Friday, November 12, 2010

Buffalo Creek Half Marathon

The Buffalo Creek Half Marathon is a great race: I have run it 4 out of the 5 years it has been held- the only reason I didn't run last year was b/c I was out of town. It is a point-to-point on a flat soft trail near (wait for it) Buffalo Creek. The weather has always been great, and this year was no exception. My training was going well, but I didn't do much speedwork, so my goal was 1:42 which is a 7:47 pace

I drove up to the start with my good friend J, and another gal who I have run with a bit. Car ride went well, and we got to the start with time to spare. Ended up bagging the porta-potty line for the bushes, but heck- we're all runners, right? It was low 40s to start, so I wore shorts, my compression socks, a short sleeved shirt, throw away arm warmers (socks) and throw away shirt.

The first mile is downhill, so I was ready for that;


By the end of the second mile we are on the trail, and I was trying to get into a good pace. I wore my watch, but not my Garmin. I was pacing off a woman ahead of me, but realized by the end of mile 4 I needed to pass her.


I ditched my LS shirt around mile 3, and was taking water at the water stops. I did not start with my own bottle of water, which I will do next time. Miles were ticking off nicely, at this point.


After mile 7 I slowed down a bit on the next mile, but a little too much:
8- 7:58

Sometime during the 10th mile I passed another woman, and only saw men ahead of me for the rest of the race. I had been running with a guy who was also shooting for a 1:42 for a couple of miles, but he fell back around mile 11.

Miles 11 and 12 were mis-marked, which was really annoying. I actually called out at one point to the runner ahead of me b/c it seemed very unlikely that the 4 runners that were all running around the same pace had fallen off. I had mile 11 at 8:45. My friend with her Garmin told me it was actually 1.3 miles

11/12 16:15 Mile 12 has the only hill, but it wasn't too bad this year.
13.1 8:32

1:42:09 2nd AG, PW on this course.

I am content with this time. I did slow down the last few miles, which was not due to endurance (I think) b/c I ran a lot of long runs over 10 miles for this race. I think it was due to lack of speedwork, and knowing what my goal HMP should feel like.

Even though it was a PW for this course, I am happy to be running injury-free again, and am pleased with the time.

Next up: winter running with Kristin and maybe a 10k. Who knows?

Friday, October 8, 2010

September Mourn...

again- another cheesy post title, but am giving thanks daily that September is OVER, and we survived (somewhat) intact. At the end of August, we adopted a puppy, Bella. We had her name picked out for 8 months, and both Bob and I spent hours scouring website and talking with people; looking for the ideal pup to join our family. Well, here she is:

We got her from a rescue organization in Ohio, and she is the sweetest little gal. We were all quite taken with her, DH in particular. A week or so after we had her, DH got some devastating career news; we are still recovering from the shock, and he is moving forward, albeit slowly. Two weeks after she arrived, DS#1 had an asthma attack that landed him in the ICU at Children's Hospital for 4 days. At the advice of both our allergist, and the one at Children's, we chose to fine a home for our sweet little Bella. Happily for her, one of DH's colleagues had lost a dog around the same time our Beta died, so they took Bella. It was a brutal month with lots of sleepless nights, and both personal and professional worry. We went to visit Bella last weekend at her new home, and must say it was good closure; she was obviously someone else's dog now. Still very, very sweet and getting really good at chasing the ball. The real killer part of realizing DS cannot live in comfort with a dog is the realization that we will not have a dog again. Maybe never. That is really suckful, and took a long time for me to get my head around.

On the running front, things have been GREAT! I have been actually running with some friends and other gals on Friday mornings, and that has been really fun. More on that in the next post....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Colorado Rocky Mountain High

ok, so I KNOW it is cheesy, but there is something to the song, and the great feeling I get when in Colorado. It is truly my 'Happy Place'. I was fortunate enough this year to spend 30 days in Colorado, and our summer trip was truly amazing.

