Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hartford Marathon Training: Week 8 (the "hello again" edition)

Well hello again.
Last time I checked in I was in week one of training and had quite the busy summer looming ahead of me.
Busy, it was! And warm too.

Some runners do a great job reporting their running stats, pace run, elevation gain, steps per minute and such. While I might have one eye turned towards those things I have both eyes on the crazy conditions that we tend to have here in Maine. (Florida it is not, but it was a nice toasty one. I was thankful not to be freezing for a change.. instead I was poaching.)

Here is a helpful chart to show you how warm it was. I was smart enough to avoid running on the "other" 90 degree days, or I waited until late when it had mellowed out a bit.

In all honesty I have more or less acclimated to running in the 80 plus degree temps. I often have a serious case of post run swamp ass, but who doesn't?

I realized, going into training for a relatively early fall marathon that heat and my busy schedule would possibly be a stumbling block. It hasn't been 100% easy but it has been doable. My mileage has not been as high as prior to Boston but I made that decision in advance. The good news is that I feel like my fitness is progressing reasonably well and I still have plenty of energy to devote to important things like horses, working and life. I find it far easier to have that kind of energy on 40-45 mile weeks rather than 50-55 mile weeks. *who would have thought!!*

Anyway. That's it for now. I plan to report back weekly with more pie charts and profound thoughts!


Friday, July 15, 2016

Harrison Old Home Days 5K

It seems to be the time of year when there are local races to choose from every weekend, or even more often.
The great thing about the shorter distances is how often you can race/run them without getting completely overcooked. I must admit that I get used to the marathon lifestyle and the limitations on how often you can race that many miles. It's nice to get out locally this time of year, see friends and get in some quality speedwork.

Or hill work with an attempt at speed.

Hills. Very hilly.

And of course, there is the always present 86 degree weather because we wouldn't have it any other way!

Last Wednesday Eric and I drove 5 whole minutes to participate in the Harrison Old Home days run by the lake 5k.
By some stroke of luck I won this race in 2012 and haven't been back since to defend my honor.

Pre race. Not too sweaty.
I was feeling loads better than I had on Monday the 4th and I was ready to push for a better race and faster time. I wasn't going to kill myself for the podium because my speed just isn't what it used to be (and 86 degrees. and I'm lazy) but I wanted to do my best.

I made it out pre race for a 2 mile warm up which was very helpful but hot, man was it hot!
(not as hot as VCM though, so there's that.)

5K race recaps are easy:
I ran 3 miles each one faster than the one before, which seems to be my thing lately. Then I ran .1 even more super fast and then it was done, the end.

There was also a huge hill, as previously mentioned. 

I ran it in 22:19 which is a 7:12 pace, a speed that I currently think of as "super fast"

Flying! Whoot!
I didn't win but I came in 2nd!! The woman who beat me was only ahead by 10 seconds but I'm in no condition to chase people down, she had it in the bag. 10 seconds could be 10 minutes as far as I'm concerned!

I like this race, I like that I see lots of people that I know, I like that they control the traffic well and have lots of water and whoopie pies at the finish. Mmmm lots of good stuff!

The other thing that there was lots of at the finish was BARFING. Several young people blew some massive chunks like, IN the finish chute which created a dreadful mess. Gross. Running is gross!

I had a great time and Eric did too, he finished about a minute behind me and was NOT one of the finish line pukers. It was a really enjoyable evening despite the hot temps and mountain! My legs felt really good, maybe not as quick as I'd like them to be but they are really appreciating the month I spent fixing them. I like it when hard work pays off!

Post race. Much more sweaty.
So that's it for the summer race recaps at the moment. More to come soon about summer marathon training at the busiest time of the year. Fun! 


Monday, July 11, 2016

2016 Bridgton 4 on the 4th. Not the best time.

Monday was the 4th of July, the wondrous 3rd day of a 3 day weekend and a day that is much dreaded by people who own horse barns in close proximity to fireworks. (although thanks to the power of science and medication we survived!)

