Done… and FAST!

I ran my race this morning in 40 windy degrees and constant rain. No kidding, it rained from the moment my husband dropped me off to the moment we got home. I have been known to be a big baby about the wind and rain, but it wasn’t that bad. It really was just fine!

This course is said to be hilly. I was dreading two points in the race but they were easy-peasy. Either I’m toughening up, or the course was easy.  I think it’s a combo of both!

My husband brought my kids out to multiple points on the course and that was great for my soul! It helped that they brought orange wedges for me to chomp on quickly.  I stopped once for water and twice to kiss my boys and grab an orange, so we’re thinking I spent an entire minute during those 3 stops. The third stop entailed digging out my phone to give to my husband because I was worried the rain was killing it (turned out it was my headphones that were being destroyed), so that stop was a long one!

Having my family there to cheer me on was the best thing ever. I started to cry at the start of the race knowing that they were going to brave the constant rain to cheer me on. They had signs and a cheer memorized and melted my heart with them! ❤

It was cold… So cold. My fingers were useless for getting my phone out, unzipping my coat, opening water bottles, etc. But somehow, I ran faster than I’ve ever run a long distance (considering my stops).  I can’t believe it! I’m beyond thrilled!!

So what did I use that was packed?  I wore my pants and they were worth every penny!!! I ended up wearing a jacket over my tank top and that was perfect. I ate the energy chews throughout the race according to the directions and I believe they helped me quite a bit – I will do that again for sure. We didn’t use anything in the relief bag until after the race when my husband rushed me, soaking wet and freezing, to his downtown office to shower so that I could warm up (he’s very thoughtful this way). Then I used the dry shoes, socks, and the other clothes from my post-race bag. Had it stopped raining, I would have switched to dry shoes and socks for sure prior to finishing, but that wasn’t an option. The relief bag was and is a great idea that we’ll do again if it rains during a long race.

2:04:18

I did it in 2 hours, 4 minutes, and 18 seconds in constant rain and wind. That’s a 9:30 per mile pace without taking it my stops. I am super happy!!!

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Ready for the Race! (AKA “What a Half Marathon REALLY Costs)

I am all trained and ready to race tomorrow!  My last training run was last night and it was just a short 20-minute, easy run.  I ran 2.0 miles and then walked another 2.0 miles to keep my legs moving – my left shin felt funny.  I will do ab work and PiYo tonight and then I’m going to bed to rest up!

It’s supposed to rain the ENTIRE time tomorrow, and the winds are expected to be 20 mph with gusts in the upper 20 mph range.  I’m not going to think too much about it – it is what it is.  I do know that this is not going to be my fastest distance run, which is just fine.  There’s another half on June 4th I’m doing that is actually much flatter and easier, so there’s another chance at a new PB for me.

The rain concerns me from a clothing perspective.  I always run in shorts if it’s above 40 degrees – I do not own summer running pants.  Well… I didn’t… until today.  Because of my fear of chafing badly again, I decided that pants are the way to go so I bought some this morning.  They’re not cheap.  I always said I’d never buy expensive running pants but here I am with a pair because I want to do it right and I have had no luck with cheap winter running pants.  This is not the time to skimp.  I also will need a dry hat for mid-race when I see my husband and kids, so I bought a second running hat today.  This is not how I expected this to go at all.  😉

The rain has also forced me to consider packing a “relief bag” for my husband to keep with him that has a dry shirt, socks, shoes, hat and an extra water bottle, applesauce pouch, and energy chews.  That bag was my husband’s idea and he was spot-on, I’m glad he suggested it.  He also mentioned packing a separate bag of dry clothes for after the race.  In the old days, I never took dry clothes for post-race but I’m old, and I don’t like being wet and cold.

I have everything out for my flipbelt and I feel good about what I’m taking with me.  Because it will likely be raining and windy the entire time, I may need to go inward so I am bringing headphones.  I never run with headphones but I may need to this time.

