Category Archives: Uncategorized

Long Warm Ups + PT Discharge

I’ve officially been discharged from physical therapy but that doesn’t mean I’m all better.  My right hip and glute are definitely feeling fatigued from all of the concentrated work they’ve been doing.  This has lead to some longer than desired warm ups on more intense efforts and it’s a little bit concerning.  The last thing I want to do before a race is have to run four miles.

Yes, four miles.  It takes me almost four miles (thirty+ minutes) to really feel like I can run hard for more than a mile.  Not only does that mean extra miles, it’s a little bit upsetting.  I usually run a 2-2.5 mile warm up for everything except a long run (shorter) or track work (longer).  It all started last Monday with an ugly run.  I went out for an easy hour and spent the first 30 minutes fighting ankle and shin pain.  I stretched, I squatted, I activated my glute the best way I could.  Then, boom!  The second half was great. 

A similar situation occurred this past weekend when I went out to tackle my first mile repeats since One City.  The first two repeats my right leg felt heavy and I carried a decent amount of tension in that ankle.  The second two?  Great.  I’m hopeful this means my glute and hip are very beat up right now and a little rest will set them straight.warm ups

I really need them to get straightened out, too.  The Elizabeth River Run 10k is coming up next weekend and I want to race.  Am I in PR shape?  No.  I want to get out there, push myself and get a solid idea of where my fitness is heading into summer.  So here’s to a little rest, longer warm ups and a solid race day.

Meredith

How long are your warm ups?  How did you feel after finishing physical therapy?

EquiKids 5k + Still Not There

I raced one of my favorite events of the year last weekend, the EquiKids 5k.  Not only do I love volunteering at the farm, racing through the trails each year is always fun.  The cross country 5k is preceded by a 1 Mile Run with the Hounds that Jordy was more than happy to participate in before hamming it up for the camera.equikids 5k

It’s the only cross country course I’m guaranteed to run every time it comes around and I usually don’t perform well.  Maybe it’s because I don’t train on trails very much if at all or because I get too distracted by all of the adorable kids, dogs and horses.  Any way you slice it, I was looking to turn my history of EquiKids 5k performances around this year.  I didn’t.

In spite of finishing as third overall female, it wasn’t a good race or even the race I wanted to run.  Due to some serious rain my schedule got a little screwy in the days before the race.  My final workout was hours later than it should have been.  I definitely could have been fresher at the start line but I also could have been less injured.

My glute injury is feeling much better.  It has had some unexpected side effects, however.  The different, more powerful, movement in my right leg has been leading to extra work for my right Achilles.  That has caused some definite stress on the tendon as it strengthens.  I ran a one mile warm up before toeing the starting line but failed to warm up as completely as I usually do because I was feeling fatigued.  Little did I know I’d pay for it.  About halfway through the race that right side felt like it was about to snap.  No, thanks.  I paused to rub it for five seconds then continued on.  It was a scary moment but felt fine the last 3k.

It was disappointing to realize I’m not where I thought I was in terms of bouncing back.  I understand the lumpy, muddy, ankle working course probably made things a little bit worse in that ankle.  That doesn’t make it feel any better.  The EquiKids 5k curse continues and I’m looking toward next year already.

Meredith

How often do you race on trails?  Love it or hate it?

One City Marathon + What’s Next

The 2017 One City Marathon is in the books.  I had a solid run and was happy with the results in an official finish time of 3:29.19.

I came out of the gate fresh and ready to go.  Too fast.  I settled in around a 7:45 pace and kept telling myself to slow down.  I couldn’t.  A lovely runner named Jim had settled in right one city marathonalong with me and we chatted our way through the first 14.

After hitting the half in 1:41, I knew I had to slow down or I would be in big trouble.  Of course, I also had it in my head that it was race day, I had tapered well and didn’t actually know what I was capable of.  I walked through a water stop at 14 very easily in an attempt to bring slow my body down.  As you can see from the splits, it worked a little bit.

