Thursday, September 18, 2014

Race Goals for the Rock and Roll Philly 5K and Half Marathon

In just 3 short days, the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon will be OVER.  Madness!  I have gone through 11 weeks of training for my first half marathon since November 2012...what an emotional experience!

The many faces of half marathon training

I'm grateful to say that training has gone really well.  While I had one week where my mileage was short, I did all of my speedwork, plenty of long runs, and my fueling routine is on lock!  I'm really proud of myself and for the first time in ages, I'm injury-free.  I guess what I'm saying is, I'm ready to race! 

Saturday morning is the 5K, and 24 hours later is the half marathon.  This is my first time running two races in the same weekend.  It's going to be insane, but in my excitement/nervousness, I know I have to stay in control, and keep my goals at the forefront.  So here they are!

5K Goals:

I signed up for this Rock and Roll 5K for a few reasons: 1.) It's the first 5K they've done in Philly, 2.), It's a course I've run many times,  and 3.) I'll get 2 medals as part of the Remix Challenge for running the 5K and half back to back!

My last 5K was an extraordinary (for me) 27 minutes finishing time, and there's no way I'm going to touch that this time.  This is purely going to be a run "for fun".  No racing, just taking it easy.  My focus is all on the half. 

Half Marathon Goals:

So with that said, my goals were crafted by my running coach, Kristy.  I've been doing most of my runs at an 11 to 11.5 minute pace, but have gradually introduced speedwork so that I know how to push my body to the limit.  Here's my strategy, as prescribed by Coach Kristy:

  • Miles 1-6:  Run at 11 minute pace
  • Miles 6-10:  Run at 10:30 pace
  • Miles 10-13.1:  Run at 10 minute pace 
I've never done a specific racing strategy like this before, so I'm definitely nervous.  But I have to trust my coach!  Since I put myself in the 2:20 corral, I shouldn't have to worry about starting out too fast.   

A Special Race

Here are a couple of pictures of me 3 years ago at the 2011 Rock and Roll Philly Half Marathon, my very first half.  This race is very sentimental for me; this was when I truly realized my love for running.  It's the only race I've had where tears of joy streaming down my face!

Me in action back in 2011

Terrible posing, but I was supposed to look badass here lol

I hope that no matter what happens on Sunday, that I can say that I'm proud of what I accomplished.  If I PR, great!  If I don't, that's great too!  Look how far I'm come.  I can't wait to tell you how it goes!

Are you going to be at the Philly 5K or Half?  Let me know, I'd love to meet up!  Do you have a race that means a lot to you?    

Monday, September 15, 2014

RnR Philly Week 10 Training Recap: Taper Time

Hey, I hope you had a great weekend!  Did the temperature drop in your area?  People are starting to break out their fall jackets since we've gone down to the 60's.  For me, this change couldn't have come at a more perfect time since next weekend will be the Rock and Roll Philly Running Festival!  The 5K is on Saturday, and the half marathon is on Sunday!  I'm in the final stretch! 

Me after my last long run this weekend!

Tapering for a Race:

While I have three half marathons and 2 10-milers under my belt, this is the first time I am actually tapering for a race.  Tapering is defined as a significant drop in mileage that begins about 1-2 weeks before a long distance race.  The purpose of tapering is to keep your legs fresh for the big day.

I'm so fortunate to have worked with Coach Kristy and to follow her training plan.  In the past, I would follow something I picked up online or in Runner's World and just blindly follow the mileage given each day.  Three years ago, I distinctly remember running the 12 mile long run the weekend before my race!  I certainly know better now! 

I have to say though that is is weird to be back down to a reduced mileage.  At certain points of my training I was running 4 days a week.  Now, all I have left is a 2 mile run and the Rock and Roll 5K.  I hope I don't get too restless!  

I've read that doing some exercise is good during the taper to keep yourself from getting too antsy.  This was the first Sunday in a LONG time that I did not have to does feel weird!  I was considering doing some yoga this week, but I don't want to worry about any soreness.  I may do cardio kickboxing just for fun.  How do you keep yourself occupied while you taper?

Week 10 Recap:

Monday 9/8:  Rest Day.

Tuesday 9/9:  I did a 40 minute Yoga Class on  I'm thinking ahead about post-training life and really want to get back into my practice.  I am definitely still rusty!

Wednesday 9/10:  5 mile easy run with several 30 second strides in the last mile., 11:05 average pace.  The strides were fun! 

Thursday 9/11:  Rest! 

