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Sunday, October 14, 2018

queen bee half marathon

Earlier this week, I discovered that there was a half marathon in Cincinnati on Saturday morning...and that the weather forecast looked amazing. So... I was able to get my second and last half marathon of this training cycle in!!!
Found a bell....
Last year, three weeks out for Berlin, I ran the River Run Half Marathon in 1:44:52.  I was very focused on trying to keep it a "training" run...though honestly I think I was scared to race.  Or maybe I didn't want to set my new half marathon PR on yet another downhill course. So, I very actively made sure to slow my legs down on this course - course elevation below.

This year, three weeks out for Marine Corps, I ran the Queen Bee Marathon in 1:40:22. I did not attempt to slow my legs at all. I wanted to see what I was capable of. This was the course elevation.

First off, the Queen Bee Half Marathon is organized by the Flying Pig Marathon team - Cincinnati's late spring marathon that is super fun (apparently). It is a women's half marathon but guys can run too, they just have to start in the back and there are no awards for them.  The expo was in downtown Cincinnati and it was a pretty legitimate expo for a half marathon and four miler.  We got a shirt, headband, bag and poster as participants. They gave me the four miler shirt but oh well. I was having a crisis at the headband stand at the expo, and ultimately walked away with nothing - so I was relieved that we got a free headband. I also studied the mile aid stations and was amazed to see how many stations there were - each mile had a station with a sweet treat, and the water stations were actually at good spots for my gel consumption! 

I did not realize there was peppermint patties. I would have taken advantage of this .
I also noticed that the first 5.5 miles of the race kind of looked ridiculous in terms of hills but I shrugged, figuring Marine Corps was going to be like that too so this would be a good challenge.

Race morning - it was 40 degrees!!! I had my second crisis over what to wear. Do I wear my singlet and arm warmers or a straight up long sleeve? Gah!! So I brought all of it down to the race since I'd be doing gear check anyway. When I parked, and walked the half mile or so to the start, it honestly felt a little warm out (for knowing it was 40) so I changed into the singlet, arm warmers and gloves which ultimately ended up being the right decision.

The start was interesting - they had corrals. Hive "A" was those predicting to finish under 1:40, Hive "B" was 1:45-2 hours, and then the other Hives went on from there. There was hardly anyone in A..or B really. So that made the start nice and easy! Granted we started going up a hill...

The race started and I was like.. let's just try to hold 7:55s through the first half and see what happens. 

That plan totally worked.
There was a Kleenex station at like the first quarter mile so I grabbed one since the nose was runny (P&G was a main sponsor). They should have been at the end too.. Then honestly it was hills upon hills. But the course support was top notch. At one point, maybe around mile 3, there was a really nice view overlooking the Ohio River so that was cool. I tried to take in the scenery and neighborhoods as much as I could and I think that helped a ton! And like the course support once again... I at least smiled at everyone out there that I could and said thank you when I felt like I could talk and I think that also made a huge difference. Also my amount of liquid consumption while trying to run was hilarious..I drank very little from the aid station around mile 5 then stopped for a few moments at mile 11 to have gatorade.

The elevation is in grey - my heart rate in red. My heart rate averaged out at 158 which is my typical heart rate for hard effort training runs. Not sure what happened there at mile 10ish..
So.. the aid station descriptions gave me the impression that the course was downhill from there after mile 5.5. Even a few people on the street said it was downhill and flat from that point but haaaaaaaaa, not real. Granted it was not extreme hills like the first half but it was definitely rolling hills. Mentally though, I fought back at this and said hey, get over it - what goes up, comes down and you have so much more in you- don't get stuck in your comfort zone. Physically I had no ailments. No cramps, no weak spots with my hips, glutes. I was concerned that the first half would come back to bite me but it never did. So that's awesome to go into Marine Corps knowing my body can cope with the hills!

