Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Madison Half Marathon Race Report!

Wow, what a race. I finished in 1:42:25, not quite getting my 'crazy' goal, but coming in just about at my secondary goal - and based on how I felt during the race, I am REALLY happy with that! Warning: this is a crazy, epic post...I like to ramble, what can I say?

The race started at 7 so I went to bed super early on Saturday but obviously didn't get a good night's sleep...I was tossing and turning like crazy like I always do before big events. I was probably awake around 4, so when my alarm went off at 5 I popped right up. I ate breakfast right away - orange Gatorade, a banana, and a black cherry-almond Clif Bar. It was super sticky and humid early, but it was supposed to burn off later in the day so I wasn't too worried about it. I definitely got a shot of adrenaline pumping through my system when I looked out the window and could see the cones set out for the course...
A bunch of them had already been knocked over, because besides being muggy, it was also windy...lovely! I decided I should probably just get going because I was pretty much just pacing around my house nervously, so I figured I might as well at least pace around with a bunch of other nervous people!

It actually turned out to be a good thing that I got to the start early, because no one had any idea where they were going. The parking lot was on the other side of the grounds from where the race start was, everyone was confused because the half marathon and marathon starts were at different places...basically everyone was just asking each other "what's going on? do you know where the start is?" and nobody knew. Eventually I figured out that the half start was by the runner's village, and the full was over on the other side of the parking lots, so I ended up in the right place. I was so early that there was NO line for the porta potties when I arrived - insanity! I just kind of wandered around for awhile, and then finally ended up running into the WTC guys which was sweet. They went off to warm up, I wasn't really too worried about that so I checked my bag and got to the start line - which was also smart, because the 10 minutes leading up to the race were absolute mayhem. The lines for the porta potties were so insane that a ton of people weren't in the starting area yet with only a couple minute to go, so I was really happy to have gotten a good spot. I lined myself up somewhere near the 1:40 pace group - I didn't plan on actually running with them, but I figured that the people nearby would be running about my pace. The UW Marching Band played the national anthem, the horn sounded...and we were off!

Miles 1-4
1: 7:26
2: 7:24
3: 7:35
4: 7:36
So I went out too fast. If you know me you know this isn't surprising at all...going out way too fast in races is pretty much the story of my life. I will give myself some credit - it could have been a lot worse, but the extra 12-13 seconds slower over the first 2 miles could have made a difference later in the race...or maybe not. I tried to fall into a comfortable pace right off the line and just focused on staying relaxed and remembering that this was going to be a long race. I also had to pee, literally as soon as we started running - I was like are you serious?? Luckily it didn't end up being a problem but I was still a little irritated. It was kind of funny because the marathon 1 mile mark was less than half a mile into our race, so everyone saw it and was laughing like "mile PR? I think so!" since it was like 3 minutes in or something. The starts of big races, especially early in the morning, are so cool - everything is ust silent except for the sounds of feet hitting the ground and breathing. The first mile was one of several moments during the race when I just thought to myself "you know, I am so lucky to be able to be a part of this elite group that can do this, that can have this experience." We came through the 1 mile and Poker Face was playing which made me really happy...such a good pump up song! I wasn't too happy to see a split under 7:30 since I knew that was too fast, but I just tried not to worry about it although I honestly already wasn't feeling that great. Fittingly, there was also a sign tied to a tree that said "this is NOT the time to set your 5K PR!!" Definitely a good reminder for me :P Around the 2 mile, a girl who ran for my high school passed me - she's a really good runner and finished in something like 1:30 - crazy fast! I got really excited coming up to my house - I couldn't hear the music coming out my window very well, but I caught enough to know it was Don't Stop Believin'! Which made me very happy. The BF cheered as I ran by and I gave him a big smile and blew a kiss - I'm glad he got to see me when I was feeling good enough to do that, haha. The first couple miles were really flat, so I wasn't that excited to turn onto Breese - not that it's even a big hill, but I already wasn't feeling all that spectacular. But still, miles 3 and 4 went by pretty uneventfully. There was a nice big downhill leading up to the 4 mile marker, and I tried to use that to really relax, relax, relax! That was pretty much my word of the day, because when I start feeling bad, I tend to freak out about how bad I'm feeling, then I start tightening up and hyperventilating and its just bad news bears. So especially everytime there was a downhill, I just told myself to RELAX!

