Monday, October 12, 2015

Heat, half marathons and sub 2

A year and a half ago I was sitting at 2:20 for my half marathon time still hunting for that 2:10 finish time. It'd been five years of determination and I was still hoping to track it down. Someone told me that runners slow down with age, especially women. That race I ran a 2:15 and 2:10 was on the horizon hopefully. A year later, I'm living in California and BLEW past that 2:10 mark and went straight for a 2:02:47 as my PR. All of a sudden, instead of chasing 2:10, dreams of a sub-2 hour half marathon is dancing in my head. Could I do it? Could I do something I didn't even dream possible and have a 1 hour time in front of my number? Glad I'm not one to let people tell me I can't do something (or it just gave me a crazy amount of fuel)

Fast forward to this past weekend. I had mixed emotions I am coming up on three weeks until the New York City Marathon, the Granddaddy of them all if you will. Part of me wanted to see if I could break two hours (why not? I've been training my butt off) and part of me wanted to pull back, because it would really, REALLY suck to get injured three weeks before my big race. Plus it was hot. Like crazy hot. Like they let half marathoners start at 6 a.m. with the marathoners if they wanted to beat the heat. Heat advisory in mid-October. Elevated risk. Things you don't think about coming from the northern states

I toed the line in Long Beach at 6 a.m. Gun went off, runners went running. I stayed back because I knew this was the official marathon start, and wanted to respect them. The first few miles was spent dodging runners, sweating, hydrating, dodging more people. I was sitting at under 9:30 pace when I noticed a text from my best friend, it was a video of my sweet nephew saying "Aunt Hannah" "Go" "run" "fast" "I love you". That did it, that fueled me up and I knew if I was smart, I might just be able to do this. The rest of the course was mine, my race, no one else was there.

The last few miles, I literally felt like I was the only one running, nothing else was registering except watching my time and just getting to the end. I sped up and just kept going. The last mile was a gradual downhill and I booked it. Legs hurt, felt hot but prayed for strength and to just get to that finish line. Watching the time click away coming into that finishers shoot was agonizing. It was me vs the clock, the seconds clicked off and I worried if I would make it in time.

I hit the stop on my watch the second my foot hit the timing pad. 1:59:16. That's what my watch said (I checked it 5 times). Everything hit at once and I had to go off to the side and grab the fence. A volunteer thought something was wrong (I was tearing up) so asked if I was ok and brought me some water. It took a few to catch my breath, but I tried to relax and realize what I had just accomplished. The girl who five and a half years ago was happy to have finished a half marathon at all, who's biggest dreams were breaking 2:10, who was told that women lose fitness and run slower with age, just sub-two houred the race. I delightfully grabbed my medal, got a few finisher pics and went straight to the race results tent, just to make sure. Maybe my watch was off, maybe I missed the mat, maybe, just maybe, I didn't actually do it. When I pulled it up and saw the 1:59:17 I relaxed. Forever I'll be a sub-2 half marathoner.

I have no idea how NYC is going to go. I have some lofty goals, but want to just finish. My best marathon time is 5:33, so unless something happens, I don't see any way I won't at least break 5 hours. 4:30? Probably. 4:20? Possibly. I'm starting to learn to dream big, because maybe, just maybe, dreams sometimes do come true.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NYC Week One

This week marks 125 days until the NYC Marathon, until Elyce and I wait in anticipation for that gun to go off, knowing that the next 26.2 miles are in front of us, the final 26.2 miles of a long road of training. 125 days. That seems both like a long and short amount of time. Everything about this training is going to be different from the past five years of training. Everything about this race is different. All other races, I’ve done for me, with the sole purpose of getting ME across that finish line. Now, this next 125 days is for Deacon, my sweet little nephew we lost 5 months ago. Every mile I run is for him, all I will be able to think about is him.
I have no idea what the next 125 days are going to be like. I know there will be ups and downs, days I am stoked to get out there, and days that I’m dragging to lace up my sneaks. But I’ll do it, because for every mile I DON’T run, I’m only cheating myself. To be the best I can be, I need to have focus. I’m thankful my work schedule is flexible to my running for the next 5 ½ months. That everything about my life is going to be focused. No more having to plan runs around my 15 hour Saturday’s working football, no more not being able to run because I had to work late, or because something came up. Focus is going to be the theme of this training season.
Week one is light, I start running on Thursday with a 3 mile, then the weekend includes a 3 mile and 4 mile. The first five weeks of the schedule is fairly light, I don’t start speed and tempo workouts until the first week in August. I’m excited to use this new plan, the Hanson’s Marathon Method. It’s different, but I was reading the book and it seems like a perfect fit for what I am looking for. It’s going to be tough, and I am going to push my limits, but hopefully it will be the perfect fit for this race.
So, here we go, thanks for following me on this 18 week journey!

Monday, June 1, 2015

San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half - The Original Rock 'n' Roll

Yesterday I ran the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon in San Diego. I didn't really know I was officially running till last week, so haven't ran too much since the OC Half. I have been hiking and keeping active so it's not like I've been lazy. Also doing my Quick Strength For Runners, and watching what I eat.