Here is my running outfit – not too bad for having to wear pants (oh the dread!).  I am wearing a short-sleeved top over my preferred tank to stay warm pre-race.  It’s lightweight so if it gets to be a bother, I’ll take it off and carry it until I see my husband at some point.  I’ve done this before – no biggie!  My bib is attached to my flipbelt so that it doesn’t accidently get left with my husband when I switch shirts.  I love my new hat!

131064291775195044People have asked what I pack in my flipbelt for long runs.  It will be packed pretty full but won’t have keys this time, so that’s nice.  I’ll take headphones, a water bottle, a sweatband, an applesauce pouch, energy chews, an extra hair tie, and my phone with me in my flipbelt.  The pictured socks and bodyglide are for the morning when I get dressed.  Which reminds me… bodyglide.  USE IT!

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My relief bag (top picture below) is packed in a red Nike backpack that my husband can transport easily with the kids from point to point.  In it is a pair of dry (and broken in) shoes, socks, shirt, sweatband, and hat along with bodyglide in case I need more, a filled water bottle, and energy chews.  I bet I only need the shoes, socks, and hat.

My post-race bag (bottom picture below) has dry pants, socks, undies, bra, socks, and shirt.  All of them are too large because I’ll be putting them on a wet body and why would I want to have to fight to get them on, am I right?

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My bathroom counter has everything laid out and ready!  The bags are in my car and my bib number is attached to my flipbelt.  Nothing is going to be forgotten, and that’s nice!

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I’m hoping I learn a lot from this race since I have 3 more (and maybe 4 or 5 more) long distance races after it.  I’m sure I’m over-packed, but we won’t know until we go.  I’m lucky to have my husband coming to the first two races to cheer me on so he can take my discards and bring me dry stuff.  He’s a good man!

*****

Running these races is not cheap.  Entry fees for half marathons range between $45 and $80 depending on when you register.  I registered later than I usually do for this one and it cost $65.  The half on June 4th cost $43 on opening day but the one on July 23rd cost $70 for early registration.  It’s all over the board.  I’ve been in the running world long enough to know that the cost doesn’t stop with registration fees – there are shoes, clothing, and gear that creep up and are truly needed to run comfortably.  In the spirit of transparency to myself and everyone else, here is what my race schedule has cost me so far this year:

Registration for 4/30 half – $65

Registration for 5/7 relay – $79

Registration for 6/4 half – $43

Registration for 7/23 half – $70

Flipbelt – $29

Water bottles for Flipbelt – $11

Bluetooth headphones – $25

Summer running pants – $60

Running hat – $25

Energy chews – $3

Shoes – $90 (regularly $160 but I bought last year’s model)

Shoes *2 – $90 (you will go through two pair with this kind of schedule)

Total – $590

 

 

 

 

Today Was the Day!

Today was the day I’ve been looking forward to… Today I had round 1 of coolsculpting done on my fat pocket!  I’ve been so excited about this day since I booked the appointment a month ago.  Every time I looked in the mirror, instead of lamenting that nagging bulge, I would just laugh at it and think about what it would look like 3 months from then.

I said I would document the process, and I will take photos every week so that I can monitor how quickly it’s shrinking, but I wanted to get the official “before” photos and process photos posted in the spirit of transparency.  So many people have asked what this involves and honestly, until today, I wasn’t sure what to expect myself.  I knew it would be virtually painless and just a little bothersome, but to get hooked up to the machine and see it in action… well… that was something!

Here are my before photos.  I actually took them after the procedure, but this truly is what the bulges look like and they are not swollen.  Anyone who says that they’re not noticeable is a true friend – HA!  Now you can see why I can’t wear a normal swimsuit without a skirt.  The top two photos are my right side, the worst side.  In the middle photo, you can see how much more dominant it is than the left bulge.  The left one is much smoother, much more distributed than the right.  The bottom photos show my left side – not near as offensive as the right.

