#MedalMonday: Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon

smiling among the palm trees
all smiles, and not because it’s the finish line

So I ran a second half marathon this past Sunday. The time? Not the greatest. But I had so much fun. Couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous course along the ocean.

I knew the course was mostly flat, but I had two concerns going into the race: the drawbridge on Las Olas and the Florida humidity. For the latter, I was glad I was arriving on the Wednesday prior to the race (Sunday).  My runs Wednesday were a mess because I needed more water than expected (mid afternoon, sunny) so they were: from hotel as far as water ran out and from Walgreens until water ran out. Ideal, no. But it was my first weather running since the Squirrel Stampede and gave me a chance to run the northern reaches of the Half Marathon course, which I didn’t previously know. That was the best thing about this destination race: I’ve been to Fort Lauderdale more times than I can count, so I knew the course and I didn’t have the nerves of an unknown city (or desire to tire out my feet exploring).

 

Funky Fun Run tee-shirt

Thursday was much more fun. When stretching in the hotel gym I saw a flyer for the Funky Fun Run and decided why not. I’m so glad I did. It was after sundown and in the shuttle from the hotel to the start at Running Wild I met some lovely folks-who even came to cheer me at the finish! That was such an amazing surprise. It was a quick 3.5ish mile run down Sunrise to A1A and past the Westin to the finish line for Sunday’s race and back to the Westin for a drink. I don’t really get the post-run beer thing, to be honest, but such a fun night and while it was humid I was OK and knew I was ready tor Sunday. And yes, I bought a shirt (have to support local businesses) and it’s in women’s sizing!

Funky Fun Runners

The other fun thing about this run, it was going to be my first Expo. On Friday I walked to the convention center to give myself an idea of what walking over one of the draw bridges would be like (weird!). I really didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the event.

posing with 13.1

Silliness, of course.

Also, practical. Lots of vendors and goodies. I won a copy of Push at the OrangeTheory booth, bought a couple of gels and alas didn’t find a buff. That was the one thing I was worried about for Sunday, the sun. I had a visor but wasn’t sure how it was going to go. It ended up going fine, mostly because it was overcast much of the run, but I really do need to get a buff before my summer runs.

Swear the best thing about a 2 Queen Bed hotel room was place to do flat me that isn’t on a stepladder

Flat Cari
race shirt was cute!

Sunday came early. And by early, I mean 3:45 alarm because the race started at six and they suggested we be in our corrals by 5:20. I allowed way too much time for an Uber (even though there was a surge!) and was there super early. That was good because it gave me time to use the bathroom, check my bag and buy a breakfast bar at 7/11. I wasn’t sure about (not) eating with such an early start. I had just a snack after a late lunch Saturday and was fine, but peckish. I knew I could run on a breakfast bar as I’ve sometimes had those at work before running.

The start was a little too disorganized for my liking, to be honest. I’m used to the military like corrals at NYRR races and this was just one giant mass. I found a pacer, eventually, and while I wasn’t sure I was on board with her run 5/walk 1 plan, I figured I’d start out with her. We were off a little after six: they ended up doing waves instead of the mass start, which was probably smarter.

There’s a running adage that says the first mile is a liar. It definitely was on Sunday. It was the only mile below eleven minutes because even though it was an hour before sunrise, the air was soup. I had some thoughts about a time leading up to the run, but I knew early that wasn’t going to happen. I knew I’d have to choose between running and being miserable, and run/walking more than planned, and enjoying it. I think the first two pics tell you which one I chose.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park sunrise on the Intracoastal
sunrise over the Atlantic, along A1A
lone spectator, although crowds were good
I spy signs of the Finish
Jellyfish sandcastle

As you can see, it was a gorgeous course and I wanted to enjoy it. Oops! I was also struggling mightily. I felt bleh from the heat around mile five in the park so took an early gel. That and sloshing water just made me queasy, so I decided I was walking the water stations and no more gels. Walking some gave me the chance to really take it all in: people in crazy wigs at water stations, a beer station, some fun signs, a gecko! I had my phone in my hand the entire time since a gel exploded in my pouch.  Hence the photos.

Gecko!