I ran with a friend of Brielle's for this race, it was her second. She ran the Phoenix half in around 2:05 so I figured we could pace each other pretty well and at least stay around that time. I was tracking for under 2, but would be happy if we stayed under 2:05. The hotel shuttle was running from 4-5 a.m. and our race didn't start until 6:50 (well, first wave). Had breakfast beforehand, and I think it was just too early to eat before the race because I got hungry on the course. GREAT lesson to remember for NYC since we have to be out there WAY before the actual race starts. Just need to bring my food with me I guess.

Got to watch the elites start the marathon, since they started a half an hour before us. That was cool. I've seen them along the course, but not at the start so it was inspiring. The oldest lady to finish a marathon was there, she is 92 years old and started running about 18 years ago. Such an inspiration for the future!

On to our race. We were in corral twelve, and started out great. On pace, adjusted when we needed too and hydrated at every other station. The race was going really well, a few minor hills in the first half. The spectators were AMAZING. Seriously, we ran through a ton of neighborhoods and residential areas and they were having a great time. I've never seen that much alcohol offered on a course before, it was crazy. Mimosas, beer, shots, sangria. No way I'd partake, but it was entertaining to see. Volunteers were awesome as usual. The hills in the second half were killer, and we slowly watched that 2 hour mark disappear from our goals. No worries though, we were having a blast!

At mile 12, I pulled out a video of Deacon and played it, this mile was for him. We paced well that last mile, although it hurt and finished strong. I finished in 2:02:48 and got another PR! Crazy to think over a year ago, I was sitting at a 2:20 PR and I've almost cut that by 20 minutes in ONE YEAR. Can't wait to cross a finish line with a 1 in front of my finish time, but right now I'm happy to be getting it down little by little. California has been good to me!

I really hope marathon training goes well and I can get at least a 4:20. That would be over an hour difference from my other two, but I've been feeling so good about training and actually will have the time to train this fall, which will be a first.

After the race we went down on the field at Petco Park and watched the podium results. Two of my favorite runners, Sara Hall and Meb Keflezighi both run the half and placed. So inspiring to get the opportunity to hear Meb speak after the race. I look up to him so much, he is amazing. I hope he's running NYC!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

OC Half Marathon - new PR!

A few weeks ago I ran the OC Half Marathon. Suppose I probably should have just written something right after the race, but life. The race was amazing. The week before the race I drove out to where the start line was, parked my car, and proceeded to run 12 miles of the 13.1 course. I wanted to be prepared and see how the hills were. After I finished that run I thought, "I can conquer these hills, they aren't as scary as they looked!". Which is huge. I think sometimes we get things like hills in our head and can psych ourselves out with it.

Day of the race. It was BEYOND great to live 3 miles from the start. To leave the house when I want, to sit in my car a little longer before the start of the concept for this traveling racer! Almost forgot my watch at home...almost forgot my watch in the car. Again, lucky me to live so close and have my car at the start. It was 'chilly' by SoCal standards, but felt great to me so I was running around pre-race in my shorts and tank top while everyone else was bundled up in pants, long sleeves and mylar blankets. I did some strides and a full stretch routine and was ready to get things started! I scooted over to my corral and waited for the start.

BOOM! Start of the race! I knew this area like the back of my hand, I was ready for this race, and based on my long run the weekend before, I had put a goal of 2:05 in my head. I even put a pace chart pic on my home screen so I could keep on pace. My goal since I ran my first race 5 years ago has always been 2:10, and last year's Idaho race was the closest I'd come with a 2:15:25. Literally 45 seconds into the race a girl came up behind me and handed me my had apparently fallen out of my back shorts pocket...I hadn't put it and my CC and my cash in the pocket and they had slipped down through the backside. I put my hand instinctively on that pocket and didn't feel my card. I thought about stopping, but I had used the restroom, jogged around and stretched. My card could be anywhere. So I kept going. A minute later, I felt it in the under part of the shorts. SOMEONE was watching over me. I put both in the front pocket and triple checked the security.

On to the race. Everything about it was great. I felt great, I moved great, I hydrated great. We came around the PCH at mile 7 to go up the Dover hill, and I slowed my stride and kept the pace and made it up that blasted thing. I made it to the trail I'd been training on for months right by my house. The weather was amazing, 65 with cloud cover. Kept moving along to Galaxy where I knew some YL committee friends would be. That was cool, having friends literally LIVING on the race course. I looked at my watch and was still on pace. My 'shoot for the moon' time was break 2 hours. My 'land among the stars' time was 2:10. I knew I'd hit somewhere in between, and that was perfectly fine with me. Irvine got me a little bit and I started slowing a little, made it up the hill then walked a few. I know how important it is to train for the last half of a race. That's why I'm switching my marathon training, but that's another story. About a mile and a half to go, and I knew I needed to finish strong, no matter how I felt.