The feared fireworks, from above.
July 4th also marked the beginning of another marathon training cycle for me and what better way to start than with a race up a mountain! (?)

I feel like Eric and I have figured out how to turn this race into a streamlined event over the past couple years. We have the parking in a crowded town situation down, bib pickup is easy and last year the actual race start (which can be a clusterfuck of 8 year old campers and stroller pushers) went off seamlessly.

As a general rule I find the 4 on the 4th to be an enjoyable race. The roads are closed to traffic, there is always plenty of water and watermelon at the finish and it is a fun community event.
I do have one bone to pick and that is about the chaos that is the start. As previously mentioned this was NOT the case last year so a smooth start CAN happen! My hope (upon hope) is that next year some care is taken to give better instructions on how to correctly, and safely self seed.

Well, while the race itself only had one major fail I had a couple all on my own. 

Fail #1: I woke up feeling like a bag of assholes. Female issues made me wish to curl into a fetal position and die and my GI system decided that it felt sympathetic. WOW. BAD.

I took 2 pepto and 4 advil and said a little prayer.

Fail #2: Due to said issues after .3 mile warmup I quit. A bathroom break was more critical and I felt so lousy that I seriously considered not even starting. Helpfully, with 3 minutes to go until the start my fistful of pills kicked in and I was able to maintain. Knowing that the first mile of the course is basically downhill I didn't think my lack of warmup would matter.

Fail #3: A horribly congested start. Sardines. Total gridlock.

Bottom line: This needs to be a race that gets a rename. "The 4 on the 4th, crash 'em up derby".

I'm not going to waste time ranting about the situation (or am I?). It was shit. Dangerous shit. Children darting, stopping, getting hit. Young people strolling 5 across, hand in hand (starting in the SIX minute area!!) I want to support this race because it is local, convenient and community driven. I also do not want to hit your child who is unsupervised and doesn't know how to stay safe because he is about 8!!! (and by NOT hitting your child on Monday I got hit by another runner which wasn't fun for me.)

SIGH. Moving on.

Oh! Fail #4 was that it was hot as balls. Luckily, most of the race was well shaded so it wasn't really too bad! As far as the race season of 2016 goes it was almost frigid! (so cold! 75!!) So maybe this was a win.

Hot July sun
After the first two miles of stupidity I felt a bit better and had room to run at a pace that was slightly quicker. I actually could see Eric up ahead of me and at the 2 mile mark he had a 20 second lead.
At this point the runners had thinned out significantly, I felt as good as I was going to and I had managed to get over my irritation about the BS start. I knew it was no day for anything close to my course PR but I figured that I could salvage a couple of decent miles.

Which I did. After a start that was a slow I ran a strong negative split, with the last 2 miles at 7:40 and 7:10 (hello?)
Eric and I ran the entire last mile together which was quite fun. We passed a few people, narrowly avoided a boy who was projectile vomiting up large quantities of purple barf, and finished in the exact same time of 31:03. (which, shockingly was good enough for 3rd in my AG.)

My face in this proves that there was suffering...
I'm glad that I was able to have a couple good miles despite some less than ideal moments.

This certainly wasn't a great day for me, I wasn't feeling my best, I had a terrible start and never was able to really pick it up until the final mile.

After the much better organization of last year's race start (there were many reminders of how to appropriately seed one's self) I'm really bummed out about the decline of control this year.

Everyone should be able to have fun racing. People who are front runners should be right at the line. People who want an easier day should figure out what that means and try to be honest about it. This is more of a safety concern for me than anything in a race such as this one. So, SO many little children were running in a way that could have caused them, or others harm that I couldn't help but to feel irritated.

The rest of the day was spent prepping horses for fireworks, enjoying the gorgeous weather and eating ice cream. We had a very pleasant 4th and hope all of you did too!!


