Bayshore Half “Race” Recap

“Racing” didn’t really happen at Bayshore. I was hopeful for a PR and sub 1:30 the weeks leading up to the race but it was just one of those days that didn’t go as planned. The last time I ran a really disappoiting half marathon was 2 years ago; I might have been due for another reality check.  Bayshore was a similar experience but in completely different racing conditions. It was 45ish degrees at the start with a slight headwind. Really, perfect racing conditions for a spring race. Give me 40 degrees and sunny and I’m (usually) ready to crush it.

But b mile 5, I knew sub 1:30 wasn’t going to happen. I felt like I had bricks in my shoes and couldn’t find a single rhythm to my running. I tried my best to stay smooth but just didn’t have the right gear and couldn’t switch to a faster one. My goal pace felt like a sprint and my right hamstring started to talk by mile 5-6 (the slight cant to the road might have had something to do with that.)

I’d like to point to specific evidence in my training that explains why 13.1 was a strugglefest. I do remember thinking that the elevation change in the first 1.5 miles was harder than expected. The race directors changed the course since I last ran it (in 2012). The start now runs east toward the bay and has several rolling hills before you reach the flats on the bay. I knew that there was one large hill that I should be prepared for but I didn’t expect the 2-3 rollers after that. Once we reached the flats, I felt good but knew I should settle into more of a rhythm. It just didn’t happen.

The absolute highlight of the day was being able to run the last 6.5 miles with Corey. We both had similar days – after I made a pit stop near mile 6 (I took advantage of a pit stop because I knew my race was over already), I saw her coming and we decided to trot it in together. Well, we trotted. And walked. And bitched. And took a shot of beer at mile 10. [We saw a big sign that said NOT WATER and made a bee line toward it. Because that’s what you do when you run the last 6 miles of a half at your long run easy pace!]

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There wasn’t a race photographer this year, but a local photographer snaps pics during the race and provides free prints at the local running store. Found one of me and Corey — this is clearly during one of our running segments…after a walk break. 🙂

 

I know that I would have been really disappointed and in a sour mood if I finished Bayshore solo. I’m bummed that we both didn’t have the race we trained hard for, but running the last half with Corey was my favorite part. OH! And….Manny beat me! He’ll never let me or Corey live that one down, that’s for sure. Spending the rest of the long holiday weekend in Traverse City with new and old friends was so much fun. As Corey and I trotted to the finish, I remember us talking about how we were totally fine with lackluster races as long as Holly and Elizabeth had the best days. And they did! They’re both heading to Boston and I can’t wait to cheer them on (either from Chicago or in-person! TBD!)

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I took this winter/spring as a break from training for a marathon…and I’m so so so glad I did. I feel more energetic; I have a really strong base going into Chicago training. After two years of training for Boston through tough winters, a step back and a refocusing was just what I needed. I’m sure I’ll fit in a half marathon into my schedule somewhere this summer, but I haven’t decided on anything. I’m enjoying the process of training and ready to jump into a fresh cycle.

Onward!

– J

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Race Week!: Bayshore Half Training Thoughts

And just like that – a few days from racing, folks!  I decided to type some thoughts out about my training this time around. I opted to keep training “mine” this cycle and not publish weekly training recaps. I’m not sure any of you (the two people reading this) read them in the past, but I really like looking back at them, as a reality check before a goal race. As a runner, sometimes you can walk a fine line between over-obsessing over every minute detail of each and every run and having a healthy mindset about training, between reflecting backward and looking forward. This time, I decided to employ my short term memory each week and spend less time looking behind me – I focused on executing each workout on the schedule as much as I could.

So, this post will serve as a small dose of reflection leading up to Bayshore (more for myself than for anyone reading).

Last year I coached myself 100%. This year (a lil’ secret of mine), I purchased a training plan from a coach I’ve been following on Twitter for years. I’ve been coached one-on-one before and I really enjoyed it. I think I excelled with having a coach in my corner and someone that I could reach out to with every type of silly question to be asked. It’s nice to have that kind of support system – and an external viewpoint on how training is actually going (to balance the internal one that can be a wee bit dramatic). I made the decision to coach myself last year because I wanted to experiment a bit, figure out what kind of training I enjoyed and what I needed most before possibly hiring a coach again. I *really* liked coaching myself but , just with any other kind of coaching relationship, there was a period where I was just trying to figure things out. You find yourself second-guessing the training plan that you put together yourself, mostly based on gut instinct, loosely based on past training plans and books you’ve read. But once you get over that hurdle and become comfortable with 1) listening to yourself and actually believing that you are capable and 2) making minor changes to the plan that you’ve created, just as a coach would, it’s actually really freeing. I’m very proud of the fact that I ran a half marathon PR and marathon PR in 2014 – both as my own coach.