The boys and I flew out on a Tuesday, and had a great visit with my sister, BIL and new nephew, Jack. The boys really enjoyed him, and he is a happy, happy little boy. One highlight was sailing on Lake Dillon with Dad, Sis, BIL and the boys.

Bob arrived on Friday, and promptly scared Jack, so we had a fun afternoon of the baby getting used to Bob. (Good Times). We had a very fun 'Summer Birthday' dinner and Jack warmed up enough by Saturday to let Bob hold him. Sis, BIL and Jack left on Saturday, so we went hiking with Mom/Dad to Shrine Mountain, up by Vail.

Our friends arrived on Sunday, and we had a great week of hiking, biking, kayaking and hanging out. D took a baseball to the mouth on Tuesday, but other than that we were injury-free for the week. Here is our view of Lake Dillon:

The kids loved playing baseball on the lawn:

The last day the four of us hiked the McCullough Gulch Trail, which had some amazing waterfalls and views:

Pittsburgh Triathlon

Stats: 1:19:10 1st Place Female 40-44 AG
Summary: More enjoyable than 1st Triathlon, mostly due to bike

Two years ago I did the Olympic Distance Relay for this race with A and J. I did the swim; borrowed Jen's wetsuit, and got colitis the day before the race. Ended up swimming anyway- but did NOT feel good at all. This year's experience was MUCH more pleasant.

Saturday J, A and I went down to pick up our packets and have lunch. We bumped into a few folks we knew, and I was amazed to see so many fit people in downtown Pittsburgh. The race has grown in size in the past two years, which is great.

Got a decent night's sleep, and picked A up around 5 am. Everything went very smoothly with setting up transition, getting our body markings, and getting to the start of the race. No pre-race GI issues, which is always good.

We were swimming in the Allegheny River (the 'cleanest' of the Three Rivers?) and wetsuits were not allowed due to the warm temps of the water. We did see a dead fish while we were waiting to start, but no pythons or bodies were in view.

Swim went well- I think I actually enjoyed NOT having a wetsuit. I climbed out of the river just ahead of A, and we entered the transition area together. Time for swim (600 meters) and 1st transition was 12:51.

Bike went much better than anticipated- we were out and back on the HOV lane of a highway outside of Pittsburgh. The out was on a slight uphill, the back very easy. I was passed by a few people on both the out and back; including J and another woman from our group. I was happy with myself for not putting on the brakes on the downhill-- my 'granny' biker-self is getting the need for speed~

Due to the fact the boys had just had Science Center Camp the week before the race, I had run the trail the 5K was on 3 times that week, so I was pretty sure I knew were the turn-around was, which helped my mental game. I passed a lot of people in the run, and ran a 24:26 for the 5K.

Felt great afterwards, hooked up with my friends to watch J's husband finish the Olympic Distance, then headed out to RMU to watch DS#1's 3 on 3 Championship Game. Found out later that #1 and #2 women were both in our AG, so thus placed 1st in AG, with A getting 2nd.

I was happy to have done those two triathlons this summer, and really enjoyed biking with A every week. I don't see myself doing much more than that next summer, but perhaps an Olympic distance might be in my future. Only time will tell.

Friday, July 30, 2010

One more thing I 'Get' now.

I now finally understand how my parents could be so proud of me for finishing a marathon, even when I am so disappointed that I want to scream. I used to think they were just trying to sugar-coat the experience, and focus only on the positives. (which is a wonderful trait that my mother has).

I remember cringing when we were at dinner after the NYC marathon: my 4:02 finish in my mind a disaster b/c my goal was a BQ of 3:50, and I was in severe ITBand pain for the last 16 miles. They were proudly telling folks at nearby tables (other diners wearing finisher medals and their friends/families) how I had run the marathon, and we had all traveled from Pittsburgh. At that time I just wanted to crawl under the table as I mumbled 4:02 time and time again.

What was to me a failure was to them something to celebrate.