Miles 5-8
5-6: 16:00 (I didn't see the 5 mile marker)
7: 7:45
8: 7:56
Clearly, my plan of running even or even negative splits was going out the window pretty quickly. We ran past the Nat, home of basically all of my classes for the past year, and there was a nice flat part which gave me a boost, but I was starting to feel tired - not good, since I wasn't even halfway! I hadn't stopped at a water station yet so I figured that would probably help me out. Running along the lakeshore path was probably one of my favorite parts of the race. It was shady, it was flat, it was glorious, and best of all, the trees blocked the wind, which had been pretty unpleasant for the first part of the race. I grabbed some Gatorade when we came out of the woods by the Union - I really, really wish someone could teach me how to drink while I'm running! Even though I tried really hard to pinch the top and get as much into my mouth as possible, like 80% of it ended up on my face...gross. Nothing like sticky Gatorade drying on your face as you run. But hey - it did its job - it was like a shot of pure energy straight into my system. Although I definitely wasn't feeling that great by this point, and we were coming up on an insanely hilly part of the course. Right before I headed up the first big hill, I saw Jade cheering from in front of her house which also was also sweet - pretty much, seeing anyone you know along the course is such a pick me up. The crowd support in general was AMAZING - there were so many more people out than I ever would have expected! It was so cute to see some of the little kids getting super excited about the race - my favorite was a couple of kids who had done chalkings all over the street that were just adorable and it made me really happy as I ran by. But you know what didn't make me happy? The hills of Langdon Street. Leading up to mile 6 was when I started getting worried about how the rest of the race was going to pan out. The 1:40 pace group passed me somewhere around there, but I had honestly given up on my crazy goal within the first 4 miles - if I wasn't feeling good running that pace at mile 3, there's no way I'd be holding it at mile 13. So the hills. SUCKED. Mile 7 was not fun at all...my legs were really starting to feel the constant uphills. But 2 great things happened during mile 7 - I saw Claire, who had also chalked some great "GO WTC" things on the road, and I saw a group of people drinking (keep in mind, this is before 8 am) and offering beer to the runners. I wanted to take some just for the hilarity of it, but I wasn't feeling good, and I felt like that might not be the best choice. I guess my friend Ben took some (he would NEVER pass up a beer, not even mid-race) and Dallas got handed a cup but didn't know what it was, and got really mad when he found out it was beer. By the time I came along, the people were just screaming BEER! BEEEEER! and it was definitely good for a laugh. I would say mile 8 was the point when things really started to go downhill. I was getting really, really tired, and my legs were starting to send out the signals that this was no longer fun. I wanted to walk. I wanted to stop. When I got to mile 8, I was honestly amazed that I was still under 8 minute pace. At the water stop just past mile 8, I decided to walk through just so I could actually get some hydration in my mouth, as opposed to on my singlet. This turned out to be a great idea because when I started running again, I felt infinitely better.

Miles 9-12
9: 8:06 (walked through water stop)
10: 7:58
11: 7:53
12: 8:15 (walked through water stop)
So this is definitely where the race really started. It turned into a complete battle of my legs wanting to give up versus my mind forcing them to keep going. I forgot how half marathons are so different from 5Ks or whatever in that it's not that you're breathing hard and running super fast, it's like your muscles just eventually fatigue and give up. My quads were cramping up pretty bad (partially because I was dehydrated I think, since water seemed to help that a little) and it was just painful to continue...but I did. Because I knew I would NOT be happy if I didn't at least get close to my 'realistic' goal. I honestly thought I was running a lot slower than I actually was through all this - it just felt like I was plodding along. But I think what was really happening is that it was just taking a LOT more effort to run at the same pace, just mentally tough to not give up and stop. But every time I really wanted to, something would perk me up and I would just push on. A lady with a dog who was barking, and the woman was like "see, Molly wants you to run fast too!" People actually yelling my name because it was on my bib. An adorable little girl handing out water at a water stop. A couple of hippie guys in ponchos playing guitar and flute at the top of a hill. The fact that despite how crappy I felt, I was still passing people. I remember feeling this way last time I did a half - that each individual mile just seems to crawl on endlessly but the whole race itself seems to be over in a flash. I found myself just living from mile marker to mile marker and playing stupid mental games like "ok, you can walk at the next mile mark" but then not actually allowing myself to do it. Tricky mind, tricky. :) We finally came out of the neighborhood and onto the bike path that goes around the lake towards the finish, and the 10 mile marker was there, and it was just like - OK, 5K to go. That's no big deal, right? Ohhh but it was a long and difficult 5K. I saw Claire again around mile 11, and she told me she had tried to catch up with the guys but they were too fast. All I could yell back was "I'm SO TIRED!!" Which, I was. 2 miles to go. Come on legs, don't fail me now! We came around a bend and I saw a professional looking dude with a camera. Since I know my mom is going to order probably 50 pictures from my race (that's how she rolls) I was like - OK, I can't look like I'm dying in my race pictures! (PS - why on earth would you put the camera at mile 12?? For the love of god, go to mile 4 or someplace where everyone looks like they've been running for a bit but isn't dragging themselves across the ground looking like death. Nobody wants to buy those) Anyway, I put on my best 'determined' face, lengthened my stride a bit, and passed a pack of about 6 people as I passed the camera. I can't wait to see how those pics turn out :P Just before the 12 mile I walked through the last water stop - I really wanted to finish strong and I was feeling super dehydrated, so I figured a quick break and some water would help me do that. One mile to go...lets do this.

