What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

Bebe Rexha
I’m Gonna Show You Crazy

20131107-131103.jpgTaking a little break from the indie scene this week for a little pop jam that’s been stuck in my head for the past few weeks! The studio where I go for pole dancing recently had a Student Showcase as part of a community days event in the township it is located in. I didn’t participate because I still feel like I’m so new at everything, but I did go and support the studio and the students who performed. There were some amazing performances, and the last one of the day was put on by our teacher, Kimmy. I’d heard this song once or twice before on Pandora but forgot about it, and her routine was to this song. I was surprised at her music choice for a community days performance, but I love the song! This artist has an EP out and the other catchy song by her that comes on my Pandora is called, “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You”. I remember hearing it awhile back and think the lyrics were really dumb, but the more I hear it the more I like it. However, my favorite pick off of the EP is absolutely “I’m Gonna Show You Crazy”. Hope you enjoy!

Any good new music on your radar this week?

Race Report: Celtic Fest 10K

Every September, Bethlehem hosts Celtic Fest and there’s always a race (a 5K and 10K) that kicks off the festivities on Saturday morning. I don’t usually run it (I’ve done the 5K a few times in the past), but this year it fit pretty nicely into my training. I knew a little about the 10K course and was aware it wasn’t a PR type of course, so my main goal was to run hard and try to be somewhere in between 10K and half marathon pace. Ideally, I would love to break 40 minutes in a 10K and I think I can do it (my PR is 40:36) so if I was feeling it on Saturday, I was going to go for it and throw everything else out the window. Well, this ended up being the slowest 10K I’ve run in about a year and a half, but I was fine with that based how it all went down.

The race is only about 10 minutes from my house, so I was up at a reasonable hour for coffee and a plain bagel with almond butter. I headed out, but I didn’t feel much like racing. I was still fighting this stupid cold/allergies/whatever and just wanted to go back to bed. I got to the start, grabbed my packet and found a few of my friends. We chatted until it was time to start. I lined up at the front at the last minute, next to a girl who looked pretty intense. I found out later that she’s won the race for the past few years.

The race began, and we were off. The girl from the start was on my heels in the first mile but I told myself to run my own race and not to go out too quickly, since that’s been working for me lately. I didn’t speed up to pass her and held my pace, but I dropped her before the half mile mark. I was running with a pack of guys at this point and was the lead female. I didn’t want to be faster than a 6:30 for the first mile, and I hit that in 6:31. Perfect. Except then the road race turned cross country race – and I am certainly not a cross country runner. I’d looked at the map before the race, but it was really confusing. I was aware that some of the race wasn’t on the road, but I didn’t realize four out of the six miles of it would be cross country style. Some of it was a cinder trail (one that I’ve never run on because it’s not always in the best shape), but a large chunk of the race was also run on grass and was quite hilly. The second mile wasn’t too crazy but it was on the cinder/rocky trail. It opened up to a field next to an area known as Burnside Plantation, and we began running on the grass. It slowed me down a little and I hit that mile in 6:46. Besides the unfamiliar terrain, I felt decent, considering the cold and the allergies. Miles 1 & 2 – 6:31, 6:46.

Miles three and four were the most difficult of the race based on the terrain. We were literally running up and down a grassy hill near a local golf course. It’s part of the high school cross country districts course in our area. Those miles were not so pretty and more about me not tripping and falling on my face. I didn’t feel bad, I just don’t usually do the cross country thing. I told myself to work hard enough to keep my lead and to worry about pace on the way back. I knew there were two miles that headed back to the finish where I could potentially make up some time. I also wished for a pair of cross country spikes. I was relieved towards the end of mile 4, where the course dumped us out onto a road – but we began to run through Monocasy park. It’s a very short park and there’s a bridge at the end to cross a creek. The course took us up and down a flight of stairs to cross the creek, and then up another flight of stairs to exit the park – it was really strange. Miles 3 & 4 – 7:13, 6:55.

Miles three and four were a bit more intense than I’d anticipated, but now we were on our way back. I felt really good at this point and had plenty of energy and was prepared to RUN. This is where the drama began. The course was very well marked on the way out. I even remember thinking how great it was that there were arrows spray painted all over the grass to mark where to go so there was no chance of me getting lost. But on the way back, things got sketchy in the second half of mile five. The arrows were spray painted on the grass to mark the way OUT, but not the way BACK. The course was kind of like a lollipop, so it wasn’t a problem until the last mile – I also knew the first mile and the last mile were different.