Fast forward almost 4 years. When T and D finished their Kiddie Triathlon races I could not have been more proud of them if they had won an Ironman. To me it really did NOT matter where they finished in their age groups (near the bottom), but that they went out there and competed and finished. I want them to know that I am proud of them for trying and their success is in the completion.

They wanted to look their times and AG placement up online (wonder where the competitive nature comes from- ahem) and I had to watch as their faces both fell when they saw where they had finished, and recognized names of classmates and teammates above theirs. The fact that D finished after his 3 falls off the bike and T did the longer distances in his first time out is something I hope they can be truly proud of themselves for doing.

And, the great thing about timed races... THERE IS ALWAYS NEXT YEAR!


PS-- I ALWAYS appreciated the support from my parents; THANKS for being there!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Boys' Triathlon

Today the boys participated in the South Park kid's triathlon. We 'trained' a bit at the trail, which consisted mostly of helping Danny get acclimated to his 2-wheel bike, and Tommy working on the run portion. I left the swimming training up to the swim team coaches. I was really happy they both wanted to do it; Tommy b/c the distances were double what Danny would have to do (100yd. swim, 2M bike and 1M run) and Danny b/c he really just got started on getting off/on his bike this week. He had some issues turning, which would come into play today.

We got them there, and they found their transition areas, and got their timing chip around their ankles and got their body marking done. Danny was in the 4th heat, and he had a 50 yd. swim. All went well:

He made it to the transition area and on the bike. Now, remember Danny had been having some trouble turning. Well Bad Mom over here didn't take them up to see the bike course, so we didn't know how many turns he would have to make. Poor Dude ended up falling off 3 times, once was an over-the-handlebars type move. He got back on each time, and came in off the bike course a bit battered:

Got off the bike, and finished his run with a big smile on his face:

We got him attended to right after the race, but here are some pics:

Note the road burn on the chest- OUCH!

We both told him how proud we were of him for finishing with those injuries, and he said "why wouldn't I finish?" Great attitude!

Tommy was in heat #12, so here he is during the 100 yd. swim:
Love the position of the elbow. The race was in a pool that was 50 yds. long, so they had to do two laps.

Here he is waving to Danny and I after the swim:

And on the bike:

The one-mile run the 10-12 yr. old kids have to do was half-mile down and a half-mile up a hill. I was really proud of Tommy for running all the way up the hill- he did great:

(note how Tommy has his shirt on- he saw what happened to Danny after his bike fall)

Each athlete received a nice medal for finishing:

When asked if they wanted to do the Triathlon again next year the answer was 'YES'.
Great way to start the weekend for all of us!

Oh, and me: ran 25M on 4 runs this week with a LR of 10M @ 9:08 pace. Hope to get out tomorrow for 3-4 more. Finally feel like I am truly running again. Also, biked 21M, and swam 1000 yds.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Firecracker 5k

Quick stats: 22:44 (watch time) 22:49 clock time
7:20 pace
2nd in Age Group out of 36

Today I ran the Firecracker 5k that I have run probably 9 times in the past 14 years. It is a hilly out and back course that I enjoy because it is a relatively big race (1400 people this year) and there are LOTS of fast runners. Many of the area college and high school XC teams run this race.

My course PR is 22:06 and I was targeting 23:00 with a pixie-dust goal of 22:30. Most importantly, I wanted to race well and not get injured (which happened the last two times I ran 5ks- last year and after this race 2 years ago.

The weather has been glorious for western PA this whole week- cool in the morning and getting nice and warm during the day. Today is going to be in the high 80s, but it was cool in the morning. Nice day for a race.

I got up, had my usual bagel w/PB and headed over to the race. Parking was easy, and I got a mile warm-up in before realizing it had gotten very hot since I had arrived. (race time temp. was low 70s). I made a last-minute dash back to my car, changed into a tank top, and headed to the start.

This is a chip-timed race, but only has 1 mat. I lined up 10 or so rows back, and knew my watch time would be a bit off of clock time. I was trying not to go out too fast, but once again, did just that.

