Posts Tagged by race preview

Race Week! Let’s Talk “Goals”

It’s been awhile since I’ve written one of these.

Sunday is technically my “goal” race. The one I have been training for all season.

chadhero

Please note that I use the word training lightly here, since I wouldn’t say it’s been particularly strict or intense. But I have been running. There was a “cycle.” I built up my mileage and I tried to stay consistent. There wasn’t exactly any speed work, but I occasionally ran fast and did a few short races to work on speed. And I’ve even seen a little improvement. My endurance has gotten better, my paces have dropped. I think I am a stronger runner now than I was in June.

But I am not where I want to be – where I hoped I’d be way back when I was plotting my comeback. I’ve come to peace with this and I honestly have no regrets about the way my training went down. Just stating a fact.

So when it comes to setting goals for Sunday, I am sort of at a loss. I can look at projected time calculators and obsess over pacing all I want, but when it comes down to it, I still don’t really trust what my body can do. Racing still feels like unfamiliar territory – that confidence I used to feel on a starting line has not quite returned.

But I also would be lying if I said I had no goals whatsoever. That I would be happy just to finish this half marathon. I did that back in April. This time, I want more.

This is what I do know:

A. I want to race this thing. Whatever that means for Sunday, I want to go into the half marathon ready to run “competitively” (with myself) and know that I ran as fast as I could on that day.

B. I would like to run faster than I did during my first postpartum half back in April (<1:48:28). I think (hope) I’ve got this one in the bag, but you know…anything can happen.

C. Ideally I want to see a 1:3X on that clock when I cross the line. I realize this is a very big range (anywhere from 7:33 to 6:51 pace), but I will not be quite as happy with anything over 1:40. There, I said it.

D. While I would love to PR (<1:33:07), I know I am not in that kind of shape. The unrealistic side of me focuses on the fact that my PR half was run on a snowy day in the middle of marathon training when I was battling a really awful chest cold. I would like to think I could (theoretically–someday) run faster. But my sane, practical side knows that even sick Lauren from 2011 was faster than I am now.

So where does that leave me? Doing a whole lot of babbling over a whole lot of nothing, you could say.

Given how my runs have gone over the past few months, I think a 1:35 is probably a realistically challenging goal. If I can hold a 7:15 pace for 13.1 miles, I will be more than happy. I guess we will see how it goes!

Evan will be running with me, so the other part of my goal of course is to not let him beat me. At our last race (which I promise to recap soon only because it was awesome), I chased Evan the entire way. Finally caught him in the last 0.5 mile, passed him and thought I really opened up the lead in the final stretch. So imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line and suddenly saw a flash of his bouncy dark hair right next to me. The jerk leaned across the line for the tie. And since E comes before L in the alphabet, he is now listed first in the results for all of eternity.

At least we have documentation of our “photo finish.” So I will leave you with that, and let you be the judge…

Harpoon finish

Back soon with race recaps! Best of luck to everyone racing this weekend!

 

NYCM: Pre-Race Thoughts

It’s been weird this week. Thinking that I may or may not be running a marathon on Sunday. Wondering if, after everything that’s happened, I even want to… 

I’m sure you’ve all heard by this point that the New York City Marathon will be proceeding as scheduled this Sunday. I’m also pretty sure that all of you have a strong opinion about it. There are a lot of emotions surrounding this decision…many of them negative (just a quick look through the comments on this article should give you an idea). And honestly – I can see both sides. I certainly don’t envy those who had to make the final call. But since I don’t live in New York and was one of the lucky individuals on the East Coast who did not suffer from the impacts of Hurricane Sandy on Sunday/Monday, I will refrain from passing judgement here.

My opinion doesn’t really matter that much anyway. All I know is that despite the backlash this decision has created, I need to trust that if Mayor Bloomberg and NYRR have decided that holding the marathon is safe and does not impede on recovery efforts, than I am not the person to question it. That doesn’t mean my heart isn’t going out to all of those who have been displaced, have lost love ones, financial resources or possessions. And it also doesn’t mean that I can’t use my dollars to donate to the recovery efforts. But it does mean that since the people in charge have decided that the race will go on, I will be running it. 

