2015 Year of Running

With most of the holiday decorating and shopping behind me, I can now take some time to reflect on my running year.  I had a solid year of running with one month off to rest and recover after the Marine Corps Marathon.  I ran 5 races this year, a 1-mile, 10k, 2 half marathons, and a marathon.  None were PRs but I was happy with the results as they were an improvement from the previous year.  Still I will continue to chase after new PRs, a lofty goal but otherwise achievable if I put enough work towards it.

To summarize my year of running, I am linking-up with Courtney @EatPrayRunDC.

Eat Pray Run DC

It’s my first-time doing a link-up.  I enjoyed reading her post and thought this would be the perfect way to sum-up my 2015 experience.

Best race experience:  It may have been the hottest, most humid race I’ve ever ran and my slowest half-marathon to date, but the Rock n Roll Chicago I ran in July was my best race experience.  What made it so great? It was a “run-cation” with two of my best college friends whom I haven’t seen in several years.  Never in our minds back in college almost 20 years ago that we would all run a race together.  I ran with Shannon who was my maid of honor and she kept telling me I can run ahead of her but I didn’t want to leave her side.  I wanted to be there for her as a cheerleader to keep her motivated.  She did awesome and only stopped once to walk.  At the end of the race, she told me if I didn’t run with her she probably would have stopped a lot more often.  Finishing the race with her and knowing I helped her out was the most rewarding.

At the finish line, Myself, Jaime and Shannon

Best run:  A morning long run along Sunset Cliffs in June.  It was the 11th anniversary of when I lost my sister.  Running effortless, my thoughts were filled with memories of the two of us as highschool cross-country runners, trying to compete against each other but at the same time being one another’s motivator and supporter.   I ran 11 miles that Saturday, each mile I reminisced of the days we spent together crying, laughing, fighting as siblings usually do and laughing again. My heart felt heavy with sadness but the run was uplifting and made me feel at peace.

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Captured this photo with a flock of birds flying overhead at Sunset Cliffs

Best new piece of running gear:  Lululemon Skinny flyaway tamer headband I received as a ‘running gift’ from my friend Shannon – she gave one to Jaime and I the day before the race.  If you notice from the pictures above, we were all sporting one.  I’ve worn headbands before but they were either too tight or slipped off my head.  Shannon swore these were the best headbands she’s ever worn and I couldn’t agree more.

Best running advice you’ve received this year: The mantra on the back of the shirt we received from the San Diego Track Club’s Rockin n’ Runnin marathon training program.  Believing in your dream is the first step in making it happen!

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Most inspirational runner:  Not officially a runner yet, but in training perhaps?  My girls inspire me to commit to run and stay healthy so I can take care of them for as long as they need me.  My 5 year old this year started kindergarten and one of their big fundraisers was a jog-a-thon. She and her classmates lined up every morning to run a few laps around the grassy area by the playground to train for the event.  I loved seeing the determination on their faces as they ran as many laps as they could to collect popsicle sticks.  Their faces proud as they tallied up the sticks and discover how many laps they accomplished.  On jog-a-thon day, they were prepared and ready to go!

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Ultra Fun Run

Favorite picture from a run or race this year: To stand in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial after an awesome race was an honor.  It’s the best finisher photo ever taken!

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Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat:  Freedom Mile in Mammoth, CA on the 4th of July.  It’s a mile race running through the main street in Mammoth before their 4th of July parade.  The streets were lined up with spectators in red, white and blue.  Although it’s only a mile, it was a gut-wrenching experience due to the high altitude.  I pushed until I couldn’t push any longer.  It was very challenging but I loved the scene. Mammoth is one cool mountain town.  Oh yeah, I got a selfie with the renowned Deena Kastor who was there to run with her 5 yr old daughter.IMG_6362

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? Making a connection.  Beyond the speed workouts and long runs and the dream of achieving new PRs, this has been a year of re-connecting with old friends, building friendships with the people I run with, sharing my experiences with my family as well as deeply connecting with myself. It truly has been an exceptional year!

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Family trip to Washington DC and Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

3 days post marathon, I am sitting on my couch right foot propped up with frozen cherries on a swollen ankle, replaying the race in my head mile by mile.  Fortunately, much of the swelling has already gone down and I can finally walk without a limp.   The aftermath of chasing a sub-4:00 finish which I proudly achieved!  Let me backtrack to the day when we arrived in DC. Continue reading “Family trip to Washington DC and Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap”

Traveling with kids

Time to pack for my weekend race frenzy!  This is the second time I am heading out of town for a race.  First time bringing my family to involve them in my marathon experience.  Of all the aspects of travel, packing is my least favorite thing to do and I usually start 2-3 days beforehand to make sure I don’t forget anything.  With the kids in tow, it’s more of a challenge as I brainstorm what to bring on the plane to keep them entertained for the 5+hr flight.   It’s been 6 months since our last plane ride.  Now my youngest is 2 and constantly testing her independence.  I’m not sure how she’s going to react being strapped in a car seat for several hours.  Hope they keep that seatbelt light off so she can freely move around.

