Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Seneca7 Relay Race Recap - Part 2

Did you miss Part 1? Check it out, here.

Where did I leave off? Oh right, I had just handed off the slap bracelet to Steven and he was making his way around Seneca Lake.

Steven finishing his leg, photo courtesy of Jenn

Rob heading out for his first leg, while Mark and Mike laugh at Steven complaining about his hill, photo courtesy of Jenn

 Mike and Rob's exchange, photo courtesy of Steven

Mike was runner 6, which was the leg that I had last year, so I was really excited to see how he was going to do. His first leg had some rolling hills in the beginning and then a gradual downhill to the exchange point.

A little bit of the uphill, photo courtesy of Steven

Always smiling, photo courtesy of Jenn

He did great and crushed the 4.6ish miles with a blazing fast average pace of 7:05!

 Hanging out at an exchange point with my best friend

Everyone smiling and having fun!

Before I knew it, everyone else had finished up their first legs (and second legs for Mark and Sarah) and it was my turn to run again!

I was really excited about my second leg. The race description for it was a "big descent" for 4.7 miles. While evaluating which runner I wanted to be this leg was one of the reasons for choosing the third position. 

Time to run again, photo courtesy of Steven

 I joked that I was just going to run straight across the street rather than turn left, photo courtesy of Steven

The leg started out at yet another winery and after getting the slap bracelet from Sarah at 1:05pm, I made my way across the grass and back onto the main road. I knew that I was going to run faster than my first leg because it was a little bit shorter and because of the massive downhill into Watkins Glen. 

This leg is also really cool because you can see the lake forever and you bring your team to the bottom of Seneca Lake. 

I passed a runner immediately and really pushed the pace. The leg doesn't start out with an immediate downhill but rather remains flatish for almost 2 miles. The van went by me earlier this time and I made sure to wave at them when they went by!

 One of my favorite photos from this race ever (my current Facebook cover photo), photo courtesy of Jenn

A fast runner passed me around this time, but I saw some other runners in the distance and worked really hard to gain on them. During the major downhill mile, I told myself to just run as fast as possible because I couldn't disappoint my team. I also had thoughts that I would never ever want to run a downhill marathon! My first three miles came in at 7:52, 7:56, 7:17 and I knew I would have to work hard to maintain a sub-8 average pace. 

The final 1.7ish miles of this leg were flat and took us through the marina and a lot of turns in a residential area. Luckily there were plenty of volunteers in this part and I didn't get lost! A cyclist on a bike team (yes some people bike around the lake during their off legs instead of using a van) asked me if I liked the downhill and I said yes. 

 Mike at the exchange point while I finish up my leg, photo courtesy of Jenn

I was getting tired toward the end but I again didn't want to disappoint my team and as soon as I saw the park in the distance, I pushed as hard as I could. Knowing the course helped because I knew how much further I had to go. I turned into the park and ran along the gravel path to the exchange point.

A running joke (pun not intended) is that I take the best race photos, photo courtesy of Beth

I'm not evilly laughing at the hill Steven has to run up, or am I?, photo courtesy of Sarah

I could hear my team and Beth (on a different team) cheering me on and I handed the slap bracelet to Steven. I joked that I got there a bit early (he told me I had 39 minutes to get to him) and he took off up the WORST hill of the day!

I finished 4.67 miles in 36:47 (just a bit ahead of the 39 minutes) at an average pace of 7:53 (the final two splits were 8:05 and 8:28).

We had some time, but we still got in the van and continued on our way!

Stay tuned for the conclusion of the race!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Seneca7 Relay Race Recap - Part 1

This race. I just can't get enough of it.

Two years ago, we ran this race for the first time. I don't even remember now how I found out about it, but I am so glad that I did. It is pretty much my favorite race, hands down (I know I say that a lot but there are very few races that I have "threepeated"). Whenever I think about this race, all I have is love for it. It was the first race in my adult life that my parents were at (unfortunately they couldn't be a part of the race this year), new and old friends come together to run 77.7 miles around a lake all day and we get to challenge ourselves while running. Nothing else beats that in my opinion.

 The team before the race start, collage made by Sarah

Our team this year was about half returning runners, me, Mike, Sarah and Mark, and half new runners, Jenn, Steven and Rob. Jenn had run the relay last year on a different team, and Steven and Rob were completely new to Seneca7. We used a variation of our team name from last year and called ourselves, "More Misters than Sisters".

Our start time was 8:30 in the morning, so around 6:45am we made our way to Geneva to start our all day journey around Seneca Lake. Our decided team order was Mark, Sarah, me, Steven, Rob, Mike and Jenn.

