Running in 2017 – Halfway There and Updated Goals

This weekend brings July, as well as the halfway point for 2017. While personally life has been pretty good, it also has been a great year of running so far. I haven’t quite hit post-marathon goals yet, but overall I’m happy with where I am. Let’s look at the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year, and how I’m progressing.

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Back in December, I set some running related goals:

  • Run 1,000 miles: By the time the calendar turns to July, I’ll be around 580 miles. I was averaging 100 miles through April, but May and June brought reduced mileage. It took me much longer to get back in “training mode” after the marathon than I imagined, and to be honest, I’m not completely “there” yet. I’m giving myself this last week in June to do what feels good before starting to push more.
  • Run a marathon by myself: Done and done. I had an amazing experience at the New Jersey Marathon. I’m glad it was a great race, as it will be my only marathon for 2017, with the Disney World Marathon falling in January 2018!
  • PR in one distance: Well – I’ve beat this goal because I PR’d TWICE! First was a :27 5K pr at the Shamrock 5K in March and then a 28 minute PR at the New Jersey Marathon.
  • Run 2 sub-2:15 half marathons: I have run 4 half marathons (3 road, 1 trail) and ran a 2:12:xx at the Oldfields Half in April (never recapped this…whoops). I went to this race with no expectations aside from getting in a good long run. This is my second fastest half so far! I’m confident that if I don’t get a 13.1 PR by the time I start Goofy training, I will meet this goal.

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  • Get back to blogging, reading blogs, and communicating with readers and ambassador groups more regularly – Yeah, about that. I like my little space, but unfortunately it’s just not a priority. I’m okay with that. I still read blogs, but I’m treating this more as a journal of experiences to look back on.

So what’s next? I’m trying to keep chipping away at those post-marathon goals for now, with the Old Port Half Marathon just over a week away, and the Maryland Sprint Duathlon a week later. I’m looking to build up some speed before I start officially building up for the 2018 Goofy Challenge in September!

I’m going to keep goals I haven’t met, and also update/add some

  • Run 1,000 miles –> Run 100 miles/month each month for the second half of the year, and also, hit 1,200 miles for the year. The only month I see this being a challenge is July, when I’ll be traveling a lot!
  •  PR in one distance –> Run at least 1 more PR this year. I’d be happy with any distance. For this I’m not counting the Charles Street 12, because unless I collapse and crawl to the finish, I will run a course/12 mile PR at this race. I’d be very smitten to run another half marathon PR.
  • Run 2 sub-2:15 half marathons: Gotta keep chipping away at this one! I’m hoping to meet this in the fall, and to run another sub 2:10 in Laughlin in December.
  • Run a running club race: I joined the Baltimore Road Runners Club in March, and have only run one race with them so far. I want to start getting more involved with them.
  • Foam roll/injury prevention 2-3 times a week. I’ve been very bad with this so far this year, only using my tools once I start to hurt. Goofy training is going to bring high mileage and I have to take care of myself!

In the next few months, I’m really looking forward to running some new races, especially the Old Port Half and Rock N Roll Philly. It’s weird to look at August and not have any races on the docket, but I’m going to use that time to push hard for Philly and enjoy my time going to more November Project workouts!

 

Race Recap: Zooma Annapolis 2017

It’s been a few weeks, but I can’t not share the experience that was the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon. Last year I ran the 10K, and decided to challenge myself and move up to the half this year. Aside from the trail half marathon earlier this year, it was my hardest half yet.


As with many local races, I spent the night with my friend, Beth, and her aunt and uncle. Beth was able to get our packets in Annapolis on Friday, which was a huge help and stress reliever. Our pre-race nights consist of a good meal and some wine, always. I feel so relaxed after a night of socializing. Typically I go to the race with them, but as I was running the longer distance, I decided to drive myself in case they didn’t want to wait for me after the race. Later than planned, I set out my “Flat Sam” and headed to bed.

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Basically the same outfit as last year.

I was up around 5:15 and out the door by 5:45 to drive to Annapolis. I met up my friend Erin, who was running the 10K, and her boyfriend (one of my best friends from college) before meeting up for the ambassador picture. I conversed with a couple of ambassadors, which I didn’t really do last year. It was such a great group of strong runner women!

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credit: Cynthia 

After the picture we all headed towards the porta johns. Last year, the lines moved quickly. This time, not so much. I waited for 20 minutes and had to sprint to make the start of the race. Not. Fun. Whether there were more people or less porta johns, something was wrong. It led to a very anxious start our races.

