Thursday, March 31, 2016

Weekend: Running, Riding & a Drone

I've got running, riding and a drone video to share and a weekly recap of exercises, too.

Last Saturday, there was a 5K race at the park where I do most of my running, riding and walking. I showed up with my bike just as the race was starting and some of the participants offered me money for my bike - wanting to cross the finish line sooner!

My husband, who has a drone business, Flying Phantoms, brought his drone and made this Resurrection 5K video for the church putting on the race. My favorite parts of the video are the bird's eye views of the park and the people waving at the drone.

I rode my bike and then I ran 6 miles. My legs felt sluggish when I tried to speed up after riding and running a warm-up mile, but the race was a good distraction. There were lots of high-fives and cheers all around. I finished up my workout morning with a walk with a friend and both of our dogs.

On Easter morning, after my bike ride and core workout, I went to the park. It was such a contrast from the day before - quiet. That was good, though. It made it easier to run multiple times around a small lake (8 x 400 meters). At first, eight seemed like too many, but once I had finished four, I knew I'd complete the eight I had planned to do. And that wrapped up my weekend workouts!

Weekly Recap

Thursday: 4 mile run w/6 1-min hills (more hill workouts), full body workout
Friday: 3 mile run w/4 sprints
Saturday: 35 min. ride, 6 mile run, arms: weights (video)
Sunday: 45 min. ride, 5 mile run (8x400m), core workout
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 5 mile run (8 short hills and 4 stair flights), full body and back workout
Wednesday: 12 miles with last 5 miles the fastest (longest run since The Woodlands Marathon 4 weeks ago), core workout

Totals: 35 miles of running, 2 rides and 5 other workouts

I hope you got in some good workouts this week, too!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

For Runners: 5 Ways to Stay Motivated

Maybe you've felt a little blah about running lately. If so, you might need some running motivation. Read on!

If You've Lost Your Running Motivation...  

Register for a race! I'm registered to run the local Brazos Bend 25K trail race (15.8 miles) on April 16. Last year, I ran the 50 mile race and the year before I ran the 25K race. I'm ready to count up the alligators I see during the race. This is southeast Texas!

Buy new running gear! I visited REI to try on some shoes, but I didn't find any that I liked better than the ones I've worn before so I'll probably buy the next pair from an online store. Running Warehouse is one of my favorite online stores. Use the code "GottaRunNow" to save 10% there.

Read a running book or a blog! I wrote a post about Meb for Mortals, a book that inspires me. Check out my sidebar for lots of fun blogs to read.

Run with someone new! I've belonged to a couple of different running groups. That's always a great way to meet new running friends.

Run somewhere new! You don't have to go on vacation - just look for a new route in your local area.

Weekly Recap

Thursday: 5 mile run w/5 short hills (more hill workouts)
Friday: 4 mile run
Saturday: 6 mile run, core workout
Sunday: 5 mile run, weights: arms
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 5 mile run, 35 min. ride, weights: arms
Wednesday:  9 miles (longest run since The Woodlands Marathon 3 weeks ago)

Totals: 34 miles of running, 1 ride and 3 other workouts

What keeps you running?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

5 Ways to Recover After a Long Race

After running The Woodlands Marathon on March 5, I was excited to get back to running but I knew that my body needed some rest. Here's what I did on the days following the marathon.

  • Walked my dog, Zoe, and bird-watched.

  • Spotted the first Bluebonnet of the season in the park during an easy run.
  • Went on easy-paced bike rides while my husband videoed me with his drone.
  • Napped like athlete Mirinda Carfrae - no 2 hour naps for me, though!

  • Ate whatever I wanted like tart cherries for recovery (cherry smoothie recipe) and pecan pie - I won a whole pie on Pi Day, on 3/14, for memorizing the first 25 numbers of pi. It made a great topping on my oatmeal. It's healthier that way, right?!
How do you recover after a race?

