Monday, August 1, 2016

The San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon Race Review and Recap

Yesterday I ran the 2nd half of The San Francisco Marathon. I was super excited to run this race purely because of the size of the race. The largest race I’ve run had about 2,500 registered runners (for all different distances). However, San Fran had over 28,000 registered runners (for all different distances). I was excited to feed off all the race energy. I strategically picked the 2nd half (even though it seems to be the evil red-headed step child of all the races offered) because it offered more downhill and therefore, was more PR friendly. This was to be my last race for some time as I am starting a procedure and July 31st was given as my last day for any exercise for a while. My A goal for this race was a sub 1:55, B goal was a PR (sub 1:58:21) and C goal sub 2:00. How’d I do? Well, you’re about to find out (it’s long and detailed J)



This doesn't even show the whole expo. It was huge!!!

As I mentioned above, this was the largest race I have ran, so conversely, this was the largest expo I have attended. Since there is no such thing as free parking in San Fran I had my husband circling the block while I ran inside to pick up my packet. I wish we wouldn’t have been such cheapo’s and just paid for parking, because I was in awe upon entering the expo. There were so many vendors with a ton of discounted products. My favorite brand Brooks was there, with my favorite model of the Adrenaline’s (GTS 15) at very discounted prices. There were a lot of “spin the wheel for prizes”, free samples, etc. But, unfortunately, we are cheapo’s, and I had to skip it all. The only thing I did stop for was to speak to the pacers. I wanted to find out if they were planning to run even splits, negative splits or positive splits. Honestly, the pacers where not helpful at all. The one I spoke to said, I usually run by effort and will keep an even effort throughout. So that means…what? I decided then, that I would be running my own race.

Night before:
#flatlynsey not very exciting, I know!

I laid everything out and took my first #flatlynsey picture. My mom “sponsored” (read, she paid for everything. Yes I am a 31 year old woman who had her mom pay for her race entry fee. Did you not see the “cheapo” statement above?) my race and we (my husband and I) were sharing a hotel room. The week of this race I had not been sleeping well and was hoping for a really good night sleep the day before the race. Well, that didn’t happen. I tried to be in bed by 8:30pm, but unfortunately, I was the only one in the room running and waking up early the next morning, so I was the only one going to bed at that time. The T.V. was on and loud and my mom was on the phone talking all night. I don’t think I actually fell asleep until about 10:00pm.

Race day:
Despite the late bedtime, I slept okay and woke the next morning at 4:45. I made my practiced PB&J and drank SOS. I wanted to arrive at the race at least an hour early (I was in wave 3 which started at 7:45am), but I didn’t know what time that meant I had to leave. Most of that weekend while driving we spent stuck in traffic. Our hotel was 12 miles away from the race, but it had been taking us about an hour to get there. I felt bad making my husband and mom wake up super early with me, just to drop me off, head to the finish and wait around for the next 3 plus hours. So, I took my very first Uber ride. That morning it only took 20 minutes to get to the race. There was only one hiccup in getting there. The Uber driver didn’t realize he needed to switch freeways until the last second, he tried to move over, but there was a vehicle in that lane. After nearly hitting the vehicle (and causing that vehicle to roughly swerve), the Uber driver swerved back to or original lane, but that lane was now gone (because of the splitting freeways) and was replaced by a big fat medium. Luckily the car we almost hit sped up (probably out of fear) and we were able to violently swerve onto the correct freeway. Surprisingly, that whole thing didn’t bother me too much. The Uber driver started apologizing profusely, but I told him not to worry about it, as he didn’t actually hit anything.

The race:
When I got to the start line, I realized how cold it was and started second guessing my decision to wear shorts and a tank top. I decided to keep my sweats on until about 15 minutes before the start and then I would do a light warm up for about 10 minutes. Apparently, everyone had that idea, because 15 minutes until my wave started, there was a long line at the bag drop off. It took about 10 minutes to get through the line, which meant I only had 5 minutes for my warm up. I ran around for about 3 minutes and went to line up in the corral marked wave 3. I entered the corral at the front and started stretching. The 10 second countdown started which made me start wondering why we weren’t moving closer to the actual start line. In fact, looking around I noticed a lot of corral jumpers. That’s when it dawned on me, that they had already completely moved the wave 3 runners up to the starting line. By the time I ran up to the corral, wave 3 had already started and I was at the very tail end of them.

