Running Log: October 16-22, in which I run a race

This was a good week as far as running goes.

Remember how I mentioned that the races I signed up for got cancelled? Well, only one of them did. The other race was re-imagined by the Berliner running club who were putting it on and I decided to do it, despite it not being at all what I had signed up for. Rather than setting up the course in the forest as they originally were going to, they set up on a track. A dirt track. And rather than having hills and roots to watch out for, they set up mini-hurdles.

I considered the boredom of running in a loop, as well as the small participation, a challenge. There were about 35 people doing the 30-minute and the 60-minute together, but only 12 of us were doing the full hour. But they did have music and the timer on the track meant I’d get to know how fast I was running each lap.

It was an hour long race, the first of its kind I’ve ever done. I’ve had my own hour-long attempts- trying to see how much I can get done in the hour I had allotted, for example, but never a race where the time was measured and it was up to me to see how much I could get done in that time.

Turns out, it’s a tad above 13 kilometers: 97 meters more. This comes out to a 7:21 mpm average pace. At least, that’s my ability with my current fitness.

I went in with a goal of 8 miles, which is a 7:30 pace and I felt it was doable, since I’ve been running pretty consistently at 8:15 to 8:30 as an easy pace and the 800s in 3:20, so 7:30 was modest. This meant I was actually hoping (and going for) over 8 miles.

I managed to be a newbie and start off too fast: 1:36 for the first lap. But I settled down a bit and got 3:22 for the first 800 and 22:15 for the first 5k. But I also made the mistake of paying attention to the pace my GPS watch was showing and not the actual time, and of course the pace was based on distance and my GPS overcalculated distance (as it is wont to do on a track), so I thought I was going 7 minute pace the whole time, when really it was the 7:20 I ended up with.

When I first saw my splits (seeing each 0.25 mile is a novelty!) I was proud of the consistency with which I ran. Other than the first lap where I went too fast and the 17th lap where I took a fueling break, I was really consistent. But maybe it just looks that way since I did laps and not miles. Calculating the 5 second spread in miles, it’s a 20 second difference in pace, so perhaps my paces were a bit more spread out than I think now. I’ll find out on Monday. (edited to add: according to my TomTom, my paces per mile were  6:51, 6:55, 6:56, 6:57, 7:20, 7:02, 7:05, and 7:02- so, consistent enough!)

My longest lap was lap 17 where I took a fueling break to down some water and eat a third of a banana. It was 30 seconds off my average, and in retrospect, not having it would have allowed me to be first woman- but did the fuel help? Probably. I won’t blame it on that.

Which brings me to the fact that I also could have gotten 1st woman if I had a stronger mental game. Around lap 28, a girl came up from behind me, and while I was sure there was only one other guy in front of me, I couldn’t figure out the logic of racing on a track (despite having done 5 years of track and cross country but hey, it’s been a while!) and thought the girl had lapped me (I call her a girl, she is a 23-year old woman). I still tried to stick with her, for sports sake, but as she pulled away, I figured she had 0.25+ on me anyway, so catching up wouldn’t mean much. After the race, however, I realized she was on the same lap as me and only finished about 100 meters in front of me. Darn! Add in the doubt about the 30 seconds of fueling and I manage to sour what was otherwise a positive racing experience; kudos to the SC Tegeler-Forst running team for organizing a great event!

But that’s peanuts. I finished healthy (I think- going to evaluate after post-run fatigue is gone tomorrow) and had a good time. I also have an hour-race PR, so there’s that.

As for the week, one can see I took it easier. Part of that was to prep for the race, but I was also  sticking to what I wrote last week! I did want to take it easy. Got a bit of biking in too, so my activity points for the week are earned. Now, as for personal, academics? If only they were so easy as running in circles, sometimes.

 

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Running Log Oct 24-30 in which I race 10,7k

Gosh darnit all to heck. I finally get on my computer to be productive today, and get sucked into Google’s Halloween game for, well, it was an embarrassing while to spend on a Google game.

But I’m gonna do this blog thing now and then get to actual desk work like grading and all that fun stuff.

This week, the highlight was a race I signed up for not too long ago and wasn’t all that amped up about, or so I thought.

