Thursday, May 30, 2019

Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon: It may have been a bad idea, but I'd probably do it again!

The short:

I readjusted my goals for this race after being diagnosed with bronchitis about 44 hours before it.  I knew I wouldn't be able to run the PR I'd hoped for while wheezing and taking antibiotics, plus it ended up being 72-80 degrees and 90% humidity during the race.  I hoped I could go for the overall female win, and I was able to accomplish that with a 1:23:32 half marathon, which bettered my previous on-antibiotics-PR of 1:28 -- you've gotta take the PRs you can get, right?!  I was happy with this for the circumstances, but, as I think I've said many times, I'll be back to chase that real PR!
The long:

I ran this race last year, and it again fell 4 weeks before Grandma's Marathon, so I thought it was the perfect checkpoint to see how my fitness stacked up to where I was at last year at this point in time.  Just like last year, I planned to train through the race (no taper), but I also hoped to go for a PR and to run about 2 minutes faster than I'd run at the 2018 event.  A week before the race, I was feeling strong and hopeful since I'd been hitting solid tempo workouts just under 6:00 pace running alone.

6 days before the race, I started wheezing, especially when laying down.  I had a slight cough and minor congestion, but no other symptoms.  I didn't feel sick and wasn't weak.  Since I felt fine, I was sure it was just allergies and continued on with my week.  4 days before the race, I had a sub-par workout, but I blamed it on being just a few days off of a 24 miler; I have never nailed a workout soon after a 24 miler.  3 days before the race, I started getting more concerned, because although I still felt fine, my wheezing wasn't going anywhere.  2 days before the race, I want to the doctor and was diagnosed with bronchitis and started on Z-pack antibiotics and an Albuterol inhaler.  I asked my doctor about racing, and she said if I felt up for it I would probably be okay run it, considering I'd been training normally all week.  Since we had two days of family fun planned in Manhattan along with the race, I decided to go ahead and run it, but I also knew my performance wouldn't be my best.  I had an outside kernel of hope that I'd wake up race morning miraculously cured, but, alas, that did not come to fruition.  At least there was no pressure!

Race morning ended up being very steamy, already 70 degrees with a dew point of 68 when I left my phone with Jon just before 5:30 a.m.  He dropped me off for the buses that drove us to the start of the point-to-point course.  I felt somewhat weak on my 3 mile warm-up, but not terrible.  I reasoned that if I ran a mediocre workout on Tuesday while wheezing, I could run a mediocre race.  My coach had mentioned trying to run it at marathon goal pace, but that seemed a little ambitious, so I decided I would mainly try to place as high as I could and just see how I felt once I got going.

The temperature was rising quickly, and the sun was out in full force for the 7:00 a.m. start.  As we were off, I found myself in third overall female position, but the two women in front of me had been standing with the 1:30 pacer on the starting line, so I wondered if they were going out too fast.  One of them fell back fairly quickly, and I decided I'd pace behind the other who remained.  She looked like a fast runner - I hate when people surmise running ability based on looks, but she had great form and was running smoothly, in addition to being lean and muscular.  We were running in the 6:20s, and I thought that was probably reasonable for me for the conditions (I was planning to aim for 6:00-6:05 healthy and in good weather).  But I also didn't feel very strong and was coughing, so I had several moments where I worried I was getting in over my head by sticking with her.

By mile 3, my doubts faded when I began to feel better and she began to slow significantly enough that I decided to go on around her.  From about 3-10, I felt pretty decent, although still coughing sporadically, and I focused on pulling in men in front of me.  I didn't look at my watch after the first 3 miles, plus splits in this race aren't that meaningful due to the elevation - miles 1 and 6 have major drops, miles 11 and 12 have climbs, and the rest has some gentle inclines and declines but is mostly flat.

I took water at every aid station, usually two cups, and sipped some before pouring the rest on me.  I also took a gel, sucking it down slowly between about miles 5-8.  I usually don't take gels during halves, but antibiotics seem to make my blood sugar low and I thought it would help with that, plus some more practice running hard with them in my stomach before my marathon can't hurt.  Around mile 9 I passed a friend of a friend who I'd been planning to pace with for a 1:18-1:19 before my bronchitis debacle, and he said the heat was really getting to him.

