Monday, October 20, 2014

MDI Marathon, why run 26.2 when 18.8 works just as well??

Last week, as the MDI marathon prep was wrapping up I tried to find time to drop a quick blog about my lead up to my favorite race of the year. Unfortunately I did not have time to do so, so here is a bullet point attempt to make up for that.

-Training took a backseat to working. This was a choice I made, not a misfortune!
-While my weekly mileage was not as consistent as I would have liked I managed a decent number of solid long runs.
-I had some of the worst runs of my running career
-I had some of the VERY BEST runs of my running career
-I was uninjured
-I was not burned out
-I seriously hurt my back 10 days prior to the race. Full recovery was made.
-I had a solid plan that had plenty of flexibility and I was prepared to go with the flow
-I had been assigned, with out a shadow of a doubt, the most incredible race bib EVER!!

This really happened. I was so damn excited!!!!
Eric and I headed up to MDI on Friday late afternoon and proceeded to have a lovely low key evening and Saturday.
Prior to the start of a lazy day I joined in the short AM shakeout run, a really fabulous idea since we all ran to breakfast! It was a really good meal, we had a good time chatting and then went right to the expo to pick up my amazing bib as well as some odds and ends. It was fun!

Post Breakfast: Bradlowski had arrived and was ready to run!!
I know that prior to both NYCM last year and Boston this year I was much too active the day before the race. Laziness was on the schedule for sure this time and we took advantage! We caught up with friends (we had a great lunch with Danielle, Sarah and the quite famous and delightfully down to earth Alexi Pappas), a bit of hiking (Eric) and getting race nails done (me) followed by dodging raindrops and having an amusingly challenging dinner date with a friend. (amusingly challenging for many reasons, the weather, the fact that something BAD has happened to Guinness & Porcelli's menu- as in it has been cut in half (we left), and the fact that due to our various dietary needs we had challenges finding a dining replacement. It was fantastically entertaining and quite the adventure.)
Despite these shenanigans it was a very restful and pleasant day and I made it to bed at a decent hour. And proceeded to sleep quite poorly, which is normal for me.

Race morning dawned cool (ideal) cloudy (ideal) and WINDY (not great but you can't have everything.)
I saw Danielle at breakfast and while discussing my profound dislike for Nunn I noticed that I was feeling nervous about the days events. I was able to rationalize this, as my previous marathon this year was Boston, and I had challenges there that I had not yet had the chance to overcome. Knowing that it was a completely different day I put my mind to work on productive matters, such as trying to figure out the best outfit to wear on order to take flight in the incredible wind.
I ate my normal breakfast.
I continued to hydrate- this was NOT going to turn into a repeat of Boston dehydration.
(I try to learn from my mistakes and not repeat the same errors twice! Just new errors!)
I went pee 4,968 times.

We all lined up and it was the coldest day of my life.

Not warm. But happy that I was not worried about overheating.
Actually, this is a slight exaggeration but I was teeth-chatteringly cold and my feet turned into little blocks of ice. Luckily, we were off in no time and with "Thunderstruck" fading off into the distance I settled into an easy pace. Truthfully, my legs and feet were so very cold that anything faster than easy would have been all but impossible.

I do not look at my watch much while marathoning, I turn off the auto lap and entertain myself by doing mental pace calculations. This takes my mind off all the running, lets me check in on my mental capacity. and there isn't much reason to check the pace 600 times as a watch can't tell you anything that your legs and brain don't already know. I was pleased to see that upon the occasional watch check, I was meeting my goal of running sensibly and not like a sprinting jackass of certain doom. The one time it is nice to have the watch on: when you need confirmation that you are not being stupid.

It was feeling like a really good day. The miles flew by, and before I knew it I was seeing Eric at mile 11.5. I had had an uneventful first part of the race (which I reported) and was maintaining well. I asked that he meet me at the next stop with arm warmers and snacks.
We met up again just before the half and had an amusing struggle to remove my long sleeve shirt and apply my armwarmers. It was quite a sight to behold as I was impossibly stuck, and as we were doing an outfit change we were keeping forward motion AND Eric was cramming potatoes into my mouth. The crowd cheered in appreciation, which we enjoyed.