 

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I knew this race was going to be hard, as Beth and I had run the hills on the back half of the course a few weeks prior. Pair hills with a warm, sunny day, and it’s not a recipe for a “fast” day. I was ready for a challenge. I set out saying I’d be happy with a sub 2:20, but I ended up being happy to finish.

Miles 1-5: The first few miles were very similar to last year’s 10K, as well as the Annapolis Running Classic 10K. There are some small hills, but they are managable. While I knew I could run fast for these miles, I stayed at an easier pace to save myself, with 90:30 intervals. I found a great spot around my friend Erin, and I paced myself just behind her until the half split off from the 10Kers. At about mile 5 we started crossing the Naval Academy Bridge for the first time. I stayed with my intervals most of the way up, then walked a little extra to save myself.  (Erin looked strong coming down the bridge towards her finish!) Splits: 10:57, :49, 11:03, :03, :04.

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Going away from the finish – the “easier” side.

Miles 6-10: The bridge is where the hills start, and they don’t stop for the rest of the race. While in most races I’d want to speed up at this point, I was hoping to stay steady through the hills. I felt strong until the out-and-backs started, around mile 8. By then, the heat started to get to me. I had trouble taking in fuel and also felt a bit over-hydrated. I also was dumb and put sunscreen on my forehead, which meant I had sunscreen and sweat running into my eyes (should have worn a hat!). I struggled through 90:30 intervals from mile 8 until about mile 10, where I felt like I was just slogging. I was managing to make it through my intervals, but was very out of breath, so I knocked them back to 75:30. At mile 10, I reached the top of a hill where I could see the Naval Academy Bridge once more, one of the last big hills. Splits: 11:19, 10:53, 11:29, :50, :42.

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LOLOL

Miles 11-13.1 (.32) – If the slowing paces and shorter intervals didn’t clue you in, I was struggling for the last 5K. I couldn’t take fuel without feeling like I was going to puke, so I started to “bottom out”. And frankly, my legs were just dead from the hills. I try to run some hills each week, but only on shorter runs (which I should improve on). People passed me left and right, and I walked more than I would like to admit. When I realized that this was going to be my slowest half ever, I just focused on finishing in one piece, uninjured. Splits: 12:09, :29, :49, 3:54 (last .32).

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Final time: 2:33:27

Despite running my slowest half ever, I still felt very accomplished. I knew this was a hard course – the old me would have run the 10K, but I wanted the challenge. This is NOT an easy course, and no half is going to be easy during June in Maryland. I found pride in running very steady for the first half of the race, and making it through 4 miles of hills before I started to really struggle. While it wouldn’t have made any speed records, I think the last few miles would have gone better if my fueling had been better.

Post race: I know my fueling and hydration was off, because I felt horrible after I finished. Almost “med-tent” horrible. I sat with water, gatorade, and some chips. I was so relieved when Beth said that her and her aunt were still around. While they got massages and shopped, I had 4 more cups of gatorade and another bag of chips while sitting in the shade. I haven’t felt so poorly after a race since my first few long races (cough cough Chuck 12 2014).  I didn’t even partake in the wine – shocker. After a few pictures, I headed home and had a feast of Taco Bell (my first in YEARS!). After a nap and another plate of nachos, I was feeling much better and was ready for a night at the ballpark.

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Beth had a solid race and her Aunt Kate finally hit a big goal of a sub-60 10K! I was very happy for them both! Despite my slow time, this race lit a fire under me to do more hard races in order to truly challenge myself a bit more.

Before I forget – the SWAG. I was disappointed with it last year, but this year the swag was improved. The t-shirt was a grey, tech-cotton short with a simple design. It is very comfy. The half-marathoners got a running hat, which I love and was great during my recent Las Vegas trip. It came in a “lululemon” style bag, which I always like to have around! The medal featured a sail boat, was pretty, and was of a nice quality!

All in all, the Zooma Annapolis 13.1 is not for the faint of heart, or for someone who expects a fast time at every race. It is a challenging course and is typically hot and humid. The race atmosphere is positive and the post race party is fun. If you like to run with a pack, run the 10K – which is the biggest race out of all three distances offered.

