Monday, June 25, 2012

Training at Races

This weekend was filled with races and training all wrapped into one! When we set a date for me to move from Alabama to Michigan, one of the first things I did was look for races. It wasn't necessarily to go and run them, but more to maybe meet people and to not have to do my runs alone! So this past weekend I had the Solstice Run, which was a 10mile route but I added 2 at the beginning. And then on Sunday was the Heart of Detroit Run which I did the 10k route. 

You may ask, "Why would I run a race as a training run?" Well that's an easy answer for me to answer...I have just started week 1 of my training for Detroit Marathon on October 21st! I ran my 1st marathon in March, read all about it here, and I am ready for the next one, and hopefully a better one! The one thing that I am doing differently for this marathon compared to the 1st one, is I have a running coach! We may not be in the same state, but there are a lot of online programs, so I figure this will work. I know my coach, I met him Alabama and actually talked about being my coach prior to knowing I was moving. But I will go more into that a different time. But I will say, so far it is nice to have a plan written out and with the pace I need to be at. I am one of those that needs things written out to completely understand. So I am really excited for this journey and really excited to see the end result on October 21st!

As for the races this weekend...they were both at different locations and had different terrains! But I learned a lot from both of them!
Solstice 10miler +2

Solstice Race:
It was in Northville, and the weather was perfect for a run! I had 12 on my schedule so I had to add 2 miles in addition to the 10 miles on the race course. I ended up parking at the High School and instead of taking the shuttle to the start line, I ran the 2 miles to the start line. I was supposed to be at 10:44 pace for today's long run, well it kind of happened. The 1st 2 miles were a bit to fast....even though I knew I had enough time to get to the start line, I was still worried about taking a wrong turn (even though it was impossible) and not making it in time. But I think going to fast the 1st 2miles ruined the average pace on the Garmin, which made getting to my training pace difficult when the 10mile race started. ~Live and learned from that one!~
I was looking forward to this hilly route, still can't believe I am looking forward to hills! This is from the website for the race------->10 Mile, 10K, 5K USATF Certified Courses: Run famous "KONA HILL" -challenging hill at 3/4 mile mark on 10 Mile Kona Run and 10K Aloha Run courses. But I guess I am still somewhat used to the hills in Alabama because at the end of the race, I was still looking for the hill... (sorry to those who are reading this & are saying those hills were tough) My tune might change in a year, after running on flat surfaces!

At the Tiger prior to Race

Heart of Detroit Race:
This was just an awesome location! Comerica Park!! Where the Detroit Tigers play. And at the end of the cross the finish on the field!! How awesome is that?? This one I was better about keeping my 10:04pace, I was a little faster then planned, but at times I stopped focusing on my running and just took in the sights of Detroit! Oh how it has changed, this area was so clean and built up! I know there are areas that are not like this, but this was all new to me! I am also hoping this was a small preview of the Detroit Marathon...if it is, it looks like it might be a flat race, which is good and bad.
an hour later...on the Field!

Here is what I learned from this weekend:
1) Going to race with out my running family is a little different. A race is more fun with a running family.

2) Both races I ran with no breaks! No 'water' stop breaks, for either the 10mile or 6mile. Which was great for a training run. As I am trying to limit my 'water stop breaks' or at least cut down on the stop time when I do stop.

3)*I am far from being a fast runner* but it was interesting watching those who were racing this weekend while I was just running. The biggest observation I took was the breathing! Because I was going at a slower pace then normal for a race, I took in how everyone was working really hard and they were all breathing hard! Do I sound like that too, I wonder? & it was great to see how many people were out there! I also learned that going at a steady pace does help, because at the start of the races I had many people past me, but by the end with my steady pace I did end up passing these same people. 

4) It was hard for me, a little bit, to not speed up! I really wanted to, but I know that all of these slower runs will pay off! I have a huge goal for October and following the plan will help me get to those huge goal!

5) During the races, I made sure to take the time to say Thank You to all those who were helping with the race. There were a lot of police and volunteers out there! So next time your at a race make sure to say thank you as much as possible, they really do appreciate it!!

Sorry for this long post....but it was a fun weekend and great end of week 1 of Detroit Marathon Training!!

~~~Did you race this weekend? How did it go?

~~~Have you ever gone to a race and used it as a training run? What did you take out of it?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

1st race back in Michigan, Ann Arbor Half Marathon

When I found out I was moving back to Michigan, one of the first things I did was look for a race! I figured why not, might be able to meet some new people and it would keep me motivated to keep running! So the first race that I signed up for was the Ann Arbor half marathon. It was in the inaugural year for this full and half marathon event. Which didn't bother me, it was a race being ran through Ann Arbor one of my favorite cities. 
Over the past few weeks I had kept my running up, and I had been feeling great! When I ran as part of the Dixie 200 relay race I had some of my best runs! I felt ready, I was aiming to make a PR, I wanted a 1:50, and I had felt ready for it! But then race day occured.....