I believe this is when Danielle and Sarah drove by me saying "whooo hooooo!!!"
 I ran thru the half in 1:45 and change and went thru my checklist:
Stomach: Good
Legs: Can feel the previous hills but still A-OK
Brain: Comprehending

With that in order I carried on.
The miles continued to tick right by and my pace was staying consistent. Between 14-15 there is a stretch of road by the water and the wind was incredible. I felt like I made very little forward progress in that area and it was quite taxing. However, there was an awesome boat driving all around and honking its horn at us, with people on the deck yelling and cheering. It was a good morale boost during a really tricky stretch of road.

I knew I was going to see Eric again sometime around 16- but as it turned out it was right around 18 that I saw him. He asked if I was hurting and at that time I was having some frustrating moments. I had had a few side stitches over the course of the race and had another one at that time,while that certainly isn't a deal breaker it's annoying as hell. (also, it's the drawback of focusing on staying fed and watered. I could choose to avoid that, avoid the side stitches and totally bonk- or suck it up and have to pause here and there to work them out...) Also and even more annoyingly I felt that there was something wrong with my sunglasses. I was having issues seeing clearly and had removed them to wipe them off a good half dozen times in the mile of so leading up to Eric. I simply could not figure out what was going on. Eric indicated that I was still running a good pace and that he would mosey off and see me at the finish which I acknowledged before heading back to the task at hand.

Very shortly after I moved along I pulled my glasses off in frustration, and when that exacerbated the issue I finally realized that there was nothing at all wrong with my glasses.
I was having an ocular migraine aura.
Within a few short moments my vision proceeded to go crap- anyone who experiences these knows what I refer to. Spots. Squiggles. and what I refer to as "lightning bolts" were completely messing with my day.
There was no need to ponder, I immediately pulled up, tried to cover my eyes and walked off to the side of the road. The nice thing about MDI is that EVERY runner who passes you asks if you are doing alright, and offers encouragement. I knew my day was done but was unsure of what to do next! It was much too far to walk and I knew that I was centrally located between 2 water stations, limiting my access to human contact.

Luckily, with only a short amount of walking I came across the nicest people ever! They wrapped me up in a blanket, gave me a drink, texted Eric and when I confessed that I didn't think my broken head and I could make it to the finish they drove me on over. They were fantastic people and they made my day so much better, it was nice and warm in their car and they pretended not to notice that I put my sunglasses on and hid my head under the blanket. We carried on a lovely conversation from my safe, dark place and in no time had reached the finish.
There was no Eric to be found.
Unfortunately, out of the two texts that we sent he only got the first one- the one that I said "I'm dropping at 18.8 FML!!" He did not get the second that said "I am getting a ride to the finish with nice strangers." The poor guy drove all around looking for me, unable to find me, growing increasingly worried when he finally got text #2- some 20ish minutes later.
I did get to see many friends at the finish which was nice, despite the fact that my brain was exploding out my ears and I was bone achingly freezing.
Luckily, Eric turned up as quickly as he could and put ALL my warm clothing on me. He really is the best kind of husband!
We skedaddled on out pretty fast since I needed about 300 Advil and some quiet time. UGH.

The next day I enjoyed a succinct review of the previous days events:  

Truer words were never spoken!!!!
I had anticipated that I might have some issues at this race, knowing that my training mileage had not been as high as I would have liked. This particular challenge was unexpected.
The good news: I had a hell of a good 18+ mile run, at pace, over hills, on my favorite course, with some fantastic people. (and my legs feel fine today. well, they feel like I ran 19 over hills at pace but it's a very different feeling that running a full at pace haha.... I also seem to have caught a cold. Possibly what the death headache was warning me of.)
While the outcome was not what I had hoped for, and as sad as I am not to have collected one of the beautiful finishers medals, I can still walk away from this feeling ok. There are more races and I'll run an issue free marathon soon. (please running Gods, PLEASE!!)

There is something so special about running on MDI. The miles fly by faster than you can imagine, there are always pretty things to look at, you meet new friends and see old friends, and there are many little touches that make this my favorite race ever. From the thoughtful personalized bibs, to the painted shout outs along the course (plus so many directional arrows that one could NEVER get lost!) the exciting start, the excellent pre race final instructions, and the fact that the race is small enough to feel like you "know" everyone- this race really is one of a kind. I loved it from the first time I ran it, and quite a few races later I appreciate it and enjoy it more and more. 
So, here's to another race, another day, and to MDI 2015 :-)

Even on a cloudy day it's beautiful!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A three for one! All the races.