At this point, I’m trying to just go with the flow when it comes to the logistics of the weekend, such as figuring out transportation into the city and to the start. Things seem to be changing all the time, and I know it’s going to be even more difficult to get to the starting line this year than in the past. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to that aspect of the weekend.

Anyway, that’s a whole lot of babble about the marathon from someone who said she wasn’t going to get into it. I know not everyone agrees with the decision to run the race, and I’m sorry if you feel that it’s insensitive that I do so. But the fact of the matter is that the marathon is being held on Sunday whether I’m there or not. So I plan to go, support NYC with my money and show the city some love. I guess I just don’t see what me not running out of “principle” or to “make a stand” would really do…?

My running this week has been pretty minimal. So far, I’ve run a total of 9 slow, Garmin-less miles (5 yesterday and 4 today) along with 5 or so striders each day. As usual, my legs were achy and leaden. Every little tweak feels like a major injury about to happen. Why is it that these short easy runs during race week are often the most painful? Happens every time…

Tomorrow morning Evan and I will be making the trip down to Manhattan. I have no idea how long it will take us to get there, but we are fortunate to have the entire day free for travel. Hopefully we’ll be able to go to the expo on Friday afternoon/evening and then have Saturday free for any last minute race plans.

On marathon day, I will be in Orange Wave #1, Bib 11300 in case you want to track me (it’s not free to track by text/social media, but you can track runners online the day of the race). But if I was unsure about my goals for the marathon going into this week, I’m at a complete and utter loss right now. All I know for sure is that this race will be a once in a lifetime-type experience.

It doesn’t really seem to matter much anyway. For the past several weeks, all I’ve been thinking about are my strategies for this race, my priorities for the marathon, and how I plan to run each and every section. Now? It all seems sort of silly. I know myself. I know that I am not a person who can show up to a race and just run it slowly, for fun. But I also know that I need to be realistic. So, I plan on going out there and running the smartest race I possibly can (starting out sloooooow and easy), as fast as I possibly can under the circumstances. I don’t really know what that means. But I’m hoping it’ll get me to the starting line in one piece.

 

Fall Race Line Up

One of the toughest things about the many months that I struggled with knee pain was that I couldn’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel. There was no way to look ahead and know that if I could just be patient for X more weeks, then I’d be able to run again. Not knowing how long the injury would last made it easy to feel as though I was destined to be injured forever. It also meant that I couldn’t do things like sign up for races…which would’ve helped me stay motivated and given me something to look forward to.

Fortunately all that is behind me now. I took a risk in April when I signed up for NYCM and I’m so thankful that I’m actually up and running well enough to train for it. Not only that, but it just feels so good to start putting races on the calendar again. Especially since fall in New England is the absolute best time to race.

So here’s what I’m looking at for the fall. I’m sure there will be a couple other smaller races thrown in there before the end of the year. Even though I was a bit tempted to go race-crazy and sign up for every local fall race I could find, reason won out in the end. Plus, that whole unemployed thing helped. Not having much disposable income means I need to be a little pickier about the races I choose to do…but that’s a tale for another blog post.

Official

Vermont 50 – Sunday, September 30th

aka #VTcheeseparty

The plan to do this race came together when I was out on the West Coast, still riding the Hood to Coast high. Basically, Emily mentioned how sad she was to let go of this race (which was originally supposed to be her fall 50 miler) because of how close it is to the one she has been training for all summer. Being that I am currently obsessed with all things Vermont and wanted to help my friend out of her current predicament (slash find a way to lure people up here to visit me) I investigated the option of 3 person relay. Within 10 minutes we had roped in Stephanie with the promise of a weekend filled with running, beer and cheese in the greatest state on earth.

My leg of the relay will be 19.6 miles (which I’ll extend to 20 just to get the distance in). As much as I’m looking forward to #VTcheeseparty, I’ll admit that I’m more than a little scared of the actual running portion of the weekend. Beyond the fact that I’ve never done a trail race that’s longer than 6K, there’s this:

VT50_elevation profile(Source)

Yikes. I know I’ve gotten a little more practice running the hills of Vermont over the past few months, but nothing like this! An email this morning from the race director that encourages us to walk up the hills made it even clearer that I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into.