I went to bed thinking “eh, this race is a 45 minutes public transportation trip, do I even really want to go? Am I really ready? I feel like I had too much pesto to race tomorrow.” I thought I would get a pass on the nervous night’s sleep before the race, since I was so uncommitted. I didn’t get a pass- slept awfully. But I did wake up in time (thank you Daylight Savings ending in Germany already!) and had a good breakfast before my first warm-up run of the day- catching the bus. My second warm-up was maybe twenty minutes too early, but I didn’t know what else to do after arriving at the venue at 8:30 and not running until 10:30. It was a small-ish race… put on by a local Verein (team) and a part of a series of Berlin races called “The Berliner Cup.” Most people were participating in the cup and thus only were going to run 3,6km (which was one round of the course). I was one of 47 running the 10,7km (3 rounds). The lack of any huge hub-hub, and absolutely no amenities (hence only a 9Euro starting fee) made me feel like races from long ago- my high school cross country races. At least this was electronically timed.

The race itself went well. Obviously wasn’t going to be perfect, since it was the first race I’d run since the marathon in February and I hadn’t trained for it at all. But I guess the cross training and the progressions runs, as well as hill work (both live, on the bike, and on the treadmill)! have been doing the trick. Pleased with this time and place, even if it was a small race and even if I know I can do better. I just know, I’m healthy! Ended the run healthy! Everything else is just icing.

Like the fact that I won third overall?! Granted, it was out of 14 women, but still! I won my first ever prize that wasn’t a plaque or medal! Like, a money equivalent kind of prize!

img_1929

Still, I ran 5k in 22:47 and 10k in 47:26; 10,7k in 50:07, so a definite positive split… not so great. I completely went out too fast with the 3,6km runners and didn’t hold back enough, which nipped me in the bud the last round.
And those hills. So many hills.

I did beat girl #4 by 1 minute–I passed her right after we started the second round and knowing she was behind me kept me going in the toughest bits (like the hills). I made sure to thank her after the race. On the other hand, I was beat by girl #2 by more than 6 minutes. If it had been a bigger race, there’s no way I would have placed, so there’s definite room for improvement!

But am pretty darn pleased with this “training” run.

The week must have worked well in the way I did it, I guess.

running-oct-23-30

Started off the week with a 5k warm-up before strength training. Followed up with an easy 10k on Tuesday. Seriously, this week, all my runs were either easy or tests or races. All the pep and “let’s go faster” of last week had disappeared. I was okay with that. I even decided after Wednesday’s 5k that even if I was getting faster in my miles (I try to do a test mile once a week, to see how I’m improving since injury), I was tired. So I decided to take Thursday and Friday off. Life still threw me a few short runs, and my 2 mile on Saturday turned into something a little longer, but over all, I was well-rested for today.

All told, I ran 26.9 miles this week. [Honestly people, I don’t care about round numbers. I’m not going to run around the block.] This was more than I was planning. I actually wanted to scale back this week… but I did skip a few bike commutes and a strength day, so the week was easier overall, I guess. And tomorrow is a rest-day!  And while I unwittingly signed up for back-to-back weekend races, I guess it’s good practice for that kind of marathon set-up in April ;). I’m going to try and take it easy this week and just see how I do at a slightly shorter distance next week.

Hope all the racers today (Jim, Chelsea, MCM people, etc.!) have a glorious run and that the sun is shining like it was for us today.

 

Look! I caught a fish. Or, Ft. Lauderdale Marathon recap

Run strong. Run fast. Do not settle.

These were the words I wrote on my hand right before leaving the house at 4:20 this morning. I meant to leave at 4:00, but I got carried away with mental prep. Still, I was lucky and traffic was so glorious that I made the distance in 45 minutes anyway. This meant I had 55 minutes to pee and get to the starting line.

I woke up at 3:18 when the alarm rang. I woke up surprised that I had actually slept last night. The last thing I remember was thinking “well, if I can’t sleep, at least I’m resting.” In fact, it was such an unusual situation for me that I forgot to turn off my alarm, and had to run to my room when I was already in the kitchen ten minutes later so that the alarm wouldn’t wake up the rest of the house. Then I went back to the kitchen, toasted my two waffles, boiled my water for coffee, and took it to my desk to look up again how I would get to the race.

