July 29, 2014

The power of the group

It took me two years to have the courage to attend a Without Limits practice.  In that time period, I logged many miles, ran many races and did so with the help of a book and my best running buddy, Christine.  Reading as much as possible, I would write a training plan for my upcoming races and do my best to adhere to the plan.  What I did not realize until last October was the power of a group.  There are all kinds of running groups, from those organized by runners to get in your miles, to those run by a coach or group of coaches who train you from your diet, to training plan, rest periods etc.  I found two groups in Wilmington and the one that I ended up joining is coached by not one, but a group of coaches.  There are several groups within the unit, including one for beginning runners, a mid pack group, up to the superior runners who can place overall in large races. The options for practice with the group vary depending on your ability.  But more than anything, what I want to share in this post is the phenomenal power that joining a running group has done for me.

Some of the group at the Divas Half in April

Being out of your comfort zone is not an easy thing to do.  But it seems that most every week, we are given a new workout that takes us to a new level. Not only do we have interesting sets that are not always logical on a track, such as 500's or 700's, we sometimes leave the track to run around the college or on the nearby trails.  All of this, and the encouragement from other runners has made me a better runner.  And when you are struggling, there is always someone to pick you up, take you along and keep you going.  I have been positively inspired by this group of fabulous athletes, many who take on challenges such as triathlons, duathons, racing up a mountain, and of course marathoners and ultra racers.  It is hard to express in words the lessons and confidence you can get from joining a group.  Every one of us suffers through the highs and lows of a training cycle, but having camaraderie has made the workouts and especially weekend long runs so much more fun.

If you are scared and don't want to join because you do not think you are fast enough, are too old, too young, too fat, too skinny, do not worry.  Everyone has a fear of something new and believe me when I say that you will not regret it.  The power of a group is amazing and I wish every runner had the opportunity to be part of a group like mine.

July 28, 2014

A post-run scare

On Saturday, I set out for my first double-digit run that begins the slow mileage climb towards Richmond.  My 11 mile run should have been pretty straightforward, given I've been hovering around 10 miles in training runs and recently ran a half marathon in Napa.  I struggled through much of the run, feeling frustrated and out of sorts.  I found myself running a 2-3 miles at my planned pace (9:20 or under) and then would find myself using every excuse in the book to crap out. 

I'm tired. 

My tummy hurts. 

It's hot. 

Summer pace runs are supposed to be slower. 

You get the idea.  After 5 or so miles of this, I got my act together and was able to muster up some courage to finish strong.  Miles 6-8 were back on track.  And then, I lost it again.  The last 3 miles were a battle.  My legs felt like lead and I just wasn't feeling it.  I didn't finish at the pace I had hoped - the last two miles were 9:40 pace - but I got it done.  My overall pace was 9:36 which I can live with. 

Knowing how tough this run was, I immediately grabbed some Gatorade and headed for the tub for an ice bath once I got home.  I spent 10 minutes in the ice bath and as I was getting out, it hit me.  I felt really dizzy and nauseated.  I thought I might throw up.  And then I felt really lightheaded.  I've never felt like this after a run before and I immediately sat down and started googling.  Most results told me that I likely had an electrolyte imbalance, which I would probably believe.  I hadn't carried anything other than water on my run and took one gel at about mile 7.5.  So this made sense.  I eventually ended up laying down on the couch and taking a brief nap to recuperate. 

Having never felt like that after a long run, it was a little unnerving and really caused me to think.  How much water had I drank over the course of the week?  It turns out, that it probably wasn't nearly enough.  So this week, I'm setting out on a new quest - hydration.  I am good about drinking water, but given it's the hot summer months and I tend to be a heavy sweater (TMI, I know), I can probably improve.  And I know I can get better about electrolytes.  I am tossing another tube of nuun into my work bag to leave at my desk at work.

How do you stay hydrated in the summer months?

July 27, 2014

Weekly Roundup - July 27th

What a great week!  After last weeks less than stellar runs, it was important to get back on track despite summer heat and humidity still being ever present for outdoor runs!  I am still having some physical therapy for my leg and it is doing much better. And my amazing PT,  Jude, always puts me in the room with this picture on the wall because he knows it makes me happy!