Checking my flip flops in my bag was wonderful for the walk on the beach back to the hotel. I checked my glasses in favor of my sunglasses, which meant I was running without glasses the whole of the race. It was fine, but I really need to get transitions. What I didn’t realize until the race was done: I ran without music. I didn’t turn on my headphones at the beginning because I was talking with the others in the group, and apparently never needed it. That was surprising to me, and I wonder if it was part of why I was flagging. I don’t think so though.

the only kind of jelly fish I like on the beach!

When I got back to the hotel, I took my medal down to the beach; a ceremonial spot in my weight loss journey.

“‘Running lets you know what you can do,’ she says. ‘You never know how far you might go until you get outside your comfort zone. You have to reach beyond your grasp. That’s where the real living begins.'” ~Doris Brown, Amby Burfoot’s First Ladies of Running.

Yup! Made this all Facebook official, but that comment nails it. It’s what I hit on after my first half as well. I will never be skinny, but my body can do a lot of things it never could before. I have a runners’ body and I’m damn proud of it.

I’m not sure whether it was a flatter course or swimming to stretch my legs after, but I’m way less sore than last time. I ran three times this week and other than some soreness which I could also attribute to airplane seats, I was fine after Monday.  Like the first, and others that follow, lots to learn, but a gorgeous day by the beach.

Yep, just a little humid
I <3 this medal. Has now joined the others

Other notes:

  • I did two runs in the new shoes I mentioned, but the 9 is too big so they went back. I apparently wish they made 8 3/4. My November ones have a couple hundred miles in them so they’ll get me at least through Cherry Blossom and maybe Brooklyn while I shop.
  • Finally hit 100 miles run on the year for #RunTheYear. A little behind pace for my 780 goal, but I think I can pick it up.
  • June is definitely going to be for shorter runs. Other races booked (and linkup with Deb Runs):
    • Women’s Mini 10K, I did this last year and loved it
    • Achilles Hope & Possibility (4M), I was closed out of this last year so got in early. I love the work that achilles does.
  • I will probably also sign up for but haven’t officially:
    • Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium, it’s mid April this year. Yay! Still not crazy about the stairs so we’ll see.
    • Italy Run, because heritage
    • LGBT Pride Run, depends on how I’m feeling on two days racing back to back once I get closer
  • TBD on:
    • Queens 10K. It’s super early and getting out there is not easy. I’m not sure how much I want to do the NYC Half, so 4/6 isn’t super compelling to me.
    • Retro 4 Miler: I loved this last year, but mid July could be awful
    • Team Championships: Yes, I’m on Team MHRC but I have yet to do anything with that so not sure.
  • I’m training for the Brooklyn Half, not Cherry Blossom. I’m still running Cherry Blossom (and can’t wait), but rather than train for that, which I was behind on anyway due to recovering from Lebow Half, and then be in a now what scramble for Brooklyn, I’m going to use Cherry Blossom 10 as a long run for Brooklyn. I know me, I’ll be taking photos of the blossoms. I think this will work.

On to the next

Review: First Ladies of Running

I read a mix of fiction and non on a recent beach getaway: fittingly all the non fiction was about running and I started Amby Burfoot’s First Ladies of Running on the plane on the way home. I wished I’d started it sooner as it was such an engaging read, but I had no time the rest of this week. Not sure where exactly I first heard of this book, but when Wendy mentioned she’d blogged about it, I realized that was probably the source since at some point her posts became my Mt. TBR.

While many of these stories are commonly told throughout the pages of Runner’s World and in other tomes of running, some of the stories and the athletes were new to me. I really liked how he used the pioneer women’s stories to narrate the timeline of women’s running. It’s amazing how quickly it changed once it all changed after the work of Julia Chase, Bobbi Gibb, Jackie Hansen, Kathrine Switzer, and beyond. In some ways, reading this now was even more fitting with Shalane having won NYC and Cheryl Bridges included in this book.