I still felt good downing an extra GU at 18.5.  The fast half was starting to catch up with me and caffeine was just what I needed.  Of course, I also needed water.  Unfortunately the water stop at 20 was all the way on the other side of the road.  Across four lanes on the outside of a turn.  Hitting it would have added even more to my already extra long marathon.  I skipped it feeling confident I could make it to the stop at 22.

I made it to 22 and grabbed a cup of water as I walked by.  More attention would have been a good idea at that moment because that cup was barely full.  I got maybe 2 ounces of water before continuing on.  Not more than five minutes later I started to pay for it as my calves locked up.  I gave them a stretch and tried to slow my run down to a jog.  My pace inevitably crept back up and my calves responded with hostility.  I skipped the next water stop at 24 knowing if I walked I would struggle to run again.  Powering through the last two miles was one city marathontough but I did it, crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.

I had run 26.39 miles in 3:29.19.  While not exactly the race I wanted to run, I learned a lot and will be much better prepared for my next 26.2.  If there is one.

Next up is the Shamrock 8k.  Only five days after this marathon I’m not sure what to expect but it’s been a long time since I’ve run an 8k and would love to see a PR.  I’ll also have to decide if I really want to run the Boston Marathon.  There are 51 weeks a year I’m not that into the idea but when marathon weekend kicks off, I always wish I was there.  I’ll have more on that later because right now my focus is rocking 5 miles this Saturday.

Meredith

Did you run the One City Marathon?  Have you ever qualified for Boston?

**For more of the nitty gritty like parking and hotels, check out my review on BibRave**

 

Marathon Weather Questions + The Plan

One City Marathon weekend is finally here.  With snow and heavy winds in the forecast early in the week, I spent most of it worrying more about whether the race would actually happen than my plan for running it.  I came up with contingency plans, looked for alternate weatherraces on the same day and tried to stay calm.  There is really nothing that can be done about the weather.  Luckily the forecast has turned around and the race is on! 

The weather based distraction was nice to keep me busy during my quiet week but now my legs need some work.  After my last workout Wednesday and two days of rest, I’m seriously looking forward to tomorrow’s three mile shake out jog.  My sanity will take anything.  As far as the marathon goes, I’m ready.

I’m itching to run.  My legs feel good and my plan is solid.  I trained all winter in the cold so the chilly race morning temperatures (feels like 18) will actually be just fine.  I know exactly what I’ll weatherwear and will definitely be avoiding the horrible blisters of last year.  I’ll run the first ten miles a hair slower than goal pace then pick things up when I feel like it.  Hydration stations every two miles will give me flexibility but keep me from getting thirsty.  Energy gels at the start, around 7, 14 and 20 miles will keep me fueled.  My best training cycle yet will keep my head on straight and I can’t wait to cross that finish line.

Meredith

What’s the worst weather you’ve run a marathon in?  Do you stress about forecasts?

2016 Summer Series 5k

Another race recap on a Wednesday?  Yup!  This time the race wasn’t Tuesday night, however.  It was Wednesday morning.  J&A Racing’s Summer Series 5k takes place on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk at 8am Wednesday mornings all summer long.

In its inaugural year, the series is made up of 8 events.   Registration is available the morning of the race for those who are waiting to see what the usually hot and humid Virginia Beach weather might dish out for $30 or in advance online for $25.  There is garage parking at the race site with a discount for locals but the start is also easily accessible by walking, jogging or biking.  Hotels abound and are also easy to get to.

Featuring an out and back course from 31st Street on the boardwalk, the Summer Series 5k is a great opportunity to see how your training is going.  It’s very flat with at least one direction providing a tailwind.  There’s a water stop and cheerleading at the halfway summer series 5kpoint with a nice wide coned off u-turn zone.  Here Team FitNice is having some fun at the turnaround with Ryan from J&A.  Erin in the lead, Heather and I picking up the back half with smiles on our faces.  Boardwalk races can get crowded with people but they also usually take place on the weekend.  Since this one is during the week, there’s much less traffic out there and there’s plenty of room to run.

Swag includes a beach towel, a massive medal, bananas, bottled waters and eucalyptus ice summer series 5kwater soaked towels across the finish line.  The back of your race number also features discounts to three tasty local restaurants for your post-race refueling pleasure.