My morning was a bunch of pluses and minuses: woke up on time, but left later than intended; made it to the finish line (near where I wanted to park) in record time, but had to park somewhere unplanned, because I didn’t think I’d get a parking spot in time. I thought the rate for the garage that I found was 10$ for the day, but later I was to find out that it was 10$ per hour, and I’m really glad I had my debit card on me to pay it. That was maybe the only thing I regret about this run. The line for the shuttle from finish to start line was super long, but I made friends with the runners in front of me, and they saved my spot so that I could head into the nice resort bathroom next to where we were all standing. Porcelain bathrooms with toilet paper and soap on race morning? A luxury. It was a relief to not have to wait in line at the porta-potty at the start line (though by the time the bus made it over, I could have gone again- just didn’t have the time, which came to nip me in the bud later). I found gear check and dropped my bag with three minutes to spare, but couldn’t find the 3:30 pacer, and lost the pace-band I had made for myself. My iPod shuffle wasn’t following the playlist I had made for it, but my starting song was still “Fanfare for the Common Man.“The best way to start a race, if I may say so. It kept my pace at around the 8:19 I was planning for (though I did go out at 8:17).

That was  the beginning. It was a pretty good race from there. I met all my none-time goals: I reveled in the beginnings of the sunrise on the ocean- it was so beautiful. I had a flash-back to running my marathon in Hamburg when I saw the Port-of-Everglades (reminded me of the docks on the Elbe river). I connected with the two runners while waiting at the shuttle, found another runner at mile 8 who was also aiming for 3:30 (we rooted each other on throughout the race whenever we saw each other again… she went on to make her goal, I think! Even with a potty break). I was throwing good karma all around, waving to the good souls who clapped for me, nodding at all the policemen and women who were along the course, thanked all the volunteers. I cheered on anyone coming at me in the opposite direction. I like to think I made their run a little more pleasant… I know I appreciate it! One of the lead runners that I clapped for recognized me again at the finish line and congratulated me on a fine race. So that’s all good.

But I’m sure you want to hear about the time goals, and so let me just say that I’m so glad I set myself a “B” goal within a few minutes of my “A” goal… because without that, or say I had next gone for the 3:50 PR, I would have quit trying. I knew about mile 21 that I would no longer make sub-3:30. But after that, I kept trying, and when I knew I wouldn’t get it for sure, I still kept trying for the 3:33. And I made it!

3:32:54

You may be interested to know that this is a BQ time for girls ages 18-34, so there’s that. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be asked to run next year, because I missed that “extra” time cushion of 2:28 by 18 seconds. I’m okay with that, though, since Boston is not my goal…yet. I’m thrilled enough with the sub-3:35, sub-3:33 even, and I can’t wait to see what I can do with my next race!

See, this is my fourth marathon, but the first one I ran like a legitimate race. Last April, I ran a PR, and ran a marathon for the first time without stopping to walk, but I was having way too much fun taking in the experience of the Hamburg Marathon. I didn’t really understand fueling, starting off slower, but not too slow so that you’re catching up for the rest of the race, etc.

I still don’t think I figured out that part quite perfectly yet. I started off slower, but my 2nd and 3rd miles were sub-8mpm when they should have been in the 8:00-8:10 range. Then, as I feared all during the taper, I didn’t know how to keep myself at the pace I should have kept, a more conservative 7:56-7:58 versus the 7:45/8:00 flips I was doing. Overall, my pace was already at 7:56 through mile 10, when it really should have been 8:00-8:02. The other mistake I made was to get too confident at mile 14. Maybe it was the Gu kicking in, maybe I was glad to be at the halfway mark,  but miles 14-19 were 7:46, 7:51, 7:44, 7:44, 7:43 (fastest mile of the race) and 7:48. I totally did not have the consistent pace I think I needed to meet my “A” goal for today. It’s a weakness I knew about beforehand though, so I’m not terribly mad at myself. At mile 20, when they say the race really starts (something I was chastising myself all through those middle miles when I was feeling high on air), I started to slow down. Minimally at first, so that the 7:56 became a 7:57, then 7:58, then 7:59 overall pace… which I held for a while, but at mile 22 I was barely holding it together, counting down each quarter mile, and then, after two 8:21 splits for 23 and 24, I could barely keep myself running.

dalmatian.jpg
101 Dalmatians, anyone?

Here is where I pulled all the tricks for the last miles that I could remember out of my bag (I forgot that counting trick from Deena Kastor, though). It didn’t help that I had bladder issues, and I was struggling to just keep running, especially after my pace got into the 8:03 overall pace. I got lucky when “Hall of Fame” came on from The Script; it really got me going, and a few scenes from Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil came to mind (I kid you not). Maybe those words on my hand were what did it… maybe seeing the girl from mile 8 pick it up and look damn amazing at mile 24. But I kept thinking to myself, “stay strong; don’t settle.” So I listened to myself the best I could. When I could see the clock with 150 meters left to go, I picked it up for a “sprint” through the finish. Can’t wait to see what that looks like. Definitely not like this puppy, the mascot for my overall place this race.