Somewhere in mile five, I could still see the three lead guys up ahead of me – two were further away, one was pretty close. We turned a corner on the cinder trail and I couldn’t see the two leaders anymore. I passed the guy in front of me, but we were both slowing down at this point and looking around – were we going the right way? We were passing some oncoming walkers that were just nearing the 1.5 mile mark – were we still on course to head towards the finish? We were both confused and slowed to sort of a jog at this point. Neither of us were really sure about what was going on.

The trail dumps you out on a road, and across the road the trail continues and there was a water stop that we hit in the beginning of the race. I crossed the road, grabbed water and kept running but something felt wrong – I knew that we weren’t supposed to go back the way we began. I also knew if I went back this way, I had well over a mile left and I was already at 5.1. I turned and jogged back to the water stop and noticed the guy I was running with sort of running in place, not sure what to do. I stopped and said to a woman working the water stop – “Which way for the 10K?” She points towards the direction we had just come from and said, “That way, you have to go out towards the golf course” (where we just came from). I replied, “No, I was there already. Where do I go now?” She points again and I said, “No, you don’t understand – I’m looking for the finish – I’ve already run over 5 miles. Which way to the finish?”

My favorite line of the day. She looks at me, completely confused, and said, “Oh…hmmm, I don’t actually know.”

What? What? WHAT? At this point I just laughed – I mean, I wasn’t having the race of my life anyway and it really was kind of funny. Luckily, a cop directing traffic overheard the last part of our conversation and he jumped in saying, “Ohhhh!! This way! This way! You are the first female!” (UMM, where were you when you let me cross the street to begin with?!?!) Instead of continuing straight on the trail, I was supposed to turn left on the road. Once he pointed me in the right direction, I knew exactly where to go from there (most of my runs are in downtown Bethlehem) so I took off. A few minutes later, I knew I was going the right way because I began to catch the tail end of the 5K. Back on course.

If I had to estimate how long I lost with slowing down in the 5th mile, running back to the water stop and stopping to ask for directions, I would guess somewhere around 60 seconds. I did whatever I could to finish mile 5 strong, and mile 6 was my fastest of the whole race. Mile 5 & 6: 7:03, 6:28. Last .2: 5:47 pace. My legs felt totally fine at the end. I wanted a redo. I did, however, come in as the first female!!

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The course map:

celticmapYou can see where miles three and four just go around and around – that was the hilly/grassy section. Only the first and last miles were on the road. I finished in something like 42:13 according to the chip timing. I feel like 41:13 would be pretty close to what I would have run considering most of my 10Ks are in the 41 minute range, and my PR for this distance was just in August and I definitely feel stronger now. The other reason I believe I lost about 60 seconds was based on when the first and second males finished. I was the 1st female but the 3rd overall runner to finish: the two lead males brought it home in just under 41 minutes. That also confirmed my suspicion that I would probably be closer to 41 minutes because I could see them for the whole race until the section where we turned and the course got confusing.

Even though it certainly was not my best race of the season, I was happy with the end result. I didn’t know much about the course before going into this one, but I knew it wasn’t going to be like a traditional road race. This is not a type of race I am comfortable with, but I would do it again because it took me out of my comfort zone. Especially now that I know the course 🙂 Usually, I find that the experiences that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable are the ones that don’t necessarily come with a PR but are the most beneficial in the “long run”. They challenge you mentally and physically, and they help become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s why I periodically do things like random trail races or the occasional triathlon in the summer months – it’s challenging and exciting to do something different, and you never know what you will get out of it.

Have you ever run a cross-country style race? Have you ever gotten lost while running a race?

Hartford Marathon Training, Week 13: 9/21-9/27

Week one of my three week taper! It came with a rough start – after my long run last Sunday, I came down with a cold. Or maybe it was allergies. Either way, it’s still lingering but I’m feeling a little better. I’m guessing it’s allergies by the way it comes and goes. I felt okay running this week – my legs liked the reduced mileage but the cold/allergy thing made it just okay. I had a great week on the pole, which has easily become my new favorite cross training. I know it sounds really weird, but I honestly think that pole class is really complimentary to running. My core has seriously never been stronger than it is right now, and many of the poses strengthen and stretch your hips. Some of them require you to stretch your hamstrings, but you aren’t overstretching. I love it.

