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Newport Half Marathon + Workouts that guarantee a PR

So, now that I am marathon training, I am happy to sign up to do a half marathon on my way there, to sharpen speed and practice a fueling strategy. A PR in the half is this close and I determined to make it happen! I just need to slice 5 seconds and I promise I’ll be happy forever!

And with that, such turn of events… I am running the NEWPORT HALF MARATHON again this year! Hahaha, such turn of events, I know…! 

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I did the race last year (and their 10K also in 2016) and it was amazing. The Newport Half is in right in the heart of Newport, New Jersey, just across the Hudson, and is super flat and fast. It covers some miles on the town, an extra few miles on a park, and then the river front, with amazing views of the nyc skyline and Miss Liberty, there is a few turns, just the way I like it, BEST WAY TO PR! Also great, it’s just a few minutes away from NYC, via the path! Also, check out the finish line spread in the pictures… delish and impressive. If you sign up, tell them I sent you 😉

When: Sunday, September 17th, 2017. Racers take their mark at 8:30 a.m. 

Where: 100 Town Square Place,  Jersey City, NJ 07310. Click here for directions

Logistics: Bag check is offered (limited to one bag per runner). All runners will receive medals at the end of the race. Packet pickup will take place from 6:30 to 8:15 am in Newport Town Square, 100 Town Square Place, Jersey City.  Free parking is available in the North Garage at 561 Washington Blvd. (Enter on Washington Boulevard, see parking information in Directions). No Headphones.  No Baby Joggers. THERE IS RACE DAY REGISTRATION.

NOW… LET’S GET READY…

If you’re doing your FIRST HALF this Fall, make sure you get the basics covered:

– Consistent training, don’t skip workouts

– At least one speed workout a week. It could be 800s, mile repeats, or a good tempo run! FUN!

– Do at least a 5K or a 10K (better!) before the half so you practice racing (aka: pacing, hydration, pre-race fueling, race day gear, etc.) and know exactly where you are, fitness-wise. And, race rehearsal is super important!

– At least one long run every week. Doesn’t have to be long long but at least get up to anything from 7-8  miles to 15-16 a couple of times.

Now, if you’ve done a FEW HALFS and now you want to get faster… how do we do that??? that’s the tricky part…  besides all those points above:

– speed workouts twice a week if you can handle them. Maybe do intervals mid week (800s, mile repeats, hill sprints) and a tempo with a few more miles after (to simulate a longish/hard run) on the weekend.

– practice race pace but not more than 4-5 miles.

– practice pacing, maybe you can do your tempos as a ladder (where each mile is faster than the last one)

– practice patience, the half is such a waiting game. You can’t go all out from the start and you need to learn to hold your horses: do a few races to practice this.

– DRILLS, at least twice a week! Here’s a good guide to learn. It’ll improve your form and it’ll help you keep going on the later miles of the half.

And then, set an appropriate goal. Nothing too easy or you won’t be motivated, and nothing too hard that will crush you while trying. This is also really hard to do, as we have to learn to be realistic and humble. But that’s the good thing about running, right? It keep us honest (and fit!!).


So, I’ll be adjusting my training a bit because I am also doing a full marathon this year, just a few weeks after the half. 

CONSISTENCY + ENDURANCE + SPEED are the main ingredients to a bulletproof half marathon training program. You have to do enough miles to build a great endurance base (whatever that number is for you) and throw in as many speed workouts as your body can handle without falling apart. Periodization is Key. Sit dow and plan this out in 7 or 10 days periods to have a good idea of what’s ahead and where you’re resting. DO NOT SKIP RESTING.

These are the workouts I usually do, in a period of 7 to 10 days depending on the workout.

LONG RUNS: Anything from 10 to 16 miles. Pace can be easy, or progressive, or you can add a few race pace miles in the middle or end. For example, on the last 3-4 weeks before the race, you can add 3 to 6 miles at the end at the projected pace.

TEMPOS: As uncomfortable as they can be, tempos are the bread and butter of a half marathon training! A tempo can workout to be anything from 3 to 6 miles. Or less when you’re’ starting out, or more if you’re more advanced. Pace should be around your 10K to half marathon pace. you’ll have to adjust based on your level and where you are in the training program. After a few weeks, add a Progression tempo: start at race pace and drop 10 seconds per mile.

