Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Because people who receive hospice care do not survive, we are left to celebrate their memory and honor their lives. I am running to remember my mother-in-law, Alice.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Photos from Riley's Rumble

The elevation map of doom, from my Garmin:

And the course map. There were a lot of out-and-back sections, this was both inspiring and depressing. It was nice to see runners, especially since it was so desolate, but seeing the same runners repeatedly had you questioning just how damn long the course actually was:

We insisted on making sure that we got photos at every opportunity. Last year we realised the slower groups weren't well represented in the end-of-the-year slideshow since the photographers don't often stick around (not that I blame them). So here we are around mile 6 or so:

At the you're-almost-halfway-there-though-it-feels-like-you've-been-running-forever water stop:

Closing in on those ice pops. I told the photographer, "I'm going to smile like this doesn't suck!"

And at the final water stop, taking a break to refuel, rehydrate and mentally regroup before pushing to the finish:

August 7th - Riley's Rumble Half-Marathon - 13.23 miles - 02:58

The race website says, "Riley's Rumble is the evil half that your mother warned you about. Don't be seduced by the lush bucolic countryside of rural Montgomery County. This race will challenge the best runners. If you want the 3 H's (hills, heat, and humidity), this is the race for you."

I am not the best runner and I certainly did not want any of those things, let alone all three. I wussed out last year and skipped this run, there were a lot of emails the night before about how awful it was and would be because it was stupidly hot last year - so hot and humid, in fact, that they didn't time it and turned it into a fun run. The weather this year promised to be better so I figured what the hell.

This is not a race for our program, but a well-supported training run. We do it to test race day strategies and night-before/morning-of prep but we're not supposed to go all out. I figured just finishing this thing would be enough of a challenge for me anyway so I wasn't stressed about it, though I was kind of terrified.

I got to the parking lot about 30 minutes before the start and it was packed, I have no idea why this is so popular. Hit the bathrooms, found my 12:30s and we lined up at the back of the pack. This is where we would stay and I had no problems with that. The weather wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been but with most of the road being surrounded by trees there was nowhere for the heat and humidity to escape so it was a bit stuffy. And there weren't as many water stops as I'd expected, I guess logistics made it kind of tough.

As a group I think we had a great first half, we ran the hills at a decent pace, took walk breaks at all the water stops, and were feeling pretty strong. Somewhere around mile 6.5 or so we started to split up, we regrouped around maybe mile 7, split up again. At mile 8.42 (yes, exactly, as the sign said) there were ice pops. These are magical and wonderful and were the best part of the race.

We stayed in three separate groups for the rest of the race so everybody had at least one other person for company (after Kathy turned in one hell of an amazing performance on some hills and stopped to wait for us to catch up). Which was great because, while the scenery is lovely, there is NOTHING out there. And no one. It's dead quiet, there are no spectators. Running with music was allowed but the roads weren't closed off so I don't think it would have been advisable.

The last 3.5 miles were tough and we did quite a bit of walking. We had enough energy to half-way run half-way up some of the hills, but there were SO DAMN MANY it became impossible for us. Even walking to the top of some of these things we were out of breath. Looking back you always wonder how much better you really could have done, but while you're out there it's so mentally and emotionally draining, plus you know this isn't your goal race and there's no reason to kill yourself for it.

I had my Garmin but didn't look at it until I knew we were close to the end. I saw we had about .4 miles to go and we'd make it under three hours if we ran so we did. We rounded the corner, saw the clock at 2:59:25. Sweet, just in time! We finished a little under 2:59, which is kind of exactly where I thought we would be. It's not a good time, but it was over. They're not lying, this thing is evil. Sure the uphills are often followed by some nice downhill stretches, but they do not even come close to making up for those inclines. I know I say this all the time about races, but I am NEVER doing this again!

Today I feel fine, surprisingly nothing is sore or injured and I'm not all that tired. I may still be, and always will be, a big girl but I'm a big girl who proves you can be big and healthy.

August 3rd - MCC Track - 5.97 miles - 01:12

I do not have an entry for a long run on July 31. This was to be a 17 miler with the group but I spent the morning on my couch in my pajamas instead. The night before I'd gone to the Outlaw Jam concert to see Poison and Motley Crue (yes, seriously). And it was AWESOME. So awesome, apparently, that I passed out cold while waiting for Poison to start. Not drunk, not dehydrated, just really hot I guess. I managed to recover, with a few trips to the medical and misting tents, and make it through the rest of the show but I woke up Sunday feeling like I'd been hit by a Mack truck so I decided to skip the long run so I didn't, you know, die.

When I got to the track Wednesday I found our little group and we were like the Waddling Wounded. I was still a little nervous about overheating, and confidence was not inspired when I tripped over the curb on the warm-up lap bruising my knee and scraping my elbow. A pace group buddy I hadn't seen in a while returned, hadn't been running due to work, vacation, then bronchitis. And our last friend had six stitches in his mouth from recent oral surgery. I told Coach Mike up front that the three of us were in somewhat rough shape and he could just let us go, but please check on us every once in a while.