Friday, March 11, 2016

How to Run a Marathon Using Strava and Perceived Effort

Running a Marathon Using the Strava App

To track my miles, instead of wearing a watch for The Woodlands Marathon last Saturday, I used the Strava app. With one earbud in my ear, the Strava app updated me with half mile splits and distance. I wanted to know where I was on the course so that I'd take my gels before the water tables.

Trying to conserve battery power, because the app takes a lot of it, I didn't listen to music or a book like I would have liked and only kept the Strava app open. Unfortunately, I needed to turn the app on long before the start and my first mile looks like it took 25 minutes to run. At the top, that's me in the black hat between the neon green shirts with my Strava app running - oops! It was too noisy there to hear the updates telling me that it was running already.

But at least my phone battery didn't die until after the race! Although mile markers were up, it was great to know when I hit half miles on the course from the app. By the way, it was fun to see the markers that I put together a few days before the race.

Congrats to the Top Three Women!

Running a Marathon by Feel

Last year, I ran two marathons and tried to run with the 4 hour pace groups, but I couldn't keep up and finishing was hard. Here are those race reports:

Missoula Marathon Race Report 7/15 4:30

The Woodlands Marathon Race Report 2/15 4:04

I wanted to run a smart race based on my perceived effort this time. After reading posts like this one, Why Fast Starts Slow You Down: Sweat Science, I decided to start the race with easy miles. My tapered legs had plenty of energy so that's easier said than done!

But, I ran easy at the beginning and slowly picked up the effort. At mile 20, the race began! I felt strong in the later miles, unlike the way I felt in my last two marathons.

10K Splits: 9:51 (many downhills!), 10:06, 9:31, 9:34/mile
Average Pace for Last Mile: 9:04/mile (my fastest)
My Overall Average Pace: 9:45/mile
Finish Time: 4:15:54

My Finishing Place
362 of 888 - males and females
95 of 323 - all females
8 of 27 - females (age 50-54)

Have you ever raced without a watch? Do you use the Strava app?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Woodlands Marathon Race Report

Waving from the Race Start!

Here's my Woodlands Marathon race report! My 18th marathon, The Woodlands Marathon, took place in a wooded community north of Houston, Texas, on Saturday, March 5. I was a VIP because I attended a marathon talk and I lined up right behind the elites in the race - fun!

Weather: Clear skies, 50 (Nice!) - 70* (I don't think I was sweating until mile 13, but 70 is a little too warm.)

Course: Fairly flat course with some hills, shade trees at the beginning, but not at the end. I'm slightly sunburned.

Expo/Packet Pick-up:  At packet pick-up, I stopped at many of the tables to chat and see what was offered and it still only took me 30 minutes to get through.

4 AM Race Day: Blurry-eyed. Get Ready!

Race Morning: I woke up before my alarm went off and decided to stay up at 3:40. Because of that, I finished eating by 4 - a good thing! After getting dressed, I listened to the Fuel Like Meb video (here's my review on his book, Meb for Mortals). I was nervous, but I knew I had trained for the distance and that I'd feel better as soon as the race started. And I did!

Fuel Pre-race Day: No carbohydrate-loading this week for me. Last year, I finished faster after carb-loading (2015 race report), but since my pace has slowed down since then I don't think I can blame the lack of carb-loading for my finish time.

Fuel on Race Morning: oatmeal (topped with banana, raisins, brown sugar, instant caramel vanilla coffee), toast with peanut butter and honey, green apple Gatorade, vanilla bean GU gel at the start (but I forgot to have water with me - didn't bother my tummy, though!)

I Started Just Behind the Elite Runners

Getting to the Start Line: I live close to the start of the The Woodlands Marathon. I left home at 5:50 and parked at 6:10. That left me plenty of time before the 7 AM race. I had a little trouble getting into the starting area as a VIP, but I finally made it into the start area just behind the elite with time to spare.

Fuel During the Race: Gatorade Endurance drink and 5 GU gels (one every 5 miles or so): Salted Caramel (last gel, salty gel tasted so good at 22.5), Lemonade Roctane, Strawberry Kiwi Roctane, Vanilla Bean, Strawberry Banana. I drank at every aid station - every couple of miles or so.

