Running Slow

It always seems like when you’re told what to do, you have to do the opposite. Usually, this means on tempo run/speed work days, I dread every minute of it. I want to run slow, or better yet, walk. I want to take longer breaks. But when I’m told to run slow? I have to force myself to slow down.

At least, that’s what happened on my run on Sunday. I’ve been averaging between 35-40 miles a week, deciding before each run how far and how fast I want to go. It’s been nice not having anything to train for and therefore no training plan to follow. My longest runs were about 7 miles, and I didn’t have a ‘long run’ day because I would frequently run 6-7 miles whenever I felt good.

Since I decided to do this half marathon in June, I found a training plan that will help me get to the sub-1:45 time I’m looking for. It’s a pretty advanced training – most plans I’ve followed in the past for marathon training have gradually built up to long runs, starting around 5-6 miles on your first long run Saturday. This plan I’ll be doing this spring starts me off at a whopping 12 miles, and has me running 12-16 miles each weekend. I’m okay with that, and I know that if my body needs a break or a shorter long run, I’ll take it.

I start the training plan in mid-March, which means I should probably start to build up my long runs now, so that I’m ready for 12 when it comes in a few weeks (and I don’t go from 6-12 overnight). So this past Sunday, I did 9 miles. I did the route I used a bunch for marathon training – from Coors Field down and around Sloan’s Lake and back. I like it because it’s a lollipop style route, so even though it’s technically an out-and-back, it feels like I’m doing a loop. Also, it’s uphill for miles 2-4, which means for miles 7-8, I am coasting – a huge ego boost!

Even though 9 miles is more than I’ve run in a while, I did keep reminding myself to go slow. The long run pace for the training plan is 9:05-10:10, which isn’t exactly slow for me, since most of my runs are 8:30-9:30 paces, I can sometimes tend to be overeager.

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Anyways, I managed a 9:23 minute mile pace, which should probably be slower – and, let’s be honest, will likely be slow when I’m doing 12-16 miles. But it was a great day – can you believe it’s February and the temperature has consistently been in the 60s? Sunday it was breezy but around 54 when I left, and probably 62 by the time I finished.
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I wore lululemon wunder unders and a long sleeve swiftly tee. I was worried I would be hot but given the wind, I felt just right. I could have used a pair of ear warmers or a headband, though! My ears are so sensitive. I think I need some sort of ear protection when it’s below 60, which is warm – I could be running in shorts and a tee and I’d still need a headband! I need to find a lightweight but strong ear protector for those types of runs – that’ll be my next buy.

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And this is how I relaxed post-run: some legs up the wall, a little bit of avocado toast, and a dog chewing her toy on my lap while I legged-up-the-wall. I swear, Addie loves not letting me do yoga!

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Time to get serious

At the end of the month (read: 2 days from now), Danny and I are moving to Arvada (read: the suburbs). When we first moved to Denver a year ago, we picked to live downtown because it was our closest comparison to the life we were leaving in Chicago – a walkable area with bars, shops, and work close by. I was able to bike to work each day (this is not that impressive. It was only a mile) and we found walkable restaurants that would become our go-tos for nachos. Because, really, that’s what’s important to me in picking out a location: are there good nachos nearby?

What we realized, though, is that the price we pay for rent is more than we would like to, and that the views of the mountains that originally sold us are actually a lot better the more west you go. Plus, since we got Addie, it became more important to have a place for her to run and, more importantly, go to the bathroom without having to ride down an elevator seven floors at 6:30am on a Saturday. Also, the excessive honking of cars and drunk people biking by on pedal taverns got old, fast. Actually, what more than likely happened, is that we got old.

So, we’re moving to the suburbs! We found a cute little townhome in Arvada that has a fenced in backyard for the pup, 2 glorious bathrooms, and is only 3 blocks away from Costco. See what I mean? Suburbia heaven.