Cool before

Here is what they look like with clothes on.  On the left, you see my left side which looks pretty normal – I’m happy with the left side in clothing.  In the right photos, you can see the bulge and how it looks in jeans.  This is why I have a hard time finding skinny jeans and can’t wear jeans that are made of a stretchy material.

jeans

Now…. here we go with the process!

I got to the office on time and the first thing she had me do was put on some disposable shorts so that every part of me was accessible when needed.  Sexy!  Then we took the clinical “before” photos and she had me rotate around a clock-like positioner so that she could get photos from every angle.  These photos are used to compare my changes from day 0, day 30 (when they re-treat), and day 60.  She then marked up my fat pockets with permanent marker so that she knew exactly where to hook up the suction wand to get the part that bothers me.

Then it was time to hook me up to the machine!  She grabbed a freezing cold gel pad from the freezer and put it on my right fat pocket and then hooked the wand up.  It was cold, but not terrible.  The wand sucked my skin deep into the applicator and she showed me the line they want my skin to get to at a minimum for a good freeze, and she said that mine was well above that.  She said, “you’re going to be happy with how this turns out!”  She then propped pillows around my legs and put a boppy pillow around the wand to hold it stationary, and she stepped out.  I watched “Mad Men” for an hour then she came back in and turned off the machine and took the wand off.

Holy hell – that was AMAZING!  The bulge had frozen under my skin and it was sticking up in the shape of the applicator.  She was very pleased, said that when it stands up like that, that it’s a “good freeze.”  She had me feel it and said, “it feels like there’s a stick of butter under your skin.”  That’s exactly what it felt like – I could even leave a finger imprint in it.  It was pretty cool.  I asked if all of that “butter” was fat cells that were frozen and she said, “pretty much, with just a little extra tissue in there.”  It was neat to have a visual of what all is going to be flushed out of my system in a few weeks.  The last step was for her to massage it back down, because the results are “35% better if we do that,” and then we switched to the other side and repeated the entire process.

coole right

Top left – the applicator with my skin and fat cells vacuumed into it; top right – the view of the wand/applicator from above my hip; middle photo – right after removing the wand, this is the “stick of butter” fat cells under the skin; bottom left – right after being massaged back down; bottom right – an hour later (no swelling, back to normal with the exception of some bruising)

cool left

Top left – just before removing the applicator on my left side (see that metal band on the applicator – they wanted my skin to go to that line or above but there wasn’t enough on my left side for that); right – right after removing the wand and peeling up the gel pad from my “stick of butter” fat cells (notice how much smaller it is than my right side); bottom left – post-massage and about 3-5 minutes after taking the wand off.

I have to say, the worst part of the experience was the chair/table I had to lay on for an hour on my side – my legs fell asleep and when I switched to do the left side, I had a lot of pain in my right leg.  BUT – it was over again in an hour and as promised, there was no down time.  I ran 5.0 miles just 3 hours after I walked out of there.

Amazing!

My re-treat is scheduled for May 24th and we will do the right side again (will probably get the same amount of fat cells that time as today) and my belly fat above my C-section scar.  Stay tuned for photos in the next week or two to see if there’s a change yet!

 

Feeling STRONG – Long Run PR!

Next Saturday, I run my first half marathon in almost 6 years! The last time I ran a half, I was ill prepared and probably 15-20 pounds heavier. It was June 2010 and my finishing time was an abysmal 2:46. Prior to that, I’d run 2-3 20k’s and my best time, when I was pretty fit, was 2:16 with an average pace of 10:36 per mile. I remember being pretty happy with that!

This time around, I’ve done speed and hill training and aggressively trained with a 6-week training plan. Every long run averages about 9:40 per mile no matter how far I run, so for today’s 11.2+ (18k) training run, I expected to finish around 9:40 per mile.

NOPE!