Since I haven't done a race report in quite some time I thought I'd really make this special by doing a THREE in one!

First off.
The Maine Mile. 
I had no clue how fast I might be. I hoped for sub 7. I was thinking that if I really got crazy, that sub 6:30 might be possible but that sounded like a lot of work. Regardless, I was actually quite excited for this event and the weather was spectacular, which was awesome. I had already done my normal workout that morning, and was pretty happy about the 7:30 PM start since running late is my jam.

(Writing about a one mile race takes longer than running it.)

Eric and I lined up with our friends (Danielle, Carrie, Ward and Wade who are basically the same person) Per the norm Danielle and I contemplated bailing, but knowing that the pain would be brief we soldiered on. #sobrave
Eric and I were not quite as late to the party as it appeared, we arrived unusually early and had strolled around and actually managed a several mile warm up. We are clearly on the cusp of being serious race contenders. 

The gun went off an I took off quite briskly, only to find myself DEAD fucking LAST.
You think I kid? Well I do not. There was not one person behind me for the initial surge.
I looked around somewhat dumbfounded by the way that things had uncontrollably escalated. I actually felt like time had slowed and that I was in my own bizarre personal space bubble of extreme slowness, where all my limbs moved at a speed of exaggerated sluggishness.  

I was like "shit". However, I knew that it isn't in my personal best interest to go out habanaro only to die 3 point 2 feet later, so I basically maintained the same pace throughout, finishing in 6:13.
Once I overcame the feeling of extreme leisure I understood that I was seriously running so fast. SO FAST!!!! How does anyone run faster than a 6:13??? Jeesh. 

So fast that the camera can't even keep up. Pshhhhhhh.
Good enough. I don't make a habit of running that fast EVER, for ANY reason so I'm pleased. Just off the damn podium but I couldn't have run any faster! (the thing is, I was instantly fine and recovered which made me wonder if I could have run faster- but I really do not believe I could have!)
I want to do this again. I really had a great time and I felt spectacularly fast, similar to an Olympic sprinter. (shut up. let me have my dream!)

Prizes! I love PRIZES!!

Moving on to 5 days later.
My first 5 mile race EVER!
Eric and I decided to run the Kick out mesothelioma 5 miler in Portland. I was wishing for a speedy number of miles greater than 1 and since kicking mesothelioma in the face seems commendable we decided to participate.

The good part about this race was that it was for a good cause on a not too hard course.
The bad part is that nobody knew where it started, once we started nobody knew where to go, and Erica Jesseman showed up to win which is never good because she is basically the best female runner in Maine. (and I'm kidding- she's great. an it's great that the awesome local runners go out to support good causes. Oh, and I'm NOT kidding that she is one of the best female runners in Maine...)

So, yeah. We all started and we watched Erica Jesseman and a few others fade into the distance while the rest of us got knocked down by gale force winds, sweated to death in the humidity and (if you are me) literally had to grind to a halt several times, unsure as to where to go. Totally lost, FML.
I decided to look at those moments as nice breaks....

I ran a brisk pace none the less (35:51 for a 7:07 pace) and basically hit the puke zone hard.
I am the most disgusting person who ever lived.
I don't think I would have run so damn quickly but I knew I was in 3rd and the 4th place woman was absolutely breathing down my neck. So run hard I did, and puke hard I did. Yuck.

Before the projectile vomiting began.
My goal in life for my next racing adventure was to run slowly enough to avoid projectile vomiting everywhere. I can't take it, so repulsive!

So anyways...
All along thru this sprint zone madness I knew that I had the Freeport Half on September 7th. I chose this race because it looked pretty damn hilly- a decent lead up to MDI in October and a nice opportunity to see if my no plan training plan is working out or failing completely.

After a few days of high temps and high humidity I was not disappointed when the temps were in the mid 60's and the humidity had dropped.

