Race Recap – Blackstone Valley Half-Marathon

Sunday, under slightly cool temps and gorgeous clear blue skies…magic happened.  I ran a 2:00:12 half-marathon.  Unfortunately it was on a 13.47 mile course.  I’ll explain later…

After having the Walt Disney World half cancelled and opting out of the freezing cold Ocean’s Run half I was itching to get out there on a course and see what I could do.

What’s funny is that neither of those were races I was planning to actually ‘race’.  But rather just run for fun.   And i’m not entirely sure when I decided that I was going to full on race Blackstone.  But once I did I went into serious preparation mode.

The few days before were all about hydration and nutrition.  Outfit and playlist. Course review and mental preparation.  Coming up with anything I could to give me that extra boost out there.

I almost never run with music.  Except for #turkeyvisionquest I hadn’t run outside to music in a couple of years.  I’m more of a ‘sounds of nature’ runner.  But again, I knew how using music in November had led to a PR, so I was going to see if it made a difference here.  I created a PEP (performance enhancing playlist) of all my favorite metal and rock songs, and threw in a few new ones from favorite artists (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Airbourne) which turned out to be perfect.

Also… my bib # turned out to be 201. And I got this crazy idea, maybe I could run my number. (I sort of did…)

Sunday morning was literally race perfect.  It was about 46 at the start, blue sky, slight breeze.  The race started/finished right by Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.   Tons of parking right by the start (in fact the hubs was able to sit in the back of our hatchback watching runners fly to the finish) and access to the visitor center and really nice bathrooms were a bonus.

After a beautiful and oddly moving national anthem (maybe it was the way the flag was waving in the wind with the sun shining on it got me…) we were off.  Kickoff playlist song?  Rock & Roll (Zeppelin).  🙂

The course headed south, looped around and headed back past the start.  And this is where it got interesting.   I was tucked in with a crowd and had Robert Plant in my ears and when the group turned, I went with them.  I think I knew in the back of my head it wasn’t right.  But I didn’t question it.  Because racing is pack mentality.  One goes – all go.

Until the race director chased us down to tell us we’d been sent the wrong way and turned us around  (Is this were we tell the course volunteer “you had ONE job”? LOL).  For me?  This ended up with an extra .37 miles that I spent the rest of the race trying to make up for. Turns out the lead runner?  He’d tacked on an extra 3/4 of a mile with the ‘detour’.   And the funniest piece of all this?  The song Plant was singing? Communication Breakdown.

But I was in a very good-natured group.  We joked about “well, I’ve always worried about getting lost on a course.  Now that it’s happened, I don’t have to worry about it”  And “There goes my age group win.”

The rest of the course?  Clearly marked and absolutely beautiful.  Just enough change in elevation to keep it interesting, but not overly challenging.  The only ‘beast’ came around mile 5.  One of those hills where you turn, see it, let out a quick curse word and shimmy to the top.  Only to turn and see it keeps going.  Ugh.   But that hill was followed by a long spectacular downhill with mountain views.   And was great for me for just coasting and resetting for the second half.  And also let me knock off two of my ‘standard race goals’ – high-fiving a kid and barking at a dog.

There isn’t a ton of crowd support out there – tho the water stops were filled with enthusiastic volunteers – but a few people stood on corners or in their yards.   And the sections on the bike path and some cyclists pulled over watching us.

I saw a couple of funny signs “if trump can run you can too”  And a set early on of “just 5 miles to go’ and “she can’t do math” with an arrow pointing to the first sign.  But my favorite sign?  The town sign of Central Falls aka Chocolateville.  Seriously – you can’t go wrong if you’re running through Chocolateville.  LOL

But like I mentioned earlier, I feel like I spent a lot of the race trying to make up for the detour.  I ran that course with determination and strategy.  I cut ALL the tangents and tried to limit any extra steps.   I also watched my pace.  And when I hit the 10k mark in 57 minutes flat (what?? How???) I mentally calculated that I could still pull off my hopes of a sub 2:05 clock time.

