Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breaking the Chains

For many years, my running followed a strict schedule. If the day's training called for 5 miles, then 5 miles I ran. Not 4.9. Not 5.1. 5. If I was training for a marathon, I could tell you the exact mileage I would run on a given day 3 months down the road. Staring at 4 months worth of pre-planned running didn't feel right. It didn't feel natural. Following a training program made my running feel like a chore. It began to suck the joy out of it.

As my running continues to evolve, I've started breaking the chains. The first link to go, my training schedule. When I get home from work, I slide on my running shoes and run until my body says, "I've got my fill for the day." Some days all I need is a 3 miler. Other days I'll blow off some steam by running a hard 6 miler. Then, there's my favorite...the ones where I get lost in the motion of running and find myself creeping well into the double digits. By running what I feel like and not what I'm supposed to, I feel free.

The second link to go, my Garmin. This is a new one for me. Over the last month, I've been leaving my Garmin behind when I head out the door. In fact, at my most recent marathon, I ran without my Garmin and it was awesome! Instead of staring at that damn watch and obeying its commands, I listened to what my body was telling me and ran accordingly. Isn't that the way running should be anyhow?

Having said all that, do I think runners should stop following a training schedule and not use a Garmin? Not at all. In fact, without having those aids when I first started running, I would have had no idea where to begin...and forget about being able to train for my first marathon without following a program. But, I'm at a point in my running where I feel I don't need these things to achieve my goals. I'm taking a more laid back approach and as a result, my running and race training have become more enjoyable and less stressful.

In essence, my running has been rejuvenated.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Race Recap: Manassas Runway 10K

I love running and I love airplanes. But, I never thought I would be able to enjoy both these things at the same time. Yet, the Manassas Runway 10K was just that. When I found this race, I thought I was dreaming. A road race staged at an airport? I couldn't believe it! I asked Katie if she would be interested in running it with me and she said she was, so we both signed up!

The weather on race day was beautiful. Albeit a bit on the chilly side in the early morning hours, the sun was shining and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Katie and I had no time/pace goal for this race. Instead, we were looking forward to running together and enjoying the distance. Once the race got under way, I let Katie dictate the pace.

We cruised through the first mile at just under a sub-9 min/mile pace. Once we reached the second mile, it was onto the airport's runway! I must say, I've never run on a course that was so wide! But, even with all that space, we crowded onto one side of the runway. I guess us runners like to stick together!

Before I knew it, we were at the halfway point. The second half of the race consisted of two out and back sections, which are never a favorite of mine. But, for whatever reason, I didn't mind them as much as I thought I would. I could tell that Katie's pace had picked up from the first half of the race. But, she said she was feeling good, so we went with it.

By the time we neared the 6 mile mark, Katie had dropped our pace into another gear! She was flying! pun intended. :) As we approached the finished line, a spectator had apparently taken note of Katie's fast pace because I heard them yell out, "You go girl!" We crossed the finished line in 53:44 and we felt great! Not exactly sure what our mile splits were since I wasn't wearing my watch, but it definitely felt like each mile we ran was faster than the previous one.

The Manassas Runway 10K was definitely a cool race for the aviation dork in me. But, what made this race even sweeter was running it with Katie! We had such a blast! Next race for me is the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K trail run right here in DC. It's going to be a tough race, but I'm really looking forward to my first trail run of the year!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Jersery Marathon: Race Recap

The New Jersey Marathon was my 28th marathon, and unlike my previous marathons, I decided to run this race without my Garmin. I wanted to run this marathon on pure feel. I must say, it felt very liberating to pack for this race and leave my Garmin sitting on the table. And, to make this marathon ever better, Katie accompanied me on the trip!

After getting my ass kicked at the Blue Ridge Marathon two weeks ago, it was refreshing to see a pancake flat course profile for the NJ Marathon. As race day approached, the weather forecast was looking promising with high's in the 60's and partly cloudy skies.

My goal was to run a sub-4, but I wasn't going to be upset if that didn't happen. Honestly, I never really know how my race is going to go until I get out there and run. After waiting in an ungodly long gear check line, I made it to my corral with only minutes to spare before the start of the race. Katie told me that she wanted to run part of the race with me. So, the night before, we reviewed the course map and decided that mile 11 would be a good meetup point.

