Monday, July 25, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Training: Week Seven

This week was a recovery week. After a faster than normal weekend, my legs were totally begging for a break. I'm really good at listening to my body by now, and I know when to take a little more time off.

Monday was a straight up rest day. It was amazing and so needed. I took a wicked nap and finished up my laundry. 

Tuesday I was completely moved to run virtually with my friends down in Baton Rouge. After everything that has happened down there, the community came together for a three mile run. 

Wednesday I did some core work, but nothing crazy. My legs still felt a little rough. I kinda thought I may have been a little dehydrated since it got super hot. I made an effort to really focus on hydrating the rest of the week. I also started watching the new season of Degrassi on Netflix. It is one of my guilty pleasures. 

Thursday I was suppose to run five miles, but life ended up happening. Hubby's commute is tripling with his new job, so it was time to trade in his car. It was a LONG day, but we did it. We are now Prius people!

Friday was another rest day. We met up with a few of our college friends for dinner and just relaxed. I really took recovery serious this week. 

Saturday I woke up later than I wanted. I ended up running my three miles through my hilly neighborhood. It was 75 degrees at 8am! Let's also add in my newly paved road. Yeah, that was fun. 

Sunday was my long run. I was suppose to do eight miles, but that is a hard distance to do for where I run. Carrie agreed to run 10 with me at 6:30am. Man, it was humid! Not very warm, but just sticky. We ended up picking up Bethany about two miles in. Man those miles flew by. A little faster pace than normal (9:19), which was shocking in the humidity. 

Weekly Total: 16 miles
July Total: 76.3 miles

Real talk folks: last week was hard for me. Reality set in on my race from last week. I know it wasn't a goal race, and I haven't really hit the meat of my training yet, but 1:56 was hard. Like not as easy as it should have been. My "goal" for Philly is a 1:45, which at this point seems completely unrealistic. 

I still use quotes with the word goal because I won't be heartbroken if I don't hit it. I just wanted to focus on something for this fall. I'm not the same runner I was last year, fact. I'm not as motivated. 

I'm learning to listen to my body more and adapt as needed. I need to stay healthy, first and foremost. I also need to have balance. I have that now, and it's pretty great. I'm having fun. I'm finally having fun again. That is all that matters. 

Have you had a running revelation? Did it help? 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon Recap

Part One: Road Trip and Expo

Sunday morning I woke up before everyone else and was ready to go. The weather was going to be a little hit or miss with storms, but it wasn't going to be hot. WINNING! My plan for this race was simple, try to be consistent and break two hours. 

This is the first half marathon I was going to do in full compression socks. It is also the first race I was going to do in my Hoka's. I figured for my 15th half marathon, why not!

I was provided with VIP by Rock 'n' Roll for this event, so I had a private bag check and a plethora of bathrooms to choose from. Joe and I ended up leaving before everyone since I was in corral four and they were all in 24. 

Private potties FTW!

We had just a few minutes before I had to get in my corral so we took a few pictures. 

Joe and I said our good byes and I made my way to my corral.

When I got in my corral I looked in front of me and there was Kristen! It was so nice to have someone to chat with, even for a few minutes. We ended up starting with corral three, which was about two minutes off the start. 

I knew Kristen was racing so we said our goodbyes quickly. I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up with her. After the 5k, I needed to stick with the plan. I wanted to run the first 5k around an 8:30 pace then hang on to an 8:45 pace for as long as I could. After racing the 5k, then walking almost 30,000 steps on Saturday, I thought this was a pretty good plan.  

I knew my watch would be off, and it was actually on until mile four! The first 5k had  a lot of flat. I mean, I knew it was going to be flat, but that was something. We also ran on an open grate bridge or two which was strange and scary all at the same time. There wasn't a whole bunch of crowd support, but that was fine. It was cloudy and slightly muggy - like going to rain muggy. 

The first 5k wasn't crowded at all. My legs felt great and I was keeping a good pace. I knew it wasn't a pace I could hold on to, but good nonetheless. 

5k split: 26:29 (8:32 pace)

In the next 5k the course started to change. Sure, we had some slight up and downs, but mostly it involved turns. LOTS OF TURNS! Since I'm not overly familiar with Chicago, I just felt like I was going around in circles. We would go under the train tracks and then be between buildings. I just looked down at my watch at some point and it said I was running a 14:20 pace. Yep, I'm doing it blind the rest of the race. 