However, I’m excited to run a relay with two awesome ladies, excited to experience what I’m sure is a beautiful course, and excited to be surrounded by some incredible runners who will be completing the 50 miles all on their own. Who knows – maybe it’ll even inspire me to sign up for an ultra sometime in the future.

Harpoon Brewery Octoberfest Race - Sunday, October 7th

Harpoon Octoberfest

Every year since before my husband was born, the Conkeys (and friends) have been traveling up to Southern Vermont on Columbus Day weekend for their annual camping trip. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to tag along for the past 3 years, and it has quickly become one of the highlights of my year. (It is also responsible for our decision to get married in and ultimately move to Vermont, but I’ll tell you more about that another time). The weekend is usually filled with a lot of eating, drinking, card playing, and harvest festival-ing (yes, I’m making that a word).

But this year, we are starting (what I hope will be) a new tradition — visiting Harpoon Brewery for a fun 3.6 mile race, beer, German food (for the non-vegetarians) and Octoberfest. Some of us are going for the running, others just for the food. Regardless — it’s going to be a fun party.

New York City Marathon – Sunday, November 4th

Ragnar Las Vegas – Friday & Saturday, November 9th & 10th

You already know about these two races, so I won’t bore you by repeating myself. I’ll just say that this double will be the main event in terms of Fall 2012 racing.

Unofficial

I’m also hoping to add in a few other “for fun” races before the end of 2012. I’m heading down to FL the second weekend of October to finally meet my niece and there just so happens to be a 5K in my sister’s town that weekend (how convenient!). I may or may not be currently formulating a plan to convince Christina and the little one to sign up with me.

There’s also a 10 mile race in NH a few weeks before NYCM that sort of seems like it’d be perfect for the marathon taper.

And of course, there’s always local Turkey Trots, Jingle Bell runs, etc. But we’ll see what happens. Mostly, it’s just exciting to be able to look ahead again.

Any other fall New England races I should look into? Is there a particular race this fall that you’re looking forward to?

Frustration Breeds Madness

Or how a year filled with injury led me to sign up for a crazy back-to-back week of racing…

Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile already know — this has not been my year for running. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re tired of hearing about it. But it’s bound to happen sometimes. I accept that running is a cycle — when you’ve been doing this sport long enough, you’re going to have some great highs and some really low lows…lows that can last for the better part of a year. Doesn’t always make it easy to get through them, but it is something every runner should be prepared for. It comes with the territory.

The good news is that I feel like I’m finally starting to climb my way up. Yes, my runs aren’t all amazing, but at least I’m able to do them. I’m back in training and (like to think I’m) getting stronger every day.

ec_lc_procompression

I’ve been trying to take things one day — one run — at a time. Focusing on slowly building up my strength for NYCM, and not doing anything too crazy…or anything that could leave me injured again. And for the most part, I think I’ve done pretty well. No crazy increases in mileage, taking my time before signing up for races, taking rest days when I need it, and spending way too much time with my foam roller.

But I have to admit, even cautious, “play it safe” runners can only take so much. No matter how smart of a runner you think you are, all that frustration is bound to build up…and can result in some crazy decision making.

I think you all know where this is going… The Ragnar Ultra Relay team has been announced. And I’m on it – despite the fact that New York City Marathon is less than a week before (NYCM is on Sunday, November 4th; the relay goes Fri – Sat Nov 9 – 10).

I have never done anything like this before. Even Evan thinks I’ve lost my mind. Normally, the week after a marathon is reserved for doing absolutely nothing besides sitting on my butt and watching trashy TV. I need that time to recover — both physically and mentally. I know the last thing my body will feel like doing is running 30+ miles over the course of a weekend, all while being cramped in a big white van.

But here’s the thing…after so many months of frustration, I need a challenge. I’m craving it. Running a marathon isn’t easy, of course, but I won’t be running NYCM for time. This isn’t going to be a PR race for me. So in the absence of a time goal, why not create a distance one?

My NYCM + Ragnar double will be the greatest number of miles I have ever raced within a 7 day period. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little afraid about how my body will hold up. Or sort of intimidated by the fact that my crazy teammates are gunning for the overall female win.

But I just kept thinking to myself — if not now, when? I have done nine 200-mile relays. Ragnar will be my 10th and my first ever Ultra…something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I ran my very first relay in 2009. On top of that, I have an awesome team of runners to do it with. Both SR and Sarah OUaL have already done posts introducing the team, so I’ll just give you the list of rock stars (you can go to their blogs if you want to read more).