Let's first start with the night before...
         Usually the night before I try to have a nice peacefully relaxing evening. And it had started out that way, my husband I spent the afternoon looking at houses after I got back from helping out at the expo for the race. We were about to decided on dinner, I was looking forward to having a small meal and then going to bed. 
Brady after surgery
Bo & Brady on a normal walk
That all changed when I took my 2 Boston's outside after their dinner. For some reason our walk did not go as planned....a fight between brothers occured and a trip to the Emergency Vet and then onto the  Michigan State Vet School. Some how during the fight, eye trauma occured and Brady is now a one eyed wonder dog. So needless to say my night was filled with a lot more stress then I typically would like the night before a race. It wasn't till after 10pm did I hear that he was out of surgery. But he is all better now, and Bo and Brady are slowly getting back to normal. I think once the e-collar goes away that will make life easier!
Brady telling Bo he forgive's him. 

So onto the actually race....after 6 hours of sleep I got up with only needing one of my three alarms I had set just in case! Onto Ann Arbor I went at 5:15am. I was able to easily find a parking spot, just across from the Big House!! If only it was Football Saturday...aww but that will be here soon enough.

When I got there, I had driven though some rain showers on the way, but on radar it looked like it was going to miss Ann Arbor! But the humidity did not miss Ann Arbor! It was a lot more humid then predicited! But I still felt ok. As I lined up, I had the usually pre-race nerves, the same ones I would get when I used to swim in college and highschool. I felt ready! And off I went at 7:05am. I felt great....i kept looking at my garmin and the avg.pace was just where I wanted it to be (8:20min/mile). And then the Hills that I kept hearing about came and kept coming. I was not worried about the hills at all, I had been running in Birmingham, AL, where I couldn't get away from hills. But since I have been in Okemos, for the past 3 weeks it is flat as can be. And after 7miles or so of hills, and still more in sight, they took their toll! I was just over it! And then I got tired. The hills started to piss me off, and the humidity didn't help and stressful night from the night before and lack of sleep all caught up to me at mile 9 or so. I now truley believe that running is just mental as physical, because I checked out! I hate that I did it, i was on track to do great and I had felt great. But I mentally checked out.  
Even though it was not the race I had wanted I still finished, it was my 4th marathon, and my second one under 2 hours (1:59:29). So I have to stop beating myself up about it. I have to remember the day when I said I would never run a marathon and here I just finished number 4 in just over a year! 
Finish of Half Marathon #4

Did you race this weekend? how did it go?

Have You ever checked out of a race?

Friday, June 15, 2012

to Run with Music or Not?!

To run with music or not, that is such a big question some days! And most everyone has their own opinion on it
I personally enjoy running with music! I feel that with what ever type of music I have on will help the tempo of the run. If I am out for an easy run, I make sure to have a playlist with slower paced songs, if I am out for speed work or tempo run I make sure to have a fast beat, faster music on the playlist. 
There are even websites out there that can recommend songs for what pace you are trying to set: http:Songs for 8:15min/mile pace 
There are many Studies showing the benefits of music and activity, whether it be running or cycling. 
In the current study, published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 30 subjects synchronised their pace to the tempo of the music which was 125 bpm. Before the experiment, a pool of music was rated using a questionnaire tool (the Brunel Music Rating Inventory) which then selected the most motivational pieces for the treadmill test. The subjects were given a choice of either pop or rock music.
When compared to a no-music control, the motivational synchronised music led to a 15 percent improvement in endurance.
"The synchronous application of music resulted in much higher endurance while the motivational qualities of the music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion," Karageorghis reported.

When I am out running with a group or a running partner, I do not feel the need for music, because the conversation is usually better then music! But now that I am back running most of my runs alone, I will enjoy my iPod and Yurbuds!

In 2 days I am running at The Ann Arbor half marathon and my goal for this race is to get a PR!! And this will be my 2nd race that I will be running where I will not be with a running partner, so headphones will be on!! And seeing that the race will be starting at the Big House I think it would only be fitting that the first song on the playlist is The Victors! Go Blue!!

Do you run with or with out headphones?

