Sunday, December 22, 2013

Turkey done? A Thanksgiving Turkey Trot Recap

My last race of the year was a five mile Turkey Trot in Brooklyn's prospect Park on November 28th.   JM and I did it together with a bunch of the BGR ladies and it was COLD, colder than FREEZING actually.
 All bundled up!
I didn't really have a goal for this race as it was less than 2 weeks post marathon and I hadn't done much running in this days.  I knew I should be able to do it in under 50 minutes based off my short distance pace so I thought ok let's try for that.  I knew that Prospect Park hill would be hard but I wasn't expecting a short 5 mile race to be an uphill battle the whole time.  As I said it was cold, I don't think I felt my toes until mile 2 and that did not help with my foot strike at all.  My legs felt like lead and my feet solid blocks of ice, I just felt heavy.   I ended up walking a lot, my foot was killing me, my IT band hurt and I felt like a complete frustrated failure.   After a stern talking to, if you haven't noticed I talk to my self A LOT while running I pulled it together and did some controlled walking.  

I actually did manage to finish in under 50 minutes because when I realized I was close enough to sprint and I had a chance I kicked in those after burners and sprinted like the wind.  I'm actually getting better at sprinting!

the very first race where my GPS watch didn't say I ran further than the race distance!
Turkey BLING!

I made myself a liar- A MARATHON race recap November 2013

You might recall after my very first half marathon several people said I should do a full and I stuck with several comments, the first being "I'm only half crazy."  The second, "No way, I'm NEVER doing a full marathon."  The third, "HAHAHAHAHA."

That all changed in March when my lovely best friend S decided that we should run the Richmond Marathon together for our 20 year friendship anniversary.  Due to personal reasons S ended up not being able to run the race, you can check her out on her blog,  My lovely friend in exercise and crazy ideas, J decided that even though she had just completed her first marathon 5 weeks before she was going to run Richmond with me and boy was I HAPPY.

The weather was pretty mild for November and we got up super early because S was running the 8K which started earlier.  As we were walking from the car it started raining and all I could think about was my wet socks.  I had brought a trash bag to wear as a little jacket to keep body heat in and it worked very well to keep the rain off at least part of me.  I was sadly very not prepared for rain, there was only a 10% chance of rain, I should have played the lottery!

Rocking my trash bag!
I was SO nervous at that point, all that I could think of was my wet socks and how I was going to definitely get blisters after 26 miles.  S's husband J came and I used his Ironman coat for a little while which definitely helped me warm up.   He left to go watch S cross the finish line and took back his warm coat and I was back to freaking out until J and M arrived to help calm me down.  We did our standard pee immediately before the did the start of the race and we were off.  We had a plan, a really good plan, we were going to rock this race.  The ground was wet and the manhole covers were a bit slippery and it was difficult to dodge the puddles but we had a good solid start.  The plan was the first 16 miles at 11:00 pace, then dropping to 10:30 for the end to get a nice negative split.  I kept repeating in my head the whole time, "run your own race, it doesn't matter that these people are passing you."

It rained a little at the beginning of the race but all in all the weather did improve and we had fun as evidenced by the professional pictures. 
Things were going really well in fact we had to really keep ourselves to pace because we would drift faster but we kept things to the plan.   My friend B and her daughter were off to the side before we crossed to the other side of the river and it was a great time to see a friend and throw my arm warmers at her, LOL.   I was feeling really strong and happy with our progress, the under part of the river was BEAUTIFUL but a little boring with not many people cheering.   Then we saw J and S and her sister right before we hit 16 and I fell apart completely.   I don't even know how it really happened but I took a GU and then got nauseous which happens to me frequently, throwing up while running is pretty automatic for me but I have gotten so much better.   It manifested itself into all kinds of GI issues and I started to literally have a complete and total meltdown.  We lost our fabulous consistent pace and I walked a little, then went to a porta potty but couldnt do anything, I tried to pull it together in there and I had told J to run ahead so I was able to catch up with her.  At the washcloth station I had mine on my forehead, J put hers on the back of my neck and I was so hot but had goosebumps, I'm telling COMPLETE meltdown.  THEN came the puking, three times over the course of about a mile or so.   I was so disappointed in myself and angry that I screwed up our plan.  

