Running

Adventures in the Motherland(s): Isle of Man, Days 6 & 7

With only two days left of our overseas vacation, it was time to see everything else we wanted to see on the Isle of Man before having to get back on the plane and head home. Luckily, it's a small island and we'd done a whole lot of sightseeing in the days prior. Saturday morning, we went to the Laxey Woolen Mills, where they weave Manx tartan: blue for the sea, green for the hills, yellow for the gorse (a flower that grows all over the island), purple for the heather and white for the cottages. We didn't buy any Manx tartan, but I did try on this bunny hat, because why not:

More hand-painted sign goodness.

We were way too cozy at the woolen mills, so we decided to head to Port Cornaa—a hidden gem of a beach that the owner of our cottage recommended we check out. I'd love to see this place when it's sunny and warm! It was beautiful, of course, but the wind was kicking and it was cold. 

Scott examines the unique geological structures.

Everything was so GREEN. I liked how these rocks sort of looked like miniature mountains:

And for reference, this is what I looked like taking the above picture. I'm not kidding when I said it was cold. It was cold enough for me to wear a hood and mess my hair up all day. First world female problems.

Once we had each collected a few pounds more of rocks and driftwood for our budding rock collections, we decided to go to Maughold to see the church and collection of ancient Celtic crosses. Maughold was once the site of a Celtic monastery (around 600 AD) and now houses a collection of ancient crosses from the Island. I had high hopes for this visit: I carried a bunch of art supplied across the ocean with me so that I could make charcoal rubbings of these crosses and potentially turn it into really awesome (free) artwork.

Ancient Celtic cross from Maughold.

Ancient Celtic cross from Maughold.

Ancient Celtic cross from Maughold.

Ancient Celtic cross from Maughold.

So unfortunately, the charcoal rubbings...didn't quite work as I had planned. What with the crosses being, you know, thousands of years old and on less-than-even surfaces, my rubbings mostly looked like they were of a driveway in suburbia. I also gave the rubbings a shot with some colored pencils, which worked slightly better, but only slightly. Someday I'll scan them and see if I can clean them up in Photoshop, but for now, these pictures are pretty cool. The whole scene was really beautiful. 

Not to mention quaint. Gents!

Yep, I'm the American who took a picture of the bathroom signage.

By this time it was raining and my gloveless, charcoal-covered hands were half frozen, not to mention there was a wedding party gathering at the church, so we decided it was time to go get lunch. We headed back to Ramsey and ate fish and chips (OF COURSE, I had to at least once) at the Royal George. We also had cider that was really strong, but didn't taste like it. In other words, the best kind of cider. 

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"Well, I mean..." our official motto of gluttony.

"Mushy peas" were a side dish often served in the Isle of Man. Though they look disgusting, they weren't actually bad. Just odd. It was peas served in a pea puree. There's a reason why the UK isn't known for its food. Side note: does anyone else remember that song "Fish and chips and vinegar, vinegar, vinegar" from their childhood? I thought it was from Looney Tunes, but apparently it's a scout song. Huh. Anyway, this was stuck in my head for several days of our trip.

After our boozy lunch, we drove (ok, most of us boozy-napped and one person drove) to the northernmost part of the Island, the Point of Ayre. Continuing on with the theme of the day: cold, windy, pretty. Not necessarily in that order.

The beach was never-ending and full of perfectly smooth rocks. We searched for sea glass, to no avail. 

But we did find this rock with a cracked-out face on it:

After several excursions to chilly beaches (I'm still trying to imagine people on holiday in the Isle of Man, trying to get comfortable on a beach blanket thrown over some rocks) it was time to head into town to reverse the effects of our drinking lunch with a quick stop for coffee and wifi. Scott's mom caught the electric railway home, so we decided to get a ride in the car to her stop and walk with her the rest of the way to the cottage—about a mile or so. A few minutes in to walking, I began feeling like I really wanted to run. Insert pangs of urgency to cross off running bucket list ideas like "take a run in every country you visit" here. Nevermind I wasn't properly attired to run (*cough* *no sports bra* *cough*). I decided it would be like my own Runner's World Rave Run photoshoot and I'd just go for it. The views were worth it, and I was hardly winded (amazing, given my recent lack of running).