More reasonable paces...
I made a promise to myself that I would not do the math to figure out my finish time until Mile 10. Though I was pretty sure I was on track to a 1:40 before Mile 10. Once that Mile hit, I knew I calculated that I had to hit sub 8s to finish at 1:40 - taking into account that my Garmin was hitting the miles quicker than the mile markers...which I'll take. I rather a course be long than short.

Loved my $6 arm warmers!!!
As I knew, there was a significant uphill right before mile 13 so that was fun. I lost a little steam there but picked the pace back up for the last .1 miles... and finished in 1:40:22! I couldn't believe it - I had finally earned that new PR! And let me remind you that current PR was from a course with over a 1274 feet of decline...and 76 feet of gain.  If you don't count that as my PR, then the Akron Half two weeks ago was my PR of 1:43...So. I am in the best shape I have been in. Which is really exciting. This puts my potential at a 3:31 marathon. To qualify for Boston I have to run a sub 3:30. Anything is possible! 2 weeks until Marine Corps Marathon!!!

Nothing like a photographer grabbing your pic 15 seconds after you finish, lol.

Monday, October 8, 2018

akron half marathon

Whoops! A little late on this one. But I didn't forget!!! 

I ran the Akron Half Marathon on Saturday, September 29th. 

My goal for this race was to at least run it at the assigned training pace of 8:30 (1:49 finish) however as the date drew closer and the weather looked better... I was really hoping to PR for a sub 1:41 (7:45 pace). One of my confidence boosters leading up to this was that I had already run the first 12.5 miles of the race during my 20 mile training run a few weeks back. The weather for that run was rainy, a little bit humid, and just overall wet- I also was by myself for most of the first 12.5. So I knew what I was getting into as far as hills too.

Not flat. I was excited to run hard on a hilly course since Marine Corps is not flat either.
I woke up at 4a to have my usual banana, water and coffee, then made my way down to the parking garage. I got there around 5:45a. Met up with a few of the Oiselle girls and then used the bathroom many times per usual.

It was a little more warm and humid than anticipated (57 degrees, 72% humidity) but still much better than...this entire summer.

The start was great. There was no nonsense - played the national anthem, then they started playing Imagine Dragons - Natural (I already liked the song and then fully gained an appreciation of how awesome a pump up song is) while they got right into the 10-15 second countdown to start. Akron doesn't mess around.

I powered through the first 6 miles: 7:27, 7:31, 7:33, 7:58, 7:31, 7:46. I had my first gel right at mile 6 while running back up the bridge we came down when we started. The aid stations weren't at the best spots for me to have water/gatorade with the gel so I had to have it on the fly. Which I have done many times... Right past mile 7 I walked a little bit through the aid station to have some water and gatorade.. 

Then I had some really bad side stitches..almost shooting pain on my right side of my stomach in miles 7-8, and still felt the effects in mile 9 too. Splits for these miles were 8:21, 8:19, 8:34. When I was walking the people passing were so freaking encouraging it was awesome. Part of me wonders if this pain was also due to the fact that these miles were pretty tough - I didn't remember how long of a uphill these were from the training run..in my memory I powered through these miles on the training run. I also did the math at this point and figured out I was not going to hit the PR. Probably shouldn't have done that.

Finally we hit a nice long downhill through a neighborhood. I have forgot to mention...we passed a Swenson's around mile 2.5 and they were handing out milkshakes. Then not even a half mile later there were people in a neighborhood handing out beer and liquor shots. And here around mile 9, there were residents handing out marshmallows and kids handing out halloween candy.  It was silly and made me happy. The marshmallow smell did not excite me as much as it usually does though.

Also on another side note, the Akron Children's Hospital was one of the main sponsors of the race. So they had "Heroes" - children who have overcome a lot, and/or have chronic long-term conditions at random points through the course holding out a styrofoam circle that said "Press Here for Power" - it was super cute and I recognized a bunch of the kids from the race day materials they advertised. The kids were loving it and I tried to make my way over to wherever they were to press their styrofoam buttons for power! 