My mindset began to shift in January this year when I started thinking about spring half plans. Besides a lonnnnnnng recovery period after Honolulu (2 weeks off exercise, 7 running miles the 3rd week), I felt like I wanted a schedule with some workouts that I’d never tried before. I could have written up a unique training plan on my own, but it likely would have been more ‘comfortable’ than a plan created by someone else. I knew I could motivate myself to get the training done, having done it 100% on my own all last year. I just needed a little push from someone else, with fresh & “new” workouts to make me excited to train again.

I really liked the plan I received. It was personalized, incorporated two races I’d already registered for, and had me feeling stronger each week. Getting back into training mode was much more difficult mentally and physically for me this year – I was honest with the coach creating the plan that I needed a slow ramp up and that it would take me a solid 5-6 weeks for my legs to come around. I think no matter what kind of coaching situation you’re in (self, one-on-one coach, or following a plan), you have to be honest about your current situation.

Getting back to a training cycle felt like pulling teeth there for awhile. And then it very slowly started to click again. (This is *definitely* correlated to the change in weather – I begrudgingly forced myself to the gym in Jan & Feb, but started to feel more motivated to train in March when the weather slightly improved.) I worked up to a solid base in January and February (up to 40 mpw) and then began a 12-week half plan at the beginning of March.

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We’re nearing the end of “Runch Season” now that the temps are increasing!

These were my favorite workouts of this cycle:

  • March 11: 3 x 1.5 mi at tempo pace (each segment faster) with 3 min 30 sec recovery: 6:46, 6:36, 6:33. This felt like a breakthrough workout – it was the first relatively warm day of the year & I felt strong for the first time basically since November [10.83 mi total at 7:12 average]
  • March 19: 60 min thirds progression run (20 min easy/medium/hard): Splits: 7:51, 7:35, (7:33)/7:13, 7:12, (7:07)/ 6:47, 6:44, (6:46) [8.34 mi total at 7:11 average] I really liked focusing on 20 minute segments instead of mile segments. I’ve always liked progression runs but had never divided it quite this way. The last 20 minutes was HARD but I finished knowing that it was a good strength-building session
  • April 2: 10 x 45 sec hill sprints hard (paces fell between 5:35 and 6:10 pace) – I can’t believe I’m saying that this was one of my favorite workouts. It was HARD. Plus, running hill repeats in Chicago means finding an ugly highway overpass & dealing with traffic (because a treadmill isn’t pleasant either). I felt my form start to “click” a bit more because of this workout. [7.4 miles total at 7:10 average]
  • April 12: Cherry Blossom 9.5 Miler (Ha) – Shamrock Shuffle and Cherry Blossom were built into the training plan as workouts – they both felt really tough for different reasons but I felt like being able to sustain tempo pace for 9.5 miles when I’d only tempo’d for 3ish miles in the weeks leading up to the race was a big win [9.5 miles at 6:50 average). Besides, it was just a gorgeous day to run in DC with my sis!

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  • April 18: BEST long run! [17.22 miles at 7:32 average] I was so sleepy going into this run, so I was shocked when I reached the lakefront feeling like I could run for days. The wind was pretty bad going north and gave me a wind-aided fast finish once I turned southbound, with the last 6 miles under 7:15 pace. After this run, I wrote this in my training log: “Things are clicking again! Rustbusters Shamrock and Cherry Blossom apparently worked their magic. Sat’s long run felt amazing – I know wind helped finish but my legs felt strong”. My longest run of the cycle was 18 miles, but this one just felt the smoothest. CUE RUNNER’S HIGH.

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It’s funny how the simplest workouts seem like the best ones at the end of a cycle. In fact, none of my workouts this time around were all that complicated.

Another small addition to my training was a yoga challenge organized by @runnersloveyoga on Instagram (#runnersloveyogaHIPS). I had been following Ann’s account for awhile and thought about committing to one of her 14-day challenges. She decided to focus the challenge on hips and I thought “why not?”. I did each day’s challenge and often did the entire sequence as each daily challenge was added if I had time. I always tell myself that yoga should be more of a priority, but I struggle to devote a whole hour to it 1-2 x a week. It just feels like another thing I have to schedule. But, I really liked committing to 15-30 min a day at night while watching TV before bed. It was more manageable and I 100% feel like it made a difference in my running. So, for anyone that follows me on Instagram, this means that you were probably sick of “hyperlapsed yoga” at the end of 14 days. (But at least #BarkleeAnn even played a starring role in one of the videos! Does that make up for it??)

