Not likely - August and September are the hottest months here in Tampa. :-/
So...after my last race (see this post), for which I did little training, but still somehow pulled out a PR, I've decided that it's time to get back into shape - marathon shape, that is. I have a 5K on August 23rd, so in preparation for that (and for marathon training, which officially starts August 25th), I have been running 3 miles at least three times a week since July 22nd. Yesterday marked my 5th day of doing this, and I feel good. Not quite ready to run a marathon, but good nonetheless. I've mapped out my training as well, and my scheduled 10 miler and two half marathons fall on days where I should (according to the book) run 9 miles, 14 miles and 8 miles, respectively. All in all...things are looking up. Now, if it would only get cooler.
Not likely - August and September are the hottest months here in Tampa. :-/
My parents and I arrived in Newport the night before the race, checked into the hotel (across from the casino) and headed out to the shops along the waterfront. It is a very nice area - I could definitely see the New York and New Jersey "money" (and hear it). It's a little touristy, but also a little ritzy. There are enormous yachts as well as cars I've never heard the names of before - there was an Aston Martin parked near we had dinner - it was getting a lot of attention. It was kind of fun to watch people take selfies and such with it. Soon enough, it was time for dinner - my parents had reservations at 22 Bowen's Wine Bar & Grille - a bit out of my price range, but they were paying. I had the Statler Chicken because it would be easy on my pre-race stomach...and I couldn't help but try the clam chowder. The chowder had a lemony zest too it, which was different. It was good chowder, but not the best I've ever had. The chicken was good as well - very moist and flavorful. I'm a picky eater, so that's a rave review from me. I made sure to hydrate before, during and after the meal - not making that mistake again. We walked and shopped a little more after dinner (found a tank top!) and I salivated over all the people eating ice cream. I knew I had to wait until after the race, so I was a good boy. I also bought a really cool nautically-inspired bracelet from Lemon & Line (pictured on right). We headed back to the hotel and I went to bed around 11pm, setting my alarm for 6am.
I kept waking up before the alarm, but I resolved to not get up. I did check my phone for the time (to see if it matched the room clock) and noticed that the battery was almost dead. I had plugged it in, so I thought that was strange. The charger had fallen out of the outlet - boo! I plugged it back in, saw that it was charging, went back to bed and soon enough, it was 6am. I laid out everything the night before (except my running watch, which I did end up forgetting - lesson learned!), so it didn't take me long to get ready, say "goodbye" to my parents, and head across the street to the shuttles waiting at the casino. I got to the shuttles at 6:27am, and ended up finally catching one at like 6:51...there was a long line when I got there, and an even longer one when I left.
When they dropped us off, the lines for the port-a-potties were so long, I figured "forget it," but as time wore on, I decided I should try anyway (I had already "gone" twice that morning) - runner's stomach. When I got into the port-a-potty, no toilet paper! Another lesson learned...I guess I should always have some on me in case. I ended up not going to the bathroom, didn't want to get in another line, but I ended up being okay in the intestinal department. Despite this setback, the sunrise was beautiful.
Using some of the last of my phone battery, I was texting my parents during this time to see if they had boarded a shuttle, and they had, but not soon enough to see me start the race. It was about this time that I realized I forgot my Garmin running watch. Ugh...luckily, I had my phone - oh wait, it didn't charge overnight. Luckily, I had my iPod, so I used the timer on that!
The National Anthem played and soon enough, we were off. The beginning of the course was through a wooded, residential (I use that term loosely...it was like where I live, a house every 200 yards) area, but that soon opened up to waterfront running. I snapped a photo here with my dying phone, but I guess it didn't save it because I couldn't find it later. That was unfortunate, because it was gorgeous - lots of boats and then the bridge - you should've been there.
I kept running through more residential areas, a few people cheering here and there, including a man in a Viking helmet. I was anticipating the curve in the course, and the long, long, long straightaway ahead of that (see course map to the right). It eventually appeared...and so did the Viking (again! and again! and again!). I figured out what he was doing...driving ahead, getting out of his car, flipping his sign over (it was a large "notepad") with oft-seen-at-a-race, inspiring messages like: WORST PARADE EVER - Run now. Beer later. - and more that I forget. I was running about a 10 minute mile pace at this point, and I was very proud of myself. Unfortunately, I must have stopped the timer after checking my time at mile 5, because at mile 6, it still read "50:33." Oh well, I soldiered on...vowing to remember to add about 12 minutes (to be safe) onto the time displayed.
This was my first race with earphones all the whole time. There was not as much to see as London, and not as much to "do" as Disney, and I was glad to have the music. It definitely kept me going. For not much training, I did surprisingly well. I never once felt like stopping. I would grab the water as I ran by; I ate my gels every 45 minutes; and I was keeping about a 10:30 minute pace. I learned my lesson from London (finally, a lesson I had already learned!) and brought my own water (belt). I was thankful to have this, because I felt well hydrated the whole race, and after it as well. Just before mile 8, I did a double take on my watch, I calculated my time at about 75 minutes, but I had not seen a mile 7 marker. There wasn't one - a fact I confirmed at the finish line when I explained not seeing it to my parents and another runner said there wasn't one. Good, I wasn't hallucinating.
