Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rock CF Half Marathon 2013 - Rockin' the Ile

Today I ran on Grosse Ile at the Rock CF Half Marathon. It was my 4th half marathon and the second consecutive year I've done this race.

I greatly enjoyed this race last year and planned early on to do this race again this year. There were many things about this race, for me, that varied from last year's edition. For one, the weather was much cooler. It was relatively warm last year, starting in the low-mid 50's. This year, it was below freezing at the start. The other big difference is was my level of training. Last year, I had a good amount of winter running, was in peak shape (up to that point) and was shooting for a big PR (which I got by over 7 minutes). This year, my winter running could be described as erratic, I had a cold that finally is about gone and I had no real time goal (though I wanted to match my time from last year, if possible). I was hoping that experience would count for something this year.

Me, Kevin, Jeff (Detroit Runner), Ty (This is How Ty Runs) and Steph - SE MI run blogger pals
I arrived at Grosse Ile High School just early enough to park in the lot there. This is much preferred to parking and taking a shuttle, checking gear, etc. Check in was super easy with no line at all. It was great to be able to hang in the gym before the race and there I met up with our run blogger gang.

On Twitter, Kevin and Jeff were discussing their plan for Jeff to pace Kevin to a 1:55 finish. Sounded good to me, so I asked if I could join and they graciously accepted. Based on my training thus far, I knew this would be a bit difficult for me. I've been averaging about 45 miles a month since October and my long run had been only 10 miles.

About 15 minutes before the race we walked over to the middle school where the race was to start. Timing was perfect as we listed to the National Anthem and then were ready to go, but not before Jeff took this picture:

A very tentative thumbs up.
Once we got going, it was nice being able to run with Kevin and Jeff. We were running at a pace where we could talk a bit and Jeff was taking all sorts of pics. When I'm doing a race with spectators, I do think thing where, if they aren't cheering, I make them cheer for me. Sometimes it just takes a wave, but other times, a hearty "Wooooooooo!" is in order. Always works.

Grosse Ile is scenic with it being an island and all. There are huge houses, landmarks, boats, steel mills across the way, and you can see downtown Detroit in the distance.

My race experience, at various points during the race, was as follows:

Mile 1: It's cold, but I feel good!
Mile 3: I'm not cold anymore and I feel great!
Mile 5: I'm doin' fine, but the back of my legs are feeling tired.
Mile 6: Suddenly, I feel kinda crappy, but I can keep going.
Mile 7: Second wind! Feel OK again!
Mile 9: Starting to fade (this is when I told Jeff and Kevin to go so they could meet Kevin's goal).
Mile 10: What's with the clowns? This is disturbing! Cool hanger! Cool car!
Mile 11: If I stop running, I won't start again. The back of my legs hurt really bad.
Mile 12: One. more. mile. These people should not be passing me but I'm helpless to do anything.
Finish Line: I did it! Now to make pointy hand gestures for the camera - it will be a truly ugly and now even more stupid photo! I can't move my face - it is completely frozen. Glad to have this banana - I can barely chew!

I finished in 1:57:15, which is 8 minutes off my PR and about 40 seconds slower than last year. All things considered, it was a good race and I'm glad I ran it. Hopefully, this will be a building block toward a better showing at the Martian Half Marathon in just 3 weeks. Not sure if a PR is even a possibility, but would be happy with a decent improvement.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Keepin' the Pace

Hey ya'll!

I'm looking forward to my first official pacing assignment tomorrow at Shamrock N' Roll in Plymouth.

I raced this last year and had an opportunity to pace it this year, so I took it. I have another race Rock CF half marathon, the following weekend so this works out well as it can double as a practice run for that race. Additionally, I just can't race every race I would like to because of costs. As a pacer, I am a volunteer and I don't need to worry about a registration fee for this one. I will be pacing 55 minutes for the 10k, so that is about 8:50 min / mile, which is in the neighborhood of my long practice runs.

The only worries I have are this little cold I have and the weather. I'm feeling a bit better than yesterday, so that I hopefully a good sign. I skipped my intended treadmill run last night, but no worries. I've run in this cold, like everyone else around here, for a while. I was just hoping the weather would break and it would at least be "average" out. No such luck. I'm hoping they will find a way to minimize snow / ice on the course.

As for my running in general, it has taken several months, but I think I'm finally back on the right track. Before my cold, I had run 9 times in 13 days, which is about what I should be doing. I got 23 miles in last week and that is a good number considering I've been struggling to get much more than 10 miles in (and my long runs have been 8 to 10 miles on Saturdays, meaning I have averaged about 2 runs weekly).

Dats all I got fer now. Hopefully I'll have more to say after the race!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

2 Year Running Anniversary

Hello all!

I  am celebrating my 2 year anniversary of my official return to running. While I had about a 3 month running streak the year before, that was more of a trial. In March 2011, I vowed (determined, resolved, um.. not sure the right word) not just that I would occasionally run, but that I would be a runner going forward for the foreseeable future.