What is your "powersong" that makes you dig deep?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Running Family

I started running in March of 2010, and when I started I ran alone! All the time! At the time I was unaware of the running community that was out there. So needless to say I was very attached to my iPod and only knew the routes in and around my house. When I started to run, it was only short miles. Until I said I’m going to run a half marathon, which was going to be in April 2011. I had no idea what training plans were…my thinking was every weekend I will just run 1 more mile then last week, and when I get to 13 I will be ready to run my 1st half. So the week before the Talladega Half Marathon I ran 12.5 miles! Yes I know now…such the wrong way to train! I did run a few times during the week as well, but looking back I really had no idea what I was doing other then putting 1 foot in front of the other and putting miles in. 
Finished my 1st Half Marathon!
After running that race, I still couldn’t believe I had done it! And afterwards, running became a bit challenging. Maybe because I had just accomplished my goal of running a half marathon, and at that time I said I would Never run a marathon! I was in running limbo! I enjoyed running, but I had no other goals in the near future, and running alone was becoming lonely! But I still stuck with it, just a few runs during the week. But in June I saw a tweet looking to possible start a running group in Helena I responded. And my running love was renewed. It would be different; I would be running with people, which would be somewhat of a change. And so the first weekend in July, I got up earlier then I ever thought I would on a Saturday morning and meet up with the Helena Endurance Running Group.
Coffee after 1st HERG group run
It was the 1st time I had ever run with a group and looking back I am so happy I got my butt out of bed that Saturday morning! I continued to get my but out of bed every Saturday morning to go and run with the group. They became my Running Family! With them as my family, I was opened to a whole world of running I was unaware of!
I think I can honestly say, with out my running family I would have never said I want to run a marathon, or let’s just randomly sign up for a half marathon!
Donnette & I Prior to Montgomery Half

I am thankful and grateful for so many people, so I am going to do a short thank you list:
Donnette, for starting the HERG’s
Stefanie & I after
finishing my 1st Marathon

Stefanie for giving me the courage to run a marathon

Brooke, Mark, and Jason helping with “speed and hills”

Tom for helping warm up the hands…Tebow style
Liz & I after Wed Night run &
before Pizza time!

Liz for being my 5:30am running buddy and of course Wednesday night pizza eating!

In the few months before I left for Michigan (and before I knew I was moving). I found that my running family extended from Helena out to the Birmingham/Mountain Brook/Homewood area, with the Village Runners.  I had met a bunch of them through races and other social events. They are a group of runners that meet almost every morning for a run, and of course on the weekends.  I had kept saying I am going to come out there one morning during the week, but I never did until one of my last weeks living in Alabama. I was always so concerned with getting up at 4:30am and travel and making sure to get back in time to get to work. But then when it was one of my final weeks in Alabama, I finally made the drive out to Mountain Brook for the Sunrise run! It was great, such a large group of people at 5:15 in the morning to run! Seeing that I went from running alone to running with a group, seeing such a large group that early in the morning was amazing! Especially when most of my weekday AM runs were alone, it was a welcoming change! The only thing was that I wished I had started to get up and drive out there a long time ago! It wasn’t so bad getting up early and driving out there. And with this extension to the family I am thankful for meeting them and keeping the motivation going! I will miss getting to know, Randy, Jill, Michael, Russ, Sara, Julie, Darnell, Niki, Tanya, David, Alex, & Cathy and everyone else...but there is always Facebook and Twitter to keep & stay in touch! And of course destination races!!

Village Runners Post Sunrise Run
As I now have moved back to Michigan, I am trying to find my new running family. I am not sure it will ever be able to fill the 'running' shoes as the family I had in Alabama!
HERG group

~Do you have a running family?
~What do you love most about this family?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dixie Dirty Dozen The Finish

The Finish Line

So after 200 miles and 32 hours we made our way into Oak Mountain, the finish line! Us in van 1 had been done with our runs since around noon, but van 2 had to finish their legs and run into the park! While we waited for the other van to get into the park, some of our van took showers and got cleaned up at Kevin's house. Me, I went and picked up my dogs from their "hotel" and brought them home. I knew that if I had taken a shower I would be done for the day! But I met back up with my van mates at Kevin's house, while we waited to head over to the finish line. A big thanks go his wife for making us breakfast and allowing 5 stinking tired runners into their home.
Around 2:30 we headed over to the park to watch and cheer in the runners coming in! and enjoy some post-race food, beer and fun!
Why we run?!
We didn't have to long to wait for our runners to come in! 
Team Wheels in the Sky

Team Relay RockStars

Team Dirty Dozen Finish Photo

When I had signed up for this event I had no idea what I was getting into or that this event would be a part of my good-bye to the south. I am so happy that I signed up to do this!! It was a weekend filled with memories that will last a life time! Who cares about the lack of sleep, being stuffed in a van with 5 of your new closest friends, lack of eating normally and running where you never thought you would ever run!? It was my last run in the south, as the week after I was making my move back to Michigan after living in Alabama for 8 years! It was great send with people that will be friends for years to come and doing something I love, running! 

