Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Running, lately

Oh holy moly, where did May go? Why is it June? Why is it 15 degrees C and rainy? Where is summer?

I can't answer any of these questions, but here are some recent running and life updates:

A weekend in Providence 

On May 7 I did the Providence half marathon. The week of the race, as Murphy's law would have it, I contracted the daycare grot from the D-monster. I considered the weather, the head cold, and the elevation profile, and downgraded my expectations.

My usual half marathon strategy is: 5 miles easy to moderate effort, 5 miles moderate to hard, 3.1 miles 'run like you're being chased by a velociraptor' - I made it the first 10 and then would have been eaten. Nutrition and water were ok. Just a cold that lasted too long, plus one too many hills.

In the end, I finished in 1:56:22, although I'd trained for a more aggressive stretch target. That is the second fastest half marathon I've ever run in my life - the fastest was one second faster. Gah!


There were no velociraptors. (This is a plus. We will not be doing the Jurassic World Half Marathon anytime soon, thank you.) There were donut holes at the finish, and frozen yogurt bars, and pizza, and bananas, and clementines — the usual array of delectables. The (by then no longer snotty, as life is not fair!) toddler ran the quarter-mile kids race with his dad, and then ran it again because the big kids were doing it. A grand time was had by all, especially the kiddo, who stole all my donuts and clementines.

Other stuff to do in Providence: eat at a restaurant featuring a ceiling-mounted working toy train, which for a quarter a pop will mesmerise your toddler long enough for you to scarf your spaghetti. Go to the Providence Children's Museum. Have your zoo plans derailed by an epic family nap.


basically any time you let a small child ride or drive a large vehicle it is the BEST DAY OF THEIR LIFE


I Ran A 5K On No Training* And The Results Were Surprising! 

On June 4 I ran the Cambridge Freedom Run 5K. We did it as a family outing, strollers and all, with some of the kiddo's little swim class buddies. (OK, when the class first started in winter, the munchkins were all running around together and I pounced on...I mean, started chatting with potential new mom friends, because I am completely shameless like that.) Dads pushed strollers and we moms lined up ahead. Zero stakes, zero expectations, zero strategy or plan, surprise PR (24:23)! How did that happen? I tried to keep up / chat with one of the girls for the first mile. And then she TOOK OFF. I was like, please go ahead, I haven't done any real speed workouts in months. Ouch.


* Yes, I have been running. Like 25 miles/ week. I just haven't trained specifically for a short fast race. Just trolling!

Also, yes, I am clutching my phone in the photo above, because I didn't want to short it out by sticking it down my shirt.

Maybe the theme for this year is low-stakes, low-expectations? I've already tossed out my marathon time goals. I have none. I have other goals for the marathon, like being good about the 'extra salt' and doing my strength work and stretching and getting to the start line injury-free - all with an eye to not cramping. I think my big fat hairy audacious goal here, the true emotional core of all this, is to run for joy

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Well that snuck right up!

The Providence half marathon is this weekend! Eeek. 

I'd rate this training cycle about a 7 out of 10:

  • Nailed my long run most weeks. 
  • Made it to track most weeks. 
  • Hit 30 mpw most weeks (I realise this is Not A Lot and Who Do I Think I Am expecting to do well on This Little Running, but...meh. It is what I can, when I can.) 
  • Had a fling with a foam roller and the elliptical due to ITB issues, the very week I was supposed to do a 15-mile long run. 
  • Currently fighting off a slight above-the-neck cold. Children are tiny disease vectors. These viruses must surely evolve as they leap from host to host, because D-money is still peppy and *I* get the great clots of green snot. Gross.

I don't want to make pre-emptive excuses though. New Bedford indicated that I was in pretty good shape, so I'm just going to get out there on Sunday and see what I can do. I'll be happy to run a good hard effort and keep to my usual race plan (5 miles easy to medium, 5 medium to hard at or around goal pace, 3.1 RUN LIKE A VELOCIRAPTOR IS CHASING YOU). Bonus points for negative splits.

(Wouldn't it be fun to get points for hitting process goals - stick to race plan, negative split, walk through the water stops, doing your MYRTLs - that one can then turn into shoe discounts, extra coaching months and Strava premium subscriptions? How is this not a thing?)

Also coming up in a couple of weeks: two years of being a mom. Happy almost-birthday to you, kiddo. Two years on, I am still doing all the heavy lifting - funny how that works!

Someone has inherited my penchant for rewriting lyrics. I almost inhaled my coffee this morning on hearing this recited:

"Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man
Bake me a cake...fast as you can.
Roll it and prick it...and put it in the oven...
...Take it out...and eat it!...Yum yum yum."