I think what made this book even better was that it wasn’t just an author interviewing these women later. As a runner or in his role at the magazine, Burfoot knew many of them and their achievements personally. As someone who came a generation later, the only one of these I remember was Oprah’s Marine Corps run to this was a great 101 on the history of women’s running beyond the oft repeated Switzer and Benoit stories. Burfoot’s choice to ID the women by the names they were using at their moment in history was an interesting one: I can see both sides of it. Personally I also liked that he included Crazy Legs and Jacqueline Dixon in the afterword. In the last year I’ve been lucky enough to hear her on a panel about the Women’s Mini and a number of other women runners and the impact of Title IX earlier in February. While I’m running the Mini again this year, I’m kind of sad I can’t do the Women’s Half, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about Cherry Blossom.

While I understand why he included Joan Benoit and Oprah and think they do fit by the strictest standards, I think it would have been a stronger book if it ended with the toast to Grete Waitz.

Joan’s own words in her intro to her chapter spell out why I don’t think they’re part of the same story that the prior chapters were:

“I consider myself part of the next generation. I’m not in the same league as the pioneer women runners who came before me. They were part of the process of history changing. They brought progress to the sport. They are in a league of their own. They had guts, they had talent, and, most of all, they had the passion to pursue the sport they loved.”

Yes, she was a pioneer in being the gold medalist in the first Women’s Olympic marathon, but she wasn’t a trailblazer the way they women before her were.

And Oprah…

I get it, if she could do it, so could so many other women. But up to her chapter, this book was about professional women runners. Including her MCM run made it seem like there were no other everywoman runners in the races these professionals competed in. And that none of these women inspired others to run. This book was about the pioneers at/near the front, not mid packers. I think it would have been better to leave her out. Could easily have added one of the women from the afterword, a contemporary pioneer or a profile on one of the women still running now.

“Getting Real About Running” and Workouts week of 2.5

You know those books that stick with you? It doesn’t happen with every book for me, but generally when it does it’s a sign of a good book. This time, I’m not sure.

Jogging v. Running

The book in question is Gordon Bakoulis’ Getting Real About Running: Expert Advice on Being a Committed Athlete and that is basically the passage that’s still bothering me a week later. If running is about 6.0mph and jogging is below, well then a whole lot of runners aren’t real runners according to Bakoulis. In her defense, this book is fifteen years old and said runners or joggers likely aren’t measuring their runs with chronographs either.  She’s also a former elite runner and I think her views of slower runners are different from that of mainstream runners – but I think this passage is a disservice to new and slower runners all of whom run. I wonder whether her opinion on slower runners has changed during her tenure as Editorial Director at Road Runners, which is open to and welcoming of all paces. There’s no sub group for New York Road Joggers.

While this was overall an OK read, I think I’ll take a pass on her other two books. I’d actually gotten this one from the library once prior and hadn’t finished it. It’s not that it isn’t well written – it is – it’s just not the kind of running book I find particularly helpful. In a bizarre timing coincidence, Bakoulis was on NYRR’s Women in Running panel that Jen Lada hosted and she was fabulous as someone who had been directly impacted by Title IX’s passing vs. the younger runners on the panel. If there had been an opportunity, I’d have liked to ask her about the book, but it didn’t work out.

Yep!

Unrelated to the book, this showed up in a Facebook group I’m a part of, and it was exactly what I needed to see/hear. I don’t think I jog, I run. It took me the better part of a year of running to realize that I absolutely am a runner. It still feels weird.

On to the rest of the week

  • Monday: cross train. Not exactly intentionally as my knee felt OK after Sunday’s run and I could have run two days in a row, but I got to the gym earlier than normal and could not get a treadmill. So 23 minutes bike (don’t ask, I don’t remember), 10 m elliptical and 13m row (that one I know, it’s 2K). I’d forgotten my watch and headphones, this was not easy to focus.
  • Tuesday: .6 mile run after a work event. Yep, still can’t eat and run. So I went on the LateralX for the rest of my steps

