Thursday, October 27, 2011

Race Recap - Cincinnati Half Marathon

This race billed itself as being "FLAT AND FAST!" in a city of hills. Every piece of marketing material I saw talked about the amazing flatness of the course and all but guaranteed that runners would be setting PRs left and right.

Yeah... not so much. I still got my PR, but the course was much hillier than I (or anyone else in my crew) was expecting. The last 3 miles were pretty much all a gradual incline. That sucked.

It was the first super cold morning we had - 34 degrees at the start. I much prefer running in cooler weather, but the wait at the starting line was brutal. Actually, the whole lead-up to the start was chaotic - we were running a few minutes late, to begin with, and got there with not a whole lot of time to spare. I'm usually really anxious about getting there on time, so the whole rushing around to park and get to the start line was very different for me. Then there was the potty situation - the lines were out of control. There was a giant bank of porta-potties, but there was one massive line feeding them rather than small lines at each station. It was crazy. There was also a bank of actual stall restrooms in the park, so I waited in line over there. The women's line was moving at a snail's pace, while the line for the men's room was pretty much non-existent. I kept eying the men's room, contemplating rushing in and rushing out. The woman next to me must have noticed my furtive glances, because she turned to me and said "let's do it!"

The men's room, alone, was enough of an experience. I had no idea that they just have a giant trough along the wall. Crazy! I wish women could easily pee standing up - lines would be much shorter, that's for sure. We hugged the wall and shielded our eyes, lest we get a glimpse of something that couldn't be erased from our memories.

I finally got to the starting line, where I met up with my Running Buddy and my sister Katie and her friend Mack, who had come to town from NYC. It was my sister's first Half, and she was super nervous because she had been having trouble with her knees. There was much hugging and encouragement and "you got this!" all around. Then the crowd started moving forward, and we were off!

The route was a short out and back, followed by a few zigs and zags through the city, capped with a longer out and back down Riverside Drive.

The nice thing about out and backs is that it gives you the chance to see all of your running peeps and shout encouragements and share high fives. I screamed my head off for Little Sister when I passed her on the way back toward the city. The water stations were at odd intervals, especially the last one, which was right at the entrance to Friendship Park, just before Mile 13. I thought that was a weird place to have a water table, at that point I couldn't even contemplate stopping.

My goal was to run the Half in 1:55. I just barely made it under that time, crossing the finish line in 1:54:18.

I look thrilled, no?

I look like an ogre in every race picture, ever.

I met up with Katie's speedy friend Mack, who had already crossed the finish line. We collected our medals and stocked up on water, powerade, and candy before heading back out onto the course. Our runs weren't over, yet - we had to go back out and get Katie. I had passed her on Riverside at about Mile 10, which was her Mile 7, so we knew that she couldn't be too far behind. It was really bizarre to be running back into the fray, but kind of fun, too, as we passed by runners who were starting to fade. We gave out a lot of high fives and candy and cheered them all on as we went.

We caught up with Katie around mile 11.5 and fed her fruit snacks and powerade. She looked great, even though she said she felt pretty awful. And thus began my favorite part of the whole race - running the last 1.6 miles in with my sister. We made the best of it - picking out people that she could pass, counting how many runners were behind her (she was convinced that she'd be the last one to cross the finish line) and planning out how much vodka we'd be drinking at our Dance Central celebration party.

Crossing the Finish Line was even better the second time :)

I'm so proud of my sister for finishing the race. We Mulligan girls have a serious stubborn streak, though I prefer to spin it as dedication and perseverance!

After the race, we met up with my Running Buddy and our friend Rich and his crew. We claimed our free beers and spent some time rehashing the not-so-flat race.

And that's really the best part about my new hobby - the community. Fast or slow, young or old, newbie or seasoned veteran, everyone is there to cheer each other on.

Can't wait to start training for the spring season!

The final stats:
Overall: 320 of 1131 (311 chip time)
Females: 105/644 (101 chip time)
Division: 21/107 (20 chip time)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Runners World: Top 5 Tips to Staying Injury-Free

Top 5 Tips to Staying Injury-Free

1. Run every other day, or 3 times a week (this is what I did for AF Marathon - speedwork, strength work, and running long)

2. Cross-Train

3. Muscular Strength and Flexibility

4. Diet

5. Sleep

You can read the full details here.

Of course, this doesn't speak to the importance of staying mentally healthy. I recommend beer and good running peeps.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Race Recap - Warrior Run 5K

My first 5K, the Cheetah Run, ended in 26:22. I knew I could do better, so I decided to sign up for the Warrior Run since my Running Buddy said that it was flat. Yay for flat! My goal was to halve my 10K PR of 51:49, which would be 25:54. Oh, who am I kidding? My heart was going for 25 or bust, regardless of what my head was doing.

There was confusion at the starting line, mainly because there was no real start line, just a sign stuck in the grass. That meant no starting chip time. There was a finish mat, but all of our times would be based on clock time. That meant that if I wanted to meet my goal, I had to stick myself close to the front of the crowd so that I didn't waste time weaving through walkers. I'm not used to being up there. That's me in the white tank all the way over on the left.