Mile 13.1
13.1: 8:25 (7:39 pace)
So with 1 mile to go, it was time to just push through the pain and get to the finish line. I didn't immediately pick it up when I saw the 12 mile mark, but I tried to anyway. The 13th mile was by far the most unpleasant part of the entire race. Not only was I really tired, and my quads felt like they were ready to explode, but it was the ONE part of the course with NO crowd support! We ran through this park with no shade next to what looked like a garbage dump, and then turned onto - what else? - a hill! Getting up that hill without stopping was possibly one of the most difficult things I've done during a race. People were walking all over the place but I just absolutely refused to allow myself to do it. After what seemed like forever, we finally crested the hill, made a quick left turn, and got to see the most glorious sight any distance runner can ever see - a big downhill leading straight to the finish line. That was really all I needed - I took every last ounce of energy remaining in my legs, and I kicked with everything I had. I saw the 26 mile mark for the marathon, had no clue where the 13 mile mark was, but I wasn't going to worry about splits at that point. The clock started to come into focus and I saw 1:42 and it was just like....yesssss! It had been such a long race, and I had doubted being able to get even my secondary goal so many times, but at that moment I finally knew I was going to do it. I came across the line with a big smile on my face (again, good pictures please! :)) I was happy I was done, I was happy with my time, I was just plain happy.

After the race
The 'recovery lane' as they called it after you cross the finish line after a long distance race is kind of weird. I was really in a daze and people just keep handing you things - here's your medal, here's some water, here's a banana, do you want some pretzels?, here's a Sobe and you keep taking them because you don't know what else to do. Pretty much the last thing I wanted to do right after finishing was eat, but the water was deeeelish. Amazingly, I found my mom almost immediately after getting out of the insanity of post-race food. She was excited and glad I was happy with my time, even though I was still having trouble putting together coherent thoughts at that point. I decided to go get my bag so I could get my camera and I ran into the guys over by the gear check. Dallas ended up finishing 8th, although he wasn't that happy with his time, and I think the other two felt similarly. We all grouped up for a WTC picture:
Then the guys split off to see someone finish, and Kaitlyn, Vanessa and I wandered around trying not to fall over. I saw a Michelob tent and decided I just had to have a post-race beer:

I mean, Michelob Ultra is practically water, so I didn't feel toooo bad. :) We met up with the guys again by the results tent, where you could get these fun little printouts with your time on them. We stood around there for awhile and I made the mistake of sitting down on the ground...ouch...getting up was NOT fun. Actually, doing much of anything the rest of the day wasn't fun. My quads felt like they were pretty much giving up on life anytime I tried to walk, stand up, etc. But in a way, I love that feeling...its how you know you really accomplished something.

Well I will try to wrap this up because this is the longest post EVER. Overall, I'm really happy with how the race went. I was really in no shape to run 1:40, especially since my last run over 10 miles was over a month ago, and I didn't do anything specifically to train for this race. That being said, I would really like to actually train hard for a half and see what I can do! There's a new half in Madison at the end of August, the Madison Mini Marathon, and I think I might incorporate that as a goal race for the summer. It goes along well if I'm training for a marathon, and it would be a nice farewell victory lap through Madison before I move to Boston in September! Don't worry though, I've got plenty of 5K PRs still to set too. I just want to do it all. :) Still, this race is just another indicator that showed me how far I've come as a runner..it amazes me that I ran this race over 6 minutes faster than I did 2 years ago. And I'm ready to just keep on running faster. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009


The WTC half marathon crew, happy to be done! :)

Even though it wasn't quite my "ultimate" goal, based on how the race went I'm really happy with that time!! I think I'm still learning how to 'race' a half marathon, but for now I'm pretty proud of a 6:15 PR! :)
Madison Half Marathon
1:42:25 (7:49 pace)
20/357 AG (20-24)
76/2182 women
366/3687 overall

Full race report coming soon!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ready to roll!

