Sunday, April 20, 2014

KY Derby Half Marathon

Let me start by saying that this was the hardest and most rewarding thing I've done.   The experience was like none other.  I get teary eyed just thinking about it. 

Friday morning I drove to the airport in St Louis to pick up my friend Mary Kate.  She had to get up at like 2am in Colorado to catch her flight.  We headed straight to Louisville from the airport - about a 5 hour drive.  We arrived at a good time (4pm) at our hotel.  One of the reasons she flew in so early is so that we weren't arriving so late and feeling so tired and rushed getting to the expo. The line for check in was long.  We were staying at the official race hotel, so that may have been why.  The hotel was crowded, the elevators were hot and crowded and took a lot of time.  

This is the view from our room.  Too bad I didn't see much of it!

We went to the Expo and it was kind of smaller than I expected.   Of course my shirt was too small and they didn't have a bigger size to swap.  But I went back after we ate dinner and managed to get one. :)  I do think the shirts are kind of strange, in color and design, but at least it fits.  The *one* thing I wanted at the Expo was a 13.1 sticker for my car.  There wasn't a single sticker to be found. :( 

I bought some headbands at the Expo.  There was this one booth - Ponya Bands that had these bamboo lined headbands.  They were on sale for $18, but they were handing out coupons for online use that made the price cheaper.  I was going to wait to order one online, but the lady gave me the coupon price.  This band is suppose to really absorb the sweat so I'm excited to try it this summer.  I didn't wear it during the race cause I didn't want to lose it.  I like to wear a band that I know will be secure for events. 

The Ponya band in on the left.  If you feel like ordering, use coupon code DERBY419 through the end of May for 25% off ;)  I wore the new band on the right since it's the same style/cut I normally wear and I knew it would stay.  Gotta love some bling!

The morning of the race we woke up shortly after 5 to eat breakfast.  I don't normally eat much before runs, but I also couldn't just walk out the door and start on my run. My friend talked me into breakfast.  We left the hotel at 6:45 (7:30 race start) and the elevators were soooo slow and crowded we walked down 14 flights of stairs.  Nice warm up huh?!  The start was just a few blocks away.  It was already crowded and so were the porta-potties.  But we heard about a set in the reunite area that wasn't crowded so we walked there. As we were walking we heard the bugle player at the start line playing the "Call to the Post" that they play for the riders up call at races.  YAY!  Starting this race KY style.  It sent shivers down my spine. :)  Getting to our corral was so crowded we got there with a minute to spare.  In hindsight we should have just waited for the people from our corral to get up to us, closer to the start.  They didn't stagger the starts - just let us go like a herd of cattle and that was disappointing.  It took us several mins to get to the start, but the race route was crowded the whole time.  Too crowded for my comfort, but what can you do?  This was our quick selfie before the the race started. 

I was very energetic at the start of the race. I was waving to spectators and cheering at them to get them to hoot and holler for us. Mary Kate said "how are you so energetic?!".  Ha. We weren't sure if we were going to stay together or not.  We have the same pace, but I had trained a bit more as she had been sick quite a bit in the past month.  Her parents happened to be in Louisville last week and stayed an extra week to see us.  So they were hanging out near Churchill Downs which was at mile 8.  We hoped to be together at that point.  I felt like I could have went a bit faster at the beginning but I knew not to.  The first 5 miles flew by.  My knee was bugging me at 2.5 miles and worse at 6.  The water stations started to suck and be unorganized.  The last station before we went into Churchill Downs just didn't have enough cups full.  We didn't get any water.  :(  We saw her parents just before we entered the track.  That was motivating.  I took a photo while running:

 Once we got inside we stopped for some photos.   Here's my selfie with the famous twin spires in the background. 

We probably shouldn't have stopped.  It felt so good cause of the lack of water. . . we continued walking.  There were horses being exercised.  We both own horses and so we were distracted. lol.   We walked more than we should have.  We started running once we got out of the tunnel that takes you under the track (the tunnels in and out were probably the most hills of the race. They seemed steep and certainly our knees felt it.  

Coming out of the track, we finally found a water station.  We literally stopped to drink.  I drank a water and a powerade.  Mary Kate drank 2 of each. We felt better.  I don't remember much about miles 9-11.  But 11-13 sucked.  We were slower.  I was anyways.  Mary Kate seemed to get her energy then.  She was like "2 more miles! Let's go!"  My calves were on fire.  It's funny cause in my long training runs I had knee and glute issues.  At this point in the race neither of those hurt but my calves felt like they were going to explode!  I wanted to walk soooo bad.  I really was thinking at this point "I'm never ever doing this again!"   We walked through the remaining water stops and at one point when they gave us oranges.  We had run past so many oranges on the ground, but we didn't get any till much later.  Mary Kate kept pulling me along even though I told her she could go ahead.  Again the course was just too crowded for me.  We had only half the road once the marathoners joined back up with us.  It squished us together.  The crowds got more and more as we got closer to the finish and that helped.  Yet so many people were walking. I had the energy to run a straight line, not to weave in and out of people!  We finally made it and it was a tad slower over all than I would have liked. I wanted a sub-12:00 pace and closer to 2:30 as the finish time. 