  • Wednesday: aforementioned panel and a day off (more on that later). Before the panel, I went to the New Balance store because NYRR was doing a promotion where in exchange for a shoe donation, you got 10% off a new pair. It was time to say goodbye to the shoes that got me started running. The mileage tracker is off as I wore these to and from the gym and general use (although they were new when I started running). There’s almost no cushioning left, and they’re too small. I’d hung on to them as backups, but I think they were the culprit behind January’s injury and it was time. I also have no room to keep them as a souvenir. So I took the picture and chose my running journey as the souvenir for these shoes. The purchase was another pair of Vongo2 (I’m in love) in Blue Iris & Fiji. Not as fun as my fuschia ones, but more fun than the November black ones. I’m probably going to run in them for the first time on Tuesday. Oh and they’re a nine. The fuschia ones have felt too tight and I’m not sure whether I documented it or not, but when I got the new pair in November I ended up trying an 8.5 W which worked. But when I had my feet measured this time I realized the 8.5 is really just too small. My toe is right u p there, so 9 it is. Eek.
  • Thursday: had dinner plans and after Tuesday I knew I couldn’t dine and run so I got up early. I’d have preferred running outside, but it was just too cold so I headed to the gym. On arrival I realized my headphones weren’t charged. Oops. I wondered whether I could get through a treadmill workout without music. It wasn’t easy, but I did ~5K. What I realized when switching to cool down and feeling a tweak in my knee: it isn’t the running that is an issue for my knee, it’s the speed changing on the treadmill. It was manageable and didn’t really have an impact on my day. I wisely decided not to go back to the gym after dinner.
  • Friday: I didn’t have a set distance planned, I ran by feel and wore my knee brace. I was able to maintain 5.5 over ~40m and felt that was a smart stopping point. I made sure to stretch, and roll the IT Band after.
  • Saturday: off. Errands, including a knee strap. My brace is stretched out and uncomfortable to run in, so wanted to try this before getting a new brace. I don’t think my knee is “injured” so much as irritated. This is the one that was surgically repaired and has never quite been 100%, but I don’t think it’s getting worse so much as flaring especially with three days of horrid rain this week. It hasn’t required Advil since the day after my Half, and everything needed Advil that day.
  • Sunday: knee was stiff, so decided to play it smart. Ran about 25 minutes in the aforementioned strap and it was OK, so decided not to push it. The rower was free so I followed the run with a 5K row. All in all a great workout and while I’m icing my knee, it doesn’t hurt.

I’m happy with the week and think I’m ready for Sunday’s half. I’m hoping to get in an outdoor run or two before then to test my theory that it’s the treadmill, not running that’s bothering my knee.

I love this. Unknown source, Facebook

 

Other Notes:

  • I’m probably not going to hit 400K steps this month and I’m remarkably OK with that. I’ve learned that rest days are essential. And days like today and Monday when the workout felt great, but rowing is just no good for steps. The increased step goal was to get me to be active — I’m doing that with the gym. I don’t feel my body will be worse off if I come in until 400K on a 28 day month. Not listening to my body would be worse.
  • Running has been amazing for gym visits. When I was gym shopping I knew location was primary because I wanted to be able to keep running through winter. Blink has been perfect, and the towel concern has mostly been a non issue. As I was near the end of my six month window I asked about getting a report on visits and how they handled it. I need 50 to be reimbursed and as of Friday I had 63! Granted some of that was from how awful this weather has been, I wish I’d been able to run outside for some of those, but it’s so nice to know that with some time away coming up I don’t have to stress it and I can start anew in March for March-August. It was also really nice to know that even with the annual fee billed in November I’m under the $200 reimbursement from Oxford so the gym is free.
  • Pre-packing for Florida has been fun. I asked in a running group about things people wished they had for their first destination run-and some things came up that I hadn’t even thought of, like bandaids.  I did finally find my sunglasses, so that’s a win. Need to trial running in a ballcap as I never have and think I’ll hate it.

On to the next, probably after my Half.

Runners High meets #NYRRGridiron

Can you have a 48 hour runners’ high? That seems to be where this is going. This is also super long so TL;DR: I “raced” my first race today, and it was AH-MA-ZING!

Rewinding…

This was a(nother) weird week.

After Saturdays runs, I walked and went to the gym to use the bike on Sunday but then I took Monday and Tuesday off. I’d planned to go to the gym on Tuesday but I was at work way too late and wasn’t feeling it. I knew it wouldn’t be a good workout, so I went home.

I got to visit my graffiti!