I finished 11.6 miles in 1:49:50 with an average pace of 9:28 per mile. I could not believe it! This is, by far, my best long run pace of all time. I was planning to run in a 2:15:00 pace group next weekend, but I’m thinking of joining the 2:00:00 pace group instead. I almost decided to just add another 1.5 miles to do a full marathon today, because I felt like I could for sure keep going, but I listened to reason and quit at 11.6 miles.

This next week has one goal – keep strong and uninjured for Saturday. I cannot get hurt!

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Double Run Wednesday

I did another double run day, and I LOVED it!  This is in preparation for the 75 mile relay race I have in a week and a half since I have two legs of that race within 6 hours of one another.  I was actually looking forward to this one since I’d done it before.

I started out with an interval training run which totaled 4.6 miles.  It included a nice warm up run, 3 circuits of 600m sprints followed by 3:00 of walking after each, and then an easy run to cool down.  I felt great after it and was ready to tackle the second run of the day.  For the second run, I did a 5K but stretched it to 3.5 miles at an easy pace.  I think this is a great combo for double run days and I’ll probably stick to this model in the future.

double run

I liked it so much this week that I’m thinking of keeping this in my weekly plan even after the relay is done.  It’s just really great conditioning!

The 6 Week Half Marathon Training Plan

I’ve been following a rather rigorous 6-week half marathon training plan.  It’s labeled as “intermediate” and I believe it – most half training plans are at least 10 weeks long and they’re recommended to be 12 weeks long.  However, this is not my first rodeo and I needed a plan that would push me harder than I’ve been pushed in the past, and have me prepared  to choose a definite plan starting on May 1 (to prep for the July 23 race).  I wasn’t sold on the Hal Hi.gdon plans because they have you running 5 days a week which is great, but sets me up for failure some weeks.  I’d rather run more than prescribed than less.  The Hal Higdon plans also have 2 long runs a week later on in the plan and with kids, that just isn’t going to happen.

I got my nifty Microsoft Band for my birthday and they have all sorts of pre-programmed training plans to choose from, and there was a 6-week half training plan that looked good.  It had 4 days a week of running, hill training, tempo runs, interval runs, and serious distance gains each week for the long run.  I thought it was worth a shot.

I love this plan!  It is so easy to modify and switch up, if needed, since there are 4 running days instead of 5.  It leaves room for me to do weight training and PiYo each week as well, something that has always gone by the wayside when I’ve trained for distance runs with more traditional plans.  Even in my day (everyone thinks I have tons of time to work out, but the truth is, working out leaves me no free time to just sit), there is only so much time in a day that can be used for fitness.

I would not recommend this plan for a novice runner, or for someone who hasn’t built up their endurance or distance yet.  It truly is intermediate to advanced level.

Week 1 half

Week 2 half

Week 3 half

Week 4 half

Week 5 half

Week 6 half

 

 

One and A Half Weeks

I have my first race of the season, a half marathon, a week from Saturday.  I think about it a lot – I think about the pace I want to hold, my finish time, what I’ll take with me on the race, the hills… it’s on my mind probably 50% of my waking hours.  In the past, I’ve never been so concerned about such things, but I’m much more prepared for this half than any in the past, so I have goals this time.  Real goals!

I usually do my long runs on Mondays, but given that I have my little procedure next Monday, I’ve moved my long run to Saturday – a two day jump.  That’s forced me to squeeze the other training runs back into this week, so I’m going to try to do a double tomorrow, a 5K on Thursday, a rest on Friday, and then the 18K (11.18 miles) training run on Saturday.  I’ll rest on Sunday and then do a simple little 5K on Monday after my procedure and then be back on the proper schedule to run the race on Saturday.

Almost done

After that, I’ll coast until the Market to Market relay race and then start again with another 5 weeks of training before the next half on June 4.  My plan is working out almost exactly as planned, and that makes me happy!  Now I just need to stay injury-free until July 24!

Long Run Monday

I do my long runs on Mondays. Both kids are in school, no weekend plans get in the way, and it’s entirely up to me to get it done. I like running on my terms and working around a husband and kids to do the necessary long run is just not enticing to me.