By mile 20 I was feeling better and we saw my family with all their signs, yay!  
Mom and my nephew with mom's sign!
At that point it was painfully clear that my goal of under 5 hours was likely not happening unless the last 10K was done in under an hour which as you know was my previous PR for JUST a 10K so the chances of that happening were zero.  We struggled with some IT band issues, both of us had trouble with the left leg I think due to the fact many of the streets were very slanted.  Over all that last part of the race was awesome cheering wise but pretty much all I could think in my head was how I had screwed up our goal.  It was a tough 6 miles mentally and physically but we did it.  Coming up towards the end everyone kept saying oh it is all down hill, in fact one guy said it even though a hill was RIGHT in front of us.  J yelled at him :)  In an absolutely amazing turn of events we actually saw S right before the actual all downhill finish.  I almost cried when I saw her I was so happy, it was perfect timing.  The finish was completely downhill and lined with people and the prevailing thought (after OMG I am finishing a marathon) was don't fall down the hill, don't fall down the hill.  I tell you running down hill is HARD and especially so on extremely tired legs.

As we ran down toward the finish I looked to the right and I saw my family and my mom was crying.  It was so amazing to have them see me run the race and get to the finish.   I have never been more proud or excited in my life. 
We DID it!!
The course was really great and it is called America's Friendliest Marathon for a reason.   The wall that I hit was worse than ANY other wall that I encountered in my training.  I was upset with my time from the very first glance at my watch because I know I trained to be better than 5:06.  It is truly a marathon not a sprint and it is an accomplishment to say I even finished but I want a redemption race.  Right now a redemption will be on the back burner due to Half Iron Man training and foot surgery recovery. 

Rock and Roll and 6.2 miles- An October Race Recap

A 10k is a race distance I never completed until October 2013 a full year after my first ever race.  I really just jumped into running with both feet and started immediately with a half marathon, probably not highly recommended but I believe in going big or going home.   This was my first ever Rock and Roll race series race and I have to say I was a little disappointed although I didn't really stay at the race festival.    There were a few bands along the course but not as much music as was expecting.

The weather wasn't bad at all and I was primed for a PR, I know it was my first time running the distance so technically any time would have been a PR but I set a goal based off my training runs in that distance.  I wanted to be under an hour, I didn't say how much under an hour but just less than 1:00.

The race was in Prospect Park in Brooklyn an area I have run in a few times for the Brooklyn half and with my friend A who is new to running.  The air was crisp and cool that morning and I had to wake up extra early to take mass transit.  I was meeting up with both A and JM (I have too many people with the first initial J in my life.)  After the race the plan was to skip the festival and head to brunch with unlimited mimosas!

Ready to go!
I had a good feeling and I went to my corral but as soon as I got across the finish line I regrated not updating my corral placement based off my training.  When I signed up for the race having never completed a 10K I put down a finish time of 1:20.  I know, I know I should have adjusted at the expo which you could do but I didn't even think about it.  In reality it showed me that I need to have more confidence in myself and my training and skills but that's another realization for another time!  The start of the race took a very tight right hand turn which for me was complicated by the fact a lot of people were already WALKING in front of me.  I was able to get into a good groove after that and at the first mile I had a 9:45 pace which was great for me.  I looked at about 1.5 miles and realized I was running at an 8:26 pace after an internal yelling session I slowed that pace to a more respectable 9:35, I have no idea what I was thinking!