View from my run in the Isle of Man.

View from my run in the Isle of Man.

After that I refueled with wine and crisps. AKA potato chips. What? It's vacation. 

The following day was our last in the Isle of Man (sad panda). It was sort of a weird day, because we had to be out of our cottage rental and return the car by a specific time. Not to be hurried, we had an early lunch in Douglas where we desperately tried to spend the rest of our Manx money. I may have mentioned this before, but the Isle of Man has its own currency, and it's pretty difficult to get it exchanged to dollars back in the United States—not to mention it was a bank holiday in the Isle of Man, so we couldn't exchange it there, either. After lunch, we took one last stop to Tynwald.

What would the Manx equivalent to "Dolla dolla billz, yall" be? "Poundy poundy poundz, mate"?

Tynwald is where (supposedly) the ancient parliament of the Isle of Man would meet. It's said to include dirt from all 17 of the island's parishes and has been around since the late 1300s, where several Lords of Mann were inaugurated. Apparently, the ceremony of "making public proclamations from mounds" is a Norse practice (thank you, Wikipedia). These days, parliament meets there once a year, on July 5th, for Tynwald Day. This is a long introduction to some pictures of sculpted earth!

Tynwald Hill on the Isle of Man.

Insert joke here about Scott legislating from the hill.

And that, friends, concludes our tour of the Isle of Man. Thanks for sticking with the blog recaps as they spread out over, uh, six weeks. I may write one more post for advice on traveling to Ireland and the Isle of Man and also on what the hell to pack, as I would have found suggestions for that very helpful (and Google failed me as I pondered my empty suitcase). 

But before I go, one last photo. Sad selfie on the plane, with Scott's mom photobombing. I had to force myself to stop laughing and make a sad face. 


2013 Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap: Part 2

There are a few takeaways that I have after running this half marathon. It's like the longer I ran, the more wisdom I gained, or something. 

TIME TO START HILL TRAINING. YUP.

 Evil hills of doom and destruction!

Evil hills of doom and destruction!

The first and biggest lesson I learned: if you want to prepare, let alone PR and meet your goal, study the course map and learn what challenges it may bring. I more or less looked at the course map two weeks before my run, confirmed that it had a few hills, looked at other places that I'd run where there were hills to compare the two, and that was it. I didn't prepare for the hills at all and now I'm a convert. It's either train for hills or only run races in Delaware where the land is flat.

RESPECT THE MILEAGE. BE HUMBLE.

I thought that since I'd been running consistently for a few years since my last half marathon, this one would be easier. In many ways, I think it was actually tougher. I thought that since I've run four Broad Streets (10 miles) that in the last four years, those extra three miles would come forth from my legs less like sludge and more like at least an old lady doing power walk laps at the mall. I think it was probably tougher because I had a specific time goal in mind. I also think it was tougher because I went into it semi-injured and didn't know what to expect of myself (side note: my achilles has felt 100% completely fine during and after the race—what the?!) And I think it was probably tougher because I expected it to be easier and it was hard from the get-go. All that mental shit-talking I did to myself did not make the race any easier. 13.1 miles is still a fairly long race to run. I find myself wondering how the full marathoners get to the turn-off point where they keep going or exit for the half and I'm amazed, AMAZED, that anyone runs 26.2 miles and lives to tell about it. I have so much respect for people who run marathons, even if every time I run longer than 10 miles I confirm that they are completely insane for wanting to run 16.2 miles on top of what I just ran. I've been telling my family that if I ever tell them I'm running a marathon they should take me to have my head examined. 

