Monday, December 19, 2016

Running in Los Cabos

I don't know about you, but I (usually) like to run while on vacation. We went to Los Cabos back in October/November right in the midst of peak training for the Route 66 Marathon, and I knew I'd need to get serious miles in. There weren't many routes on Map My Run and the satellite view of our hotel location was not promising. I rarely run on the treadmill so I figured I could just suck it up for a couple key runs and maybe I'd luck out on finding somewhere to run outside.

Skull Spandits for Dia de los Muertos
The day after we arrived was the Ironman Los Cabos, which shut down most of the main road from San Jose del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas (the two towns are about 20 miles apart). I was soo tempted to run on the bike course while the triathletes were swimming, but at the same time I didn't want to be arrested by la policia. Plus I overslept. Instead I suffered through 15 miles on the hotel treadmill which used up my treadmill tolerance for the week.

I tried beach running one day, but the sand was terrible for running. I've never enjoyed beach running anyway. I meant to try running near the hotel to (what looked like) a neighborhood across the highway but I overslept too often - as in I didn't get up at 5:30 to run before the heat. It was vacation after all.

Soft, sinking, sloped sand
Prior to the trip, I'd discovered Running Tours Los Cabos via Instagram. I knew I wanted to try to run with them, but didn't know if I could make the scheduled tour times. Turns out I couldn't make one of the tours, but I was able to coordinate a private/custom tour with Patty in the middle of the week. This was hands down the best run of the week (obviously) but also a great way to see the town.

Photos from the run courtesy of Patty
We toured around Cabo San Lucas for about 7-8 miles. Since we met up at 6:30a, the sidewalks were clear of tourists and timeshare salespeople. Patty's route started with a conveniently-located bridge to catch the perfect sunrise, and from there we looped around town and the marina. She gave local insight to restaurants and things to do, took pictures along the way, and was the perfect running partner. I enjoyed chatting with her though I should have practiced my Spanish more.

After the run, we stopped at El Dengue for fresh juice. I was tempted to try "the Vampire" (beets and other stuff) but ultimately played it safe with an orange and carrot combo. I was spoiled in Los Cabos - fresh juice bars and public transportation! Take notes, South Carolina.

Fresh post-run juice from El Dengue
RTLC souvenirs - bag, bottle & t-shirt
Overall, I got in 27.5 miles on vacation. Not great for marathon training, but better than nothing. If you're ever in the Los Cabos area, I highly recommend joining the Running Tours Los Cabos team for a run. It was one of my favorite things about our week in Cabo. Other (non-running) highlights were an ATV tour, the Art Walk in San Jose, and lots of pool/beach-side lounging.

*Disclaimer: I paid full-price for my custom tour. Just sharing the experience as it was a lot of fun.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Get Your Kicks: Route 66 Marathon

After a 5 year hiatus from marathoning, I've forgotten how to pack/dress for marathons. The Route 66 Marathon was no different, and I was out shopping for warmer clothing the day before the race. It was forecast to be 33 degrees at the start (I know, I know that's not THAT bad) but I was chickening out of the shorts/tank top/arm warmers I had planned on wearing. Knowing I already have a dresser dedicated to running clothes at home, I really didn't need to buy more. Ultimately, I decided on wearing the leggings I had traveled in and the race 1/4 zip shirt (I have long since stopped caring about that "rule"), with the tank top/arm warmers underneath.

Pretty sure I'm Victoria's Secret's first marathoner.
I had never ran in/worked out in these leggings before, so that was a bit of a gamble.
I actually ran the Relay and the Full marathon at the same time (hence the two bibs above). Some former co-workers invited me to do the relay with them so I double-dipped (/paid for both races). I would run the first two legs, hand the ankle timer off to the next runner, and continue on my way.

Walking to the start line my right hip flexor started hurting pretty intensely. What the hell! Fortunately I massaged it away before the race started and it didn't come back. I made it to my corral with about 10 minutes to spare, and positioned myself near the back of the corral, behind the 1:50 half pacer (the full, half and relay all start together). They counted down the wheelchair start and we runners started shortly after. In my opinion, they should have given the wheelchair athletes a little more time to get ahead as we caught up to a couple of them.

Because the last three weeks of training had been terrible (cement legs, no rhythm) I had planned to go out conservatively at a 9:00/pace and pick it up at mile 15 if my legs were cooperating. Per usual, I couldn't even get that right.

Miles 1-5 (8:32, 8:57, 8:43, 8:44, 8;51) - Leaving downtown, up a big hill. Yes, Tulsa has (rolling) hills. Met a fellow runner from South Carolina.

