Monday, February 24, 2014

Half At The Hampton's, friends, PR's, puddles and more.

This winter has been so lousy in the weather department that one might think we would have been either frozen or snowed out of all our winter races.
This has not been the case. Which is straight up amazing.
We now have a 100% success rate for the winter season, all 3 races going off without a hitch, with reasonable (or better than average) weather. (and now the winter season is over so I am not jinxing us!)
We did get a bit of a scare on Saturday evening when Jaimie posted a horrible ominous picture of Facebook. What in the ever loving hell is this? It was a "puddle" at mile 1, that's what.
Ohhhhhh shit. I better learn to SWIM!!

This created an amusing conversation on our household about lugging along extra shoes and having a legit transition area to change up in since this clearly was a duathlon or steeplechase event. Yikes.
Despite this concern we awoke (early) on Sunday ready to go, and happy to see that we would be seeing temps climb well into the 40's. Which is a damned heat wave according to THIS winter. And it meant that if nothing else, our socks and shoes would not freeze after running thru the *puddle*.

The dead sexy couple at the ass crack of dawn.

 We arrived nice and early (I'm a changed woman, I swear) to find all our friends for our amazing anniversary! We all met a year ago at the decidedly soggy Hyannis and have been BFF's ever since. Seriously, we are all meant to be together because we are fairly crazy. I love these kids!

So here we have Andy, Isaac, Jaimie, Mike, Crystal, Raquel and my Exclusive Dating Partner sexy Future Husband

I was feeling relaxed and ready to see what the day brought. We all made our way to the start with some amusing conversation and lined up, as people tend to do at races. Meaning, that for 10 or so minutes all I can see is a sea of elbows or, if I'm lucky, shoulders. It is the short girls burden.

At the start I felt that my goal time could be impacted by the puddle/lake an by the rather icy road conditions. Once we started I also discovered that (once again) the course was different! (than last time I ran it, not- I'm sure, from the map. which par for the course I had not so much as glanced at.) This is my third time running this particular race on a different route. I rather like this as change is good but I wasn't particularly fond of the first couple miles.
The good news in all this is that the lake/puddle had greatly diminished into a fairly minor icy slushy mess. A huge relief!

My first couple miles went by faster than the Mid Winter Classic which was to be expected because I was racing this course rather than meandering along for a training run. My pace for the first two miles showed me to be right on par for my 1:38-1:40 finish time. Not bad because I was slipping, sliding and spinning my tires like crazy. I saw a couple people go down HARD and I really didn't want to follow in their footsteps (or butt prints, ouch.)

Just after mile 2 the ice diminished and my pace picked up, looking a little something like this:
Mile 3: 7:18 "huh. that's a bit faster than I had planned..."
Mile 4: 7:16 "shit. that should not have been that fast."
mile 5: 7:12 "Oh F**K!!!! Now I need to keep this shit up. UGH. Damnit."

Once I came to the conclusion that I was going to continue running hard, I did.
And it was hard.
My slowest mile for the rest of the race was a 7:25 and that was up this sucky section of hills that people never mention when talking about pancake flat Hampton.. (I actually kid, if I had been running more outside this winter these hills would be nbd, but to hit them at a stupid fast pace on treadmill legs went exactly as I predicted. A little tough.)

It's a good thing we had some kickass cheerleaders. Thanks Andy and kids for being awesome.

More cowbell. 
 Overall, despite the fact that I find running an average pace of 7:22 to be challenging the race was fine. I did not have any dramatic problems during the race with either my legs or stomach. While I still don't think that my lazy left leg is as strong as my amazing badass right leg it is much better than it was 6 months ago! I met a very nice friend at mile 8 (a Team Hoyt member) and we basically ran shoulder to shoulder for several miles. I thanked him for being my personal pacer!

With just over 2 miles to go we began to run by the ocean again and the wind punched me right in the face, I fell down and quit running forever.
Well.... Not exactly. There was a bitch of a headwind though which made me think longingly of the October Hampton race and the brilliant, PR inducing tailwind. At this point I lost my pacing friend and was left with my own troubled thoughts. As we all know, my own troubled thoughts don't bother me in the least and part of every race is me getting pissed off. So on I trudged.In a pissed off way.

(insert editors note: luckily for all, there are no race photos to be found, yet. I feel that every photo of me from this race will be less than flattering as in the last couple miles it felt (oddly) like my head was falling off and my mouth was wiiiiiiide open. you all know I will share when  find these gems...