Because I was fairly sure that I couldn’t hold this pace forever.  I fully expected that i’d slow down. Because I hadn’t run this fast for this long in…oh I don’t even know.   But then I let it go…and I stopped looking at my watch.  And I let my music and my legs lead me.

And when my watch beeped 13 I looked down…and pushed just a little. And watched myself hit my fastest 13.1 time in nearly two years (since June 2015).  A 2:00:12.

And with my favorite speedwork song playing I gave it everything I had and ran on to that finish.  Saw the hubs right before it and gave him a smile,  a wave and a thumbs up.

And then crossed that line in 2:03:22.  Which still, is my fastest half in two years.  And a darn good Disney POT (LOL). (Side note – that last half mile was an 8:32 pace. Wow!)

Got my shiny medal (seriously – the back of this thing is mirror surface) and a water, and tried to not throw up. (Guess I really was racing all out.  lol  Its not the speed – its the sudden stop that does it.)

I’m feeling really proud of myself for doing so well.  And i’m also feeling this new confidence going into the Maine Coast Marathon.  This half was just what I needed.  

Am I disappointed about this being an ‘extended cut’?  Sure…but its okay.  There’s always another race.  And this was still a great one that I will definitely run again.  Only next time, pack be damned, I am NOT making that right turn.

 

 

Happy Marathoniversary

Yep, this weekend marked 5 years since my first marathon.  April 16, 2012.

And considering how that one went – Boston, 88 degrees, and beastly – I could have have given them up entirely.  Instead, stubborn warrior girl that I am, I wanted a rematch. With both the marathon and that course.   Boston ended up my 1st, 3rd and 5th.

Number 12 is approaching… in 3 1/2 weeks.   And they still haven’t gotten any easier.  But i’ve gotten better at training and embracing the suck.  🙂

So Sunday, in honor of Boston the following day, as part of training for the Maine Coast Marathon and as a celebration of my marathoniversay – I had a 20-miler planned for Sunday.

And…much like that day in Boston, the weather has drastically different ideas.

I headed out the door fairly early, but it was already 60 degrees.  By mile 9 it was sunny mid-60’s and climbing and I desperately needed water, a lighter shirt and my hair up. So, route altered and home for a ‘water stop / wardrobe change’.

By mile 10 the bargains started…  make it to ten and walk 1/4 mile.  And I did a couple of ‘mile repeats’ with a 1/4 mile walk break.  And desperately looked for shade. At the half-mile marker (2:20) I realized that 20 miles was so not going to happen.  And myself I would keep moving until I hit 3 1/2 hours (the time 20 usually takes me) and I would run at least a few steps of every mile.  (which got progressively harder).

I know I sound like a wimp…but after a cold winter and usually running in 40-50 degrees, high 70’s – 80’s was way more than my body was ready for.   I was dehydrated and overheated and had no interest in collapsing on the side of the road. And it did hit me that OMG, I had this same problem 5 years ago today.

At mile 14, about a mile from my house and more cold water I kind of worried I wasn’t going to make it without water. But no problem – I had my ‘water fund’ in my pocket and a golf course up ahead.

Because golf courses have vending machines right?  Wrong.  Not this one.  Of course, its easter and hot sweaty red-faced me walked into a clubhouse full of people in nice dresses and an easter bunny looking for a drink.   No sign of machines, so I wander into the pro shop where I was informed they don’t sell drinks (maybe I could try the grille room).

And it hit me… I was having a “pretty woman” moment.  Disheveled looking street person wandering into a nice place trying to buy something and not getting help “I have money and no one will help me!”

I did at least find a ladies room with paper towels and cold water from the sink and made do.  Runners are resourceful.    And a mile later at home I chugged water, and endurolytes and ice (one cube in the sports bra, one tucked in the back of my sparkle visor) and filled my running buddy h20 and headed out for the death march of the final two miles.