Somehow, I also managed an age group win, and I scored all the swag post race. I’m glad I parked by the finish line, and getting myself cleaned up and ready to go with a very short, mini cool-down run so that I wouldn’t cramp up in the car was alleviated by the fact that I could dump everything in the car. I didn’t get to stay for awards, so I’m sorry I can’t show you what I would have gotten for the age group win. From experience at this race though, I think it was “just” a plaque. I don’t really need those, and maybe they gave it to the next finisher.

So, did I miss anything? A detail I left out that you really wanted to know about? Let me know! I can say that I had a few knee and feet issues, but nothing that warranted dropping out of the race and the knee things went away over the course of the run. Also, this is a really good race, touted as a “fast” race because it’s so damn flat (most of it is at or below sea level, with one incline near the start to go over the Intercostal). The wind can be a problem, since most of the course is exposed by the ocean. There’s a fair amount of spectators, but not the cheering, loud, clapping kind that will carry you like in major city races. Still, I found the support enough. There were people giving out Gu along the way, so I actually didn’t need all my Gus, but still had them when I struggled in the later miles. There was also a group giving out beer, which sounds like so much fun, but awful consequences when running at the end of one’s limits in a marathon… I actually don’t get that trend. Post-race beer? Sure… but during? The finish area is really well organized- many sponsors giving out all kinds of free-samples: drinks, Muscle Milk, coffee, burgers, enchiladas… . The Ft. Lauderdale marathon and half is also known for its sweet medal and a sand sculpture at the finish to take a photo with. I opted out, but got another photo in all my nasty post-race glory that I’ll share when the pictures are made available.

2015-2016 seasonAs for where I go from here (because it’s always good to have ideas for “after”), I am taking a break from training. I had a very successful season with PRs in all the distances I attempted, and I’m mighty content with where I am at this point in my fitness. I will say I could have worked better on my nutrition… something to work on for next season. But I’m ready to not take my logging so seriously, and to run when I feel like it and skip it when I don’t. My GPS is going to hide for a little while, too. I may do a race in  early April if I feel like it, and a race or two during the summer in Germany. I have a soft goal of building my mileage off-season to steady 45 mile weeks, but right now, I just want to relax.

And in south Florida, even with all the work I have to do, relaxing is made so easy.

IMG_0002 (2)
Check out my medal: see, a fish! Two fish, actually.

Cheers, all.

p.s. Thank you for all your support, both the silent and the extremely open. It means a lot to me! I did want to say though, after thinking about what I wrote yesterday, that my parents do support me in everything I do (including running)… they just don’t understand much about running. Still they are mighty proud of me, and I felt the love today. Happy Valentine’s Day, all around!

 

Remembering Trotting Through a Turkey Trot

I’m going to open up with this photo that makes me laugh each time I see it. This is definitely what I look like while running:

Running hamster
Photo credit goes to Julian Rad from Austria, who submitted it to Die Welt photo-contest.

But I really don’t have the time I’d like to dedicate to this post.

I just need to get this down before I get consumed by the finals haze and forget everything except for my name and the date. Wait, today’s still Saturday, right?

Let’s get started by saying today was not an ideal race to PR at.

First of all, this is what the weather looked like:

Temp (°F) 73° 74° 77° 78°
RealFeel® 78° 76° 78° 84°
Humidity 94% 88% 85% 83%
   
   5 AM  6 AM  7 AM  8 AM
Rain  

47%

 

51%

 

51%

 

47%

Snow  

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

  5 AM 6 AM 7 AM 8 AM
Wind (mph) 4 ESE 4 E 6 SE 6 SSE
UV Index 0 0 0 0
Cloud Cover 65% 62% 100% 96%
Dew Point 71° 70° 72° 73°

The race started at 7:31. On the plus side, there was 0% chance of snow, so that’s nice. Also, more seriously, 100% cloud cover is nothing to complain about.

But the dew point was no fun. If you recall this chart that I’ve talked about before, a dew point above 70 degrees is “very humid and uncomfortable,” and one should “expect pace to suffer greatly.” At least the chart isn’t telling me that I should skip the run, but I’ve run a race like that before, and it isn’t that much worse than it was today. It was raining off me already after my 15 minute warm-up, so I was already not thrilled about how this race was looking to go.

