘quiet confidence’ you have before a race you know you can PR. But I still wasn’t let myself dream.

I took an ‘espresso love’ Gu right before the start (helloooo more caffeine!). The plan was to take the first 5-6 miles at effort. Because CP has rolling hills, I knew it was going to be good Boston prep. If I could stay comfortable at or near goal marathon pace, I would let my legs fly once we came out onto 7th avenue. 

Miles 1 to 6 NYC Half 2014

Within 15 seconds of the race, a dude lost his….wait for it….shoe! I saw the shoe on the pavement first and then I looked up to see a dude walking my direction through the swarm of runners. I’m lucky I was able to dodge to the right quickly or I would have run right into him. I laughed with several people around me and wondered how his shoe could have fallen off so quickly in the race.

I felt really strong and consistent through Central Park. I focused on my form on each hill and took the downhills. I remember jostling a bit through mile 4 but tried to save energy after that. Cat Hill felt like a roller compared to the hills I’ve been running on Morton Arboretum. Harlem Hill was definitely tough but there wasn’t really a moment where I felt like my pace really dropped or I would make it to the top too winded. I took my first sip of water around Mile 5 (I think?). I have yet to master drinking on the run (yes, I know to pinch the cup and sip slowly) and I actually walked for 10-15 seconds through 4 water stops at Boston last year. But this time, there was no time to waste. I was feeling so strong that the last thing I wanted to do was waste time walking when it really wasn’t necessary. And because it was such a perfect day weather-wise, I just went with it. I’ll likely try to sip on the run at Boston this year after doing it somewhat successfully here.

We climbed that short hill coming out of Central Park and flew onto 7th avenue when I heard Tim and Chanthana call my name. I didn’t know where they’d be spectating and was so happy to see them. Cue a fun surge into Times Square! About a half mile later, I saw Leticia and surged again. :) I think this is the “run happy” section.

2014-03-16 10.30.25

(Jocelyn’s mad race photography skillz)

2014-03-16 08.21.18

(Turns out my form is pretty strong–thanks Leticia!)

I was halfway and felt like I could keep running for DAYS. The legs had so much pep in the them and I didn’t feel like I was going to drop my pace (quite the contrary). I was warned that the GPS would be wonky through this section so I tried not to look at my watch.

Mile 8

My Garmin clocked Mile 8 at 1.63 miles (see above) ….not sure how that’s even possible. Yeah, didn’t run a 4:13 mile there, Mr. Garmin! At this point, running west toward the river, we had a pretty intense headwind to deal with. I remember thinking “damn, this feels like the Chicago wind!”. I guess training through that wind has its advantages. Once we made the turn onto the West Side Highway, it was time to surge. One quick water stop and half of a Gu (didn’t feel like I needed it) around mile 8.5.

Miles 7, 8

NYC Half 1

There was just no way that my legs were going to slow down. I knew that I could push the pace in the last 4 miles. My form felt stronger than it has in a long time and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so strong in half marathon before. Running down the West Side Highway was awesome, mostly because no turning was involved and you knew you just had to run straight toward Freedom Tower. I felt like I was running by myself. There were plenty of people around me but we were all spread out across the road.

Whenever I looked down at my watch, I saw a lap pace between 6:35-6:45. In any other race, I would have started to calculate my finish time once I was 3-4 miles out. But I didn’t do that this time around. I stayed within each mile and didn’t show the total race time on my Garmin. I think I’ll definitely do that in future races. I didn’t get ahead of myself. I surged during mile 12 because I felt strong. (6:16 mile?! Wut.)

Running through the Brooklyn Tunnel was weird and exciting — I appreciated a small break from the swirly wind (even though we supposedly had a tailwind, the winds felt swirly). That uphill stretch coming out of the tunnel felt pretty tough but then I spotted the “800 m to go” sign. I’m not sure I had much of a finishing kick.