Miles 1-4
Most of these miles are in Golden Gate Park. There are supposedly a lot of sights to see during these race in the park. Stow Lake (click here to read about the ghost that haunts this lake), the painted ladies, and the conservatory of flowers. I saw none of it, except for a quick peek at the lake and a flash of the conservatory. I spent most of these miles weaving in and out of people and seeking out different openings and ways to get around them. These miles are also the big uphill portion of the race. In a way I’m kind of glad I was so focused on getting around everyone because I didn’t even notice the uphill. These miles actually went by fairly quickly
Mile 1: 9:10
Mile 2: 9:03
Mile 3: 8:58
Mile 4: 8:40

Miles 5-9
After exiting the park we get onto Haight Street. I loved this part of the run. It was downhill, there were so many interesting people on the streets. There was a larger, hairy man in a crop top, short jean shorts, sunglasses and a blonde wig, standing on a corner asking runners if they wanted a good time (I’m pretty sure this was a joke). Around mile 8 there were spectators with a table set up giving tequila shots to runners. My main focus for this part of the race was to stay light on my feet and not to go to fast. After these miles, the course completely flattens out, and I didn’t want to have Jell-O legs for the remainder.
Mile 5: 8:54
Mile 6: 8:54
Mile 7: 8:23
Mile 8: 8:15

Miles 9-11
These miles were flat as a pancake and not all the interesting as far as sights to see. In fact part of the race went through an ugly industrial section. The signs for these miles where awesome though. Some of my favorites were: “I’ve been training for months to hold this sign” all of the “Touch here for power” signs (I touched every single one of them), and a sign that read “motivational sign”. The spectator support was great!
Mile 9:8:48
Mile 10: 8:40

Miles 12-13.3
I was feeling really good all race until mile 12 when all of a sudden, I just didn’t want to run anymore (normally this happens at mile 8!). The last 2 miles of the race, were really the only 2 miles where I had to do a bit of self-talk and were the only 2 uncomfortable miles of the race. I had to dig deep, but knowing I had less than 2 miles to go was really helpful.
Mile 11: 8:44
Mile 12: 8:55
Mile 13: 8:44
Mile 0.3

This is my YEAHHHH I just PR'd face!

Me and my mom/race sponsor

Me and my husband/race cheerer

I was so glad to be at the finish. I wasn’t really paying attention to my time I just knew that I ran a solid effort. While running I maybe looked at my watch a total of 5 times (and that was mostly to look at the mileage to know when to take my gels) and was running by feel. When I finished and stopped my watch, I saw that the distance covered was actually 13.35 rather than 13.1. I am a pro at running tangents, so I was slightly perturbed that my watch said I went longer. I wasn’t the only one. Most had distances from 13.3 to 13.7. My official time was 1:56:10 (a 2 minute and 11 second PR!!!), which met my B goal. When I uploaded to Strava (which tracks how fast your half marathon time is leaving out any extra mileage) it said I ran a 1:54:48 half. Which means I technically ran my A goal as well.

After thoughts:
I enjoyed this race a lot. Normally when I run, I am such a middle of the pack runner, I usually am running completely by myself with everyone ahead of, or behind me. With this being such a big race, I was never even close to being alone. I think it helped a lot to push me. I originally though after mile 4 the course was a straight downhill and then flat, but there were a lot of rolling hills after mile 4 rather than just straight downhill.
Some of the water stops on the course map were different than the actual water stops on the course (some a half mile difference) which messed up my gel schedule. I was supposed to take a gel at mile 5 and mile 9.5, but because the water stops were off I was taking gels with no water to back it up with.
I would definitely do this race again, and I’m so happy to end this training cycle (and running competitively for a while) with a bang!

Overall stats:
Official finish time: 1:56:10
Age Place: 73/498
Gender Place: 353/2458

Overall Place: 1061/4475

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Month in Review: June

I’m a little late to the month in review for June, but better late than never right (I won’t mention what happened to May’s month in review). This was a strong month for me. The entire month I ran pain free, without any fear of injuries. I have been sticking to the Strength Running training plan pretty closely. The only thing I really went off on my own for was during the week of the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. I took it really easy that week, and skipped the tempo (still ran the distance) the following week. Since I’m writing this more than half way into a new month, my memory is a little shotty of what exactly went down in June. This was also a good month because my long runs were incredible. I was a little tired in the end of each, but my body never felt stronger. In the month of June alone I ran 12 miles 3 different times. Something I have never done when training for a half. Normally, I would run 12 miles once, 2 weeks before the race and that was my peak. This training cycle (spoiler alert), I run 14 miles, not once, but twice. You’ll have to wait for next month (hopefully) to find out how that went.

