about me

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

marine corps marathon

Marathon #5 in the books!

*cue House of Cards intro music*
This past Sunday, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. This is one of the largest marathons in the world - it was 5th largest last year. My goal was to at least PR - I wasn't able to do that, but I can honestly say I really enjoyed this race, and I think it's a little evident in the pictures.
Your typical expo picture with the bib!
Really liked this old school race route map.
We match.
He finished with a 50:15 for his first 10k! I am proud!
Overall, I knew this is the fittest I have ever been (based off my recent half PR). I focused on that this past week despite having being zick last weekend. I had to skip my last long-ish run of 10 miles at marathon pace. I had actually signed up for a 15k last Saturday and couldn't do it. I had a 100-101 fever all day, couldn't stay awake for more than 20 minutes - I slept 7 hours during the day, hardly ate, and slept 12 hours that night (which luckily broke the fever). I mustered 4 miles on Sunday but stopped due to how high my heart rate was for an easy pace. Regardless - I took this as my body telling me something and was thankful it didn't happen this past (race) weekend.

Did touristy things after the Oiselle brunch on Saturday.
I woke up at 4:15a race morning after a very solid 7 hours of sleep. I had a cup of coffee, a bottle and a half of water, and 2 bananas. I ubered over to the start at 6a and security was a breeze. It was really cool walking to the start and seeing the Capitol and Washington Monument in the distance. Also weather was good- 50 degrees and cloudy until the end. It was a bit humid actually which I really felt prior to the race.

The photographer insisted this was a good angle.
The bathroom situation was plentiful and I was all bundled up until 7a, then I checked my bag and made my way over to the starting area. They had a couple people jumping out of planes so that was neat. Then they had helicopters fly over the start as well for both the wheelchair and runners start. The corrals were loosely enforced. It was interesting because we started on both sides of the highway. Ultimately my side was the hilly side in the beginning - rookie mistake.

Not seen: the Pentagon to the left, and the Washington Monument and Capitol in the distance to the right.
Unicorn spotting. I will admit a guy in a banana costume and another guy in a hot dog costume finished before me. This is probably the most disappointing thing to me right now.
The race started promptly at 7:55a with the flyover and cannon going off. I knew the first few miles were hilly but wow, they really got to me. I was sweating way too much for the pace I was going at (or what my watch was telling me at the time). It was nice to hit a beautiful downhill right after mile 3, going through a forested parkway road, under a bridge, with a view of the Georgetown. I said hi to Dorothy Beals aka Mile Posts on Instagram on the way down. Because I'm a creep like that. Then we climbed back out because that downhill was too good to be true. 
This was after that little climb out of the parkway.
We then ran through Georgetown, and around miles 6-8, we were going through a little out and back portion, which I hadn't mentally prepared for. I was ahead of the 3:30 pace group up to this point (mistake, much?), and then here is where they passed me, plus then you had other runners running by who had turned around ahead. I hate to say that this is where I kind of lost it, but my body just wasn't feeling as fresh as I thought it would, granted I'm sure the hills helped in that matter.

I am not certain if this picture was around this mile mark... just going off of my arm warmer length. P.S. That girl in red finished a few minutes before me. We took pictures of each other at the end.
I don't remember miles 9-10 honestly, but then we hit a long stretch at mile 11 and hit the Blue Mile at mile 12 where we ran by pictures of military service members who lost their lives in the line of service - they started with WWII veterans and then became more current from there. Then at the end of the mile, probably for the last half to quarter mile, we ran through a sea of American flags that volunteers were holding on both sides of us.
At some point right before the Blue Mile. 

I had eventually stopped looking at my watch for my splits. I just wasn't feeling strong and fast like how I envisioned. I noticed I hit around a 1:47 half time which was good but obviously not my goal. Granted I didn't have a goal time for the first half, so that is something I probably will set going forward. Duh..

From here, it seemed like forever to get to miles 15-16 (my next gel - I tend to break down the race by looking forward to my gel consumption points), and this is where we hit the Washington Monument and National Mall area - which was awesome!

Oh hello America!
I have no idea if this is before or after the previous picture.
I knew where mile 18 was since I knew Shane started the 10k there so that actually came up pretty quick, and before I knew it we were running right by the Capitol.