Just a quick post before the half tomorrow! In about 12 hours, I'll be getting up and getting ready to run. I've got my favorite pre-race breakfast of a Clif Bar and a banana ready to go, I've got my racing outfit ready...all that's left to do is race this thing! And I'm definitely excited to actually race! :)

Also, I've never had my name on a bib number before...or a beer logo...guess there's a first time for everything...haha.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


So it's official: my bib number for the Madison Half Marathon is 7834...I got the email yesterday and immediately started to actually get nervous about the race! I haven't talked much about it in this blog just because it's been so overshadowed by track season haha. I think what's weird about this race is that I haven't specifically trained for it - I mean, by training for the 5K on the track, and running 40-50 miles a week, including up to 14 mile long runs, I guess I've kind of trained for it, but not on purpose...its just kind of something that happened along the way to something else. Not that that means I'm not excited or I don't have goals for it, because oh, I do. The last time I ran a half I had NO idea what I was doing, lots of the mileage I ran over the summer was super slow with a track camp I coached, and while I was all excited about "doubling" for the first time in my career, I really didn't get in that many quality miles. So at that race, my goal was to run 8 minute pace, but it was really humid, I got super dehydrated (getting chills when its 80 out? never a good thing), and I just don't think I was quite in shape to do what I thought I was ready to do - and I finished in 1:48:46 - mostly thanks to my WTC friend Nick dragging me along and telling me that I had better run faster (He hadn't 'trained' for the race and decided to pace me instead of trying to race it...needless to say, an 8:18 pace wasn't much of an effort for him, But I definitely appreciated him being there!). But anyway, at that time, I pretty much just wanted to finish decently. I was pretty much a newbie to distance running, having only 1 'real' year of cross country and running the 800 in track under my belt, and training-wise I really had no idea. So obviously, 2 years later, I have some new goals. :)

My ultimate goal: to break 1:40. Don't ask me why I picked this as my goal...it just kind of seemed like a logical 'break' to shoot for. This calls for a 7:37 pace. Given that my usual long run distance during the season has hovered somewhere around 7:45, this isn't completely unreasonable, especially when you consider that every day/night before the long run, I had raced, drank, or both (what can I say, I'm a college student! I had to celebrate those PRs :)) and during an actual race, the adrenaline is always flowing! But at the same time, I'm not completely confident that I can do that, since it's been a looooong season. So backup goal: 1:42..which is 7:46 pace, and I think I'd be happy with that. All in all, if I PR (and if I don't, I'll probably cry) I won't be sad about the race. But I would really love to put up a time that I'm happy with! Plus, it's my last race as a 21-year-old! Not that that means much, but getting my goal time would be a great birthday present to myself. :)

Speaking of goal pace - today I went out for a 5 mile run that I was going to TRY to run at goal pace - actually, the goal was to run the first half mile super easy (from my house to a mile marker on the bike path so I could actually keep track), run 4 miles at goal pace, and a half mile easy back. My grade for myself? FAIL!! Here's how my splits panned out:
.55 miles - 3:45 (6:49 pace)
Mile 1 - 7:26
Mile 2 - 7:25
Mile 3 - 7:14
Mile 4 - 7:29
.55 miles - 3:38 (6:36 pace)
Total: 5.1 miles, 36:59 (7:16 pace)
Ahh! Not that I'm opposed to running fast, but every time I TRIED to slow down, I actually sped up! The 3rd mile, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (the Hawaiian ukelele guy) came on my ipod, and I thought I was really trying to relax and sloooow down since I knew my first 2 miles were fast....and look how that turned out! I REALLY have to try to not get all crazy and go out in like 7 flat on Sunday because that's just not going to end well. I have to controoool the adrenaline. But how am I supposed to do that when I can't even control my pace on a training run? I think I was just happy because for the first time in a week, my legs felt GOOD! I've been feeling really weak and sluggish lately, so it was nice to actually not feel crappy for once...maybe the time off last week was good for me after all! Plus, I know I'm going to get excited at 2.5 miles, because I get to run past my house! I got some ipod speakers for graduation, and I'm making a playlist so the BF can play them out my window for the runners...because who doesn't need a good pump up song when it's 7:20 am and you've still got 11 miles go to? I wish I could pinpoint exactly when I was going to be running by so he could have "Don't Stop Believin'" playing. :)

And on my one non-running related note of the day, today after work I went to the Sephora at the mall to redeem my gift card that I've had since Christmas and get my free birthday gift- double the fun! Who doesn't love shopping when it's technically free? I'm not a big makeup girl, but I've been searching for some natural looking blush and I found the perfect shade...plus buying expensive makeup on occasion makes me feel special! My birthday gift was a set of 3 little lip glosses, all in really pretty shades, and since I don't wear lip gloss that often I'm sure they'll last me awhile! Plus I got a free sample of some passionfruit-mango body scrub that smells amazing - if they had given it to me before I bought the blush, I might have bought some of that instead! :) I decided to save my Movin' Shoes gift card from the WTC girls for another day...I almost never get to shop for myself, so its fun to split it up. Then the BF and I went to the zoo - seriously, the best free activity EVER! The prairie dogs had babies, and they were absolutely adorable -sooo tiny! Also, there are always tons of little kids at the zoo, which after being on a college campus for 9 months (aka...no kids anywhere), is almost as much fun to watch as the animals!