Friday 9/12:  A busy day off with lots of errands, but I was able to get in plenty of walking in Center City as Bret and I had date night at the Beer Garden in Independence Hall.  Philly is really showing out...too many fun options in the city! 

Saturday 9/13:  6 mile run with 11:24 average pace.  The last mile we kicked it up a notch.  We went to my favorite place, Forbidden Drive.  Perfect running weather! 


Independence Beer Garden (source)

Week 10 Report Card:

Well, this is pretty much it!  I've only got 5 miles to go and just a few more days until the Rock and Roll Philly Half Marathon!  I give Week 10 an A, since it was so easy!  I still don't know how things will go on race day, so hopefully Kristy and I will have a nice long talk very soon.  

Stay tuned for my next post as I will share my race goals for the 5K and Half Marathon!  Hope you have a great week! 

Did you have any races this weekend?  Are you enjoying the Fall weather?   

Monday, September 8, 2014

RnR Philly Half Week 9 Recap: Philly 10K and Tough Long Run

I hope you had a great weekend!  It looks like summer is definitely alive and well in my neck of the woods, and we felt every single degree and every percent of humidity.  I've got no complaints though! 

The Philly 10K Recap

As I mentioned in my fall plans, Bret and I signed up to volunteer at the inaugural Philly 10K, which took place bright and early on Saturday morning!  Somewhere around 3,000 to 4,000 runners participated.  

We worked at the first water stop, about 2 miles along the course, and located just a few blocks away from my neighborhood.  We had to arrive at 6 am to set everything up before the 7:30 start.  There were about 15-20 volunteers to set up the tables and pour the gallons of water into the teeny Solo cups.

The finished product

It may sound silly, but providing water to runners in a race is a serious responsibility.  I know that I have had times where I felt "let down" because of a poor hand-off, or a cup that's too empty or too full.  So I was really nervous about doing a bad job! 

There was so much anticipation as we waited for the first runner to come around the bend.  The guy was flying!  He didn't take my cup (which honestly made me sad haha!) but there were plenty more opportunities to come along.  Since we were towards the front, we ended up getting the most action from some very thirsty runners.  

While I honestly didn't think too many people would even come to the water station 2 miles into a 6 mile race, it just so happened to be one of the most humid days we've had in several weeks.  Just about EVERYONE needed water, and many needed 2 cups!  Everyone looked absolutely miserable in the heat and humidity.

We had a couple of waves that were very busy, and the cups kept all went by so fast and I actually really had a good time doing it!  It was also nice to hear so many "thank you's" from the runners.  I was especially happy to see 4 of my fellow City Fit Girls and "serve" a couple of them!  

There were some really cool people helping out as volunteers.  It seemed like a lot of people knew each other.  We made friends with a really cool girl who has a friend that lives 2 doors down from us.  We also met another girl who actually lives on our block!

Mission accomplished!
I really recommend taking an opportunity to volunteer at a race.  The tasks usually are very simple, and the work you do ensures that the runners have the best experience possible.  I could see how grateful everyone was to receive the water.  It's also a great way to network and meet people in your area that share your interests.  We had a fun time!  And if that isn't reason enough, you'll at least get a cool T-shirt and maybe some other perks for helping out! 

Hopefully next year I'll be recapping the event as an actual runner!

Week 9 Workouts:

Monday 9/1:  Labor Day!  I did do a couple of short hip exercises so that I wasn't completely unproductive! 

Tuesday 9/2:  I think I did some more strengthening work.  

Wednesday 9/3:  Ended up being very busy with studying so I didn't go out to run.  

Thursday 9/4:  Finally, speedwork!  A 5 mile run, ended up with 10:29 average pace.  I had a slow 1 mile warmup with 12:09, then had splits of 9:45, 10:13, 9:45 and 10:38.  I was supposed to have a 10 minute pace.  I was SO happy to finish this one.  It was an evening solo run and SO humid out!  

Friday 9/5:  My hamstrings felt a bit sore after the speedwork.  I let my body recover.  

Saturday 9/6:  This was the big one:  12 mile run.  Definitely the hardest run I've had, which was completed in 2:52.  Even though we started after 9 am, it was complete TORTURE with the heat and humidity, so I knew it would be slow.  I didn't have much to eat that morning, which didn't help.  Fortunately I kept myself hydrated and fueled, but  It eventually got to the point that running was too difficult as the sun kept getting brighter.  