Miles 6-10 (8:48, 8:26, 8:39, 8:38, 8:51) - Took a Gu around mile 6 (I think). Course went through Brookside area which had super high energy. A local gym held a spin class on the sidewalk, providing upbeat music and a great cheering section.

Miles 11-15 (8:56, 8:47, 8:37, 8:32, 9:22) - Stopped in mile 11 to hand off Relay anklet and take off Relay bib (Full bib was underneath). Stopped in mile 12 to take a selfie - it's the important things. Passed a Whataburger and the employees were handing out water bottles and said to come back later for a free burger. Not sure what happened in mile 15, I'm guessing there was an extra long walk break for water/gatorade? It's also when my stomach started hinting at high-maintenance needs.

Miles 16-20 (8:58, 9:20, 10:05, 8:40, 9:36) - Gu'd again in mile 16 (I think). I had to force myself to Gu during this race. Usually in long runs I can't wait for a Gu break but this time it was the last thing I wanted. I also mentally blacked out - I remember being at mile 17, then mile 20, and then the next thing I knew it was mile 23. There was a port-a-potty stop in mile 18 for the high maintenance needs that started during mile 15. I ALMOST used a port-a-potty that was in front of a house being remodeled, but then I saw a row of official race port-a-potties so I used those instead. There was another potty stop in mile 20... I dashed across the street to a QT (gas station). Stomach was not happy today!

Miles 21-26 (8:30, 8:58, 8:28, 8:36, 8:25, 8:13) - At least all those bathroom stops and walking the water stops seemed to help me maintain a better running pace for these final miles. I forced down half of a Gu in mile 21, even though I wondered if the Gu was causing my distress. In mile 23 I passed by the AirBnB we had rented, and was definitely tempted to stop. In the final mile you can take a detour to the "Center of the Universe" for the World's Shortest Ultra (26.5 miles). I had debated it before hand, but when I got to the detour I knew there was no way I was taking one more step than necessary. I trucked onward, picked up the pace for a strong finish, collected my heat blanket and medals, and promptly sat down.

After the race, we walked to see the "Center of the Universe" and I needed another visit to the port-a-potty. We got lunch at Hideaway Pizza where I ate 3 slices and a chocolate chip cookie sundae. Earned it.

MarathonFoto was there for pictures, which forces you to decide between paying your mortgage or purchasing your race photos. I might have considered buying them, but there are only 8 pictures of "me" and 7 of them were at the finish. The 8th one is not even me, haha.

The Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, OK is a terrific race and the people of Tulsa are fantastic hosts. If you're looking for a high-energy, well-organized race I highly suggest checking it out! Much of the race course passed through neighborhoods, and the residents were out in full force with block parties, jello shots, and high-fives. I recommend carbo loading at Mondo's and treating yourself to the Mile High Pie at Antoinette Baking Co. I enjoyed exploring Tulsa and I'd go back for the half marathon with friends.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Summary of Training – Route 66 Marathon (Tulsa, OK)

This is a summary of my “training” for the 2016 Route 66 Marathon, a 17-week journey from July 25th through November 19th. Stats are compared to the 2009 NYC Marathon - my current (& super old) PR (3:33).

# of runs – 83 (NYC: 145)

Miles – 595.3 (NYC: 1,114.29)

Average MPW – 36.70 (NYC: 48.21)

Highest Weekly Mileage – 70 (NYC: 68.16)

Runs Missed due to Injuries/Sickness – 24 (mostly laziness, 1 complete week of rest for pain bottom right foot, a few days near the end due to smoke from wildfires) (NYC: 17)

# runs of 15 miles or more - 6 (NYC: 11)

Hours of Running - 88 (NYC: 164)

Average Pace – 8:52 (NYC: 9:00)

Races – 1

PR’s – 0

Speed Workouts – 9 (NYC: 21)

+1 CrossFit competition

Initially, I had high hopes for Tulsa (a new PR), but we went on vacation about 3 weeks prior which didn’t exactly help with training. It took two weeks after vacation to find my rhythm again, but my legs still felt heavy and slow. I only got in one 20-mile run (mostly due to poor vacation timing) during this training, which paired with how I felt in the final weeks before the race did not lend me much confidence. I revised my A-goal to 3:45, I’d be OK with a sub-4:00, and worst-case I just needed to cross that finish line.

Spoiler alert – I ran a 3:54.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Searching for Victoria's Secret

I recently had to purchase a few new sports bras because I found that a few of mine were A) quite old and B) looked pretty gross even after being washed.