Miles 10 - 12 were on a long stretch of road. My splits were 7:54, 8:14, 7:48.  There was an aid station around mile 11 where I had my second gel - I really need to work on drinking liquids while running..that's what slowed me down. It is mostly the paper cup situation that foils me.

Then at mile 12 I gunned it- I was ready to be done but of course there were a few more hills to get through in downtown Akron, however the crowd support was there so that was great. 

And I know I gunned it because my apparently heart rate literally shot up right at mile 12 until the end. For most of the race it was around 160-162 which is normal for a hard training run (for me). It was above 170 for the first .8, chilled above 160 for .2 and then above 180 for the last .1. (peaked at 189 ; 193 is my max) So this is interesting - not sure how accurate it is to be honest - I remember I was putting forth a strong effort but it didn't feel like... terrible. I felt fine when I finished.

I finished in 1:43:33.

This is my second fastest half marathon time. My fastest half marathon had a 1274ft descent..no hills to climb either. So... I am still very happy with this more than a week later. 

Met up with Oiselle ladies after!

Like I mentioned earlier, I felt fine when I finished. I felt like I could have ran more at that pace which is great. I even stayed after for a while - sitting cross legged on the ground watching some people I know finish and got up from that seated position fine, lol. That is huge to me. I ran 2 more miles later with Shane as he is training for the Marine Corps 10k, and those 2 miles were a struggle. Like I think I shuffled the first mile. 

Shane lives very close to the hardest miles of the marathon course so I went over and cheered for a little bit - it was so cool to see everyone battling through it. I didn't say anything dumb like "almost there" - I literally can't deal when someone says that at any point during a marathon.

Overall - I really enjoyed this race and would love to do it again next year. This was a great confidence boosting run for Marine Corps in just a few weeks!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

marine corps marathon training update - 5 weeks away!

Okay, so I slacked on blog updates about training. So, here are a few of the highlights from Weeks 4 - 11 (7/30 - 9/23).
Shane killed it on the race photography game.
First thing first - unsurprisingly, it has been another hot and humid summer. I gradually transitioned my speedwork and tempo runs to the treadmill due to this and it just being more convenient for my body and schedule. A highlight (or low light if you are a strict outdoor runner) would be the 10 mile tempo run I did on a Wednesday morning during Week 10. Overall 8:22 pace - basically increased my speed every half mile. 
Mmmm good way to start the day. Good music is key for this.
However now, it is getting cooler, and my right hip has been achy during the day particularly after treadmill runs (not during), so it's time for me to get back outside. Even if my stomach doesn't want to. 
Did you know you can chafe from your Garmin? Neither did I. This hurt.
And a bonus this summer!! Camelbak Chafing.
My long runs have been a mixed bag. I have five 20 mile training runs on this plan. I have done 4 of them up to this point. One was my slowest ever - in Seattle - at overall 9:46 pace - granted, we hiked 10 miles at 5k-7k feet the day previously and my period started that morning... 
I mean let's be honest the hike was completely worth it.
Had to rock new Oiselle gear too! I did not do any other training activities this week other than my long run. It was nice to have a little break.
Then, I had my fastest 20 mile training run ever on the rolling hills of the Metroparks (not the flat as a pancake Towpath - my go-to last fall for Berlin) at an overall 8:49 pace. This was this past weekend.
I want to make sure I include all my incidents during training. New shoes..new blisters.
So, per typical, my training started off slow and not too exciting, but it seems like things are really coming together ever since Bird Camp. It helps that it is super motivating to see what it seems like, everyone, run marathons right now and crush it. 
Two key things I learned from Bird Camp: Run the mile you are in and lift heavy. I had been lifting fairly light (vs. other cycles) to change it up but I'm back at the heavy stuff (same day AFTER my runs). (this was taken before that decision)
5 weeks remain for this training cycle and I have my first (and possibly only) half marathon of this cycle this weekend - the Akron Half Marathon. The weather is looking...fantastic... I actually ran the first 12.7 miles of the course for my third 20 miler and did really well in 64 degrees, 88% humidity and rainy conditions. It has been super exciting to see the Blue Line driving all around Akron so I am already pumped. 
I made a friend during the last 7 miles of the Blue Line training run.  My Garmin stopped functioning properly around mile 17 so that was cool. Slightly concerns me but oh well. It doesn't seem to work well under any trees since this.. Also this run kind of made me want to run the Akron Marathon..