I'm glad I had extra gels with me. I only saw one GU table rather than two like I planned on and the GU gels were served after the water and not before like they should be. I couldn't take gels and Gatorade exactly as planned, but I told myself, "Just roll with it!" I did and that gave me some extra confidence during the race so it's all good!

VIP Food Tent

Fuel Post-race: They had the best post-race food I've ever seen! For the VIP, Brio Italian chicken pomodoro, bison burgers and for the others there was Chickfila, Cane's Chicken and breakfast burritos. The very last thing I saw was exactly what I was looking for - chocolate milk!

Shoes: I wore the shoes I won in a giveaway (Yay!): Asics Gel-Quantum 360 shoes. I thought a bug bit my lower leg towards the beginning of the race and then I felt a stinging on my leg around mile 20 and on. After the race, I saw that my shoe tongue slid to the side and rubbed me raw, but I'm glad that I see no signs of black toe nails.

The Finish: The best part of my race was how good I felt throughout the race. Starting out at an easy pace and gradually putting forth more effort is new for me, but because I felt so much better towards the end of the race I plan to run the rest of my marathons this way. Rather than finishing with slower miles, mile 20 and on was run in 9 plus miles. My overall average pace was 9:45/mile and my last mile was my fastest at 9:04. I finished in 4:15:54!

That's me waving near the finish line. So fast - I'm a blur! 

Next Up: I don't know which race I'll do next, but I know what I'll blog about - racing without a watch. I used the Strava app instead of a watch. It was fun to try something new, but a little risky even when I trained that way. Have you tried something new in a race?

Race Facts (emailed to my husband on 3/9 because he was set to receive timed updates during the race - he didn't, but I'm happy to see the numbers)

10K Splits: 9:51 (downhills!), 10:06, 9:31, 9:34/mile
Average Pace for Last Mile: 9:04/mile (my fastest)
My Overall Average Pace: 9:45/mile
Finish Time: 4:15:54

My Finishing Place
362 of 888 - males and females
95 of 323 - all females
8 of 27 - females (age 50-54)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Taper Week for The Woodlands Marathon

I'm looking forward to going for a long, long run on March 5 - in the form of a marathon! Race volunteering, baking cookies and going to the race expo are just a few of the ways I spent my extra time in the week leading up to The Woodlands Marathon (held north of Houston, Texas).

Race Volunteering

I'd never given the signs on the race course much thought until this week. I washed race course signs and assembled large banners. The coordinator told me that volunteers begin preparing for The Woodlands Marathon as early as November. That's hundreds of hours of volunteering! I'm going to have so much fun seeing the signs on race day and saying to myself, "I put that mile marker sign together!" and "There's the Finishing Shirts sign that I cleaned!"

Chocolate Nut Butter Cookies with White Chocolate Chips


What do you do with your extra time during your taper? I baked cookies. Ultrarunner Stephanie Howe shared a chocolate nut butter cookie recipe that I made even though I didn't have all of the ingredients needed. Because I didn't have the dates needed, she suggested using more maple syrup. The cookies have a good texture and a strong chocolate taste that made them a nice treat with my morning coffee after a run. I want to try them with dates next time - that will make them sweeter.


The Woodlands Marathon Race Expo

It only took me 30 minutes to pick up my packet and walk through the expo so it was small, but if you need something at the last minute like gels, they had them. My favorite item at the expo was the RooSport, a pocket that holds items while you run. It attaches to your waist belt with magnets and felt looked like it would be secure. I love it when people create new products for runners! (It's even sold at Amazon.)

The Day Before the Marathon

Because Coach Lyons suggested it, I went for a shake-out one mile run this morning at 5 AM. I don't usually worry about a shake-out run if I have a busy day before a race, but I need all of the help I can get this time! Now I'll get my race stuff all together and I'll eat an early dinner of rice and chicken. Lights out at 9 PM!

How about you? Do you have any races coming up?

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