 Mark starting us off, photo courtesy of Steven

 Mark running his first leg, photo courtesy of Jenn

I have never run so early in this race before, and it was nice that I didn't have to wait so long to run my first leg. We made sure to cheer Mark on when we passed him in the van, unfortunately we didn't get to see Sarah run because of how the race is set up, and I got ready to run my first leg.

 I look tired, photo courtesy of Jenn

Love these people! Photos courtesy of Jenn

The exchange point was at a fire station in Kashong-ish, and after making sure I used the port-a-potty (if you are new to my blog, when I run relays I stand in line for the bathroom A LOT) I went over to the side of the road to wait for Sarah. 

Mark had made his way back to us via the shuttle and told us approximately what time he had exchanged with Sarah. At 9:27am, she made her way up the road and I was off and running!

 Sarah making her way to me, photo courtesy of Jenn

Time to run! Photo courtesy of Jenn

My first leg was described as a "moderate climb" for 4.9 miles. Luckily, the first 2 miles or so were relatively flat. I passed a few runners during this leg and one runner passed me. In true "Jamie running a relay" fashion, I started out a little bit too fast. My first mile came in at 7:58 pace, which considering it was basically flat was alright except that I had 3.9 more miles to go.

Around the halfway point of my leg I started to get nervous because the van hadn't gone by yet. I knew that they would probably take their time since my leg was so long, and fortunately another team that we knew cheered me on as they drove by.

 Me being me, which is weird. Photo courtesy of Jenn

As I was about a mile into the ascent, my team went by! Jenn did a great job taking pictures of each runner during their leg. I actually picked up the pace while they slowed down and cheered me on. I do know that I said, "this sucks!" but I was mostly joking.

 Pretty sure this is when I was saying the hill sucked, photo courtesy of Jenn

Since we have run this race so many times, I have become used to most of the landmarks. Granted I had never run this leg before, but I knew that the exchange was happening at the Anthony Road Winery. After I made my way up the never-ending hill, I could see the sign for the winery in the distance! Unfortunately, I still had about half a mile to go until I was done running, for that leg at least.

All done! Photo courtesy of Jenn

 Now it's Steven's turn to run, photo courtesy of Jenn

I made the left turn down toward the winery and pushed it down the hill to Steven. I could hear everyone cheering me on and handed Steven the slap bracelet so we could continue making our way around the lake.

I started the day out really well finishing the first leg of 4.9 miles in 41:36 (average pace of 8:26). Our team was off to a great start, but we still had a long day ahead of us!

And, just like previous years, you are just going to have to wait to find out how the rest went!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ironman Training Weeks 5-6

We're 1/4 of the way through Ironman training! It really is flying by and I know that once we are in the summer months that it is going to go by even faster.

WEEK 5

 Totals - Swim: 2.96 miles , Bike: 95.1 miles, Run: 21.04 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 5 mile trail run
Wednesday - 25.4 mile bike, 2,300 yard swim
Thursday - 6 mile trail run
Friday - 24.19 mile bike
Saturday - 5 mile run, 5.04 mile trail race, 2,900 yard swim
Sunday - 45.51 mile bike

I actually felt good this week, I think my body finally realized that it was back in training mode!

 Smiling even while running through mud

We ran on trails for the majority of our runs this week, only 5 miles were on roads prior to a fun trail race. I did have one scare after our first trail run of the week. The next morning, I found a tick on me. Luckily, while it was a bite it wasn't bad and after monitoring it I don't think I need to worry.

I was able to get my first outdoor rides of the season in during this week. Unfortunately, they were really windy but it felt great to get outside. We did cut one of our rides short by about 6 miles but we were limited on time and were literally racing the sunset by the end!

Happy with that speed

Our first long ride outdoors went really well. I was able to hold 15.7 mph in the wind! I'm hoping I can get even faster by the end of the season.

We did cut one swimming workout from our schedule this week, which is alright since I scheduled three days but knew we would only swim twice every once in awhile. 

WEEK 6 

 Totals - Swim: 3.13 miles , Bike: 109.7 miles, Run: 20.08 miles

Monday - Off
Tuesday - 5 mile trail run, 2,000 yard swim
Wednesday - 3,500 yard swim
Thursday - 35.03 mile bike, 3 mile run (brick)
Friday - 23.67 mile bike
Saturday - 12.08 mile trail race
Sunday - 51 mile bike

This week of training required a complete overhaul. I had to rearrange our schedule to accommodate some of Rochester's final days of winter temperatures.  Luckily, with triathlon training we are used to rearranging our schedule so that we can get our workouts in safely.