The hill in Prospect Park is not as big as Harlem hill but it of course came near the very end of the race.  The best part was the Black Girls Run ladies cheering along the hill.  When I looked down at my watch and realized I was close I kicked it into high gear and when I looked down crossing that finish line I felt AMAZING, exhausted but amazing. 
That is the fastest pace I have sprinted .29!
Afterward we went to brunch at Rustic in Brooklyn which was really good, once they actually brought out my steak and eggs but at least we kept the mimosas coming!  I love Saturday races because I feel it lets you enjoy the day more without the concern for work the following day.  I also officially got to join BGR and meet some amazing women who have become great friends!  Many of them are just as crazy about exercise and working out as me :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

West Coast, beautiful scenery, wine and a race...A september 2013 Race review

Once we signed up for the Virginia Wine Country we got emails from the Race Coordinators, Destination Races.   On the exact same day J and I got an email from Destination Races about a wine country race for Labor Day, we emailed each other at the exact same time saying we should sign up!  A Labor day vacation trip was born!

This was my first ever trip to the West Coast and I was hoping to extend the trip to drive down the Pacific coast highway but real life got in the way and I needed to come back to NY to move into my new apartment.   We flew out Friday night after work and arrived about midnight local time to drive to our hotel.  As with most of our running adventure travel the GPS hates us and we took a roundabout way to arrive at our hotel but once we got there a good nights sleep was had by all!

Saturday was spent a race packet pick up and then exploring Portland as well as seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time, it was FREEZING!

It was absolutely beautiful that morning, the sun rising over the mountains.   The race started off pretty well, I kept up with crazy J for a while but at one point I just lost it.  Her training in Denver beat my training at sea level when it came to lung endurance.  Plus if I'm being really honest with myself my training had not been the most consistent leading up to the race with all my packing and moving stress.

The course while extremely beautiful had some areas of gravel that were terrible, not small gravel like the reservoir where I run often but big huge rocks.  I had some trouble on the rocks and managed to roll my ankle a little, which coincidentally was my left one and the foot where my cyst appeared about a month later.  No idea if it is related.

J smoked that course something terrible.  I did my usual time, sometimes it is extremely frustrating to me that I feel no matter how much effort and time I put into training I always finish somewhere in the 2:30 ball park.  I guess I should be happy I'm consistent but part of my always wonders why I can't break through that barrier.

We did a wine tour afterwards and I learned of my extreme love for Oregon Pino Noir, YUM!  Another wonderful family trip.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

5B, Wine and a half marathon....A June 2013 race review

What happens to peer pressure when you grow up?  It definitely still exists in my opinion but it becomes more about being healthy than doing stupid things, well and drinking wine obviously.  My college girlfriends who I will refer to all the time as 5B decided it would be great fun to get together and do a half marathon.  Lauren is the only one who did not participate as she was going to give birth a few short weeks later and Robyn of course was in Paris.

It was HOT and HUMID for this race in the lovely winery region of Virginia.  To set the scene, a lot had happened in the two weeks between this race and the Brooklyn half.  I had traveled to London for work making a stop in Paris to visit Robyn and come home with quite a cough.   I wasn't going to let it stop me from running.  We had quite a group, 5B, Jamie and her sister in law, Lulu.  Debbie and Lulu were running their first ever half marathons!

I started off with Jamie and Lulu and things were going well until mile 3 and my first coughing fit.  Lulu and I sent Jamie ahead but shortly after I sent Lulu ahead of me.  I coughed up a lung and decided hmm perhaps this wasn't just a cold.  By mile 6 I was in some major pain breathing wise but I wasn't going to stop.  I got some gauze at the aid station at mile 6 because they had no tissues.  After hearing my cough the one paramedic said you should probably stop by the other one knew I wouldn't and said go finish!  I ran/walked/coughed the rest of the race eventually finding a girl who was doing her first ever half marathon.  I encouraged her and she kept me from dying and we ran across that finish line.  It was my worst finish ever but I was still under three hours.  After a short time at the finish festival and a few sips of wine we went to lunch.  At that point I was still in a ton of pain breathing wise so after changing I went to the urgent care near Siobhan's house where I discovered I had pneumonia.  Yep, one lung half filled with fluid, one a quarter filled...perfect way to run a half marathon. 