Saturday, July 9, 2016

BAA 10K: the tardy edition

Since I haven't blogged in over a month I need to backtrack a bit.
June was, in a way, an uneventful month. After a fairly long stretch of training and marathoning I had decided to use June a a time to sort out a few small physical issues (nothing major- but I felt the real potential for the development of something unpleasant...)
(This really deserves a blog post of its own. In case I don't get around to it the short story is: ran Boston, was strong. In the following 6 weeks felt some discomfort develop. Used June to rest from running (80 mile month) Get fixed up (3 chiro/ART appt's) and to do a lot of strength/rebuilding. At this time, I declare success!)

So back on topic now.

Eric and I ran the BAA 10K a couple weekends ago.
Eric is running the BAA Distance Medley this year because this is the year of *all* the extra medals and new adventures! He ran the 5k prior to Boston and the 13.1 is in October.
I always enjoy a good 10k (but not B2B haha) so I jumped on board post haste.

AS IS THE NORM. The weather looked HOT. It was scheduled to be another 88 degree day! WHY.
Luckily, we were really looking forward to spending some time with my family in the Boston area and that was a good motivator to get pumped even when the weather looked gross.
Since the race had an 8AM start we also felt confident that it would be much closer to 70-75, which it was.

We did indeed have a terrific family (and excellent beer) pizza party! It was great to see everyone and most of my attending cousins and their spouses were competing in the Cohasset Tri the next morning. This prompted many amusing discussions about the merits/need for body glide, how to get out of wetsuits, how NOT to transition (by eating and showering) and poop. Normal stuff.

Sunday dawned all sunny. And hot. *sigh* We all got up and put on body glide and tried to poop and then went off to our various race destinations.

Eric and I hopped on the T which was wicked convenient and off we went.
There were other runners on the train with us, pre race cigarettes in hand, ready to go. *serious* athlete alert!

On the T. See that sun? Gorgeous but warm!
We got to the city in time to stand in a porta potty line, have Shalane Flanagan and Amy Hastings run RIGHT (as in RIGHT) by us and to try to properly self seed ourselves in an honest way. Which was dumb, because apparently everyone thinks they are faster that they are. Oh well...

You call can't be Amy, so don't try to line up with her!
We were able to watch the elites finish their warm up (it was really impressive). Old news here but Shalane went on to win and set an American Record! I am a big fan of all 3 of the women running the Olympic Marathon and it was so cool getting to see two of them up close and personal.

Front row seat!!
And then.... We were off. And as seems to be the tragic norm in any self seeding situation the going was slow for a while. I got a bit irked about this, if you can't run 6 miles at a 7:00 pace that is fine. Occasionally I can run a random mile at a 6:xx pace. One mile. Occasionally. I don't line up in the 6:00 area because I don't want to get trampled, yo. DON'T BE A DUMMY. Line up where you belong. It's OK to run a 12:00 damn mile!!!! It's ok to run a 5:00 mile!! (yikes) Go where you belong. Knock it off.

The first mile was in the shade and was bone flat, so really pleasant if I do say so. This made me feel better about the crowd (which, after running the 4 on the 4th seems more like a litttttttle traffic jam but whatever.)
I had no goal for this race other than to not vomit or feel like an asshole so that was nice. The thing about running a race, whether I have a big goal or not is that I'm going to give it my best shot within my current fitness level. That's basically what happened.

After mile one things got pretty warm because the shade vanished (boooo.) The crowd also thinned out and I more or less chugged along, grabbed a couple cups of water (which speaks to the intensity of the sun because 6 miles isn't really that far) and I watched the fast people whip by around the 3 mile mark.
The remainder of the race was similar, warm but reasonable running conditions. A continuation of a good effort. Pretty flat course and people moving at a similar speed to me. 

I ran a pretty solid effort which I think very accurately represented my level of fitness on a relatively flat course on a warm day. I pushed as hard as I could without being willing to vomit or foolishly injure myself. I certainly felt as though I was giving a 100% effort on the day. This pleased me as I have a tendency to swing hard one way or the other- being overly cautious or pushing much faster than my level of fitness permits. I worked the whole time. And I did not barf.

