Race Recap: Seneca7-77.7 Mile Relay Race 4/19/15

Back to back race weekends are not something I am used to and likely not something I would recommend. In short, my body and mind are exhausted, but it was so worth it.

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If you’re from the area and you are a runner chances are that you’ve heard of the Seneca7 relay race.  It’s fairly new (5 years old) and this is my second year participating in the fun.

Last year I was just on the mend from bronchitis by race day, this year I was facing a similar fate.  My cough was finally gone, but my body was still under-conditioned due to the 3 week hiatus and not quite ready for another long day of racing.  I was nervous and being runner 7 didn’t help calm my nerves.  I always get nervous before a big race (even if the outcome doesn’t matter) and I had to sit around and watch every other runner on my team complete their legs before I had a chance at my own.

Leg #7:  4.1 miles, 00:49:06, 12:01 pace

When it finally came time for leg#7 I was ready (or at least I thought I was).  I knew my distance was 4.1 miles, but I failed to fully checkout the elevation chart for that first leg.  Can you guess what it looked like??

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It was a lovely 4.1 miles of an uphill climb.  It wasn’t the worst of hills, but for someone like me who was still physically recovering from a hilly half, it was brutal. Not the way I envisioned starting out my long day of racing. Seeing my finish pace of 12min/mile was defeating.  How could I have slowed down so much since last year?  What was going on?

In short, hills suck.  They suck the life and energy out of every muscle in my body and are a literal pain in my ass.

Leg#14: 3.1 miles, 00:35:24, 11:26 pace

Leg 14 felt a lot better, but I still couldn’t get past the mental game that was going on in my head.  Why on earth was I still moving so slow?  Why were so many people passing me while looking so light on their feet?  Why couldn’t I push myself more? I’m used to being slow, but back to back weekends of getting slapped in the face with the slow stick was definitely starting to take its toll on my mind.

Leg #21: 3.7 miles, 00:43:13, 11:45 pace

My final leg was a relief, not because it was easier, but because I was that much closer to ending such a long day.  I was spent and all I wanted to do was drive home and get cozy with my bed and pillow.  Being the last runner was so much more challenging than I had anticipated.  Watching each of my teammates finish their final legs while I was still awaiting mine had me wishing I was runner 1.

I sucked it up and finished off as strong as I could.  By the time I reached the team reunification point I was running on E, but felt a final kick of power set in.  I picked up my pace for the last quarter mile and lead my team across the finish.  I was done.  We were done.  FINALLY.  Team Prepping For The Zombie Apocalypse had finished their last year with the namesake.  11149652_10204073362049783_2168526844668261403_o

 

 

 

Race Recap: Skunk Cabbage Classic Half Marathon, Ithaca NY 4/12/15

“…talent means nothing, while experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything.”
Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

   

 

Well, I did it!  I finished my second racing half marathon!  It wasn’t at all as I had planned–this was supposed to be the race I would PR in and where I finally hit sub 2:30, but that didn’t happen and I am okay with it.

Training for this half was touch and go and there were times where I wasn’t sure if I should stick with it.  At the end of February shortly after a 10K training run I was hit with the worse case of flu/bronchitis that I’ve experienced since college.  It hit really hard and took me out of training mode for 3 weeks.  Three weeks might not seem like a huge chunk of time, but it was and it left me with just 4 weeks to retrain my body to run 13.1 miles.

I went in without high expectations and accepted the fact that this would not be the race I had initially hoped for.  What I didn’t account for was how mentally challenging it would be.  This race was probably one of the most difficult ones to date.  I was (and still am) fighting yet another cold with a cough and the medication I take does wonders, but it also dries me out.  By mile 4 I was regretting my decision to stick with the half–I kept wishing I had just downgraded to the 10k.  I was parched and my lungs burned as I sputtered out dry coughs.

The inner dialogue I had with myself was at times comical, but mostly I kept repeating, “FUCK! Why is this so hard?  What am I doing here.  Why didn’t I downgrade.  9 more miles?!  What in the actual fuck?  How will I make it through”.