Hmm, well I think this post is long enough. 4 easy miles on the schedule tomorrow, plus a mile with the BF - I'm trying to get him up to at least a whole mile without stopping in the next couple weeks. Yesterday we did a 'fartlek' thing - 3 minutes of running, 2 minutes walking. He actually was running pretty fast for the middle 2 intervals...I was so proud! It's a lot of fun running with him and he seems to like getting a taste of the running thing- since he's pretty much an honorary member of the WTC, he might as well! We're also making my favorite pre-race meal tomorrow - chicken parmesan...yum! I didn't want to make it on Saturday since the race is so early and I work until 7, I don't want to still be full from dinner when I wake up at some ungodly hour to get ready for the race. Luckily, thanks to working at 6 or 6:30 am every Monday for this whole semester, getting up really early isn't even a big deal for me anymore...thanks, puppies!

Time to get pumped!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Standing on the edge of summer

Oooh boy...so I realized today that the word of the summer is going to be...INTENSE. Between working [hopefully] full time, marathon training, and training the BF for his first 5K, I seriously don't know when I'm going to be doing anything other than running or playing with puppies. Today I sold my books back and used some of the money to buy Brad Hudson's "Run Faster", which is what my WTC coach used to develop our training program for this season. Since it obviously helped me a lot (hello, huge PRs), I figured that it would be a good start to base something off of as I begin the crazy journey that is attempting to train for a marathon. His training philosophy is based on the idea that everyone responds differently to different types of training, and the goal is to find the right balance between different types of things that's going to help you to accomplish your best race. He also puts a really big emphasis on being flexible in training - like, if you're supposed to do a major workout and from the start your legs feel dead, sometimes the best thing is to either shorten it, or even cancel it alltogether, to benefit your training in the long run. I really like that idea - some days, for whatever reason, you're just not feeling it, and in my experience trying to gut it out through the workout anyway usually leads to feeling like shit long after its over. But anyway - digression about the book - but it's quite interesting.

Anyway, I'm trying to loosely base my training program off of the "level 2" marathon program out of this book. I'm having to alter it a LOT for the first 4 weeks due to the fact that I'm racing a half marathon, going to Boston for 4 days, and attempting to train for a triathlon June 13, so obviously not all of my time can be devoted to running...but after that, it's going to be a LOT. In a way though, its really good for me to plan out my training ahead of time, because then its like - I HAVE to get this workout done or at least attempt it. It doesn't matter if I'm not in the mood to get up in the morning before work, well then, I guess I'm doing it after work. I also really like knowing when I have a hard workout coming up so I have time to mentally prepare for it, even a day or 2 in advance. And of course, the fact that I'm going to be running mostly by myself is going to be interesting. Hell, today I ran 5 miles and I kept wanting to stop. Granted, I was running at 7:15 pace [because...I'm an idiot], but basically the bottom line is I tend to get really lazy when I run by myself. So pushing through the "I'm sick of this, I don't feel like running anymore, and no one is here to make sure I keep going" barrier is going to be key. Basically, I think here are the things that I'm going to need to work on/make sure happen this summer:
  • LEARN TO RUN SLOWER. Seems counterintuitive, but since I've been all about running FAST even on my easy runs during track and XC, this could probably pose a problem when I attempt to run 26.2 miles. I'm training for a marathon, with the general goal of trying to BQ on my first try [not an easy task, I realize, but hey, go big or go home right?]. So to do that, I have to run a 3:40:59 - which is 8:25/mile pace. Therefore, I can't be running at 7:15-7:30 pace on every single run I do...trying to do that is only going to make me fail on my longer runs and probably make me go out too fast in just about every situation. I'm not saying I would be opposed to running closer to 8:00/mile pace, but I'm trying to be realistic - this is my first marathon, after all. But if my marathon pace is 8:25, and I'm supposed to be doing 10 miles easy, 10 miles at marathon pace...well then I guess I'm going to have to run slower, is the bottom line.
  • Along those same lines, actually run the pace I'm supposed to during workouts. See above example - if I'm supposed to be running SLOWER than marathon goal pace for 10 miles, then I sure as hell better be running 8:45s even if I probably could be doing 7:30s. I think I am going to try to throw in at least 1 or 2 "speed" days per week, just so I don't lose all of my 5K speed, and so I don't go completely insane running slow all the time, but when I'm doing workouts, especially key ones, I really want to try to hit pace.
  • Not get injured. One of my friends is dealing with double stress fractures as a result of trying to train for a marathon, and that's really not something I want to happen to me. So basically - if things are hurting, I will back off.
  • Remember why I'm doing it. I'm used to training for a 5K. A 5K is a LOT shorter than a marathon. I think if I keep focused on why I'm doing what I'm doing, it will make the extensive amount of time I'll be spending running this summer a lot easier. It's hard for me to train when I don't feel like I'm going to be 'racing' - for me, 8:25 is so slow that I can't even imagine it. But I have to remember that a marathon is a COMPLETELY different deal than anything else I've ever done. Now that my time with the WTC is over, I'm feeling a little lost in terms of running, and as far as racing is concerned I have no idea how easy it will be to get assimilated into a new team in time to start racing road races or cross country or whatever. So a marathon is something different - something I can do alone [I guess] and show myself how far I've come.
Anyway, those are my marathon musings. I'm a little nervous about starting to train for it just because its going to be such a huge undertaking, and deep down I think I'm a little scared that I won't be able to do it, especially without a group to train with. But at the same time, I know that I'm a strong enough runner at this point that I can do it. And I will.