My finishing time was 47:37 which is a nice AG PR for me.
As soon as I was finished I felt like it was 10,000 degrees out as the sun was blazing down like a little skank.
I met a really nice lady (Anne? Was that you?) who somehow recognized me and told me that she read my blog. I felt like I needed to apologize since my blog is garbage! But thanks Anne, you are nice to read here and congrats on a good run!

Eric was right behind me all covered in sweat, as one tends to be. He had run a 49:05 and had had a good race too.
Team Bradlowski! So hot and smelly. Gross!
We stood in front of some amazing misting fans that blew the most icy mist that I have ever felt in June. It reminded me of a nasty Maine morning in March. I'm not sure how this worked because I did not investigate the inner workings of said misting fans but it was delightful.

We sat in the shade for a bit which was quite pleasant. There wasn't much humidity so once you got out of the scorching sun it wasn't a bad day!
View from the Shade
After that we got back on the train, headed back to Scituate, showered and had a wonderful lunch with the Triathletes, comparing notes on the day. Everyone seemed a bit knackered, which in my opinion is the real sign of a good race day!

And that was that. Eric and I headed back home so that I could get ready for the start of Camp season at 8AM the next day (hence, my delayed reaction to blogging. About anything!!)

Next up:
The 4 on the 4th, a horrible time
The Harrison 5K, why is it always 90?
Marathon training: it begins


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Vermont City Marathon: Where Heat and Humidity are abundant.

At this point, a week after race day I imagine that everyone (in the running world) knows that VCM was cancelled mid race due to some pretty extreme heat and humidity.
Spoiler: I managed to finish.
I have participated in some very warm, even hot races before but can honestly say that other than Boston '12 (which I spectated and it was too hot to even live) I have never experienced such relentless heat.
Anyway. More on this as my story unfolds.

Eric and I had VCM on the calendar for a few reasons. We were running the 2-person relay, I was using it as a back up plan marathon on the chance that Boston was a complete shit show and we had heard nothing but good things about this race. So off we went, in 90 degree weather knowing that we would just have to be smart and make good race day choices.

It was an unusually pleasant drive in the scenery department and we arrived at the expo late-ish in the day on Saturday (and it was still 90, we basically stopped looking at this point!)

The expo was straightforward and we collected our various numbers with ease, had some samples of beer and bourbon because VT race expos are cool like that and off we went.
I also caught a glimpse of the New England double medal, which (If I can actually complete both races) will be MINE later this fall. Bwa-hahaha. MINE!

The things we do for a finishers medal.....
I've never been to Burlington before and we were able to do some exploring before our dinner reservation. Lake Champlain was far, far bigger than I imagined it would be and I spend a number of minutes exclaiming over my delight in this. I'm a weird kid.

So big. So hazy.
Since half the reason I was excited about this trip was to sample some VT beers I was delighted to snag a Heady Topper right off. (I was worried that I wouldn't be able to buy cans to take home. Heady Topper is  big deal. Like, you need to be there when the truck rolls in and, needless to say that seemed unlikely what with the running and all...) The beer was great and when 90 degree running is staring you in the FACE you have to just man up and drink beers. Works every time.

Beer is fun
Saturday morning dawned cool and crisp.
It was like, 379 at 6AM and we planned our 0.0 MPH pace to the finish line in great detail.

ALL DAY bitches
I'm going to be honest for a sec. I really wasn't too worried about the heat because I did not care how I did. I hoped to finish the 13.1 so that we could complete the relay but I wasn't gonna hustle and I wasn't gonna die on my way there. I had already made the decision to go slow af, drink all the water and take 400,000 walk breaks. Maybe I would quit at 13.1. Maybe I'd continue to 16 which was basically back at the start. Who knew. The weather was batshit and there was nothing that anyone could do about it!