With half a mile to go and not much gas left in the tank Isaac leaped out on the course with me, like a super caffeine charged, bouncy, pumped up race pacer on crack. "COME ON!!!" He shouted, in glee, while easily jogging along at a sub 7 pace "Let's finish!!!!" At this point, I ever so slightly wanted to kill him but also did not want to be shamed by blatantly not keeping up, so I did my damn best to run faster. He asked my how my race was, like any nice person would do. "UGHHHHH" I replied, because really, who can race recap at mile 12.6? Trying to be civil I asked how he had done. "ONE TWENTY FIIIIIIIIIIIVEEEEEEEEE! he sang in glee, while kicking up his heels, springing cartwheels and back handsprings and sweating sparkles and rainbows. Clearly the only correct response to this would be to groan loudly and say "ughhhhh you sluuuuuut....!" right? Right. Hopefully so because that is what happened.

So when I managed to muscle out a 3 second PR I credited it fully to Isaac, the slut, and his sub 7 pace and amazing enthusiasm.  Thanks buddy :-)
I high fived my Team Hoyt friend, told him I was going to puke and ran off. (I did not puke. this time) 

Yes, the moral of the story is that I did snag a PR with a 1:36:37. It was a challenging run but I am no worse for it which makes me happy. I think that for a runner of my caliber keeping up that pace for a prolonged period of time should feel challenging so I'm ok with being a little tuckered out today.
I was 6th in my AG and the 25th overall woman. Also, this is a solid course PR for me by 12 or so minutes.
Trying to drink beer. Trying not to poop my pants. I'm hot.

I felt a little junky post race! Not 100% terrible but there was some minor GI disturbance that I could have done without but merits blog mention because that is what blogs are for. Poop talk. fun! I missed Eric's (huge PR) finish because I was in the bathroom... I missed the famous "race jump" pic with the blog friend because I might have been in there again, yuck.  I recovered quickly but not quickly enough to enjoy the remarkable spread of food and beer that this race always provided. This is a great race... I love the nice warm hotel ballroom, the ample bathrooms for me to have GI issues in, the dudes scraping the ice off the roads, the easy bib pick up and (usually) the beer. But not so much on this day. Boo.

So! A decent race, a goal accomplished an now onward to Boston!
With 8 weeks an counting I'm ready to get down to business. 


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Food is not a four letter word

So a while back I promised blog posts about two things, my pet peeves and food.
As it turns out I have been able to roll all that fun into one fantastic post.

Since I am temporarily turning this space into a food and exercise blog clearly I need a new name like: Mudslides and Marathons.... Pull ups and Pickles..... Tricep dips and pita chips (you get the idea...)
PR's and Pickybars!! Haha they would probably sue me for copyright infringement! But I rather like that one..

There is always talk on running/health blogs about eating, food, body image, disordered eating, nutrition (some good some just laughable) being too skinny, being too fat and on an on.
I am hesitant to throw my hat into the ring on many of these topics because face it, I'm not an expert and only have my own experiences to rely on.

However. Due to my job I am a role model for teenage and pre teen girls, an because of that I have some really strong opinions on some of these subjects. I was a teenage girl once, long long ago, but not so long that I have forgotten the way that comments can significantly impact your body image and your feeling about yourself, not to mention your relationship with food.

My idea of healthy food. Just kidding, this looks like an awful combo!

We aren't all perfect. Shockingly, nobody is.
When it comes to our bodies, and the way we view ourselves Lauren Fleshman said it so well that instead of writing something inspirational myself I'll just link you up to her: Read it. Read it now.

As far as food goes this is where I start getting a bit peevish. Seriously, when did food become the enemy??
When did it become taboo to call "food" FOOD, or a "meal" a MEAL. Ohhhh no, now it's all "I have to fuel up!" "refuel!" "pre fuel!" "havin' some EATS!" (I hate that one)

WHAT THE HELL? Have a damn sandwich it's not going to kill you or *gasp* make you fat. And call it a DAMN sandwich, you do not have to justify a sandwiches existence by referring to it as "fuel" (I put fuel in the tractor... and sandwiches in my pie hole.)


I have basically stopped following any blogs that obviously promote disordered eating. Honestly, I was more than a bit shocked to see how par for the course this is. If you are only eating roasted squash for 3 meals a day that's just wrong. And it does not interest me.
I'm also reluctant to take much interest in people who view every gram of carbs, delicious pizza, omg bite of ice cream as a terrible, terrible cheat. Live a little people, it's worth it. Don't put the #cheatday #soguilty #sofat anywhere I can see it because I will roll my eyes at your tiny, skinny, needs to cheat, instagrammed self. .....seriously.....