In celebration of this move, I was googling around earlier and saw a half marathon that takes place in Arvada at the beginning of June, the Park to Park Half Marathon. Since I signed up so early (I never sign up this early for races!) it was only 40$, plus a coupon code from my race team knocked it down another $5. I signed up without hesitation, but only started thinking about it a few hours ago. My goal this fall is to qualify for Boston in the Chicago Marathon (never mind that the Chicago Marathon is a lottery now, and I don’t even know if I’ll get in), and without doing any research I’d say that means about a 3:30-ish marathon time. Meaning, I probably shouldn’t be running a 2:05 half. I think my actual chipped time best half marathon is a 2:03, but when I ran Chicago last year I did the first half in 1:52. Basically, I think I need to push myself harder to realize that I can run faster – I think it’s my mind holding my body back. So, my goal for this half will be a sub-1:45, and if I could get a 3 as the middle number – that would be incredible! I have 92 days to prepare and train (so says the website).

Right now, I’m consistently running about ~35 miles a week, but they’re mostly ‘junk’ miles. I do a speed workout once a week and the rest is long, slow miles with a few quick miles thrown in on the days that I’m feeling good. What I need to do is get more serious about an actual training plan, complete with time. All my training plans in the past have just been “do this mileage” and I realize that I need something that keeps me more accountable – “do this mileage at this pace, you lazy bum.”

Hence where this blog comes in – I’ll be posting about my training along the way (I’ll start mid-March) and hopefully seeing the results and progression will build up my confidence and maybe, just maybe, that 1:3x:xx time won’t be so scary after all!

Because right now, it’s scary… scarier than moving to the suburbs!

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Disney World Marathon – Race Recap, Part 2

Onto the actual race!

One thing that’s significant about going into a Disney race is that everyone is in a great mood. It’s 5:30 in the morning, humid as all hell, and you’ve been up for 3 hours already, but you’re still smiling, and so is everyone around you. More than anything, you’re ready to run the race!

I was in Corral F, which meant it took about 15 minutes to cross the start line. Luckily, I didn’t have to walk 3/4 of a mile to get to the start line like I heard some of the farther out corrals had to do (hello, warm-up!).  Every corral that started had – you guess it! – fireworks and Mickey Mouse announcing the start. I appreciated this because it made you feel special within your own little corral; it didn’t matter that you weren’t in corral A – you still go the same treatment.

I had submitted a time of 4:14, so I assumed I was with people within plus or minus 10 minutes of that range. What I found was that this was not necessarily the case – my first mile (and I was going the corral pace, not trying to weave my way to speed up) was 11:15. I had already decided this race was not going to be a PR, so I was okay with this – but if you’re expecting to run 8:00 or even 9:00 minute miles and your first mile is an 11:15 – that is hard to recover from! Something to keep in mind for you runners who may be wanting to PR: try to start in the front of your corral, no matter what corral you’re in! At least this way you have room to go your necessary speed and not waste effort weaving in order to maintain your pace.

By mile three, I was going faster, but not much. My second mile was 10:52 followed by a 10:26.   Again, at this point, I had to remind myself that this was okay, and maybe instead of getting worked up, I should enjoy the scenery (Disney at night! The castle lit up! The characters!).  I started taking pictures with each character I saw – the lines were never too bad, maybe only 2-5 people max, so each character was about a 1-2 minute stop in the run. By mile 19, I was seeking out characters in order to give myself a break, ha.

I was able to take pictures with Goofy, Donald, Mickey, Jafar, Captain Jack Sparrow, Timon…the list goes on! It was great to see some characters that you never normally see, and there was other cool things along the way – outside of Animal Kingdom, they had a bunch of zookeepers with various animals that you could stop and pet or take a selfie with. They also had the cast of the Lion King musical out on full stilts and everything that you could take pictures with – no one was taking advantage of this, which I don’t get! I think it was one of my coolest photo ops.