After we had all parted our ways for the day, I was on the post race high we all get...and started looking for the next relay race!! After googling Relay run races I was shocked at how many there are!! So I am ready for the next one..just got to get the 'band back together'

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dixie Dirty Dozen part 2

Now that we have covered the over view of the race lets get to some of the dirty details! So Van 1, runner 1 --Me-- Started at 7am at The Silver Comet Trail.  I started with 7miles and got the team going! We had 6 people in our van, so our runners only had 1 leg per stage.

Sam & Jason exchanging the Yellow Bracelet
After each leg we had an exchange with our van mates. And as exchange occurred we would cheer on, not only our teammates but the others there as well. Again there were only 8 teams, so we did get to know each one at the exchanges.

What made this rely race different compared to all the other relay races out there, was that after all the runners from van 1 or 2 finished their legs there was a mandatory stop/break. This was done, for good reason, there were only 8 teams! And each team was at different pace/speed, we had the lead group averaging a 6:15pace and the rest of us were between 8:30-10:00min/paces! So this allowed the organizers to get the volunteers at their spots with more ease as well as the police who were there to guide our teams in the middle of the night! So when we all regrouped we were allowing the volunteers to regroup as well as it allowed all the teams to get together and meet and talk! This made the experience even a little bit more fun.

Niki Running into exchange/break 

After we van 1 finished our legs of running, van 2 was getting ready, but they had a little bit of harder leg. The reason I say harder is because the heater had turned on!! We were in Georgia, in May! It was hot, so us in van 1 got lucky we had the morning runs and somewhat cooler weather.  We would meet up with them again at the next mandatory/break point. With the start of van 1 at 6pm.

Hanging out at van exchange/break 

Our break/regrouping point was at the Eubanks welcome center in Piedmont, AL. The people that were there were very welcoming to having a whole bunch of runners come and invade their center. We were camped out on the floors of the center and outside. But soon 6pm rolled around and it was go time again.
And van 1 starts again!

I got to lead off van 1, and the nice thing about that was even though we were going into night time runs, it was 6pm so it was not dark yet!! I lucked out!! But as the race continued it did get darker out for our van runners and for van 2 it was the middle of the night! Our runners had yet again great runs, with the only 1 runner missing mis-hap! Jason's 4mile run turned into a 8 mile run after missing one of the turn signs, but he wasn't alone another team was right with him. But special thanks to the awesome race director Kirk he just allowed our teams to drive to next exchange site to keep with the flow. After our 6 runners finished with our legs we met up with the other teams and van 2's for our break/re-group time. Van 2 was set to start at Midnight! And we were there to wish them luck as they started their midnight runs!! 
Van 2 runners start @ midnight

But....we were not off to a hotel for a quick few hours or sleep or we were off to exchange point #25 to check teams in! Our team had to volunteer to exchange points, we had hoped to have some of our non-runner friends to donate their time, but that didn't happen. So it was up to us. When we got to the exchange point we tried to sleep as best as we could. Some in the van some of the ground! Me, I took the ground and I may have gotten 1-1.5hours of sleep. But just enough to be able to keep going until late Saturday afternoon. But as we slept, Danielle stayed awake to see the 1st team of runners come and go and then waited another 45mins or so for the rest of the groups to come through. 
Van 1 @ exchange #25

After the last runner came and went we packed up and went to the next van meet up spot. Which would be where I would start my final leg of the Dixie 200. Just a 2.75mile run starting at 5am. I say just 2.75miles but my oh my was that the tightest run ever!! Something about no sleep, being in a van and being up for 24+hours I guess does that to you! But I knew the end was near. When we got to exchange #27 we met up with van 2 which was volunteering at that exchange! and oh man they looked tired!! of course they were just up running during the middle of the night!!

The final van exchange break point was at the Morgan Vineyards! and let me tell you the heat and sun had come out! Again I felt lucky for our van as we did not have that bad of weather for our runs but van 2...they had the grunt of it. But with these final 6 legs we would be getting into Oak Mountain State park and the finish line!!
Van 2 @ exchange #27
The Girls of the Dirty Dozen

Having these mandatory Breaks were a great part to this experience! It made getting to know other runners and even those in our group better! I know that typically relay races are not like this, but it was a great added touch.

Part 2 is over...will get to the final part and the finish very soon!!