I preach to the kids (and to myself) that a balanced diet involves many different food groups and that unless a serious sensitivity or allergy is a problem it is not necessary- or even healthy- to eliminate entire food groups.
And if you are enjoying cake, that is what you are doing. enjoying it. Not being "bad".
And if you eat a slice of pizza you don't need to feel guilty, or concerned about "burning off" every calorie.
And we should like food! It is fun, and can be exciting, and having a meal with friends and family happens to be one of my favorite things, so get on board...

Eating clams with ALL THE BUTTER.
And guess what, it's life not an effing cheat day....
We need food in order to live. Especially as athletes we need a healthy and balanced diet,
(which can indeed include some chips, beer and pizza- why not! but maybe does not involve a bucket of butter like the above pic on a daily basis. Even I think about my arteries and such...)
So big deal if you have a cheeseburger at dinner. You had a super healthy vegetable laden lunch. It all balances out. Could I be a better athlete if I went onto a raw, no carbs, no beer, no nothing if it is not orange diet? We will never find out.
In contrast to many people I know in real life I eat a tremendously healthy and well adjusted balance of foods. I am lucky to enjoy living like this and call if a lifestyle, not a "diet".
Compared to how some people on the internet eat I'm basically Jaba the Hutt which makes me laugh so hard that I injure myself. Dudes, you enjoy those 500 calories a day that you allot yourself. That's my breakfast!
Me, according to some cray cray bloggers.
I'd rather be Jaba than eat raw carrots and jello for lunch, gross!
In reality I'm not Jaba. I'm a small girl, but healthy. You can't see my bones (except a few ribs, I'm skinny what can I say...) I can work all day, pick up things bigger than myself, I'm strong enough to ride big horses, run many miles, teach the youth of America, be so busy that it is just insane!- and still have energy to hang out with my exclusive dating partner at the end of the day. And that is important- it's about being as healthy and happy as you can be. Not as skinny as you can be. not as restricted as you can be. There are not extra points out there in the universe for people who only eat 500 calories a day!

On the flip side of this I did have a little girl attend one of my day camp programs several years ago. She seemed to get really exhausted quite early in the afternoon so I took a look in her lunchbox. It contained a butter sandwich, cake and soda...... wow...  Perhaps not the healthiest choices to encourage an active day!
If nothing else this was a good learning moment for this kiddo about the balance between healthy and not so healthy, and now a strict diet of junk does not always help us to feel our best! Haha, even I don't eat cake for lunch.

So there you have it. My little rant. My diet is not perfect, I'm not perfect and I don't care at all. I hope that I can impart upon all of my teenagers that food keeps ya' moving, can be fun and adventurous (unless it is lima bean) and certainly is not something to be afraid of or obsess over.
And I tell them this without hesitation! Especially if they bring me cake for lunch :-)


Monday, February 17, 2014

My predictions for The Half At the Hamptons....

It's officially race week around here.
This Fall I declared that the Hampton Half was going to be my A race for the winter, a great way to crank up some pre Boston speed work and, most likely, a chance to PR.

I think at this juncture we can all agree that training this winter has been odd.
15 mile runs on the treadmill, that is odd indeed

That certainly should not imply that I haven't been working very hard and putting significant effort into my workouts, because I have.

Quite simply, with so much indoor training and the subsequent reduction in challenging terrain I don't feel that I can predict my race outcome with the almost psychic ability I had last summer.

And not to (continue) complaining about (more) shit weather, but I think we can all agree that it's endless this year! Endless. ENDLESS.
This is special. BARF.
Hopefully soon the conditions really improve and I can get back on the roads. PLEASE RUNNING GODS!

Ahem. Anyway, back on point.
My current PR (2012, Great Bay Half, on a great weather day, running angry) was a 1:36:40
(oh and on a side note, I also met Eric at the GBH. So a PR and a good day in general!)
(And I also met Andy that day too because they do most things together....)
(OH! An that's the day I met Danielle too, but we had known each other for ages on the internets...)
My 2013 PR, on a hot but lovely day, on legs that (theoretically) should not have been fast was 1:37:15

So where am I at now...
I trained almost exclusively on the treadmill for my first half 3 years ago (which was Hampton! It's my Half-aversiry!) I believe I ran in 1:48 (this was the year now famous for sub arctic temps, horrific wind chill and the works. It really was a bit awful.) I hope that my winter of treadmill training leaves me a bit faster lo these many years later!
I ran Hampton again the following year for another 1:48- I used this run as more of a social outing on this particular day so it felt nice and easy. And the weather could not have been better!

