Monday, April 26, 2010

Glass City Half Marathon Recap

So…let’s just say I’m a little excited about how my race went yesterday. The rain held off and I ran well setting a new personal record of 2:01. I seem to improve with each half marathon – this is my fourth – but this one was different from the rest.

It was the first half marathon I trained for mostly on my own. I had one long run with a friend and those tempo workouts during the Thursday night group runs but other than that, I ran alone. I was outside logging miles in below freezing temperatures and when it was dark I ran on the treadmill. It seemed like I was running a lot but when I looked at my 2009 running log, I was down about 50 miles compared to this point last year.

Also this was the first half marathon I did in my hometown. All my other races were destination races where I traveled with friends or family and talked running all weekend. I think it made a difference on my ability to sleep the night before the race. Usually I only get about an hour or two of sleep despite going to bed early. I tend to lay there in the dark hotel room, my mind racing from the excitement. This time I was able to get about 6 hours of sleep. I woke up about 2 hours before my alarm was set to go off but I stayed in bed and rested.

Similar to my first half marathon, this was a smaller race – only 1500 runners in the half marathon portion. Given the smaller size, the expo was smaller but it was nice. It had a health fair with cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar screenings, a few regional race representatives and the local running stores had nice booths with great deals on running shoes and apparel.

Race day went well. My husband dropped me off so I wouldn’t have to worry about parking and I walked to the start. The corrals were set up by pace so I joined the 9:00 minute mile group and made small talk with the runners. The horn blew at 7 a.m. and we took off. I couldn’t tell where the actual start was so I was a few seconds late starting my watch. Since I didn’t know the people around me, I randomly selected a lady that was running well as my bunny. That’s how I get through races. I pick people to pass up and when I get pass them, I selected a new target. This bunny was a formidable competitor although she didn’t know it. I started out averaging a 9:30 pace for the first few miles with my bunny in my sights. Around mile 3 or 4 I was running a 9:15 average pace. When I hit mile 8, I was able to pass her but she caught back up to me while I was walking through a water stop. I sped back up, my pace hovering about 8:45 – 9 minute miles and passed her again around mile 10. I ran another 2 miles before she passed me again for good. She had a kick during the last mile and I couldn’t catch her. She finished at least a minute ahead of me. When I finally crossed the finish line, I couldn’t believe my time. I was hoping to run a 2:05 but when I saw 2:02 on the race clock, I knew I had it beat. I was jumping for joy when they posted the results and I saw 2:01:06. It’s only a matter of time before I reach my sub 2-hour goal. Who knows? Maybe it will happen at Rock ‘n Roll San Diego in June.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marathon (or Half Marathon) Mondays

For the next few Mondays, RunDivaRun articles will be all about marathons or half marathons. Several guest bloggers and myself will share our racing experiences. Be sure to check it out. Happy Running!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Don’t Rain on My Half Marathon Parade

On Sunday, I will complete my four half marathon at the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, Ohio. I’ve been training since February for this race and I think I’m ready. I had a few low mileage weeks due to my crazy work schedule. But I was still able to do three 10 mile long runs, weekly tempo workouts and a few speed workouts.

The only thing that really has me worried is the weather – the weather forecasters are predicting rain. While thunderstorms don’t appear to be on the radar, I’m not looking forward to running for two hours in the rain. Now I’ve run in the rain several times before but it’s not my favorite past time and it was usually for less than an hour.

Rain can change my whole game plan. It makes me question what I’m going to wear. I usually wear black Capri tights and the race’s technical tee but now I’m not so sure. It is suppose to be in the 50s but if it rains, I’ll probably be chilly. But if I wear long sleeves or a jacket, I’ll probably get hot after 3 – 4 miles. Most likely I’ll end up wearing a black jacket and wrapping it around my waist. Plus I’ll throw on a visor to help keep the rain out of my face.