First mile is rolling hills, and the 1 mile marker is just past a church. 1st mile was 7:02-oops!
The second mile includes the turn-around point, which is my favorite mile because you get to see all the fast runners (winner was 15:38, 20 runners below 17 minutes). Great inspiration. The turn-around went fine. (I fell here a few years ago)
The third mile was very weak-- mentally and physically. I sort of zoned out for awhile, and a few women passed me. I just didn't have my mental game today. The last hill by the church seemed bigger than in past years, but since I know the course so well, I knew it was the last hill, and that the end of the race was sort of a small incline.

I did put on a bit of speed at the end, but was content with my 22:41. Not the fastest on this course, but not the slowest in the past 5 years either. I ran 3 more miles to warm down, very easy. I wanted to make sure to get everything loosened up, so as to avoid injury this year.

I was happy to get 2nd in my AG. The 45-49 age group winner ran a 19:57, and 2nd place 20:15. yikes! And I thought moving up to 45 AG would HELP me next year :)

All in all, I am very happy to be healthy again with the running, and feel as though my fall half marathon training and goals might be accomplished.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Dam Tri: Damn Right!

Background: When I lived in Colorado, I did two Sprint Triathlons- both of which were in the pool, and on mountain bikes. Biking is NOT my thing: never has been, never will be. For some reason, when I get on a bike I am very aware of my breathing. I am getting better at the riding part, but on the downhills, I go into 'granny mode' and am very, very cautious.

That being said, last fall I broke down and bought a road bike for two reasons: 1) to give myself cross-training options b/c my knee and hip were making running difficult and 2) so I could enjoy workouts with two of my good friend who bike and also do triathlons.

I knew the swimming portion would not be tough for me, but did buy a wetsuit, which I wore only one time before the race. I got in 4 swims before the race, the longest of which was 1 mile, so I knew I could handle the distance for the race.

Race distances: swim 1/4 M (17 pool lengths) bike 11.3 M, run 3.1 M.

I rode to the race (2 hours away in beautiful western PA~) with my two friends and one friend's husband. We had to get up very early (4:20 am) and had a pleasant, easy drive up to the race. We hooked up with another car with 4 women (some of whom I had met previously) and all made it in plenty of time. We got there, got our packets and moved our stuff into the transition area.

Now, here is where I have to point out that triathlons are 'A WHOLE THING'. Seriously-- the bike, the wetsuit the staging area, goggles, flip flops and when to take them off- using Pam spray to help get one's wetsuit on. Really? Really. Despite the intimidation factor, I was pretty calm as we listened to the race director's instructions. This race had an Olympic Distance as well as Sprint distance event.

We did our finally potty stops, and made our way down to the lake. They had everyone going off in waves, and our wave (brown bathing caps- we joked that the over-40-Sprint- ladies must not matter much), went off a full hour after the first swimmers. It was a pleasant, if not hot, wait. The temps were climbing at this point, and I was happy to get into the water.

My wetsuit was very tight at the top, and I knew it was going to be a mind-over-matter thing during the swim. Once the race got started, I was regretting the wetsuit choice, because I never really got into a rhythm during the swim. Again, experience would help here. Needless to say, it was quick, and I had no idea about my time at this point, but started my watch as soon as I got out of the water.

The transition from the swim to the bike was up a hill, and about a 1/4 mile total distance. But, as A pointed out, 'it is the same for everyone'. I got through the transition w/out getting pebbles in my socks, and headed out on the bike.

The bike part for me was really hard. I didn't have a bike computer, so was going on time to see how far I had gone. I also failed to glance at my watch when I started the bike, so did not have an exact time for when I started the bike. I figured it would take my between 42-45 minutes for the bike. (ended up 44, so I was close here). My chain fell off at one point on a hill, and I was passed by two of the girls in our group, along with 3-4 other people, which really sucked from a mental standpoint. The scenery was really pretty, and there were some nice downhills, but I was really, really happy to see the 1M to go sign on the bike.