Around mile 9, I started to feel a little tired. And then, a lovely person decided to set up a sprinkler in her front yard that sprayed on the road! There was another one at mile 11...and they both felt magnificent. At this point, the morning "chill" of 60 degrees had worn off and it was definitely approaching 70 at 9am. I checked my time again and realized with three miles left that I was on pace to possibly beat my PR...if I calculated that missing mile's time correctly.
My fellow runners and I emerged from the trees to the sight of the ocean and the Newport Bridge (again - but from the other side - pictured on left) and I knew I was close to the finish. As I passed the marker for mile 11, I did the math again. It was going to be close. I started to pick up the pace a little and continued to feel good. I finished my water at mile 11 and realized I was going to finish. This thought is always a good feeling, and a leg booster as well. I steadily increased my pace and once I could see the finish line, I felt like I was flying. I saw my parents waving ahead, and my happiness increased a thousand fold. This was the first race they had seen since high school. I kept sprinting - it felt like sprinting anyway - to the finish. And it was over. I had my medal, grabbed my water and Gatorade and started chugging. I was so happy. I was pretty sure that I had a PR. There was some food at the finish, but I stuck with the fluids. I took a selfie with my medal (very Purdy - see below) and looked over at the bay...lots of runners up to their thighs in the water. It seemed like a good idea, but I had a shuttle ride and walk back to the hotel. My parents caught up with me...and my Dad showed me his phone. He had been tracking me with a new app, and I got my PR! 2:21:54. Woo hoo! We said hello to some old friends - hello, Erica and Tarin! - and boarded the shuttle.
I showered, found a breakfast place on Yelp (Corner Café), which was really busy, but very good - and had the best breakfast in a long, long time. I think food always tastes better after a race, but this was heaven. We hit downtown again and a few shops on the way home, and I visited my grandmother at the nursing home before visiting hours ended.
I had a lovely little jaunt with my parents down to Rhode Island, and can add it to the list of states where I've run a half marathon. My new (life) goal is to run a half marathon in every state. That's kind of how I ended up running this one in the first place. I decided the half marathon was the ideal distance to still be a challenge, but not wreck my body...and since I don't love swimming or biking, triathlons were out. So...a half in every state, here I come.
My next race is the Jamestown Half Marathon in Rhode Island on July 12th. I'm running 3-4 times a week currently, but nothing over 4 miles since the marathon in April. I'm a little nervous that I won't be in prime condition, but I know I'll still be able to finish. I'd like to get a new PR - better than 2:22:32 - but we will see how the training goes for the next month. I'd like to be able to train more, but the weather is not cooperating (78 degrees at 5am, yay!) and I have a lot on my plate personally too. I put it all there, so I can't complain too much. It's all good stuff.
This week ended with the "Big One" - 20 miles. But, before that...
The week started with an "easy" 60 minute run. I ran at 9:55 pace. Honestly, the beginning of this week feels so long ago that I don't remember much of it. I think I ran the loop behind my apartment, at night? In any case, the Garmin says I did it, so I did it. :) After work on Tuesday, I did my normal gym circuit. Despite skipping it last week, I'm almost to where I was pre-surgery with the push-up number. I'm at 12 in 30 seconds for the first go round. I started dog/house-sitting for a friend on Tuesday night, so on Wednesday, I ran around the local golf course. I tried to push it because I know it helps for the longer runs. I ran at a 9:27 pace. I lifted weights on Friday and then did not prepare well enough for me 20 mile run (in my opinion and in retrospect). 11:48
I woke up at 6 am on Saturday and fed the doggies, then headed to the Upper Tampa Bay Trail for the run. Fortunately, a handyman left his headlamp at my apartment last week, so I had something for the first few miles - it was still dark out (and 64 degrees - red flag #1). I wasn't the only crazy - there was one other group of runners, and I did see the ranger on his Toro putting the water out and clearing the trail. I did have a bit of bad luck early on - at mile 3, my low battery indicator for my Garmin came on (red flag #2) - I squeaked another 6 miles out of it though and was able to find mile markers and time everything just right so I could figure out (and keep track of) the distance I was running. The first 10 miles were pleasant - I watched the sun rise at mile 6.5. And despite the sun disappearing behind clouds at mile 13 and remaining "cool," it went a little downhill from there - the run, not the terrain. I needed to re-fill my water bottles at mile 14 (they lasted me 18 miles two weeks prior) - red flag #3. I also stopped to use the bathroom at mile 15.5 (I kind of needed to go and I was advised to try it since I'm probably going to have to go during the actual marathon). Side note: I've run three half marathons and never used the bathroom once each run started. After each time I stopped, however, it was harder to get back into the running. I pushed myself mentally until mile 18 since I knew I had run that distance before and even though I tried really hard to keep going, it felt like once I hit 18 I lost all steam. I started walking at about 18.2 (I'm guessing since no Garmin) and walked until the end. Even with the walking, I calculated with the time I had on my iPod that it was an 11:48 pace.