I am a slow runner, but this is the first time I’ve truly experienced true back of the pack racing.  It adds to the mental challenge.  You find yourself racing solo and the walk breaks are so much more tempting.  The urge to quit is that much greater and every ounce of pain is magnified.  I had no music to distract me and no friends to push me forward.  It was hard.  I felt like I was failing.

The rolling hills didn’t feel like rolling hills, they felt more like a constant gradual incline with the occasional downhill.  With the steeper hills I found myself walking and fighting so hard not to lose momentum.  I’m not typically a run/walker–I would much rather keep a slow and steady pace than break and restart.  This is the first race (aside from the full marathon) where I continually needed to walk and it was frustrating.

Though I spent a lot of time running alone, I was sandwiched between a couple of runners, yellow shirt guy and neon shirt lady.  Both had pulled ahead of me at various points during the race and my goal was to stick with them.  I didn’t want to finish behind them so I did my best to conserve my energy for a strong finish.  I took advantage of the downward hills and used them to catch up, but they still remained ahead of me until mile 11-12.

Having the finish on one of my regular routes was definitely beneficial for my final stretch.  I knew after mile 12 that the remainder of the course was on a slight downhill.  I knew that I’ve run down that same path on Tower road and that I would always finish my lunch runs strong.  I knew that I already had 11 miles behind me and that giving up in the last mile would have been for someone weaker than myself.  I knew that my heavy legs still had some life in them.

I powered through and pulled ahead.  I passed both yellow shirt guy and neon shirt lady.  I know it probably didn’t mean much as far as boosting my finish time, but I dragged myself across the finish at 2:55:30.  It was 21 minutes past my PR and I was legit 592/598.  It almost embarrasses me to post that time and place, but what can I do?  Why be embarrassed?

It’s these moments of humility that strengthen us.  It’s these moments where we wanted to quit but didn’t that show us we are capable of greater things. I know I will do better and that this race doesn’t define me as runner.  If anything it has taught me a lesson about perseverance and pride.  Pride for those back of the pack runners.  No one knows true strength and determination until you’ve experienced running a race at the back of the pack.   It’s an experience every runner should feel.  I know it’s opened my eyes for appreciation of what our bodies and minds can achieve.

Did you race this past weekend?  Were you at Skunk Cabbage?  Have you ever experience a lesson in humility during one of your races?

Marathon Training Review: Weeks 1-3

A few weeks ago I decided to switch over from my 3x/week running plan to a more intense 5 day running plan, Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2. The first week went fantastic!  I only missed one short run and was able to stay on track for my other longer runs.

I was also killing those runs!  My 10 miler was a new PR and my shorter runs were getting more speedy.

Hal Higdon Intermidiate 2 Training Schedule

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Sadly, week 2 is when I began to slack.  It was mainly because I was completely and utterly wiped out.  We shot a double wedding that weekend and after two 12 hour days of shooting the last thing I wanted to do on my first day off was go out and run 11 miles.  Let’s not forget to mention that I could also feel myself getting sick.  I know my body and know that I made a wise choice in staying in that day.

My cold was very mild and passed quickly and I was able to get back on track in week 3, BUT I still missed two of the longer runs.  We were out of town that weekend shooting in Buffalo and I wasn’t about to get up early and run 6 miles in an unfamiliar city.  The following day I was far too exhausted from the 12 hour day of shooting so I decided to skip yet another long run.

I know this is bad.

They say to never skip a long run.  They say that if you’re going to miss any runs try to make it those short ones.  But, we’re still fairly early on in the training and I think I will be okay.  You see, I always have the Intermediate 1 plan to fall back on.  When I look at that schedule and think about my current fitness level I know that I am well ahead of the curve.

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I only opted for the higher schedule to begin with because my longest training run from my prior 28 week plan was 9+ miles.  I knew that my body was already fully capable of going the 10 mile distance and saw no problem with the increased mileage.

So far, the training has been going well.  I don’t feel like it’s burning me out and I don’t feel like it’s too much too soon.  The only conflict I have had been due to a ridiculously busy schedule and illness.