This came in my email this week and of course it immediately was printed to take on our trip this Friday!

Dublin race information

 Now I can hardly contain my excitement knowing we will be in Dublin Saturday!  Packing has begun and figuring out how to fit three weeks worth of clothing, shoes and equipment into one checked piece of luggage is a treat.  Luckily, I am an under packer and if I need something, I guess I will figure something out.

Lulu is never happy when the packing begins
Workouts were definitely better this week and hopefully after a small taper Christine and I will be able to run well at the Dublin Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon August 4th.  Here is what we did to keep ourselves moving!

Sunday, July 20th
Pam: 9.65 miles at 9:45 pace
Christine: 9.65 miles at 9:45 pace

Monday, July 21st
Pam: 30 minutes elliptical, 750 meters rowing, stretching
Christine: 35 min yoga

Tuesday, July 22nd
Pam: 6 mile progression run, started at 10:00 and ended at 8:35 pace
Christine: 3.5 miles at 9:05 pace

Wednesday, July 23rd
Pam: Rest day
Christine: 30 min stationary bike, leg weights, abs

Thursday, July 24th
Pam: WOL workout 6 X 600 at 7:32 average pace, total 3.5 miles
Christine: Unplanned rest day (worked a very long day and visited a friend's new born baby)

Friday, July 25th
Pam: 45 minutes elliptical, stretching
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, July 26th
Pam: 8 miles at 9:54 pace
Christine: 11 miles at 9:36 pace

Are you racing soon?

July 25, 2014

Paceband giveaway winners!

Happy Friday everyone.  Thanks to all who entered our giveaway for the Paceband silicone band.  We selected two winners via Rafflecopter.  Time for a drum roll please!  Congratulations to Danielle Golden Malaise and Kathryn Thayer.  You have both won a band of your choice.  Please email us so we can send you your prize.

Have a great weekend everyone and stay safe while out on your run!

July 24, 2014

Countdown to Rock 'n' Roll Dublin

It's a little over a week away until we'll be heading across the pond for one of our most exciting races of the year - Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon. Mom and I have traded many emails and phone calls about the race and things we want to do and see in Ireland.  To say we're both excited is an understatement!  Given that we won't have the internet connectivity that we normally would on a traditional race weekend, we've been very focused on staying organized for race day.  So hopefully our prep will help you!

1. Race Expo: We love a good 'ol race expo and we're very curious to see if there are any differences between a state-side expo and one in Europe.  This expo is a two day event on both Saturday and Sunday, 2-3 August.  It's being held at the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) in the Serpentine Hall.  Your waivers are being sent out today so check for these in your email.  This plus a photo ID is required to pick up your packet at the expo.  One thing to note about the race expo, if you need to change corrals, plan to hit up the Corral Change table at the expo to talk about your options. 

2. Race Course:  This year, the half marathon course is different and features some new city attractions like Ha'penny Bridge and the Royal Hospital.  It also includes big name spots like Christ Church Cathedral, the Guinness Factory and Kilmainhman Goal (the old jail). The Fun Run winds through Phoenix Park which will certainly be scenic.  Interesting factoid - Phoenix Park has a perimeter wall which has existed since the mid-seventeenth century and to this day, is one of the only walled parks in Europe.

3. Entertainment:  The Frank and Walters will be playing the finish line festival and there will be bands at every mile on the half marathon race course to keep you moving and grooving!

4. The medals are awesome!! 
Photo from Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Facebook page

5. Pace groups: Like many major races, there are pace groups for the half marathon.  And they have a wide range of desired finish times.  If you have questions about the pacer approach, we recommend stopping by to chat with them at the expo to make sure if jives with your race plan.

6. Course support: All major races should have course support in terms of hydration and fuel and Rock 'n' Roll races don't disappoint.  The Rock 'n' Roll Dublin half marathon course is equipped with water and blue and orange PowerAde without caffeine.  I have yet to participate in a race with two kinds of electrolyte beverage, so this will be a first! For fuel, there are PowerBar gels provided in the following flavors: Mango Passion fruit with Guarana and Hydro Orange.