My friends think i’m a happy runner.  And I totally am. But I have never been so miserable on a run as I was at mile 17.5 walking ever slower up the street, practically crying, and muttering “I want to stop.  I am miserable.  I do not want to move another step.” followed by “Suck it up buttercup.  We don’t quit when it hurts.  We quit when we’re done”  And there has never been a sweeter sound than the beep of my garmin at mile 18.  (which was still .1 from my front door. ugh.  lol)

I was a hot mess.  Quite literally.  And I am sending a request to the weather gods to PLEASE not let Maine Coast be this hot!

But at least on the course there will be water stops, and I won’t be something the nice townsfolk will share stories about for days

Omg…did you see that girl? Was she crazy?

No…she’s just a runner.

 

The Greeter

Can I just say how April’s weather is so far a vast improvement over March? Yay!!

And just in time with all the miles that sit on my calendar between now and the Maine Coast Marathon. Because 20 miles is WAY more fun at 50 degrees than in 30.  

The other advantage to this weather is that I’m back logging regular lunchtime runs along the lovely Charles River path. Me and TONS of other runners. 

My tribe…has returned. And yes, there are lots of characters among them.  

It’s amazing to think how many random strangers I know by their sneakers, or their hat or their lack of shirt. Lol

But there is one fella I know by his wave. (And his beard. He has a cool one.)

I’ve seen him probably 3 or 4 times recently, and I absolutely love this guy.  

Why? Because he goes out of his way to wave at every single runner (or walker or dog) he passes.  And it really makes me happy to wave back and say hi. 

He’s become one of the highlights of my “runches”. 

This week, I passed him from behind early into my run and was actually disappointed that I wouldn’t get to say hi. But due to some kind of path and pace magic, after I hit the turn around point, there he was coming at me (yes!!). So I was able to wave and smile after all. 

It’s the little things. Because sure, we all have different goals and paces and reasons for why we lace ’em up and head to the river. But when we are out there…we are all runners.  So why not be friendly. 😀 👋

As far as training? It’s going awesome. Sunday was “just” 12 miles so I used it as sort of a time-trial for the Blackstone Valley Half (in 2 weeks).

I think there’s hope for me yet! 

And pictured are my must have long run accessories –  buddy pouch, Brooks launches & garmin. Plus look ma – no sleeves! Gotta love t-shirt weather. Woohoo!!

Hope you all have a great week, beautiful spring weather and happy runs. 😃

Hello April…lets party!

Anyone else glad that March is finally over?  Boy that was rough…

It came in like a lamb…then went full lion and stayed there.  With that one last hurrah of a snow storm on the 31st.  Because, why not.

But not only was the weather totally lion & lamb…so was my running.  March started nice and easy with marathon training just getting good.  And ended with a double-long run week.  For the second year in a row, March was my highest mileage total since March.  🙂  147 miles.  Of course, getting in an 18 mile run on the 31st totally helped with that total.  LOL

But see, in my family April is a big birthday month.  And my aunt was turning 60 so there was a surprise party to attend.  (Happy Birthday Aunt Laurie – glad you loved your party!)

So the options were… skip the long run this weekend and do 18 next weekend (with 20 the weekend after), or take a vacation day for the 18 and just do 12 next weekend.

Since the idea of running 18 & 20 back to back didn’t appeal, I went vacation day.  (Side note – does anyone else find that half of their vacation time ends up related to running? Training, races, etc.)

Granted, my 18 was definitely slower than the 16 I had done the Sunday before.  

And I was playing a game of “beat the rain” the whole time (got to 12 before the sprinkles and 16.5 before the hail.  LOL).  But it was totally worth it.

Because see… one of the April birthdays in my family is mine.  I get to enter a new 5-year age group this month (not confessing to which one) and i’d rather its first long run be an easy 12.

So while March was my workhorse month, April is my serious marathon training month.

I’ve got 2 20-milers planned AND a half-marathon (finally!) sandwiched between them.

Its just 5 1/2 weeks to Maine Coast…and we’ve still got plenty of work to do.  (OMG…I HAVE A MARATHON IN 5 1/2 WEEKS.  EEK! LOL)

But…its finally getting warmer. And lighter out in the mornings.  And while we’ve got miles to go, I just know they will be some good ones.