And speaking of undertakings, I took the BF out for his first 5K training session today! We just did a mile, broken up a bit because cardio-wise he hasn't done anything in...years? He managed to run a half mile without stopping in 4:37, then we made it like 3 minutes back, took another break, and finished in 9:09. I'm thinking that ~9:00 pace is probably going to be a good pace to shoot for for the actual 5K, although who knows! It's kind of fun playing coach a little bit, and I'm all for introducing people to the greatest sport in the world...running! :) I'll keep you posted on how that, along with my crazy training, goes!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Random tidbits

Because I'm too lazy to write a long drawn out post about these things...

I. I won my first road race! Granted, it was a VERY small race - like, maybe 40 people - but you know what, a win's a win! I think I was maybe 7th overall in 21:48 and I won a free pair of shoes! Since Etonic was apparently sponsoring the race, they are Etonic Kendari's ($110...I got them freee!) I took them out for a spin today and while the run in general was a total suckfest (apparently if I take 2 days off of running, I completely forget how? Or I didn't eat enough? Either way, I felt like shit and had to keep stopping. Gross) the shoes themselves felt great - and it will be fantastic to have a pair of trainers going into what's apparently going to be the summer of marathon training!

II. I never really wrote much of a report about the steeplechase last weekend, but let's just say it wasn't fun. I thought that since I was in much better shape that it would be easier this year, but noooo. Not in the least bit. I don't think it's possible for that race to be fun, although feeling like I was going to puke from the emptiness sloshing around in my stomach for the entire time didn't help. I can't believe that I still managed to PR, and I think I owe that all to my water pit (except my 'giving up on life' jump...that was quite a fail). I think overall I got through it a lot better than last year...it was just the running part that sucked! I really didn't get as emotional about the season ending as I thought I would - maybe because that race was just so horrible and I was so happy to be done! Mentally, I think I was done after Loras for sure, so this was just kind of something to cap it off. That's kind of how I felt about the road race too - a nice victory lap to cap off quite possibly my best season of running ever. Now if only I can make it through this half marathon. The past week has been a total failure of running - between finals and graduation, I've only managed to get out 3 times...at least one of them was a race, right?

III. Did I mention...I GRADUATED? I'm now an alumnus of UW- Madison...and I have to say, out of all the things I thought I would tear up about, the only one that I KNEW would happen is the one that actually did. Singing Varsity one last time at graduation...I definitely thought I was going to start crying. But then Dallas knocked my hat off...so I laughed instead. And in a way, I think that sums up a lot of things about college - just when things get rough and you think you're going to burst into tears, something ridiculous happens and you laugh, and you realize that everything is going to be OK.

Varsity, varsity
U rah rah Wisconsin
Praise to thee we sing (we sing!)
Praise to thee our alma mater
U - rah - rah - Wis - co - n - sin!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A fitting end to a season of ridiculous long runs

Today Brittany, Kaitlyn and I met for what is basically our last long run of the season - although the track season is technically over, Brittany wanted to get the crap out of her legs after the meet and Kaitlyn and I have the half marathon in 2 weeks so we won't be taking time off until after that. This was pretty much our usual long run crew throughout the semester, minus Claire, who can't run right now because of an injury, and basically, on our long runs, we would always do ridiculous things. Like negative split on the way back (this happened basically EVERY time), run way faster than we were supposed to, etc. Well, today's long run pretty much summed up the ridiculousness in the best way possible, and in a way that made me feel REALLY good going into the half.