I was a bit bummed about the food spread. Even though I was a “late” finisher and some food may have run out (not an excuse), I only saw potato chips, bananas, and some trail mix. I love a good post-race spread, and it didn’t live up to last year’s Pirate Booty. Seriously, I’m now addicted to that stuff. However, as much as I enjoyed this year and last year’s races, I won’t be back next year. The Baltimore 10 Miler is always the same day, and I’m ready to take on that course again as part of the King Crab Challenge. But I will be back in time!

DisclaimerI received a complimentary entry for Zooma Annapolis as an ambassador. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Get Boosted! Adidas Ultra Boost X (Product Review)

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Adidas Ultra Boost X shoes to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

We all know that I love running shoes, and with about 2 years of experience working for run specialty stores, I know a fair amount of them. When I was at Fleet Feet Baltimore last summer, both staff and customers were raving about the Adidas Ultra Boost. When an opportunity to try them with Bib Rave came about, I was stoked!

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First, some specs:

  • Structure: Neutral
  • Heel-toe offset: 10 mm
  • Weight: 8.3 oz
  • Heel to toe Adidas “energy boost”
  • “Prime knit” upper.

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Initial thoughts:

  • Look: These shoes look so sleek. I love that they are obviously an athletic shoe, but they aren’t very bulky. They pair well with athleisure wear, or even jeans. My orange and black pair is bright, which I love.
  • Fit: These shoes fit like a glove, which is their purpose. There is a “floating arch” which snugly fit to your foot. I found the black siding that holds the laces bothered my foot if I tied  them too tightly. The upper, while snug, was very flexible. I was worried about the snugness bothering the tops of my feet, but it didn’t! Because these shoes fit so tightly, you can wear them with or without socks. I prefer them with socks.  The back of the shoe sticks out slightly from the heel, which felt odd, at first.
  • Function: My first run in these felt surprisingly good. The lack of support didn’t bother me, and I loved the “bounce” that Adidas’ BOOST technology. I could feel the ground on me, but I was still light on my feet. My calves were very tight after my first, run, but I couldn’t say that was solely due to due shoes. I also did like how the back of the shoe “jutted” out a bit. It felt great during my run/walk transitions.

Now that I’ve worn my Ultra Boost X’s for about a month, I have found what I like and don’t like about them. Verdict is, there’s not much not to like.

I love the form-fitting upper, floating arch, and the boost technology. These shoes feel fast, and they were fun to race in! They are super comfy for strength work and cross training. If they didn’t bother my calves, I think they would be great for long runs.

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I don’t love the side lace-holder. If the laces aren’t tied just right, it hits me in the wrong place. Compared to the rest of the shoe, it’s stiff and doesn’t feel like it truly belongs there. Realistically, the shoe fits so snug, laces may not really be necessary. I also don’t love the heel-toe drop on this shoe. While 10mm is pretty standard, I’ve been running in 4mm drop shoes for a year now, and my calves did not like the change.

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These shoes are wonderful. I wish they would work for me better, running wise, but my calves tighten right up when I run in them.  I’ll be keeping these in my rotation for November Project workouts, and races 10K and shorter. They’ll also be my first choice for when I need to wear functional shoes, but also look cute.

At $180, these sneakers sure are a treat. While the price may be high, my co-workers at the store last year reported getting 700-800 miles out of them. The Ultra Boost X is a women’s specific shoe, but there are other variations for both men and women. Make sure to check out the Ultra Boost X, exclusively at Dick’s Sporting Goods if you want to try these babies out!

Zooma Half Marathon Training – Week 1 of 2

Guys, the Zooma (Annapolis) Half Marathon is on Saturday! It’s crazy to believe that it’s already been a month since the New Jersey Marathon. I had a great week of running this week, but I’m still far from 100%. The back pain is still around intermittently, and I’m dealing with continuing calf/achilles tightness like I haven’t felt in a long time. Aside from that, I would say that the week went well!

Monday: Rest, 30  (day 8!)

Tuesday: 3 miles at Girls on the Run. I managed to run without intervals with a friend from work. (and 30 burpees)

Wednesday: 5 mile progression run. First two miles were 60:30, last three were 90:30. I felt very strong but was dead after! (30 more burpees!)

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Thursday: Thursday turned into a rest day after I couldn’t get myself up in the morning, and really just didn’t feel like going out at night. But my 30 burpees got burped.

Friday: On Friday morning, I randomly decided to sign up for a 5K on Saturday morning. Before I registered, I did a 2 mile shake out and my 30 burpees. I threw in a couple of fast intervals and felt good, albeit tight.