Sunday 9/7:  The easiest easy run I've had so far, 4.31 miles with 11:09 average pace.  I felt fantastic!  It didn't hurt that the weather was perfect! 

Long, long run done! 

Week 9 Report Card:

It's almost starting to feel like training is slowing down.  I am now officially in taper mode, and my next post will tell you all about it!  I got all 3 of my runs in, so that is definitely a success with the summer resurgent we've had.          

It took much of Saturday to recover from my long run, even though I did do a lot of walking.  My feet were aching and tired for several hours, so I know that my shoes are getting close to their end of life.

I did everything Coach Kristy asked me to, so I'm definitely going to give this past week an A-.  I wish I had a better run on Saturday, but I know it all makes me stronger and prepares me for the big race, now less than 2 weeks away! 

Did you have any races this weekend?  How do you pace yourself when running in extreme heat and humidity?   

Monday, September 1, 2014

RnR Philly Half Week 8 Recap: Back to 3 Days a Week

Happy Labor Day!  I hope you're all having a wonderful time!  I'm a little sad because this is the last day of freedom before heading back to work, and back to reality.  Yesterday I went to a really nice barbecue and I've got plenty of leftovers!  It's been great to catch up on some much needed rest as well!     

Happy Birthday Jennifer!

This past weekend was my sister's birthday!  So I went down to Maryland to get  in some quality sibling time.  On Friday night we hung out, Saturday we went to the park for some walking and running, and on Saturday night we had dinner and drinks at 3 different restaurants.  We also spent a good amount of time in Panera working (her) and studying (me).  It was fun!  We also watched a lot of The Simpsons and played video games on the Wii.  It's a sister thang, you know how it is!  

Lake Artemesia (so hard to pronounce!)

Happy birthday Jennifer!

Training Changes

For week 7, I ended up 9 miles short on my weekly plan for the Rock and Roll Philly Half Marathon.  So I had to talk to Coach Kristy and have "the talk".  For week 8, I was supposed to run 12 miles for my long run, but she dropped it down to 10 miles.  That means 12 miles will be my longest long run instead of 13 miles because we don't want to have too big of a jump in mileage from week 7 to week 8 (that 10% rule is real!).  We also made some changes to speedwork.  While I did okay for my first effort, we agreed that 9:45 pace was just too fast for me, so for Week 9 I'll be doing speedwork at a 10:00 pace.  Lastly, I'll only be running 3 days a week, instead of 4 days, moving forward.  It's definitely for the best with everything I've got going on, as I mentioned last week!  

Week 8 Workouts:

Monday 8/25:  Rest Day.  

Tuesday 8/26:  No more Tuesday runs!  It was just too much.  

Wednesday 8/27:  Core and More Class in the afternoon, and speedwork in the evening.  This time I had to warm up for a mile, do 3 minute intervals at 5K pace with 1 minute rest, repeat 4 times, and cool down the remaining distance to get to 4 miles.  I used the Nike+ watch interval settings so that I would know when to run and when to walk,  so that was kind of cool.  Kristy told me to focus on effort, not pace.  Looking at my pace, my 3 minutes "on" was in the 8-8:30 minute range.  I definitely couldn't maintain that longer than 3 minutes!  It was a new challenge, but overall it went well.  

Thursday 8/28:  Even though it was only Thursday I was REALLY exhausted with late nights and early mornings, burning the candle at both ends.  So I took an amazing nap after work! 

Friday 8/29:  No workouts. 

Saturday 8/30:  10.13 miles with 11:09 average pace.  The weather was a bit chillier than anticipated, but still held a good amount of humidity.  The trails were awesome, I had to stop myself from going too far away and getting lost! I used my ClifShot Blocks every 3 miles, and while my knees and toes feel a bit rough, mission accomplished! The last time I did 10 miles, it took me over 2 I'm definitely making progress! 

Sunday 8/31:  4.12 miles with 11:23 average pace.  While the weather was nice and overcast on Saturday, it was bright and sunny during my run, and hot as heck!  I ran in my sister's neighborhood where there was a nearby lake.  It's so weird running on sidewalks that are actually even and without cracks!  I was glad to get it done.  It's actually been a while since I ran in 90 degree weather!  

Sweaty Sunday run! 

Week 8 Report Card:

This week felt a little weird without the Tuesday runs and lack of kickball, but it really is for the best!  What I did fall short on was my prehab:  I need to get back to my hip strengthening and core exercises.  My right hip had that weird pain again after the 10 mile run, and it's just now starting to feel better.  I did my runs as prescribed, even while being out of town, and I feel no major pain or soreness.  So I'll give this week's training a B+!