So with all that in mind I slow jogged away for, no shit, the hottest first mile of a race that I have ever run EVER in the history of ever. It was quite remarkable.
Obviously, it was all people were talking about. "It is SO HOT this is HORRIBLE" was the outcry.
I had to agree at that point, the sun was beating down relentlessly, there wasn't even a puff of wind and it was hot as balls.

Hot. Hot. Hot as balls. Balls. Balls. Balls are hot.
I have good news. After the first hellish mile there wasn't another long stretch where there wasn't a tiny bit of shade, a teeny puff of breeze or a waterstation to break it up a bit. Right away at mile 2 there was a nice stretch of shady road and during this time I was able to get it together and get my head right. I began to feel good and knew I would keep trudging along happily as long as the good feeling continued. *and good was the feeling of sweat literally pouring into my EYES!!*

There was a most unpleasant bit of road (mile 4-8ish) that was on a stretch of highway. I was pleased to be feeling quite well because if I had not, this would have been rather awful. Also, during this time the "warning" flags went from yellow to red. I was taking 2 or 3 cups at each water stop and walking leisurely through each one. Basically, leisurely was my pace throughout.

Starting early, around mile 4 there were runners down on the course. It seemed (to me) that medical staff was plentiful on course and that people in trouble were getting help quickly. Seeing that many people on the ground that early certainly made me take stock on how I was feeling, and I was fine.

Up to mile 13.1 things continued in very much the same manner, run cautiously, take a lengthy water break every mile, take oranges from strangers and, through the sweat try to look around and see the sights.

I came to the 13.1 mark in 2:03 which, while certainly not at my normal race pace was very good for the weather conditions. Eric and I had a chat and he gave me my relay medal which was lucky not to get lost during the later part of the race! I said something helpful about how it was "hot but totally do-able! just be smart not a douche! be safe have fun!" and, clearly inspired by this Eric ran off.

I sat down on a rock and drank a beer.
Well, not quite. If anyone saw my snap, at this point I said "It's hot! But I feel good! I'm going to keep running because this is kind of fun!"
Logic. The logic is strong.

Basically, to mile 18 my life continued on much as it had to this point. I was very very sweaty, like pretty inappropriately sweaty. I felt fine. Running was not feeling like a problem, which is always good. I needed sunscreen (despite a very thorough pre race application I must have sweated most of it off) So I found a mom spectator and she hooked me up. Mom's are always good like that.
There were quite a few spectators braving the heat, hosing us down, running DIY aid stations and playing dubious rock and roll.

More cowbell people, MORE

Also around this time I found Eric!!! This was very exciting and we had a nice chat as well as some ice pops. He was even sweatier than I was and his shoes were making "slop-slop" noises as he ran which was quite impressive.

YAY! We are lovely.
We saw some interesting things like a twerking T-Rex which is somewhat unexpected, at mile 19. The T-Rex actually chased me which caused me to squeal and scamper away, as I found his actions to be untrustworthy.
Eric considered taking a beer from a beer aid station. He did not... He still mourns this choice.

This little fucker chased me!
As much as we love each other, sticking together wasn't meant to be, mostly because I am a big jerk who really just wants to get done quick once mile 20 goes by.
So, we tearfully parted ways and off I went.

THANK THE LAWD at this point the damn sun had gone away and once I turned onto the bike path by the lake it was *almost* comfortable and I was able to run faster than I had all day. Cranking along. Like at a sub 9 pace which felt pretty darn quick after all the jogging.
Things were good. I was happy to almost be done and I was rejoicing in my hydrating skills and in how much nicer my legs feel at mile 24+  when I'm being cautious than when I'm not..!
And then.......
Just before the final aid station we were told that the race was cancelled. People continued to run, so I did as well. Follow the sheep? Perhaps.