Taking part in one of the Summer Series 5k events is a must do for those runners who visit between June and August.  It’s a fabulous way to kick off the morning while enjoying the boardwalk before it gets too crowded.

Meredith

Do you race on vacation?  During the summer at all?

Allen Stone Memorial 5k

Saturday morning I raced the 17th Annual Allen Stone Memorial 5k.  I blogged about how excited I was to race in my new shoes last week and I was happy with how things turned out.

I could tell the second I walked out the door into a humid morning it wasn’t going to be a banner day.  I hadn’t had a full recovery day in 10 days and my legs were pretty tired.  My new shoes settled right onto my feet as I jogged an easy mile to get moving.  One of the allen stone memorial 5kthings that didn’t help my performance was that between the portions of my warm up I had a big break.  This race is full of tradition, including a reading of the names of special operations service men who have died in the line of duty, the national anthem, and three parachuters floating down with the flag.  After stretching and relaxing through that I finished with 800M of pick-ups to get my turnover and heart rate going.

Soaked in sweat with my heart pumping and legs feeling lighter but not fresh we snapped a Team RWB photo.  Then I was off to the Allen Stone Memorial 5k start line.  I knew the crowd was competitive and settled into the third row of runners figuring that would be roughly my speed.  I went out of the gate too fast for the first 400M, especially on the humid allen stone memorial 5kmorning, but was thankful the sun stayed hidden as I ran through the first mile.  I had a girl right next to me through the turn around then pulled away in the second mile.

Coming into the final kilometer I choked.  Not crapped out on performing but actually choked.  Some sticky spit got stuck in my throat with no water in sight and I slowed to attempt clearing my throat without making things worse.  It kind of worked so I picked it back up for the last half mile.  Set on cruise, the girl who had been neck-in-neck with me at the race’s start came on strong in the final 20M and we finished with a sprint over the line.

I ended up finishing in 21:40, averaging 6:59 miles.  Not the time I thought I had run when I crossed the Allen Stone Memorial 5k finish line, it was actually a few seconds faster.  I immediately grabbed some water to finally get my throat clear, collected my medal and waited for results with a bunch of friends.  I found out I had won my age group then jogged a cool down mile that took long enough to miss my award being presented.  I got a fancy handled mason jar with the Allen Stone Memorial 5k logo on it to match my medal and then called it a day.

I was happy to get a solid workout in, have success with my new shoes and still have something left for the next day’s long run.  With two more weeks in my base phase, I’m excited to see what I can do when the weather’s cooler, my legs are fresher and my weeks aren’t packed with miles this fall.

Meredith

How do you decide if a race was successful?  What training phase are you in right now?

2016 Back2Back Challenge

The 2016 Back2Back Challenge was to complete two races in two states over two days.  First up was the 2016 Mississippi Blues Half Marathon with the 2016 First Light Half Marathon filling in on Sunday.  This was not my first experience with back to back half marathons.  I dipped into those last fall with the Hartford Half Marathon on Saturday and the Ocean State Rhode Race on Sunday.  While both outings on that trip were about the same, this round created two different tales and I learned a two important things.

The first thing I learned was I really need to plan my flight schedule better.  Instead of driving like I did to Connecticut and Rhode Island, I flew.  Turns out flying in on Friday for Saturday’s event wasn’t the best idea.  I was more beat up than I expected Saturday morning and rolling my ankle early on didn’t help much.  After a day to adjust, rehydrate and recover from being in the air, Sunday was a much better day for my legs.  I think I’ve finally admitted defeat when it comes to this and will definitely be giving myself an extra day to recover from flying in the future.  Good thing I booked flights for my next two long distance events (Rock the Parkway and Monumental Half) with that in mind!

The second thing the 2016 Back2Back Challenge taught me was that I’m actually probably ready for One City.  Not 2016 back2back challenge100% ready but I’ll certainly finish while maintaining my ability to walk the next day.  Struggling through the final eight miles of Race #1 on a hard course with a touchy ankle and a tired brain left me feeling unsure about how Sunday would go.  I knew I’d finish but I wanted to see how much I had, how ready I was to push my body to complete to long hard workouts in two days.  With a successful and solid performance in Race #2 I wrapped up the weekend on a positive note while looking forward to hammering out some long marathon training runs over the next few weeks.