Erring on the side of caution Bronchitis Buddy and I just tooled around the track at a decent pace - about halfway between LSD and speed. That was fine with both of us, and for not having run in a month or so Buddy did a great job. We walked a few cool down laps for a total of probably 6.5 miles. All things considered, even falling over, I was pleased with our performance.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Photos from July 24th run

Over halfway in, posing with Mr. Lincoln:

About half a mile from the end, 15 miles of 90+ degree weather down. This is when I learned that the Capitol is, in fact, at the top of a giant hill:

Recap - July 3rd - July 28th

Wow, didn't realise how far behind I was! I'll make one giant post with a few points, since what I can remember about the last few weeks is probably pretty minimal anyway.

July 27th - MCC Track - 6.8 miles
Forgot to pause the Garmin while we sat and chatted for a while so I'm not sure of total moving time but I know it was fast! Workout was 5 2x800, but the weather wasn't too miserable (high was only in the low 90s) so it wasn't too bad. After Sunday's run my legs were a little tired but I kept up with the coaches and completed the workout successfully, and killed the cool-down lap around campus.

July 24th - Bethesda to Union Station - 15.5 miles
This was a run that probably shouldn't have been done, and one that makes you feel like a badass when you've finished. The weekend was miserably hot and humid, we were close to having to cancel the run due to heat and humidity and the turn-out was a little light due to it. But we had a good, sturdy group of 12:30s. We may have cut half a mile off of the planned 16, but whatever. We plowed through the first 8 miles, stopping by a water and popsicle stand set up by a good friend and coworker of mine (who also graced me with a washcloth full of ice cubes and a frozen water bottle). Took it real easy the last 7.5, plenty of walk breaks, since a lot of it was in the sun. We ran most of Hains Point, which I like, and liked even more since the sprinklers were on and we got SOAKED. Without those I'm not sure I would have made it all the way to the end.

July 20th - Mormon Hill - 3.84 miles - 00:44
I had been dreading this run, so much that I skipped it last year. Instead of hitting the track we go to neighborhood around the Mormon Temple and charge up a half-mile-long hill. What wasn't mentioned was that the route leading to the hill is also A LOT OF HILLS. It was exhausting, and we only ran the hill once because it was also 95 degrees. Luckily there are a lot of good downhills too so even though we planned to run 13s I averaged a 12:12 mile. All in all it was amazing and I want to tackle that miserable hill again in better conditions. And afterward the program went to Royal Mile Pub for beer and snacks. We were hot, sweaty, and stinky but we had a great time.

July 17th - Ken-Gar to Needwood - 14 miles - 02:57
I now know why they call this the "make or break" run. It's HARD. The weather cooperated as well as it could for July but I was BEAT by the end. Lots of hills, big and little. The hill into Needwood comes at the turn-around 7 miles in, and I hate that hill (though I will admit that this year I have completely owned it and made it my bitch). Then you turn around and run a bunch of nasty hills again. The last two miles were brutal, my legs were sore and I was exhausted. But I made it!

July 13th - MCC Track - 5.93 miles - 01:08
Walked 3/4 of a mile before, and walked a 1.25 mile cooldown neither of which I counted. Owned this speedwork, even though I thought I was going to die. It was just me and my coaches, and since my coaches are awesome they kept me going. My back was killing me (damn herniated discs) so I took two breaks to stretch it out and made it through all of the sets (5 2x800). I think this was the week I learned that the speedwork is done at an 11:30 pace (2:52/lap), and I learned I can do it with some help from my friends.

July 10th - Candy Cane City/Rock Creek Park - 10 miles - 02:07
This run was awesome, I didn't even notice the miserable hills on Beach Drive. Great weather, great company. Took some walk breaks to keep the group together but otherwise ran hard and strong.

July 6th - MCC Track - 5.65 miles - 01:04
I cut this one a little short because of my back, long runs don't seem to bother it but speedwork is tough on this big 'ol bod. Still averaged just under 11:30 so can't complain!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 29th - MCC Track - 6.18 miles - 01:12

Another tough one! And I finally did some math to figure out why.

We run at LSD pace, 12:30/mile. "Fast" laps are to be at 12:15/mile, or a little over three minutes per 1/4 mile lap. Right? Right. Coach had us running 2:52/lap, in the outside lane. My first four mile splits: 11:47, 10:53, 10:45, 11:10. I can run that fast, on a cool morning or during a race. I can't do it on a hot Wednesday early evening after work.

I kept up with the group for a while, then I hung back. I've been having some shin pain and didn't want to push it that hard for that long. As I stopped for water at some point I saw Coach Don, and I've never been happier (other than when he met us with cold water on Sunday) to see him. I ran the last two miles with him, perfectly on pace and feeling good. We did the recovery laps walking, though, and I'm fine with that. I still ended with an average pace of 11:46. Once I realised that I CAN run what I'm SUPPOSED to be running (and not consistent 11 minute miles, if I could do that I'd be in the 11:20 pace group) I felt really good about the workout.