Total Miles: 113.4
Peak weekly mileage: 6/20/16-6/26/16 29.2mi
Longest Run: 12.0mi
Average Pace: 10:12min/mi
Races: 1
Reno-Tahoe Odyssey 178mi Relay Race

Lesson(s) learned:
I’ve always said that I am not a distance runner. I was made for speed! While I still think the latter part is true, I’m finding my body can actually handle longer distances better than I thought. 

Plans for July:
Finish my training plan strong and injury free. Run a strong race on the 31st and PR!!!

Upcoming July Races: 2
Freedom Run 10k – 7/2/16
San Francisco 2nd Half Marathon – 7/31/16

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Freedom Run Race Recap

Get comfy…this is a long one.

This 4th of July weekend I ran the Freedom Run here in Reno. The race featured both a 5k and a 10k option, I chose the latter. Me running this race was no accident, it took a lot of strategic planning to pick this race. I am running the 2nd half of the San Francisco Marathon on the 31st of this month, and I wanted do to a tune up race. I’ve never done a tune up race before, but I was reading all about it online and it sounded like a good idea since my past few race results have been less than stellar and I wanted to know where I was at as far as running shape. I chose this race because it was almost 4 weeks out from my goal race and I read that a 10k is the perfect tune up race distance for a half. Plus the race started at 7:00am, I could beat the heat.

At packet pick up they asked if I wanted to purchase some raffle tickets. I took a look at the prizes and there were some pretty incredible ones. Hotel stays, massages, full vacations, etc. I told them I never win anything, but since it was for a good cause, I bought 5 of them for $20. More on the raffle tickets later.

I had this perfect plan to execute this race day exactly how I had planned to execute my half marathon race day later this month. The race started at 7:00am so I woke up at 4:45am to start the eating and digestion process. I planned to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I realized that my husband bought “Oat Fiber Bread”.  I learned the hard way that me, fiber and racing do not get along. So, I ate Spaghetti O’s instead (so far not to plan). I always take some sort caffeine 45-30 minutes prior to a race, so I followed that protocol as well. I got to the race about 20 minutes before it was to start. When I arrived, volunteers were still setting up tables (this should have been my first clue). I started with a brisk 5 minute walk and transitioned into a 5 minute jog. I then completed by entire dynamic warm-up routine. My legs had an extra spring in them and I knew this was going to be a great race day.

 I found one of my running buddies and we started to chat. He mentioned that it was a small turn out at the race, I looked around and got excited. There were maybe 20 people standing around (this should have been my second clue), Maybe I could come in top 3 females. After a few minutes, I looked at my watch and it was 6:58am. I knew 3 others running this race and none of them were here yet (and this should have been clue number 3). I thought maybe something happened and they weren’t going to be racing, but I thought it odd that all 3 of them wouldn’t show up. Plus it was 2 minutes until the start and no one was gathering us up, in fact they were still hooking up the sound system. At about 7:05am, I really started wondering when we were going to start. At 7am, it was already 72 degrees out and I wanted to get going before it got too hot. I knew this was a small local race, but come on. At 7:15am, my running buddy approached the race director and asked him when we would be starting, his reply, 8am (as my sister says, I got chumped)! I was completely flabbergasted (I love that word). I threw a mini (and private temper tantrum) and huffed all the way to my phone to check the email they sent out in regards to the race, because I knew for a fact it started at 7am (read with absolute haughtiness). I pulled up the email and read “you can pick up your packet at the race starting at 7:00am”…wait…what…”pick up your packet” at 7:00am??? Wow, was I really that dense. All I saw originally was “race starting at 7:00am”. I couldn’t believe I was so off, but at least I wasn’t the only one, me and the other 20 folks all thought it started at 7.

