Monday, March 28, 2011

Update on State 14/25 Washington, DC

Despite living in the DC area when I started my Half2run quest, I never did the Suntrust National Half-Marathon because it was said to be a train wreck, logistically.  I am VERY GRUMPY about poorly executed races.  I can always offer constructive criticism for every race I do, but if the cons outweigh the pros I refuse to shell over that much money to be annoyed.

Another thing I had going on was that I had signed up for the "Cupcake Marathon" a virtual race that could be done over the course of two weeks.  My race day was the final day of that time period and at the completion of the half I would have completed 33 miles.  I certainly do not NEED gormet cupcakes, but the idea of winning a prize from a virtual race seemed like fun.

The Suntrust half-marathon/marathon was a great experience for me.  I didn't accomplish all of the training goals I had set (weight loss) but had been experimenting with higher mileage instead of more lower miles at pace as I usually do.  I took my long runs up to 15 miles and did several 13 and 14 mile runs as well as back-to-back long runs.  The latter is something I've learned over the past year, i.e. that I benefit quite a bit by running on tired legs.

But, all of that said, one can only lug an overweight body but so fast.  The biggest hit to my finish time was my weight.

The second biggest hit was something that I caution against to those I coach and was surprised to succumb to after what was my 19th half-marathon.  Peer Pressure.

I've been chatting up this marathon runner/coach on Facebook for a while.  She inspires the crap out of me and she is on a streak of running a marathon every month.  I found out she was DC bound, and although I thought it would be great fun to meet her, knew it would be unlikily that would actually happen.  We stayed in touch the day before and as I walked into CORRAL 9 (!) to wait for the start she bounded up to me! There were 13 thousand runners in that race, so I have to give her props for making such an effort.  It was great to chat with her before the start.  I'm not sure she had planned to, but she decided to run with me for the first few miles.  I felt great at the start, the weather was perfect for me (33 and sunny), but I KNEW I was going too fast.  My Garmin pace cycles (annoyingly) but it was reading in the 9:xx's FAR too frequently when I looked down.  Yet, did I slow?  No.  I kept running with her.  She looked like she was warming up with an easy trot, and something inside of me just kept saying, "keep this up for a while, you'll be fine".

I have a crazy sleep schedule.  Usual bedtime is 3:00am and I wake about 10:30-11:00am.  Since I had gone to DC a few days early to work I had not slept more than 6 hours in 5 days before the race.  The night before the race I slept 5 hours.  This is NOT GOOD.  Between the quick start and the lack of sleep I started to TANK at about mile 4.75.  I had a strategy for this race based on the course: Take the first 5 miles fast, (10:15 pace), then slow down and calm down on the hills (10:45-11:00) then pick it up as much as possible the last mile.  Based on my weight I knew I could do a 2:25, but was hoping to get as close to 2:20 as possible.

9:xx min miles were NO WHERE in that plan...

So, I get to the mile 5 waterstop (after slowing considerably) and my running buddy bids me farewell.  I loved running with her, but I knew I had to slow down or I was doomed to walk (which I had NO intention of doing).  Luckily the mile 5 stop was staffed with the DC Front Runners, the local gay and lesbian club and I knew I'd perk up when I saw them.  But, unluckily that's when the hills start.  Right north of Dupont Circle is one of the longest uphills that takes you into Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights.  I KNEW I had to get centered, or I'd feel like crap.  Again, another stroke of luck in that they were LOUD as hell, blasting music and cheering.  I got my shit together and although I wasn't running fast (still in the 11:00s) I started really enjoying myself and clapped and smiled all through that section.  By Howard University I "YMCA'd" with the best of them (Thank you HU for Rick James and The Village People)!

The course is great - perfect mix of flat and hills through many of the neighborhoods I love in the city.  Race day was the first day of the Cherry Blossom Festival, and the trees were gorgeous.

I finished in a dissapointing, but not devastating 2:24, but had a great race and recommend everyone give it a go.

Big, heavy medal!

State Charm for my 14th State

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Running Club

For the past three months I've given serious thought (and discussion with trusted friends) to starting a new running club.

I have certain aspirations in the running world, both for my own running as well as to promote the sport (especially to new runners).  I haven't found a place within this area that satisfies what I'm looking for in a running club;  I tried to create what I desired/needed within an established club, but realized that it was a waste of time.  So, after giving it a very sincere go, I realized that I need to create an outlet for my time/ideas.  Luckily I have some very dedicated, experienced people by my side who are as interested in this as I am.