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Saturday: 3.1 miles at a local 5K. It was very hilly, but fun. I definitely went out too fast but I was able to hang on and run an alright time for me. I got home and did my 30 burpees, and took a super long couch nap.

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Beth and I at the 5K!

Sunday: 8 miles for my only pre-Zooma “long run”. I really wanted to go longer, but realized it would be silly of me to push to hard and make my tightness and back pain worse. This was the one day I didn’t do my burpees, which I felt bad about, but it really isn’t the end of the world.

Weekly miles: 21.1.

I’m happy to finally be back up into the 20’s and hoping that I can work out some of this leg soreness this week. I’m going into Zooma just wanting to have fun! I know it’s not a PR course, so I’m just hoping to enjoy it and finish in one piece.

Do you have any races in the next couple of weeks?

Run Laughlin 2017 – I’m in!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Run Laughlin Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I remember the first time I went to Bullhead City, Arizona. The night started in the New Hampshire airport, my mom and grandmother telling my brother and I we were going somewhere, but not telling us where. We landed in Detroit and headed to our gate for Las Vegas. 2nd grade me screamed “BUT THAT’S WHERE OLD PEOPLE GO” for like, 2 hours. Little did I know we were headed to Arizona, where my aunt and uncle lived, and where my best friend had moved to months before. It was amazing. Across the river, in Nevada, was a little, “mini Las Vegas” called Laughlin. I loved the lights and I definitely  loved the buffet at Harrah’s.

I went to Bullhead City, Arizona and Laughlin, Nevada twice growing up, the last time being when I was 13. I loved it there – I loved the heat (but it’s a dry heat), the red clay, the desert that stretched out for miles, and nearby Las Vegas. I seriously considered going to college out there (but the threat of snakes deterred me, seriously).

A couple years back, I saw an advertisement on twitter for the Run Laughlin 13.1 race. It started in Laughlin, ran through two states (Nevada and Arizona) and two time zones. And it was scheduled for the weekend before my birthday. I was in grad school so it wasn’t the year, but I knew I would be there some day.

Some day is December 2, 2017. I’m finally going back to Laughlin for the Run Laughlin Half Marathon! I’m excited that Bib Rave is sending me to experience the beauty that is this race.

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Photo credit: Run Laughlin

Some awesome things about this race:

  • As this is a relatively new race, it is rather small in participant size. This can be a curse for some, but I appreciate a less-crowded course
  • They added a 10K this year – so there is a 13.1, 10K, and 5K
  • The half marathon course is a net downhill. There are two significant climbs on the course, with rewarding downhills.

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  • You run in two states and TWO TIME ZONES. YASSS. #bucketlist
  • The race will end along “Casino Row” with free beer (and for me, blackjack)

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  • You can get hotel rooms in Laughlin less than $40 a night.

This race will fall at the peak of my training for the 2018 Goofy Challenge and I’m dreaming of an amazing run. Will you join me in Laughlin? Save 20% off entry with the code BibRave20.

Have you ever ran a destination race? Disney 2017 didn’t work out so well for me…let’s hope this one is better?

Getting back at it: 5/15 – 5/21/17

Week 3 post-marathon: I started the week feeling refreshed and ready to do a little bit more than the past couple of weeks.

I started doing 30 burpees a day, inspired by this Runner’s World article. I’ve successfully made it through the first 7 days, each day getting a little easier, aside from Wednesday (burpees after a big dinner a beer or two). Saturday was the best day so far, and I can feel my form getting better, as well as not being as dead after a set of 10.

Monday: 30 burpees, ’tis all

Tuesday2.15 mi at Girls on the Run. It was HOT and the girls did great. I felt good running as well. Then, 30 burpees.

Wednesday: 3 mi. 2.1 at November Project, then .9 to get to a number that made me happier. Plus, 30 burpees after dinner, with my roommates cheering me on in the living room.

Thursday3 mi in my new Adidas Ultra Boost X’s. I felt great, but didn’t go longer because I was nervous to do so with the new shoes. With a dessert of 30 burpees, which felt significantly easier than the night before.

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Friday: Rest, and 30 burpees.

Saturday: 5.5 miles on the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon course  with Beth! It was hilly, but a great run – aside from getting screamed at by someone in a car. AAND 30 burpees a few hours later.

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I can deal with more post-run Brunches!