Towards the end of the week and through the weekend, I spent more time sleeping and unplugged a bit from the blog world, so I have lots to catch up on today!

Monday, 9/21 – Core + Pole Fitness

I had the choice to either run 5 miles or rest. I had one rest day on the schedule for the week and I had it scheduled for Monday or Friday. I hate using my rest day at the beginning of the week, but this week it was necessary. I went to bed early on Sunday night and slept through the night, but I still woke up feeling gross. It felt like stuff was dripping down my throat, and I was congested. So, I kept my pole class on the schedule but decided that today was the day for rest. Plus, my quads were shot from my long run and could use a day to recover. I got on my yoga mat after work and did some core work. I was still pretty beat, but I headed to pole class. I was glad I went – I learned some variations off the split grip Ayesha – a pencil and a Jackknife:

Tuesday, 9/22 – Track Workout, 10 Miles w/6×800

I teach at a high school. One that has cross country and track. We just finished building a brand-spanking new, gorgeous track. Did I do my track workout there? Nope. The freaking thing is under lock and key. So I drove to the neighboring high school, Parkland (where I normally go) only to find that their track was all ripped up!!  It was so nice outside. My other options were Lehigh University or Muhlenberg College, but I’ve played that game in the fall before. The one where I start my workout and then the lacrosse team shows up to practice on the field and balls are whizzing by my head (Muhlenberg) or when the cross country team shows up for their own workout (Lehigh). I get halfway through my workout and ending up having to either go somewhere else or cut it short. So once again, I headed to the treadmill. This time, I had no desire to be stuck inside but it was that or no track workout.

Fortunately, I ended up having a great run – even though it was indoors. I warmed up for about three miles – starting just under a 9 minute pace and progressing over the three miles to pick up my turn over. My goal range for my 800s was 2:54-3:09. The first one always feels so fast on the treadmill, and also like I might completely fly off, so I began at the slower end. My repeats ended up being a perfect negative split (only because I was on Satan’s Sidewalk): 3:09, 3:05, 3:04, 3:01, 2:56. 2:54 (pace range 6:18-5:48!!) I walked a 400 in between each one, and jogged the cool down at the end for an overall pace of 9:03. I don’t think I ever broke the 3 minute mark for an 800 before! I realize it was 800s and on a treadmill but I remember when breaking into the sub 7 min barrier was a rare occurance. Two repeats in the sub 6 range! I was floored! I can’t wait to do these on a track again.

Wednesday, 9/23 – Recovery Run, 5 Miles + Pole Fitness + Core

Weather Kitty was happy in the morning, so I knew it was going to be a good day for a recovery run:imageI was feeling a lot better on Wednesday – no doubt due to the fact that I hadn’t been outside for an extended period of time over the two days before so my allergies/cold had calmed down. I had a decent afternoon run before pole class – it was the first recovery run that I was at the faster end of my recovery pace range and it felt good. Overall pace, 8:20. Finished up with some drills before heading to the pole studio. My recent favorite is the pose on the left – it’s called the Janiero! I can get into it pretty easily now, but I’m not so graceful when I try to get out of it – yet!

After pole, I went home and got on my yoga mat while dinner was in the oven and did a quick core workout.

Thursday, 9/24 – 10 Mile General Aerobic Run + Pole Fitness

It was pretty warm on Thursday afternoon, but I headed out for a 10 miler on one of the local trails. I wasn’t feeling so great again, but my run wasn’t terrible. I don’t run with my phone too often but I forgot to charge my shuffle so I brought it along for music…good, thing, because it was a nice day and I took a few pictures. Around the second mile, you emerge from a wooded area and come out to a more open space. For some reason, I always think it’s so pretty – power lines and all:

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I found a little buddy on the trail that I picked up and moved out of the way so he wouldn’t get squished by anyone biking the trail:

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Afterwards, I did some drills and my MYRTLs before heading over to pole class. I was excited to go because my friend, Ashley, was coming with me and my sister in law for her first class ever! She did great and even though I wasn’t feeling awesome, it was a fun class and a great workout. It’s a little blurry but I learned another variation off of my Ayesha called a Sneaky V (the names crack me up), which I LOVED…I got a few other better pictures of it but I feel like the other angles show entirely too much crotch – no one needs to see that!