The race got off without a hitch and I settled into a comfortable pace. Halfway through the 2nd mile, someone from behind me commented on the shirt I was wearing (a RnR Seattle Marathon shirt). That comment led to a 5 mile conversation. Now, I'm usually not one for making friends during a marathon (I'm a introverted runner), but I didn't mind chatting with Kevin from New Jersey, who was running in his second marathon.

After parting ways with Kevin, I looked forward to mile 11 and meeting up with Katie. However, when I got to the mile 11 marker, I didn't see her. The marathon course was a point-to-point. So, after the race started, Katie had to take a shuttle bus from the start to the finish area. However, the bus ride to the finish area took longer than expected and Katie bailed out of the bus early and unbeknown to me, dashed further up the course. So, to my surprise, I spotted her closer to the mile 12 mark. Needless to say, I was happy to see her! Katie (a two-time marathon finisher herself) ran with me until mile 14. Being able run some of the marathon with her was definitely my favorite part of the race!

The last 12 miles were very enjoyable for me. Even without my watch on, I could tell that my pace had increased a bit from the first half. But, I was feeling pretty strong so I stuck with that pace to the finish. After crossing the finish line, I found Katie and then quickly found a bench to park my butt on for a few minutes. Then, we started walking around in search of the gear drop truck so I could collect my things. While searching for the gear truck, I saw a results tent and asked a volunteer to look up my finishing time for me. I was anxious to see what my time was, which ended up being a 3:54:26. I had achieve my race goal and I was very happy about that! Reviewing my time more in depth later online, I was very pleased with how well I paced myself. I ran the first half in 1:58:55 and the second half in 1:55:31, a 3:24 negative split!

Another highlight of the NJ Marathon was getting to meet one of my fellow running tweeps, Jocelyn, after the race! While speaking to each other, we found out that both of us are running in the Chicago Marathon this fall!  However, something I didn't find out until after speaking with her is that she set a 40 minute PR! Awesome! You can read all about her NJ Marathon here.

Overall, the NJ Marathon was a great experience. Not sure if I'll do this race again, but I was glad to check New Jersey off my list of states I need to run a mary in. It was weird at times not having a Garmin to check my pace, but I'm glad I ran without it. I will certainly run Garmin-less again in the future and would highly recommend you try it as well!  It was so nice having Katie with me because I'm not use to having company while traveling to most of my marathons. Her support and encouragement over the weekend meant a lot to me! You're the BEST!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Running naked

This weekend I'll be running in my 28th marathon, the New Jersey Marathon. However, unlike my previous 27 marys, I will be running this one naked. Alright, well that's not entirely true. To spare my fellow runners and any unsuspecting volunteers and spectators, I will be clothed. It is my wrist that will be naked. No Garmin barking at me this time.

Back in 2007, I bought my Garmin Forerunner to assist me with my training runs while preparing for my first marathon. Since then, I've been married to the damn thing. Don't get me wrong, I'd be lost without my Garmin. Yet, I sometimes find it rather pathetic how much I rely on it for pacing...instead of listening to what my body is telling me.

So, to spice up my marathon, I'm running this baby on pure feel!

Sorry Garmin, it's not's me.

Have you ever run a race "naked?" If so, I'd love to hear from you!

Spring Twiter Road Race: Race Report

Another Twitter Road Race is in the books! Thank you to everyone that participated! While our numbers for this race were not as big as the first one (376 finishers vs. 98), the level of enthusiasm was just as high! Of the 98 finishers, 9 countries were represented. The #TwitterRoadRace trend was alive and well on race day and I loved seeing all your tweets. Thanks to everyone that participated in the "post race party" TRR chat on Monday night. I had a lot of fun moderating it and enjoyed reading all your responses!

A shout out to our overall male winner @bmobsta (18:54) and our overall female winner @turtlegirl00 (21:08). Awesome runs! If you have not seen the results yet, they can be viewed here. I'd also like to thank @hellomisspotter for designing the bib for this race. Be sure to check out her blog to see some of her other graphical work!

I enjoyed reading everyone's race recap blogs. Awesome stuff! I swear I'm not playing favorites, but I have to give a shout out to @KCtoCapeCod on another highly entertaining and picture loaded blog about her TRR. She was even sporting her official TRR t-shirt during her run!

If you missed out on this race, no worries, the summer edition of the TRR will be here before you know it! Date is TBD, but I'm planning to having it sometime in August. Stay tuned to my blog and tweets for the race date. Until then, lace up, run hard and most importantly, have fun!