Ummmm watch? 

I remember seeing the six mile marker and thinking "HOW AM I ONLY AT MILE SIX!?! I'VE BEEN RUNNING FOREVER!!" This seriously was the longest half marathon I have ever done. I think it was a mix between all the turns and genuinely having no clue where I was. 

10k split: 53:40 (8:39 pace)

I have never been so done with a half marathon before. I was so checked out. It wasn't the races fault, I just don't do well on flat courses. Then let's add in the equalizer. Head wind. Yes folks, Chicago is the Windy City for a reason. From the six and a half mile marker to about mile eight there was an awful head wind. At times I didn't feel like I was moving. 

I had to stop to fill up my water bottle anyway, so I did it in this stretch. I had also used this race to work on my fueling, which is a huge problem for me. 

I remember taking another turn on to an out and back. The head wind just stopped. Man, no air movement with rain coming was legit! The smell of rain was in the air. It was so cool to see the people ahead of me. They all looked so strong. I made sure I cheered for them. All of a sudden, after the struggle fest, I was already at the 15k mark!

15k split: 1:17:19 (8:42 pace)

Okay, still doing alright. My 10 mile split would be able to really tell what I was doing. I hit the mark with a 1:26 and some change. Alright. I can run under a half hour 5k, I'll get my sub-2. 

I could see signs for McCormick Place, which was where the expo was located, and knew it brought the final tunnel with it. HOLY DARK! Like DARK! I was just looking at the man in front of me and his reflective parts of his clothes. Once I came out of the tunnel was about where the last of the 10k participants were. They would join the course with us and finish at the same spot. 

It was also around this time that this magical sponge appeared! If I could have hugged that lady who gave me my sponge I would have. My salty sweaty self was so happy!

Okay, eye on the prize - see how far under two hours you can get. 

This plan got a little derailed around 11.5 miles. This was the last "hill" (overpass) of the race. Now let's add in 10k runners with us, it was crowded. I couldn't get any speed which made me mad. Just bad timing.

At the 12 mile marker I grabbed some Gatorade, tried to take my last chew (spit it out) and made the last turn! It was a straight shot to the finish. 

Literally, a straight shot. 

The finish line felt like it was getting further and further away! There was a bro next to me getting cheered on by his friends "Just do it! Think about how much you hate Flynn!" Tons of other incredibly supportive crowds as well. Yes, you are moving forward - it is almost over. 

I hit that finish line and thought my legs were gone. I didn't feel them. Jello. Checked my watch, 1:56! It's been quite some time since I ran a 1:56 and I felt great about it!

I saw Kristen in the VIP area after the race. While she didn't hit her goal, she still had a really awesome race. 

Joe ended up with a huge PR (about eight minutes) and right as he crossed the finish line a huge thunderstorm hit. Gloria, Allison and Kelsey got stopped to wait for it to pass. I was getting a massage lol! 

In all, I did like the race. It was fun to explore a new city, and that VIP experience was AWESOME! Would I run it again, I don't think so. If I did I would probably drop to the 10k instead of the half. I just don't do well on flat courses. 

Below is the course map and elevation chart. 

Disclaimer: I was provided entry to this race as part of the Rock 'n' Blog program. All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago We Run Social Meet Up

Part One: Road Trip and Expo

After we all ran the 5k on Saturday we knew we wanted to explore the city. The group of six of us decided we were going to find the doughnut place called Doughnut Vault. We read that once they sell out for the day they shut down. When we rolled up, the line was crazy! Alright, these must be legit. 

Guys, they were AWESOME! Worth the 45 minute wait for sure. So if you are in Chicago check them out. We then decided to head down to Navy Pier to eat lunch. On the way we ran into fellow Rock 'n' Blog member Kat! She was going to Navy Pier as well and decided to come hang with us for a little bit. 

My favorite picture I took.

Then we went to meet up with David and Auggie at the We Run Social meet up. I think we secretly knew it would be epic, but I don't think epic is the correct word! 


I met so many people that I follow online! It was so much fun just to chat with everyone and find out a little about each person! I figured I would just share some of my pictures from the meet up, even though you can search the hashtag #WeRunSocial on Instagram and find so many more!