Now, A and I had done 4-5 bike/run workouts, which prepared me for how my legs would feel (thank goodness!) when I started the run. Since I did not have clip-in shoes, my transition from the bike to run was less than a minute, and I headed out. By now it was getting really hot (low 80s) and I was hoping to pass as many people as possible during the run.

Again, I wished I had some sort of mileage marker (Garmin would have been nice) b/c the first mile was pretty much all up hill. Then we went into the woods, and out into an open field. I could see 4 of the girls in our age group in this field, and wanted to catch as many of the ladies in my age group as possible during the run. There was a turn-around point in the field that I thought was the half-way point of the run. I passed a lot of people here, and was starting to hit my stride (pun intended). We went back into the woods and hit the 2M marker. By this time I had passed two of the women in our age group I knew, and was trying to get the other two. I passed a few more people in the last mile, and found myself directly behind A during the last half mile. She ended up getting 3rd in our AG and I was literally 1 second behind her in 4th place.

Run time was 25:13, and I definitely could have pushed that a bit. Overall race time was 1:22:37.

My other friend had a great race and finished 1st in the 35-39 AG, and I think had one of her best times ever. (hard to gauge a PR in a Tri b/c of transition distances, and bike distances).

After the race we 'bathed' in the lake, changed, and had a great picnic under the trees. A's family had come up to watch/hang out and it was super-fun and relaxing.

I am hoping to do one more Sprint Triathlon this summer (depends on DH and a work wedding), but do not see myself getting into the 3-4 races a summer mode. I simply do not enjoy the bike riding, but am willing to ride once a week for some XT and to hang with my friends.

The overall good news? My knee did not bother my during or after the race. YIPPEE!!

Next up: Firecracker 5k this Saturday.
Goal: sub 22:30. I don't know if I have that in me or not. Just happy to be running this race again b/c last year I couldn't due to my hip injury.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Boot Camp Kicked my Booty

So... I am SO SORE! Not from our little 'brick' workout on Thursday, nor from the 6M at 8:47 I ran on Friday. Nope. Boot camp-- looks like someone has NOT been doing strength training!

I was supposed to ride 20M or so with some friends and friends of friends Saturday morning, but it was rainy, so I ended up going to Boot Camp at the Rec Center with A. I was sweating like a maniac, and was already sore last night. This morning I went for a little 2M walk just to loosen things up a bit. We'll see how it feels later today and tomorrow.

Since I am not training for anything running-wise, I think I need to incorporate some XT and yoga into my routine over the next few months.

We have boys' piano recital today, then T has a game tonight at 6pm an hour away. Good times.

Friday, May 21, 2010

With a little help from my friend....

A good friend of mine has been great about getting me on my bike, and I am trying to embrace it. For some reason, when I get on a bike, I am very aware of my breathing... sort of like running uphill, but times ten. I guess I will get used to it. It has been nice having someone to ride with; just the nudge I've needed.

Yesterday we rode 10 miles, then ran 3. In my mind, since this was a workout of over an hour, it would be at an easy pace. The bike was fine-- I am super-wimpy when it comes to downhills. I don't quite feel secure on those skinny wheels yet!

Now, here is where it got interesting: we started the run, and my friend started at a pretty brisk pace. I had my Garmin on, and looked down, and we were running in the low 8's. I told her this, and said it was a bit fast, and she replied "I want to run as hard as I can as long as I can". Keep in mind this woman has run a half- marathon and completed an Olympic distance Tri, so she knows about pacing. I took her up on it, and ended up running 8:13 pace for the 3M we were running.

What is interesting to me about this is that since my sh*tband has entered the picture in the past 3 years, I am afraid to run fast and to push myself. I have been held hostage by the mindset that today's run has to fit into a bigger picture of my week, how it might affect my knees/hips and what paces I might run on other days. I realized I have been selling myself short by not pushing myself in my runs.