SPEEDWORK:

  • Long Intervals: 2×2 miles at goal pace, with 4 minutes recovery jog in the middle. After a few weeks, updgrade to 2×3 at goal pace miles and then to 3×3 miles at goal pace, both with 3 minutes recovery jog in the middle.
  • Mile Repeats: Start with 3 x 1 mile at 10K pace with 90 seconds rest. After a few weeks, you can upgrade to 4 or 5 x 1 mile at 10 seconds pace with 60 seconds rest. Eventually, you can do up to 6 x 1 mile, 2 weeks before the race.
  • Hill Repeats! Hill intervals are speedwork in disguise, right? Go do them. Find a hill you can climb, time yourself, and do it a few times.  Jog down as a recovery. The slower your recovery, the faster you’ll go up in your next climb.
  • Yasso 800s. Basically: you run the 800 meters as fast as possible and then jog for recovery in the same amount of time it took to run the 800 meters Maybe start with 4 to 6 reps and build up to 10.

Of course make sure you warm up thoroughly before, do some drills and loosen up. And REST. you need time to recover so I usually like to have an easy week (where it’s just half the mileage and no hard workouts) every 4 weeks.

I am excited!! What’s your next goal race???

AND… who is doing the Newport Liberty Half Marathon with me?

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Race Report: NYC Half 2015 – running naked

Well, the NYC Half happened. Again. For the 7th time for me. And I am VERY happy about it. Such a huge learning opportunity!!!I love that every race is something completely different from what I expect… (sometimes!)

Where I Was: I wasn’t sure it was great, but I did a 5K two weeks before in 7:18 pace, and a 4 Miler in early February in 7:35 pace. My last halves were in October, there were 2 (1:43 and 1:44), plus add the winter training, I figured I’d be around 1:45 or 1:43 if ALL went well. 1:45 is 8 pace, and given I had done 7:35 in the 4 miler, that seemed like a stretch…

my  #unitednychalf nails. crazy ready.

nyc half nails. logo and all, crazy ready

The Expo: I almost forgot to tell you all about the expo and skipped all over this: it was in a new location (in a part a of town I usually ignore, yuk) and it was big! I am so so sick of the tight tiny expos, I loved that there was space to walk and breathe, and many exhibitors and activities. The only complain I have is that the lighting was so bad it gave me a headache. So weird.

Juan, me and Flor getting our bibs with a giant medal

Juan, me and Flor getting our bibs with a giant medal. Click if you want to make any of this a LOT bigger

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35 degres is bikini weather after the winter we had here, puh-lease!

Race Morning: Juan and I were in wave one (7:30 am start) so we got there around 6:30 to get to baggage, last minute potty trip, and get to the corral before the 7:10 close time.I was the first person in corral 3. Seriously, so early, but I rather sit there, knowing all is done than stress myself stooopid. I can’t handle rushing right before a race anymore. At my age, I can’t be bothered with rushing or stressing so I woke up EXTRA early.

murtaugh too old for that shit

we actually run into him a couple of weeks ago so he must live in the UES, York Ave. I guess, I have no idea.  Juan almost had a heart attack.

In the Corral: That’s when I decided to turn on the watch, get gps signal and some music. Ummm [email protected]@#@#[email protected]%_)[email protected]_#)@_)[email protected])!_! to say the least. My watch (and also mp3 player, I use the same device for both) was NOT CHARGED. I freaked out a bit like a maniac. How on earth am I going to know if I am going too fast??? I don’t think I’ve ever run a race naked (no watch!!!) or since… EVER!!! Ugh. Crap. Kept freaking out.  First, I won’t have any pace information, second, I’d have to race with no music?!?!?! Third, I don’t want to be carrying this watch around 13.1 miles for no reason. I am not gonna lie, I threw a little fit.

My problem is, unlike everyone else, I tend to start super slow and go crazy later. I need to know if I am going too fast (to slow myself down!) in the first miles!!!! I know, I am not normal.

I put the headphones in my back pocket, decided not to go back to baggage to leave it, and, for some very strange reason, I knew this would be a good thing. I would miss the music, but I knew it’d be a great challenge for me. I know how to pace, now just do it.

A few minutes before the gun, my friend Patricia shows up and Juan goes up to his first corral. I wasn’t running with Patricia, as she’s way faster than me (she’d end up doing 1:35). Bye hon, I’ll be back here by myself, with no pace info or music. Pffff. Great.

Race ON: This post, for the first time ever, will not have any mile splits (can we even handle this??), or any of that. I made sure I looked at the clock when I started and it read 1:40 (I think), so I thought I could subtract from the next mile markers. That did NOT work out. When I got to mile 1 the clock said 19:20 and I had NO IDEA what that mean. I gave up instantly forever and just kept running.

