Running Shenanigans in D.C.

I ran..well rode..away to Washington last weekend amidst the snow here in New York to take part in a small half marathon on the trail along the Ohio – Chesapeake River canal in Georgetown. Turns out, I’ve done smarter things considering the proximity of our nation’s capital to New York. It snowed, turned slush, and ice, while temperatures stayed well below freezing. Yet still we ran. I think a case can be made for the ridiculous extreme some are willing to embrace in pursuit of a goal. I’d be the first to shout, “guilty!”

In any event, after an early pasta dinner the night before and 7 hours of sleep, I got up early, had breakfast at the hotel, which was 10 minutes away, and took a uber to the start. Not one for standing around waiting to run, much less in freezing weather, I was glad I didn’t get there too early as runners shivered through their warm ups while the Marathon and 7K took off. Soon after at around 8:30 am it was my turn in the half-marathon. I had enough time before the race started to second guess my decision to run without my gloves and phone. By start time, I decided I couldn’t do without them and wrapped in my heat sheet headed out.

Let me just say, trails I love; mud, water, and ice, not so much. From the get go it was a battle to stay sure-footed and not end up on my face. Trying to avoid slipping and sliding meant I had to pay careful attention to foot placement and try to keep to firmer ground, which was impossible for most of the run. Tried though I did, I couldn’t help slowing down in the muddy and wet areas and tried picking off runners and focusing on how pretty everything looked covered in snow, and not on the challenge of running faster and breather harder. Only at the mile 6 marker and turnaround did I get rid of the heat sheet – it took that long to warm up – and I immediately felt a bit lighter. It didn’t help too much overall though, as I still struggled to finish in the time I had hoped for, finally succumbing to a slower pace in miles 10, 11, and 12, only to finish faster on the last 1.1 mile. In retrospect, the miles where I slowed down were crucial to my goal and I should have sucked it up and forged ahead at my average (until that point) of 7:30 min p/mile. However, I dropped down to 7:43 and ended up in a sad 18th place out of 162.

One week later, and my last chance of 2018 gone, I remain extremely miffed with my performance that day and this year in general. I can only hope that the new year will bring greater opportunities and smarter and faster running as I’m in it for the long haul and remain committed to chasing PR dreams.

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We rocked n’ rolled n’ qualified!

imageAs reviews go, I’ll give this race experience a “very good” if not excellent, only because of the flaring up of my IT Band. The course was doable and scenic, the weather was excellent, the runners phenomenal and there were enough liquids & gels to go around. The music rocked..somewhat..and the cheers while no New York, were great. The truth is out of the three marathons I’ve run so far and based on others opinions, there may not be another marathon cheer-must-have experience such as New York. But, I liked DC, of course it could very well be because I PR’d and did my qualifying time for Boston there, but it’s also a lot more than that. You can probably tell that I’m a people-gal; I love meeting new people and experiencing different cultures and appreciate diversity and art and all those good things The Capitol is known for, It has so much to offer. Each time I visit, I promise myself I’ll be back because there’s no way I can ever get to see or do it all. But I digress, back to my race experience.

The day prior to the race, I got in from New York and went directly to the race expo and spent most of that half of the day hopping around from booth to booth with its various information, activities, running wear and other paraphernalia to be had. As if the hours there weren’t enough, I just had to do some additional external shopping mostly in the context of items missing at the expo. I eventually got to the hotel at 8pm; exhausted, starving and cranky as heck, immediately vowing never to do that again? Which I’ll probably promptly forget the next time, though really, applying some time constraints are mandatory to preserve my sanity. I promptly stuffed my face, paying no mind to by golden rule of no stuffing after 6pm after which, I’m forced to stay up an extra two hours so I don’t kill myself with digestion problems and then spent the most irritating night anyway, getting up every two hours. WTH!!!

The next day was just as tiring, add painful and longer, and you get the picture. It started off cold which was expected, at least on my end, as you wouldn’t think so by the way every one was dressed and shivering but I was wrapped in my blanket and was doing pretty good. Since I had signed up with a pace group at the expo, I was pretty much ready to stick with them for the race, as much as I could anyway, given the uncertainties surrounding an event such as this – who knows what could happen. However, I was pleasantly surprised to meet a beautiful and like-minded runner who shared similar goals as myself and we teamed up and decided to run together and soon left the pace group behind. At that point, I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea, as I was a bit wary about taking off too quickly given I had recently decided to employ the negative-split concept (running the latter half of the marathon at a faster pace than the first half). Anyway, to close without writing my biography, we ran all the way to mile 20 together, encouraging and pace-checking and pointing out how pretty this and that was though I’ll admit I was much quieter after 13 miles, by which time, I was beginning to feel some pain and was not one for complaining when nothing could be done. All of that to say, my new friend made my 20 miles happen the way it did and I believe that helped me across the finish line. A runner needs a runner buddy like that. I really enjoyed the time running with her.

To conclude, the last 5 miles were the toughest 5 miles ever! Pain, comparable to my two previous marathon experiences; though I could have quickly say more if you’d asked me then, in a few weeks I probably wouldn’t think so but it was excruciating. I didn’t stop only because I knew I wouldn’t be able to even walk to the finish. Thank God for a strong mind. I finished, got my medal and spent the better part of 90 minutes in the medical tent. Ninety worthy minutes I’ll say because, call me crazy, but it was worth it. Sucker for punishment, that I am, I spent the rest of the day hobbling around at the Smithsonian museum. Again it was worth it.
DC Rock n’ Roll you get 4.5 stars!

Let’s Rock n’ Roll DC!

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I tend to approach races with an overly confident demeanor. My philosophy has always been that 90% of any task is attitude, hard work makes up the other 10%. Though that has worked more than less times throughout my life I’m beginning to believe it may not necessarily hold true for running..not marathons anyway. To be fair to one’s body and those who wonder, it takes as much kick-ass attitude as it does hard work; every heart-thumping, feet-pounding and limit-defying moment is bathed in determination and sweat. To me, that counts for nothing less than 50/50 and so I’ve tried to have a more balanced approach to this one.

It’s my first time running in the nation’s Capitol and as with any first time course, I’m excited, my adventurous spirit cannot be tamed, but this time around I’m going for bit more realism. We’ve had some really funky weather this season and the last few weeks have been no exception though the last couple days have been pretty darn good. The advantage here is that DC’s temperatures are quite similar to New York’s so there should be no big surprises. Shouldn’t I say, cause well.. your guess is as good as mine what’s going down weather-wise come Saturday. Tough, mother-of-a-month that it has been to train in, I’ve managed to get some crazy running in amid some aches and pains here and there. I’m definitely over-due a siesta after Saturday -big smile- and I’m so looking forward to it.

During my self pep talks, I mentally run the course and psych myself up so I feel ready for race day. I go through the fuel and gel stations, mileage and my pace and try to incorporate some sight-seeing along the way. There are benefits to this; I’m able to lose myself in my surroundings a bit and enjoy the beauty around me. Also, during this time, less attention is given to the pressures of the race and I’m able to live the moment. Additionally, I’m big on experiences and every race is an experience I love to revel in, at least when I’m not in pain, so while some races are more memorable than others, I like to think I take away something valuable each time.

High expectations is another facet of my type-A person. I run around expecting the best from myself every time. Within recent times I have been not-a-little disappointed with my performance and sometimes lack of proper judgement, and while that would be enough to faze the average Jane, I remain fearless and determined as ever with eyes fixed on Boston 2015 and a goal of 3:35. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and hopefully wings for feet.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This Irish-named girl feels lucky! image

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