 My splits. Although mile 7 was hard, I think Garmin is a little off saying that the elevation gain was 720 feet. Though maybe it's taking a cue from me being overly dramatic about that hill. 

My splits. Although mile 7 was hard, I think Garmin is a little off saying that the elevation gain was 720 feet. Though maybe it's taking a cue from me being overly dramatic about that hill. 

FIND A WAY TO STOP SHIT-TALKING YOURSELF WHEN YOU'RE IN THE THICK OF IT.

This one is new for me. I typically don't have this problem during my training runs because I'm able to just lose myself in This American Life or thinking about some design project at work or whatever else. Watching a deer run across the field. People watching. Spotting a blue huron in the woods and taking a break to go stalk it. When I'm racing it's a lot harder to lose myself in the run because I have to be present in order to do my best—or at least that's what it feels like I should be doing. Maybe if I ran races with fewer people, this would be easier. When you're running with a crowd of 30,000 and you have an average pace it's hard to forget that the clock is running. So I'm not sure how to fix this in the future. Maybe I need to do more long training runs to train my brain?

WHAT'S NEXT?

I'm not sure what's up next on the running agenda. It's been four days since the race and I've done a lot of eating and hardly any physical activity save for pilates. But now that I've got my calorie deficit taken care of, I know I definitely want to get back into strength training. I'm going to continue running but cut back to maybe three days a week and pepper in some cross training through the cold, dark days of winter when I can't run outside after work. I don't think I'm going to be able to do Broad Street this year because I won't be in the country (good problem to have). But I think that I've accepted the challenge to come back and do this race again next year and have my ass kicked a little bit less. I'm not sure I will do another half marathon before then—right now I really don't feel the need to. Maybe I'll start looking for some 10K's. Those are going to feel so easy in comparison!

 Cheeeeese! Look at my medal, mom!

Cheeeeese! Look at my medal, mom!


2013 Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap: Part 1

I'm pretty sure the first words out of my mouth when I crossed the finish line to this race were "Thank $%^#ing god that's over!" But let's rewind and start from the beginning, shall we?

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We arrived in Philly Saturday evening, grabbed my race bib and a shirt that was a size too big (note to self: get there earlier next year for a Women's small) (note to race organizers: really? you couldn't tally the numbers correctly?), dropped off three old pairs of running shoes to the charity taking donations at the expo and stopped to try and get a picture by the entrance signage to the expo. I then realized there were approximately 87 people trying to do the same thing simultaneously, so I just left. We got back to my sister's house where we were staying (thanks sis!) and I ate a gourmet dinner consisting of an everything bagel topped with butter and jelly. It actually worked out pretty well, I think I might consider this a new pre-race dinner tradition instead of pasta. I was in bed reading John Adams' biography at 8 PM and had the lights out by 9 PM. (Side note: so far his biography is actually very interesting, but I would recommend any book along these lines for putting you to sleep the night before a big event.) I had my "Relaxing Ocean Music" playing through my headphones as I tried to fall asleep. My husband thought this was hilarious. Usually it works pretty well, but I think next year I'm going to invest in earplugs. Nothing can drown out drunk people stumbling out of Standard Tap, unfortunately. 

 Runner-to-runner advice from my sister. It's always best to avoid pooping your pants during a race. 

Runner-to-runner advice from my sister. It's always best to avoid pooping your pants during a race. 

 I wrote out the water and fuel stops on my hand because by mile 6 all of my extra brain power is going to my legs and otherwise I'll forget to do any of these things.

I wrote out the water and fuel stops on my hand because by mile 6 all of my extra brain power is going to my legs and otherwise I'll forget to do any of these things.

I awoke at 3:53, AM, two minutes before my alarm was set to go off. Yep, it was the butt crack-o-dawn, but I had to get up that early since the race organizers were telling us all to arrive by 5 AM (wahh) to go through security. I got up and at 'em, dressed, ate my peanut butter toast and drank some Gatorade, packed up our stuff and hopped in the car. We were at the security gates by 5:20 and had no issues with waiting in line since we'd only brought the clear race gear bag. The next two hours consisted of alternating waiting and not waiting in line for the porta potty. Typical pre-race stuff. 