This one's from 2006...
I don't know about you, but I typically can't find sports bras (that I like) at the TJ Maxx's for under $20, and I'm not going to spend $20 on a C9 one from Target. Uhh, it's Target, which is half a step up from Walmart. Ok maybe a whole step. Regardless, you shouldn't have to spend more than $20 on something from TJ Maxx or Target; these aren't high-end stores. I'm also definitely not going to spend $500 on one from Lululemon. Does it also come with liposuction? If so, I may reconsider.

I took myself to Victoria's Secret - Sport section of their website and did some shopping. Here are the results:

DISCLAIMER: I paid for each of these bras. The opinions below are my own and in no way influenced by Adriana or Candice.
However, if Victoria's Secret wants to send me some free stuff, I wouldn't turn that down. Just sayin'.

The "Player" - $15
The Player is your standard, racerback sports bra. Comes in a wide variety of fun colors/patterns and is only $15. I bought two. Bye TJ Maxx.

The "Crossback" - $20
The Crossback is a much cheaper version of the infamous Lululemon strappy thing everyone has these days. It's labeled for "light" use so I probably won't wear it for running. So far I've worn it to the gym and it works fine there. It comes with those useless, removable nip-pads that are great until you wash it and then become origami in the farthest corners of the bra.

The "Lightweight" - $25
They call it the Lightweight yet recommend it for Medium-impact (and people think models aren't smart). I like this one though. There is some padding which is slightly annoying but I can get over it.

The (doesn't appear to be on website anymore) - $20
You know the scene from The Sweetest Thing where Cameron Diaz is trying on clothes in her bikini top and stops to talk about how her boobs were 'up here' when she was 22 but now gravity has taken them down at 28. This bra would get her back to age 22. I think this was a previous style of the Angel sports bra. There's a plastic ring connecting all those back straps AND it's a hook-close which makes it impossible to put on without assistance. Oh, and there's underwire! Ya know, because you need to look perky on a run. I still like it, though I've worn it more to the gym than on a run.

The "Incredible" - $35
As in, it's Incredible that my boobs just grew 3 sizes! This beaut not only comes with underwire and a hook-close, but it's also padded. PADDED. Because we're not just here to exercise. Anyway, it's getting returned.

The "Ultimate" - $35
Whoa. I mean just look at it. It looks like it would fit a DD! Underwire again here, which I especially didn't like because you can see it all across the front when wearing. Also padded. It is advertised as their running bra, which almost makes me feel like I should try it out on a run. It gets a lot of good reviews, but in the end I just don't like how huge it looks so I'll take my $35 back please k thx bye.

Remind me in a year to do a "how they held up" post. I'm interested to see if they're well-made for actual exercise and not just air punches and 3-lb dumbbell curls.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Speed Hurts

After the Ann Arbor marathon in early April, part of me wanted to keep up the consistency, but a bigger part of me decided to be lazy. In this case, lazy = 3-6 mile runs 4 times a week, with a 10-12 miler once a month. As though that monthly long run was doing anything for me...

By the time the heat & humidity came (who am I kidding it was already here in April) I was driving the struggle bus. In late June I started using my heart rate monitor again as my excuse to be slow and take walk breaks. Gotta stay in that fat burning zone amiright?

My fat-burning zone must be broken. It's all still here.

After about 6 weeks of "heart rate training" (that term is used very loosely) I bit the bullet and tried to exert myself on a run. It hurt.

August 3rd - 2 mile tempo run
Goal: I hope to God I can still run sub-8:00 miles.
Result: 7:51, 7:49

Hamstrings were not appreciative, but I survived.

It then took me 9 more days to convince myself I should do it again. This time, I hit up the track for some sprint repeats.

August 14th - 2's & 4's
3 sets of 200, 200, 400 with equal distance rest in between
Goal: 200's in 48, 400's in 96
Result: 200's avg 45.8, 400's avg 95.6

This was my first track run since February and my second time running hard (also probably since February) so I'm guesstimating at paces here. So far, I seem to be pretty good at guesstimating.

Since this workout fell right in the middle of the Olympics, I also attempted a 100m dash before cooling down.

Watch out Usain Bolt, it only took me 17 seconds.

August 16th - 3 mile tempo run
Goal: Can I possibly do 3 miles sub-8?
Result: 7:57, 7:51, 7:35

Either I super sandbagged or I was just really, really ready to be done. That third mile definitely hurt but I assumed it was because it was the third mile. I'm learning how difficult it is to run hard after a year of running not-hard.

