2011 Richmond Half Marathon

For those that don’t know my background. I started running in 2009 to enter a very popular 10k here in Richmond thinking I would walk most of it. I took a liking (or rather became addicted) to the race atmosphere and just kept going. In addition I was very overweight and diagnosed with high cholesterol and had to be medicated at age 29. In 2011 I decided to take my weight loss seriously and join Weight Watchers. I also have fibromyalgia and running has helped keep those symptoms in check.

I weighed about 195lbs when I ran my first half marathon in 2010. This very same race with this very same training team. I came in last for most of our group runs. My time in 2010 was 3:28:09.

Garmin and my goals

Yesterday I weighed myself at 162.4 lbs. With 30+ lbs down, my main goal going into this race was to take 30 minutes off of my time, or just 2:57:xx. My middle goal was a silly challenge to a fellow poster on the Runner’s World Online forums who had taken 35:04 off of his 1 year half marathon anniversary. 2:53:04 ended up as my middle goal and then my long reach was 2:50:xx.

So with that background, let me get to the race. Yesterday I started my race weekend by volunteering at the expo with the Richmond Road Runners Club. We talked up the club and helped folks figure out how to meet up with the pace group leaders for the marathon since the club provides that service. I went home for a rest and got my race gear together before I hit the town again to meet some Runner’s World forum friends for dinner.

We met at Bottoms Up Pizza in the Shockoe Bottom area of the city. It’s one of my favorite places to take out-of-towners so I’m glad we ended up there. I think we all had a lot of fun just chatting and relaxing with limited adult beverages before the race. Everyone was super nice.

I was in bed by around 9:45. I slept okay for the most part, I woke up about 3 times to check the clock and tossed and turned for about 20 minutes at 3:00. But had fallen sound asleep by the time my alarm woke me at 4:35. I wandered around the house and played on Facebook trying to wake up so I could leave at 5:45. It took me a long time to eat my peanut butter toast, as I just wasn’t hungry yet. I drank my morning Diet Coke. Took TWO poops. Then drank my preemptive shot of Pepto Bismol that I take every morning before a race.

Drove downtown and found one of the best street parking spaces available, 1 block away from the finish area. Met up with my training team for some pictures and a pep talk. Then I got in line for the port-o-potty, check my bag, and then got in line for the port-o-potty again just in case. Not too long after that I got in the corral hanging out with a couple of my training team buddies and we were off about 15 minutes later. It was super cold for that 15 minutes. I had checked my track suit. I was left in a skirt, singlet, thin throw away gloves, and a throw away sweatshirt. I threw the sweatshirt at the gun and kept the gloves.

This time I was closer to the middle of the pack. I didn’t feel as scared or isolated as I did last year. My negative thoughts from last year tried to creep in my head but I was able to push them away for the most part. I chugged along with my walk the first tenth of a mile and run the rest of the mile method that I used in training. At mile 5 I stuffed my gloves into my fuel belt band and took 3 Shot Bloks. We entered the park which is pretty hilly right after that. I hit the 10k mat realizing if this was a 10k I would have PR’d and I’d be done. I kept on chugging along out of the park and into this really great neighborhood that makes everyone feel so amazing as they run through. They are always so excited to see the runners (and pass out shots of whiskey and cups of beer). An older lady in front of me took a shot but I passed. At the end of the neighborhood I saw that there were two port-o-potties and one was not being used. I took it as a sign to use it really quickly as I had to go since about mile 6 and we were now at the end of mile 9.

As soon as I came out of the port-o-potty I saw a cup of Powerade coming straight for me. Funny enough, it was a training buddy of mine and she had no idea someone was coming out and that it was me. It didn’t hit me, just fell at my feet, but I found it hilarious and that laugh got me through miles 10 and 11 which I really do not like one bit at all. This is also when the inside of my left arch started aching loudly. I took my last 3 Shot Bloks at mile 10 and ran into one of my coaches who said, “Holy shit!!” when I told her that I was on track to at least get a 30 minute PR.