 Just chillin.

Just chillin.

I have to give the organizers credit, they were super on top of their game during the race. Everything started right on time. By 7 AM, the elites were off. I discarded my cozy sweats and said goodbye to Scott (now known as most affectionately as "Mr. 0.0") and shivered my way to the start line. It was actually close to 50 degrees, so really warm for late November, but I was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and calf sleeves which wasn't much to cover up with. 

 This was my pre-race meal. Super healthy, right?

This was my pre-race meal. Super healthy, right?

 View from the Rocky Stairs. Alll those crazy people about to go running...

View from the Rocky Stairs. Alll those crazy people about to go running...

By 7:20 or so, my corral was at the starting line. I accidentally started my watch about 20 seconds before I actually crossed the start line—doh! There was a lot going on. I think I had actually crossed the finish line and was confused because everyone else was starting to run. Mostly, I was trying to find the Mayor so I could high five him, which I did! And then we were off! 

The first few miles were good. I kept a pretty steady and good for me (9:15) pace. About mile 3, for some reason, I started doing exactly what I told myself I wasn't going to do and started thinking, "OH GOD I HAVE TEN MORE MILES WHY AM I DOING THIS." I tried to just focus on getting to my first water stop at mile 5. In the mean time I finagled my energy chews out of my pocket, out of my jerry-rigged plastic wrapper and gulped them down. I'm always afraid of choking on them while running, but I don't really care for gels so I just try to be careful. I just imagine myself in a medical tent not finishing a race because I choked on an energy chew. That would be dumb. 

I was also trying to distract myself from my negative thoughts by remembering the best signs for later. My favorites were:

  • You're running better than the government! (That made me laugh)
  • Smile if you pooped your pants!
  • Pain is temporary, your time on the internet is forever.
  • Run faster, I just farted!
  • Run, bitch! (With a picture of Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad)

Most of the crowds were along South Street and Chestnut Street, where there were a TON of people cheering. There were also some people handing out beers to runners, ha! The race course was also fairly crowded at this point too, and I was doing some weaving around people who were slower than me. And also watching out for the manhole covers. Always have to be vigilant about those if you want to keep your ankles intact. Apparently, this (mile 6) was actually my fastest mile, clocking in at 9:09.

And then...the hills started. Now, I knew that there were hills coming. I had read various accounts of the hills. They ranged from, "The hills really aren't that bad," to "I'm from a state that has no hills, so the hills on this course were horrible!" I really didn't do any hill training. I'm from a state with no hills (Delaware) and now live in a state with more hills (Pennsylvania) which I typically avoid running on when I can. Welp—that plan of basically denying of the existence of hills on the course came back and bit me in the ass big time. I hit mile 8 and had to stop and walk. At this point I was in west Philly near Drexel. After a short walk break, I picked it back up and ran. It seemed like there were hills everywhere. According to the elevation chart there was one hill between miles 7–8 and another monster hill between miles 9–10. It sure seemed like 7–10 was one huge, insurmountable mountain. But I was also tired and didn't train on hills, so it's possible I'm being overly dramatic. My plan had been to stop for water at miles 5 and 10. I ended up stopping for water at 5, 8, 10 AND 11. Most of those were excuses to walk up hills instead of running up them. There were more walk breaks in those miles than I care to remember. So if you're reading this and wondering if you should incorporate hill training: the answer is YES. When your brain is trying to tell you that you suck at running and you should just stop, and then you hit a hill and have to walk, it really doesn't help you in the positive thinking category.

 And the last of them are off!

And the last of them are off!