My mileage this training cycle was fairly conservative:

5 runs per week – 2 easy, 1 tempoish, 1 speedish, and 1 long run (pretty much what I’ve done the past 18 months).

Honolulu to Bayshore

Week 50 is the Honolulu marathon with my sister. Bayshore training didn’t begin until Week 10 and the base building in weeks 1-9 included all easy miles with only short tempo or speed intervals. I’m not a high mileage runner – I’ve only peaked at 60 mpw during marathon training. At this point, 40-50 mpw is a range that I feel comfortable running. I don’t really remember finishing any week with trashed legs, but just like I put in some good work. I’m anxious to see how this fitness translates into training for Chicago over the summer and into the fall!

The Man and I are driving up to Traverse City on Friday morning. And I seriously can’t wait to hang out with a badass group of runners all weekend. Sure, the race is going to be great (and the weather conditions look ideal right now!), but spending Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday surrounded by runners I’ve either known for years or will meet for the first time this weekend is something I’m really looking forward to! (Not to mention the # of breweries in Traverse City… I’m going to dive head first into a yummy stout as soon as possible after I finish…. hopefully with a PR to celebrate!)

– J

Cherry Blossom “10 Miler” Race Recap

Last weekend, I flew to DC to catch up with my twin sis, meet her new puppy, hang out with family, and run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler on Sunday morning. I’d been looking forward to this weekend for awhile because it felt like some sort of marker that spring was finally arriving. Apparently, the cherry blossoms haven’t peaked on the weekend of the festival since 2007. Good timing!

I flew in on Friday around 4pm and went straight to the expo with my suitcase. Kirtana, a mutual friend, was planning on meeting me there along with my older sister, Brittany. Kirtana and I have crossed paths countless times in Chicago – I can’t believe we hadn’t met until this past weekend! I grabbed my bib and old school cotton race tee at the National Building Museum before we drove over to Eastern Market for some margs and food.

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The next morning, my mom, sister, and I were all incredibly lazy. We slept in past 9 am (which I guess isn’t that bad for me, considering that would be 8 am CT) and made plans to meet Lindsey for lunch/brunch. I had a 30 minute shakeout to do so I went out to get that done while they walked to lunch down the street. As usual, the shakeout felt like complete crap and I just wanted to be done with it. I’m sure the windy day and the slightly rolling hills around the neighborhood didn’t make it feel any easier. Still, a shakeout is a shakeout and it always feels good to move after a flight, even if it was the day before.

My route was pretty random. Can you tell?

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The rest of Saturday, we spent spectating a roller derby. Having never been to one before, Lindsey and Nick had to explain all the rules. Dude, those chicks are hardcore. Beyond wearing wrist and knee guards, I think they should also be sporting some kind of chest armor because I saw many elbows to the … bosom. Also, I’m not sure how anyone can move so quickly or change direction so swiftly on roller skates. Mad skillz.

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We walked a fair amount all weekend but this was the perfect activity to put our feet up and rest a bit. Later, we ordered pizza and chilled at my sister’s place.

I prepared my race things and gear check bag for the next morning and finally went to bed around 11 PM. Well, I laid down but I probably didn’t fall asleep until after 12:30 PM. I purposely put my phone on the other side of the room so I wouldn’t be tempted to check the time. I wasn’t nervous about the race, really, but I just couldn’t turn my brain off. And all of a sudden, my 5:20 AM alarm was buzzing (4:20 AM CT….woof).

Race morning was very chill. There was no rush and everything was so easy about it. Lindsey and I met each other on the train (she took it 1 stop before I hopped on, as I was staying down the street from her apartment) and were on the mall before the crowd hit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a race so organized with plenty of bathrooms to use before the race. We avoided waiting in line by getting there early, though, so I’m sure the lines were long and slow closer to the start time. Lindsey watched my things for a few minutes as I did a 15-minute trot down the National Mall. In Chicago, it can be difficult to find an open area to warm-up before races sometimes. I didn’t have to dodge around many people and you couldn’t really tell that it was race morning on my warm-up. Lindsey and I swapped places as she did a quick warm-up, we changed into our racing shoes, and dropped our bags at gear check.

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Twinsieeeeez.

The last time Lindsey and I raced together was probably a Thanksgiving Day dash a few years ago (we really can’t remember) so it was fun to hang out with her beforehand! She’s training for the Chicago Half in May and was using Cherry Blossom as a training run – it’s been fun to be her “Sister Coach” the past few months. I jumped into my corral about 10 minutes before the start. About 5 minutes later, the race organizers announced that the course would be short due to some emergency or crime scene on the planned course. They couldn’t do an official measurement in time but estimated that it was 400m to 800m short. I was kind of bummed standing there in the corral, knowing that it wouldn’t be an offical 10 mile time but figured it wasn’t my goal race anyway and I was just looking for a nice, solid effort leading in to Bayshore in May. The only time-related goal I had was to hover as close to goal half marathon pace as possible. After a poor race at Shamrock 8k two weeks prior, I wanted to see if 6:40-6:50 pace was doable.

