Sunday, May 22, 2011

Suzanne's Race Recap: Fiesta Days Half Marathon (5/21/11)

Life has been busy so sorry for the delayed race recap. Here we go...Saturday was a beautiful day to run. No wind, not too hot and the sun was out. I felt ready to go yet at the same time had the usual nervousness and anxiety of "what the heck are you doing?!"

The race started and as I already knew from our training run the first hill is the worst. I was a little worried about whether running the course was a good or bad thing but I now understand why we did it...because I basically went on autopilot (my legs that is). My only battle really was stay focused, strong and tough.

I really surprised myself as usually hills are my nemesis, however I ran strong and attacked the hills and they really weren't a problem. I ran up every hill with the exception of .2 miles of the last hill. It felt great to race past people as I ran up the hills...some people even stopped at the bottom of inclines to walk up and that made me run even faster.

This race I really pushed myself more than I've ever done before. I have always been scared to go all out - fearing that I'd run out of gas and not be able to finish. But I decided that this time I was going to go for it and see what happens. I only walked one time (the .2 miles up the last hill) - note that I do allow myself to walk when I drink my Gatorade at the water stations to the garbage can.

Overall, I felt good. I definitely was more winded than normal the last 2 miles and was breathing hard. And once I entered the stadium I was determined to sprint to the finish line. I was exhausted when I finished, but a good exhausted. It also was special to have my family there cheering me on - thanks guys...I love you!

I was very pleased with my 2:10:47 time...especially since it was a warm day and because it was a hilly course. That made me think that my sub-2 hour half marathon goal may be possible after all one day - on a flat course of course! We'll see.

As for what's next....the plan was to do the half marathon on June 5th (in less than 2 weeks). Right now I'm thinking about changing up to the 10k. My focus this summer is going to be on speed. I want to run faster and train with that in mind. So my thinking is to focus on racing the 10k on June 5th as fast as I can. I'll let you know what I decide.

Here are some race photos:

Photo #1 - I'm surprised to see my family meet me around mile 11....I didn't expect to see them until the finish line. Good thing I was running and not walking, right? :-)

Photo #2 - Sprinting to the finish line...that was a long lap around that track!

Photo #3: After catching my breath, I managed to smile with my medal!

Photo #4: My family (minus my dad who was taking the photo) that came out to support me! My sister-in-law, mother, brother, nephew, niece and two daughters (one daughter is hiding her face with the sign)!

Happy Running,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Suzanne: Back to Back 13 mile long runs!

This past Saturday, our long run was 13 miles. This marked the first time I have run 13 miles two weeks in a row. This Saturday we will run 9 miles before the half marathon on the 21st....meaning I will run 13 miles 3 out of 4 weeks. Never would have thought that would happen when I started training almost a year ago?!

Running 13 miles this past weekend was daunting. Plain and simple - I didn't want to do it. But I got up and went to Fleet Feet. It was different this week because we actually ran the course for the Fiesta Days half marathon, so we all carpooled to drive to the start. Let's just say that for me it was not good to see how far I was going to have to run. The run starts out in the country on a 2-lane road so it felt like we were driving for a long, long time. This just added to my running anxiety.

Then we started running. The course is hilly and the first hill is the worst and it's at the very beginning of the race. Fantastic! Once my legs stopped burning from running the hill I tried to not think about how much further I had to go. I think I played every mind game I could to take my mind off of what I was doing. What also helped was trying not to get hit by cars. It's a 2 lane road with hardly any room to run...if you did have any path it was 12-36 inches wide. There were lots of curves and turns and cars go pretty fast. So the stress of trying not to get killed kept me on my toes.

At the beginning I allowed myself to walk around mile 4. I wasn't really tired physically...I was just mentally exhausted. To my surprise...I never walked again. I usually don't allow myself walking breaks because for me that always leads to another walking break...and then another. It's a slippery slope, so I fight it as much as I can.

Of course at the end, I was very proud of myself for finishing and I felt great about completing the run. On Sunday I went to hot yoga and all my little aches and pains disappeared. Hot yoga is definitely hard but for me it really offsets the wear and tear of running.

This week's training schedule:
Monday rest
Tuesday rest
Wednesday 5 miles
Thursday 5 miles
Friday rest
Saturday 9 miles
Sunday hot yoga

Happy Running,

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Suzanne's Race Recap: American Parkway Half (4/30/11)

The American Parkway Half marathon was a great race. It was well organized, featured a beautiful scenic flat course (with lots of trees to provide shade) and had really good weather (sunny but not too hot). Definitely will run this again next year.

The goal for this race was to finish under 2:15 and my time was 2:13:52, so mission accomplished. As you know, I had a horrible long run last week so I wasn't sure what to expect. Of course, I had the normal nervousness and stress that accompanies any race for me. I'm never able to really get a good night's sleep before a race - since I'm constantly worried the alarm clock won't go off - so I woke up that morning thinking "why am I doing this?!"

Then during the race I'm constantly thinking "Am I crazy...13.1 miles...why do you do this to could be this worth it?" Every race I have this mental running battle, questioning whether I can do this, fighting off the urge to walk/quit, wondering whether I have what it takes to finish. But in the end, I love it and this is why I run.

I run because it is hard (it's not for the weak) and it continues to challenge me everyday. For me, running never gets easy and no two runs are ever alike. One day I feel like I can run forever and the next I will struggle to get through 2 miles. Ultimately, running is a game for me - pushing me outside my comfort zone and providing me with the opportunity to compete with myself.

Running is also my "me time." Being a full-time working mom, I don't get a lot of time to myself. Running is my only "quiet time" where I can think through whatever is going on, organize what needs to be done, figure out a problem, or just space out and think of nothing. Running helps me be sane and I'm a better person for it.

My next half marathon is in 3 weeks, so this week our long run is 13 miles! That means I'm running back to back 13 milers and then 13 miles 3x in 4 weeks. I'm trying not to think about it as I don't think my brain can process that fact!

So I'm taking it relatively easy this week to give my legs some time to recover. I ran 3 miles on Monday and hoping to run 3-5 miles on Wednesday and Thursday. I will skip speed training this week.

Here are some photos from the race:

Happy Running,