Wednesday was a unique day of training for us since it was just a swim workout, however, we swam almost 2 miles!

 I feel weird when I don't wear these colors

This was also our first week with a brick workout, which required watermelon colors! The ride was super windy, but the run was fast (8:10 pace for the 3 miles).

 Post-ride selfie

We did cut one of our rides a little short (about a mile and a half) because of rain, wind and cold temperatures. We made up for that by doing an extra mile on Sunday while out for a 51 mile ride with a friend. It was a great day and a great ride!

As I was looking at the week, I realized that it probably wasn't the best idea to have almost 110 miles of biking the same week as an extremely challenging 20K trail race. Luckily, everything worked out!

Overall, other than dropping another swim workout, this week went really well!

We only have 18 more weeks left of training before we jump into the Ohio River. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Muddy Sneaker 20K Race Recap

On February 15th at 3pm, registration for Muddy Sneaker opened. At 3pm, Mike and I registered for the race.

I didn't really think about it much until everyone started to freak me out about how difficult this race truly is, and then I started to devise my "escape route" (jumping off a ledge during the race to end it all). We weren't going into it to race, at least I wasn't, so I tried to use that fact to comfort myself.

Mike and I drove to Naples with our friend Rob and the entire time I really didn't feel like running. As we were driving up the final road to the race, we saw our friend Beth riding her bike. Yes, she is a beast and a fellow triathlete training for Ironman Coeur d'Alene (which she'll rock, of course).

After picking up our packets, sitting in the car and standing in the long port-a-potty line, it was time to start the race. We saw a few more friends and took a pre-race photo.

Thanks for the photo Kirsten! (another triathlete training for Ironman Lake Placid)

I really had no plan, other than to not die (though I was welcoming any possible hallucinations), and found a place at the start. After a few announcements, that I couldn't hear, we were all off and running! 

The start of the race is up a hill, a nice preview of the rest of the race, and Kirsten was on the sidelines cheering us on.

 Smiling during the first tenths of the race

After running up the dirt road, the course took us into the woods. About a half a mile into the race, a runner in front of me pushed some tree branches out of his way and they smacked me in the face. I was a little shocked, but after making sure I wasn't bleeding I was fine.

 Mike getting ready to cross the first stream, photo courtesy of Alex Tong

 Proof I don't always smile during races, photo courtesy of Alex Tong

We made our way across the first of many stream crossings and back up into the trails in the woods. The majority of the race was run on fire roads, but this portion was on single track. I took my time in the spots that looked iffy and just tried to keep sight of the people in front of me. 

The second stream crossing was a bit worrisome because there was still ice that we had to cross over! A few other runners were near me at this point and after making our way across, I somehow mentioned how I had never run the race before. A woman mentioned that we would run this section of the race twice, which was helpful for me to know since I had no idea what to expect. 

I really enjoyed the variation of terrain during this race. There was single track, open sections and all of the "obstacles" that we had to get over and under. At the first water stop, around 2.5 miles, I joked about how I wanted to stay and eat all of the delicious food that they had. But I kept going.

The next part of the race was run on fire roads, which made it a little bit easier but because of the hills it wasn't that easy. I walked when I needed to and ran when I could. There were some people dressed like a chicken, a penguin and some other animal directing us which way to go (no not hallucinations). Mile 6 was the sweetest because it was mostly downhill and I was able to hold sub-9 for most of it (I ended up with 9:18 pace for that mile).

Around mile 7 I saw someone who looked like one of our friends. I didn't think that it was possible that I would catch up to her but when we got back to the chicken and penguin, I saw that it was our friend, Heather. She decided to DNF and went on straight while I turned left. This was the portion of the race that we had already run and after an aid station we went back onto the single track we ran on earlier in the day.

Around mile 8, I saw a runner who had passed me earlier on in the race. I thought to myself that there was no way I should be catching up to him and then I noticed more of our friends and they were carrying another runner. One of our friends, Jenn, hurt herself during the race and a bunch of people carried her out of the woods (no cars could get to this portion of the race). Mike told me later that he had heard her fall and went back to help her for a few minutes.

I felt so bad as I went by them, and asked if she was alright. Even though she was in a lot of pain she said she was, and I continued on my way.

At the next aid station I saw our friend, Todd, and he went back to see if he could help our injured friend.

Before the race when people were talking about it, I knew that the last 3ish miles were going to be interesting. There was about a mile long downhill portion, which wasn't too bad but I made sure to watch my footing, and then a 2 mile long climb to the finish. After crossing the final stream and stopping at the aid station for some water there it was. The BIGGEST uphill ever.