The Back2Back Challenge as an event is great.  Both races are well organized though Mobile has better scenery and fewer hills.  The Blues Bus, which takes runners aiming for both races from Jackson to Mobile with little hassle was incredibly convenient.  Massive medals for both half marathons are nicely complimented by a special Back2Back participant medal and plaque that features images of both states and both race logos on a spinner.

I’m glad I completed the 2016 Back2Back challenge.  It was a great way to check off two more states, test my training with 9 weeks to go before marathon day and lots of fun.

Meredith

Have you run the Back2Back Challenge?  Back to back races?  Which ones?

Fit Friday: Racing Shoes

Choosing to wear racing shoes for a road event is a decision runners can wrestle with.  There are tons of options.  It can be hard to know if you really need them.  Here are the reasons I sometimes choose a racing shoe and why one might be right for you.

The basics:  Training shoes are heavier, thicker and more supportive than racing shoes (flats) or lightweight training shoes.  Normal trainers come in weighing anywhere from 8-10 ounces per shoe while lightweight training shoes range from 5-7 ounces per shoe and racing flats can be as light as 3-4 ounces.  The reason those other types of shoes weigh less than your regular trainers is because they’re built with less material for cushion and support.  Here are the pros of running your next event in a racing shoe:

  • A lighter shoe is that your muscles don’t have to work quite so hard to pick up each foot, leading to less fatigue.  Studies have shown that each ounce you remove from the weight of your shoe can increase your speed by up to one second per mile.  Take off three ounces, that’s three seconds per mile and almost 30 seconds off your half marathon.racing shoes
  • Lighter racing shoes can also make you feel faster.  They’re special for race day.  Just like your lucky underwear or breakfast, your shiny shoes might not only weigh less but make you feel sexier, faster and more positive.

Unfortunately for some runners, lighter shoes won’t have much of an impact and can actually cause problems.  Before you trot off to the running store for a pricey new pair of racing shoes make sure your body is ready for the additional stress.

  • The limited cushioning in racing flats or lightweight trainers mean they don’t provide a lot of buffer between your foot and the ground you’re running on.  This lack of support, motion control and stability can be problematic for those who need them.
  • Light racing shoes might not be for you if you’re worried about an injury, tired, sore or are one of those who need lots of support and cushioning.
  • Consider what you’re wearing them for.  A 5-, 8- or 10k isn’t very long and doesn’t give you lots of time to get hurt.  For a 10 miler, half or full marathon, your regular trainer, lightweight trainers and performance trainers are probably a better answer.

If you do decide to give lightweight trainers or racing flats a try, talk to your coach.  Then be sure to spend some time in them before you race.  You wouldn’t wear brand new shorts on race day and it’s not a good time to experiment with new footwear, either.  Racing shoes can be a big change from your regular runners and your body will need time to learn how to adjust.

Meredith

Do you have special races shoes?  What do you love about them?  Dislike?

Summer Training Continues

My summer training continues as the heat and humidity do, too.  It’s been rough so far this summer here in Virginia Beach and it doesn’t look to be getting any better soon.  The daily highs of close to or above 90 the last 15 days have been much warmer than this time last year (thanks, Garmin) and my training schedule has had to be flexible.

Luckily, flexibility has been easy with my low pressure maintenance mode also rolling on and the trusty treadmill still standing by.  I did think I would get a reprieve from the treadmill after a tough winter with some early morning running but as my summer training continues, it turns out I was dead wrong.  summer training continuesMornings are ‘cool’ but extremely humid and evenings are hot, hot, hot with more reasonable levels of humidity.  It seems like a lose-lose kind of situation if I’m looking to get in a hard outdoor workout.

With staying indoors a safer option, I’ve been visiting that trusty treadmill for runs longer than 10 miles or when it’s just too awful outside, running barefoot on the beach a bunch and sticking to very early or late evening outdoor workouts.  I was very happy to finish this morning’s short intervals around the lake!