Then, let’s also consider that there were no course markings at this race, and my GPS watch has been broken for a few weeks. The race organizers are a good group, and I’ve run races with them before. I’ve never experienced a run with them without at least mile-markers though… if not the huge mile clock timers.

So yep. I basically ran this race “blind.”

At least I had my stopwatch on me, and I figured out that it was an out-and-back course at the turn-around point (which I reached around 10:38), so I was able to kind of know how I was in pacing… but not really. And I had none of the positive feedback that could have picked me up during miles two and three. I really struggled during minutes 15-17. It was getting even harder to breath- and that’s saying a lot since I started the race already trying to suck out the oxygen from the water in the air. I guess I’m lucky that part of the course was what I run every Saturday with the running group, so I knew the course to some extent. Otherwise, this race would have had three ingredients for a recipe of disaster.

But it wasn’t. It wasn’t a stellar race, and the weather makes me think that I could pull off a faster time in better conditions, but I did-in the end, after all the sweating and fretting and killing myself to get to the end without knowing if the end would even ever come- PR.

21:13.45

If you’ve been following me, you’ll know that this is breaking a nine year record. A new era of Dorothea running is beginning. I don’t even know what to do with myself today.

That’s all I have to say about that, really (and if I had more to say, I don’t have the time [and you probably don’t have the patience]).

Thanks for the support during the training leading up to this! This past week after the last log consisted of a rest-day, another rest day, a short, hard workout of 4x400s at race pace, an easy 4.2 miles, another rest day, an easy 21 minutes, and today’s race. I won’t have time for a separate post for my log this week, but I know some of you were rooting for me, and so I wanted to let you know that the support was well-placed; I appreciate it, and I have you to partially thank for this PR. Part of my motivation was “what would Paula, James, Harold, Chelsea and everyone else reading WordPress this weekend say?”

Official Results (if you’re interested in that sort of thing… or just don’t believe me ;) ): here  Sorry, but I have no splits or mid-race information… just the time. But that’s okay, too… once in a while. When I had my 21:15 PR, most running technology that we have today was not around.

Hope everyone having a run today had a great run, race, or anything in-between. Good luck to racers tomorrow and those who have Turkey Trots on actual turkey day. ;)

 

Homecoming for Autism Run/Walk 5K- Oct. 25th Race Report

As far as races go, this was a good one. As far as my performance goes, it was low-keyed, but I’m happy with the promise it shows!