My sister had told me that when she ran the Disney Marathon last (maybe 3-4 years ago?) they had opened up Everest just for the runners, so I was totally looking forward to that! When we ran past it, I even veered out of my way to ask a cast member if that was an option – unfortunately, no go :(. I don’t know when they stopped doing it but that was a let down. I was looking forward to the break, too…

Around mile 16 of the race, you’re at the beginning of an out-and-back; while you’re starting at mile 16, the other runners are finishing around mile 21. That was one of the worst realizations, especially knowing that you had 4-5 miles before you got to that point! They really veered you in and out around Wide World of Sports in order to get this mileage in.

I think all the photo ops + slow beginning miles really helped me overcome any possible wall – I never felt one, and kept my splits negative for the last 10k! My overall time was 4:28 – 30 minutes slower than my time in Chicago 2 months prior – but given the circumstances, I was happy with it! I was also proud of myself – sometimes, it’s hard to convince yourself to not ‘race’ a race, and you’ll push yourself regardless. Maybe it was the humidity or the miles and miles of walking we did the two days before the marathon, but I ran a steady pace and am still proud of myself for the time.

Next time, though.. PR for sure! (Kidding – although a costume is definitely a must!).

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Addie showing off the bling.

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Disney World Marathon – Race Recap, Part 1

It’s been 6 days now since the race, and I’d like to say I’m fully recovered from the Walt Disney World Marathon! Still battling this cold, but my legs feel great. Now, for my review!

This was my second time running the Disney marathon. While months ago, when I signed up, I was hoping to run a PR, when we arrived on the Thursday prior to the race I ‘resigned’ myself to running it for fun (resigned = please just let me finish). The primary goal in my mind became to have a good time and enjoy what Disney had to offer!

After my flight arrived 5 hours late on Thursday, we missed the expo and ended up going Friday, first thing in the morning. We were staying at the All-Star Music resort (it was the cheapest available, at around 95$ a night) and, like I assume most resorts, had full shuttle service the entire race weekend. We woke up around 7:30, showered, breakfasted, and hopped on the 8:30 shuttle to the expo, which was being held at Wide World of Sports.

We had to follow a labyrinth in order to complete all the packet pick-up steps. After first picking up your bib, in true Disney World fashion, you left the building and – wait for it – went to a room with all the marathon merchandise. We were joking that it was just like a ride where you always end up in the gift shop after. All in all, I think we had to go through 4 different buildings in order to get the bib and shirt. The expo was fine; I guess I was expecting more vendors and, more importantly, free stuff, so we quickly walked through it, bought some nuun and Honey Stingers waffles, and left.

We headed back to the resort from there, since the only way to get transportation to any of the parks was to head back to the resort first. All in all, including transportation, the expo took us about 1:30-2 hours. We spent the rest of the day at Animal Kingdom and MGM (I know it’s Hollywood Studios. I just have always known it as MGM and that it will stay. Kind of like the Sears Tower. But I digress).

On Saturday, I got my day to sleep in – which ended up being until 11am! – and then we spent the day in Magic Kingdom. First stop – Main Street Bakery for the infamous ice cream cookie sandwich!

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Carb loading! We spent the entire day at Magic Kingdom. I wanted to see the fireworks show (Wishes!) which of course didn’t start until 10pm because it was extra magic hours… We didn’t end up getting back to the hotel until around 11:15pm.

Disney recommends that the latest shuttle you take from the resort is 4am – it’s a 5:35am race start – so I set my alarm for 3:30am and tried to get to sleep.  The alarm went off and I bolted awake; I can’t imagine I slept all that well. I had laid out my clothes the night (well, 3 hours) before, and so I tossed on my clothes and also the throwaway sweats I had brought with me. It was 65 degrees and HUMID at 3:30am, so I probably didn’t need them, but I put them on anyway.