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Friday, 9/25Recovery Run, 5 Miles w/6×100 meter strides + Pole Fitness

I was tired in the morning but I headed out for an easy run with some strides. I kept the pace of the run easy and just picked up the pace moderately for my strides. Overall pace, 8:41. After work, I headed to the pole studio but my whole body was just beat up. I still had fun but the class was tough and I was struggling with things that I can normally do just fine. My allergies/cold seemed to be acting up a bit again, so I was a little concerned for the 10K I had on the schedule for the next morning.

Saturday, 9/26 –  Celtic Fest 10K + Pole Fitness

If you follow me on Instagram, you can find a spoiler as to how the 10K went – however, the whole thing was an ordeal and definitely needs a post of its own!! I was still feeling like crap but after the race, I headed to pole class because Ashley wanted to go again. Ended up feeling pretty good and finally got my Cupid (on the left- looks like it would be so easy, but I’ve been trying to do it since about July) and my elbow grip Ayesha. The elbow grip is technically easier than the split grip version that I can do, but for some reason it was always really hard for me. I was so excited to finally get both of these!

I went home and slept a lot, and switched my allergy medicine from Zyrtec to Allegra and hoped for the best.

Sunday, 9/27 – 17 Mile Long Run

Although I still felt a little off, either the rest of the Allegra helped a lot and I met Kathy for our long run. I was surprised that I wasn’t sore from the race (well, half surprised) and manage a consistent, strong long run. Overall pace was 7:31. After the run, I did core and MYRTLs at home…and lots of rest over the rest of the day!

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Swim:  0 meters ♥ Bike: 0 miles ♥  Run: 53 miles

How was your week? Anyone else suffering from fall allergies? Am I getting annoying with the pole fitness stuff?? I definitely have an obsession.

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

Lana Del Rey
High by the Beach

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LANA!!!! Her new album dropped on September 18th. I love her. Love love love love. Love!!! Her voice is so pretty, but her lyrics can just be so dark or crude…which I adore. The combination of the dark lyrics and her voice is just fabulous. She is an all around stunning person – I admit that I have a total girl crush on her. I remember when I first heard her song, “Video Games” (which wasn’t her first hit or her first album, but it was what I heard first). It was summer, and I stopped whatever I was doing and downloaded the whole album – Born to Die. I honestly don’t know one song that she sings that I don’t like. Recently, one of the students at the pole studio actually did a routine to “Young and Beautiful”. It was incredible – the song combined with her moves was so gorgeous! Anyway, I’ve been anticipating this album all summer long, and her hit single, “High by the Beach”, definitely exceeds my expectations. I listened to it in my car on repeat a few times, and it is going to make an excellent addition to my running playlist. I’m currently making my way through the rest of the album. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Any good new music on your radar this week?

Hartford Marathon Training, Week 12: 9/14-9/20

This was my final week of high volume before my taper! I made it right through my long run on Sunday (yesterday) and then came down with a cold, which I’m battling now. I always get sick at the beginning of the school year so I’m glad it waited until my high volume weeks were behind me. I’m not feeling terrible, just a little off. My throat felt sort of scratchy yesterday so I knew something wasn’t right. I slept a TON last night and already seem to be feeling better today, so hopefully extra sleep combined with my reduced intensity for my taper with keep this at bay.

This was my highest volume week I’ve ever run. I’ve sustained 70+ mile weeks for the past three weeks now. This was the final mileage jump that I worked towards all summer long. My legs were really tired after the second week of this volume, and I didn’t know how I’d make it through my highest volume week yet. I just took it one day at a time. I was surprised at how focusing on individual days made it all seem less overwhelming and before I knew it, Sunday was here and it was over. Another added twist to the week was that I had Meet the Teacher night and a wedding, so fitting everything in was a challenge. I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready to taper than I am now. I like the volume I’ve been doing and I’m looking forward to doing it again in the spring for Boston training…but for now, I’m ready to rest, recover and RACE!

Monday, 9/14 – 8 Mile Recovery Run + Core/Yin Yoga

Even though my legs were screaming at me from the half marathon the day before, this got me inspired to run…

imageI registered at 10am on the dot. I can’t help it. I geek out over Boston! This will be my 6th consecutive Boston. I should mention that my aunt has a house in Brookline, and I can drive to Boston. While this marathon can be really pricey for most people, it’s really just the cost of registration for me (okay, and the jacket). I’m fortunate to have family so willing to open their doors and welcome us each year for the race.