There is no way I could run this part of the race so I just did my best to hike up it as fast as possible. I was chatting with two other women about our Ironman (even though I really didn't feel like wasting energy talking, but it took my mind off of what I was doing). When we made it to the top, of that part, there was a little bit of a flat portion. There was a guy there and he said, "you made it to the top of the worst part" and I said, "well here's the ledge I can jump off of to end it all". He said that was the best comment he had heard all day.

I did end up falling once during the race, and while it hurt my shoulder and knee I kept going. In the final mile while going uphill I alternated between running to a certain point and then walking briefly. Todd caught up to me and CRUSHED the uphill.

 Mike finishing the race, look at that form

Actually smiling and not hating life, photo courtesy of Alex Tong

Eventually, I saw the finish line and knew I had to run the rest of the way. As I made my way into the clearing, I saw my people! They were cheering me on and making comments about chicken (in reference to the people dressed like chickens).

After 2 hours 34 minutes and 4 seconds, I finished the hardest trail race I have ever run! Mike finished in 2:16:43 and it seemed like he had a great time too!

 Us with Beth after the race

In all honesty, this race wasn't as bad as everyone made it out to be. Yes, it was challenging and if I went into it wanting to race I may have been disappointed in myself. At different points during the race I thought about what people told me, to have fun, and I was having fun. I talked with people, laughed, smiled and also cringed when I had to literally hike up those final hills.

This race also taught me that I am mentally tougher than I was a few years ago. When we ran an 11 mile trail race two years ago, I really wanted to jump off a ledge to end it all and this time I just joked about it. I am happy that I am physically stronger, but I am happier that I am mentally stronger too. 

 The cheesy smile says it all, let's do this race again! Photo courtesy of Alex Tong

I was told I may not be happy that I was running during the race, but that after I would be happy that I did it. We're already talking about doing it next year, so it must not have been that bad.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Food Post

Food. Oh it is so delicious.

But, I didn't always think that way.

I've had issues with food for a long time. I didn't have a diagnosed eating disorder but I definitely had eating issues. I would restrict what I would eat, how much I would eat, etc. and not in an "I'm dieting" way.

I have always been an athlete. I started swimming when I was 8 years old and continued until I was a second year in college. In the prime of my swimming career I was swimming 8 times a week at about 2,500-4,000 yards a workout for 10 months out of the year. I needed food to survive, but I still had issues with eating especially in high school. It probably had to do with who I hung out with and the need to fit in. I was not stick thin and tall, I never ever will be tall. I had broad swimmer shoulders and huge legs.

I wish I realized that those shoulders that were "broad" and those legs that were "huge", were "powerful" and "strong". Luckily, my issues with food didn't ruin my swimming career. I do wonder if I felt the way I feel about food now, if I would have performed better. I'm 99% certain that I would have.

After I stopped swimming competitively (I still remember sitting in the car while Mike was getting the required physical and realizing that my swimming career was over), I gained weight. Mike was still swimming and I ate the same amount of food as when I was swimming, but I wasn't. I wasn't really that active and after awhile I started to really hate what I looked like.

I again had issues with food. Restricting what I ate and definitely not eating enough.

Luckily, running and triathlons came into my life. I didn't start this journey to lose weight, I had already lost it albeit in an unhealthy way.

I'd never have accomplished this if I didn't fuel properly

Running and triathlons have done so much more for me than keep me "skinny" and "slim" (I'd actually prefer to be described as strong). It has helped me realize that I NEED food to survive. Everyone who runs with me knows that I am going to ask, "so where are we eating after?". I don't calorie count (luckily I never have done that), but I assume I eat 3,000-4,000 calories a day. I need to if I want my body to perform the way I want it to.

I don't worry about eating a piece of candy or having dessert every once in awhile because I've been in a place where I didn't let myself enjoy those things. That doesn't mean that I don't try to eat mostly healthy, but I also do not deprive myself of any kind of food.

Food has controlled me in the past, I'm not going to let it do that to me again.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mess the Dress Race Recap

Yesterday we ran our first race in over a month.

Over the winter we ran a lot of trails, so when TrailsROC announced their newest race, Mess the Dress, we knew we wanted to do it immediately. Unfortunately, with my injury and Ironman training we haven't been running trails as often (next weekend's 20K on trails should be interesting).

We also had 10 miles on the training schedule, so we weren't going to be racing it. Just running for fun.

The whole premise of the race was to have fun anyway. The race benefited the Center for Youth Services and collected donations of dresses and money for students in the Rochester area who otherwise may not be able to attend their own proms. Many runners dressed up in actual prom dresses, I kept it simple with my sparkle skirt.