Bring on the finish line. I looked at my watch knowing I couldn't get under 2 this race, however, I knew if I ran I could get under 2:05. And that's what I did. Finished in 2:03:25, PR'd by exactly 12 minutes. That's almost a minute per mile faster than I've ever ran! I couldn't believe it. THIS is what hard work and dedication amounts to. THIS is what nutrition and strength and taking care of yourself gets. THIS is what running for a cause means. Because that's what I was doing. I was running for Deacon. Every step of this race was for my sweet little nephew. I even had him pinned on my race bib, so I could literally be reminded every time I looked down he was right there with me, he is what I was doing this for.

It felt SO GOOD to see that race time. I know my goals going forward are lofty. Now that I know I can do it, I know with a little more effort and dedication I can break 2 hours. I also know, I am giving it my all when the marathon training starts. I have some pretty big goals for that as well, and know that Deacon will be on my mind every step of the way. New York is for him, all him. That sweet little boy is going to be cheering me on and encouraging me throughout the process and the race from Heaven, and I can see his adorable smile and hear that amazing laugh, and know he's clapping and cheering me on. And that is ALL that matters

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Moving Mountains

Last Saturday, I hiked 4k feet up to summit Mt. Baldy, which sits at 10,064 feet in the air. It's a six mile climb from the parking lot to summit. It's a 4 mile hike if you go the right way back to your car, according to the loop. If you follow people you THINK know what they're doing, you end up hiking 6 miles back down, lose 6k feet in altitude, and end up five miles lower than your car is parked. And you know what, sometimes the unexpected journey, the one you didn't plan on, the one you didn't anticipate, ends up being the best way to go. Sometimes I feel like I'm so focused on the path in front of me, I don't know what's really ahead.

I love being outdoors. When we started our hike, there were people RUNNING up the trail. Well that's just insane. Until I realized it's probably phenomenal altitude training and my new goal is to run up it once before NYC. At least to the top of the chair lifts. Which I can take back down. But it's something.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Critters on the trail

Lobsters. All I can think about is Lobsters. Brooks came out with a limited edition shoe for the Boston Marathon last Friday, so of course I had to get them. Last year I got the NYC Marathon ones and I'm now running the NYC so figure, hey, maybe it's good luck. They're a different style then I usually run in, Launch, but I think they're going to run pretty well. Sometimes that's just the motivation you need to get out and get a good run in.

Training has been going so well, I'm amazed at what a difference being able to have the time and the weather to run makes. I want to get outside and go. Since last Sunday was Easter (yay!!) I did my long run on Saturday. I found myself missing running on Sunday, it was weird! And I'm so happy that I can get out and run this weekend, where normally I'd be working the WSU Baseball games for Mom's Weekend. Maybe someday I'll miss events, but right now I'm soaking up all the free time I can.

I've also noticed in the past few months I don't eat fast food anymore. It was so convenient in Pullman just to stop at McDonalds or Taco Bell or Cougar Country to grab breakfast or lunch/dinner. Maybe because I don't have those options easily accessible to me, or maybe because I really just don't want it. Although I have been craving a Chick-Fil-A shake lately....might have to satisfy that one :)

The food options here are crazy, the fruits and veggies alone are to die for. Things like artichokes are HUGE, I've never seen them so big! Having access to FRESH fruits and veggies, knowing they are grown in the area is such a difference in how I eat. It's been so much more fun to go shopping and prepare my meals, knowing that when I want to make something, I can actually find the food I'm looking for without having to hunt for it, or be sad when I know I live in a tiny town and can't get something. The fact that Trader Joes is right down the street helps too.

Yesterday I was running and noticed something in the grass in someone's lawn, I thought it was a rat for a second until I looked closer. It was a tiny baby possum! Cutest thing I've ever seen, I stood and watched it crawl around in the grass for a while before it made it's way back to the tree and started climbing it. I knew it's family was up there since I could hear momma possum making noise in the leaves. Luckily, Tucker hardly saw it so I got to watch this little life discover new territory for a while. Reminds me that it's ok to stop for a second and take in whats around.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New places to run

I'm excited to have a place to train...OUTSIDE...all year long. Sunday I took Tucker to the beach and we ran along the path there. It was gorgeous and soothing to be able to run near the beach with the waves crashing on the shore. There wasn't a ton of people since it was early on a Sunday, which makes running with the brown dog a little easier. The path down and back is only 6 miles, so after last weekend I'll need to move along to the Huntington path which is 12.8 miles one way. This will probably be the scene to the next 8 months of Sunday runs.

Each step in this process is grueling. Running is never easy (why would we do it if it was easy??), but having an end goal to this year is going to make it so much more rewarding. Getting to run for my baby nephew is going to give me energy in itself. To be able to cross that finish line in Central Park for Deaks, knowing he'll be right there with me gives me the motivation I need to put one foot in front of the other each day. Getting that medal will be something I'll forever treasure, more than any other race medal I've received, or will receive in the future. This is for him. The next 8 months are for him. Training to my highest for him.