There are so many unknown variables with rain. How will the wet clothing and shoes affect my pace? I think most of the race course is paved so I don’t think I’ll have to deal with mud but what about puddles? I was hoping to shave a minute off my previous half marathon PR of 2:06 but we’ll see. Check back on Monday to see how it went. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Garmin Gives Me Wings

Several months after I first started running (which was more than two years ago), a good friend gave me a running watch for my birthday. It was a great gift, a pink and black New Balance Vent Mini High Performance Running Watch. It was a faithful companion with a timer, chronograph and the ability save runs. I even purchased a cute pink moisture wicking top and pink and black running skirt to match my watch. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t cute.

Since I was new to running, I wasn’t aware of all the running gadgets on the market. It wasn’t until I joined a running club and started reading Runner’s World that I discovered the Garmin. My new friends were able to track their distance, pace, calories burned and so much more. While I was still in love with my running watch, a seed was planted. From time to time I would ponder the possibilities of running with a watch that could do all of that.

Fast forward two years and I finally purchased a Garmin – a 305 Forerunner with heart rate monitor. My first run with it on my arm was an adventure. It was so freeing to be able to run anywhere I wanted to go. I didn’t have to drive the course, consult a trail map or plot my course on a site like Map My Run to figure out how far I was running. I felt giddy. I ran all over a local park that was full of trails. Usually I would stick to the courses with mile markers but this time I ran all over the place. It sounds corny but it was a lot of fun.

I still have my old faithful running buddy. We’ve been through a lot together – three half marathons, a 10 K, a few 5Ks and a couple of 2 mile races. I’ll always have found memories of the track workouts and those killer 400 meter repeats.

I know the Garmin isn’t for everyone. Some say it’s too big and bulky, while others prefer the simplicity of the stop watch but it works for me. If you’re looking for a GPS-enabled sports watch, other popular brands include Polar and Suunto. There are also non-watch options like Nike+ and Adidas miCoach. What’s your running watch of choice?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Running Bra Blues

An essential part of a woman’s running gear is a good sports bra. You gotta support “the girls.” But when you’re blessed up top like I am, a good sports bra is hard to find.

To be fair, I have challenges finding everyday bras, not just running bras. Usually I can only shop at Nordstrom, Macy’s or locally-owned specialty stores. No trips to Victoria’s Secret for me. When you’re slim and rock a G cup, yes I said G cup, your options are limited.

My trusty non-running running bra is one of those old school numbers that has straps in the front and four hooks in the back. But when I put that puppy on, I am locked and loaded. I look like Dolly Parton, “the girls” are so high. But the bra isn’t cute so I can’t where tanks and singlets because it will show.

This year I decided I would start hunting for an alternative. So far this has involved buying sports bras for DD and DDD and seeing if they’ll work.

My first purchase was the CW-X Xtra Support Bra. When I put it on, I had this huge uniboob. I jumped up and down and jogged in place in the fitting room and it seemed okay so I bought it. My first run in the bra went well. I ran 4 miles outdoors in 30 degree temperatures. There was some bounce but it wasn’t unbearable. But when I used the bra indoors on the treadmill, the heat of the room caused me to sweat more which resulted in friction burns along my collar bone. Can you say ouch? So that bra has been designated a workout and not a running bra.

My second purchase came out of a Road Runner Sports catalog. I saw the Women’s Intensity Tank Bra Top and figured I’d give it a try. It can be worn under shirts or alone giving me more options for cute running tops. My first run in the tank bra top was 3 miles outdoors in 70 degree weather. I noticed the bounce when I started running but it wasn’t too bad. By the end of the run, the bra wasn’t on my mind. So far no friction burns but I have to see how it holds up on longer runs.

The next bra I plan to try, I’m going to order from a specialty shop. It’s made by a European company called Freya. It makes sports bras in G cups so hopefully their bras will provide a better fit and offer more support. In the meantime, I’m going to keep running in my old faithful old school bra. A Diva’s gotta do what a Diva’s gotta do to keep running.