Although my preference for running weather is 50s and overcast, I also couldn’t help but get excited by Weather Kitty as I sat at work all day knowing I had to head out for a run:

imageYAS. I mean, still warm. But on a shaded trail – YASSSS. I almost forgot about my dead legs…almost. They reminded me when I started running. Once I warmed up, I felt decent until about mile 6. That probably would have been a good place to stop but I was still two miles from my car, so I just slowed down, relaxed, and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. Overall pace, 8:32. Finished up with drills and MYRTLs, went home and did some core and some Yin Yoga to stretch out my sore legs. Honestly, it all felt okay considering the beating I gave my legs the day before.

Tuesday, 9/15 – 15 Mile Medium Long Run + Core

I’m drafting a post about this round of marathon training that I want to publish before the race – I just throw random thoughts in there about my workouts in general. One of the subjects is about this freaking mid-week “medium” long run. You see, good old Pfitzy refers to anything under 16 miles as “medium” long. On a Sunday morning, I may agree with him. I like 15 miles. It’s fun. But on a Tuesday (or any day during the week) afternoon in summer-ish weather, there is nothing “medium” about 15 miles. You might as well tell me I’m running a mid week 100 miler. Okay, I’m exaggerating.

This week wasn’t quite as hot, so it wasn’t QUITE as torturous. But it was Tuesday, and I just ran that half on Sunday so I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to handle 5 miles. The recovery run the day before wasn’t bad but I was ready to be done at the end. To follow suit with the last four weeks of these ugly runs, I forgot my GU. I had eaten quite a bit that day so I thought I would be okay – and for the most part, it was. My legs felt heavy for sure, but what did I expect two days out from the half? It wasn’t my worst one, but it wasn’t my best one. It wasn’t the most comfortable run ever, but it wasn’t the most uncomfortable run. I was glad when it was over, but I wasn’t so drained that I couldn’t function. I went home and did MYRTLs and core. Overall pace, 8:03. The promise of my Paleo Taco Pie for dinner was like the proverbial carrot to finishing the run!

Wednesday, 9/16 – Strength/PT/Core + 8 Mile General Aerobic Run + Pole Fitness

Headed to the gym for just about 45 minutes of strength training. When I only have a short amount of time, I split my workout up into circuits. With the higher mileage, I absolutely skip “leg day” since, well, everyday is leg day for me. I have a whole circuit that starts with arms, and I give myself 20 minutes for that. Next, I switch to PT – I have a few exercises I like to keep up with from my Achilles drama, so I spend 10 minutes doing those. I finish up with about 15 minutes of weighted ab exercises. I usually aim for closer to an hour of strength training, but if my ass is dragging it’s harder for me to get there earlier. Thought it was going to be a rough day all around, but then I got to work and saw THIS:

imageAHHHHHH! The BAA is on fire this year because that was pretty fast! I can’t wait! To follow suit with every other day for the past three weeks, my legs felt heavy on my afternoon run. I am so ready for this taper! I took it nice and easy on the beginning of the run, and then picked up the pace for the last 5K and was able to negative split the run. Overall pace, 7:55.

Thursday, 9/17 – A.M. 5 Mile Recovery Run  + P.M. 5 Mile Recovery Run

Oddly enough, I’m starting to like these doubles. I think it’s because it still allows me to get in a good amount of miles, and I run them as recovery miles so there’s no pressure. Also, it’s nice to not have to go out and run all 10 miles at one time. My morning run felt pretty good, which is weird. I love running in the morning, but I dislike running from my house. I’ve mentioned it before, but the road I live on is less than ideal. I didn’t mind it today. After work, we had Meet the Teacher night so I decided to stay around the area where I work. I ran with one of my friends on the Ironton Trail – I don’t love that trail, but it was a nice day to run. Overall pace for the am run, 8:47 and 8:49 for the afternoon run.