Mile 1, past Cathill, I know was fast. I could tell I was going fast, but hey, who knows??? Sometimes a 10 minute mile seems fast!!!! Mile 2 was uneventful, and on mile 3, one of my favorite things: an out and back!!! Is there anything more fun in a race than seeing the people who are running ahead and behind you??>? The only right answer is NO, people! SO much fun. I saw my husband and yelled at SO many people, I am sure I was ruining a lot of people’s jams around me with my constant yelling! Mile 3 back into the park to the lovely hellish Harlem Hill. That’s when something hit me. Right ahead of me was the 1:40 pace group. I knew the pacer for that group, Anthony, and he had told me he was in wave 1 corral 5, so he had started after me and had already passed me, so I guessed I was about 1:43 or 1:42 here, just a dumb guess. I was SO tempted to sneak behind him and chase him, the pace didn’t seem so scary, but I mentally screamed at myself and virtually slapped myself. NO. LET HIM GO. I made sure I stayed back, bye Anthony, byyyyyyye!

On Mile 4 I looked for a few friends who I figured would be watching here (so I could toss my watch!!!!) but I didn’t see anyone. I was running mostly by myself and without the music so it was hard to settle on a rhythm and relax. I haven’t learned how to do that. I was breathing hard and it’s quite loud and annoying, even to me (sorry everyone!). I really wanted to relax, but I just couldn’t.

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Soon I am leaving the park and I have no idea HOW IT ALL WENT SO FAST! Not pace wise, because I had no idea how fast or slow I was running, but the first 5 miles are usually super hard controlling my speed and my willingness to start going a bit faster. I was out of the park in a jiffy and I couldn’t believe it. This is probably the fastest race I ever had (nooo, it would not be a PR!).

Times Square was amazing. Seriously. I was having way too much fun!!! I saw everyone there. Oh how much I enjoyed it… DON’T BELIEVE ME, JUST WATCH!!!

Marathonfoto: just take all my money and shut up!

Anyway, this is when I would start pushing the pace. Thing is, I felt like I had been pushing the pace all along. Had I started too fast and would soon die off, or did I go the tiny bit harder that I could handle if I didn’t know how fast I was going??? So complicated. And who knew, really? A few times I felt like asking people around how fast we were going, but, you know, whatever!

42nd street is always SO MUCH FUN. I saw Ben taking pictures, Annette cheering, people who I didn’t know yelling my name. The whole race was like that.  I know this is isn’t true (maybe, not really) but I felt like all NYC was out there to cheer on me. I did. I took that to heart too. And I pushed the pace.

Soon is the turnaround to hell. That’s what I call it when you have to hit the gas and not look back.  We’re getting close to the West Side Highway and I see Anthony again with the 1:40 stick. Ummmm. How did this happen??? They can’t be falling back? I must be pushing too hard. Maybe? I decided to stay behind them. Then, soon, when I was right on their heels, I decided I’d just sit behind them, and let them figure out the pacing. I was sure now I was ready to hold whatever 1:40 pace was. Theeeeeeeen, I said hello to Anthony, and I just FREAKING KEPT GOING…

what?

I even thought of asking him what pace was 1:40. I didn’t. I went too fast to talk much to him. I just kept going.

WHAT??!?!?!

So that, I kept going. I told him I’d blow up soon and he’d pass me in a mile or two. I hit the gas.

I just focused on getting to Mile 11 where the next Whippets cheering section was (I had already seen Scott and some Whippets on Times Square and more Whippets at the gel station). I knew Michelle, Tessa, Atsede would be there. I just had to get there. Soon enough, there they were, all yelling and cheering!!!!

Mile 11, Mile 12, I felt like I was flying. At least my hair was!

The Finish: then the tunnel. AY: I was done. I had a side stitch, I was dry-heaving and I felt like I was going to either throw up or pass out. I felt nauseous. WHAT?!??! Just relax and keep going. I started telling myself to just hang on. Hang on. Hang on.

I remembered from last year, after the tunnel we had just 3-4 blocks. This year I knew, after the tunnel, we had two blocks left, and two blocks left again. BUT OMG I had no idea there was still half mile to go after we exited the tunnel before we turned. I remember there was a hard  left off the tunnel last year. Not this year. I kept looking forward and I couldn’t see where on earth we were turning left…!!! That was the LONGEST part of the race. That half a mile, to me, was longer than the other 12.6 (or whatever the math is!). I didn’t have much to sprint with but I tried. Someone yelled my name. I smiled. I looked up. I crossed the finish line. I didn’t have a watch to stop but I had a nose to wipe, that thing was a fossett during the whole race!!!! YUCK. And there was Mary Wittenberg and I have to say hello with this sweaty-nose stuff? Ay dios!

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Well, the clock said 1:41 something, but who knows what my time is. I saw Juan right away, then Richie, then Daphne, then Caitlin, then Cara… like 3000 of my friends and team mates!!!!!!

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Richie is so special to me!!!! Not only is he an overall amazing and cool guy, he photographed our proposal and wedding!! Like how cool is to have a team mate like that?!?!?!?!??! HUH??????

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there’s Anthony, the 1:40 pacer and major Ironman superstar.