In the final 5K, I was also getting very hot and the two climbs that didn't seem that bad last year felt like mountains.  Whenever I'm not at 100% strength, I seem to struggle much more on uphills than I do on flats.  I'd passed a man around mile 10 who was fading worse than I was, and the next man was out of reach, plus from spectators' comments I knew I had the female win secured, so with all of these factors together I had a hard time pushing.  Really the whole race, I never felt like I was running all-out, but I also felt like I sure couldn't run any faster!
Not my best pacing, even grade-adjusted
I was happy to see the stadium in the final mile, and managed a finishing kick as I ran in to finish on the 50 yard line.  The finish on the turf was a great touch that was new this year for the race.  The announcer was extremely enthusiastic and announced that I was the first female finisher, and I came through with a smile on my face.  It is always fun to win a race!  As I walked to find my family, many people stopped to tell me congrats, which was very sweet.  Several minutes later, I realized that they were showing all finishers coming in on the stadium's Jumbotron - another nice touch!

I screenshotted this one from my finishing video!
I swear I was smiling!
The official results are here; scroll down for my finishing video, which might be the only video of myself running that I have ever liked!  Editor's note: the announcer pronounced my last name wrong, it's a short I.

The famed K-State football coach Bill Snyder presented the awards, and my sister-in-law graciously took my plaque to him for an autograph after the ceremony when she got her medal signed.  After I received my award, I was interviewed by a reporter from a Manhattan newspaper (I haven't been able to find the story online) and congratulated by a lady I'd talked to on the bus who exclaimed, "Why didn't you tell me you were an elite?!"  Haha!  Albani played with her cousins on the bounce houses on the infield and enjoyed meeting Willie the Wildcat.
With Bill Snyder
My sis-in-law finished 13.1 & corralled 4
young children all weekend!

Stats, including the sweltering temperature

My time was almost identical to what I ran at Rock the Parkway 6 weeks prior (1:23:35 there), so one thing the race showed me was how much fitness I've gained in 6 weeks.  Conditions were perfect for Rock the Parkway, while quite imperfect for this one; basically, I was happy with my performance under the circumstances but I was unhappy with the circumstances!  But, I don't have a good race-time gauge on where I'm at fitness-wise now, which scares me going into a marathon.  A few days after the race, I realized that I ran a little slower (1:23:53) in a half marathon under similar steamy weather conditions (without bronchitis!) 4 weeks before I ran my 2:47:14 marathon, so that is encouraging.  I will also never forget the death march that was the Dam to Dam half marathon, where I ran a 1:26:19 in similar hot and humid weather while healthy.

I knew that I wouldn't race my best being sick, but what I didn't consider beforehand was how much running hard would take out of me.  I am sure the temperature and the non-stop day of family activities afterward didn't help (I walked over 6 miles on top of the 19 I'd run), but I felt awfully weak the next 2 days, for the first time feeling like I truly had bronchitis.  Based on lessons learned from my last injury, I even took a day off running to recover.  Would I recommend racing when sick to others?  Probably not.  Would I do it again?  Probably so...

After the race we had a fun family weekend in Manhattan as planned!  A few of my favorite photos:
K-State tour
My niece Violet by an agricultural building
Garden tour with Albani & my niece Ivy
Insect Zoo at K-State
It's difficult to get a good photo of 5 children!
K-State water display
Hotel pool is always winning
Up close & personal with a kookaburra
Butterfly area
This kangaroo has a baby in her pouch
This guy was tapping on the glass by the kids
Zoo entrance
This is how we all felt at the end of this trip!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