Friday, 9/18Track Workout: 6×1 Mile Repeats (11 miles total)  + Core/PT

The whole “Meet the Teacher” night messed up my week in that I had to do a track workout on Friday. That was the LAST thing I wanted to do as I walked out of work. The school I teach for built a new track so I was planning to use that, but they were painting the lines on it so it was closed. Being as it was Friday night, I knew I would run into the problem with football games going on at the other schools track’s that I normally use, so I went to the treadmill. It was actually a pretty warm day so I wasn’t totally disappointed with my choice. I ended up having a fabulous run, treadmill and all. My McMillian range for mile repeats is 6:08-6:34. If my pace ranges seem a bit broad for my track workouts, it’s because I run the calculator twice. I run it once for my more recent marathon time of 3:14, but I also run it for my 3:06 from 2014. I believe in training at a level that you’ve already accomplished, but the 3:06 was a whole year before the 3:14 and my year of injuries, so I’ve been blending the two together.

I warmed up easy, and I did my repeats as follows: 6:31, 6:22, 6:18, 6:15, 6:10, 6:07. I walked a 400 in between each one, and I ran easy for the cool down. I was really worried that six would be too many, but my legs felt good for the whole workout. Overall pace, 8:20 and had enough energy for an ab workout and MYRTLs after.

Saturday, 9/19 –  Pole Fitness

Slept in, went to an early pole class and did zero running! I hadn’t had a day off of running since Friday, September 4th. It felt GREAT. It’s not the most difficult move, but I finally got into my Superman pose:

imageIt really rips your legs apart so I’ve never gotten that one before. I usually try it a few times but then move on because I can’t deal with it anymore, but I got this one twice in a row and was able to hold it – finally! We had a wedding to head to in the afternoon so pole class was my workout for the day.

Sunday, 9/20 – 23 Mile Long Run

Well, that happened. Longest training run I’ve ever done, outside of a marathon. I was bummed about this run all weekend: I had a wedding on Saturday night, making the food/sleep situation a bit of a gamble. I couldn’t really do this run on Saturday with my friends and get any sort of benefit from it since I had to do my track workout on Friday, due to Meet the Teacher night. Both Mark and Kathy had social obligations, making it impossible for them to change their run to Sunday. I was originally planning to run 22 miles. But I saw my mileage total for the week was going to be 74 miles with my 22 miler, and I needed to make it a round 75 before I began my taper. I told myself I was going to run 20-23 miles, but I knew in my head I was already committed to 23.

I managed to get into bed at a reasonable time and got up around 6 am without an alarm. I woke up and kind of felt like I was coming down with a cold. I almost just slept on my couch. I told myself I was just tired from the wedding and from the week in general. I forced myself out the door to give it a shot. I parked at Saucon Park to do a similar route to what I did when I ran 22 miles before Boston. For a run this long, I like to run the trail but do super hilly loops on the roads off of  every trail head. The section of trail I really like gives you about 10 miles if you run out and back, so there is a significant amount of road running that happens when I do a run like this. It’s nice because the run ends up being really interesting and is over before you know it.

I was doing a warm up mile in the park and saw another runner coming towards me. It was Chris G., the super speedy local runner I ran 20 miles with a few weeks ago. I was half terrified and half excited when he saw me and said, “Oh, mind if I join you for a few miles? I’m doing about 12!” Of course I wouldn’t say no to that – and my plan of running negative splits went right out the window! We ran close to 12.5 miles together and they were FAST – way faster than I’d planned to run the second half of my run. There were a couple of sub-7 minute miles sprinkled in there, so when we got to the point in the run where we parted ways, I slowed down. I wasn’t completely beat up, but I still had over 10 miles to go and I didn’t have anyone pushing me, so I hung around the 7:50- 8:10  range for the rest of the run. My only real concern was that I really did feel like I was coming down with a cold. I grabbed some water when I was passing a water fountain and I could just tell by how my throat felt. At that point, it was around mile 19 and I just ignored it and finished strong. Overall pace, 7:38! I was happy, but my throat felt scratchy and I had a headache for the rest of the day. The run ended up with about 900 feet of elevation gain:

imageNow it’s time to hit my taper and keep this cold at bay! I’ll be in bed by 8pm every night, taking extra vitamin C and resting! Hartford is just a few short weeks away, and I’m starting to get EXCITED!

Swim:  0 meters ♥ Bike: 0 miles ♥  Run: 75 miles

How was your week? What’s the longest run you’ve ever done in preparation for a race? What are your favorite go-to cold remedies?