There are numerous running groups (similar to the Towpath Turtles) who are members of local clubs but rarely attend club events.  The RRCA provides thorough, in-depth guidance on starting a new club; it is also VERY daunting.  So, what those of us who are going to give this thing a go have decided to do is take it one step at a time.  We will aspire to be a "big tent" to the many groups in the area (Towpath Turtles, Towpath Trotters, Trinity Trotters, Phillips Phyllers, etc.) The goal of the first year is to sign-up 100 new members.  And roll-out annual expansion goals one year at a time.  We will have a very small board and will not incorporate the first year.

This new club does not overlap with anything found in this area;  In this club we seek to provide:

Networking - A place to meet/run with other runners who represent a wide variety of skill/experience/paces.  Also a way to meet runners from beyond one's circle of acquaintances. 

Workouts - A place to do regular (weekly) workouts (track/hills/long runs) with other runners of different abilities/paces.

Races/Runs - We have come up with 2-3 annual races to establish in the first two years.  This would not be the club's focus - the focus is on RUNNING and we cannot do that if we are a race services organization.  2-3 large fun runs would be feasible though.

Travel - A way to travel to races with other runners that we run with/who are from this area and who regularly travel to races.  Why are there 10 cars driving to Columbus, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati when there could be one large (party) van full of chatting excited runners?

Coaching and mentoring and training - The community is chock full of knowledge, experience and education - I did not find a way to tap into this in the slightest in the past 4 years.  We would encourage (and in limited cases, fund) runners to attend conventions, seminars and other training. 

Pacers - Why not show off our talent?  ANYONE (even I) is capable of pacing someone else to their next PR. 

Clubhouse/IDs - Having a designated running club "clubhouse" is a great idea that I heard at the 2010 RRCA Convention that went nowhere.  Runners could meet there before/after runs to socialize with other runners.  We could host yoga/pilates/other workouts there as well as have meetings and other gatherings.  It would be a tangible presence in the community that has potential to bring in other runners who do not normally join clubs.  Along the same line we would offer new members ID cards and a branded club shirt.

Social non-running events - Group outings to see running movies, community shows/events/parties, etc. 

Volunteering/Charity - Opportunities to volunteer/donate to organizations in the running community (and beyond).

Discounts - We could support/promote the local running stores and other relevant businesses (Main Street Cupcakes comes to mind) if they would offer our members discounts.

We have batted around numerous names for the club.  So far finding a name has been the most difficult part of getting on with this.  We agreed that the most important factor was to avoid choosing a regional name nor any that is partially used (or overused) in an established club/race/non-running organization.  This made most of our "catchy titles" moot.

As of now, we have decided to call it simply "The Running Club" (pronounced "Thee Running Club" vs. Tha Running Club).  I don't want to continue to hash this over to death - but your feedback is welcome. 

All of these goals will be achieved, but not all at the same time/the onset.  Obviously we'll need funding and sponsors for some of these items (such as the clubhouse/shirts/ID cards).  However, we plan to roll The Running Club out with a booth at the "Summit Up" expo at the J.S Knight Center on May 7th (application pending).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Catching up with Half2Run quest updates for 2011

Since I got the energy to get in here today, I figured I'd fire off updates in my Half2Run Quest since I posted my plans for the year (last December).

In January three of us from the Towpath Turtles headed South for the Naples Half-Marathon.

My Sister and I planned to run it together as a conditioning tool, not for any specific time.  However, less than one mile in I told her, "'re gonna PR today."  Despite being so early, I run with her enough to know her running almost as well as I do my own.  It was mild, the course was beautiful and flat, and she looked STRONG with a pace as steady as a metronome.  So, I encouraged her to go ahead and run her own race.  Really glad she did because she finished it under 2:20 which was a HUGE PR for her.  She deserved it after all the work she put in last Fall and was robbed of in the "Stomp the Grapes half-marathon" (AWFUL RACE for all of us).

The highlight of MY race?  At mile 8, just when I'm always cranky and miserable we passed this Catholic Church.  There was a priest outside sprinkling all of us with holy water.  You can take the God out of the girl, but not the Catholic.  LOVED it and it is now one of my top five half-memories.  (Didn't really make the end of the race any easier, but I just love weird, unexpected stuff like that).

I finished Naples, my 13th/25th State, in 2:25:31 gun (2:23:22 chip/Garmin).

Enticed by freebies, I post...

Haven't been motivated to blog this year.  However, after a recent conversation about how so many people get "sponsors" for the giveaways on their blogs, I got a little adrenaline spike.  The concept of winning free stuff always does that to me.

I'm a bit out of the loop about how the whole thing works, and haven't put a lot of effort into researching it, but learning more about free blog giveaways (to win/to give out) has now jumped a few levels up my priority list.

Step one: Start blogging again (check)
Step two: Find more running-related/weight maintenance related blogs to follow (TBC)