Taking into account my finishing time a few weeks ago at the Mid Winter Classic I believe that a 1:40 is a very possible outcome. Realistic.

That is not my official guess though. IF the weather is decent- no frigid temps, no slushy roads, no driving winds I feel confident (perhaps unjustifiably) that I can pick it up a little. But not more than a little.

I predict a finish of 1:38:58 which will leave me wiped out, and possibly annoyed!
I will admit that I think this is a lofty goal and that none of the speed work I have been doing lately indicates that a sub 1:40 finish is in the cards. Screw it, I'm gonna dream big because why not!

Sp plan on that friends, I will run my 1:38:58- then, assuming I am not dying I will run a few more to make it a long run. And then we will all celebrate excellent races, the upcoming Spring season and fabulocity in general with beers and pizza!
And it will be awesome.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fast people, famous people, and me...

This past week has been pretty normal on the winter training front.
There have been 2 common themes over the past week or so.
1: I am very, very busy at work. 10-12 hour days have not been unusual
(this makes mid week 2 hour workouts a tad tricky. I'm pretty good at managing my schedule but it has been tight!)
2: Winter still sucks
Sucky stupid winter
Despite these little challenges I had another solid training week. I clearly felt a little bump up in my fitness this week (finally! good gahd it took long enough..) With Boston finally registering on my race radar this is a good thing- now all we need are warmer temps and safe roads an I'll be back in the game. Until then, the basement and I are spending serious quality time.

Eric and I went to Boston yesterday for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. This was a fun run-nerd road trip an we really had a good time! I was really curious to see the Nike team- since flotrack has more or less been devoted to them and their racing/training I was eager to see them in the flesh.
In an excellent twist of fate we got to see Danielle again (twice in one week!) as she and Sarah were spectating too. I believe we all hold on to hope that breathing the same air as the fast kids will make us fast.
I'm counting on it....
Crappy phone photo's...
Famous people! Alberto Salazar's back! Whoot!
I have been super impressed by the Rupp and Cain phenomenon so I was a bit crushed when Rupp pulled out, clearly hurting in the men's mile race. (Eric and I have been saying in our *expert* tones that he was going to make it or break it.... and we saw him break it...) Mary Cain is really just adorable, she was quite dominant in her race (the 1K) and pretty pumped about her win.
We witnessed a world Record in the 4x800 men's relay- wow it was so exciting!
An we saw a bit of a debacle in the women's 2 mile when Jenny Simpson lost count of her laps an hit the turbo with 2 laps to go.... Needless to say when she realized her mistake it was too darn late and she had to settle for second. As I said to Danielle "You don't see THAT every day..."
Since all the cool kids were out and about I got to say a quick hi to the always super sweet Kate Grace, who I managed not to fangirl all over this time. Kinda. Whatever you guys, she is pretty cool and also a really nice person. So Oiselle meet up success! Unplanned but success!!!

Chillin' with elite runners like it's NBD.
So a quick training wrap up from here- I finished the week with 33 miles (to last weeks 39) 90 minutes on the bike and about 2:40 of core/yoga. Decent. Every run had something of substance, which I find far more beneficial than tons of junk miles. Long runs are easy, fast runs are fast, progressive tempo runs have... tempo that progresses haha. (well they do) So things are shaping up for some bigger mileage soon!

Coming up soon.... My predictions/expectations for the Hampton Half.
More on the amazing things I eat every day! (hint: I eat like a normal person...)
My continued training.
My biggest peeves!

So get excited.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mid Winter Classic 10 miler

So if my computer/blogger account had been anything but dysfunctional for the past month you all would know of my struggles in preparing for this race.
Horrible weather, kinda crummy speed work, limited road running time and a general feeling of unpreparedness prompted me to give up the idea of racing and resign myself to the fact that, at best, this could be a run with friends and a bit of speed work.

The day dawned as perfect as anything we have seen in months. Dudes, it was 40 degrees by race time! And, for the first time on MWC history there was no wind- miraculous!

I'm so peeved about my blogging issues as of late. All of my adoring fans are not in the know about my race prep and feelings about how I was going to do! This picture will tell you...

Heh heh. 

So let's talk about how this played out.

Eric and I arrived on time. Yes, be impressed. Danielle knows how rare it is for me to show up on time!

Right away we saw friends and the photos began in earnest! It isn't a race unless we have proof for the internet that we are all there.

