Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's with....Disney Avengers Half

What is with races selling out so fast these days?! I know now why more races are going to a lottery system rather than straight registration....

So yesterday I tried to corral my team together to register for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon at DisneyLand in November. I was super pumped when I heard about this race because 1) I'm a nerd (SDCC went to a lottery system this year too, fyi) and 2) COAST TO COAST! I was at school, and so were my friends, so when I saw on twitter that it was already 85% sold out less than an hour in, I tried to call everyone to get them online. I got on my tablet and tried to register for myself and my husband, but never got to a confirmation page. Every time I hit submit, I got a popup saying it was already submitted, do I want to submit again. I clicked yes, and it redirected back to the payment page. I've been waiting to hear back from active.com about this, since I took screenshots proving that I tried to register on time, but still waiting. Meanwhile, my husband got online at work, and registered himself, but when he went back to try to register for me, it was sold out by the time he got to the payment page. So, at least I will be attending the race! Hopefully not as a spectator!

In other registration news, one of my friends got into the Marine Corps Marathon! It's definitely on my bucket list, but not this year. The husband considered this one, but then missed the lottery entry deadline, so that's not happening this year either.

Also, NYC lottery results came out today. Another one of my friends, who got in the lottery in 2010 and has deffered/been weathered out every year since, is registered again. I'm definitely planning to go to cheer her on!

I also tried to register for a few summer triathlons around here, but found out the local organization that does a lot of the races has been having issues (TriColumbia). They've disabled registration for the two events I want to to, Heroe's Tri and Iron Girl Columbia. Hopefully they still happen. I'd also like to register for Rev3 Williamsburg, but I'm waiting to hear from the husband after his first sprint tri this weekend. If he likes it, we might have to cut a few deals about who gets to race what :p 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rock N' Roll USA Marathon Complete!

Saturday came bright and early, and I was pumped! K had driven up from Georgia the night before and went to bed late, so I let him sleep as late as I could before I got him up. I woke up around 5, though, and anticipated about an hour drive to park at the Armory.

I checked my bag to make sure I had everything I would need for post-race, and then started packing our "food bag" for everything to eat on the way. I had waffles and peanut butter, bananas, gatorade, a water bottle of pre-mixed condense to bring to the start line with me, some gatorade prime, and a baggie of emergency naproxen for K just in case he needed it during the race.

For fuel on the race, I brought four GUs and a vanilla EFS. Since I opted to wear my black Oakley running capris, which only have one small pocket in the front, I had two gels in that pocket, plus two tucked into my arm warmers, as well as my ipod tucked in a pocket. I just carried the EFS flask with me.

The drive to DC was quiet, as expected at 5:30 on a Saturday morning. We parked quickly without any major problems, then walked about a half mile or so to the metro station and took a train over to the federal triangle stop, nearest to the start line on Constitution. It was absolutely FREEZING, so I kept my jacket on for the ride over, then threw it in K's bag to check. The place was PACKED. We quickly ran across to the mall to the bag check area, picked up some water and another banana, and K got in line for the portajohns. Since the national anthem was already starting, I ran to get into my corral (16) while K had a little more time.

The corrals were all lined up along Constitution, at least 24 of them, and they were packed once you got in. I was surprised that they mingled the half and full runners into the same corrals. I would have preferred to start in a an earlier corral rather than battle it out with walkers from my corral in the first mile. They started them pretty fast, though, and corral 16 was off less than 20 minutes past the first corral.

The first couple miles went smoothly, and by mile 4 I was 2 minutes ahead of my goal pace. I also had to use the bathroom. And there were lines. I came out about 2 minutes slower than pace time, but I definitely did not regret it when I hit The Hill at mile 6. I had been warned, so it wasn't too scary, but boy, is that a hill.

The half marathon course split off around mile 12, and until that point, the course was rather crowded. Wherever it split to more than two lanes, I definitely took advantage of the space. After the split, though, I appreciated seeing enough runners around me that I never felt like I was lost on the course.

I hit the halfway point at 2:11, which was about 3 minutes over my goal pace. I just couldn't weave around enough people to catch up after that bathroom break, and I could feel myself slowing down, so I knew 4:15 wasn't going to happen. I took mile 13 to do some self care, walking a little, stopping to biofreeze my right knee, and down half of my EFS with some water. Apparently not enough water, though, since I cramped up pretty badly around what I guess was the 14 mile marker (I totally missed mile markers 7, 14, and possibly 21. I don't remember seeing those AT ALL). At the next water stop I downed the rest of my EFS with about ten cups of water, and had no problems there.