August 20th - 1000s
1000m repeats are the worst idea ever. At least when you choose a loop that has a big ass hill for at least 500 of those meters. I went into this workout thinking I would do 10 repeats (aka 6.2 hard miles). Seems logical since I've done 3 miles hard right? Exactly. Needless to say I dialed it back to 6 (my legs wanted to stop at 4).
Goal: 4:43
Result: 4:44 average

This was hard. I blame the hill. And being out of speed-shape. And maybe a little on the 9358392% humidity. But, once again, I survived.

August 24th - 2s and 8s
4 sets of 200, 200, 800 with equal distance rest in between
Goal: 200's in 48, 800's in 3:12
Result: 200's avg 46, 800's avg 3:13

Distance is for the birds. 200's are my new favorite. Way less painful.

August 27th - 3 mile tempo run
Goal: Be more consistent than last time.
Result: 7:32.8, 7:32.6, 7:32.5

Consistency, check.

I equally like doing speed workouts on my normal running routes and the track. They finally started rubberizing the tracks where I live (why wasn't this done 20 years ago) but apparently that means they must also fence and lock the tracks. Does that mean I can opt out of the $$$ school taxes I pay? So annoying. When fence hurdling becomes an Olympic sport, you'll see me there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Time After Time

What? Activity on CTK? You can believe your eyes folks.

Instead of a long-winded recap of the past 15 months, let's just hit the running highlights:
(which is apparently still kind of long)

BMW 2-mile (September 2015)
An old favorite. This was so long ago I don't remember anything about it. It probably hurt because I wasn't training regularly but managed a 13:38 (not a PR but also not a worst-PR).

Rock 'n Roll Savannah Half Marathon (November 2015)
I hate Rock 'n Roll races. The bands are sparse (if they are even playing at all), they're overpriced, and this one in particular had horrendous organization. It was a girl's weekend with college friends so I was roped into it. Highest weekly "training" mileage: 22.4 (stellar). Time: 1:47:03 (no goal in mind, 8:10 avg)

2015 Total Miles - 779.26
Not quite the 2k+ years I've had in the past. Killing it.

GHS Swamp Rabbit Half Marathon (February 2016)
This race is touted as being "downhill"... after you run up a few hills in the first 5 miles, sure. The hills are average for the area, just don't advertise your race as being "downhill".

I trained through the winter with a neighbor who wanted to do a half after a few years hiatus. We ran most of the race together but I eventually left her to finish in 1:53 (didn't have a goal).

iRecycle Half Marathon (March 2016)
Ran this with My Team Triumph as an "angel". I thought we could totally go sub-2 while pushing a stroller... haha. Respect to all the parents out there. Finished in 2:02:33 (9:21 avg).

I wore my Boston jacket as a disclaimer:
"I might be out of shape but I swear I ran Boston 6 years ago!"

Ann Arbor Marathon (April 2016)
You guys. YES. After a 5 year a marathon hiatus I finally got back to the start (and finish) line. It helped that I had a friend living in Michigan to "train" with and ultimately run with on race day. 

My goals for the race were: A) don't die, B) just finish, C) sub-4, and D) sub 3:45.

Note: a 3:45 is an 8:34 average (math skills, A+). I did 0 speedwork, and 99.4% of my training runs had an average pace around 8:50/mile. Since it had been 5 years, every long run felt like a "first" again and I was always nervous about them so I just focused on getting the mileage and not so much the pace.

Bought that jacket the day before the race. Isn't that what they recommend?

On race day it was 25deg (feels like 14) and flurried from mile 13 on. Imagine my excitement for snow in April. It was her first marathon and my first after my extreme hiatus / serious back injuries so we both had our share of nerves. We had a plan to start conservatively (9:00/miles) and get a little faster as the race went on, which we stuck to until the part where we were supposed to get faster.

Around mile 21 or 22 my entire body from my nose down ached, especially my hip flexors. I wanted to get it over with and started pulling away from my friend (apparently I'm not a good race companion). There was a long (gravel) hill at mile 25, which was as pleasant as you might imagine, and I persevered to finish in 3:48:06 (8:36 avg). Good enough for 19th overall female and 3rd place in my old lady age group (small race). Finding post-race food was more important than collecting an age group award, so I have no idea what the prize was.

In the months after Ann Arbor I naturally slacked off and then it got summer-in-SC hot so I had to slack some more, but I recently signed up for another race (in November) so it's time to get back in the swing of things. In my mind I will totally post occasional training reports in an attempt to actually do some running-workouts, but don't hold me to that. It has been 15 months since my last update afterall...

What highlight(s) did I miss in your life these past few months? 

Shoutout to Tom G for a little motivation to come out of retirement.