It will get better now that wedding season is dying down and I do plan to work hard to stay on track for week 4.  It’s my goal to have a full week of training under me for this coming week.  So far, I am doing my best to stay on track and plan to do the same for the weekend.  It’s not always easy finding the time or getting up early, but I know it’s going to be a necessity.  I want to push myself harder so that I can PR this next marathon and even hope to run a half at the end of this month (10/19) so I can PR that distance as well.

I can feel both my mind and body getting stronger and know that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. How are your training plans going?  Have you ever change things up during training?  What plan are you following?

Runner’s Woes: Feeling Like A Turtle

It’s no secret, I am a slow runner.  Heck, this blog is aptly named Slow Mo Mother Runner for a reason!  Anyhow, I’m nearly finished with my second month of marathon training and I can’t help but feel the looming doubt creep in.  I feel like I am getting slower!

How come I’m not getting faster?!  One month ago I was regularly seeing 10:10-10:40 splits for my 5ks and felt I was on the right track, but today I am struggling to hit sub 11:00 splits.  I’m not quite sure what is going on, but I want to make a change.  I want to be faster!

I’ve been considering changing up my training, but am not quite sure where to begin.  This whole running thing is still fairly new to me and when I look at training plans and various routines to get faster I begin to get a touch confused and overwhelmed.  Another factor could be that my body needs more fuel.  I recently discovered that my RMR is 1590 and I’m typically consuming that amount of calories which means I am falling short and my body might be fighting me.

I went for a short mile run the other day just to see how fast I could go if i was going at a slightly higher pace than normal.  I ran the mile in 9:41.  Nothing too crazy, but it did show me that my body is capable of going faster.  Now, it’s a matter of building the endurance at that pace and then working on increasing said pace.
Are you trying to get speedier?  What has worked for you?

Building Speed and Happy Belated National Running Day!

Ever since I completed my first full marathon back in January I’ve been struggling with building my speed.  As of late, it seemed that no matter how hard I tried I could barely break an 11:00 minute pace for my 5K distances.  If I could get sub 11 minutes for my 3-4 mile runs, it was a good day.

I’m not a fast runner (hello, I’m a Slow Mo Mother Runner!), but back in November before my mileage was crazy high, I ran my best 5k at a 10:10 pace.  I also ran a 10k with a sub 11:00 pace.  Both of these have been tough paces to obtain again.  That was until this past weekend!  I finally hit a 10:10 pace again!

10346366_721909884527565_5399344539351721673_nI was thrilled with my run!  I wasn’t expecting much when I stepped out the door that morning.  In fact, my run started off crappy because Pandora wasn’t working and I ended up running without any music.  I was worried that it might slow me down, but there was something nice about a trail run without the distraction of rhythmic beats in my ears.

I listened to my breathing, watched my HR, and went with the flow.  Mile 2 was a bit trying, but once I turned around at 1.7 miles I knew I was over halfway finished and I knew I had room to push myself because I was nowhere near my max HR.  So I kept an eye on my Polar FT40 and told myself I would build my HR at 1/4 mile increments.  It worked!  I build my speed back up and finished off strong.  It was a pretty awesome feeling to hit that mark again.

For the month of May, post relay race, I had been working on building my speed.  I incorporated hills, fartleks, and built my mileage for a couple of runs.  I’ve also listened to my HR and have been working on what points during a run to really push myself.  Ideally, I’ve found that staying at 160 for the first half of my run and then building things up and pushing hard towards the latter half works best.  I do max out around 185-190 and can’t really push myself for too long at that HR, but I find it’s my sprint rate and it works for that last short final push.

I even went out yesterday on National Running Day and put in a decent 5K with a 10:37 split.  I’m still trying to master the negative split because mine still look like uneven pyramids. I am getting stronger and can feel myself getting faster.

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These next couple of months I am reading up and playing around with a few things to see where it takes me.  One other thing that I have been trying to master is my stride.  I’m so used to a heavy legged short stride and would really love to get away from that for my shorter runs.  Based on my current research it seems that a lot of small changes can mean a world of difference with pace. My goal before the end of the summer is to get  sub 10:00 min pace for a 5K distance.  I would love to see a 9:00 too!

What are your pace goals?  What are you doing to get faster?  How are you building your speed?