Oh I was a little ham right here.
Hamming it.
A flying ham.
So, one of the dreaded parts of the Marine Corps Marathon is this bridge from mile 20-22. I really thought it was like only a mile or so, and I didn't see a dramatic uphill on the course maps so I didn't understand what the big deal was.. well, now I can see how this could suck - especially if it was hot out!! I had a few things work in my favor for this though. First, I had to take a gel around mile 20-20.5, and they had just added a cup-free water stop to the bridge. So I saved my Gatorade cup from the mile 19 aid station and used it for the water stop to have with my gel - this help break it up a bit. Also, right at mile 20, the CEO of Oiselle, Sally and the Corporate Development Director, Sarah caught up to me, so that was legitimately really amazing. Something happened with one of their toes so they had to walk a bit - I had no idea what to do! But I kept going hoping everything was alright. Third, I knew at Mile 22 that the local Oiselle running group would be loud and proud cheering for me so that was also motivating.

The Cowbell Corner did not disappoint. I missed them when I ran Chicago but I made sure not to miss them this time. They were literally screaming as I ran down to them, and gave Courtney a high five as seen below. This was very energizing!

Here I come! This was an amazing feeling to come down to the corner!
Going in for that high five from Courtney..
Nailed it.
Courtney and another girl moved over to the other side of the street (this was like a mile later), and I had lost some energy by that point so it was great to see them again. Later Courtney would tell me, You looked so strong!! Then the second time around, you were not as happy, lol.  The sun had come out at this point so I felt like I was melting.

My smile hides my true feelings about sunshine during the last 4 miles of a marathon.
The last 4 miles or so were okay. I honestly didn't feel terrible, though I had a bathroom scare at Mile 24 where my body was like hey, I want to do something but I fought that off.  I was passing many people.
The final flat stretch. In the sun. Sigh.
Sally (Oiselle CEO) and Sarah caught back up to me at mile 25 so that was very exciting that they were not hurt, and they took off from there. The last .2 of the course is um...very steep. I also knew about this but I thought people were exaggerating. They were not.
The actual burst of photos from this moment clearly displays how your form goes to wreck after 26.1 miles of running.
Regardless, I finished in 3:45:34 on the most difficult course I have run a marathon on yet. Not a PR, but faster than Glass City earlier this year, and thankfully faster than my first marathon too. So, my second fastest marathon! I'll take it. And I didn't hate it (cough, Chicago, cough).

My fifth straight "I am smiling because I just finished a marathon but these people behind me are dying" selfie.
So it is kind of crazy to think that 1. there were 27640 people running the marathon and 2. I finished in the top 7%.
They had a basically a tunnel of Marines congratulating us as we walked after the finish, and then a Marine placed the medal around my neck which was really cool. 

Selfie with the medal!
The Marine Corps War Memorial was literally right there but I was desperate for Gatorade and water. I walked out with a fellow female finisher who felt the same about the course - really enjoyed it, but maybe not do it again. Ok, I probably would do this race again but not for a PR. As much as I hated the out and backs and how they messed with my mental game, it was so cool to look at how many people were running the marathon.

Going forward, I have to cover 26.2 miles in one stretch this upcoming weekend in order to get an entry to NYC Marathon next year - and then from there, I hope to do a Turkey Trot, another 5k (probably a random local one), and then the Christmas Story 10k.  As far as marathon training, I am so excited for my next marathon, hopefully one in Spring, and I am definitely considering getting a coach to help me out for this next one. It is so much time to spend training and to have it all come down to one day! I am ready for something different...especially during the winter months.

Bonus Pictures!
This was my first plate at the Oiselle Happy Hour after the race.
We went to a pizza place after for an actual meal. This was a vegan pizza. I consumed half in the restaurant and the last half in the AirBNB a few hours later.
Jill was one of my cabin mates at Bird Camp. I had actually already been following her on Instagram because she had a great account and blog about finishing all the World Marathon Majors. She made this awesome sign for me at the race!
Some of the Oiselle MCM Finishers! Sarah Lesko (Oiselle Corp. Dev Director), Sally Bergesen (CEO) are to my right. One of my fellow Ohio teammates Alissa is to my left!
Worst race shirt of all time?
Had to go back to the finish the next morning to actually appreciate the Marine Corps War Memorial and of course, get a picture with our medals together :)

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!!!