Believe it or not, I had a pretty clear plan of how I wanted to run this race. I was aiming to finish on legs that did not feel tired- I wanted gas left in the tank. At no point did I wish to feel like I had hit the wall, and at no point did I want to feel like I was pushing a 5k pace like a dumbass. My goal was a 1:42-1:48 finish, and to avoid vomiting. I really, REALLY did not feel like puking up my toes ANY more.

Eric and I arrived at a decent hour (and Eric went on to place 4th in the 5K!!!! He's fast and attractive and funny. I'm basically the luckiest girl ever! *gush* *swoon*)
OK. Anyway. We had to run to LL Bean to buy some body glide because omg guess what, I do NOT have #thighgap so I chafe, and since that is not enjoyable to anyone, bodyglide is the answer to my chapped ass prayers.
On the way back to the start area I noticed that YET AGAIN there was Erica Jesseman and her band of blue singlet-ed Dirigo RC speedsters. JESUS!!! It's like they are tracking my every MOVE!!!!!
(I'm kidding. When you are the best runner in the state, probably prepping to win Hartford, or Chicago, or NYCM you haul ass out to win tough little races like Freeport. Which she did. Mad props.) Anyway, there was actually a start line, signage and people giving directions at this race so in very little time we had lined up and were ready to GO!

The gun went off and the crowd tore away, ready to win the 400 meter race. 
It's like my new thing.
The race starts and immediately I am: DEAD. FUCKING. LAST.
At least in a half marathon situation I have my act together and know that all is not lost.
Alone. All alone.

I started at a reasonable pace, I maintained a reasonable pace, I passed many, I was not passed at all and I succeeded in my race plan.
1:43:54 finish on a pretty damn tough course makes me happy.
It got warm, but a pretty nice day overall. The hills were relentless (which is what wanted) I did not do a great job snacking- I completely forgot to cram a handful of eatables in my pocket. Apparently, this was my first race ever....
I can run a half on no food but I felt like garbage after. Hello again GI issues. No vomiting but good grief, the past two races have been a nasty tough of reality in the "I feel like shit" department.My legs felt decent- maybe more tired than I would have liked but not totally cashed by any means, my mindset was good but my belly was complete junk. UGH!!!
First world problems. "I have an expensive time consuming hobby that makes me crap my pants and ruins my pedicure, noooooooooooooo!!!!!"
But really. Gross. This time, I do blame my silly lack of snack preparation.
Or maybe I am just destined to barf and shat my way to success. We shall see. 
Running to the porta potty. I mean finish. 

So that wraps up a few fun weeks of racing with a few not so fun GI issues. While I feel that I am indeed on track, I know I have some things to ponder for the next few weeks and some good stuff to work on.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A post about everything. EVERYTHING.

I seem to be on a monthly blogging schedule!
I feel like I have accumulated enough interesting things to say to justify a post at this point!
And since it is doubtful that I will blog again until October here is a little of everything. 

Let's see...
Well, Eric and I got married this past weekend!
And clearly, we ran a little race first.
I guess "racing" is not exactly what happened- Eric's Mom threw us and the family a big fun party that evening. So basically the way it played out was that we got there, drank a beer, ate some snacks and ran as best we could after such shenanigans. It was quite a good time!
I totally wore a veil. When else can you do that?!

The guy with the stroller beat us. Whatever ;-)
Then the next day we got married.
It was a helluva party. Seriously, so much fun!
I know this is not a wedding blog but honestly- things were so easy and so great that at some point I might write about details. I feel like bragging, ok? :-)

Laughing. As usual.... All the love!

The wedding party was a great time but (not to be sappy) the day was really about marrying my best friend and how happy we are to be together. We also really like our families and loved having a party where we focused on mingling, taking silly pictures, eating delicious food and high fiving many times.
I noticed later that night that the internet had legit blown up with #bradlowski
You. Are. Welcome.

