Category Archives: Races

DC Marathon Race Recap 3/16/13

So it happened. The race that is. All 26.2 miles through Washington, DC on 3/16.  I learned a lot about my running style and made sure to note some things that didn’t go so well during the run but enough about that for the moment….it’s time to brag a little.  I qualified for Boston in  3:34!  So I qualified in my old age group and my new one!  My goal that day wasn’t to qualify for Boston. My plan was to run DC as a practice to find where I was weak and then spend the next few weeks working on improving. Then make the NJ marathon my qualifier. But as I neared the halfway point at 13 miles, I realized I was way under qualifying pace. So I went for it.

Here’s the details on what went right and what went wrong:

  1. The course: the course was hillier than I expected. Pretty sure the elevation map online was incorrect. I was anticipating agradual hill around mile 7 and was mentally prepared for it.  But that was actually a really steep hill and then there were like 14 more throughout the race.  In fact, the end ofthe race ended uphill. Lesson here – run more hills and stop whining.

    DC Elevation from my Garmin

    DC Elevation from my Garmin

  2. Hydration and fueling: I did a really bad job at this in DC. I brought withme 2 clif shot blocks and never took themout of my pocket. Instead, I took GU gels and ate 1/2 a packet twice.  I trained prior with the gels for other races, but only with the shot blocks for this one. So basically, I ran around carrying extra weight in my back pocket for no reason (and yes, by extra weight I mean like a half an ounce). As for water, I was a mess in this area too. I didn’t hydrate properly the first 13 miles which left me in a bind the second half of the race. I actually had to stop and walk the water stops after mile 18. I would grab 2-3 cups at a time and chug them. I need to really learn how to drink while running. A talent I’m so jealous others can do.
  3. Weather: turned out way better than expected. Just light rain and clouds, perfect 43 degree temps at the start. Couldn’t have asked for better conditions.
  4. Pacing: I was all over the place with my pace after mile 12. I attribute this to my lack of distance runs towards the end of training. I really wasn’t ready to run this marathon. I had only two 20 plus mile runs and had skipped the initial buildup in miles. A no-no for all you first time marathoners. Do as I say, not as I do. Physically, I don’t think I was in the best condition to be running my best but it was good enough. I kept calculating time and how much time I could slow down for so I could still BQ. And I took full advantage of those minutes in the last few miles as I shuffled through to thefinish.
  5. Tapering: I actually did this really well for once. I kept telling myself to trust the taper. I did. And thus, on race morning I felt relaxed, my legs felt energized, and no injuries on race day.  A few days prior to race day, my tendonitis flared up, but I took the time and rested and iced and was ready to go after that.
  6. Mental mind game: Here’s where I did everything terribly wrong. While I’m so happy I had a BQ and PR; I am not happy with my race physically and mentally. I kept trying to quite the entire race. I told myself to make it to the half marathon finish and get a medal at least. I could count that as a training run then. Then I told myself to make it to the next mile, and then if I made it to the next water stop I could stop, etc.  It was a mental nightmare. I didn’t feel strong. I felt defeated at mile 12. There came a point where I had to decide if I was going to miss the chance for a BQ when I was halfway there already. I pushed through. I wish I could say I found my strong and overcame hitting the wall.  But I was weak the entire end of the race. The last 6 miles felt like torture.

Overall, this was a great course and I’m so happy to have run it (except you Mr. Steepie Steep Hill). The race organizers did a great job and I want to give big thanks to the volunteers and supporters who came out that day. Without you guys, I wouldn’t have made it through.

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Filed under Lessons Learned, Races, Rules of the Road, Training

Are You a Runner?

-Written by Sara Fanous (awesome runner and close friend)runner

I wear a lot of titles with pride: Mommy, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Coworker, etc….but there is one title I have shied away from…Runner.  I average about 25 miles a week, so you would think it is a slam dunk to consider myself a runner.  Why then do I struggle with this?