Sunday: 22.5 miles on my bike, with Jake and a couple of his friends. It was a great, mostly leisurely ride. The stop for ice cream made it completely worth it. Lastly, 30 burpees!

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Run miles: 13.65

Bike miles: 22.5

I’m happy with how the week went. My body is still a little off, and I’m fighting a lot of muscle tightness, in both my glutes (still) and my calves. I’m sure it’s probably normal after a marathon, but I don’t remember the residual tightness and stuff after my first one.

This weekend I also weekend that Zooma is only two.weeks.away. Oh lordy. Realistically, I know I’ll be fine and get through it, but I’m already telling myself to be realistic and understand it won’t be a PR and it may not be pretty!

How long does it take you to feel back to normal after a big race?

Do you have any goals for the week/the rest of May? I’ll be happy to reach 20 miles this week!

Post Marathon Recovery Weeks

How was my marathon already two weeks ago? The weeks following have been a physical and emotional whirlwind. I almost signed up for two half marathons, one during each past weekend. Thank goodness I didn’t. I also almost signed up for a fall marathon. Thank goodness I didn’t do that either.

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Here’s what the first two weeks following the New Jersey Marathon looked like…

Week 1: May 1 to May 7

Monday-Tuesday: Full rest. My quads were nearly immobile Monday after driving back to Maryland, as well as Tuesday. Walking through the casino on Monday, I walked worse than all of the senior citizens in there!

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Winnah winnah chicken dinnah

Wednesday: Yoga after school. My body felt almost 100% after school, and some good quad stretches only helped.

Thursday: 8.5 miles on my bike.

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Friday: Bicep curls….lifting up margaritas HA!

Saturday: Yoga on Tap. I was looking forward to this and it wasn’t nearly as fun as I expected. Yoga in a crowded bar isn’t fun. Yoga after too much indulging isn’t fun. I was so anxious and didn’t have room to properly execute a lot of the twists, which I think played into the back pain that followed. Later in the day I walked about 3 miles at the Towson Town Festival.

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Treat yoself

Sunday: Rest. My back was all jacked up after Saturday’s events.

Week 2: May 8 to May 15

Monday: My back felt a little better, so I attempted to run. I made it 2 miles. Just over 1 mile in, I had a horrible pain deep in my left glute. It was short, but sharp and intense. I made it home very slowly, and instantly regretted my decision to run. In ways I needed it so badly. My body and digestive system felt all out of whack and I was crazy enough to think a run would fix it. Emotionally I was grumpy, anxious, and felt disgusting. I took an epsom salt bath and rolled out really good, hoping the pain wouldn’t last.

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Note: My Sarah Marie Designs negative split reward tank

Tuesday: Rest. Back pain/spasms during the day what were the worst while sitting, as well as some slight glute and hip pain. I was able to massage it for a while with a spiky ball (which I promptly went and purchased) and felt better before hitting the hay.

Wednesday: .9 miles at November Project. I felt so guilty about not going in months, and I felt good upon waking up. Thankfully it was an easy workout running-wise. It included tons of burpees, planks, and squats, which led my upper legs sore for a couple of days. My body felt great after the workout! After school was yoga, which brought back the back and glute pain.

ThursdayNothing. I planned to go on a walk, but the weather sucked. My back was so uncomfortable sitting at trivia and while driving, that I got myself a heating pad and Icy Hot.

Friday: Rest. I put Icy Hot on my back before school which helped tremendously and I was almost pain free for the entire day. At home I was sitting on the heating pad for periods of 20 minutes, followed by rolling out my left glute and upper leg.

Saturday: More rest. I felt largely pain free, aside from some slight tightness spread across the left side of my body. I stopped at a local run specialty store, and was advised to put one side of my “stick” roller against the wall, and press the other side into my glute/piriformis. WHAT A LIFESAVER. Omg. The hurt. But it also helped so so much. I also continued to use the heating pad.

Sunday:  I woke up feeling fantastic, and decided to try a run, knowing I would scrap it if needed. I made it 4 miles, very slowly, without any pain. Some tightness and awkwardness, but no pain. My heart rate was also so high for my pace. So recovery is not done, but I RAN!

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Weekly miles: 6.9 WOOHOO!!!!

So while my return to running isn’t going quite as smoothly as planned, I hope to run more this week and be back to my old self next week! Zooma Annapolis and the Old Port Half Marathon are going to come up very quickly!

How long does it take you to bounce back after a big race?

Do you have any tips to squelch back pain?