Juan and I grabbed our bags, went to the side to fully change (yes, I took off my sweaty bra and all) into clean/dry clothes and all of a sudden I realized I had no idea what my time was. I had a twinge of an idea I had been around 1:40 or 1:42 or 1:44 but really, I had no idea. Juan got to it first and told me: 1:39:26.

WOW.

That’s quite different from 1:45. Or from the 1:50 I got last year… Or the 1:43 and 1:44 I did in October.

It is still not a PR, which is 1:37 from this same race in 2013, but I was soooooooooooooo happy, I think I cried a little. Quite in disbelief, I got a little teary. We’re coming back. Slowly. It’s happening. Finally!

Stats Time:

Finish time: 1:39:26 Average Pace: 7:36

Previous PR: 1:37:35 From: March, 2013

Age Grading: 68.03% 

Overall Place: 2063 of 19,455

Gender Place: 447 of 10,150

Age Place: 60 of 1639

This is very good-looking. I like the 68% percent there, given I am changing age groups in ONE week. I’ll be 40 next week, so, being 60th out of 1639, when I am at the bottom of my AG is not so shabby!

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We then went to the Whippets Party, stayed there until around 11 am then headed uptown to Bareburger, Juan’s favorite place that we never go to, home, shower, and OMG I was so tired the rest of the day, Juan had to carry me from the couch to the bed and all that. I was destroyed. But happy.

Then I saw that the results had 5K splits!!! Wohooooooooooooooo!! some data!

My first 5K was an average 7:44 pace. Remember, overall pace was 7:36, so seems like I started a bit slower, so, GREAT. the second 5K, where most of the hills are, was slower: average pace of 7:52. So far, so good. The third 5K was 7:21 and the 4th 5K was 7:20. So, seems like a negative split and run well without a friiiiging clue. Pinch me.

More and more pictures of the race, here

Race Report: NYC Half 2014 – training starts here!

Well, the NYC Half happened. Again. For the 6th time for me. And I am VERY happy about it. I hadn’t trained, I was 13 minutes slower than last year, but this was such a different story from the NYC Marathon a few months ago…!

The truth is, since July my training has been a disaster for one reason or another (and there were many!!), and I knew I wasn’t going to PR, so I just wanted to use it as a training run, maybe to see if I can muster Boston in a month, maybe to see if I had lost all my running mojo. But it was horrible going into it, I had done so well last year in this race so coming back with no expectations was hard. And the NYC Marathon 5 months ago was just so painful on my untrained legs that I was really dreading this. I had assumed I was going to suffer for 13.1 and there was no way around it, turns out, there was one.

Race Morning: It was really cold, and I was getting to the start 1 hour early. Brrrr. Walked into a brand new clean portapotty with no line and I just wanted to stay warm in there… I had extra clothes on, two mylar blankets, hand warmers, you name it, I could barely move with that many layers on, but my feet were not having it: they froze! They had security checking our checked-bags and then we all went through metal detectors going into the park (yey!), and then a walk to the corral where I met up with a few friends (Rose, Ilana, Julie, Marie, Jason!). We huddled and waited. Rose and I determined we’d take it easy and to try to go together. We talked about how we both had so gotten off the wagon, I said training starts here. This would be a long run, and I would take if from there. Soon enough we were moving…

Race ON: The first miles felt ok. My feet were still frozen but we were determined to take it easy, have fun, run it as a longish run and that’s what we did. We held our horses.

Miles 1, 2, and 3 were quite conservative.

2014 nyc half marathon course

On my post where everyone guessed my finish time, I had assumed I’d do around 1:50, which is 8:30 pace, so I started thinking that maybe I am more in shape for a 2 hour marathon, which I haven’t done in a looong time. Oh well, it is what it is. I felt GOOD, and that is all that mattered, I was not going to push it.

At Mile 2 I saw Juan and his phone froze so he got no pictures. I am sure he was as frozen as the phone… I always feel so bad for the spectators! Then I just started seeing everyone pass me, everyone. People I know did slower than me in the NYC Marathon. I knew I hadn’t trained since so I know I was in way worse shape but it made me feel good that I could hold my pace back as much as I wanted. You can all go!!! I felt so relaxed and in control. Being in control in the early miles of a race is  tots HARD people!

Soon we were up in the Harlem out and back and hello Harlem Hill x2. I love out and backs! You get to see everyone! It was wild to be out of the park and everyone sped up a little. Rose and I held it in place.

Miles 4 and 5: a bit faster and settling up in a rhythm.