7. Still want to register? Registration is still open until this Sunday, July 27th.  If you're interested in a discount on the Fun Run, use code NOVAROCKS to get 5 Euros off until Sunday.

As Rock 'n' Bloggers, we have each been provided with a free race entry into the Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon.  We are encouraged to support the race through social media and our blog, but are not required to do so nor are we compensated for this post.  All opinions are our own.

Any tips for my first European race?

July 23, 2014

Why I am deferring Marine Corps Marathon

When my email acceptance from the Marine Corps Marathon arrived earlier this year, I was ecstatic.  Having watched Christine train and run this special race last fall, it was on my bucket list of marathons  And to be lucky enough to win the "race lottery" the first year I tried to gain entrance made me feel very fortunate.

Christine sure made it look fun!

After a brief discussion with my running coach, it was placed on my race calendar along with the Rock 'n Roll Dublin, the Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach relay and the Tower of Terror 10 miler at Walt Disney World.  Maybe that does not sound like alot of races to the average runner, but recently I had an epiphany that this might be too ambitious a fall race calendar for me. Since training for the Goofy Challenge in 2012, in preparation for the January 2013 half marathon and marathon, there has been little break from running in my little world.  Racing has been so much fun, especially completing so many runDisney challenges over the last year including Dumbo, Dopey and Glass Slipper.

Here is what I learned from doing some research on the internet.  I found several great pieces on this subject including this one from Hal Higdon.  Most serious runners compete/run two to four marathons per calendar year.  They give there bodies plenty of time to recover and let's face it, this group is half my age. While my last marathon was March 16, 2014, I certainly could run the Marine Corps race in October.  But as a highly competitive individual, I know that I will be under trained due to my vacation plans and the other races on my calendar.  I did get some help in adjusting mileage to be able to run one long run of 20 miles, but quite honestly, it seems like a real push for me to be minimally trained for race day.  And so I made the decision.  I will defer my entry and hopefully be ready to tow the line for the 40th anniversary of Marine Corps Marathon in October of 2015.  Secretly, I hope that my sidekick will be there to run it with me too!

July 22, 2014

Race day anxiety

Have you ever dressed for race day and then panicked?  Are you always excited no matter how you have trained, eaten or prepared for a race?  It never occurred to me that race day anxiety even existed until I got to Asheville, NC last month for the inaugural half marathon.  Then it hit me like a truck. Yup, I freely admit that I had a huge amount of anxiety that morning. The reason why?  I do not eat hills for breakfast like some runners.  The place where I live is extremely flat.  Since I do not train on hills, a race that incorporates a huge amount of elevation change made me freak out race morning.  In fact, I nearly turned the car around and drove back to my friend's house.  However, I did get through the race and now have some thoughts on how to avoid this situation.

1. Know your race course This is sort of a given, but this seasoned runner did not do her homework.  You can avoid nerves about the race course itself if you go to the race website and study the course map and understand what you will face on race morning.  Better yet, take a practice run on parts or all of the course in advance of your race.

2. Go with a friend  If you have a buddy, it is much easier to stay calm the morning of a race.  If you are running solo, make friends on the bus to the race start, chat with someone in your corral or do whatever you can to stay calm.

3. Be prepared  Visualization is a great technique that can be utilized on race morning.  Think about what you plan to do, how you have trained to reach that goal and how much fun you will have running the course. Also, alleviate any things that could cause more anxiety by double checking all your gear the night before so it will be easy to get ready on race morning.  You don't want to be fumbling around at 5:00am looking for safety pins.

4. Understand the nerves  If you don't have any nervous feelings on race morning you must be super human.  Take them in stride and don't focus on anything negative. Most important, the more times you race, the better you will be able to control those feelings.

5. Believe and trust your training  If you are racing for a PR, it is highly possibly that you can psych yourself out from the moment you wake up on race morning.  Make sure you focus on something other than your time goal.  Self confidence and strong training will get you to your goal.  Believe, believe, believe.

Any other tips on how to diminish race day anxiety?