Monday, April 28, 2014

Anatomy of a Half Marathon PR

I would LOVE to tell you all the details and pre-planning and huge amounts of training and prep work that went into my half marathon PR at the MORE half marathon on April 13th.  The real truth is I had been so focused on my triathlon and not ticking off my hurt foot I hadn't been running much at all.  The triathlon the day before only needed a two mile run so I was running three miles at most and doing a lot of interval training.  The night before I did not do my normal routine, I barely ate because I had a late lunch, I didn't hydrate enough, about the only thing I did right was go to bed SUPER early because I was completely exhausted.

That morning I woke up feeling terribly dehydrated and started sucking down major amounts of water, something I NEVER do the morning of a race after having to pee my second half marathon and wasting 10 minutes in the bathroom line.  Jamie arrived and I was a MESS.  I hadn't picked up what I was going to wear, I was sucking down water and chowing down on cream of wheat.  This is NOT the way I normally do race mornings AT ALL.  I threw on a brand new pair of shorts, I literally ripped off the tag and said yep these are brand new oh well. It is pretty funny how comfortable you get once you have run a certain number of races.

We wandered over to Central Park and it was pretty crowded.  I ate my chews and I had brought a whole bottle of water with me. Jamie and I chatted and we were each going to run our own race.  She was going to try and break 2 hours and I had no expectations just wanted to cross the finish line.  We were in the same corral and then I said bye as she ran off at the start.  I settled into an easy pace but then felt oh no I have to pee.  The line at the first porta potties was LONG so I said ok suck it up.  As I rounded towards Cat Hill I was never so happy to see the boathouse.  No line, I was in and out QUICKLY and I was so happy.  Got back into the groove of things and found myself catching up to the 2:10 pacer.  I looked at my watch saw my pace was 9:15, realized I felt great and then said oh well guess we will see how long this lasts.

That first lap of the park, the whole 6 almost 7 miles felt like a walk in the park.  I was going at an easy pace keeping up with the 2:10 pacer with no issues.  I was stopping at every water stop to drink a little water and then would run and catch back up to the pacer.  That little difference of stopping and drinking my water really settled my stomach.  At mile 6 I opened my chews, now if you follow my blog you know I like to throw up, or well I don't like to throw up but my stomach always feels the need to puke.  So this time I had two chews at mile 6, drank my water and walked a little.  At mile 7 I had two more chews and walked a little drinking my water.  Mile 8 I did the same thing.  Wow I felt amazing, I was keeping with that pacer and feeling great.  THEN came the second trip up Harlem Hill.  Now at this point I was really running at percieved effort.  I have been training with a heart rate monitor in my zones but I wanted to race more free form.   It was working extremely well and about half way up harlem hill where you curve around and then see the hill continues my body said, "Stop and walk so you can finish strong".  As I let that pacer go I was frustrated and kicking myself but I knew it was the right choice, my heart rate had gone too high.  I didn't even know what my rate was but I knew my effort was too much.  At the top of the hill I ran to the next water stop, walked with my water and regrouped.

Those rolling hills of the park post Harlem Hill are decieving because they are no where near as large as Harlem hill but they are still difficult.  I never caught back up to that 2:10 pacer but I just kept telling myself as long as you don't see that 2:30 pacer you are fine.  Coming around towards the finish I walked a little bit but I felt good.  I was walking with a purpose, bring down my heart rate so I could sprint it out at the end.  I know that course pretty well as I spent most of my marathon training in the park so I knew exactly where I could start sprinting.  Oh my did I sprint, my face was so determined some guy yelled "Now THAT is a game face".  2:14:24.  Holy crap.  If someone I knew had been right there I would have jumped on them in a hug.  I got my medal, my heart was racing not from running but sheer excitement.

Finally I found Jamie and all I could do was show her my watch.  She screamed, I screamed, she said she made it under 2 hours, I screamed, she screamed.  We were SO excited! 13 minutes off my old PR, a whole minute for EVERY mile of the race.  My multisport training is paying off.  I honestly think that also my more laid back approach and lowered expectations really helped.  Also I think my new method of walking to really drink that water, let it settle and also get my heart rate to drop was the difference.  My legs were definitely sore the next several days so I need to improve my lactic acid recovery but that will come with more longer runs.

Feeling STRONG!


Did I mention I was EXCITED

Monday, April 21, 2014

I apologize this will be LONG- First Triathlon!

April 12, 2014 was a Saturday like no other a day that forever changed my life.  The Power of a Woman Triathlon could not have been more aptly named for what happened that day.  Our group had over 30 women from all backgrounds and fitness levels participating.