Yeah, we wore Chucks for the afterparty. Well, Eric wore them all day which is awesome. That is my sister on the right :-)

On the running front...
I just won an entry to the Maine Mile! I have never run a mile race so I think this will be super fun and also a PR just for showing up, which always makes things better.
I honestly do not know how I am going to do so I plan to run really fast and be happy with whatever I can do. Marathoners don't tend to train for sprinting but why not right? Maybe I'm destined to be a track superstar. Yeah!! (because.... speed. and mine is amazing)

Running in general is pretty great right now.
I have become aware that enjoying the journey is instrumental.
If every race "training cycle" is fraught with dreading the long run, hating the speedwork, struggling thru the intervals then what is the point.
I love running and enjoy racing- nobody is holding a gun to my head (or any of us casual runners heads) forcing us to do this- so running as a hobby needs to be fun at least most of the time.
This summer I have enjoyed running more than ever. Or, if nothing else, I have taken a step back towards becoming the runner I was several years ago- enjoying the road, accepting that I am only as good as I can be on any given day and meeting myself at that point. (which doesn't mean it is all magic and rainbows. but it is the majority of the time.)

On a running, but different note....
I decided to defer my Chicago entry to next year.
I worried for a moment (literally, a moment) that people might think I was sick, injured, chronically lazy, that maybe I had totally lost my nerve- and judge me but I really can't worry about that and it seems unlikely. I am none of those things and look forward to Chicago '15 when I will feel more financially comfortable with the (large number) of expenses involved. I can not enjoy running when I feel that my decisions are compromising my financial stability!

The good news- and in my mind it is REALLY good news- is that my October marathon is going to be MDI.
I love, love, LOVE running on MDI and I think the marathon there is second to none. As soon as I decided to dedicate my miles to training for that race I got really excited.
I had my first really good marathon on the island and after my yucky Boston this year I need a little MDI magic to put the mojo back into my marathon step.

I have a feeling that will happen! (and I really can not wait!!)


Monday, July 28, 2014

In which I emerge from a long, long internet silence.

Once upon a time, I was a blogger.
A running blogger to be specific and I (occasionally) would regale all of you with tales of my intense training plan, stories from various races and give you tons of sweaty unattractive pictures to mull over.

I bet you have all really missed that.

I knew after my intense January-June 1st racing schedule that I needed a short break or an injury was sure to pop up. I also knew that this was going to be a season jam packed with horse shows- and this certainly was true.
Through the month of June I kept my running very minimal and really enjoyed the break. I know that I am the only running blogger in the universe who actually admits to appreciating a rest but honestly, I do. I need it mentally, physically and during June I was so SO busy that if I had not planned to take some time it simply would have happened out of necessity.

During my "rest" time I play lifeguard for the crazy swimmer.
 There have been some changes too. Without a clear Summer goal I knew that continued coaching would be turning my little "splurge" into an unjustified indulgence (because what middle of the packer needs a coach..? well, one who couldn't stay healthy I suppose!)
I am so thrilled that during my year with Coach Kelsey I leaned a remarkable amount about what my body needs to stay healthy. That investment was probably one of the best ones that I have made as a runner- so the money was well spent.
However. Reality knocked at my door and I realized that I simply can not invest as much money into any part of my running hobby. Not on races, not on coaching (right now) not on ALL the fun new gear! I already participate in a mind blowingly expensive sport as part of my job- and since that is my livelihood I had to funnel cash that way. I know I don't need to justify my choices to the internet but hey- this is real life and I believe we all can relate.

The great news is that my professional equestrian lifestyle has been fantastic this year. I had a downright delightful early season of showing, as did my lovely young rider client and we are both heading to Regionals with scores that make me hopeful for a good showing (against some of the toughest competition at our respective levels that I have seen in years- we have been doing well but are preparing to see some damn fine horses. Which is fine, bring it on!)

Chauncy the wonder pony.

Have I been running? Yes.
Am I still running Chicago? Yes.
Do I have anything life changing to say about my current training plan? Well, no. I am taking a sensible approach, and I am happy with how things are going. I have really fallen off the face of the internets as I no longer am super interested in plugging every run into Daily Mile, or chronicling every step I take on twitter. There is nothing wrong with this at all- and I truly enjoy reading the tales from those who do! It just happens not to be where I am at right now and that's ok. And while I might not be putting in 50 mile weeks currently I have a good handle on what my pokey old legs need in order to prep for a marathon and that is in the works. I am the master of the ultra short training plan.
(either that or I'm just going to be super super screwed. we shall see.)