A lot of marathon courses, like Berlin, and apparently Akron, paint blue lines along the official marathon course.
I have done less spinning classes and more of my prescribed cycling workouts inside and outside. You bet  I'm putting the new bike to use (not pictured)! And yes that is a cat on the ground. 
Technically I should run this at my prescribed pace of 8:25 (1:50 finish) but... when in Rome/Akron. I may sob if I hit sub 1:40. I want it so badly!! Almost more than a BQ marathon time, lol.
I have stuck to my once a week yoga session. Running almost becomes a job when I'm training and yoga makes me feel all like *~*omg self-care*~*. 
I will post a recap of the Akron Half - this is a written commitment to myself.
I leave you with one of my favorite pictures of our trip to the Pacific Northwest!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

BIG post about Big Bird Camp!

Last weekend, I went to Oiselle's Big Bird Camp! The camp was open to the Oiselle Volee team. Some years they have regional camps, but this year it was one camp for all Volee! Luckily it was only a 6 hour drive from Cleveland.

Upon my arrival, I was greeted by foreign "pool boys" who swarmed me and it was very overwhelming experience but hilarious upon reflection. From there I walked in, and was greeted by Sally Bergesen, the founder of Oiselle. I shook her hand because clearly I thought I was at work and then we hugged it out.

Each cabin was named after some kind of bird (Oiselle's main logo and branding are bird-related), and I was in the Cuckoos cabin! I was the first to arrive. Our swag bag awaited us on our twin size bed. 

The wooden "medal" / name tag was super neat. Inside the bag were a new pair of Goodrs (sunglasses) - a style that was actually just released that day, a Oiselle miir (insulated) water bottle, Oiselle journal, a couple of Nuun containers, a Picky bar.. and I can't remember what else. We also had Salomon trail running shoes awaiting us on our bed.

I couldn't get my tempo run in that morning, so I decided to do that workout the next day (always smart to do the day before a long run..) and go for a short run with my fellow campers. We quickly discovered that the first 1.4 miles of our go-to running path was straight up trail and super hilly. Which was good prep for my trail race after camp!

From there, we snacked. The options were glorious. There was also pita, hummus, cheese, many bags of chips, chips, salsa, guac..the usual snack faves.

I have no idea how much La Croix I consumed.

Camp started off with an introductory song by Lauren Fleshman, retired pro runner for Oiselle and co-founder of Picky Bars (With her husband and Stephanie Bruce).

From there we hiked up a huge steep hill to "The Playhouse" for a goal setting session. Becki on my right in the red was one of my cabinmates and actually lives in Columbus. She is a member of the Haute Volee for Oiselle - so she is one of their elite runners. She already qualified for the 2019 Olympic Trials for the Marathon with a 2:41 earlier this year in Eugene. Molly on my left lives in Ohio too and we actually first met during Glass City Marathon in the middle of the race.

The Playhouse. The coolest part of this Goal Setting session was writing down two of our goals on pieces of paper then taping them to the pillars on the sides of the room. We had all of our night sessions here so those were always sticking around.

The next morning I did my 8 mile run..which was glorious because it was below 60 degrees and not humid. My body finally felt good for once and I was talking to one person or another during the run, even at my tempo pace. I enjoyed my Picky Bar after.

Afterwards, I went to a session about running form, and then a writing session with Lauren Fleshman, which was surprisingly intense. It was really good though!