What I’m Working Out To Wednesday

“I’m the violence in the pouring rain…I’m a hurricane…”

Halsey
Hurricane

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Before I began my whole “What I’m Working Out to Wednesday”, a fellow blogger got me into this artist. It’s right up my alley because I’m a huge fan of my soul sisters like Lana Del Rey (ummmm NEW ALBUM of hers dropping SOOOON, EEEE!!), Lorde, Ellie Goulding, etc. Something about those artists are right up my alley. So when I first heard of Halsey, I downloaded their EP, Room 93, before the end of the last school year and it features five songs. I often play those five songs on repeat in my car and even though some are slower, I can jam out to them on a run for sure.

 

On August 28th, Halsey released their LP – Badlands – and it was just as good as I expected! Today, I’m sharing the song that got me into this band, but I honestly haven’t heard one song that I haven’t liked by them!

Any good new music on your radar this week?

Race Report: VIA Half Marathon

This race was a long time coming for me! I hadn’t really raced a half since 2010. Back then, my PR was a 1:35. I signed up for several half marathons since 2013, but every time I’d sign up for one, I would get injured before I could even get to the start. I paced a few over the past few years, and I ran one in Central Park in 2014 (the Fred Lebow Half Marathon) with the intention of running a PR. Except it was something like 16 degrees and snowy at the start and in the middle of the polar vortex. I went out at 10K pace just to warm up (I was frozen solid) and was absolutely dying by the second half of the race. It was awful – the spilled water at the water stops made each of those sections like an ice skating rink. You practically had to walk them so you didn’t die. Needless to say, I was really overdue for a good half.

When I was coming up with my Hartford Marathon training plan, I scheduled the VIA Half as part of my training as a target race for a half PR. It’s a great course, but since I hadn’t raced the half distance in awhile, I added the super tough Perk Up Half as my first real try at this distance in years. The catch was that the race featured almost 1000′ of climbing and my main goal was to just run it hard – like a strength training workout. I didn’t taper for the race and logged something like 67 miles that week. PR if I could, maybe try for marathon pace since the course was so hard. I ran a PR there, but not by much (as expected) and I was just a little off of marathon pace.

For VIA, I also made the choice not to taper and logged 71 miles for the week. I knew it was risky but my end goal here is the marathon, not a half marathon. One day, I’ll run a half on fresh legs! I’m not going to lie, when I lined up at the start I wasn’t sure that I’d made the right choice about the lack of a taper. My legs were sore and fatigued. I’d done a 12 mile track workout and a 15 mile run in the days prior. With all of this in mind, I had a few goals:

  • Goal A: Break 1:30 (goal pace, sub-6:52)
  • Goal B: Run the race at marathon pace (7:00-7:04)
  • Goal C: PR (under 1:34, which I knew was doable on this course)
  • Goal D: Just finish!

It’s a local race, but with a super early start – 7:10am. The marathon and relay go off at the exact same time, but they begin in Allentown. The half begins in Bethlehem. They didn’t have race day packet pickup so I had gotten my packet the day before at ArtsQuest, on the south side of Bethlehem. I was up by 4:30 am, drank some coffee and ate a small plain bagel with almond butter. I gathered my gear and headed to downtown Bethlehem a little after 6 am for a quick warm up and the start of the race. It’s only about a 10 minute drive. I got there with plenty of time for the bathroom, a warm up, and to hang out with some friends. The students that play the bagpipes for Liberty High School was there playing, and before you knew it they were singing the national anthem and we were lining up at the start.

Miles 1-4

The first mile begins on Main Street in Bethlehem, and it’s downhill. It takes you onto the towpath, which is where the rest of the race is run. The half is part of a full marathon and a marathon relay, and the whole thing runs from Allentown to Easton. Bethlehem is halfway and makes the perfect starting location for the half, and it’s a convenient jump onto the towpath. I knew my goal was to try for a sub-1:30, but I didn’t know how possible it would be with my tired legs. I told myself that in no way should my first mile be faster than a 6:45. Ideally, I should do the first mile around 7:00 (or just under) and try to negative split from there. Well, I hit my first mile in 6:39. Crap. I was semi-chasing the girls in front of me, but I told my self I needed to chill out and run my own race, because that’s what’s been working for me lately. Besides, I knew this race was usually won in something like 1:22 and I knew for SURE I wasn’t running a 1:22 anytime soon. Once we hit the towpath, I noticed that the cinders felt really loose and slippery. It rained a lot the day before, so I was just glad that it wasn’t muddier than it was. I kept losing my footing and I was using a lot of energy just to keep moving forward. I just focused on keeping my pace steady and took a GU at mile 4.5. Miles 1-4: 6:39, 6:46, 6:42, 6:50. Right on pace.