I’m also happy I opted out of an early fall goal half marathon and switched my focus to the 5k and 10k distances.  This has given me the chance I needed to make my biggest summer training goals staying fresh and out of a rut.  The struggles I faced at the end of my spring race season with physical and mental exhaustion are things I wouldn’t like to see again, especially when it’s this warm out.  I solved my long run hydration issues by adding GPS Hydration to each run’s water supply and as my summer training continues, I’m feeling great about where the next few weeks will go.

Meredith

How do you handle the heat as your summer training continues?  Head indoors?  Slow down?

2015 EquiKids Cross Country 5k

My second race week in a row featured the 2015 EquiKids Cross Country 5k.  It was their 13th annual event, my fourth time participating and Doug and Jordy’s third time tackling the 1 Mile Run with the Hounds.  I look forward to the spring for this run each year because it’s fun for the whole family.  Plus, getting Jordy out there to race is always good for a few laughs.

My race weekend began with volunteering at packet pick-up for a few hours Friday then a nacho dinner at the Green Parrot.  I got a good night’s sleep and woke up ready to rock the trails Saturday morning.  Outside my window, the ground was covered with heavy fog after Friday night’s light rain and I immediately knew it would be humid out there on the double loop trail course.  I wasn’t too concerned about mud, the EquiKids team does a great job getting the trails ready.  It wasn’t raining and there was a cloud cover which meant the humidity would stick around for a while but there have definitely been less favorable conditions to fight through in previous years.

We arrived at EquiKids about an hour before the 5k start.  Doug and I socialized while Jordy made a few new friends and enjoyed exploring.  I started my warm up 30 minutes before the race with some stretching and mobility work then jogged one easy 800 and a second with three strides.  My legs felt good, though not as fresh as I would have liked, lined up at the Start for announcements, ready to work.  I had been a bit concerned after the previous week’s messiness and was relieved to feel almost back to normal.  Before I knew it, we were off.

I held my pace steady as the usual start too fast crowd sprinted by me and entered the first lap in the woods realizing I definitely would have benefited from a longer warm-up.  The shorter the race, the longer the warm-up, but I failed to follow through on this occasion.  Oops.  The trails were edged by a few barely muddy spots and the expected humidity was in full force.  It took my heart rate a little longer than usual to settle down into racing mode with the thicker air and by the 1 Mile mark I finally felt ready to get in gear.

Unfortunately, my watch did not.  I had trouble with it giving my accurate timing information when running through the woods (I know this is not a 9:10 mile…) and since I don’t run on dirt often, it was hard for me to nail down my desired pace.  I gradually passed the too fast starters as my legs and heart settled in, all warmed up now.  Popping back out of the woods on Lap 1, my watch got a better signal and I maintained my 7:15 pace until hitting the soft dirt again for Lap 2.

Thanks to the course design, I counted four ladies in front of me before reentering the woods.  I vowed to not let myself be passed and was happy to stay in my position.  Sticking with my pace helped me pick off two lades in front of me after the Mile 2 sign and I was on the edge of passing a third past the 2.5 mile mark when a left turn stopped us both in our tracks as we avoided colliding with one of the awesome Team Hoyt participants.  We both took off again and I gained a few meters on her as we entered the final stretch.  I knew I was in position to place in my age group, or even overall, as I eased into the Finish Line while she kicked to pass me in the final 50 meters.2015 equikids cross country 5k

I finished the 2015 EquiKids Cross Country 5k as third female overall and was happy with the end result even if I wasn’t much faster than last year.  My legs felt decent but I hadn’t warmed up enough and was still coming back from Prairie Fire.  The humidity also impacted my performance, especially coupled with the too short warm-up.  Now I know I need a longer 5k warm-up!

A few minutes later, Doug and Jordy lined up to take on the 1 Mile Run with the Hounds.  They beat last year’s time by a good margin and Jordy celebrated by laying down in the dirt.  The post race party and awards were filled with pizza, lettuce wraps, raffles, beer, water, friends and adorable dogs.  I can’t wait for the 2016 event!

Meredith

Do you race on trails?  Why or why not?