Now of course this is all within the framework of time periods when I am not following a set training plan, AND running low weekly mileage. Obviously if I was training for a marathon and running 40-50 mpw I can't go out and run 3M one day and then 5M the next day at MP. But- that is exactly what I did yesterday and today. Today I ran by FEEL, and ran 8:47 pace for 6M. Yes, I was pushing myself, but nothing hurt. It helps immensely that the trail I was on has slight incline on the way up, and thus nice little downhill on the way back.

I have gotten so used to looking at my Garmin, and when running too 'fast' backing off. I am going to run at least 1 run a week without my Garmin- maybe a watch, maybe nothing. I'm not saying all my runs are going to be sub 9-minute paces, nor should they. But I am going to try and get over the fear of pushing it on my GA runs.

So THANKS to my friend for opening my eyes to the possibility of really pushing myself without a set time goal or mileage goal. We'll see if I can embrace it....

Happy Friday!

Friday, May 7, 2010

On Tryouts and Training

So... it has been a LONG time since I've posted here.

Running summary: ran a 1:42-something at Philly last fall, which made me happy, and qualified me for NYC Marathon for 2010. I am not going to run NYC b/c we are taking the boys to Disney, but it is always good to hit a goal. My half marathon ultimate goal is still to run under 1:40, and I hope to do that this fall.

I was in a car accident in Mid-December, which kept my running mileage down this winter. Trained so-so to hit a 1:45 at Pittsburgh half last weekend, but made a game-day decision to adjust pace due to the weather (hot and rainy). I considered at one point taking a DNF (which I have never done), but hung in there and had a nice run. A nice run, but not a nice race.

Last night my DS#1 threw up at a school event, and the first thing that came to my mind was "oh nooooo... he has hockey tryouts on Saturday". (great Mom that I am) But it got me thinking. DS#1 SHOULD be on the top team in his organization in his age group this year; he has experience, plays his position very well, and is technically sound. Not the greatest player on the team, but contributes . He shows up, works hard, and is coachable. He has worked hard during the off season at his power skating classes, and with his skating coach. (yes, he is 10, and we are crazy, but he LOVES hockey like I LOVE running) So, what happens if he is sick at tryouts?

In my mind, he deserves to be on the top team, but if he doesn't perform at tryouts (for whatever reason) he might not make the team. A whole season of hockey can come down to 2 hrs on the ice. (now I am being a bit dramatic here b/c he is feeling better, and the 2nd tryout hour is next Thursday). But it got me to thinking about training and race day for runners.

One can train perfectly for a race, and, due to race-day weather, illness, whatever, not hit one's goal. Heck- the elites can even hit their goal paces and not win.

And, then there are days when you line up for a race you really didn't train that hard for (granted this rarely happens in marathons), and the pixie dust hits and maybe you end up surprising yourself with a new PR, or AG award. I guess what I'm trying to say is we have to remember no one deserves a PR or BQ because one trained for it and hit the paces in training. It is what you do on race day that gets those magic numbers. There is a difference between training and racing, and come race day we have to put our mental game into play.

Weak mental game = weak performance.

Sure, there are reasons: it was hot, humid, windy, raining; I was sick, I had my period, I didn't sleep/eat/hydrate well beforehand.

But it is how we respond on race day to the heat, humidity, wind, rain, cramps, nutritional issues, etc. that shows what we are made of. Sometimes the wisest course IS to back off, and save yourself for another day. Some days the best course of action is to push through it and gut it out. Only we know our bodies and true goals; we all have to answer to our inner coach at the end of the day.

The time I had last Sunday: 1:50:xx for a half marathon is 10 minutes (and runners know this is a big deal) off my PR set only 18 months ago. Yet, I was pleased b/c I made the right decision at mile 2: back off the pace, run a smart run, and save your goal time for another day. Granted, I did not train particularly hard or well for this race, so my expectations were not high. But at the end of the day, I was happy with my choices that day. Had it not been hot, humid, and raining, who knows what might have happened?

One of my favorite quotes from Teddy Roosevelt is:


Great advice, and it is what I will tell my son tomorrow, and myself on my next race day.