We decided to run on the bike path because none of us wanted to deal with hills after racing yesterday and we were hoping we could get at least somewhat out of the wind. On the way out I would say we were running maybe 7:45 pace, still faster than is theoretically necessary for a long run but not insane by any means. We got to the turnaround and started back...which is when the ridiculousness began. Now, keep in mind that this is happening like 7 miles into this run. All of a sudden on the path in front of us there was this girl, who was obviously running a bit slower than us but not much. IMMEDIATELY, the 3 of us picked it up - like a pretty large drop in pace, and eventually passed her (and then started laughing because each of us noticed the others pick it up). Well after that, we were just running fast. And I was feeling GREAT. I happened to look at my watch at the 2.3 mile mark (there are posts every .1 mile on the bike path with the distance on them, its really sweet) and since I figured we were running at a decent pace, I would time this mile to see how fast it ended up being. Halfway through, it dawned on me that we were definitely under 7 minute pace. By 1200 meters, I knew we were WAY under 7 minute pace. And then, I missed the mile mark, but .1 after the mile mark, we were at 6:44. AKA, we had just run a ~6:10 mile. IN THE MIDDLE OF A LONG RUN. We were seriously just like, um, did that really just happen? And then we ran like a 7:30 to finish out the day. Overall pace in the end was 7:27 for 9.5 miles...so, I am feeling much more confident that if I can do something this absurd, the day after a race [sidenote: legs, why didn't you feel like this yesterday? huh?] then I definitely have a shot at going under 1:40 in the half. And strangely enough, you know what I think my strategy is going to be? Negative splits. Its not something that's ever really worked for me in a shorter race, but I think over the longer distances, it takes me awhile to get warmed up, and then I just get faster and faster until I'm cruising the last mile. 1:40 is 7:37 pace, so if I start at 7:45 and just work my way down...who knows? Anyway, that gets me excited about that, and makes me feel less bad about not running the 5K this week...I guess.

So thanks, random girl in the blue shirt running at a decent pace on the bike path, for inspiring us to the heights of ridiculousness on a long run. The feeling of just kicking ass when you least expect it is just plain awesome.

"You call it madness, I call it love"

I'll write an actual post later about the twilight (steeplechase = PAIN), but for now, enjoy this random rambling/essay I wrote last year after cross country season. Believe me, this is only the beginning of my WTC reminiscings...although I did manage to not have a breakdown yesterday :)

“you call it madness, i call it love”
this quote can basically sum up my feelings about the track club. coming into this group 3 years ago, i never could possibly IMAGINED that things would end up the way that they are. basically, i thought it was cool that i would get to race again. what i got was so much more than that…so much more. over the years this team has gone from just some people i run with…to my team…to some of my best friends. i can honestly say i’ve never met a more amazing group of people. we come from all over, we all have different friends, majors, everything…but somehow we get together and we just click. and why? because we love to run.

a lot of people probably think we’re nuts for doing what we do. who in their right mind wants to spend an ungodly number of hours a week pushing themselves to their physical limit, miss out on nights of drinking and hours of sleep to get up every weekend and trek across the state to go kill themselves for 20 or 30 minutes? and on top of all that, why would you EVER want to do this for no recognition, no glory, no free clothes or scholarships or sponsorships. and, for the majority, not even for the potential of winning? just to suffer anonymously and finish somewhere in the middle of the pack, how could that possibly make you happy? people ask. and we can’t explain. we don’t need to. because we understand. we understand each other. we’ve seen the frustration after a crappy race, and we can relate. we celebrate each other’s victories, because we know that it doesn’t get much better than that. and we know that an outsider can never understand that. they don’t realize that if you run a PR, it doesn’t matter if you finished fifth or three hundredth. they don’t realize that winning a race doesn’t mean that you’re happy with it. but we do.

but the best part is that we’ve realized that we aren’t just a team. we’re a family. pasta parties, random team gatherings, a whole lot of flip cup…we know that we’re amazing off the track too. there are few things funnier than getting up for a 10 mile run on sunday, mere hours after you were playing beer pong with the same people. drunk or sober, we know how to have a good time – from pasta parties that end up with a head of lettuce getting thrown like a football and catchphrase marathons in the van to and from meets, to shirtless man parties and drinking beer out of Gatorade cups. we’re entirely ridiculous, and i guess that’s our charm. lets face it, you need to be a little ridiculous to want to do what we do. we’re all huge running dorks and we know it…and we don’t care. and so we can have drunken conversations about our mileage and workouts, or talk about the us marathon trials like it’s the superbowl, or have hour-long conversations about the day’s race. and people think we’re insane. no non-runner gives a crap about your first mile split or how you can’t believe you got beat by a guy in a ponytail…but talk to one of us about it, and we’ll listen like it’s the most entertaining thing we’ve ever heard.

the pictures are another thing. honestly, how many pictures of people running can you have? but we always want more…why? because that one moment of that one race is immortalized. you can never go back to that moment…you can never go back to that race. once its over you can hardly remember how you felt while it was going on (and lets face it, if you could, there would probably be a lot less people who ever did it again). but you look at that picture months or even years later, and think “yes, that was a great day”. or “wow, i was really dying in that race”. and come on, running pictures are badass. who doesn’t want to feel hardcore?