2014 nyc half marathon course

After we crested the hill and went to the 90s, I saw Juan again. I stopped for a roadside kiss. I was feeling good now that I was feeling my feet again (it really took 4 miles!!) and was warming up. Then I started losing Rose, she told me to go, I told her I’d get Gatorade and wait for her there but never saw her (I’d end up losing her and she’d come in a few minutes behind me). But, I just wanted to hit the gas. I wanted to get to Times Square, make that turn and see what I had. I turns out, I didn’t wait until Times Square…

Miles 6 and 7: need for speed already!!!

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Going through Times Square is ALWAYS exhilarating, even the 6th time you do this race. And it widens up SO much, you feel like you can fly… I spotted a Team Up runner and we introduced! It was pretty cool!!

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Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww: F U N!!!! Then we turn onto 42nd st, the street narrows a bit and the wind….!!!!!! well, we pushed through and kept rolling down. Luckily, my Dashing Whippets team was there to cheer us all up, handing out gels and water. I got so excited, I grabbed a 2X caffeine gel which would probably kill me if I tried it, so I put it right back. And forgot the water. Cheering stations can really make you lose it.

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Seems like I was having a fun time, right? I was. I have a slow time to prove it 😉 (don’t scream, slow compared to last year’s!!!)  But… with fun comes responsibility and since mile 5 I was feeling good: I was on a roll and kept tearing at it little by little.

As soon as I hit the westside highway and found NO WIND (WTF?!???! It was colder in the park!!! I was dreading the wind and cold here for no reason!?!), I opened my lungs, I let the Hudson nasty air sip in, and sped up. UP UP. From there on, I was picking up runners 10 at a time. You know, if you were there, this is quite probably where 9 out of ten people started to slow down: I WAS FLYING!

Miles 8 and on: Time to Fly!

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I lapped the tunnel part up there (“mile 12”) as there’d be no GPS there, and the last bit (“mile 13”) I am sure is wrong because in the seconds it took to locate satellite it made it look quite slow. I know I was sprinting for my donuts…!!!

Did you see  how I sped up after mile 6, as I had recommended to do in my post? If you didn’t notice, here it all goes again:

2014 nyc half marathon course

Yes, I probably did start too slow, but whatever. What matters is that I was strong at the end and had a lot too push. Quite a difference from last year‘s pace, but still another great pacing example.

The last mile includes over a half a mile in the tunnel, which I didn’t hate as much as last year (because I knew there was an exit somewhere!!) but then you get out, you make a left and OMG, I was SOOOOO EXCITED to be there. I had to hold the tears back (yes, I cry all the time when I race) and all the flags and the finish and it felt SO GOOD to be back, and to be on the road again and to feel strong and to be able to finish with a kick and to know that even if unprepared it doesn’t have to be as bad as the NYC Marathon was if you can pace yourself… It was amazing.

Then it was over. I was so happy. I wanted to hug all those sweaty runners. Then I wanted to punch a few of them who stopped right at the finish for a selfie (seriously people!!! there’s 15K runners behind you!!!! WTF!). I was back to happy in two seconds. I am moody like that 😉

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Got a few pics and with two steps I found friends and team mates… I was just back to frozen in a few seconds!!!

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I love this race.

Now I know that, not only I can set the tone for a race and pace as I please (without pushing myself into pain for no reason!) but that I can also enjoy a race and finish it without ANY training… in a decent time too, plus have fun, AND not FALL!! I felt very happy about the results…  

see how happy I was???

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Juan knew I wanted donuts. Juan got me donuts. Juan is a keeper. I ate almost all of that.

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Right after the race ended we got on the 1 train uptown to Finish Line, we had some food, chatted, celebrated, all that. The platform and the train was crowded… and a bit smelly ;-P

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Finish Line was fun, but soon I couldn’t wait any longer for the 3 hour shower  I was looking to do at home… plus the nap. Then burgers… ah, I love how doing a 13.1 makes me think I can go on some sort of food bender. I do have 5 weeks until the Boston Marathon and I know I am not in shape to run 26.2 comfortably, but I can’t seem to be able to make a decision about going or skipping it… I just counted the weeks back. If I manage a long run the next two weekends, I’ll let myself participate in the marathon. If not, then I am not going to Boston.

One week until my birthday, the next craziness. One thing at a time here.

Running Form: top 10 at Healthy Kidney’s 10k in Central Park

Video from Mile 4.

AllState13.1New York Bday Race Report! + the most RIDIC tutu pics EVER

Saturday was my birthday. I am not sure there’s anyone who didn’t know!

For the first time since I am a runner, my birthday was on a Saturday (read: a race day).  I looked, and this hasn’t happened before; in 2007 my birthday was on a Friday, in 2008, it was on a Sunday, we skipped Saturday! and I wasn’t a runner a few years before that!

I was turning 38. Yes, freaking 38. Seriously… FML

Friday at around 3 pm, I decided I’d race a half on Saturday… who needs to decide earlier? O maybe before gulping some McDonalds for lunch?