Mile 1: 6:50

There’s never much to say about the first mile 🙂 I was warned that the first 2-3 miles would be pretty crowded but I didn’t have to dodge that much (probably relative to Shamrock).

Mile 2: 6:42

I spotted my family spectating and even heard a vuvuzela after I passed. I felt strong running across the bridge and felt like I was getting into a rhythm.

Mile 3: 6:35

Highlight of the race: @runfastandfab ran up to me and said, “Are you Jenny P from the internet?!” Ha! The running world is crazy awesome. I said yes! and we chatted for a few seconds. She seemed to have more energy (read: ability to speak clearly) than I did but we said we’d meet up after. It made me think back to running Chicago in 2011 when I met Jefferson for the first time during the race.

Mile 4: 6:30

I didn’t even realize I was pushing the pace a bit this mile. I had already missed a few mile markers & hadn’t lapped my watch so I wasn’t relying on my splits much. My friend Michaelene and her boyfriend James were spectating the race but I didn’t know they’d be around Mile 3-4 until I saw them, once on either side of the road before and after the turnaround.

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Also note, the race directors told us at the start that the mileage difference would be between miles 4-6, but that once we reached the Mile 6 marker, the distance would be as planned through to the finish, so that was another reason not to rely on my watch too much. I liked this section, running down Independence toward the tidal basin. It was open and clear and everyone around me seemed to be running the same pace.

Mile 5: 6:41

Just kept chugging along at the same effort, as we ran toward Hains Point.

Mile 6: 7:01

This is where I think I took a bit of a mental hit. I was starting to fatigue and let myself get into a little bit of a funk. Potomac Park was absolutely beautiful with the canopy of cherry blossoms reaching over the path. There are few spectators here so you really have to grind on your own.

Mile 7: 7:04

I lost my rhythm and resigned to keeping my legs moving at this point. I don’t even think I looked at my watch more than 1-2 times from Mile 7 to the finish. I had a sip of water in Mile 7 (or maybe 8?).

Mile 8: 6:54

At this point, I was practically rejoicing that the course was short (but obviously not because of the emergency that caused it to be shortened). I remember thinking, “ouch, this feels like the end of a marathon”. Probably a bit dramatic but I felt like I was seriously fading even though my splits don’t show it much.

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Mile 9: 7:05

Just willing my legs to keep moving and hoping that they’d stay on. 😀

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0.4 – 6:53 pace

The last section is up two small hills but they felt gargantuan (kind of how “Roosevelt Mountain” feels at the end of many Chicago races). It’s a bit of a struggle too because you look up hoping to see the finish line but you really don’t see it until you’re less than 400 m from the actual finish line. The crowds were awesome here!

Official Splits:

5.7 M – 38:15, 6:43 pace

Finish – 1:04:49 6:49 pace

Overall place 680

Place in gender 152

Place in division 56

At the finish, I saw Ellen, Mary, and Allie. It was nice to finally meet Ellen and Allie in person and to catch up with Mary before she runs Boston next week. No matter where you race, there always seems to be someone that you “know” — or just feel like you know after some mutual stalking.

Overall, I think it was a good effort. I know where I’m at in my training and what kind of pace I can sustain on a good day. I’ve really only been focusing on tough workouts for 6 weeks now (after a decent base-building period), so I’ll take a solid 6:49 pace for 9.5ish miles as a sign that I’m moving in the right direction. And, if anything, it’s a bit of redemption after running 6:55 pace at the Shamrock Shuffle 8k. Running Cherry Blossom was a good reminder what race pain feels like and I’m looking forward to giving my workouts 100% in the next 4 weeks or so. I know I need to get some pace practice in and get comfortable with being uncomfortable — be willing to hop on the pain train in the last couple miles of the half. I think I would have felt much better during the race if I had started closer to 7:00 min/mile and worked my way down to 6:30s by the finish. There’s just something about a perfect spring day that makes you want to run fast and I clearly botched my race strategy in the first 5 miles. You race and you learn.

Oh! And Lindsey surprised herself (and me!) by running an amazing negative split! Her first half was around 8:30 pace and she ended up running 8:06 average by the finish. I mean, we miiiiight just have to adjust her goal time for the Chicago Half (duh). 😀

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Brittany, my mom, Lindsey, me — and not be missed, Apache! (16 week old Chesapeake)

-J