Here is the offical race result:

We found water. . . bananas. . . chocolate milk (fantastic!). . . I felt like my stomach was going to explode. lol   We met up with Mary Kate's parents.  We did see them just before we crossed the finish.   We took our medals to be engraved.  It was $10, but it was so worth it.   We got our free beer.  That was the best beer I'd ever had.  Thank you Michelob Ultra!  At this point the endorphins were high and I thought "I could totally do this again!".  Ha!  I'm whacked.  It's ok.  You can say it. '

When I saw this photo of myself I got tears in my eyes.  I thought I might cry when I crossed the finish line, but it was seeing this photo. . . realizing that was me and I did this. . . I held back the tears though. 

I love the medal.  This is my first medal of any race I've done.  I didn't get one at my 15K which was really kind of a let down.  I didn't think it mattered before hand, but it totally does. 

We hung out for just a bit but then had to get back to our hotel cause we had a noon check out.  That was after asking for a late checkout.   We wanted to shower and change before we hit the road.  The 4 hour drive home was tiring.  We stopped a lot to move about.  Last night once I finally laid down my body started screaming.  I will say I took Aleve and Tylenol the night before and the morning of the run to try to help in advance.  I took some last night before bed as well.  I tossed and turned. . . I was so uncomfortably sore . . . I didn't fall asleep till 1 am or after.  I stopped looking at the clock.  I was so mad I couldn't sleep.  I felt like a zombie today.  I'm not sore, but I'm soo tired. 

Overall I'm really happy with the run.  I'm so thankful Mary Kate was there to run it with me.  I'm thrilled her parents were there to cheer us on!  That was so helpful and motivating.  I kind of wish we hadn't walked through Churchill Downs, but we picked this race for the feature of running there.  And honestly I don't think I would have absorbed it as much if I was running. . . and thirsty as heck at that point!  I'm really not sure if I will do this again. Part of me wants to and part of me doesn't.  Mary Kate and I talked about looking for a race in Kansas City MO as it would be kind of in the middle.   I need to have a break and figure out how to lose more weight, cause running does not do that for me.  

Here are the official splits from my Garmin.  You can see where Churchill was. . . I estimate we walked maybe about 1/2 a mile, but it impacted the time and we were slower after. Though if we hadn't walked, we can't assume we would have been any faster.  

My brother in law makes stickers.  What a convenience!  So I looked online at designs and kind of meshed some things together and I ended up with this sticker today.  Totally made my day!  

I leave Wednesday morning to head back to KY.  Lexington this time.   It's a crazy week and I hope I can keep up!  

Monday, April 14, 2014

5 days to go!

Oh my.  It's been a while since I posted and I always feel like I have so much to say, but then when I sit down to type it out I don't know what to say.  Sometimes when I'm running I even think about things to write on here.  But it's funny, my brain is in some weird state when I run and I generally don't remember much about what I think about during my runs.  Probably cause all thoughts are being overridden by my constant arguing with myself "don't stop running - keep going - you aren't going to die".  

It's been a while since I wrote about anything, including running.  I hit a wall in my running.  I don't know why.  I don't even know when exactly, but I think it was after I ran my 8 mile run.  I seemed to struggle after that.  I have a lot of data thanks to my Garmin and I'm trying to analyze it all and piece it together to see if I can tell when. . . and maybe . . . . big fat huge ginormous *maybe*. . . if I were to run another half I'd choose a different training plan.  Let's just get the first half over with before I think about that!  

I posted about that really great 6 mile run that I did in early March.  I said how I found my groove and I kept such a good steady pace.  I tried to keep that going and I managed to do that for a few runs.  I'm just going to highlight the long runs here . . . 

following that 6 mile run that was so great I stepped back a week and that was nothing worth chatting about.   Then I had 7, 8, step back to 6, 9 and then 10 just this past Sat.  So here are the split for the long runs. 