April is a time of transition - April 2019 recap

April 2019 in Review

Total mileage for the month:  333.0
  • April 1-7:  68.3 (strength training 2:07)
  • April 8-14:  78.6 (strength training 2:05)
  • April 15-21:  67.0 (strength training 2:15)
  • April 22-28:  93.4 (strength training 1:56) - new weekly mileage PR!
  • April 29-May 5:  87.6 (2:11 strength training)
Airplane April
Miles of smiles
  • April 13Rock the Parkway Half Marathon in 1:23:35 for 4th overall female, a state of Missouri single age state record for age 38, and a good step in what I hope I will someday look back on as a comeback.
An area trail I rarely make it to has a lot
of new artwork since I last ran there!
  • April 3:  3 mile fartlek of 2' on/1' off/1' on/30" off/30" on/30" off (3 miles warm up, 3 miles cool down).  My push paces (GAP in abbreviations) were 5:46 (5:52), 5:52 (5:43), 5:31 (5:15), 5:57 (5:56), 6:01 (5:47), 5:22 (5:29), 5:51 (5:53), 5:49 (5:40), 5:52 (5:49), 5:57 (5:51).  I ran the flattest route I can from my house, but the run still had 356 feet elevation gain - the story of living in the Ozarks!  I tried to really milk the recoveries since they were so short, and I felt like I was going 9:00 pace on them, but almost all of them were 7:20-7:40, which actually makes me doubt the accuracy of any of these splits, haha!  But!  What matters is that this was a fast workout to get my legs turning over without fatiguing me.  I have never done anything with only 30 seconds recovery before - even when running strides I do 20 second strides then 40 seconds walk - and 30 seconds is quite short!  Anything sub-6:00 is also quite fast for this marathoner.
  • April 9:  5 x 800 m + 4 x 200 m in 2:57, 2:56, 2:55, 2:55, 2:58 + all 0:40, with 2:00 jog recoveries (3.1 warm up, 3 cool down).  Back to the track after over 6 months apart!  I would have been really happy with the 800s if I could have run the last one in 2:54, but I faded a bit.  My paces on the 2:00 jogs also got progressively slower, which doesn't matter but was humorous.  I was pleasantly surprised to average 2:56 on these since I hadn't run anything sub-6:00 in ages, except the fartlek the previous week.  They also felt good, which was even more exciting (I've had many speed workouts where I felt like I was dying every step!).  Speed is certainly not my strength, but I supposed it's better to work on your weaknesses than to ignore them.  :-)
  • April 16:  2 x 2.5 mile tempo + 1 x 1.5 mile tempo with 6:00 recoveries in 6:11, 6:12, 3:05 / 6:12, 6:09, 3:02 / 6:04, 2:56 (2 warm up, 1 cool down).  Every single mile of this workout was the fastest I'd done for a mile in training post-injury, so to say I was happy with this workout is an understatement!  When I saw this on my schedule the week prior, I thought I'd aim to start at 6:30 pace and work down, but after Rock the Parkway my coach and I decided that 6:10-6:15 was a better target, and that ended up being perfect!  It's crazy what a difference a week can make in perception; one week before this workout I would not have believed I could do it.  I felt strong and smooth throughout.  This is my kind of workout!
  • April 24:  2 x 3.25 mile tempos with 1 mile recoveries in 6:12, 6:10, 6:04, 1:32 / 6:15, 6:09, 6:07, 1:30 (3.1 mile warm up, 3.2 mile cool down). After my tempo workout the previous week went well I was ready for this one!  The 3.25 distance seems somewhat random, I know, but it was supposed to be 2 x 20:00.  I did it this way so I'd have my miles splits and because I'm really used to running tempos by miles.  They were almost 20:00 exactly though!  I hoped to do about 6:15, 6:10, 6:05 for paces for each segment, making them slightly progressive, and I was close to that.  I'm not used to having a full mile of recovery, and the first mile after the recovery was definitely the hardest of the workout - getting back into the tempo groove after slowing down for 7:40 was challenging.  I loved this workout, and with the volume of it plus a double I had an 18 mile day on a work day - also the biggest mileage day I've ever had on a day that wasn't my long run!
  • April 30:  6 x 1,000 m descending with 2:00 recoveries in 3:48, 3:47, 3:46, 3:43, 3:39, 3:38. (3 warm up, 4.7 cool down).  The goal of this workout was to start around 3:50 and drop to 3:40 or below, and I executed it well.  I really liked it (for a track workout) because the first 4 reps felt more like a tempo run.  I had to dig for the final 2 but they were do-able!  It was 66 degrees with 90% humidity for this workout, and I worried that would affect me but it didn't seem to.  I had to cool down to 12 miles total, and the area that we park and run to the track from is quite hilly, so I was really ready to stop climbing hills by the end of that (then I had to do plyos, oy!).  Rebecca, Missy, and Danielle all came out to the track with me, and ran similar workouts to what I did, which was very helpful!  I feel so blessed to have friends who will meet me at 5:15 a.m. and run a track workout that's been written for me.  All of my other workouts were solo this month.
  • Doubles on April 1, 9, 10, 11, 16, 18, 22, 24, 25, 28, 30
  • Strides on April 12, 15
  • Surges on April 18
  • Hill Sprints on April 5
  • Favorite workout:  I loved both the tempo workouts - those are my kind of workouts!
After my first fartlek in forever!
Long Runs:
  • April 6:  15.5 miles (7:35).  This was just a nice solo long run!  I ran a 12 mile loop I run often, planning to add on a little 1.5 mile "tail" to make it a 15 mile course.  I ended up finding a road I'd never run down before instead of the originally planned tail, and it ended up taking me into the outskirts of a nearby town.  I could see the Taco Bell on the edge of town that my husband always goes to when he works out that way, so I ran to the Taco Bell before turning around just so I could tell him I ran to the Rogersville Taco Bell, making it a half mile longer than planned.  My daughter was disappointed I did not bring home any tacos!