Hope everyone has a great month – and some really good spring runs!

Sushi vs the Long Run

I blame the salmon. Or maybe it was the wasabi. But whatever it was, it did not agree with my decision to run after lunch. 

But I had decided that there was no way I was doing a third treadmill long run in a row. My brain might finally explode. 

And Saturday afternoon was going to be the nice point of the weekend.  

And I totally didn’t think anything would be wrong with going out for sushi with the hubs for lunch. Rice is usually a runners best friend.  And soy sauce is practically an electrolyte. 😉

But…there was a lot of “I don’t usually” involved. Like…I don’t usually run in the afternoon. I don’t usually run on Saturdays. I don’t usually run long the day after leg day. And I don’t usually run after sushi. Okay, I have never run after sushi. 😂

It wasn’t immediately after. I gave it an hour. Then laced up, grabbed my favorite accessories – buddy pouch & sparkle visor – and headed out for a goal of 12-14 miles. 

And about a half mile in…the sushi roared to life.  (Totally pictured Godzilla rising over the Tokyo skyline) It was…not pleased. 

But eh. I’m an ultra runner. I’m used to keeping moving when things hurt. It’s just not usually my stomach.  

But I said to myself, what if this happens at Maine Coast. What if you have a lobster roll the night before and at mile 8 it claws back?

If we have to train for any possible snafu, then maybe this is a good thing. (Yeah sure…lol)

So I kept moving. And hoped it would go away. But spent the next several miles alternating between hoping I would throw up and not wanting to be “the runner who hurled in front of somebody’s house” 

I tried to focus on how nice it was out and just breathing in the fresh air. Staying slow and steady and reminding myself “You’re not on the treadmill for the first time in 10 days. Yay!”

And, I called the run at 13.1. I just didn’t have 14 in me. But that’s okay.  Because I wasn’t even sure I could do that. 😀
I was, however, extremely pleased to see that my run was both faster than I thought and quite consistent. 

In fact the only reason the last mile was a smidge slower was because of an ice patch I couldn’t avoid and had to walk over. Not bad…

So I’m really hoping that next weekend, when I’m not involved in a battle of “woman vs food” that the run gets even better. Especially if I get to run outside again. 

March has been kinda bipolar. So there are no guarantees. Except that I will definitely not be having sushi before I run. 😁

Does mother nature hate runners?

Because seriously – i’m feeling like she’s out to get me.

Is she drunk? Feeling mean-spirited?  Was the full moon affecting her? Because this whole 50’s during the week followed by sub-zero windchills on the weekend for two weeks is just total BS.

I do appreciate that I have at least been able to run outside a couple times in the past two weeks.  I just wish that one of them had been a long run.

Yes, for the second Sunday in a row, it was netflix & ‘mill.  Because if I wasn’t going to run in -3 for a medal, I sure as heck wasn’t going to do it for nothing.

And can I just say how mentally challenging it is to run 14 miles on a treadmill? In a row… I mean sure, 14 miles total is no biggie if its over oh…four days. LOL  But 14 all at once?  There’s no tv show in the world good enough to get you through that.

At mile 5 I started the calculations…the old well, since i’m running slower, then if I run by time versus distance I really only need to run x many miles to have the same effect.  #runnermath At some point I decided even 10 miles would be enough…as long as I readded those 4 miles back in somewhere else so I still reached my weekly goal.  #runnerlogic

I think it was around mile 8 1/2, when I grabbed a bottle of water, dropped in a nuun tablet and headed back down to the ‘gym’ that I realized that come hell or high water I was getting in that 14.  Even if I had to walk.  Because there was leftover pizza in the fridge and I was going to earn it. #runnerpride

And somehow…I did.  Speed intervals, hill intervals, strategic walk breaks, another episode of Ultimate Beastmaster…whatever it took to keep the mind and legs moving.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was done. And sometimes that’s all that matters.