7 mile run 3/15/2014

8 mile run 3/22/2014

9 mile run 4/6/2014

10 mile run 4/12/2014

The 7 mile run was great.  I liked the splits, the avg pace, and it was all good.  The 8 mile run was also pretty good.  We live outside of town and I was tired of finding routes that got me back to where I started (either home or at the park in town).  For this run I took off from my house, ran into town and texted my husband when I was finished and told him which gas station to pick me up.   It was great!  I liked not really remembering where to run or trying to plan it out.  I did this for the 9 and 10 miles too. I generally kept the same route as there aren't a lot of options, but added mileage by running through another subdivision or down a dead end street and then back.   

The 9 mile run is where I started to struggle more noticeably.  I felt like I had to push myself to finish the run.  My knee was really bugging me.  It really felt rough over all.   I hated the feeling I had.   Then the short runs in the week during the 9 and 10 mile runs were really difficult.  Last week I walked most of a 5 mile "short" run and I only did one short run.  I was afraid if I did another that I wouldn't get the 10 miler done.   

The 10 mile run didn't feel too bad till mile 8.  I was trying to just run and not pay attention to my pace.  I didn't look at my Garmin till it beeped at the 3 mile mark.  I was hoping to run it under 2:00, even if I was just barely under that, but then I just got slower and slower.  By the end of the run I would have probably cried if I had to do 3 more miles.  So I'm really hoping the adrenaline carries me through the race on Saturday.  Did I mention the race is SATURDAY!?!?!  OMG.  5 more days!!!!

So the Garmin gives me a lot of stats and graphs.  And I'm not sure that I need or use all of them.  Or even understand them all. Ha!  But I did start looking at things a bit closer to see the difference in the runs that I thought felt good and those that didn't feel good. 

One thing that I've always been interested in is cadence - steps per minute.   I read that you should listen to music that has 180 beats per minute or something like that - cause I think 180 is the "ideal" cadence for the average person?  Don't quote me on that.  I've read random things since I started running.  But here's what my cadence graph looked like for that 6 mile run that I posted about early in March. 

Look how even that is.   That one weird drop down is when I stopped to yell at dogs. :)  I feel like cadence and pace are directly related.  When I run I try to find that cadence and keep it and then my pace will remain even. I just have to find the cadence that gives me the pace/mile that I want.  Easier said than done!

My 7 mile run (which also felt good) had pretty even splits but I think I worked really hard at keeping them that way.  Check out this cadence graph. 

Ok -  kind of funky given my even splits, but I think I really had to push for my splits. . . I'd find myself slowing down.  So this makes sense. 

The 8 mile one was another rocking run when it comes to cadence even though the avg pace wasn't quite where I like it.   I'll save you from boredom and not post that one. 

But check out the cadence graphs here: 

The top is the 9 mile run.  The bottom is the 10 mile run.  This is what I think struggling looks like.  Those runs felt like crap.  I never found a groove - fast or slow.   I was all over the board.   I'd run fast, slow down, run fast again.  I hated it.  

I'm a numbers girl, so these kind of stats interest me.  Especially since I feel they are reflective of how I felt that day and really show whether my run was good or bad.   

As I move forward this week I'm unsure what I'm going to do for short runs.  The plan has a 4 and a 2 mile run.  Well it has 4,3,2 but I haven't been doing that middle run since week 3.  I tried 3 short runs in a row for 2 weeks and I knew it wouldn't work for my lifestyle. I just couldn't give up that many days during the week when I had other obligations.   I may do the 4 and the 2.  Or I may make it 3 and 3.  Or I may just run once.  I'm trying hard to keep my legs fresh and my knee in the best shape it can be for Saturday. 

This morning I added up my mileage and to date I've ran 155.5 miles in preparation for this half marathon.  This hasn't been easy.  This requires dedication. I'm envious of people that can sign up for these kind of distances and not really train that consistently for it. I'm jealous of people that don't think twice about signing up for a half marathon. I thought long and hard about it before I made the commitment.  13.1 miles is not a joke.  You can get hurt.  I struggled with my knee this whole time.  Plus other aches and pains.  I get a massage every other week.  I see the chiropractor every 2-3 weeks.  I look like an old lady when I get up from the couch in the evenings. My hamstrings ache.  This is not all rainbows and roses. This is hard work.   It makes me mad that I hit this wall.  I am annoyed that I struggle so much with running and trying to convince myself not to walk. I never walked at any time during any of these long runs.  There were a few short runs on the treadmill where I did run/walk intervals.  There was that bad 5 mile run outside last week where I walked what felt like most of the run.   But every single long run on the weekends was ran.  I'm as prepared as I can be for Saturday, but I don't feel I'm at the best point in my conditioning for the race.  The last 2-3 weeks have been a struggle.  I'm excited and nervous for Saturday.  I may post about my goals later this week before I leave.  :)   This post has become long enough.  Happy Monday everyone!