The group before hand with our sparkle skirts.

5B with the lovely Owen, best spectator ever

After, you can't even tell that I can't breath

Yay ladies!!

No Sleep til BROOKLYN A May 2013 Race Review

My current half marathon race PR comes courtesy of the Brooklyn half marathon in May.  It came right after Packy's death and I swear that part way through I felt Packy there pushing me along.   It was my first race with my never give up bracelet and it had a very powerful effect on me when I finished it faster than any other race.

This race started in Prospect Park and ended down in Coney Island which was still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.  Jamie and I started off together as we always do but with the exception of the first race we hadn't finished one together.  We both had really high hopes for this race.   It was an awkward temp and in the park was actually rather humid.  About mile 6 I learned something very important about myself after taking a glass of Gatorade at a water stop.  I can NOT drink anything other than water during a race.  I made Jamie leave me behind because it was clear she was kicking my butt!  At mile 9 along the Ocean Parkway stretch I threw up the Gatorade and after that I felt so much better.  It wasn't until I got up to the closer to the board walk that I realized I could be under 2:30 and I sprinted the heck out of it.   I realized that I had a lot left in the tank, I should have put more effort into the whole race and finished even faster.   We are re-doing this race in 2014 as well looking to blow our previous best times out of the water!

A new PR!

We aspire to always have fun during races.

NEVER give up!!

So happy with our times but realizing the weather has gotten COLD!

Pretty Princess A February 2013 Race Review

The Princess half marathon in Disney world...why not?!   By this time it is important to note that my best friend had convinced me to sign up for a full marathon.  That's right, never say never!

After our freezing January race we decided that a month later why not run in humid, hot Florida weather.  As I said we are always up for a challenge!  We bought our Tutus, got fun socks and Mickey and Minnie and we set out to Florida bringing along our always needed Sherpa Mike!

We had to wake up SO early before 3AM to take a bus over to the runner area.  It was pitch black and chilly at that point but they had music and there was quite a crowd as the run draws about 35,000 runners.  There were some CRAZY costumes and everyone was pretty pumped for that early in the morning.  We started off strong but got separated due to an unfortunate bathroom break a little before mile 3.  This race ended up being a tough race for me as I had no music, no Jamie and no gu (she had the gu).   About mile 6  I got in my own head and it was not a nice place to be as I was feeling pretty down on myself. 

It started with a meltdown about what an awful runner I was and then spiraled to how much I sucked at training, how out of shape I was, how there was no possible way I would EVER be able to do a full 26 miles, how my life was out of control.   Basically in the span of a mile, so probably about 11 minutes based off my normal pace I had a complete meltdown and self deprecating attitude.  At that point I took off my hat to let out some heat and then I noticed someone being attended to for heat stroke.  It hit me, wait you have been training in freeing weather and now it is hot and humid, of course you feel crappy and of course your body is confused.  Just keep going and don't give up.   Luckily I ran into some wonderful runners with extra GU and they shared with me.  The running community is something that I love!

At the end I was only slightly slower than my original goal time of under 2:30.  In retrospect this wasn't a great race to decide to PR on because it was crowded, they had picture taking stations throughout, I wasn't prepared for the weather and with so many inexperienced people running it was a lot of weaving about.

A Marathon? No way! Never! A January 2013 Race Review

In October 2012 those were the exact words out of my mouth to my good friend Chris from work.  I had just run my first half marathon and gotten bitten by the running bug or that so called runner's high.   I ended up signing up for a half marathon in Central Park, in JANUARY and of course I dragged along Jamie because she is always a willing participant in my crazy schemes as I am in hers.