Finally, around mile 10, we crested the last friggin' hill and went into a steep decline. I tried to use this to catch some speed without tumbling face-first down the hill and succeeded. At mile 11 I thought to myself, "You can totally do the rest of this with no more walking!" except I did take at least one more walk break thanks to my monkey brain telling me I should. At that point I knew the more I ran, the faster it would be over. I also knew it was unlikely that I would hit my goal time of 2:05 but I might be able to aim for 2:10 or under. So I dug in and tried to run fast (which, according to my watch, it only felt like I was doing).

At the start of mile 12 a ginormous blister that I didn't even know had formed on the end of my toe popped. You want to talk about the most disgusting and simultaneously motivating sensation ever? That would be it. I fully expected to look down and see a giant blood stain on my shoe, but everything looked normal, so I kept going. For the last half mile, there started to be people along the course again, so I took my headphones off. I knew that my name was printed on my bib, but the magic of hearing people shout, "Go Julie, you can do it!" at you in that last mile is pretty amazing. I'm sure I looked like I was totally full of wonderment that people knew my name. With about a quarter of a mile to the finish line I spotted Mr. 0.0 and ran over to him. He told me later that I looked completely crazed (I was really excited to be almost done!) and at that point I sprinted until I could see the finish line. I smiled for the photographers and tried not to look too huffy and puffy and high-fived the mayor (again) as I finally finished. And then said, "Thank $%^#ing god that's over!" My official time was 2:10:16. Definitely PR'd by ten minutes, which is awesome, but I'm almost certain I could have hit 2:05 if the course had been flat.

So class, what did I learn from this experience? Since this blog post is turning into War and Peace: Half Marathon Edition I will answer that question with a separate post tomorrow...


Pre-Marathon Void of the Unknown

Yup, so as the title states—I have no idea what to expect for this half marathon. Three weeks ago I was walking with a limp. Last week's inside runs were great (9:00 minute mile pace). Last week's outside long run of 11 miles was slow (10:30 minute mile pace) and my achilles was super sore afterwards for about a day. This week's training runs are back to being fast and no tweaked-out achilles. So that means my goal for the race should be....?

I don't do well with unknowns. The typical pre-race anxiety is plenty for me to handle on any day, but not knowing what my plan should be makes it worse. So I'm going to stick with my original goals and graduate step-by-step on race day depending on how it goes.

  1. Finish the race (don't really think I'll have an issue with this, but if it's the only goal I hit then I can say I hit a goal!)
  2. Beat 2010's half marathon time of 2:20.
  3. If I'm really feeling feisty and full of energy and the crowds are going and my achilles isn't hurting, aim for a time of around 2:05.

Can I do it? Here are two mantras I've been using for the past couple of months that really help. (Well, the first one is a mantra, the second one is more of a basic equation that doesn't make my brain hurt.)

Run the Mile You're In, Julie Rado Design

Run the mile you're in. It's just one mile. Don't think about the rest right now. Don't think about when you hit the 3 mile mark YOU STILL HAVE TEN POINT ONE TO GO OHHH GOD NOOOO WHYYY I'M INSANE WHO DOES THIS TO THEMSELVES UGGHHH. So that doesn't happen. Just think, "And now I'm on to mile 4, that was fast! Look at me go!"

5-5-3, Julie Rado Design

In a similar vein, I'll be thinking of the race in chunks. Five miles, five miles, and three miles. Three miles, that's nothing. You can do it. Listen to the crowds cheering you on!

I'll be sure to post a race recap here with plenty of details. Until then I'll be hydrating, carbing up and trying (and probably failing) to fall asleep early each night. 


Running Life Lately, Part Two

I've been training steadily since the first week of August for the Philly half marathon. Since I've been running consistently for the past two years (meaning no months-long breaks), I decided to try training at the intermediate level, so I've been doing speedwork and longer long runs. I hadn't been too worried about beating my last race time (2:20) and then it all came screeching to a halt two weekends ago. (Insert crowd booing noise here).

 Ill-fated ten miler of doom...little did I know.

Ill-fated ten miler of doom...little did I know.