In May 2011, in my first ever blog post, I wrote the following:
"This year, I started up running again in late February with a greater sense of purpose and determination that this would not be a flirtation but part of a lifestyle change. I can and will be fit. I will become a decent runner and perhaps will evolve to be a good one.  I have been a dedicated runner for about 3 months now and do not intend to waiver in my efforts to improve and to become fit for me and for my family."
2 years in, I'm happy to say that I have kept it up. In most ways, I am near or at where I saw myself being (in terms of speed) after a couple years. In terms of being able to run distance, I am way beyond where I thought I would be. I don't know if I saw myself running half marathons or planning to run a full one. I just completed my 20th 10 mile plus run this morning. 10 miles, even after running for a few months, never really entered my thoughts early on.

I knew (and counted on) that running, in many instances, would be challenging, difficult, hard and there have been times that I just wanted to quit. As time has gone on, those bad days / weeks have lessened and, like other runners I've observed or read about via their blogs, I have grown to need to run. I need to do it physically and more so mentally. Running is one of my passions now, it is stress relief (big time), it is time to be alone with my thoughts, it satisfies a need to compete, it is more important to me that I ever would have considered. At this point, I can't just stop running and, if I had to stop for whatever reason, I would need to find something significant to replace it.

As part of this 2 year celebration, I have resolved to make the rest of March "Positivity Month" on this blog. (A post I read on Mrs. Miller's Miles encouraged me to do this) While I don't think I am particularly negative, I do notice a trend where I say good, happy things and then say "well, I could have gone faster", "it's too cold", "this condition hindered me", blah, blah, blah. I will get better, go faster and further and I don't need to make excuses, add conditions or the like to anything I do. I will do what I do and I need to be accepting of it. I am blessed that I am well enough to walk, run and race. I have put in a lot of work over the past couple years, I am in darn good shape and I am not nearly done.

So I will start right now: I ran 10 miles this morning and it was my fastest training run over 10 miles ever. That's pretty cool. I ran 4 times this week and believe that will help get me into race shape! (It is really temping to put conditions on things!)

I'm going to be a pacer at the Shamrock N' Roll race in Plymouth next weekend and have my first half marathon of the year on Grosse Ile at Rock CF the following week and I'm looking forward to both! I've never been a pacer before in a race (I've done it in a couple instances for a couple people during practice runs) and think it will be fun and good practice for the race the following week.

Thanks to my family, my friends and my bloggy friends for all of your support over the past couple years!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Back-Up Race

I've been talking up doing the Rock CF Half Marathon to my running pals. I'm really looking forward to the race, but part of me is upset because I'm just not going to be "ready". By ready, I mean in as in-shape as I was for last fall's Brooksie Way Half Marathon, which has been the peak of my running comeback thus far.

I don't know how this lady made dresses out of my pictures, but I'm happy to know I have a fan.
For many reasons (or excuses, depending on how you look at it), my training has been less than ideal the last few months. Here are some of these reasons (excuses):

1. Weather - “There's no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.” - Bill Bowerman. Well, call me the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man because I'm a softy. Other than my weekly long run, which I have done faithfully, my outdoor running has been minimal, in great part because of the weather. I can't run everyday due to various circumstances, but when I have been able to run, the weather has been abysmal. I can do cold, but have refused to do cold + wind + precipitation. I want to enjoy my runs, but really have a tough time when it sucks outside.

2. Baby Time Baby - I have a warm baby who likes to cuddle and get "Daddy Time" when I get home and I am happy to oblige. Mama needs a baby break and I feel bad coming home after work and then leaving again.

3. Schedule Change - Last year, I had decent mileage in the winter. It was in part to good weather, but also because of my schedule, where I had Saturday - Monday off work. This would allow me to usually do a long run Saturday and a mid distance run at a faster pace on Monday. It worked out pretty well for that purpose.

4. Everything Else - Work, stress, kids activities, less sleep due to baby time, poor road conditions, etc.

As a result of my issues (here's a tissue!), I have gotten about half of the running in that I had planned and I am no where near where I wanted to be. I had dreams of a significant PR for the Rock CF Half Marathon. If I could get back to Brooksie Way shape, I would have a great chance of a PR because it is a much flatter course. That isn't gonna happen. Every time things seem to be ramping up, there is a long lull in my training. 

"There's 12 weeks 'til the race - time to commit myself!" No.
"It's February, now I can really work at it!" Nah.
"I'll really break out when the weather breaks!" Hasn't happened.

So... I'm still going to do the Rock CF race. I have been running 10 miles on Saturdays, so 13 shouldn't be a huge deal. I'll keep up the mindset that I'll work hard these next 3 weeks to get ready. I'll race, do my best and not fret too much if I don't do great because I have an ace in the hole, the Back Up Race (TM).

Rock CF was to be my only spring half marathon, but now I'm planning to run the Martian Half Marathon on April 13. The thought behind planning to do another race is that I hopefully won't beat myself up if my Rock CF performance leaves something to be desired. (Here's a tip I've learned: Unless you are on a college or national team OR unless you have a big sponsor, no one gives a hoot about how fast you run. Here's what I haven't learned: How not to care about how fast I run). If I don't PR at Rock CF, I can still have a good shot just 3 weeks later at the Martian Half. 3 weeks isn't very long, but it could make a significant difference. If it still doesn't work out, I can always find another race (I'm trying to learn that there's always another race, but it's hard).

Do you ever hedge your bets by planning to run another race?

If you have a "big race" coming up, will you ever try to arrange a "practice race" to get ready?

Do you really have anyone who really, truely cares how fast you race besides yourself?