In which tiny science dude figures out which objects float and which ones sink.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Race report: New Bedford Half Marathon 2017


New Bedford Half Marathon
Details: 
Race website 
Signup: $60 early bird, $70 through January, $75 late without USATF discount code 
Finishers: about 2,300
Start time: 11am (!)
Day-of bib pickup: yes 
Food: clam chowder and fish sandwiches (hello, New England seaside town!) 
Parking: street, ample 
Swag: bling, long-sleeved tech shirt (as usual I fell victim to the 'size S' trap: is it unisex? is it women's? I took a gamble. It was unisex. Now it's a nightshirt.) 
                                                                                                                                                                  Short version:
It was windy, I mean WINDY. I came in eight seconds behind my PR in some pretty ugly conditions. 

Net Time: 1:56:29    
Pace: 8:54   

Long version: 

When we left off, I was trying to decide whether to run New Bedford with my running group. This race was part of the USATF NE Grand Prix series, and apparently is part of the Grand Prix almost every year? A week and a half before the race, there were two other women running, so I figured I'd do it to make up the numbers for a women's team. Fortunately we ended up with five women running (four of whom are faster than I am!) and came in 17th out of 34 teams! 

I carpooled with teammates to the race, leaving Mr GCA and D-money at home on their usual Sunday swim lesson-playtime-lunch-and-nap schedule. The weather was close to freezing, overcast and windy. I decided on full tights and a long-sleeved shirt under my t-shirt and was pretty glad of it, despite being a card-carrying member of Overheaters Anonymous. 

Bib pickup and bag drop were at the local YMCA, and we even got to use the locker rooms - a big plus! We huddled in there till ten minutes before race start, then I inserted myself at the front of the 9:00-mile-pace corral. (Do you seed yourself by starting pace, or by the overall pace you're aiming for? I know mine aren't really too different, so I don't care and it all evens out eventually. Plus if I get a little stuck behind other runners, hey, it keeps me from going out too fast.) 

Miles 1-9 were a normal sort of blustery, and I managed to hold the paces I’d hit in training. Hills for the first three miles, nothing massive. I spotted a great ('great'?) sign at mile 6: "YOU'RE ALMOST THERE #altfacts"... to which I shouted, "Worst protest sign ever!" 
 
Definitely pre-gale, probably around mile 7, still going strong. 

Then we hit the Mile 9 marker and rounded a corner onto the oceanfront…where gale-force winds awaited.

For the next two miles I felt like I was running in place. Or perhaps backwards. Then backwards, while trying to scale a hill. You get the…er…drift.  I glanced at my watch. 10:00 miles. At mile 12 I thought to myself, “YOU’VE COME TOO FAR TO WALK NOW”. 

My teammate E was doing this half as part of a training run for a spring marathon. I thought I'd passed her and lost her at mile 6. At mile 12, as I was slogging up the last hill, I heard her voice over my right shoulder, chipper as ever. "Hey, how's it going?" And she zipped past me and trotted off! The last quarter mile, mercifully, was all downhill. I finished eight seconds away from my half PR, totally spent, and straggled off to the pub where my teammates were waiting with food and beer.

I honestly had no expectations for this half except ‘do my best’, and that’s what it turned out to be. My gut feeling was right about being able to match my previous PR, and in fact until mile 9 I was on track to finish in the low 1:50s, so things are looking pretty good for the Providence Half in May. In a sense it was totally refreshing to have signed up so late – I basically had no time to be anxious about racing, and it was really just a fun Sunday out with the CR team. I'm so impressed with all the spectators and volunteers who turned out in that weather to make their lovely hometown half what it is! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

fitting what in?

Hello both readers of this blog,

This is some kind of a record. Two months without a single post?

My regular training log is over at Salty Running, but I'm thinking about racing the New Bedford half on March 19 (yes, kind of an impulse half) as part of the Community Running team for the USATF-NE club competition. We're struggling to field a women's open team - I said I'd race iff (if and only if) we could field one, otherwise it's 5 hours of travel + race time for...for what?

So I'm one of the only women with children under school age who makes it to track group regularly, and I'm beginning to understand why. (The men with children under school age don't seem to have this problem...hmm.) The question is what's worth it? What is it worth to me?

Hauling myself an hour or two out to a race, waiting around at the start line, noodling around the finish - it all takes up so much time. I'm just an ordinary woman with an ordinary life. If I were a professional athlete, sure. That'd be my job. If I were gunning to qualify for the Olympic Trials. Or run a sub-3 marathon. Or qualify for Boston, or whatever. If some external prize like that were motivating me, maybe it'd provide the little extra impetus to keep going, to keep training and racing. But no - all my motivation has to come from within right now, and I'm just an ordinary runner struggling to fit it all in to an ordinary life, and my well of motivation is just sapped.

If you have family or other commitments and continue to race - or if you stopped - talk to me. Why? 

Update: we scraped together a women's team (...3 people...) and I'm in for New Bedford!