Race results: 21:52.137

When I logged this run, I rated myself 8/10 for quality and 4/10 for effort. The interval training I’ve been doing is really paying off.
I kept this at a very easy, reasonable pace. 6:42 for the first mile, 7:08 for the second and 7:09 for the third. The hard goal (the one I was really aiming for) was to end without injuring myself. The soft goal was to go sub 22. It’s too soon to tell with the hard goal (though I hope!!!), but the soft goal was well met. Considering that I did NOT do my best, I think the PR in November is definitely doable!!!
I can’t wait. I just need to keep myself under control, and keep getting that speed work in.
This race was held on my university’s campus, and students were permitted to run for free (which is the main reason I decided to run– a race after my regular long run). I didn’t think I would run the race, otherwise I would have planned the last two weeks differently. Since I only registered on Wednesday, I decided to stick to my plan and run the race for fun. This attitude helped me through traffic on I-95 and kept me calm despite arriving on location no earlier than 17:15. The race was scheduled for 17:30, so foregoing a warm-up I didn’t need (since the run was the only thing I planned to log today), I parked my car, jogged over to the bib and t-shirt pick-ups, jogged back to the car, dropped off the shirt and my ID, and jogged to the starting line. After five incredibly calm minutes, we were off.
Hard to believe I was only just watering the plants.
Given the amount of running energy I felt at the start, I was surprised to find myself with the top 25 people. I could see all the girls in front of me, and kept them in view for the first half mile.
I found a comfortable pace from the get-go, nothing too speedy but enough to have a turnover I only use in intervals. I kept that pace for the first mile and rolled through in 6:42. At that point, shortly before the first (and only “hill” of the course), I told myself to reel it in. I actually did not want to go faster, because I’d injured myself on the hill two years ago, and told myself to slow down. Instead, I focused my energy on seeing who was around me, encouraging the one girl who overtook me, and passing on words of encouragement for those whom I passed. One guy, who started walking with .6 miles left, I gave a pat on the back and encouraged him to “pick it up,” telling him “you’re almost there.” Because I was not concerned about my performance this race, I had a lot more to give to my fellow runners, meaning I really enjoyed the experience more myself.
Running wise, the last two miles were uninteresting near easy splits, and I was just keeping watch on my legs (particularly my left knee, which gave me a spot of pain and my calves, which got a bit tight) and keeping myself under control. I didn’t even go in for a final sprint and I ignored my watch after the second mile started (other than to look at distance… I admit, I was ready for the race to end with about .35 left).
The end was nice. The last .12 were on the school track and I’ve been doing a few interval workouts there, so it felt like a special workout session.
I came through with a 21:xx, and I was just happy to be in under 22 minutes.
I was handed water by a former cross country mate (she unfortunately has a stress fracture, I hope it heals in time for the indoor season!) who is a star on the team I had a (very) short stint on. It was nice to chat with her for a bit, but then I headed out. I did my cool down run to the library to pick up a book (yup- I’m an athlete and a nerd) and jogged back to the track to let the race administrators (some university officials) know that I wouldn’t be sticking around and to pass on my age group award to the next person. Then I left.
Not accepting my award was both because I was tight on time, but also because I felt guilty for placing. See, the race was free for students, but I’m technically no longer a student so… I bandited, but not really since I was still in the system as a student to register. Let’s say, I took advantage of the system. Because of that, I didn’t make this a goal race, I didn’t want to place, and I didn’t want an award if someone else should get it. This brings up full-circle to registering last minute, doing a 10 mile run yesterday, and using this race as a tune-up for a potential future PR race. Let’s just wait to see what happens.
I have no idea how this recap was just organized, but it’s out there now.
Cheers, and good job to all the runners racing today, training, or resting (like a good runner should! I haven’t decided yet, if I should rest tomorrow or Tuesday).
D
 p.s. in review, I’m afraid this post may come off a bit “woo, look at me! Aren’t I great?!” Please be assured that I’m only competing against myself and am just happy about where I seem to be heading in terms of my own goals. I know I’m faster than a lot of people, but I’m also slower than a lot of people. This was a fairly easy race, and it was incredibly well-organized (something I didn’t spare enough words on). South Florida times are generally slower, but I am also in awe of the 13 year old who won the women’s race in 19:xx. Go Rylee! That is all, for now.

Rotary Run for Tomorrow Half-Marathon Recap

I haven’t updated this site of my blog in a while, other than to gleefully post my confirmation of my registration for the 2015 Haspa Hamburger Marathon. A lot of this is because of the pick-up in course work, some traveling within Germany, and my trip back home to the States for the holiday season. But I’ve been running consistently and using the events in my life to set up a decent taper for the last week.

December running update

Due to my race this morning, I didn’t worry about running a lot while in Nuernberg last weekend and I didn’t worry about running the day of my arrival in MIA nor on Friday, allowing for a short easy run yesterday. I arrived a bit later than I would have liked this morning at the race, meaning I could not warm-up for more than half a mile, but that was probably a good thing.

Basically, I arrived fairly well rested at the starting line. However, my biggest concern before waking up at o’dark thirty this morning was the exacerbated plantar fasciitis in my right foot, and it proved to be an issue through this morning. Thankfully, two days of almost rest and a lot of tennis ball rolling helped relieve the drastic symptoms my feet were displaying from playing indoor soccer on Monday and Wednesday… but soccer is my first love, so I don’t regret deciding to play. At any rate, I taped my foot up this morning, and even though 13.1 miles of pounding pavement resulted in a nasty blister when I removed the tape, I was free of the worst of the plantar pain during the entirety of the race.

It was a good race. I would say it was perfect, but my competitive self would have liked to have gotten top 10 in the women section. I ended up being the 11th female to cross the line.

But, the weather was great (55 degrees Fahrenheit were ideal, and coming from the cold north German climate, it was more comfortable than my Floridian counterparts), I felt strong, gave it 105%, and have a new personal best:

1:38:52

When I say that I gave it 105%, I acknowledge to myself that I ran a race to feel proud of. Not 110% proud (I wasn’t dying by the end), but proud none-the-less (and not just because I PR’ed).