I have several thoughts about this run.
One, I suppose it is good that I experienced all of these red flags now and not for the first time on race day, but it was still a little disheartening. Two, I realize I should have concentrated more on fluids in the days leading up to the run. I did feel I ate well the day before, the morning of, and during the run (energy gels). I just think more water would have helped...because... Three, it was 20 degrees warmer than my 18 mile run and that didn't help at all! I didn't even consider this because 18 came easier than I thought it would. Four, London will help a lot - the crowds, the sites and the fact that it's an actual race, with other people running with me, and it's for the rhinos. Considering all that, I'm happy, but I would have liked to done unbelievably well to give me more confidence. But, then again, like I said, maybe I got all of this out of the way now to help me on April 13th.
This was a really good week - filled with a lot of running. On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, I stayed under 10:00 per mile. I did the cross training as well - more of my circuit and weightlifting - I increased some of the weights on the machines and free weight exercises.
I was anxious all week for Saturday - the 18 mile run - what was (and is) the longest distance I have ever run. The weather could not have been better - at 7:30 am, when I woke up, it was 42 degrees! Very similar to the temperatures I will be experiencing in London in April. I made the short drive to Flatwoods and started the run. I felt shaky for mile 1 - this always happens, just my body getting into a rhythm. The next few miles felt great - I ran the first half of the loop and sidetracked out to the Bruce B. Downs lot, then turned around to finish the first loop. At mile 11 (the end of the first loop), I still felt good. I had been drinking water every mile and had my first energy gel at mile 9 (when they give you the same thing in all the half marathons I've done). It wasn't until mile 14 that I started to have to push myself mentally. I had another energy gel at mile 13, but it was not filling me with anything extra. I had enough in my tank to finish - it was just a mental challenge. I kept telling myself not to look at my Garmin because I would look at it in disbelief that I was not farther along...i.e. I seemed to run 0.2 miles in like 12 minutes.
Regardless of my troubles, I finished. I ran 18 miles in 3 hours, 9 minutes and 47 seconds (average of 10:33 per mile pace). I also ran the half marathon in 2 hours, 15 minutes - a personal record! Extrapolating from my time for 18 miles, my marathon time would be 4 hours, 35 minutes and 6 seconds. However, my pace slowed the entire run (with the exception of a "surge" of speed at mile 11 and 12). I'm aiming for under 5 hours as a tertiary goal. Primarily, I want to finish. Secondarily, have a blast.
Slightly less involved workouts next week. :)
This was my first full week training post-surgery, but it was also abnormal because I had signed up for a half marathon on Sunday - my one true "rest day." So, instead of the training plan-recommended 16 mile run on Saturday, I decided to do a 3 mile run (followed by 9 hours walking around Disney) and the race on Sunday. The half marathon was good. It was warm when I left the house at 5 am with almost 100% humidity and it stayed the way through the race with the cloud cover. I ran with a (slower but still awesome) friend for the first half of the race until I calculated that I would be running an extra 30 minutes if I stayed at that pace. That did not sound fun to me, so I politely excused myself from his company and ran ahead on my own. I pushed myself pretty hard - hitting 8:53 pace for a mile, then averaging out to about 10:00. My pace for the whole race averaged to 10:47 - not bad for running at 12:00 for half the race.
Before that, I did pretty good at the beginning of the week. The runs went well and the gym circuit was good - it kicked my ass, but I did the normal 3 circuits (30 sec activity, 10 sec rest - for 12 exercises). I did lose a bit of endurance in the two weeks I was off. For instance, I was up to 12 pushups in 30 seconds...and I slipped back to 10 this week. I expected to lose a bit, but I still pushed through it to try to normalize as soon as possible. I was exhausted on Thursday, however - which also happens to be my "Friday" at work - I went to bed before 6pm. And I honestly didn't feel great on Friday, so I decided to rest. I'll blame it partially on the weather...it's been 70 and humid every morning for the last week. Hopefully, next week will be better.
I woke up at 4:20 am to take care of the dogs I am dogsitting, then headed off to the half marathon around 4:45 (6 am start). It was a balmy 71 degrees, 100% humidity. No luck for me and these halfs. :/ But, still a personal record! No Disney characters to wait in line to see. ;) I would have been slightly faster but I ran with my (slower but still awesome) friend Spencer for the first half of the race - it was his first half. Then, I was a bad friend and left him for the last half (I'll blame it on the only child part of me). I made up a lot of time on the last half and averaged out at 10:47 per mile.
After I finished, I ran into friend/co-worker/runner Morgan who was running the 8k that started at 9 am (more like she found me after seeing that I finished) and had an amazing breakfast with Spencer (my running buddy) at First Watch. I headed back to Kristin's to let the dogs out and shower, then headed into work for an 8 hour shift starting at noon. As you can imagine, a long day. :)