As mentioned I have really cut back on the outpouring of cash that goes into hobby jogging. At this point I have NOT A SINGLE damn race on the horizon! (except Chicago which is $$$$. But, like NYCM this is a one time deal.) Without exaggeration I have been booked every weekend since Memorial Day so I could not have raced even if I had wanted to. But, the fall season is looming and we all know that I love racing in the Fall.

So! Until then... I will continue to enjoy the blogs of others who are doing more exciting racing than I am but mostly, I will be focused on the fact that Eric and I are getting married in less than 3 weeks and we need to get it together on that front! Pretty exciting times :-)
Bachelorette Party painting! Getting out of riding/running clothing and having fun!


Monday, June 9, 2014

The mysterious missing miles

In the days and weeks after Pineland, slowly but surely I came to the discovery that it wasn't just me- the damn course was short.

I am who I am- so clearly I'm not thrilled about this. My investigations have led me to the conclusion that I can blame about a half mile or so of the inaccuracy on my Garmin (I know it lost satellites twice) However, that final mile? It just wasn't there. Shit bags!!

This changes my final results a little and for the sake of honesty and future bragging rights for when (IF) I do it again here is what my results were:
30 miles, 5:07:49, 10:15 average pace.
30 miles is still stupid far but I would have preferred to run the correct distance and cross it off the list.

After the insanity of my (short) ultra my grand plan was to take 2 weeks off- or as off I as could muster. My legs have been chugging out miles non stop since January and I know that they needed a break! I'm so pleased to say that I came away from this long training cycle fully intact- no injuries and no small nagging pains. Pretty fantastic.
In all honestly it was hard for me to hang up my shoes feeling as good as I did.
Remembering how I am crazy, not stupid was all it took for me to book some extra hours working and fill up that time when I usually would be running. I know for a fact that my middle aged bod needs a little break a couple times a year!

So, during this break I did have one decent adventure.
Eric and I went over to Roberts Farm last week, a local preserve that has a good number of very hilly hiking, skiing and snowshoeing trails. Café Nomad (a local place which has some of the best coffee and soup around) is hosting a trail race series this summer and this was the first race.

Just the thing after 30 miles on Pineland trails- an 8.5K race on trails that are actually little death traps (for a road runner. I am sure that "real" trail runners have no problems with single track snowshoe trails...)

Before. Clean shiny and happy!

 I had a really fun time, up and down the mountain I went, slogging through ankle deep mud, jumping over fallen trees, clearly going off course on the snowshoe path, and running faster than is safe along terrain that I was definitely not confident on!!

Here we all go! Clearly, I've been all about the neon this spring..

Around the half way point I was in a group of 2 other ladies and we basically formed a pace line, taking turns leading the way. When we got onto the single track we decided to risk getting eaten by a sasquatch, become terrifyingly lost or similar, and we went our own ways at our own speeds. Sad.

Almost to the scary snowshoe trail
 According to our math skills and calculations an 8.5k measures at 5.25-ish miles. Right around the 4.25 mark I had come alongside a pack of women. Not only was I glad to relinquish the responsibility of trail blazer but I was happy to have some people to run the final mile with.

Imagine my shock when at mile 4.39 we came to the finish line.
No, we had not gone off course. Apparently it is the calling card of a trail race, to measure short.

Amusingly it was times and measured as an 8.5k making my speed look BLAZING. For anyone who looked at the results my 41 minute time averaged a 9:35 pace, sadly not the insane 7-something pace that it shows.

Blazing speed super skillzzzz.
Regardless of the wacky missing mile it was a great time and I won a Christmassy cowbell for being the 3rd woman. I'm hoping my schedule allows me to go back later this month for more muddy fun.

I'm flying solo until August, since for the first time in 2 years I do not have a major mid summer race I (sadly) could not justify continued coaching for these Summer months.
My assumption was that by the end of my 2 week break that I would be really sad not to have a random night marathon, or 50K to get ready for.
At this point I can honestly say that is not the case! I am VERY busy at work (counting the day I ran Pineland as my last day "off" I will be working straight through until the 29th at best. (insert slightly nervous laughter. good thing I'm awesome. please don't hesitate to bring be huge bottles of cabernet.)
I'm also hoping to find time to run some shorter local races and to just enjoy running (who would like to place the first bet that I get restless and end up doing something silly? go ahead!)