Finally meeting Kim
Another group pic!
Loved getting to meet you Heather!
Thanks for spending the day with us Kat!!
Yay insta friends Jackie and Kristen!
My new bestie, GB!
Of course a jumping bean shot! Thanks Dave!

On behalf of David, Auggie and We Run Social - I want to thank you all so much for taking some time out of your day to come visit with us. I truly had such an incredible time at this meet up. This is exactly what this community is all about. Everyone is welcomed. Take some selfies, make some new friends and talk about where your journey will meet again!

Did you make it to the meet up? What awesome pictures did you get?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 5k Recap

Part One: Road Trip and Expo

Saturday morning was the first part of the Chicago Remix Challenge. Originally I wanted this race to be a goal race for me. Since I broke my 5k PR a few weeks ago, I wasn't going to be heartbroken if I didn't get it. Especially after the travel and a not so comfy bed. I was hoping to negative spilt (7:45 7:30 7:15). 

Flat Steff!

Gloria, Allison and I made our way down to Grant Park. We were going to meet Brandi and Momma K. Brandi was participating in a video for RnR so we knew we wouldn't see her very long. 

We ended up seeing Kathleen and chatted a little bit. It was so nice seeing her! 

L to R: Kathleen, Allison, Gloria and Me

It was time to get into the corrals. I was moved into corral 2 and it happened to be right by where Brandi was! 

Yay Brandi!!!

As we were standing and chatting David found us, and then GB and Kristen! It was a fun Rock 'n' Blog meet up!!

L to R: Me, Kristen, GB, David, Ashley and Brandi. (Photo Courtesy of Brandi)

Ashley told Brandi she was going to start in corral 2. Since that's where I was we were standing together. Then all of a sudden we were pulled to the front. Like the start line. Ashley told some super serious dude to move over and we stood on the start. Brandi was freaking out. I grabbed her hand to calm her down. I hoped it helped. Guess I'm going to race!

Bottom right corner! That's us!
Joe, Kelsey and Charles said they would be located in the first half mile on the left hand side. They weren't exactly ready for me to be in the front. Plus, they were on an overpass which was awesome! 

We went down the same road and through a "tunnel" (kinda covered road but not a tunnel) and I knew my watch would be off. I looked down just to see and it said I was running a 6:20 pace. Crap, this isn't the plan. 

Just out of the tunnel GB passed me and tried to pull me along. I thanked him and told him to go. I already screwed up, I didn't need anyone seeing my crash. Also, the sun really started to come out after the tunnel. Shock to the system after the dark. 

My first mile went off at 7:10, but I never saw a one mile marker so I'm not exactly sure. 

Mile two was along the bike path near the lake. The cool thing was we ran past the start line and could still see people starting. Also, when people say Chicago is flat, they aren't kidding. My legs were not ready for it. I was cramping. Thank goodness I packed some emergency chews. I saw David around this point and man he looked good. Probably how I should have looked if I stuck to the plan. 

The two mile marker came up and said 14:5x. I knew I evened myself out a little bit, but didn't feel good at all. 

Mile three had a lovely "hill". We went down a little bit and then right back up. My legs were so happy. This is a reoccurring thing for me. I'm not good on flat, since there is not a lot of flat places to run it Pittsburgh. It's also getting warm out. 

Kristen and her hubby came up by me really close to the end and it made me smile. Just a little bit of energy from a smiling face was seriously wonderful. 

I made the final turn to the finish and saw Joe. 

I look like I know what I'm doing!

I crossed the finish and checked my time. 23:45 which was WAY better than I expected. 

Only 11 seconds off my PR after a complete lack of consideration for my plan. 

I cannot say enough about these two!

Joe and I ended up in the beer garden (or as I called it, the carbey water) while we waited for everyone else. 

Three of my friends PRed the race. I was so excited for them!

L to R: Brandi, Kathleen, Me, Momma K, Allison and Gloria

If you are planning on running this 5k, do it. It's flat and fast and a really nice course. The medal is also really awesome. 

Awesome shirt and medal

Here is the elevation chart and course map. 

Disclaimer: I received entry to this race as a part of the Rock 'n' Blog program. All opinions are my own.