running is crazy. distance running in particular. which is probably why the camaraderie of distance is so much stronger than anything i’ve ever seen in sprints. that’s half of what made me want to be a distance runner in the first place – so i could be in that elite club that can go out for an hour long run and hardly be tired, who gets excited about 800 repeats, who thinks a 5 mile run is an easy pre-race day. and now that i’m in, i can’t ever imagine going back. because you’ve got to be a little crazy to want to do what we do. and maybe we are. but i can’t think that i’m crazy when i’m standing at the start line on a gorgeous fall day, after cheering with my girls and knowing that my boys are going to be cheering along the course, with hundreds of miles in my legs that have all led up to this, and knowing i’m ready to rock. and crossing that finish line, seeing the clock, and knowing that i’m a second, a minute faster than i was before. and knowing that tonight i’ll get to celebrate with the very people i’ve just been racing with, but first i need to cheer for my favorite boys. does it really get much better than that? doubt it. maybe we are crazy. but i couldn’t possibly love it more.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I'm going to be a triathlete...oh my lord

Dear Audrey,

Congratulations! You are now registered for 2009 Elkhart Lake Sprint Triathlon. Please check the event's official website for updates: http://www.ElkhartLakeMultiSports.com

Thank you for registering for the Elkhart Lake International Triathlon. Your registration has been received. I can't wait to greet you at the finish line - a wonderful Elkhart Lake Triathlon tradition. You have registered for the SPRINT DISTANCE event. Remember, accommodations go early in Elkhart Lake and the surrounding area so get your reservations in. Also, check-in and packet pick-up is Friday June 12th at The Osthoff Resort from 4-10pm. Good luck. For complete complete race information, download the full Participant Guide available from the event website (main and event pages). Jeff Grady Event Director

So...thanks to the BF volunteering to pay the entry fee and bargaining that I could train him to run a 5K by the end of the summer if I did this, the Elkhart Lake Triathlon is no longer a tenative on the schedule. What the hell have I done??? Secretly, I'm kind of excited, but also quite nervous as its been a long time since I went into a race situation without knowing exactly what I was getting into. Stay tuned for details on how this pans out..

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

F the AD

I ran on the Wisconsin outdoor track yesterday!
For the first time ALL SEASON!
And...I wasn't even supposed to be there.

Yes, the amazing organization that is the athletic department decided to completely ignore our repeated requests for track time. They also were going to charge us some obscene amount of money to get track time at all...because although we are a registered student organization, apparently that wasn't enough for them - we needed to be sponsored by a department too. And yet, even after we got sponsorship from the opthamology department, they still paid no attention to us. So here it is, the last week of outdoor season, and we haven't been able to practice on an outdoor track once.

Now, I realize that the athletic department has a lot of weight, this being a DI school and all, and its their perogative if they want to be ridiculous about their track. BUT - if you're going to restrict a track to athletic teams only, the least you could do is have another location for the public, or at the very least, students. We're all paying a crapload of money to attend this university, and the athletic department hauls in so much money every year [hello, record numbers at Crazylegs?] its not like they're pressed for cash. Or like it would affect them THAT MUCH to let a student track organization practice on the track twice a week. And at the very least, give us the time of day. Acknowledge we exist, and don't ignore our requests until its way too late for them to even mean anything.

But despite all this - they leave the track open randomly all the time. So yesterday between classes, I went to do some steeple practice on the actual track, and it went pretty well! I definitely think I'm a lot stronger in the water pit than last year - I can launch myself pretty far out, even though I usually either two-foot the landing or put my hands down, if I can be only a few inches in the water, that would be fantastic! It was also really nice being on the track...and there's something really peaceful and calming about being on a track alone. I don't know what it is - I've kind of always felt this way. Usually at a meet or whatever, there's just so much going on, people flying everywhere, running, jumping, crap being thrown, whatever - and being there when everything is quiet and calm is just like taking a deep breath. I don't even know. Either way, it was nice, and I was happy with how my workout went, plus it made me laugh when just as I was leaving, some kind of official looking truck pulled in, and I just gave them one look and went sprinting away. Yeah, that's right. Suckas.

So did I mention I graduate in a week and a half? Yeah, it kind of snuck up on me too. I have been having these random moments lately where I get incredibly nostalgic about things. We're running a senior 4 x 400 with me, Nicole, Claire, and Kaitlyn - the girls who have been there since the beginning and the ones who've stuck with it all along - and I have a very bad feeling I'm probably going to burst into tears at the end haha. Considering I'm tearing up just thinking about this, I can say that that is a definite yes. I think it's pretty much impossible to put into words how much the track club has meant to me. The people I've met are absolutely incredible, the experience has been incredible, and I am a different, and better person, because of my time with the club. Oh but don't worry, there will be a whole post along these lines coming your way sometime soon. I swear, I am the most sentimental person alive...I definitely get that from my mom.

Time to go study some exercise physiology. Which probably should be interesting to me, and it is, kind of....but just not right now. :P