After rolling along and feeling like I had a pretty good pace, I started to slow down a lot more around mile 18. I had to push a little mentally from mile 16 to mile 20, then got a little more optimistic after that despite the growing pain. After enjoying the view around the Nationals Stadium, we went over a bridge with grates. I had been warned not to trip on the grates, but no one warned me not to look down. Since my only real fear is being terrified of falling into water, looking down during mile 19 of a marathon and being able to see straight down about six stories into the river was not a good moment. Not a good moment at all.

At mile 20 I started taking advantage of all the treadmill training, and made the miles go by with some counting. I walked about 100 paces at the start of each mile, then ran 400 strides, which is normally about a half mile for me. At that point I was usually around a water point so I grabbed some water, ran some more focusing on my degraded form, and then walked at the next mile marker. At least it kept me from thinking about how far I'd gone.

As far as nutrition goes, I feel like this is the first race I actually had a good plan, stuck to it, and never totally bonked. I had a little pace bracelet and circled every mile I'd need to take a gel, to remind myself rather than go by feel, which is ALWAYS a BAD IDEA. My first gel was supposed to be at mile 4, but the next water stop wasn't until after mile 5, so I waited. After that, I was dead on. I took gels at miles 5, 9, an EFS between miles 13-15, and then gels at 19 and 23. I took water at almost every water stop, but only a few ounces at a time. I did stop to use the johns about three times, but hey, I figured if I'm running 26 miles, I might as well be comfy. I think this also reduced the butt chafing I usually get.

The weather was beautiful! Even though it started out really cold, it stayed cloudy for most of the run, and, even when it was sunny out, it never got too hot. I loved running in this kind of weather. With my tech shirt and arm warmers, I was just the right amount of cozy the entire run. Today, though, it's snowing. What the crap.

For whatever reason, I had a mini breakdown during mile 25, and went into the end looking absolutely miserable. After I passed the 26 mile marker and started down the final finisher's chute, I saw K with my phone trying to take a picture, and lit up. He didn't actually get a picture of me though. Just a video of the guy's ear next to him. My final photos make me look actually happy!

I finished in 4:58, which is way over my goal time, but way under my time from my last full. I felt great all the way through, but I'm definitely ready to take a break and wait til after law school to try again.

The finisher's area was great, and not too crowded since all the half runners were done. I got my shiny new medal, then cold water, some gatorade, and shoved some protein bars down my shirt. Also, lots of pretzels, which tasted amazing! K and my friend Joe were waiting right outside the finish line, and we headed over to the med tent to get my knees wrapped with ice and switch to my flip flops. K had checked a bag with his bib number, so he'd already gone through the hassle of picking it up while he waited for me.

K finished a half all my himself and finished in 2:10! He now feels he's ready to race me at our next one. Game on. Especially since it's now two days later and I'm foam rolling and he's still trying to find a non-painful way to get off the couch.



Right after we headed to the car, which seemed SOOOO far away, and went to get bottomless mimosas for brunch. I think I fell asleep on the way home.

The last two days since, I've been trying to recover and rest and enjoy my spring break. Sunday morning we went to the gym to jog a few laps in the pool, then enjoyed the hot tub. I've been foam rolling, drinking chocolate milk, popping some naproxen, and dealing with some minor mood swing issues. I've also been sleeping. A lot. Part marathon recovery, part law school recovery, I think.

And, in typical fashion, I'm already looking forward to my summer schedule, and the next six weeks of training between now and the Nike Women's Marathon half in DC! 

Rock N' Roll USA: Expo

Friday afternoon K and I headed to DC for the Rock N' Roll USA Expo. They had put out some info before saying that a lot of people were flying in on Friday afternoon, so it might get busy. I know how busy the RnR events can get (getting knocked over in SD, for example), so we wanted to get there as early as possible. I printed out our waivers, double checked to make sure we had IDs, and we were off.

The Expo was at the DC Armory, as most races in DC seem to do, and there was free parking in Lot 8 and Lot 3. When we got there, around 1, there was very little traffic on the way from Baltimore to the Armory, parking was easy to find, and the lines to get into the Armory were short. Since this an active military post, you do have to go through security to get into the building. It's not quite airport standards, you can still bring a full water bottle, but I'd recommend leaving your machete at home. There is a separate line for military ID holders, so we both breezed through.