Wednesday brought my tradition, of sorts. Ryan’s High45 at Mile High Run Club. We celebrated my finishing the Half and he asked my plan for the class. My knee was still a little tender so I wore my brace and said I’d take it on the easy side. He said he wouldn’t call it a “come back” if I wouldn’t.  I walked some of the active recovery windows and definitely slow jogged the others, but I took some of the flying sprints at 7.0 and that felt good. I iced it when I got home, but otherwise my knee felt good. I was so glad I got to see my piece of art, as by time class had ended she’s cleaned the wall of the 2018 Resolutions. I look forward to what Team MHRC runs and membership will bring as I really like the folks at NoMAD on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings.

I had after work plans on Thursday, so missed the gym but knew I’d go Friday. I was feeling good about the workout. Even though I’d needed to walk some of the active recovery windows on Wednesday I felt that my level 2, aka my usual pace, could move up so when I got to Blink, I hopped on the treadmill at 5.6 and off I went. At some point I looked at Runkeeper and saw what a 5K PR would be. So at minute 31 I cranked it up to 7.0, and subsequently realized that the problem wasn’t with running so much as math. Although I didn’t PR, it felt really good.

Running time machine. Feb 2, 2018 v. Feb 4, 2017

As I stretched after running, I had a scroll back through my Runkeeper to find out what the hell that PR was (this craziness with NYRR, so this is definitely a treadmill PR and longer distance) and because I thought early February was when I’d first run a full three miles. Indeed.

Other than chasing treadmill PRs, I really hadn’t had the chance to see running growth due to the frigid weather and running longer/new distances. I didn’t really have an exact plan for the Gridiron 4M because I was waiting to see how I was feeling after the Half, but now one was formulating. When I ran the 5M in late October I nearly got a mile “free” and I decided that was my goal for today. I wanted to either beat the run from the previous Feb 4, or my time  for the Boomer Esiason four miler, my only prior 4M with NYRR.

I took Saturday “off” and just did some errands. I was worn after a lot of late nights this week and needed some me time. I commented in one of the Run the Year sub Facebook groups that I was I was “surprisingly” more nervous about the four miler than I had been about the Half. I finally put it together when laying out flat me. It’s the first race where I  set a time goal (well 2).

I do a lot of reading about running, books and blogs and the use of the word “racing” always gave me pause. I didn’t really understand the difference between running a race and racing a race for non-elite athletes. I think I got it. And a stomach full of butterflies. I guess I was “racing” the Gridiron. I was nervous though, I’d only kept up that pace on a treadmill and I wasn’t sure I could do it in “the wild”

Flat Cari!

Speaking of Flat Cari, the “level up” to K before the Half was not a mistake, and shockingly I didn’t lose it after my pace during the Half. When I went to pick up my shirt and number for today I asked about that and the NYRR staff said it’s based on best pace in last window, converted to a 10K, not average pace. So I may hang onto it for the year. Some of yesterday’s errands include the NYG tee, pictured. Yes, I was violating “nothing new on race day”, but since it was atop two well worn layers I didn’t anticipate an issue (and it was fine).

And yes, I finally figured out how to attach the bib to the belt so I didn’t have to do shorts on leggings thing. Rest of flat Cari: black TekGear with thumbholes, good because I forgot my gloves, Ted Corbitt race shirt, which I love (don’t like today’s at all, it’s white). August shoes which are about out of mileage 😮 and spiderweb tights. Neck is the turtle fur muff I love. Was meant to try GU Chews, but they didn’t happen so I went without fuel.

morning dawned cold
but I was well layered

Starting at E. 102nd made it easier to get there, but I much prefer to hit Cat Hill on fresh legs. I didn’t exactly have a strategy for “racing” this so when we crossed the start, I just ran my race.

but did I run TomTom’s or Runkeeper’s?

Those splits are nuts for the first mile. While I’d love to claim TomTom’s, I’m pretty sure Runkeeper’s is more accurate based on the early crowds and what I saw of the clock at mile one. I could not figure out why this four miler felt so hard until I saw these splits. I’d maintained “that pace” (10:54) without the control of the treadmill.