Of course…yesterday we got SNOW.  Fortunately not as much as they predicted but still…its going to be a few more days before it clears enough for outside running.  And oh look – more snow in the forecast for the weekend.

I so would prefer not having to do yet another long run on the treadmill…. anyone know how we can bribe mother nature into playing nice this weekend?  Maybe if we give her enough green beer Friday night she’ll sleep late and I can get out early Saturday.  LOL

Of course, i’m not just thinking about me.  Because there are oh, thousands of runners all getting ready for the Boston marathon that need their long runs too!  And I know from experience that training in the cold and then having it warm on race day makes the race a little harder.  So please mother nature…for all my fellow unicorns.  Can we just have one nice weekend?????  Or at least move along to April.  I’m so over March.

Running Goldilocks

I feel like the Goldilocks of half-marathons…. in search of one that’s just right.

See…the first was too stormy and the second one too cold.  Here’s hoping the third one is a perfect fit.

I should be sitting here right now writing a race recap.  And instead, i’m explaining why i’m not.   Essentially its because a windchill of -5 does not make for ideal racing conditions.

After the Walt Disney World Half-marathon got cancelled due to extreme thunderstorms I went in search of a spring half-marathon to ‘check the box’ of a half for the year (gotta hit for the cycle again, of course). Knowing I didn’t want to run Hyannis again this year but needing something that fit into my training plan for the Maine Coast Marathon I discovered the Ocean’s Run Half.

A nice scenic half marathon along the water in Westerly, RI.  Had all the makings of a fun half.  One that I didn’t really train for except getting my distance mileage back after off-season.  I knew that it wouldn’t be one of my best but just a good solid training run.

So as the weekend went on and the temperatures started looking less than ideal I knew i had a difficult decision to make.  Do I suck it up, wake up early, drive 90 minutes to go run in ’11 feels like -3′ with strong winds?  Or do I sleep in, eat waffles and christen my new treadmill with a 20-miler.

I don’t take missing a race lightly.  In my 8 years of racing I had only missed two other half marathons.  One, because I was on crutches and couldn’t run it and the other  because it was free, it was extremely early, and it was already 80 at the start.

I hemmed and hawed.  I still put out a set of extremely warm clothes just in case.  I reached out to a Facebook running group that i’m in (hilariously enough, they were was torn as me.  Half said run, half said don’t.  Most asked about the medal.  LOL) and, when I went to bed was 99% sure I was staying home.

But ah, that 1%.   And when I woke up at 4am I said, let me just go check and see if the weather magically improved.  Noting it hadn’t, I STILL played ‘do I, don’t I’ on the way up the stairs.  At which point I missed the top step, smashed my shin and said to myself “go back to bed moron, you’re not going to the race”  Because clearly we sometimes need the universe to knock some sense into us.

Side note – love my new treadmill.  And netflix and ‘mill is a good way to send a Sunday morning.  Especially since I discovered Ultimate Beastmaster.  Its awesome.

And, from what I found out later, about 50 people opted out.  Including the race photographer.  And that it was an extremely brutal race to where even the fast runners had way slower (like 90 seconds per mile slower) times than usual.  Yeah, I was only going to run this as a ‘fun half’ and that would NOT have been fun. (Plus the medal was fine, but not WOW. So not worth it to me.)

So, as a goldilocks seeking the just right race…I started searching again.  And knowing that there is no way I am taking a chance on another one in March, I looked at April.

Which also means i’ve now totally blown my idea to run only in odd months. Tho I did at least pick one with on an odd date!  April 23rd.  The Blackstone Valley Half-Marathon.

Its in Pawtucket, RI, so WAY closer than Westerly.  Its not too hilly (tho I hear there is one good-sized hill) and it winds along a bike bath that the hubby and I ride on quite a bit (so I know some of the course).  Its three weeks before Maine Coast, so its well-positioned as a time trial for me.  And, plenty of time to train for it as a serious half.  (because, while I have a 2:05 Dopey Corral POT in my back pocket, of course I want a better one.)

So lets home third time’s the charm and that this half is ‘just right’.