For the next 35ish minutes I stood around and spoke to the other apparently clueless racers. More and more people started showing up, including my 3 other friends. I once again went through my dynamic warm up and warmup jog. However, because of the standing in one spot for the last hour, my legs were no longer springy. It fact they felt like lead. The temperature had risen to 80 degrees and I didn’t bring any extra caffeine with me. So, there went my perfect execution.
The race started at about 8:02am. This course was pretty much out and back, starting at a park, with the first half of the course being slightly uphill (about 125ft gain). I slogged my way through the first 3 miles, my legs never loosening up and my breath out of control. I tried not to look at my watch too much as I’d rather race by feel. When we got to the turnaround point I looked at my watch and saw we had hit 2.75 miles. Now, I’m no mathematician, but I don’t think 2.75 plus 2.75 equals 6.2. I got a little worried and then a little happy that I wouldn’t have to suffer through an entire 10k. --Side note, on the way back a lovely volunteer thought it would be a great idea to walk the course smoking a cigarette. Just what I wanted, smoke  filling my gasping lungs. I arrived back at the park, feeling miserable, heavy and hot, I kept looking for the point at which we would enter the park. Finally, I saw the point, I assumed we would be going back the same way we went out, but I was wrong. We circle the park for about a mile. This means I spent the next mile staring at the finish line having no idea when we would be turning to make that final dash to the finish. I am mentally week. So in all honesty, I gave up mentally, I was ready to be done. I slowed my pace and just wanted to get it done with. Finally, there was the finish line and I was allowed to run through it. Normally, I give it my all and leave nothing out on the course, not this time. I maintained my pace and crossed.
This race definitely did not go to plan. It did not give me the confidence to run a great half in less than a month. My finish time was 51:16, I was really hoping for a 50:xx, and I wouldn’t have felt super bad about the 51:16, if it had been a true 10k, but it turned out to be 5.95 miles. Had it been a true 10k, my actual time would have been 53:xx. Not good.

I truly believe if the race would have started at 7:00am, it would have been a better race for me. But standing completely still for an hour, did not help my legs any. Next time I’ll pay better attention to those emails

Remember those raffle tickets I mentioned earlier, I didn’t win anything, but I do remember them saying you had to be present to win. I stayed around the race talking to my friends and I noticed the volunteers packing everything up and I sawa prize that hadn’t been claimed. I walked up and asked one of the volunteers that since no one had claimed it and I had raffle tickets could they pull tickets until the got to mine. The volunteer shrugged and handed me the prize. SCORE!!! It was a $20 gift card to Reno eNVy (a local clothing store). When I got home, I looked in the bag only to discover it was completely empty save a bit of confetti. Hm, not so “score” after all. Chumped again!

Official race stats:
Overall Time: 51:16
Pace: 8:16
Gender Place: 8/25

Overall Place: 27/54

Friday, April 1, 2016

Month in Review - March

The majority of this month I have been trying to rehab my hamstring strain. Which made most of the month one big rest "day", with one of the lowest mileage months since I started running. I I really spent a lot of time reflecting on my past running and thought about why I am always getting injured. I have concluded it's because all I ever do is run. I don't lift weights or cross train. I honestly barely even walk, thanks to my sit down job (I did just get a stand-up desk, yay!).  I took a big step in correcting what I believe to be my achilles heel when it comes to running and I am giving personal coaching a try. I received a personal and customized training plan from Jason at Strength Running. With this new training plan, Jason has me incorporating running specific strength workouts into my training. A lot of the strength workouts include strengthening my hips, glutes and abs. I am about 3 weeks into including the strength workouts, but I have been unable to actually start the running part of the plan because of my injury (it is slowly getting better).  They say it takes about 6 weeks to see the effect of strength training, so I hope to be come a stronger, less injury prone runner in the near future. 

Total Miles: 58.2
Peak weekly mileage: 2/29-3/6 (26.2mi)
Longest Run: 8.0mi
Average Pace: 10:30min/mi
Races: 1
Leprechaun Race 5k 3/13/16 (25:43)

Lesson(s) learned:
  • If all you ever do is run and absolutely nothing else, you're bound to get injured.
Plans for April:
My main goal is to continue rehabbing my hamstring and to remain injury free in other areas. I want to be able to start the customized training plan that I got. The training plan is for my goal race this year, The San Francisco Marathon. I will be running the half marathon, more specifically the "2nd half marathon". I will be volunteering for the first time a race and I'm kind of looking forward to giving back.