Then I went to an Ultra Running Q&A Session with ultra runner Cat Bradley. She won the Western States 100 miler last year in Colorado and she literally just finished the Ultra race that circumnavigates Mont Blanc in France/Switzerland today and came in 8th place, first American female.  She showed everyone her new warm-up routine after. Additionally she had Trail Running 101 sessions each morning of camp - I always had a conflict but I heard each session was great.


From there I went to Kara Goucher's session that focused a little bit on her new book, but was more of a Q&A. I actually caught the end of her session the next day as you will see..I didn't have her new book at this point so I bought it afterwards and got her autograph and picture with her the next day. She was very open and emotional during both of her sessions which was really cool. She talked a bit about her next race, her 2009 Boston Marathon mishap, and the doping scandal that turned her bronze into a silver medal 16 years after the fact.

The Oiselle Pop-Up shop was a very dangerous place. Luckily I only bought a half zip pull over featuring some new logo ;)

Then there was a Q&A session with Lauren, Kara and Allie Kieffer. Allie Kieffer seemingly came from out of nowhere last year and finished 5th female in the NYC Marathon. She was the 2nd American Female... after Shalane. Allie ran a 2:29.

Had some zen time which was nice!

Then we met up with our state team.

Of course, the O-H-I-O :)

The day ended with a powerful session about body image. 

Sunday.. the Long Run! This is one of the camp photographer's photos (she is actually one Oiselle's elite runners), I am wearing the white socks and red shirt in the middle. I failed to mention before that 3.5 miles into this run, there is a killer hill. This is the beginning of that hill. It was 1.5 miles of just climbing - 300 feet. Doesn't sound like much...but I promise. It was rough. Coming down though? Glorious.

At some point during the run, I felt like I was being stared out, and then I look over and a horse is starting me down from 10 feet away. Then when I came back these fellas above decided to race me..

So.. this was documented as well by camp photographers/videographers. I am hoping to stumble upon some kind of official documentation of this! On that note... those photographers/videographers were everywhere. Also there were drones. Also we had aid stations set up every 2 miles or so, so that was awesome.

I saw Kara, Allie and Becki run the other way when I was coming back, and then naturally they passed me right around my 12.5 mile mark (I ran 13.1).  I posted this to my Instagram story and literally 2 minutes after that, Kara walked into my cabin (exchanging numbers with Becki), and then Allie messaged me on Insta to say she loved the photo (and a few days later asked me to send it to her!).

Alissa is one of my Ohio teammates! Her current marathon PR is 3:23. She and another teammate ran with me for the first half of my long run which was great. 

Then after brunch, I casually ran into Allie on the way to her session so we talked a bit while walking up that terrible steep hill. 

She was completely genuine like Kara, during her session. It wasn't until I saw this photo later that I realized she looks exactly like my friend Chelsea. Which may explain why I tried to like reach around her for a half hug for the photo. Completely normal.

At some point in the afternoon, I went to a Restorative Yoga class which was amazing. After some down time, I went back to the Lodge to catch the tail end of Kara's session. I don't talk with my hands at all.

I thanked her for being so open about her emotions and being OK with it. She told me not to cry because then I would make her cry, lol. Little did I know this would not be my only photo alongside Kara.

When I registered for camp, I said Yes to being in the fashion show, just thinking, well I'm registering late I'm sure they have this figured out already. Well...they picked me. I decided to do my extremely embarrassing attempt at the "floss" in front of the 275+ campers.

I walked right behind Kara as well so I figured more attention may be on her anyway.. A lot of the outfits featured un-released Oiselle logos, so I'm hoping more pictures come from this soon. Each piece of my outfit is available for purchase today though..hence why I'm posting it.

I did like the capris a lot! They recommended for those of us with layers to casually un-layer during the show but uhhh... my floss was already enough attention, lol. 

After that, there was a dance party!

Luckily on Monday morning we were able to get a cabin photo which is naturally one of my favorites from camp. We all got along really well which was awesome! I would definitely go to Camp again - it was such an awesome experience!