I did my long run of ten miles (yay!) and was feeling good. Later in the afternoon, the fronts of my ankles and my achilles were beginning to get sore. Nothing too crazy, it seemed—regular aches and pains after running for a long time. Monday came and I was still sore, but did a slower three mile recovery run and felt pretty good. Tuesday I had speed intervals of 7 x 800 on the schedule and the pain was nagging. I'm not normally one to work through pain, but I just figured it was lingering and that I would be ok. Later that night, I was limping around and hurting...badly. As it turns out, I think I had a budding case of achilles tendonitis and according to Dr. Google, doing speed intervals with an achilles tendon issue will only make it worse. Great! Fantastic! Just what I wanted to hear!

So with three and a half-ish weeks until the half marathon, I took a week off of running. I used my walking limp as a gauge for whether I should run. Since I was more or less limping for a week, I figured I shouldn't try to run. My exercise mainly consisted of pilates and walking (hobbling) to the Wawa near work for coffee. I went through the various phases of grief. Denial (running on the hurt achilles); bargaining (I swear I'll never take being healthy for granted again if I can just get my foot feeling better to run this race); anger (it's not fair that the goofy guy lumbering around the track wearing ill-fitting basketball shoes isn't hurt and I am). In the meantime I iced, stretched and foam rolled like a mofo.

This past week, I decided to ease back in to running. Monday, I wanted to try and run three miles, but I only made it 1.25. Nothing hurt per se, but it did feel relatively wonky and I didn't want to make it worse. So I walked the rest of my miles around a track, which is the most boring and torturous thing a runner can do to themselves (especially when being lapped by the lumbering guy in the ill-fitting basketball shoes). Wednesday I was able to run three miles with the occasional tweaky feeling in my achilles and a dull ache in my calf with every step. Thursday and Friday I did three miles as well. I decided to try and pick back up with my long run schedule and did nine miles yesterday—albeit inside the gym on the track (144 laps on a 1/16 mile track...yeah, I listen to podcasts and try not to lose count) so as not to twist my foot on any hills, turns, rocks, piles of dog poo or whatever other hazards lay outside waiting for me at the park.

I'm happy to say the nine miles went really well, aside from my pace being slower than molasses in January. I was intentionally going slow to start, and kept it slow, but I didn't think I had it in me to go as slow as I was going (11:30 miles...gah!) It was a little depressing. I have mostly tried to smack my ego down and tell myself at least I ran nine miles. Nevermind that it was three minutes slower than my 10 mile race PR from May.  

So whereas before, I wasn't really worried about beating my previous race time and was hoping to break 2:05, now I'm re-evaluating my goals. To start with the easy and end with the potentially unattainable: Goal A is to run the race. Goal B is to not hurt myself any further during the race. Goal C is to run under a 10 minute mile. If I am back at my regular pace by then (it's in two weeks so maybe that's attainable? A 9:15-ish mile) then I'd love to be under 2:10. Secretly I'm hoping the Mayor's high five and the crowds and my adrenaline will propel me to 2:05. I'm really going to have to be on the lookout for potholes this time to make that happen.


Running Life Lately, Part One

The last time I wrote about running, I was training for a 5K, because I like to do things backwards (first race ever was 10 miles, followed by a half marathon a few months later—I didn't sign up for a 5K until I had been running for two and a half years. Makes total sense.) 

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Since then, I have invested in a Garmin watch (a carrot to keep me motivated—"well, if you want to spend boatloads of money on a fancy whizbang watch when the phone you already own can do the exact same thing, I guess you better get running"), ran a Halloween 5K in costume and survived, did last year's 10K Run the Bridge in Philly, PR'ed at this year's Broad Street Run and signed up for another half marathon.

The key to comfort in a costume race is to dress like an 80's aerobics instructor.

Getting ready to conquer the bridge.

Red socks for Boston at the 2013 Broad Street Run. Man, I'm short.