Can’t argue with the rock star status of this line up:

I was tempted from the moment Emily first offered me a spot on the team (you all know I have a hard time saying no to a relay). And as soon as she mentioned that we’d also have the support of two awesome companies, the deal was sealed. I really don’t think I’d have the confidence to attempt this double without bringing out the big guns in terms of recovery: Pro Compression and Compex.

I’m already a big fan of compression socks (I basically live in them after long runs and during the height of marathon training), and these babies come in both bright pink and green – team watermelon perfection.

Even Mom{ontherun} is a fan…

testingoutproExcuse our cankles…so hot

Compex will help take the race prep/recovery to a whole new level. I haven’t actually gotten to test it out yet, but word on the street is that this little electrostimulation device can improve endurance and speed up recovery. Sounds good to me! I can’t wait to try it out (and will report back after I do!).

And then…as if all that wasn’t enough to convince me, I just kept thinking about my dad. I want to actually write a post about this, but my dad – a runner that I have looked up to my entire life – is now struggling just to walk. Bad genetics combined with an awful knee surgery resulted in the bones of his knee fusing together, leaving him unable to run. To make matters worse, he just discovered that he has both a torn meniscus and an aneurysm in his other “good” knee.

My dad will be going into his first of two surgeries on October 4th. He will have a month of recovery before going under the knife again — this time for a procedure that will keep him off his feet and in rehab for at least 2 additional months. It has been so hard to watch this man who loved running more than anyone I have ever met struggle. First – through giving up running and now, through the inability to be active at all. I know that he would give anything to be able to run just one mile without pain.

grafton inn_laurenanddad

So Dad — in November, I will be running for you. Each step that I take will be dedicated to those steps you want to run, but can’t. When I’m feeling tired or in pain I will not give up. I know that I have been given a great gift. I’d do anything to give that gift back to you. Since I can’t, I hope this is the next best thing.

45 days until New York City Marathon. 50 days until Ragnar Las Vegas.

Let’s do this thing!

One Week {and a giveaway!}

One week from today, I will be boarding a plane to Seattle to join the nuun team for 24 hours of running, peanut butter eating, coffee chugging, van sleeping fun on Mount Hood and along the Oregon coast. As cheesy as it sounds, this is the opportunity of a lifetime!

DSC_0005.JPG

When I first applied to be on the team, most of my excitement was just about the relay itself. For whatever reason, I didn’t think much about the other bloggers who would be on the team, and the fact that this experience would connect me with women I never would have even heard of otherwise (which is dumb, since I always babble on and on about how much I love the team aspect of relays).

Since being selected, however, it’s been all about the other ladies running. This group is easily the most excited team I’ve ever run a relay with. We’ve come up with a team logo, team uniforms and warm-ups, amazing van decoration ideas, and more. This has taken the team camaraderie that I love so much to a whole new level. Now I’m just as excited to fly out west to meet my teammates as I am to actually run.

Anyway, since we’re so close to the event that has consumed {almost} every waking thought for the past couple of months, I thought I’d take some time to answer all those questions people didn’t actually ask me (I’m sure you all were thinking them though, right?)

Frequently Never Asked Questions

How in the world did you get chosen for this thing?

In case you’ve started reading Health on the Run recently, here’s a link to the application that started it all – I Wanna Run Hood to Coast!

I head HTC is hilly. How exactly have you been preparing to run through mountains at elevation?

Umm….well Providence is sort of hilly too. And I run up those hills on every run. So that counts, right? (Let’s forget about the whole “sea level” thing for now)

Have you done double/triple runs to prepare for the fact that you’ll be running 3 legs in 24 hours?

Sometimes I do a workout in the evening and then get up in the morning to run. But I’ll admit that’s more because of the way my schedule works out than because I’m trying to be intentional about practicing. Plus, in those situations I have about 12 hours between workouts – which is double the amount of time I’d have on the relay.

So…no.

Okay, it sounds like you haven’t really trained for this at all? Is this true??