How did you spend your Labor Day weekend?  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

City Fit Girls FitRetreat 2014 Recap

How's your Labor Day weekend going so far?  I hope you're enjoying it!  For me, it's so nice to be out of the city and with family.  Last weekend I attended the FitRetreat hosted by City Fit Girls.  I've mentioned that I'm a new City Fit Girls Ambassador, and so far the experience has been really awesome!  Let me tell you about the great time I had! 

Love the City Fit Girls T-Shirt! 
FitRetreat PHL 2014 

I have been excited about FitRetreat for what feels like an eternity!  Being a fitness junkie, I had this event on my radar for awhile.  I went to the Be Well Philly Boot Camp in June and had a great time, so I knew this was right up my alley.  I even encouraged my sister and some friends to come out.   As a City Fit Girls Ambassador, I was able to come in early and help with the morning preparations.  Over 100 women were coming to Impact Hub Philly to work out, learn healthy habits, and have fun!  

Thanks for coming bright and early!
Yoga with Grace & Glory Yoga

I started off the day with an AM yoga session with the instructors from Grace and Glory Yoga.  This was the first full-blown yoga session I had in SEVERAL weeks, so I was really rusty.  We were jam-packed in the room which made things nice and cozy.  My sister used one of my old mats and was right behind me, doing yoga for the first time.  From what I could see, she really enjoyed it!  I was still pretty sore from that darn speedwork a couple days prior, but I felt good!     

A really fun yet challenging Yoga class!

The Psychology of Eating with Juliet Burgh

I ended up jumping into this class a little bit late...after yoga I wandered around a bit, checking out the vendors.  As I arrived at this session Juliet Burgh from Unite Fitness was answering questions about nutrition, and also discussing how important it is for us to be positive role models for young girls who may be "inheriting" certain views towards dieting and their body images.  It is so important for us all to love our bodies the way they are, and to share that message!  We can't keep comparing ourselves to each other, or subliminally putting each other down.  Let's be positive and work on being the best kind of healthy we can be as individuals! 

It was a great talk on the Psychology of Eating! 

Urban Biking Basics with Women Bike PHL

This may have been one of my favorite sessions of all.  I have an old bicycle that my old boss gave to me, and since dating Bret, I've been riding it more frequently.  But I still have a lot to learn, especially with navigating the not-so-friendly streets of Philadelphia.  It was standing room only by the time I got to the session (I just HAD to get a free massage with Phila Massages while I could!).  Katie Monroe of Women Bike PHL gave the fundamentals of the rules of the road, the types of bike lanes available, how to safely ride over trolley tracks (perpendicular!), and how to tie up your bike on the street (without getting it stolen).  It really encouraged me to use my bike more as a form of transportation!  

I was also excited to learn that the long-awaited Bike Share program is finally coming to Philly this spring!  We are finally catching up to the likes of New York and DC.  I think it will be great for the city.  They had the bikes on display at FitRetreat, and they look great! 

Learning the rules of the road with Urban Biking Basics

Kickboxing and Self-Defense

This class was intense!  Hosted by King Fitness, we were separated into different groups and we took turns doing different types of workouts.  We would be doing punching and kicking routines (thanks to Core and More class I'm pretty good at those), squats, jumping jacks or using a punching mat, or we could be working on some self-defense moves.  

Colleen, fellow City Fit Girls Ambassador and blogger at Keep it Real Clean was my partner for some kicks (I held the mat) and let me say, she almost knocked me out, more than once!  She's got a powerful kick, haha!  It was a lot of fun.   
Kickboxing Class was intense!  

Strength and Conditioning with Jayel Lewis

This was the final workout for the day, and by the time I got to it I was BEAT.  So unfortunately I didn't have my usual energy for all of the squats and planking that we did.  But Jayel was really motivating and we had a good time in the class.  

Lunch was provided by sweetgreen and juices were available from Ryan Crown Juice Club. They were both so yummy!  I also made sure to bring my own snacks to stay fueled despite burning a billion calories in 5 hours!  

Delicious juice featuring carrots and ginger!

Some of the vendors at Fit Retreat

Some women enjoying HIIT workout

Thank you so much to Kiera and Takia of City Fit Girls for putting together an incredible event!  Everyone I saw was full of smiles!  I was sore for days!  If you want to learn more about the awesomeness of City Fit Girls, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  I can't wait for the next event!  

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