  • April 13:  17.3 miles total, with Rock the Parkway Half Marathon plus warm up and cool down.
  • April 20:  18.2 miles of hills, with the first 9 around 7:45 pace and the second 9 around 7:15 pace (7:29 average).  I ran several roads that I usually avoid due to the elevation, and came away with 1024 ft gain.  I was supposed to run this by heart rate, but this was the first run I wore a (borrowed) heart rate chest strap for, and after 3 miles of pretty much staring at my watch trying to hit my heart rate goal (130 for the first 9, 140-148 for the second 9), I just gave up and ran the paces that my coach and I had discussed before I borrowed the chest strap.  I learned that I am much better at zeroing in on a specific pace than zoning in on a heart rate, which is really no surprise since I've never trained by heart rate!  The plus of the chest strap was that my readings from it were consistent with my wrist heart rate, with data from both landing on 143 average heart rate for the entire run, so maybe I don't need the chest strap to get accurate data after all - which is my hope since it chafed.  I ran this alone and it went by very quickly!
  • April 27:  22 miles (7:30).  I paced a friend in a local marathon, with the race director's permission.  I jumped in around mile 2 on the out-and-back course, and finished around mile 24.  My friend requested 7:30 pace with a negative split and I delivered precisely!  The race started late due to a storm delay, so it was almost 11:00 a.m. by the time I finished this run.  The temperature had climbed to 73 degrees, which is a rude awakening when you're used to running in 50 degree temps and finishing runs before 7:00 a.m.!  I felt fine (although quite thirsty!) running easy, but I was sure glad I wasn't racing or running a workout, and I could tell the run took more out of me than it would have in cooler weather.  I enjoy pacing so it was a fun way to get in this long one!  The race was on a smooth gravel trail, so it was also a softer surface that was probably good for me to run on.
  • Favorite long run:  I felt the best on the hilly 18, but 22 is 22 so it's a tie!
  • I had a coaching change. After coaching myself (not very successfully, I might add!) for most of my running career, I worked with Marshall from July 2015 through my my injury in September 2018.  I have nothing but great things to say about him, and he took me from a 3:03 to a 2:47 marathoner, and from a 1:27 to 1:20 half marathoner.  However, I needed some time away from being coached during and post-injury.  I self-coached again in October through December 2018 and in February through March 2019, with a one month return to Marshall in January 2019.  I planned to continue self-coaching for my next marathon build for Grandma's Marathon in June, but me asking my friend Nichole to look at my self-made plan led (thorough a series of steps) to her writing my Grandma's plan!  In a way, things are coming full circle, as she and I ran the first 5 miles of Grandma's together in 2018 - she is mentioned in my race report here, and I am in her's here.  I think Marshall is a fantastic coach, and I learned a great deal from him and really grew as a runner while working with him, but at this point I think I need a female coach.  Nicole is also chasing a 2:45:00 marathon before the mid-January cut-off!  I plan to do another post about how my training has changed and how it has stayed the same since starting with her.
  • I recovered well from the Chisholm Trail Marathon.  Nicole held me back from doing too much mileage the second week back, which I needed (left to my own devices I would have probably run an 80+ mile week with a long workout).  I could still feel the marathon on my legs during my April 6 long run, but by the week of April 8-14 I was feeling pretty much back to normal.
  • I tested my wrist heart rate monitor vs. a chest strap heart rate monitor on several runs this month.  I expected the wrist to be completely inaccurate, but I learned that if it is tight and I keep the sensor clean, it is quite consistent with the chest strap measure!  This was really good news for me, because I hated wearing the chest strap.  The wrist would sometimes record higher "blips" that the chest strap didn't, but the averages were often exactly the same and never more than 2 beats per minute different.
  • I ran my second ever week in the 90s for mileage!  I hope to see my third in a couple of weeks.  Technically I ran exactly the same mileage (93.5) on a rolling 7 days in March; I didn't think to look at that total until the following day (whomp whomp), but this was my highest Monday through Sunday total ever.  I'll make sure to do 93.6 next time!  
    • I am also now confident in my ability to do a 100 mile week; I could simply run 1 more mile each day in a week like this, or run the same week with a 24 mile long run and another 5 mile double.  I hope to make that happen in the fall!
  • The evening of Rock the Parkway, I read on my friend Liz's blog that Strava was doing an April challenge called The Last Mile where they would donate $10 to charity if you finished the final mile of your half or full marathon with the fastest split of your race.  Since I'd done that at Rock the Parkway, I immediately signed up for the challenge.  I wasn't sure if I was actually signed up since I'd already run the race and because I didn't take the free trial of Strava Summit that was tied to it, but towards the end of the month I got an email telling me I completed it!