My little walk break at the 12 mile marker I took for a little over a tenth of a mile because I knew I was going to run it all the way in when I started back up. And I did. I took off. There were so many people cheering us on that last mile and it was needed. I felt great. I also found my theme song for this race which was “Magic” by B.O.B./Rivers Cuomo on my shuffle and cranked it (say what you will, it felt so amazing). By the time I flew down the hill all the screaming spectators drowned out the iPod anyway. I heard someone scream my name and it was my training partner from last year, who had been volunteering at a waterstop with her tri-club. Then the announcer called my name as I sprinted over the finish line. I looked down at my watch. My eyes filled with tears and I put my hand over my mouth, to which two volunteers asked, “Are you okay!?!?!” thinking I was going to barf. “I’m fine, just emotional!” A guy handed me my medal and I went through the food tents.

2:48:12 Garmin time.

I got my bag from the UPS truck and texted my husband to let him know I had survived. Not long after that the tracking text sent me a message with my official time of 2:48:03. Putting me just over 40 minutes for my PR. I decided I wanted to get the free post-race massage because my calves were tightening more than I have ever felt before. The massage was about 15 minutes and it was absolutely perfect. She stretched me out really well.

Now I am back at home nestled in the bed in my pajamas with my dog and waiting for my husband to get home from work. I did go back out to get some Arby’s a bit ago and felt okay walking. Just a little ache on the sides/bottom of both knees.

Garmin link: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/128151919


Mile 1 – 12:45
Mile 2 – 12:50
Mile 3 – 12:34
Mile 4 – 12:43
Mile 5 – 12:41
Mile 6 – 12:45
Mile 7 – 12:42
Mile 8 – 12:51
Mile 9 – 12:33
Mile 10 – 13:18
Mile 11 – 12:56
Mile 12 – 12:54
Mile 13 – 12:16
.26 – 2:19 (8:56 pace)

I am really stoked to run the Houston Half in January.  I’m not going to make any lofty goals for that one since it is my first major destination race and I’ll be busy oogling over the elites the day before. I am more confident about that race now, though.

Twelve cold, wet miles.

I did not want to give up running with my training team on Saturday.  Whereas I may run alone much of the time during the long runs, I am conforted by the thought that there are other people out there with me on the same route.

In Richmond, it was about 40* and the rain was cold and steady.  After the fact, I found out that the training team for the full marathon cancelled their group run.  Those of us training for the half perservered.

Those twelve cold, wet miles were completed in 2:45.  My goal for the half is 2:57.  I think I am more than ready to smash that goal in the less than two weeks and counting until November 12th.


Halfway to the half

Being about halfway through training for the Richmond Half Marathon, I thought I would do a little update.   Especially since I had a very emotional moment during my 8 miler this morning.

A little backstory:  I did the Richmond Half Marathon with the Half Marathon Training Team last year.  I was nearly 200lbs and had only run/walked a 10k.  I had fully caught the running bug and just kept wanting to go further.  The training and the race were tough, but I made it.  My half time was 3:28:09.  I walked much of it but was still proud of my accomplishment to move my body that far.  Even having a slight panic attack during the race and doubting my ability to complete the distance.

Since then I started on Weight Watchers and have thus far lost a little over 30lbs.  I joined the HMTT again to train for the Richmond Half and settled on a goal of going sub-3:00.

We’ve been running the same routes on our Saturday group/long run so as a data junkie I’ve been able to make comparisons with last year.  I remembered this 8 mile run vividly from last year.  At about 5 miles, I was spent.  I thought, “What the hell have I gotten myself into!?  I can’t do this!”  I started a death march those 3 miles in, repeating my dog’s name, Oliver, for much of it, Ol-iv-er, Ol-iv-er, as my mantra.

Today when we reached the Boulevard bridge that takes us over the train tracks by the baseball stadium, I looked up and had tears in my eyes.   This was the place that during the race last year, I started to panic.  Today I felt free.  No worries, but I was only 2 miles in.  Right before that 5 mile mark, I heard someone say hi to me as they passed, and it was my doctor.  I felt a calm, and kept on with my plan of walking one tenth of a mile, and running the remainder.

I think I may just have sub-3:00 in the bag now.  So that data I pulled shows that I ran this route 20 minutes faster than I did last year.   Also, I think that I made a 10k PB during the run.  I glanced down and it was about 6.18 and I was at 1:21.   My 10k PR is 1:22:xx.

Last year:

2:06:16 8.20 Mi Pace 15:24

This year:

1:46:26 8.15 Mi Pace 13:03.8

Innsbrook 5k Race Report

First off, my previous post was a little incorrect.  For some reason I was thinking that my previous 5k PR was 36:35 but it was actually 36:25.   This put my 31 second birthday goal as actually going sub 36:00 and that much closer to my overall next goal of going sub 35:00.