I remember when I signed up for my first half marathon, I was thinking, "Oh, it's only three more miles than Broad Street, how hard can it be?" In hindsight, that's kind of an (ignorantly) arrogant thought. I had only just realized that I should get properly fitted for running shoes, I had leftover shin splints that made running and walking down stairs really uncomfortable and I didn't even know that I was supposed to fuel during long runs. ("Oh, my body is burning over 1,000 calories? I'll be fine with my peanut butter toast and water that I had for breakfast three hours ago. No big deal.") I finished the half marathon, but it was hot, sweaty, slow, and my pinky toes were definitely war-torn and bloody when I finally got my shoes off. Not to mention I was hobbling around like I had peg legs and I got a nasty cold immediately after the race and was pretty sure that I was experiencing what it would feel like to have been hit by a bus.

Shortly before peg leg-itis set in at my last half marathon.

Now, I'm training for the 2013 Philly Half Marathon. It's taken me three years to want to do a half marathon after my first experience—I'd like to think I've learned a lot in those three years. Buy new shoes every 350 miles. Stretch a lot. For the love of god, make sure you eat something when you do long runs. Invest way too much money on Lululemon clothes that do not chafe and have plenty of pockets for tissues, car keys and energy foods.

So, how's that been going? Well, more on that tomorrow. For now I will tell you that my running achilles heel is now apparently my achilles heel. Womp womp.


on the move (har har)

We moved about three weeks ago (closer to work, closer to family, closer to civilization, though I do sometimes miss seeing horses when I run) and I can't decide if training for a race while also planning and completing a move was a good or bad thing or if the good and the bad just cancel each other out and it's just a crazy thing to attempt. On the plus side, I joined a gym only a few days after moving, found a park to run in shortly thereafter, and have tried at least somewhat to stick to my training schedule. The downside would be doing speed training the morning we moved (my shins were kind of angry about that, they twinged furiously all day as I went up and down the stairs) and being very lenient with myself about completing my scheduled training runs, and especially long runs. After we moved most (all?) of my long runs fell by the wayside. Sometimes a trip to Ikea just takes priority over running. 

However! I have been doing some speed training, but I've been doing it all on an inside track. I started out using the gym track for convenience, and then I decided the non-asphalt nature of the track was good for my legs, and then once the heat wave rolled in, I decided the air conditioning at the gym was good for my continued motivation to run through the summer. I mostly think this is cheating, but whatever—at least I'm still running. I have a feeling this will be my preferred method of training as long at the temperature is above 80-something degrees. In addition to counting air conditioned runs as "cheating" I have to remember that my air conditioned times are going to give me false hope for race day. I ran my fastest time ever for my 5K test recently!

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I will report back after this weekend to see how my utopian training fares in the real world, where the high on race day will be in the mid to upper 80s...


Broad Street 2012 Recap

I'd like to pat myself on the back for posting this within the week of finishing the race (pat, pat). Unlike last year, when I waited six weeks or something.

I don't think I had any preconceived notions of how this race would go when I began, other than the vague hope that I would beat the time from my first year (1:43:48). I knew there was no way I'd beat last year's time (1:35:34) because last year, I did speed training. This year, I knew there was no way I would have the time or motivation to speed train since I've been spending two hours a day in the car bonding with NPR as I commute. (Good for knowledge of world news and playing along with Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, bad for physical fitness). So I went back to the beginner training plan and added spinning classes into my crosstraining routine. I'd heard from a few people that spinning would really help me get faster, so I thought it might be the lazy runner's solution to getting faster without actually speed training. A long shot, but maybe worth the sore bum?

The beginning of the day was somewhat stressful. We decided to leave for the race later than we had in previous years (when I arrived three hours early and sat around worrying about whether I should get in line for the porta potties again). That, combined with closed parking lots thanks to the Sixers being in the playoffs, and we were stuck in traffic before we even got into the city.