Why couldn’t I make a decision earlier..? well, there was a LOT on my schedule for that weekend… I didn’t think I’d want to wake up early ON MY BDAY (that sounds awful, right?) on top of it all, some plans changed so I figured I could… there was a half in Queens: the All State 13.1 series, on my exact birth date… sorry, I couldn’t get over that fact!!!

Well, ALSO, I was having a tiny bday celebration Friday night, AFTER a really busy week, which was also the first week at my new job at Austim Speaks, and ALSO this was SIX days after the NYC HALF massive PR situ. Oh, and seriously, I ate CRAP all week. Stuff you don’t even want to know about.

Running a race at the end of that two-week period was possibly the worst thing I could have planned to do such a great way to celebrate my birthday, riiight?

Well, I was a zombie bit tired Saturday at 6:30 am when I woke up.

My friend John was driving and picking me up, so I came downstairs with my tutu on.

Sidebar: when I decided the day before that I’d race a half on my bday (and with zero probability to PR after such a week) I decided I’d take it super easy: tutu-birthday-fun! I hadn’t worn it since the 2011 Mini 10 (where I did do PR, tutu and all, but I also chafed like hell!) so I had to turn my apartment inside out to find it… tutu was a little disastrous mess hum unironed…

Well, so everybody kept honking at me, at 7:30 am not much is funny for me. Got there superfast, got registered in 5 seconds, got the t-shirt (ha, my bday date is ON IT!), packed it all into baggage and soon we were freezing at the start, just for 5 minutes. Seriously though, it’s late March, it is freaking ridiculously cold! It was around 30 but felt like 20 with the crazy winds. I froze. Also, I was underdressed as usual, just as I like it!

We go!

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That was at miles 1 or 2 when I still had some speed! The first mile was a bit crowded, which is common in any race around here, but it cleared up right after… then John had to retie a shoe, so we took a few seconds there… I was all up for taking it easy and he was too!

We both felt tired right away, and I was STARVING and dreaming of sushi at mile 2. Like: I would have stopped it I had seen food (where are the Dunkin Donuts in Queens?!?!).

I hadn’t had any breakfast (smart!!!) and I brought just one gel, that I made last until mile 4. I licked every single drop of  the Vanilla gel. I was almost tempted to chew the packet too, just in case it helped.

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After mile 4 I was starting to warm up but starting to get really tired. My legs were DEAD. LEAD DEAD. I am sure I had done this racing-halfs-two-weekends-in-a-row before but I probably ate better/rested more the week in between. This was a disaster pace.

I knew I wasn’t going to PR so I focused on relaxing as much as I could to be able to chill, enjoy the race and celebrate the day! that means: slow the eff down!!! Also, the tutu was bunching up a bit, as every once in a while I had to pull it out of my shorts or from in between my legs, but it really wasn’t any big problem as you would imagine…

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I kept picking people to run with/pace off but very soon I found out the awful truth: NO ONE WANTS TO RUN WITH A GIRL IN A TUTU.

I get it, you’re a serious runner, you’re trying to go super fast, you trained for this, all of thaaaaat.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t hold the pace, or that I won’t help get more people cheering our way, or that I am taking this as a joke, or that you will trip on my tutu… seriously people, I look ridiculous but I am also a person, and a runner, and I AM going at your pace!!! Please love me and run with me!!!!

Anyway, you know the more it bothers you, the faster you’re gonna take off, and the sooooooner you’re gonna crash and come back to me. Don’t fight the tutu.

If you pulled away and were able to sustain it: Good for you, and: Glad I could help!!! 😉

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This last picture is my favorite. Do you like it? Help me pick which ones to buy!! I never buy pictures anymore but these are just too amazing…

The spread at the finish was INSANE. Lots of pretzels, fruit, muffins (I had 3 instantly!), and OREOS. I sat and stuffed myself like a maniac.

Anyway, I finished in 1:45, a loooong way back from the 1:37 I did 6 days before, in a much flatter and easier course, but I was still very happy.

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I had a moment at the finish. I stood right there so I could spot John right away,  I also played Bart (Yasso!) and hugged/high-fived and all that. Then it hit me like one of those waved in the sea when you turn around:

This is my life now.

All of a sudden I remembered it was my birthday, and how I was doing a race on my birthday, and how, running has sipped into every single day and event in my life and how far I’ve come. I felt really humbled that, at 38, I felt this strong and healthy and happy. Yes, I can run (an easy 1:45!??!!?!!?) on any given day, in a tutu, feel amazing about it, and this is my new normal now. I felt thankful and extremely happy about all the places my running had taken me, including those seconds; this is my life now and, as hard as it is to get older (and stop PRing!), I was completely overwhelmed that that person was me, doing that, on that day, and feeling like this. Sorry for the sappiness but I don’t think I had every had such a birthday run…!

