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!)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pineland 50K, redemption, insanity and giant *ahem* roosters

It certainly has taken me long enough to do this recap. I guess it goes without saying that I've been really, really busy!

Sunday May 25th I departed on a mission quest to redeem myself in the 50K. Good life choice.
Did this mean shooting for a PR?  No, definitely NOT. In this case, the terrain definitely required a reality check. I ran the 25K 2 years ago- and despite my blistering pace then (yes, I was indeed running like someone was chasing me) it has stuck in my head over the years as one of the most challenging races I have run.

While I might be crazy I am not dumb. I completely understand the mistakes I made at GCI and I learned from them. I also recognized the fact that as far as "ultra" training goes I had not even scratched the surface! My best guess going into this was that in ideal conditions I might be able to run a JUST barely 5:30. My recent "trail" running attempt, plus my Boston time, plus recent years Pineland results corroborated this evidence and I felt totally ok with this!

I awoke on race day seriously questioning my motives.
The traditional Pre-Pineland long distance day dinner might have made me feel less crazy but did little to calm my feelings of complete uselessness/unease.
I hate waking up feeling nervous but it happened. I admit it.

Pre Pineland Pizza, proving that Beer is a legit means of carb loading.

The good news? It was shit cold on race morning. Maybe 50 something, cloudy and definitely damp. IDEAL!!!!! SO IDEAL!!!! FOR REALZZZZZ!

By the time Eric and I got there, confirmed with Sean that we were all insane, set up the tent and such I was feeling quite alright. I was basically double fisting bagels and smearing body glide everywhere per the norm. We also established that Maddy was the lead 50 miler woman at that point- she won by a ridiculous amount. (we are not worthy!!!) (this made me feel like I could handle a puny, wimpy 50K....)
But really I felt calm and it was all good. so I busied myself getting ready. 

Or, texting per the norm. Whatever. We had a sweet tent.
But in reality, as always, I waited until the last minute to get properly ready and Eric was sounding panicky. He likes to be prepared to race hours in advance where I prefer to mosey to the start with my GPS still frantically searching for satellites! (I'm ok with this. We like different things)

Everyone lined up, there were some instructions which I tried to listen to (failed) and they rang the cowbell.
We were off!
It was chilly and damp and lovely.
Going out HABANERO!!! Or slowly and carefully. Or dancing, who the hell knows.

 Many runners went charging off READY TO FUCKING WIN THE DAMN 5K!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good job.

As I previously mentioned, I learned my lesson at GCI!
My pace for the first 10K was methodical and downright pedestrian. I simply kept reminding myself "You don't finish a 50K in the first 10K. don't do something now that you will regret at any point in the last 10K... seriously woman keep it together!!!"

I had a GREAT plan. I was 100% committed to taking in the sights and sounds for the first hour, making sure to hydrate and drink as needed, being very sure to start walking up any annoying hills as early as needed! For the second hour I was going to turn on some tunes if I needed them (I did not) and focus on getting to the point where I would see Eric again at mile 10-ish and mile 15-ish.

After that I had no plan. Z-E-R-O-. Nada. Wow, expert ultra runner!!
And taking in the sights? How about looking dead ahead, about 1.5 feet so ya don't fall. That's more like it. 

As it turned out not having a cohesive plan was no big deal. After seeing Eric around mile 10 I found that the uneven terrain had already taken a toll on my dainty road running left hip.
While starting the second loop (of the first loop... yeah too many loops) feeling my hip and hammy twinging like crazy I seriously said "What the ever loving hell, shut the fuck UP! I don't want to hear any more from you little JERKS!!!!!" Believe it or not, I never felt that pain again. Go figure.
And plan or no plan, I managed to carry for those remaining 300 (or 3ish) hours with no mental struggle.  Plans are overrated!

Right about the time I was cussing my legs there was a creeper photog to capture the special moment.