The forecast called for rain all week but that morning when Joanne and I left Brooklyn it was beautiful.  We loaded the bikes in the back of her car with a blanket between them to protect them.  We arrived to Eisenhower Park about 6am and it was much colder there than it had been in Brooklyn.  We were some of the first to arrive and the nerves really set in at that point.  Luckily our support system was already there and that really calmed me down.  This was supposed to be a dress rehearsal for Eagleman so I could basically learn how to be a triathlete and do transitions.  Jacky helped set up my stuff with my bike and after much back and forth with a few volunteers we finally got things situated. Who knew there was a specific direction your bike had to be pointing depending on what side held the X.  Well the more you know the better you are I guess.

The really good part about our group is that we know how to party.  The event power folks were playing music and of course we all started dancing to get the nerves out.  After our big team photo we headed to the pool area and Dereka and I got in two practice laps.  It felt great to get some laps down to get the nerves out but when I got out of the pool I was pretty freezing.  Jacky recommended I do a couple more laps to keep warm.  Then it was time to line up for the National Anthem.

 I lined up in the 10 minute group and felt nervous but pretty confident.  Well confident until the moment they told me, "Once she pushes off the wall you go."  I said, "Ok!." then promptly jumped into the pool with my goggles on top of my head.  I pulled them down quickly but of course they were filled with water.  Now back in January I did the same thing at the Chelsea pool and that time I immediately got out of the pool, freaked out and didn't go back in that day.  On Saturday I told myself, get to the other end, you MUST get to the other end.  I couldn't see much of anything just light and some shapes but I made it the 50 meters to the side of the pool, quickly fixed the goggles and then got to moving.

The pool set up was awkward as you swam down a length and then under the rope and back the opposite way.  I found it hard getting towards the middle as some people were taking rests and it was hard to figure out to navigate, I also felt every time I got into a rhythm it was time to stop and turn.  At the end I tried to sprint to the end but ended up boxed in between several other swimmers, I brought my head up and heard someone yell "Keep going KATRINA"  I have never put my head down so fast, I had no idea where I was going to keep going but I went back to swimming.  When I got out of the pool I didn't feel out of breath and I was really proud but things weren't over, time to run up to transition!

I always tell myself just don't fall when getting on and off,  I was successful!  I did not try to eat or drink on the bike though and I think that was a questionable move. Looking back I also didn't push myself at all for those 6 miles, I was busy thinking I better hold back for the run.  Our friends were on the side  line as I came back into transition which was a really good energy boost and also pressure not to fall off when I unclipped!

Coming out for the run all I could hear was Jacky saying "FASTER KATRINA".  I felt like I couldn't go any faster, it felt like the longest mile of my life.  Once I finally hit that mile marker I sucked down that water took a couple beans and got back to running.  It honestly felt I was running backwards at one point.  Once I saw that finish line though I started an all out sprint.  I realized I had SO much energy left.  I definitely did not leave it all out there on the course but for a first time effort I was HAPPY.  52:52, 8th in my age group


WOW is pretty much all I can say about our team.  The energy, team support and over all excitment really made the experience so much more than just a race.  We cheered for every single person and made sure no one was left out on that course.  I am so proud and honored to know these women who faced their fears and gave it their all to finish their first triathlon.  Many of them mothers who had their children there to witness such a spectacular display of human spirit and determination.  Setting such a positive example of not only health and fitness but also the never give up spirit.  I can not wait to see how much they continue to grow this year as many will tackle their  first open water triathlons.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Not a creature was stirring not even a Triathlete

Nerves are the name of the game today.  Soon I will pack my stuff into a backpack and take my bike onto the subway to Brooklyn.  Tomorrow morning I will wake up before the sun, gather my things and wearing my brand new team tri kit I will head to conquer my newest challenge.  By tomorrow afternoon, midmorning if I am lucky I will be an official triathlete.  Months of training coming down to one small race which is really just a short dress rehearsal for the much larger race in June, less than TWO MONTHS away.  Cue the freak out. 

I am feeling fairly confident going into tomorrow's race.  I'm looking at it as a training race, it is a chance to see how to transition.  A chance to see how I do in the pool with many other swimmers and how my swim anxiety does in a race situation.  Biking, oh the biking, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect here post duathlon but it is always good to get practice with no drafting and passing.  This time I will be more in the thick of things as opposed to the duathlon where everyone was WAY ahead!  The run is only 2 miles and will hopefully be the easiest part of the day but the bike to run transition was extremely hard in all my bricks as well as the duathlon so we shall see how my foot manages it. 

All in all I am feeling excited for this step on the journey.  I'm proud of how far I have come but fully aware of how far I have to go in such a short time until Eagleman (still freaking out).  

Sunday, oh right then Sunday on to a half marathon in Central park because well why not?  I wouldn't be me unless I overscheduled myself :)  The goal for the half marathon is strictly to finish not a single time goal at all.  I haven't been putting in the training miles running wise and I owe it to myself not to push like crazy.

Hopefully there will be a nice update Sunday night about my race fun :)