Race Recap: Tough Turtle 5K Obstacle Race 4/19/14

Pre-race, I made sure to doll myself up because I have this problem with race photos.

I seriously almost always look like I am taking a crap or pushing out a giant baby elephant.

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Pre-race selfies

It’s not a joke, I am dead serious! You don’t believe me? Of all the race photos to be found, this by far must be the worse, but it’s also fairly representative of what I look like when I race.

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Courtesy of the Ithaca Journal

My horrible grimace is the least of the most appalling things in this photo. It’s overly unflattering and I’m okay with that.  You should try looking glamorous and svelte while sliding down a steep hill coated with animal lube (YUP….ANIMAL LUBE).

Anyhow, enough about photos, the race was a blast!  It was my first obstacle race and despite my still recovering from the week-long bout of whatever the hell I was fighting, it went pretty well. Mary and I ended up pairing off within the first 20 seconds of the start.  Someone didn’t quite get the meaning of “team run”, so I sprinted ahead to catch up with her so she wouldn’t have to brave it alone.  I may or may not have held her back some, but she was kind enough to slow her pace to do it together.

We blasted through the first bunch of obstacles until we hit the tractor tire flip.  That thing was freaking heavy!  At this point we were both happy to have the support of a team member.  It really took a lot more out of us than expected.

The rest of the course proved to be a little easier, but a surprising struggle was the progressive balance beams.  Trying to walk on narrow balance beams while getting hosed with water was not an easy task!

Up next we climbed the hill to the slip and slide of doom (I think it was called the Compost Cascade).  This is where I got pretty banged up and mud in places I may never be able to get to.  At this point my cold was starting to get to me a bit, but I kept on pushing.  We finished off the race with just a few more obstacles including carrying a log, dodging zombies,  climbing a net wall, climbing a hay bale, and lastly throwing a tire onto a pole.

We finished in style, mud on our face and in a reasonable time of 38:30.

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We then waited for Craig and Dani to catch up to us (they weren’t too far behind us).   We watched them finish their last obstacles and then joined them to run the last stretch so we could at the least finish together as a team.1492223_854738451206202_481913266110309039_o(1)It was such a fun experience and I’m eager to do it again!  I have a voucher for a Spartan race so that will probably be my next challenge.

10246783_10100462165927709_5018156578620390483_n    The race was fairly easy, the tough part was getting our mud soaked clothes cleaned.  It seriously took me 3 tub rinses to get the majority of the mud and compost out.

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All in all, I’d do it again!  I def enjoy these races and my only worry would be getting injured, but if you’re smart and not too competitive it’s not too bad.

Because I’m Just A Little Crazy: Seneca7

Call me a mad woman, because I just got roped into something crazy! My friend Cassy was on the hunt to replace a runner for the Seneca7 race she’s participating in on the 27th. What’s the Seneca7 you ask?  Well, it’s a 77.7 mile race around Senenca Lake, the running is split between 7 runners responsible for 3 legs each.

I’m runner #5 responsible for these 3 crazy legs!  I’m a wee bit nervous for this endeavor, but it’s going to be fun!

The first leg is 3.8 miles with a steady climb.  This is where the nerves come into play. I am not the best with hills.  To be accurate, my hitting a hill during a run is much like watching a child try to go uphill on a slip and slide.  It just doesn’t end well.

Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 3.53.03 PMLeg 2 seems a bit more promising.  Seeing the term “rolling” in the description  gives me a little bit of hope.  The scary part is the 5.2 mile distance that it’s paired with.  During my marathon training, 5.2 miles seemed like a small number, a short run if you will.  As of recently though, pretty much since I crossed the finish of my first  marathon, I haven’t run anything over 4.5 miles.  Part of this was due to the bitter cold and part of it was due to my constant state of unwell.

Screen shot 2014-04-17 at 3.53.24 PMAnd lastly, my final leg, a short 2.6 miles sounds like a slice of heaven.  I’ll hold on tighter to the descriptor of “gentle” over “uphill”  as my little piece of sunshine.

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Despite my nerves and dislike for hills, I am excited. This will be my first big running race post-marathon.  It’s definitely something that will gear me up for the bigger races that I have planned for this year and next.