NYC Half 2013: Biggest “FINALLY” ever!

Well, the NYC Half happened. And I haven’t blogged about it yet. Strange, right? I don’t really have much to say and, by now, I am sure everyone heard about how happy I was with my finish time.

I put it out there, a month before, that, for the first time ever, I had a time goal. Some of you were in shock I’d do that. I never have many expectations for a particular finish time. I was afraid I’d be shooting myself in the foot too.

I hadn’t PRed at a half since September 2010. Two years and 6 months: talk about blue feet! I knew I could PR, but…after so long, you start losing track of where you are too! Then, I asked, in another post, what you thought I would finish in: some of you were so confident, it scared me a bit… I really wanted to go sub 1:40, that’s all I cared about.

RACE WEEK, from “YEY!!!!” to “oh CRAP”.

– Monday, Tuesday, 6-5 days to go: SUPER confident! Had many amazing runs in a row and felt ready to destroy the race! I was peaking, primed, ready to blast off and almost upset I couldn’t run that day!

– Wednesday, Thursday, I was in a conference, away from home, sleeping little, tired, eating horribly, losing all confidence.

– Friday. Getting teary and excited all day thinking about how this was my first race ever, and now I was coming back to claim my streets!

– Friday afternoon. Started freaking out. Weather was going to be COLD. 29 to 32. I can’t. I don’t well. I. No.

– Friday afternoon part 2. Decided I didn’t have time for a run (too much to do, with just Friday free in between jobs,  and hadn’t run since Tuesday, so I decided to do drills instead. BIG MISTAKE. When I was about to be done, my legs gave in. Cramps or something. I was stiff and in pain. WTF?!?!? !!!

Oh no.

– Saturday. Couldn’t walk downstairs, sit normally without grunting, or bend to pick stuff from the floor (there is always stuff on the floor when you feel like this), like I had just run a marathon the day before!! WHY?? it was just the usual drills!!!!!! WTF?!?!?!? And I was also freaking about the weather. I don’t run well when I am cold…

– Sunday… it was freezing. I was told later the feels like was 12, glad I had no idea. I really run a lot better when it’s hot. And my legs were still really hurting, walked a bit less stiff but still very sore… OH WELL.

RACE ON!

Got to the corral. Overstuffed in throwaway clothes, with toe warmers taped to my butt, and waited for half hour. Glad portapotties are in the corrals now, such amazing logistics! Blaise was there too, underdressed and freezing, in the 3XXX corral with me. Soon enough, at 7:30, we get moving

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I am in there, I promise!

So, I was shooting to have 7:35 average pace, which would be right under 1:40. First mile was CROWDED. I know better than to weave, so I stayed put: Mile 1: 755. Great. Conservative start. Nice job Elizabeth. Nothing worse than opening up with a fast mile and then crash, and also worry the other 12 that you already messed it up!

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I kept trucking along, and I was just trying to stay relaxed and run by feel. I am good at not looking at my watch. Then Cat hill: Mile 2: 7:37, not so shabby. Mile 3 is the fastest in the park: 7:01, good! (too fast?!?!). Mile 4 is the scariest one in the whole race, it has Harlem Hill, a fun climb I’ve done a million times, so I was expecting anything over 8mm. Mile 4: 7:18. What? I tend to freak out when I see fast miles.

By then I was getting warm, a climb would do that to you. Blaise was always a bit ahead or right by me, which really helped me focus and stay calm (thanks B!). I kept seeing another team mate, Shay, we’d pass each other constantly, and I wanted to pace with her, but my two water stops really messed up my pace. Mile 5, where I stopped for half a gel, 7:41. Yes, I stop for gels. Deal with it.

Soon we were out of the park. I couldn’t believe this was turning out so easy and fast.. HOW? ah, I trained…

Times Square is always fantastic. It’s UNBELIEVABLE how much I HATE Times Square all year long and how much I LOVE it for those 10 minutes!!!!!!!! Glorious mile. Mile 6: 7:31, Mile 7: 7:24. Setting on a rythym here.

Then we turn into the flat straightway, where you can really hit the pedal.

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Mile 8: 7:10. This is ridiculous. This is the pace for my last few 5Ks, 4 milers… Mile 9 I finished my gel: 7:30.  I kept seeing people all over the course, but it’s always so nice to find people in these miles… you spot everyone in the park, and then the final miles, but it makes such a difference in this part of the course, it can be a little lonely, and flat, and straight…

Mile 10 is when I wanted to start moving, and treat it like a 5K: 7:20. I really started pushing but I knew there was the tunnel to deal with in the last half mile… Mile 11: 7:15. Mile 12: 7:09. Then we went underground, and when coming up (tiny but annoying hill SO late in the race!), we just had 800 meters to go. Not enough time to recover and sprint, but I gave it my all.

