Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll USA Half Marathon Recap

Gotten a bit lazy with the posts, thus I failed to check in with a recap before the big race. But! here we are with the recap, so here goes! First things first, repeat after me: "PR!!" And for those who are running lingo-challenged, means "Personal Record". Meaning of the three half marathons I have now done, this was my best time yet. Go me! haha....

With an 8am start, and all the warnings that the DC Metro is pretty spotty on weekend mornings, PLUS they were conducting track work, it was a 5am wake up for race morning. It was 53 deg when I woke up, and the high for the day was supposed to get up into the mid 70s. It did cause a bit of a dilemma on what to wear. I mainly didnt want to be too cold at the start. I ultimately went with short-sleeved under armour heat gear, nike tech-t, running sleeves and shorts. I also had both my LunarEclipse and LunarGlide3. I ultimately went with the LunarEclipse since those are the ones I had done the most long runs in, and in the end, turned out to be a great choice.

Met up with my fellow running mates around 6am, and got to the DC Metro station at about 15 min later, only to learn that another train was not arriving for another 15 min.  Train finally arrives, PACKED, but we were able to squeeze our way on using our NY subway skills. A handful of stops later, we arrived at the Stadium-Armory stop, where the race started. After a painfully slow and crowded trek out of the station, we finally arrive at the armory and head toward our corral. It is now 7:15am. I down a second banana, use the port-o-potty and arrive at our corral, 15. With a good amount of time to spare, since we guessed we wouldnt cross the start line until 8:15ish, we sat and just enjoyed the ambiance. The sun came up and clouds dissipated, giving way to what would be a beautiful, warm, sunny day.

I actually went into this one with some what of a strategy, aid station wise. Past races, I would just pass by them early on, since I didnt need it. That proved to be bad since by the time I felt like I needed one, it was already too late. So I set out to stop(well, walk through) and drink at every aid station.  The ones with water, I took 2 cups. The ones with Gatorade, I would have one water and one Gatorade.  I had my phone on me (just for the music, but didnt have it on initially) and my Nike+ GPS watch, which never locked onto a GPS signal the entire race. Another good reason I went with the LunarEclipse, since that was the pair i had the chip in, so the watch was reading the chip the entire time.  My plan was the pull out the music in the later miles, when I needed the boost.

So two more port-o-potty trips, a pack of Gu and about 30 min later, we approach the start and off we go! It was a nice site, as you could see the Capitol Building from afar.  Start of the race feels good. I'm purposely holding back on my pace, knowing that I can come out too hot. Glancing down at my watch which tells me I'm anywhere between a 10:20 and 10:40 pace, which is right where I wanted to be. Rolling along, the miles just start passing by, 1, 2, 3...etc., just feels good. I'm confident now. Pass mile 4, we make the turn around on Constitution ave, and then the left onto 18th St. NW and what do I see? What seems to be one of the largest hills alive! and I'm used to the Central Park hills! The course was definitely hillier than what they made it seem. And the course elevation chart didnt seem to show any steep hills, but they were a bit of a challenge. Pretty uneventful so far (except for the hill), and I'm following through on my aid station plan- which seems to be working pretty well.

The miles continue to roll by, 6, 7, 8. Here is where I feel the fatigue set in a bit, still strong, but confidence fading a little, as I know I only got up to 10.5 miles in training, and that was quickly approaching. So at mile 8 is where I decided I needed my "boost". Put the headphones on, and flipped on my music. The sun was in full force at this point and it was HOT, at least for me. So cruising along, somewhere between mile 10 and 11, what do I feel? MY SHOELACE BECAME UNTIED!!!! I even double knotted them! Nearly shouting in frustration, I carefully make my way to the sidewalk and tie them. Ugh.

Continuing on, I pass the 11 mile marker, and in the back of my mind I'm still thinking of when I'd hit the wall since now I'm passed my training. But it continues to feel good, and I'm only getting a bit more tired, nothing is in serious pain. During mile 11 is also when I see the pacers for the 2:15 group. This boosts my confidence a little, knowing that I could possibly finish in 2:15? I try my darndest to keep up with them, but ultimately lost them on an incline towards the end. Mile 12 passes, and I think, "this is it, lets go". Crowd support is still strong as it was from mile 1, I try to kick it up, but I'm very cautious. So I just plod along. Right about where the Half and Full course splits, is where fatigue really set in. I'm out of breath and just want this thing to be over! As I approach the armory, and going through what were the starting corrals, guess what, ITS AN INCLINE! Ever so small, yet at this point, it feels like mount everest! Keep pushing, pass the 13 mile mark, and I STILL can't see the finish! One more small bend and there it was, I kick it up, finally, which probably wasn't much faster than I had been going and through the finish, arms in air! 2:19:24!

What am improvement from Vegas! Chicago I finished in 2:38, Vegas was 2:33, and now 2:19. What a great feeling! Which definitely went well with a well organized race. From start to finish, really, no complaints. Great course (hills and all!), plenty of room on the course, crowd support, and even plenty of finish line food and drink. Definitely a race I would consider doing again. Oh, and of course, some bling!

Friday, March 2, 2012

2 Week Warning! (from DC)

I guess I'm posting monthly now huh? In any case, Rock 'n' Roll DC is two weeks from tomorrow. I can't believe its here already. I feel like I just did Vegas, and just signed up for DC. Speaking of signing up, I've registered for a handful of NYRR's spring races, which are also listed on the right. It'll be most of the runs I did last year. Run as One (was the NYRR4 last year), Healthy Kidney 10k, Japan Day (4M) and Wall Street Run (3M). May still sign up for the Scotland Run 10k on April 7. Still deciding.

So to recap the last 3 to 4 weeks, training hit somewhat of a speed bump (not sure if pun was intended...). Before the recovery week I was up to 9 miles on the long run. But since then (3 weeks later), I've only done 1 long run for 10.4 miles, which was a pretty poor run. In fact, I had tried to do the long run a few days earlier, only to cut it short because I just didnt have it. I've also only done hills once since then as well, which was this past Monday, which actually went pretty well. Six reps of the extended hill. The remaining runs were all just easy runs or time trials. Not really thrilled how that turned out. But the one positive is that I have been swimming and have gone 5 times since the last post. Just about once a week. And I think I saw the first results of it from Tuesday's 5 miler. Felt good and strong from start to finish, and probably could have kept on going at the end. Its a shame it wasnt a long run that day. But I totaled about 1400m in the pool last night, if you include the 100m warm up and cool down. Felt pretty good actually, but was hard to get a feel of speed due to congestion in the pool.

Another long run scheduled tonight. Not sure if it'll happen, as the weather is now saying it might start raining when I usually go out. Otherwise, it'll have to happen on Monday. I'm also starting to feel under the weather a little bit. I guess we'll see how it goes. Will hopefully have an update before DC.