Since my previous PR I have lost about 7 more lbs and had just under 3 more months of running.

This 5k is run in an office park relatively close to where I work and benefits the Ronald McDonald House.  I have worked the finish line before as a Richmond Road Runners volunteer but never ran the race.  Race start was at 8:30 so I got there around 7:45 for packet pick up.  I would find out later that this packet pick up could have gone much better.

There were raffle tickets in the envelope and this was not pointed out to most of us who grabbed our packet, took it back to our car only removing our bibs.  Evidently the packets included a raffle tickets for the door prizes after the race but not many people realized this leaving the raffle rather bleak which made me kinda sad because they were good prizes.  By the time most of us returned to our cars to get tickets it would have been over, anyway. Note to RD, just use bib numbers!

The shirt was cotton (not odd) but long sleeved (odd for a summer race) a nice change.  Same logo as the race logo on a royal blue shirt.

So after throwing the packet in the car I attached my bib number, 538.  A good one because 5 + 3 = 8 and 8 is my favorite number!  Yay for number superstitions!   After doing a very small jog I watched the kids 1 mile run which a girl won!  I found a little shade did some dynamic stretching and then lined up ready to go.

I lined up towards the middle of the pack since there seemed to be more walkers in this race than what I am used to.  This also meant people who do not understand simple race etiquette.  A couple rows up there were two women with strollers.  Not even jogging strollers and one of the women was attempting to attach a leash with a tiny Yorkie on the end to her stroller.  Of course I could have said something, but being a super introverted person I just could not work up the courage in time before the start.   Instead as they began to sort of walk, as many of us were attempting to not hit them I shouted over my shoulder something to the effect of, “Damn strollers should have lined up in the back,  people are trying to run here!  Jesus Christ!” Probably not the most effective way to deal with it, but at least I spoke up.

Due to my anger I went out way too fast. I ran the first mile as the fastest mile I’ve run as an adult.  The rest of the race was uneventful.  It was a pretty horrifically boring course that went not just on the roads of the office park but through parking lots and circled buildings.  A few short rolling hills.

Garmin Splits:
1:02 (8:42 pace)

Total time:  35:30
Official race time: 35:41

An official PR of 44 seconds!

Whereas I am stoked on the PR, I don’t think I’ll run this race again.  It was not as organized as I like and the course was just mind numbing.  I’d rather not pay to run thru parking lots.

6th out of 13 in my age group.  110 out of 203 recorded finishers.

The stroller ladies finished at least 15 minutes behind me.

Next goal is that sub 3:00 Half Marathon in November!

Birthday goal

My birthday is this coming Sunday, 9/11.   I will be 31 years old.  In celebration, I am going to run a 5k on Saturday.  The Innsbrook 5k here in Richmond to benefit the Ronald McDonald House.   My half marathon plan is on a cutback week with a 4 mile long run, so I figure a 5k at race pace with a half mile warm up will be sufficient.

Goal is to take 31 seconds off of my time.  Currently my 5k PR is 36:35 set in June.  The weather that morning was close to 80* and sunny.  As of now it looks like the temp will be closer to 70* and partial cloud cover this Saturday.

Of course in reality I would like to go under 36:00 to be that much closer to my overall goal of going under 35:00 within the next year.  (Or after my two scheduled half marathons are completed.)  But I thought with the 31st birthday 31 seconds was good to shoot for.

Regarding my current half marathon training, I think it is going very well.  We are following the same routes as last year.  I took about 5:30 off of the time my same 6 mile training run took me to complete last year at an easy long run pace.

Look out for a race report this weekend!

Tornado over there, earthquake over here.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of experiencing my first earthquake.  Because I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and have my entire life, it was difficult for me.   Since I can remember I have been obessed with the idea of perishing in a natural disaster or something like a fire or being kidnapped.  This was 5.8 on the richter scale and I was about 30 miles from the epicenter when it occured.  My mind was preoccupied with the earthquake and not so much about any other natural disasters (save for possibly Hurricane Irene which could be headed to Richmond as well).