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And I PRed!

After 2 years and a half, I PRed at the half. Phew.

I cried. Of course I cried. A LOT. I made Blaise uncomfortable, ha.

I spotted everyone at the finish… I cried some more, hugged some more, took pictures, all that stuff you do, then cried some more. I was cold. Nothing new. Like it was just another morning.

Stats!

Finish time: 1:37:35. Average Pace: 7:27, OMFG!

Previous PR: 1:42:47. From: September 2010, OMFGx2

Age Grading: 68.64%

Overall Place: 1,474 of 14,527

Gender Place: 304 of 7,607

Age Place: 40 of 1,222

I met Kets, had eggs, met Sole, got home, got a shower. All that. INSANELY HAPPY.

See ? I didn’t have anything particular to say about it! I raced it, went fast, I PRed, end of story.

I love this race. ❤

Fitness 4 Miler RR: A few steps closer to the “dream”

The first race of the “five in a row” was this past Saturday and it went exactly as I had planned it, andbetter than I expected… but I do tend to have very low expectations.
 
To start, Friday was Fashion’s Night Out, and not wanting to miss out on anything, my friend Flor and I created a shock and awe plan to attack the stores and be in my apartment to eat pasta and go to sleep on the earlier side. I really wanted to do well in this race. I was committed. We stuck to our plan, had fun and cookies/gelato/cupcakes, even got a free FNO dri-fit shirts at Niketown and headed home for fuel and rest. This ties up to my previous post: I don’t want to miss out on ANYTHING! My dad tells me at least twice a week “You can’t sit in 2 chairs with just one @ss“. Well, I gotta try!
 
Saturday morning, I was ready to go. IN DA ZONE. I could not have been any more focused. We got our Starbucks and face game on. I lined up in my corral 2 minutes before go time and spotted my team. Megan was there, and I wanted to stick with her, she said she was aiming at low 7s and wanted to do the first mile slow, like 7:15 (Cat Hill is there!). I said Perfect, I’ll just make sure I’ll stay tucked in behind you.
 
This race last year I clocked 29:34 (average pace of 7:23). My last 4 miler was on a very hot day, July 4th, and it was still a PR: 28:45 (pace of 7:11), and my 5 miler pace was faster than that (7:07), so I was confident I could get around 7:05. That was my goal. But instead of pace, I was going with my HRM, I’ve experimented enough with it, that I knew my first two miles had to be at 185 bpms, the 3rd at 190, and push to a bit over 200 from 3.5 miles on. That was the plan. And for once, the plan worked.
 
Rocco Dispirito did the intro

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and we were off. I let Megan go and I took it easy. I felt really calm, relaxed and confident. In a 4 miler, that is ridiculous. I kept check on my HR and I seemed to be right on target. Mile 1 comes back and I was at 6:56. Ooops, too fast. Not a surprise though. But HR was fine so I kept at it. Megan was like 50 meters ahead, I just made sure I didn’t let her go further than that. Mile 2 comes around at6:54. Ok, this will start hurting soon. For sure. Two minutes later, I felt like I was dying, I wanted to quit so bad, so bad… But I kept telling myself, I always want to quit and this would be over very soon, it’s just a matter of holding it now. Just HOLD IT. HOLD IT!!!! Mile 3 comes by slowly and with a slap: 7:24. Yeah, I had lost it, but at least it was just one slow mile instead of 2! HR was still right on target but both Megan and I had obviously had gone out too fast. I catch up to her by 3.5 miles and try to not pass her. Then it just came to me. I got up beside her for a bit, then I pass her, and she hits the gas and takes off. I manage to follow a few seconds behind. I knew pushing her would help her and push me on the last painful half mile where I was losing my mind. Talk about team work!
 
I did 28:09, average pace of 7:02. My HR at the finish line was 201. Right on.
 
The NYRR photographer snapped a picture of me in my Nike’s FNO t-shirt, it’s on the NYRR site too! Pretty cool.

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We watched the kid’s races, which is always super cute.

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Then we had a team picnic near the finish line. This team really rocks. 

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When I got home, and looked at my results, I almost flipped. I was at 69%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
This year, I had a few races in the 66% to 68% range. And my goal has been to get closer to the 70% Age Graded time. In case you have no clue what I am talking about, your age-graded score is the ratio of the approximate world-record time for your age and gender divided by your actual time. A performance level of 100% is approximately the world-record level, 90% equates to world class, 80% is national class, and 70% is regional class. Here is a calculator if you want to check it out.
 
69% is pretty close though. Could I be any happier with this race? No, not really.  
A WIN.
Philly Half this weekend: you better watch out.