OK let's see how I do with names.
Me. My new bestie Michelle. Some sexy beast of a man. Jen, Carrie, Jill. Another girl. Stacey maybe? I suck...
I FINALLY FINALLY met Michelle, my internet buddy of "unimpressed" Christmas photo fame. She pretty much is the best. She arrived in time to see some of my finer moments like falling over chairs, spilling Gatorade all over everything and then post race she caught me taking off the majority of my sweaty clothing in the middle of the cafeteria (well, everyone saw that...) I feel I made a solid first impression.
And why we did not take an "unimpressed" picture together I will never know. Missed opportunity!

I think I saw everyone I know and it was delightful. Danielle was there to crush her PR in the middle of a long run (showoff) and we had a joyful reunion. I miss her and am SO damn happy that she's back in the game this year- and killing it! And yes, Andy was there and he photobombed us per the norm.

Me, Danielle and Creeper McCreeperson!
JK love ya Andy. :-)

Shockingly I did not miss the start, despite my social meanderings. Everyone was feeling frisky and took off absurdly fast. Well, everyone is but me! I held my first 2 miles in the low 8's- which felt pretty relaxed. I ran with Michelle for a bit and we exchanged ladylike stories and told lovely tales about how we enjoy spitting and snotting all over the road, how we have a mutual hatred for non stop sponsored blog posts and how we planned to win the race. (not...) At mile 2 or so we exchanged a telepathic message that it was time to go our own ways and we did. (Eric calls that "me being a jerk!" I call it "we are doing our own thing!")

So I ran a ways and things were fine. I caught Eric and Andy at mile 3 and asked Eric if he wanted me to be his rabbit, to which he replied "I don't care." I took this to be a clear sign that we were doing our own thing, and that he and Andy could wage a twin war just fine without me! So along I moseyed.

Mile 5. The face of a focused, dedicated athlete.
However it is a picture of someone who has improved her running form, shockingly.

Honestly, and boringly not much happened. I did pick up the pace gradually but was very cautious to not be a dick an blow my legs on a training run. I am a dumb jerk who likes to do that! I did want a few sub 8 miles and as it turns out, a few turned into 8. I never felt too aggressive though and I gave myself several small breaks to evaluate and catch my wheezing gasping breath (kidding. I wasn't pushing that hard, gosh!)

Things did get fun at mile 8. In the distance, all bright and shiny in hot pink and neon green I saw Danielle! And decided to catch her.... I plugged along slowly gaining ground until, with about 100 meters to go I was one step behind her. She did a double take and said something flattering like "Oh shiiiiiit..." which I took to mean she was happy to see me! I knew she was really glad I was there when she suddenly turned on some turbo boosters and ran like the freaking wind to totally out kick me. Hah! It was awesome. So when she is going for a huge BQ this spring I will show up at mile 25 or so to activate the same kind of reaction. The girl is scary fast... (thus far, I can't find pics of our epic finish. but I will.......)

Anyway. I finished and even though I ran a 1:15:56 I was 40 seconds off my PR. It was cool though, I was happy the run went well since nothing I have done lately in training indicated it would be a good day. To be brutally honest with myself, it was a bit of luck, a nice weather day and not much else. I've been developing some stronger legs lately but this particular day was more or less a perfect storm. A nice confidence boost though so I'll take it. Eric says I sandbagged but that isn't true. As I said, my training runs had me predicting a 1:25-1:27 finish. I got lucky. There will be more excellence to come in the future though after I put in some more time and work out there on the brutal terrain of my lovely town...

Eric and Andy ran thru a couple minutes behind us with the rest of the gang to follow along shortly thereafter.
Then the post race shenanigans began! I bumped into a reader who claims to be more middleaged than I am, haha (nice to meet you! I'm always excited that it isn't just Eric and my Dad who read my blog...) I talked a little trash to a super speedy Ironman friend (who then challenged me to a rematch... um I think I'm busy that day...) I gave diet advice to the world at large "Cake and WINE people, that's the way to not get too skinny!" (true story) An that was pretty much THAT. Well, there were more pictures- duh. This was really an excellent day to see friends and document our every move!

I think Michelle, Kristal AND Danielle ALL PR'd.
Sweet baby Jesus, you kids are rockstars. 

So a few weeks until the Hampton Half. I'm desperately hoping for more outdoor days of running and warmer temps. This was a nice boost and confirmation that I'm on the right track but I feel that I have a lot of work ahead of me to get where I want to be. Good motivation, right?