Once I got home from work, I went out to my mailbox and found a nondescript envelope with no return address. Enclosed was a race bib, letter, and sticker. I was confused, as both races I am signed up for have in person packet pick up.  Then looked closely seeing that it said, “Boomtown Half Marathon“. This was the half marathon that was cancelled just after the devastating tornado in Joplin, MO on May 22nd that left 158 dead and destroyed the town. I had entered after learning from Mark Remy’s blog that all entry fees would be turned into donation towards the clean up efforts and rebuilding the community.

The race director mailed out the bibs and a finisher’s decal along with a letter of sincere thanks for the support to Joplin. I learned that over 270 runners entered the race after it had been cancelled to show our support and over $20,000 will be given to the community just from funds raised from the Boomtown Run.

The letter also states that on race day 320 runners showed up and took part hands on in the clean up efforts. My favorite part of the letter reads, “As a runner, I know you are thinking, ‘But I didn’t earn this.’ By supporting the event in spite of it’s cancellation like you have, you have more than earned it.”

Runners are absolutely amazing.

If I had enough cash flow I would love to travel to Joplin for the 2012 race in May.

We all suffer. Keep Going.

The following words were posted on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/benefitsofgiving.

“The greatest battle is not physical but psychological. The demons telling us to give up when we push ourselves to the limit can never be silenced for good. They must always be answered by the quiet the steady dignity that simply refuses to give in. COURAGE. WE ALL SUFFER. KEEP GOING.”

They couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

Right now I am watching Running the Sahara and just being blown away by not just what running does for our body, but our mind and how we can inspire others around us by our actions.

Moonlight 4 Miler Race Report

The Moonlight 4 Miler is an evening race in Richmond held on the Thursday nearest the full moon in August. It starts at 7:30 PM and is more “twilight” than “moonlight”. My first year of running, 2009, I didn’t believe I could make it 4 miles, so it was my first race where I volunteered. I manned a water stop with some pre-teens who were getting community service points for school. In 2010 they changed the course from a neighborhood to an office park full of rolling hills. I decided I was up for the challenge and ran the 4 miles (2 of which were in a downpour) in 54:44.

I have kept a steady running schedule over the past two years and at the beginning of this year decided try to lose at least 50lbs of extra fat that is on my body. As of now, I am down about 27lbs since February.

Plugging in my 5k PR from June into the McMillan calculator, it spat out the estimated finish time of 47:51 for a 4M. I scoffed at it, thinking that was insanely too fast for me. I set my time goal as sub 52:00 and a long reach of sub-50:00.

The weather was cooling off by 7:30 to a brisk 80*. Yes, brisk compared to the 90*+ we have had even at 7PM. More importantly the humidity was very low. We lined up after the kids race was done and were off!

Rolling hills. This race is full of rolling hills. I kept psyching myself out seeing the uphills on the other side of the street I knew I would have to conquer on my way back through the loop course. I can say I powered through every down and up. I did not stop once to walk even though I toyed with the idea of walking the first tenth of every mile after the first full mile.

Everything seemed to be going well. In the second mile one of my Half Marathon Training Team coaches saw me from the other side of the road and yelled, “Go Penguins!!!” at me (our team is the Penguins). It was a little boost that kept me going up the hill to finish out mile two.

I felt confident the entire time. No panic at all. Not even when I just so happened to look down at my watch at exactly the 5k point and saw that the time it read was one second off from my 5k PR. I knew I had it in me to do another mile at that same clip.

I finished with a Garmin time of 47:42. Nine seconds faster than McMillan predicted. Six minutes and 58 seconds faster than last year’s official time. Overall average pace of 11:43.

Garmin info: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/105797058

Mile 1 – 11:46
Mile 2 – 11:36
Mile 3 – 11:53
Mile 4 – 11:47
.07 – :39

The race was followed by FREE ICE CREAM! MMMM Orange sherbet! It hit the spot. I talked with my rabbit, the same woman who I was vying with in the last 5k series. She beat me this time and I let her know it! I guess it was payback for that last race where she couldn’t catch me.

Also, I was high fived right before crossing the finish line by a man I see at races who wears very tiny American flag split shorts and is quite boisterous.

I think I have a lot of re-evaluation to do with myself and my abilities. I seem to not think that I can accomplish the goals of where my skill set should be. For my November half marathon, I am hoping to go sub 3:00. I am nervous about putting that in my head as a goal.

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