(Source: Warrior Run)

It was total chaos. I'll admit to being a tattle-tale and telling the race director about the girl behind me with the metal razor scooter when she didn't listen to the people asking her to move. Someone could have gotten hurt with that thing.

Anyway. The two women directly behind me were also going for 25 minutes, difference being that they were both in their 50s! They both ended up finishing just in front of me. I'm seriously impressed and hope that I'm in that good of shape when I'm that age. I also loved that there were so many kids running the race. It was really great to see so many young people out moving, especially given the children's obesity epidemic that we're experiencing.

Look at them all go!

(Source: Warrior Run)

I was really counting on my Garmin to make sure that I was on target. I looked down when I thought we should be around the first half mile, and was shocked to see the screen reading 4.71 miles! I had forgotten to reset it after my run earlier in the week. Damn! There went keeping track of my splits.

This is where I realized that I really, really hate the 5K distance. I've started to really enjoy long runs. I can start off at a manageable pace and then kick it up when I'm ready. My mind gets a lot of time to wander and contemplate my surroundings. I can relax. 5Ks? Totally different story. From the starting gun I'm just a frantic whirling mess. My brain is moving faster than my legs, thinking about nothing but the road under my feet and the discomfort in my lungs, willing my legs to move faster to keep up. It's like my brain and my heart are at war with each other for that period of time - my heart telling my body to hang in there, it's ok, we're almost there, it's only 3 miles, YOU CAN DO IT! GO TEAM! - and my body on the verge of exhaustion, asking why, why, WHY? are you doing this to me? while staging a revolt that makes me feel like I'm going to toss my cookies at any second. My lungs burn and my mouth is dry and my legs feel rubbery, but then I look up and I see the finish clock and there's a 24:xx staring at me, and I know that I've got it, so I pick it up and sprint like an idiot toward the line, hoping that I can get there before the red LEDs flash over to 25:xx.

And then I do, and it's amazing because when I started running in January I was happy with the idea of just finishing a marathon under 6 hours and completely content to be a slow runner in the back of the pack, but I've somehow managed to train myself into being more than that. I'm still not fast - I'm in no danger of ever actually winning a race of any kind - but I'm better than I thought I could be. For someone who regularly underestimates and undervalues themselves, that's a B-F-D.

Now if I could get a winter 5K (it was in the 70s when we lined up) that has an early start time (evening runs aren't my favorite), maybe I can do even better....

Final score?
24:29 (7:53 pace)
60/357 overall
12/186 women

Age/Sex Division winner! Can you believe it?? I got a flipping sweet water bottle for my troubles.

Running Buddy also ran the Warrior Run 5K, and then she did a duathalon (is that even a word?) the next morning because she's crazy. She doesn't have a recap up for either of them, but I'm sure the stories will be great :)

Why didn't we get a picture??

Possibly the best part was seeing my friend and old cube-mate, Lynn. I never in a million years thought we'd be running together - she was also my P90X coach and has had a million knee surgeries.

Yay Lynn!

Monday, October 10, 2011

ESPN: Woman runs marathon, gives birth

Oh my GOD. I think back to what I felt like at 39 weeks pregnant and can't even imagine walking a mile, let alone 26 of them. Ouch.

Woman runs marathon, gives birth

Gives a whole new meaning to "walking the baby out."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Second Guessing

Last Friday, I was all fine and happy with my decision to forgo the Columbus Marathon. It was just the right thing to do. Then I went out for a long run on Saturday and proceeded to run the fastest 10 miles of my short running career - 8:33 average pace, and it felt easy (which sure, in the grand scheme of things still isn't all that fast, so don't think I'm bragging). And now I'm kind of wishing I had just signed up.

I keep reminding myself that it's better to skip this 26.2, because I need time to heal and rest and I had a PLAN and I should stick to it. It's too late now, anyway. Saturday's 10 miles makes me think that I have a pretty good shot at a new Half PR, so I'll have to settle for that.

10 fucking seconds....

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Favorite Things: Running Shorts

I've had a really hard time finding a pair of running shorts to fit my needs.

First and foremost, running shorts must not ride up my ass. Nothing worse than being "that person" digging out a wedgie every quarter mile. No grabbing/pulling required.

Second, no skin-gripping tightness. If I wanted to run in spandex, I would.

Third, and just as critical as the lack of ass-crack invasion, the shorts must have a pocket! And I don't want any of those namby-pamby cotton flap pockets, either - I want an honest-to-goodness decent-sized pocket. With a zipper.

And it sure would be nice if they weren't $50.

With that, I present to you, my favorite running shorts, the Adidas Response 4-Inch:

I LOVE these shorts. I love them so much that I want to wear them for cross-training, too, but I'm too afraid to wear them out. I need to order three more pairs. I've been running in them for months, and I've never had to crack-dig or tug on them to keep them up. They're lightweight and not clingy and all-around awesome.

The pocket looks small, but you can cram in 4 Gus (or 3 sportbeans), gum, chapstick, and an ipod shuffle and it will still close.

The Adidas website only has them in black and white, but Amazon offers a few different color combinations (including one called "Slime," which is kind of a bad name for a color. They also come in a 6" length, but I much prefer the 4".

And no, I'm not paid/compensated in any way. I'm not cool enough to get free stuff. Shorts just happen to be a relevant topic in the world of running :p