After we got our first 5 miles done on the roads, Mike and I got ready for the race. I wish we had timed our first run a little closer to the start of the race because my legs had about an hour to cool down.

We made the semi-short walk to the start and after a few announcements it was time to start the race. Interestingly, Mark Long from the Real World was there with the company Pocket Protein, one of the race sponsors.

 Mike making his way through a muddy section

The race took place in Black Creek Park and it definitely lived up to the name of the race. The park was still wet and muddy. There were very few dry sections, and I took it easy through most of the muddy and wet sections. The first two miles went by relatively quickly and everyone was messy almost instantly. I did start too far back and had to deal with some bottle-necking, but after I got around people I was fine.

 More mud

My legs started to feel heavy around mile 2.5, because of the pre-race miles and the fact that my shoes felt like they weighed 10,000 pounds. I don't mind mud, but there was one time when I had to stop to get a gross muddy leaf off of me. Earlier in the week I had been bitten by a tick so I was trying to not be grossed out by what could be on me.

I realized I had overdressed with my long sleeve shirt and capris almost immediately, but with one mile left I was really hot. Blog reader, Erin, caught up to me at this point and we chatted for a bit. She rocked her dress!

 I can't believe he wore that tie on his head the whole time

Happy to be almost done

I got to the final section of trails and focused on getting to the finish. The finish line was through a huge pond of water (not an actual pond but that's what it looked like) and then up a hill.

 10 miles for the day, done!

I gave Eric, the race director, a high five at the end and he said that I wasn't dirty at all. The water at the end washed it all off.

I finished in 59:44 and Mike finished in 49:35, for a fun race I'll take it. I know we both could have done better if we weren't running it for fun and didn't have 5 pre-race miles on our legs.

And with that we finished race one of three over three weekends!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Marathon #4

Three years ago, I wasn't even thinking about running a 5K, let alone a marathon (that would happen in about a week, runniversary is coming up!)

I don't even remember how we went about choosing our first marathon, but two requirements must have been that it was close to home and after our first sprint triathlon. We ended up picking the Wineglass Marathon, and training was rough. Most of our long runs did not go well but we still went into race day with high hopes.

I went out way. too. fast. Under 9:45 pace for the first half, PR'd the half marathon distance (which you should probably not do in a marathon) and mentally crumbled when Mike decided to DNF.

Complete and utter pain face all the way to the end

I finished in 5:01:23.

The choice for our second marathon was somewhat easy. We wanted redemption and we registered for the Cleveland Marathon the same day as Wineglass. We had wanted to do the half marathon at Cleveland the year before but we did a duathlon instead.

Training for our second marathon attempt went a lot better. We had an extra 20 mile run and I felt like we had crushed them. All I cared about was Mike's redemption and him finally becoming a marathoner (ok, and maybe getting my sub-5 hour marathon).

So early, haha

Race day was interesting. The first half was glorious, cloud cover, cooler temperatures and I felt good. Then the second half came, the marathoners split from the half marathoners and things went downhill. It was 75-80 degrees outside, I almost puked once and my pace SLOWED.

 A happier finish this time

Marathoner!

But we finished, both of us. I finished in 4:46:58 and Mike finished in 4:18:55.

Enter, our third marathon. We were already planning on running the MDI Marathon before we registered for Cleveland so 2013 was the year of a 70.3 and two marathons. The MDI Marathon is my hometown marathon and I knew it would be special.

 The three of us at the beginning of the race

Since we had just raced our first 70.3 in July, we weren't sure if we were going to race for fun or race for PRs. Isaac and Crystal ended up running the marathon with us, literally with me, and I can't even describe how amazing this race was. Having my friends and my parents there, and running through where I grew up still gives me chills. If every race could be the MDI Marathon, I would be very happy.

 Marathoner x 2

I still owe Isaac so much for running with me until the end

We ended up going for the PRs. I finished in 4:17:37 and Mike finished in 4:07:39.

Obviously, 2014 is the year of the Ironman, but I am me and I am a marathon runner. I wanted my fourth marathon, I wanted an attempt at sub-4. We looked into doing a winter marathon, but cost and the reality of training for a hot race in the tundra didn't make the dream become a reality.

I gave up on running a marathon in 2014 and figured we'd run one or two in 2015.

Then one night, Mike and I were out to dinner and he said he wanted to run the Chicago Marathon (he misspoke). I questioned him, saying it was too soon after our Ironman and that's when he said he meant the Philadelphia Marathon.

As marathon hungry as I was, am, always will be, I had my doubts. Could we do it so soon after our Ironman?

Well, we are going to do it because last night we registered for our fourth, stand-alone, marathon attempt!