At the aid station I stopped and asked a volunteer what I should be doing. She asked if I felt capable of walking to the finish, and I said I felt capable of RUNNING to the finish. She advised me to continue with caution. During the last mile I had a little time to think about what was happening. I assumed that they had turned off the clock and that my time would not count, which I found disappointing but I was ok with that. I wondered if I was going to be arrested because I had not stopped (this really did occur to me, I have never experienced anything like this before!) Eric texted me to see if I was still running and he was not impressed that I was. However, he was still on course too. From what I could observe, nobody else seemed to stop and since I was still feeling in excellent health I concluded that getting to the finish and cooling off was my best bet.

Was this a good choice? Since I finished healthy and did not require the attention of med staff then yes, I think (as an adult who knows her body) that I made a fine choice. I understand that not everyone might agree with this. In my defense, I had always assumed that in the case of a cancelled race we would actually be "forced" to halt and removed from the course. I know now that is not true.
(from what I understand, people who had to go through several aid stations were told that the race clock was off, that medical was unable to take more patients (the race directors say this is untrue) and, eventually from what I gather people were more strongly encouraged to stop and take shuttles back. I did not witness any of this. At the time that the race was cancelled, while I was still on course things seemed no more dramatic than they had a mile earlier. )
I finished (running thru very enthusiastic crowds, even in the heat) in 4:09:20 (so I was not lying about taking it EASY!)

1.1 was my race pace
 I was hot. I snagged some ice and evaluated the scene unfolding at the finish.

Phew. Hot.
The med tent did seem full and there were many runners being carried off the course. There were, what I assume to be EMT's doing triage on the grass outside of medical. There was a mild buzz of confusion as it seemed that many people were not able to tell med staff who they were, and had not filled out their bibs.. Mostly though, the med staff seemed to have it under control.

At this point there was a level of frustration/anger coming from runners who were upset thinking about how their time would not count. I actually chose to walk away from a conversation with a woman who was so upset and intense that I couldn't really handle it.  I had finished feeling well but I was quite hot, concerned about what was happening and there was a stress level coming from the ever increasing crowd that was undeniable. I didn't feel up to heated debate about decisions that the race management had made that I wasn't even clear on.

Eric was able to finish as well and he was concerned. There is no doubt that the on course tension had increased 10 fold as time rolled on and he was worried about my safety. When you have local law enforcement yelling that "there is no room in the med tent!!!" that certainly inspires a feeling of worry.

Someone was grumpy
In the post race emails that we have received it seems like concern for the well being of the runners was the number one goal of the day. In an emotionally charged situation there is always room for things to go wrong and on this day, it mostly went right. Nobody died. Was it the "right" choice to cancel the race? Well, there were guidelines and they followed them so no discussion is needed.
Would I be singing a different tune if I had not finished? Who knows. All I can speak to is my own experience. What I experienced were the words of one aid station's worth of volunteers saying to "consider walking." I know this, quickly, became more intense. And yes, I was motivated to finish. With just over one mile to go, and feeling good it was a no brainer.
(I also know that this was an amazingly well supported race. Abundant aid stations. Ample fluids. Tons of ice, including roving vehicles carrying ice, lots of med staff on course and PLENTY of cups!)

Despite the challenges of the day I give VCM respect for hosting a really great race. I wouldn't hesitate to return and I can't say that about every race (as you all know.)
We learned, after the fact that everyone who finished prior to 4:30 would have an official time. Thank heavens that my 4:09 is valid ;-) Looking at the results it appears that 932 people have a finishing time, which appears to be less than half of the starters. A tough day. 
Eric and I also enjoyed our time in Burlington very much, it was a beautiful town with lovely people are great beer!
To top off a fun weekend we were able to catch a Heady Topper truck and come home with an abundance of beer. WIN.  (Eric requests a whole blog post to cover this topic, which is valid.)

It was a unique situation to be part of and has, in the aftermath sparked some lively discussion about the responsibility of the runner, and the race on a day such as we saw.
I'm curious to get your thoughts. What would you have done if you were me? Would you have stopped or continued on? Would you have been concerned that you might get arrested!?