The first five miles of the race flew by. I actually ran mile one in 7:12, so I knew I had started off too fast. But I was feeling good, so I decided to only slow down a little and see what would happen as the race continued. It wasn’t a bad choice, considering that I stuck at a pretty steady 7:25 mpm pace for most of the race, but my last miles were closer to the 7:35 mpm, with the same effort of the first miles, so I know that I probably could have conserved my energy more wisely. However, seeing as this is the first real half-marathon I’ve run since winter 2012, I’m okay with having made a mistake or two.

I went into this race without a concrete plan. Similar to what I stated in  my intuitive running post, I wasn’t looking for a PR as much as a solid gauge of my fitness. Therefore, I also didn’t really plan a time or pace. I knew at the back of my mind that I wanted to get sub-1:40 and PR, but that was only because I felt like I was fit for it, not that I thought I had trained for it and therefore should get that particular time. I like this approach to racing, and may actually chose to use this approach in the future. The pressure of reaching the time one imagines for oneself during training, or having a training plan designed around a certain time, can actually be counter-productive. At least, for me, it has always lead to injury and disappointment. Today, I started the run thinking to do what felt good until the half-way point, and then after 6.55 miles, I would try to push myself.

Pushing myself came unexpectedly early, because around mile 5, I was overtaken by another woman who was running faster, but at a pace that was still comfortable for me. I decided to try and keep up with her, and having her beside me, telling me a few times that I was doing well or to take deep breaths, was nice. I appreciated her companionship for about a mile, until I decided I would rather slow down a bit before speeding up again. I guess she was also a reminder of why it’s nice to not run with music during a race (I had actually planned on running with my MP3, only to find out that it had no battery). While running with her, I also found out from a spectator that we were the 9th and 10th women on the course. Of course, after hearing that, all I could think of was staying at least as top ten.

So I pushed myself earlier than I expected, and therefore, after backing off again, took it easy longer than originally planned: until about mile 8. I crossed mile 8 at 59:30ish, so I just thought to myself that I only had five miles to go, and I could definitely finish those quicker than 40 minutes. Then, I thought, I could also do faster than 8 mpm, and I could maybe keep 7:30 mpm, and if I did that… I was also holding my number 10 place, so I was okay with just trying to keep the pace. That was my next goal and for the rest of the race, I just tried to keep 7:30 mpm. That is, until another woman caught up to me and I couldn’t stay with her since keeping 7:30 was barely happening and I just ran to finish without giving up.

(here’s the part I’m proud of), I didn’t give up pushing. I even put forth more effort to combat my slowly cramping thighs and weakening muscles (even though it was still only around 7:32 pace, I was pushing hard). A few of the thoughts that ran through my head were things like “people talk about the pain of the end of a race all the time,” “this pain is normal, I’m supposed to be feeling this” and “damn, even if I don’t get top ten, those other women aren’t that far ahead, maybe, if I don’t give up now, I can still catch up.”

By mile 12 and a half, I realized I wouldn’t be able to beat the other women, but I also realized that if I wanted to PR I would have to kick that in stone. I couldn’t run any faster than I already was (no end sprint for me, for the first time in a long time of racing), but I could hold on… and that I did–all the way until I saw the finish line and that I was at 1:38:30 and I just thought, man, I should try to get it under 1:39. Success. It’s not a spectacular time by many people’s standards, but as long as I am able to get faster as I get older, I’m happy. I don’t expect to be running some exceptional times for another seven years at least.

The course was good and fast. Florida is flat, but the race had one minor incline (a bridge over the turnpike). It was all pavement with a few different out and backs (three U-turns). I’m really happy with this race, since it confirmed the way I’ve been feeling in shape for a while now. The longer miles during the week as well as increased mileage have heightened my endurance, and soccer and bike riding have greatly improved my fitness. I’ve also lost about five pounds since my last race, and I think not having to carry around that extra weight helped in beating my previous PR by more than a minute and a half.

So, yup. I’m happy. I hope all of you had a good weekend and are happy as well.

Since I gave myself a glorious foot blister that has lost its protective skin covering, I am going to take it easy until it heals, perhaps biking more than anything else. For the rest of December I am also going to take it easy, running-wise, to give my fasciitis a chance to settle (I’m thinking of getting a boot or some orthotics or so) and to give my body some recovery from the 2.5 months of daily heavy activity. That way, once I’m back in Germany at the beginning of January, I can safely get started on marathon training. I’m excited!