January 2013 Half Marathon- Central Park
It was 19 degrees out and we set out in MANY layers to do two loops of central park with our ever loyal Sherpa Mike carrying extra layers.  It was FREEZING cold yet that didn't phase some of the people running with no shirts on or in only sports bras.  I am pretty sure that I couldn't feel my toes until mile 3.  I was running in a pair of Nikes that were the same style as my first half marathon but not the same shoes.  About mile 8 I started getting pain in my left IT band.  Coming up to mile nine was HARLEM hill, the devil.  I was struggling but I looked to the side and saw a person out in the freezing cold cheering for us.  It turned out to be my friend Shawna who even ran up Harlem  hill with us in her uggs while holding coffee, have I mentioned how awesome she is. 

I had just started actual strength training instead of just running training and it felt pretty obvious to me in my recovery post race if it was not shown in my time.  Our times were not great due to a bathroom break in the middle.  I learned the importance of foam rolling and then graduated to some sweet Asics for running.

We will be doing this race again in 2014 to beat our times.

Welcome, an intro to Packy

You might be wondering to yourself who is Packy? Why 2600 miles? 

Packy, Patrick Ryan Purcell is my cousin and  he passed away on May 8th, 2013 from cancer at 26 years old.   Packy battled Crohn's disease for 7 years and during that time I never heard him complain once, not when he lost a ton of weight and had to take time off before going to college, and not when he had to have his colon removed.  In 2011 Packy was diagnosed with colon cancer and started his cancer fight.  Packy never asked why me and he continued to live his life on his own terms, a true testimate to living life to the fullest and never giving up.  He never took the easy way out saying poor me and never stopped living.   Even getting engaged to the most compassionate and wonderful woman I have ever known in my life.

 Never Give up 26 has become our remembrance of Packy and my cousin Ashley started a foundation in Packy's honor. We have shirts, bracelets, cozies, pins and we have our memory that Packy is thinking of us when we see the number 26.  How does one make sense of someone so young passing away?  You make it about something larger and greater.  Packy's lasting impression on every single person he touched will never go away and thanks to Ashley's tireless efforts his legacy will live on in the form of scholarships for deserving students at his old high school.

Every single race I run there comes a time I think about Packy and the fact I can't give up because he never did.  Below is the link to Packy's non-profit foundation as well as information about Crohns and colon cancer.   2600 miles was kind of a random pick of a number with 26 in it that I thought would be achievable.  Now that I've decided to train for two half ironmen I think it should be pretty easy to get to that number so I may have to increase it.  I will be counting my swimming, biking and running distances!

Welcome, an intro to Running

Hello and welcome.

Let's start with a little intro to my running obsession.  In March 2012 I was turning 30, my lovely best friend Siobhan had really gotten into running and she really wanted to do a diva half marathon on Long Island.  Seeing as how I was living up here it seemed only natural to her that I join her in this endeavor.  After much convincing I agreed to run my first half marathon on October 7, 2012 and not wanting to experience this fun alone and asked my friend Jamie to join us.   I attempted to start "training" in April and by training I mean just running a couple blocks.

Those first few weeks of running made me feel terrible about myself, I couldn't get two blocks before I was completely out of breath and thinking about quitting.  I got into the swing of things and it took me forever to be able to run a full mile without having to stop.   I kept adding small amounts every week but it was slow going progress and I HATED running, with an intense passion.  Running was never something I enjoyed but Siobhan had such passion for it and I was convinced I would do this race and that was it.   I downloaded a bunch of different training plans and tried my best to follow them from week to week.

End of August came and I went on a business trip for two weeks for work so I didn't have much time to run, when I came back my grandpa passed away and cue another time for no real running.   The week before the half marathon I decided if I could go out and run 10 miles I would be ok to run the race.   I went out and started running, at the end of 10 miles I was in so much pain but I knew I could do the full 13.1.

Race day we all met up and I was excited by pretty nervous.  Jamie and I did the whole race together, mile 9 sucked but other than that it was ok.  2 hours and 35 minutes later we finished and I had been bitten by the running bug.   My first race PR!  I felt so sore after the race, I could barely stand up or sit down for that matter but about a week later Jamie and I were searching for our next race.