Mile 3 includes Cat HIll and I’m impressed I kept it under 11 as that also included walking through a water station due to crowds. Beyond this, I don’t have any particular thoughts on today’s run. I felt as if I was zig zagging a lot more, maybe because I was in thick of pack through finish? I loved the run left or right on Bethesda to “vote” for which team would win tonight.

Done! DIdn’t know my splits, but I knew what watch said and thought I had a PR

The reason I chose the Lebow hat vs. one of my handmade ones was that I expected to ditch it when I got warm. While I took it off at mile 2-3, I held it and I was glad because I got cold going home. I was also so cold/tired I forgot to flamingo.

So how did it go?

vs. Feb 4, 2017: buy three miles, get one free!

 

vs Boomer Esiason, April 1, 2017
NYRR data. Officially on Team MHRC

WOW!
WOW!

I was on a runners’ high from how good Friday night felt, and then I was definitely on a runners’ high once I got home and saw this. While I can’t say that I trained for the four miler specifically, it’s clear that running and training has paid off. That’s even forty seconds per mile faster than the 5M at the end of October.

I’m really excited about what I’ve learned my body can do. I think I’m going to spend the weeks of 2/26 and 3/4 working on speed because I’m definitely going to “race” the Frozen Penguin. A PR isn’t a goal there, as it was my very first run and a brutal day, but I may set a time goal TBD. Why those weeks vs now?

Well based on the runners’ high from the Half, I signed up for another. It’s actually one I’ve been thinking of for some time as I knew I’d be away, but didn’t want to commit in case I hated Lebow. Luckily it didn’t sell out before I could. So here’s my calendar for the next few months:

  • February 19 – Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon. “Pancake flat” and on the beach. I’m also kind of nerdliy excited to go to my first Expo. Hoping fewer hills, less painful recovery. Hotel has a pool so I think that will help with post run stretching. Am I any more trained for this than Lebow? Not particularly, but I can do the distance. So maybe it will be another Half benchmark for one without insane hills
  • March 11 – Frozen Penguin 5K. More on this TK as I think it through
  • April 8 – Cherry Blossom 10M in DC.  I treated this week’s runs as week one of training so I’m only a week behind. Determined to be properly trained for this one and, knock wood, I think I will be.
  • May 19 – Brooklyn Half. That just happened this week. Ends at the Coney Island Boardwalk! That’s literally all I know about this one, so need to do some homework. Never run in Brooklyn before.

ETA: Just became aware of Deb Runs’ race link up. Love this idea. Always fun to have folks to say hi to before or after races

On to the next

#GoTheDist January 2018

My goals have been all over the place and as a result, January feels completely unfocused.

For this year’s Run the Year challenge I decided solely to track running miles. I’m unclear if the 780 goal is doable, but it’s realistic, so I’m going to stick with it. This is why when #GoTheDist came back I put run/walking miles there. Of course I’m still tracking steps, but they’re not the be all/end all, because they were making me crazy. Rest days have been good and you know what? The month still worked out

Stats

  • 452,584 steps.
  • 197.85 miles run/walked
  • 56.13 miles run

Analysis

  • January 2017 (301,270) was worse than expected due to grandma’s passing, but that’s still probably 100K more than I’d have been if that week had been normal. I won’t say days below goal doesn’t bother me – they do – but I think they’re for the good.
  • I had two run/walk mileage goals. One is for hitting 2018 miles in November and that’s 183.5. The other is to hit 2,500 miles run/walked for the year and that’s 208.5. Falling almost smack in the middle of these two is perfect given how cold it was and some of my normal walking was off the table. Plenty of months to make up those miles
  • Less than four miles off my running goal is absolutely OK. There was a lot of learning this month in terms of how my body would respond to the Half.  After last night’s run (more on that tomorrow) I truly feel like I’m back.  Again, plenty of time to make up that mileage. I’m even off only 13 miles in the annual sheet that takes into account months with a goal of 65. I don’t expect to hit 60 in February with the short month, but maybe I will. It’s a realistic goal.

My pace was 100% all over the place this month. It technically came in at 11:12 but I didn’t track some of the shorter runs so it’s not accurate. I know I’m getting faster and that’s all that matters.

On to the next.