Miles 5-8

This is where I struggled the most. The cinders were less slippery but I’d expended a lot of energy trying to keep my pace up in the beginning. I began to worry that the rest of my race would be a struggle. I took each mile one at a time, and told myself to just keep it under a 7 minute pace and not to focus on the sub-1:30. I knew the cinder path eventually changed to asphalt so I could reassess pace then and try to make up some time. I was still on track since I had a few seconds in the bank from miles 1 and 3. I started to perk up a little towards mile 8, but I think that’s because we got to a point on the course where we saw more people and it helped lift my spirits. Miles 5-8: 6:57, 6:55, 6:58, 6:52.

Miles 9-10

I took another GU and just kept focusing on being sub-7 for each individual mile. Each mile I would tell myself to hold on for just one more, and that I could let up a little in the next mile if I had to. I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel like I could go any faster at this point. Miles 9-10: 6:51, 6:56.

Miles 11-13

This is where it hit me about how close I would be to that sub-1:30 mark, and I thought about how pissed off I would be if I missed it by a few seconds. Also, I knew there were a few girls ahead of me, but around mile 11 some girl came trucking past me. She was in the zone and had a lot of energy left. She was the only girl that passed me during the whole race and it lit a fire. I didn’t end up catching her, but I could see another girl up ahead that I’d been chasing the whole race and began trying to close the gap between us. She was slowing down and I was gaining on her quickly. I focused on her and just kept running as fast as I could until I passed her. I didn’t see any other females ahead of me, so I just focused on whatever guy was in front of me at the moment and tried to pass them for the last 5K. When I hit somewhere around 12.5, I felt like I was flying and I knew I was going to do it. In hindsight, I wasn’t quite as safe as I thought (I’ll get to that) but I had a huge smile on my face and knew I was running my way to about a 4-5 minute PR and a sub-1:30 finish. Miles 11-13: 6:49, 6:46, 6:49. My first and last 5K were comparable in average pace but the difference is, I felt much better in the last 5K. If someone told me I had to run another 3-5 miles at that pace, I’m confident I would have been able to.

Mile 13.1- Finish

I turned the corner to the last stretch and expected to see 1:28:50-something on the clock. I thought I had about a minute in the bank. To my dismay, I saw 1:29:28. Ughhhh, shit! I knew could do it, but I needed to SPRINT to make this happen. I felt good. I still had energy. I was smiling and had tears in my eyes. I crossed the finish line in 1:29:47. It was a PR by about 4ish minutes, and finally under the 1:30 mark! I was ecstatic. Final .1: 5:44 pace.

Overall, I was extremely happy with how it all went:

  • Time: 1:29:47
  • Overall Place: 35/894
  • Gender Place: 8/542
  • Age Group (30-34) Place: 1/88

I won my age group! This is a big race and I didn’t think I had a shot of winning anything so once I stopped chasing the other girls in the first mile, I ran my own race and focused on my own pace. I was really shocked that I placed at all! Also, this is the first time I maintained sub-7 minute miles for a whole longer distance race (5-10Ks fine, but never for anything longer). I thought my paces were pretty consistent, other than the first mile – I’m pretty proud of that because I usually positive split most of my races.

imageIt’s funny, but reading my own post about this race reaffirms why I love the marathon distance. I’ve really been enjoying the shorter distance races over the past few months, but I warm up at mile 10. In this race, I felt like I came alive after mile 10. I’ve even said before that it takes me the first half of a marathon for me to actually be warmed up and ready to run – it’s so true. It’s weird, but true.

Besides the fact that running on tired legs is a good way to make you stronger (also probably a good way to get hurt, but we all know I make really dumb decisions when it comes to running), an additional benefit I’m realizing is learning to start more conservatively. I realize a 6:39 might not seem conservative. But had I been fresh, I bet that 6:39 would have been more like a 6:15 and I probably would have tried to maintain it, only to blow up by mile about 5. I also would have started chasing down lead females which I have no business doing at that race. With tired legs, I know I’m already at a disadvantage. I need to be better about being patient and using this philosophy when I run on fresh legs. This race was a great confidence booster, an excellent learning experience, and a perfect day!