Today was a scheduled 16k (9.94 miles). I mapped out a 10.5 mile route because I like to exceed the scheduled distance, but my thighs were chafing so badly that it was hard to get that extra 0.06 in (I’m not even kidding!). Today isn’t a failure, but it doesn’t feel like the success that Mondays usually feel like for me.

Oh well.

I am excited about my pace though. Mile 4 involved technical difficulties with my phone and mile 7 involved a stop for my apple sauce pouch snack (great running snack!!!). I never stop my timer and this is reflective of my other long runs. As I’m adding distance, my pace is not changing… And that’s what I want!

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Hills

I hate running hills. I’ve become more accepting of them, but I still dread them. For the first time ever, I’m doing some real speed training for a half marathon and that involves hill sprints. Because the first leg of the relay I’m running is hilly and described as, “hard,” I thought I’d better stick to the training plan and tackle some hills.

I had planned a particular stretch of road but it’s busy and noisy and I’d feel too exposed, so I changed my plan. There’s a pretty decent hill by the kids’ school that I usually avoid (ha ha!) so I measured it and its grade – it was 0.16 miles and almost a 6% grade. That would work!

I started my fitness band (which has the plan programmed into it so it beeps at me when it’s time to transition) and was off on my 15:00 warm-up run. I finished the warm-up at the bottom of the hill and went straight into it. I charged up that thing for 1:30:00 and then jogged another minute and a half back down to do it again. I did that 10 times – it took 30 minutes and ended up being 3.2 miles of my 6.0 mile run, half of which was up that hill. My pace suffered some but in was still under a 10:00 pace and had I run down the hill faster, it would have been similar to Mondays run (I had to pace myself down the hill to not over-shoot my starting point to run up the hill again).

And do you know what? I kind of liked it. I did. I’m learning to really enjoy the directed training runs (intervals, hills, tempo) quite a bit. I’ve never been one to coast through challenges but that is exact what I’ve usually done in regards to distance running training. It’s time to push myself.

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It Gets Harder Before it Gets Easier

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I had a 14k run on my training plan today, and I spent last night mentally preparing myself for it. 14k converts to 8.7 miles and I like to go further than designated, so I told myself I’d be running 9.0 miles in the morning. I got my flipbelt and water bottle out and ready, laid out my outfit and post-run clothes, and packed some snacks. I was ready!

I haven’t run 9.0 miles in years… Like 6 or 7 years? I don’t even know! My pace this spring is 30-45 seconds faster per mile than this time last year, and it’s definitely better than when I ran my last half marathon. Because of my improved pace, I wasn’t nervous at all. I had my route planned out and it was direct and easy to navigate (I can trend to drag my feet and trip).

This morning, my husband asked why I was in shorts and wondered if I had enough clothes on because it was cold. He always over dresses when he runs so I dismissed his concerns with a laugh. That was a mistake!

When it was time to run, I noticed the wind and decided to keep my down jacket on – my husband was right. It was pretty cold! I changed my route because the wind was concerning to me, and I wanted to stay within 2-3 miles of my car for the entire run in case I wimped out. I forgot my water bottle, and I took off.

It was hard. It was a very hard run. The wind was brutal with an aggressive 25 mph headwind on my 1-mile uphill trek. Awesome! I was beat as I turned into the flat stretch back toward my car and it took everything in me to just keep going. I didn’t time it perfectly and had to end on another uphill stretch but I got it done. And that’s what matters… It’s done.

Given the wind and some technical difficulties with my music, I’m thrilled with my overall pace. It was 2 seconds faster per mile than it was last week when I ran 7.66 miles, so I’m holding my pace well and slightly improving (2 seconds is an improvement, if absolutely minimal, ha!).

Next week is a 16k, so I’ll stretch it to 10.3 miles just to keep moving in the right direction. And like today, I won’t check the weather in case there’s more wind that could cause me to wimp out… That was a great lesson learned without even knowing I was learning it at the time. 😁