I read running magazines, blogs (obviously) and chit-chat with other runners.  I hear talk of training programs, diets to “fuel your body,” strategies to “attack your next workout” and the importance of listening to your own body…..Let me be clear – I do NONE of this.  That’s right – not any of it.  The only diet strategy I know is “try not to eat so much chocolate you make yourself sick.”  In all seriousness, I try to eat healthy, but I suffer from a serious sweet tooth.  My training program is simple…I go out and run.  I set silly goals for myself when I am doing it.  For instance, as I approach a race, I may not let any run be shorter than 4 miles. (I know, I am setting the bar really high with that one!  Hahahaha!)  I try to get in one long run a week…And that’s it – that is the sum total of my training plan!  Oh wait!  One more thing…there is a girl who works in my office building who also runs at lunch.  About once a week I “treadmill race” her….she doesn’t know that we are racing, but I do…sadly, she always wins.  hahaha! I don’t mind because it still pushes me to try to catch her next time.

I most certainly do not try to “listen to my body” while running.  In fact, I actively try to NOT listen to anything other than my music blaring into my ears.  I use the music to block any thoughts from work or the rest of my life that might try to creep into my brain.  The music blocks out the sound of my breathing, the sound of my feet hitting the ground and the sound of the little voice in my head telling me about whatever body part is aching at the moment.  I do my best to disconnect my brain from EVERYTHING and power off all-things-Sara…I try to let my legs and lungs just function independent of my brain and I just keep going. (Random side question – Have you ever gotten to that point on a run where it is like you feel your brain disconnect from your body and it is like you can go on running forever?  I live for that feeling!)

Are you on Facebook? (I guess that is like asking if you have a pulse these days…) Have you “liked” any of these motivational running pages?  You know, the kind that pops a new picture into your news feed every day with a cool little running slogan?  The saying generally equates running to some life-changing state-of-mind…some US Postal Service type of commitment – willing to take on any challenge and brave all types of weather.  I enjoy reading them, and secretly wish the sentiment they reflect is really how I feel about running….but the thing is….they really aren’t me!  I never made a conscious decision that said, “Yes, I am now a runner for life.  I love this and I will never go back and be a non-runner.  I am committed to this craziness forever.” I am also definitely not one of those people who love running in sub-30 degree temps, with rain/snow and biting winds.  (No Postal Service commitment from this girl!)

So here is what I do know about me…I ran today because I knew it would calm me down.  In fact, that is why I run most days.  I like the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a long run.  I think it is cool when I realize I have gotten faster or my endurance has improved.  I work fulltime, I am a mom of two little kids and 2 dogs, I am a wife and I can get over-whelmed by life sometimes.  Running keeps me balanced and it gives me that much-needed time to shut everything off and just exhaust my body and let my mind rest.  Last weekend I ran 10 miles in 1:25.  That is faster than I thought I could ever run 10 miles in my life. (Who knows, maybe next year I will be even faster!?) I will probably never qualify for the Boston Marathon. Heck, I may never even run a marathon at all.  I may not take training seriously.  I may not be a runner for life.  I may hate running on a freezing cold and windy day. I may not be a runner like you, or you, or you.  I know all these things.  Oh, and I know one more.  Today, I went for a run and after I was done I felt better about myself and the world than I did when I started out….and for that reason alone, I will probably try to run again tomorrow.  Am I a runner?  I don’t know, but whatever I am, I am ok with it.

Happy Running to all of you runners and non-runners alike.  🙂

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Filed under Goals, Lessons Learned, Obstacles, Races, Rules of the Road, Training

Music or the silence of the road?

tumblr_m9gu07Igcb1r0h24cLately, a lot of people have asked me if I run with or without music. And my first response was “Of course, I can’t run without it.”  I always assumed the music kept me entertained or made the run go by faster; until I was forced to run in silence. I have gone through a lot of various mp3 players.  Most of the time, they get water in them or just crash after years of use.  While training for the Philadelphia marathon I was forced to run my long runs and weekly tempo’s with no music at all.  I told myself it was temporary and that I would buy a $50 iPod shuffle a few days prior to the marathon to keep me entertained. (I didn’t want to chance breaking it during training.) After all, was it possible to get through a long run without hearing Rihanna sing sweet melodies in my ear?

So I set out on my 18 to 23 mile runs and found out it was…peaceful.  I found myself taking in my surroundings and because I could hear the sounds around me, I focused on them. What pattern is that guy trying to mow his lawn in?  Why are they putting a stop sign in on that street? Why are all of these dogs barking at the wind?  The long runs felt good music-less. I started to enjoy it. This I saw as my benefit to having a broken iPod. Continue reading

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Filed under Lessons Learned, My favorite things, Races