Upcoming April Races: 0

How did your training go in March?
What are your plans for April?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Is running injury free possible?

What is this...a new blog post??? I think this is officially the longest I've gone without a post. I haven't had much to say lately as I have been bit by the injury bug, hard. What do you write on a running blog when you can't run. One of the most frustrating things I've discovered since declaring myself a runner, has been injuries. Since I started running in February 2013, I have had: shin splints, ITBS, a sprained ankle, pulled hamstring (twice), runners knee, and posterior tibial tendinitis. In case you weren't counting, that's 7 injuries in 3 years! That's 2.3333333333 injuries on average per year! That's insane! Each of these injuries have meant time off. Some injuries healed after 2 weeks, others took as long as  months (posterior tibial tendinitis is a nasty thing), and when it comes to running, consistency is key.

My doctor once told me, that he didn't think I was cut out for running. To be honest, I almost believed him. What was I doing wrong, that other runners seemed to be doing right? Didn't Christopher McDougall have this same problem? Do I need to travel to Mexico to find out how to prevent injuries? Inspired by his book Born to Run (but not in the way you think, no barefoot running for me) In November 2014, I set out on my own journey to discover injury free running.

My first stop Phil Maffetone's MAF Training.

I honestly don't know how I came about hearing about this method, I have a couple posts explaining what exactly MAF Training is. Basically, you take 150 minus your age and either add 5 or deduct an additional 5 depending on your running history. This becomes your MAF heart rate and the goal is to never let your heart rate increase over this amount. I devoured the Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing and started drinking the MAF Kool-aid. It was okay, if you don't mind a lot of slow miles. I did decrease my race times across the board and I wasn't injured at all while keeping with the program. However, it gets really (an I mean really) boring training at a slow pace. Not only that, but it was hard always being so dependent on my heart rate monitor. Running wasn't enjoyable anymore. When my heart rate went up running at a slower pace than last week, I would get frustrated, and my heart rate would go up even more. A dog that I couldn't see behind a fence would bark or a car would honk, scaring me, and cause my heart rate to go up. I was honestly kind of miserable.

My next stop was run less. I thought I was victim of the too much, too soon syndrome. I made sure to run every other day to ensure I was rested, if I felt even a small niggle of pain, I would take a few days off. But, it didn't work, because there was always something flaring up, so I was basically always taking days off.

Some time in between, I developed posterior tibial tendinitis, which is just a fancy way of saying my ankle hurt a lot. I couldn't walk or run without pain. I took about 2 months off started in August of 2015 and it wasn't getting any better, so I went to a physical therapist. She worked on it 3x a week for 2 months and suggested I get orthotics and start foam rolling. Well. the orthotics, caused trouble with my knees, and I do believe foam rolling is helpful, it hasn't been helpful enough. Here I am today with another hamstring strain. This one (unlike my previous hamstring strain) wasn't caused by a sudden stopping movement (I was at a full on sprint and came to a stop in one stride), but rather an overuse injury.

So, where is this long post heading to? Well, it's going to what I hope will be my final stop. Even though I've heard this time and time again, I never really believed this piece of advise. I read online once, that runners who only run will eventually get injured. I had tried adding in cycling, and lifting weights a few times a week for a little bit, but I never saw an improvement in race times, so it took a backseat. Well, here I am revisiting it again. Strength training, is going to be my new best friend for this next training cycle. I discovered this website, Strength Running. Now I am a sucker for infomercials, anything I see on TV I swear I need. This may be another one of those, but maybe not. I signed up for a custom training plan by the owner of Strength Running, Jason Fitzgerald, because he specializes in runners who are constantly getting injured. Included in the training plan is a standard core workout and ITB rehab workout. Both of these, like they sound, are all about developing a strong core (abs, glutes, and hips). The plan he made for me is simple. It tells me exactly when to run, exactly what I do to warm up before each run, exactly how fast to run, and exactly what exercises I need to do post-run. Unfortunately, my hamstring started acting up on day one of the training plan, but I have been seeing a PT who thinks I will make a speedy recovery. I am super excited to see if I have finally discovered how to run injury free. I haven't been able to run for more than 2 months injury free since August of 2014. I really want to see my potential, which will only come with running consistently. Fingers Crossed!!!!
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