April 1 and 2 were my final two morning runs
in temperatures in the 20s - & the sun came up
during my runs again!
Chest strap on right, wrist HR on left, post split tempo workout
New weekly mileage PR!
The Last Mile for Strava

Life events:
  • We did lots of garden prep!
  • We took a day trip to Barnett, Missouri (tiny town with a garden/farm store Jon was dying to visit) and Lake of the Ozarks (tourist town).
  • I got to watch my 16-year-old niece run the 1600 m in Kansas City the evening before Rock the Parkway!  I also got to visit my sister and her family between working in Kansas City and the race.
  • We stayed home for Easter this year, and did several family fun activities with just us 3, and Easter Sunday services at our home church.  He has risen!
Those are my boots & she says they fit her
(they are actually 6 sizes too large)
Not everywhere you go offers horse & buggy parking spots!
She begs to get a dog often
Lake of the Ozarks
She is adamant about not having this bike seat
raised, haha!
My niece finishing the 1600 m.
This duck was great
I find most Easter bunnies creepy, & this one
was no exception
We both wore running gear to this event
Jon gave her this pose
I couldn't get Jon to be in an Easter photo with us,
but Albani got him to get her multiple Happy
Meals with tiny Ty toys in them!
Easter kitty
Egg project (I ate all of these color hard-boiled eggs the next week)
Love this!
She ate all of this, plus a carton of cherry tomatoes!
One of us ran 22 miles; the other rode on the cart
Books this month:
  • I Might Regret This:  Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff by Abbi Jacobson
  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  • Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
  • South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby
  • There are No Grown-Ups by Pamela Druckerman
  • Us Against You by Fredrick Backman
  • The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult - this is a must-read!
  • The Fever by Megan Abbott
Theme of the month:

Building.  I am building back to fitness (I think!), and building a little confidence.