Airplane travel (and long road trips) is when I lift my restriction regarding screen time (2hrs or less daily) so I need to have the IPad, Kindle and Leappad charged and ready with their game/shows/movies, hopefully enough to occupy their time.  Unfortunately, I know my kids will prefer something else to do besides having their eyes glued on a screen, so I also need to have paper and markers (5 yr old loves to draw), puzzles (2 yr old’s current obsession), books and cannot forget their snacks!  I’m sure more will be added to this list.

I am excited for my family to witness me running in a race.  Our hotel is conveniently located blocks away from the race course so they can see me a couple of times along the National Mall route prior to mile 18 and right after mile 19.  Seeing them will be the boost I need to power me through the final miles.

Disclaimer:  I copied this part of the map from an article written by Philip Runco “An Ipod Runner’s Guide to the Marine Corps Marathon”.  Interesting read for MCM newbies like me.

5 DAYS TO GO!!

The Taper Blues

10 days until race day and I’m going through a funk.  Last week is what I would consider a non-running week as I struggled to complete an easy 7- mile run, followed by an emerging series of aches and pains (ankle/hamstring/IT band).  I’ve heard of “phantom pains” surfacing during this period which could be the case since I didn’t have as many issues the past several weeks of training.  Yet even with the knowledge, I can’t help but feel a bit discouraged.  Thursday, I only managed 3 miles – I could have pushed for more but common sense pointed to rest and recovery.  Then unexpectedly when I felt ready to run on Saturday, I went through another hurdle of being sick from something I ate the night before. A severe stomachache and eventual vomiting caused the worst body aches the following day.  I managed to sleep most of the day (thanks to my husband who watched the girls!) and felt better in the afternoon.  

Sunday, I was sitting next to my 2 year old happy and content playing in the sand.  It’s been a week since she had the unfortunate event of fracturing her left humerus.  What’s amazing to me is her sheer resilience, absolutely unfazed by this bandage wrapped around her arm to minimize its movement.  Rather, she focused on her strengths so she could continue to enjoy her daily activities.  This particular observation uplifted me.  Instead of brooding over one bad week, I should be celebrating my achievements up to this point and BELIEVE my goals are within reach. 

 

Marine Corps Marathon Goals

Final long run of the season accomplished this past weekend – 22 miles!  I feel great and ready for the race in three weeks. Last year I finished the NYC marathon at 4:07.  It was a tough course and the harsh weather (30+mph winds) made it even more difficult.  Even though I didn’t achieve my goal to break 4 hours, I was completely satisfied crossing the finish line 7 minutes later.

Goal #1:   Again, I aim to finish in 4 hours or less (3:55 – 4:00 range).

To determine my goal time, I used two race equivalent predictor calculators: Mcmillan Running and Jack Daniels VDOT Running Calculator, with finish time from the La Jolla Half I ran in April as the basis for calculation.

McMillan prediction:  ~ 4hrs

Jack Daniels prediction: ~3:56

Each calculator has its own set of algorithms hence the variance in the predictions.  Running Times has an excellent article explaining the background and differences between the calculators.  Of course this is only an estimation as several other factors can affect performance on race day.  All I can do is trust my training and do my best.

My usual race mistake was again apparent after reviewing my NYC marathon recap – faster pace than planned during the first half of the race.  I’ve told myself many times before to stay at a conservative pace but I’ve always allowed the excitement of the race take control increasing my pace to 15-20 seconds faster than planned.

Goal #2: Start SLOW!  I plan to start with the 4 hour pace group and reassess how I feel after the halfway point. A negative split would be the most ideal.

This is the first time I’m running MCM and it’s been 20+ years since I’ve been to DC.  The beauty of running a marathon in a major city is the opportunity to run through varying landscapes and view interesting sites along the way in the span of a few hours.  Unfortunately, when I am caught up with hitting a certain pace, I zone out to the point where I don’t even notice what’s happening around me.

Goal #3: Revel in the experience and embrace the moment.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Flashback : Race recap and training tidbits

Yikes, 5 months without a post!  Only 4 weeks left until Marine Corps Marathon.  I regret not writing as often as I would like but after spring break, the dynamics in my home changed when my husband went out of town for a month for work.  My girls, especially the eldest terribly missed her dad and at times affected her behavior, therefore each day was an emotional roller coaster that left me completely drained.  The last thing on my mind was to sit in front of a computer. Unfortunately, the one month without writing has crept up to five, and I missed posting about a couple of the races I ran and most of my marathon training.