I also greased myself up. One thing about running in Florida was that I was used to Colorado temps (20s-40s) and so was usually in tights & long sleeves. I knew running in a tank and shorts would be a recipe for chaffing disaster, so I body glided all my contact points (TMI? sorry).

The resort’s cafeteria was open, which was fantastic, so I was able to grab a coffee, a banana, and a water to tide me over until race time. Then I hopped on the shuttle and was off!

It took about 15 minutes to get to the Epcot parking lot. Once we got there, they shuffled all the runners into security lines for bag check – they were checking everything, even runner belts! Spectators were allowed in at this point, too, which was nice – not that anyone was with me, since they were sound asleep back at the hotel!

They also had portapotties everywhere, and with them, MASSIVE lines. I didn’t have to go yet, although I knew I should, so I decided to wait until closer to the start time. I passed through gear check/no gear check; at this point, you did need to show your bib in order to get through. Once I got through here, more portapotties. This time I decided to stop; the line took about 10 minutes. By the time I started walking to the start corrals it was about 4:50. I think it was also about a 15 minute walk from the gear check to the start corrals, and that may even be underestimating. By the time I got to my corral (corral F), it was around 5:20. I have to say, I was initially doubtful of Disney’s recommended 4am shuttle time, but it definitely takes over an hour to get from hotel > corral.

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IMG_5589The race started at 5:35am and in true Disney fashion…fireworks! They actually did fireworks for each corral start, which was cool. There was about a 3 minute wait in between corral starts (although I’m sure it got worse for the later corrals – they go all the way up to P!) and so by the time I crossed the start line, it was about 5:50am. As I said before, the temperature was warm (about 65 degrees) and HUMID (about 97% humidity!). I had definitely not trained for this.

Okay! More on the actual race coming up in part 2 of my recap – look forward to the next post!

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First marathon of the year – check!

Well, I just arrived back in Colorado after spending a looong ‘weekend’ in Disney World for the runDisney marathon weekend. And all I have to say is – I did it!

What did I do?

A quick history – back in October, I ran the Chicago marathon and PR’ed with a time of 3:55. I was floating on the infamous runner’s high and decided that I needed to take advantage of my training and fitness level and sign up for another marathon. I’ve run the Disney World marathon in the past (my sister and I did the ‘Goofy’ a few years back)  and figured hey – maybe I should sign up again! I checked the runDisney website and found out that of all the races they hold during the marathon weekend (a 5k, 10k, half, and full) everything was at 100% capacity…except for the marathon! At 86% full, I didn’t waste a second – I texted Danny as quickly as I could and asked him if he was down for  a Disney trip in January.

“Um, okay” <— pretty sure he texted this back.

Now flash forward three months later – three months of forgoing tempo runs for hiking trips, long runs for snowboarding Saturdays… I was not trained. My longest run since the Chicago marathon was fourteen miles in early November. My longest run since that fourteen miler was…seven.

To top it all off (and I’m sorry – after this I’ll stop sounding like a Debby Downer), I was fighting off a cold, I spent two days before the marathon walking miles and miles around the parks, and – most important to me – being from Colorado, we don’t have ‘humidity’. Now I’m originally from Chicago so I know all about the speed-killer that is humidity, but for all the runs I’ve done to ‘train’ for this race, it’s been dry as a bone. Marathon morning? 60 degrees and 97% humidity.

I was soaking wet by mile three.

And, not coincidentally, it was around mile three where I decided that… maybe it’s a better idea to not race this marathon, but have fun with it! It was apparent that that’s what Disney wanted, seeing as how they placed a character photo op about every 1-1.5 miles.

I stopped with every character that I could (although some I skipped – sorry Phineas and Ferb (sp?)). Not only was it a lot of fun, but it also gave me a much needed break, because for most of these photo ops, there was a line of anywhere from 5-10 runners.

 

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I’ll do a full race review in my next post, especially regarding race morning and the dreadful 3:00am wake-up call!

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