Once inside the expo area, there was a large red carpet directing us down stairs to the packet pick up area. It was organized by bib number, so I'm glad we printed out our waivers in advance. There were no lines at any of the tables, even though there were lots of people milling about, so we quickly headed back up the stairs to t shirt pick up.

The shirts this year were black Brooks shirts with a pretty cool guitar logo on the front and back. I guess there have been some rumblings about too much red white and blue at this race? In addition, the race swag bags had the RnR USA logo on them, rather than just the RnR logo like they did last year. Cool for us, inefficient for them :p They also had tables full of free samples like PACKETS OF PERFORM, which is my new favorite thing. Also, eye drops.

Some of my race swag
Right out of the shirt pickup area was the Brooks store with all the cool logo'd stuff. I did buy a cool green 26.2 shirt, and K got his shot glass. I really liked how not-crowded it was! Note to self: go early more often.

After this we ventured out into the expo floor, which, again, was not too crowded. It was busy, but it was very easy to navigate, no lines for anything, and not too loud. I was hoping to find a few fuelbelt flasks since I lost my 10 oz ones, but no luck. We did enjoy picking up more free stuff (lots of Gus, granola, healthy chips, peanut butter, the usual). I also won a free shirt at the Westin booth (I am seriously dying to try their VIP race package at another RnR race, I almost cracked and did it this time but I live so close it wasn't logical), and broke down and registered for the Zooma Annapolis half marathon, so I got a free shirt from them too! I also won a tri towel at the Skirt Sports booth (I kind of wanted hair ties, but I'll settle for a better tri towel).
More swag!
And of course I tried to get a cool picture of the two of us with a cool background, since we didn't stop during the packet pickup area.

We picked up our prepaid parking pass for the next morning as well, since we planned on parking right next to the finish line instead of metroing to Greenbelt. It was a little pricey, but the next day I was sure i'd appreciate it. I also picked up some discount codes for other races, like Rev3. I really like when races give out codes rather than only offer at-expo discounts. I don't have time to check my calendar at an expo! After all this, we headed out to drop our swag in the car, then headed in to DC for afternoon tea. Obviously.

That night I spent a good deal of making sure I had everything just right. We got some Irish food for dinner, which means lots of potatoes! Also, surprisingly good fish tacos. My ipod was charged and loaded, my yurbuds were properly fitted, I laid out socks and shoes, packed my checked bag with lip gloss, face wipes, and flip flops. I made sure my breakfast was ready to go. I debated my race outfit, since the weather was a little chillier than I had anticipated. I laid out my nutrition plan and made sure I had enough gels to hold me through. And then I let K watch comedians on netflix, even though they weren't funny.

I'm really glad I didn't have any classes this day, because I think that added stress, plus going to the expo when it was crowded, would have made me a little too stressed out right before a race.  Instead, I was relaxed, had fun, and got ready to run! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Taper Week!

It's taper week! That magical time of the training cycle where you simultaneously want to run and stuff your face with spaghetti. I've read before about "taper madness" and I think I've found my own symptoms:

- obsessively checking the weather for race day. As soon as the race date shows up on the ten day forecast, I must check it for updates at least three or four times a day. Just to be prepared.

- making sure I have the right fuel on hand. I must have checklists available for the week before (whole grain carbs, mac n cheese, salad), the morning of (banana, waffle, peanut butter), during (gels. so many gels.), and after (ice cream and gatorade). Of course I made a special trip to the grocery store to make sure I'm stocked.

- replacing more runs with swims. Even this was quite possibly the first gorgeous weekend in Baltimore all weekend, I still replaced a run with a swim to make sure my shins don't get twingy. I'm guessing the Hanson's "accumulated fatigue" thing must be working because as my runs have decreased over the last few days, I've felt better and better. I really can't wait to run this race!

- reviewing the course map and planning out water stations and fuel. I have the map, the course elevation, the water/Gu stations all put together, and I'm making mental notes of what looks like hard hills, and key mile markers. While I know I will forget all of this by the 10 mile marker, at least I feel prepared going in.

In addition, I also have my own little prep items, such as getting my playlists together, doing laundry to make sure my planned race day outfit is ready, packing my checked bag with flip flops and a clean shirt, and mapping out my route to the start line with a full pre-race schedule down to the minute.

And as if all this wasn't exciting enough, my spring break starts Friday! I won't have to worry about class getting out on time to get to the expo in DC. I'll have all day with the husband to wander DC, get some afternoon tea, and then relax with some pasta and get a good night's rest in my own bed.

What are your taper week rituals?