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Oh hi, Navy Yard. So close, yet so far away. We finally made it close-ish to the train station and I jumped out of the car as we sat in the traffic jam and headed down to Septa with the rest of the herd. The train was packed like a cattle car and slow moving, to boot. I sat there, trying not to be nervous, eating a Honey Stinger Waffle, and downing three preventative Advils. When the train finally arrived in North Philly, there wasn't really time to warm up, so I just got in my corral and tried not to bump into anyone as I stretched. It certainly could have been worse, but it was not my ideal race morning start. 

I was only in my corral for about ten minutes when the gun went off. For the first mile, I made a concerted attempt to not go crazy with my pace. I only have a bobo Timex, so judging off that, I was going about 9:45. Not bad, ideally I'd like to be a bit faster, but it was ok. I felt good, and I was reminded how much I love running through Philly. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: watching little old ladies in their bathrobes and slippers come out to cheer you on is just a lot of fun. High-fiving little kids and Temple students as you run and feel the camaraderie of the runners—there's not much else like this. I imagine if I'd ever played sports when I was a kid and won a game or something, this is what it would have felt like. Unfortunately, I only ever won second place in the science fair and there was much less glory to that victory.

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I saw my sister, her fiancee, and their dog around mile 5 and stopped for a quick picture, high fives, and an obligatory "What the hell," because she was supposed to be running with me and had to cancel because of a migraine. The miles went by really fast until about mile 7, which felt sluggish. I ate some energy chews at mile 5, and they must have kicked in around mile 8, because everything picked back up and I felt fine. I felt like I sprinted for the last mile or so. I couldn't believe how fast the race seemed to fly by, but it felt really good. Maybe that's where the spinning came in handy—with increasing my endurance for intense activity? Also, if you ever want to develop quadriceps like the Hulk, I'd recommend spinning and running. I'm pretty sure my thighs are bigger than my husband's (that sounds more freaky than it actually is).

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I ran right by the Nacy Destroyers again without noticing them. I guess seeing them once was enough? I also guess this is really a testament to my running-focus-blinders. When I finally crossed the finish line, I ran into a wall of what seemed like the entirety of the 40,000 people running the race. With no place to cool down, I accepted my fate of sore as hell legs, got my medal, got my water, and most importantly, got my soft pretzel (nom). With a time of 1:40:22, I did beat my first year time. Definitely not as awesome as last year's PR, but I'm still happy with it. 

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Another year, another Broad Street. As ambivalent as I was about training this year, I'm really glad I did. I'm going to try to keep my training going through at least the fall this year. I know the only way to do that is to keep signing up for races. Otherwise, waking up at the crack of dawn to run in the summer heat—yeah—it would not happen without the threat of missing a training run. I've signed up for a 5K next month and I'm incorporating speed training back into my workouts, so we'll see how much it helps!


be prepared!

I'm prepping for the race tomorrow and holy crap, there's a lot of stuff I'm bringing:

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Shoes, socks that (knock on wood) won't cause blisters, compression socks for sleeping in, outfit with two options depending on the hourly forecast for tomorrow morning, hat, sunscreen, Advil, kleenex, watch, Road ID (in case I fall off a median while bypassing the slow people), water, Gatorade, Honey stinger waffles (pre-race food), Honey Stinger chews (mid-race fuel), and finally, my Shuffle (aka "Shuffazilla as I have nicknamed it). Loaded with the likes of Metallica (pre-Black album, if you're wondering), Adele, CCR, Girl Talk, Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age, and for the sake of embarrassing myself, Pussycat Dolls.

Oh yeah, and I'm spending the night in Philly to avoid the stress of driving 2-ish hours and battling traffic in the AM, hence the early packing. Here we go! 


Running in Amish Country

Last weekend, I went out after my run and took some photos of my route. I've lived here for a year and it still amazes me how beautiful it is. These are mostly from the neighbor's farm, which is across the street from where we live. It's hard not to be distracted by nature, which is nice. And yes, when I pass the horses, I say hi to them.

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