Miles 9 to finish

I didn’t even know I was close to 1:30 until I was 5 seconds away from the finish line. I crossed in 1:30:13 with gas left in the tank.

When I entered my goal time this past winter, I thought I was being aggressive with entering 1:30:00. It’s amazing what you can do when you just put in the work and avoid getting too ahead of yourself (mentally, mostly). My previous half marathon PR was 1:33:51. I PR’d by 3 minutes and 38 seconds.

2014-03-16 09.34.39

This tweet says it all. I’ve felt like I’ve had a pretty strong Boston cycle this time around but nothing mind-blowing. If I raced NYC all-out, there’s no doubt in my mind I would have run a 1:28-1:29. And if I let myself dream a little bit, an even faster time might be in these legs. Prior to Sunday, I was excited to race Boston because of the entire experience. It’s going to be a special experience no matter what. But now I’m excited to RACE BOSTON. I think deep down I was waiting for a good race experience before I left myself admit that Boston training is going well and that Boston itself will be a true race. (Because, guess what? My body isn’t breaking down like it did last year!)

The rest of the weekend was so much fun. Words likely couldn’t do it justice.

We brunched…

2014-03-16 13.40.38-1

We drank beer and met Twitter friends IRL….

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And then we drank more beer…

2014-03-16 23.29.35

I wouldn’t change a thing about this past weekend. It was fun to spend literally the entire 3 days with Corey and to spend time with people that have so much fun with the sport. The running family is strong!

Thanks for the congratulatory texts and tweets the past few days! You all really know how to make a girl feel special. 

Now, just a few more weeks of strong training and I’ll be racing again. This time to Boston.

-J

Boston 2014 Training: Week 11 of 16

Week 11

RACE WEEK! This was a bit of a recovery week with a short taper before the NYC Half. I’ll post a separate update on the race (and how amazing it felt) later, but here’s how the week’s training went:

I ran 39 miles with 5 runs: core x 2, hip strength x 1, and ART x 1.

Monday: 5.2 recovery miles, 7:53 average.

Easy 5 around the neighborhood (in SHORTS again!). Legs a bit tired after Sunday’s 15-miler but the shakeout helped.

Tuesday: {10 x 400s} 8 miles, 7:23 average + core routine

I beat the wind today. Didn’t realize the wind was going to pick up later today. Went out around 4 pm with a constant 11 mph wind from the N and gusts up to 35 mph. haha, not ideal for a workout. Decided to run 4 against it to begin with and the next 6 with a tailwind. Really really happy with how these went.

2 mi up, 10 x 400 with 90 sec RI (30 sec walk, 1 min jog), 2 down. Turnover seems strong right now! I turned the pace screen off on my watch and ran all 10 by feel to focus on running smooth and controlled. Mission accomplished!

Splits:
Against wind: 1:24, 1:28, 1:29, 1:24
With wind: 1:23, 1:24, 1:25, 1:20, 1:23, 1:22

Wednesday: Complete REST

Thursday: Easy 7 miles, 8:10 average + core & hip strength routines

Easy peasey on the treadmill after work. Forgot my iPod needed to be charged so I stared at the TV screen. I shortened the hip strength routine today so that I wouldn’t be too sore for the next few days. (Turns out this was a smart decision because my hips and glutes were still a tiny bit sore on Saturday, but ready to race on Sunday!)

Friday: Complete REST – lots to do before traveling

Saturday: 4 mile shakeout in Central Park!

Such a gorgeous afternoon in Central Park for a shakeout. Corey and I flew in early Saturday morning, picked up our bibs at the expo, dropped our bags at the hotel, and ran around 2:30 pm that day. I finished the short jaunt with leg swings, dynamic stretching, and 4 x strides. I was getting antsy to race!

2014-03-15 14.47.47 HDR

Sunday: THE BIG DAY! 2 mile warm-up, 13.1 PR!

Spoiler alert: I ran a 3 min, 38 second PR with a 1:30:13. More on that in another post!