Yes and no. Honestly the only thing I’ve done is just continue to marathon train. I’ve been trying keep up with lifting regularly and I’ve mixed in some tempo runs/speed work/races, but those are things I’d be doing anyway. I don’t mean to make light of this whole race, but I ran 17 miles last week – which is about the total distance I’ll be running through the course of the weekend. Yes, I’ll be doing those runs on much hillier roads, but I’m hoping my marathon training will have given me enough strength to make it through this relay.

What are these team uniforms you speak of?

Sorry, but that’s top secret, classified information. Okay, so not really but I’m still going to make you wait until the relay to find out. Just think lots of color – people are definitely going to see us coming!

What is your favorite relay snack?

Nuun will be providing most of the food for our vans, which works out great because I’m flying across the country. But I might try to sneak in a few of my favorite things. Like Justin’s nut butter packets (so much easier than bringing an entire jar!) and my new favorite relay treat, peanut-butter filled pretzels. Seriously – I couldn’t get enough of the saltiness after running.

Becky_pb pretzelsBecky modeling the crack snack she brought for us on the Cape Relay

Will your awesome Bondi Bands be making an appearance?

Why yes, of course – because I swear this thing makes me run faster. As does my I <3 26.2 shirt, of course.

DSCN2314.JPG“In my dreams I am a Kenyan” and “Will run for ice cream” – both so true

This sounds like so much fun! How can I track your every move next weekend?

I’m so glad you asked! I won’t be blogging through the relay, but we have created plenty of opportunities for you all to follow along on the adventure. Ready to be overloaded by social media?

  • Follow me on Twitter (if you don’t already). I promise my sleep-deprived tweets will be mildly entertaining
  • Follow our team AfterNUUN Delight on Twitter (@afternuundelite) – seriously, we need more followers
  • Follow the other {almost as cool} team Nuun Platuun on Twitter (@NuunPlatuun) – I know it’s not a competition, but Nuun Platuun already has twice as many followers as we do. I know they’re all cool and intense and everything, but we’re all about the love, so follow @afternuundelite, okay??
  • For you non-Twitter users, we have created a Facebook page! “Like” Bloggers Spreading the Nuun Love” on Facebook to see updates from both teams in one place. Plus, I heard all the cool kids are doing it.
  • And finally, I will also try to post occasional updates, photos, etc to the Health{ontherun} Facebook page, in case the other options aren’t enough for you.

Phew, I know that’s a lot! But I just want you all to be involved in the fun.

And now, because I want everyone who reads this blog to be just as excited by the Hood to Coast relay as I am, I have a fun surprise for you all!

Hood to Coast DVD Giveaway

As you may {not} know, the Hood to Coast movie recently came out on DVD. Not just any DVD, either. A 2-Disc special that includes over 95 minutes of extras. Hours of Hood to Coast fun in one little package?? Try not to get too excited.

hood to coast.jpg

In the small chance you haven’t ordered it already (because I know most of you pre-ordered the movie months ago, you were so excited, right?), I have decided to give away one copy of the DVD to one lucky HOTR reader. I might also throw in a few tubes of Nuun…if you’re lucky.

To enter -

Simply comment on this post and tell me your best relay experience OR one reason why you don’t think you’d ever run one (because I know we’re not all so crazy – though if you hate relays, I’m going to sort of wonder why the heck you want the movie…). Or you could ask me a question that you might actually have about the relay/nuun team/etc, give me some last minute tip or even leave some nice encouraging words (is the elevation really going to kill me??). Basically, if you comment on this post and say anything related to relays, I will consider you entered (unless, of course, you don’t want to be. Which is fine!!).

I’m not going to ask you to do a bunch of other things, but I will give you ONE bonus entry for following the Nuun Teams on Twitter, liking our Facebook page, or liking the Health{ontherun} page (all listed above). Sorry, but following me on Twitter doesn’t count. Just leave a separate comment telling me what you did so I can count it as an entry.

And even if you don’t want the bonus entry, you should follow all our team pages anyway!

Edited to add: I guess I should specify when this thing ends. I want to order the movie before I head out west, so the giveaway will run through midnight on Monday, August 22nd. I’ll choose a winner that Tuesday – so enter before then!

*This giveaway is sponsored and funded purely by me. The only connection I have with the relay is the fact that I’m running it next week. I just want to spread the Hood to Coast love to all my readers!

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