April:  La Jolla Half marathon – the first time I ran this race after living in San Diego for nearly 8 years.  Guess I avoided this race because of its hilly route, especially the Torrey Pines Hill about a mile climb up to approx 400 ft!  The entertainment portion of the race was lacking as I noticed it was quiet throughout most of the race, but the ocean views were truly remarkable.

La Jolla Half elevation profile

I finished in a little under 1:55.  My goal was 2hrs and stayed with the pace group until the last few miles when I knew I had enough energy left to pick up the pace. The long downhill at mile 10 helped tremendously.  I was happy with my performance and will most likely run this race again.

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In May, I took a couple of weeks off for recovery and in preparation for my 20 week marathon training plan that started in June.  The plan included 4-days of running (Tues speed session) and 1-day strength/crosstrain, 2 to 3 20mi long runs and build-up close to 50mi prior to taper.  It’s been tweaked a few times, but I’ve managed to accomplish the training so far without any major injuries.  There was a month when my right ankle/foot was bothersome but not to the point where I had to stop running.  Actually, replacing it with brand new shoes seemed to have solved the issue.

July: I participated in 2 races – Footloose Freedom Mile run in Mammoth on 4th of July and Chicago Rock n Roll Half at the end of the month.  The mile run in Mammoth was impromptu.  My husband spotted a flyer when we checked in to our condo and I said “Why not? It’s only a mile right!?”

This is a race hosted by the Mammoth Track Club which starts 30min prior to their 4th of July parade so the street was filled with plenty of spectators.  It was an awesome race except the part when I was gasping for air (hello altitude!) with maybe a quarter mile to go.  I finished with a respectable time of 7:33 actually placing 3rd in my age group!  Can’t remember the last time I placed and had no idea until recently when I looked up my race results on athlinks.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention I met one of the best female elite distance runners, Deena Kastor who was there to run with her daughter.  A starstruck moment for me!

Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon: The race that brought together old college friends whom I haven’t seen in years.  Back in college, we would have never predicted meeting in Chicago to run a half marathon!

A summertime race on the east coast meant hot and humid weather. The heat I can take but not the humidity.  Hydration and a relaxed pace was the key to the finish line which is exactly what we accomplished.  Despite the heat, Chicago was an awesome city to explore and the race was an excellent opportunity to tour it.  The best part of it was sharing the experience with my dear friends. 

This week is the final one prior to taper. Yesterday was a 20miler-regrettably I ran the first 5 miles at a very fast pace to keep up with a group and paid for it at the end.  A great reminder to avoid the same mistake at the marathon.

Oorah! Get Some!

Who’s running with the Marines in Oct?  Lucky me won the lottery!
My 5th marathon.  Just realized each marathon I’ve run so far has been in a different state: Shamrock in VA Beach, Rock n Roll San Diego CA, Boston Marathon and New York Marathon.  And adding to my list, Marine Corps Marathon in DC!  Very excited.  Time to hammer down an appropriate training plan to run well and avoid injuries.

Before I let my excitement take over, I still have to focus my training on two upcoming half marathons – La Jolla Half at the end of April and Rock n Roll Chicago Half in July with my college sorority sisters (so looking forward to it!) Come to think of it, the Chicago Half will be part of my marathon training plan since I would have to start my training in June. Nevertheless, it’s all about staying healthy and being injury-free.

The Lottery

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I’ve been watching the Running Man since Friday the 13th when the lottery for the Marine Corps Marathon started.  5 days past and I’m still staring at the same Running Man.  I didn’t realize it was this difficult to even register for it.  Last year, my name was unexpectedly selected to run the NYC Marathon – only 1 in 10 are picked so I was ecstatic to have the chance to run it. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.  I would love to run it again, but I have many other marathons to mark off my list (Chicago, Portland, Seattle – maybe a race in every state?…) .  The lottery is open until the 23rd so I’m keeping my fingers crossed the Running Man finishes his run and allow me to register!

This is my third week of running after a 3-week break due to ankle and hamstring pain.  I feel the usual aches in my right foot/ankle but nothing too detrimental.  By the next day after a fairly hard run, I recover enough to handle a slow and easy pace. Currently, I’m experimenting with my heart rate monitor as this is the first time I’ve really used it to gauge my pace and the way I feel instead of just running a particular pace.  So far, I think it has helped me in keeping my long runs relaxed as I tend to get carried away when with a group and usually end up running faster than what my body can manage, hence the resulting injuries.  I will continue to track my heart rate and plan to run my half marathon using my HRM as a guide to dictate my speed rather than a planned pace per mile.

Only 5 weeks of training left until the La Jolla Half Marathon – a beautiful scenic course along the coast.  Yikes check out the elevation profile!  Although, I’m terrified of the hills, I’m excited to run this race.