So, I ran the first loop in just under 2:30, according to plan. I felt fine. I needed to go pee. Angie was hanging out with Eric (and Quinners! baby genius) at the half way point and I stopped for a very quick chat with them. I was super ultra paranoid that anything longer than a quick word would result in Boston level cramping so I moved on quickly! I found a port-a-pottie, went pee and carried on.

About halfway there. Looking squinty. And alone!
I was pretty conscious of the need to not screw up my eating and drinking plan so I was consistently drinking coconut water (seriously... it's a life saver) and over the course of the run I ate a picky bar and about 6 small salted potatoes- as well as several cups of water. The temps stayed nice and cool until the 3.5-4 hour mark, I seriously credit my good day to the weather gods!!!

About 2 miles into the second loop I took my first "real" break (meaning- not just walking up a random hill) to focus on having a substantial snack since I definitely noticed that I was losing steam.
In retrospect, this was a really good idea as I was actually pretty happy for the rest of the race! At this point I felt like I was completely alone, in no mans land. There really was not a damn soul in sight! Nothing!!!! Totally alone. Super awesome (like, the best. Notttttttttttt.) Anywhoo, feeling pretty good, I chugged along watching the kilometers tick by.

Which was super annoying.
At the 11K mark (in the second loop) I was so grouchy! "UGH!" I thought to myself "GREAT!!! THE 11K MARK! THAT is SUPER critical to know!!!!" This made me laugh since I was in the grumpy cranky stage of running not the oh holy hell I am going to die stage.
There s a clear difference, in case you did not know that...
Oh an guess what? I was still alooooooooone.....
And I noticed, with annoyance, the 16K mark (critical) the 18K mark (lifechanging) and so on, laughing and grumping all the while!

At some point in this ridiculously long race (so the start of the last 5K or so...) Danielle ran by my all full of "WHOOOO" and high fives and what not. I had just left Eric behind and had told him that "I just need to finish..." Apparently I was still coherent and honestly I felt good but... It seriously took me 10 minutes to figure out it was Danielle who was the super pumped cheerleader!
Something about looking at the ground 1.5 feet ahead of you for 4 plus hours really takes a toll!

Close (well, close-ish) to the finish prior to handing my pesky fuel belt off to Eric...I love my flower.
 So those final 5K. Aside from feeling like my feet were broken they were amazing.
All the energy conservation that I had done meant that whenever there was a flat spot I cranked it up. It was really, really fun. Totally different than the final 5K death slog at GCI.....
My legs hurt, my GPS wasn't acting right (not that I cared) but I had enough energy left to pick up the pace and run strong to the finish.
The good news? I was no longer ALONE!!!! Ther were all kinds of 25k-ers everywhere and it was so fun having friends to chat with. (or pass. I'm a jerk sue me)

I actually couldn't believe it when I ran in in 5:07:49- just 3 minutes slower than last year at GCI.

Done. Thank the sweet lord baby geezes.
According to my GPS the course was appallingly short- I hope this is not the case! I know that I was having satellite issues and I certainly do not trust my Garmin 100% (but it would be a bummer to have a course measure a mile short- I ran the 25K before and it measured as a 25K so I'm assuming it was my dumb device malfunctioning!) At this point it was HOT out and I was pleased to be done. Oddly, I barely noticed the heat while on course, I really had gone into a "zone" and was totally turned inward. (this is a skill that makes me a ballin' equestrian since I am completely unfazed by chaos, not sure how it impacts me as a runner. I will assume it's good.)

As is often the case after a long run I walked around stupidly for a while, drank copious amounts of Gatorade (so the 30 oz of coconut water and additional H2O weren't sufficient!) I took a shower and felt human again. I ate a red hot dog which freaked Eric out (silly vegetarian) but it was like a little slice of heaven.
I drank a beer.
Kissed a giant Cock.

Well what else would you do?

Was 3rd in my age group.
And went home to contemplate my strange decisions.
(and had ice cream.)

And really, my pictures with this silly bird are quality.