Thursday, October 20, 2016

Race report: Detroit Free Press Half Marathon

Ugh, it’s already been A Week. I was a little more sore than expected after the Freep Half Sunday; I have a shin splint in my right leg that is only now starting to feel better. I had a work event last night before the debate, and the rest of the week was quickly filled with food prep, getting a much-needed haircut, and (let’s be honest) lazing around and eating junk food. This report kind of fell by the wayside.

But ANYWAY. On Sunday, my husband and I completed the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon and had a blast! It was his first half marathon and first big race. It was my first open half marathon, too, although I’ve done 7 fulls and a 70.3. It was fun, and it was a learning experience, but most of all I’m happy that we did this together.

Leading up to the race, we did a few easy runs of 3.5, 3 and 3 miles. It was nothing too strenuous – just enough to keep the legs warm and mobile. We opted not to go to the expo Friday night, instead meeting up with some friends of my husband in town for his high school homecoming. We got home WAY too late and slept in Saturday, eventually enjoying a nice big bacon-filled breakfast. We headed to the expo in the afternoon and picked up our packets without incident, even buying a nice finisher's jacket for him. We met up with a different set of friends later who were hosting a huge kielbasa-smoking party (yes, I’m serious). I made sure to eat a large helping of potatoes as well as the delicious sausage.

We relaxed for the rest of the evening and organized our running stuff. We got to bed early and I was up at 4:30 a.m. Sunday to eat something, get changed, use the bathroom, take the dogs out, and check for the 15th time that we had everything. I was taking the role of logistical manager and sherpa; my pockets were filled with Gu, my phone, Kleenex, our IDs, a bit of cash, our keys, etc. All my husband had to do was run.

We found street parking easily and headed to the start line with about an hour to spare. Yes, we probably could have left later, but like I said, this was my husband's first big race, and I wanted him to experience everything. We walked around, we ate our bananas, we danced in place to the music — you get the idea. It was also fairly warm; he was comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, and I had capris and a t-shirt underneath a throwaway long sleeve. It was much more enjoyable than getting snowed on waiting for the start last year.

About 20 minutes after the first gun we were off! The first stretch is a straight shot to the Ambassador Bridge, where we would cross into Canada. The very first aid station had already run out of cups and were offering to let runners drink for the gallon jugs, or have water poured into their mouths. Uh, no thanks! I was alarmed we would be fluid-less for the race, as I sure wasn't drinking out of a jug God knows how many people's lips had touched before mine. Luckily every other aid station had cups. 

I took my phone out of my magnetic pocket to catch the sunrise from the bridge (about mile 3), and just ran with it, switching hands, for the rest of the race. I wanted to get some pics to remember the big day, and I honestly barely noticed it. The crowd support for the 4-ish miles in Windsor is always great and we saw a freaking DOG running the race with a bib and everything! Of course I got some pics. (Note: I always stepped off to the side when taking pics and NEVER stopped running in front of people. Etiquette, people.)
Gorgeous sunrise from the bridge ramp.
Now here's something you don't see every day. (Actually only once per year.)
I thought this was a cool pic running back toward the water. 
A dog running the race. REPEAT: A DOG RUNNING THE RACE 
Windsor isn't a bad little town.
The tunnel to get back to the U.S. was hot and stuffy, like always, and it never really cooled back down. We could see clouds coming in from the west and it felt like the humidity was rising. I only half-joked to my husband that we better hurry to miss the storm. The next few miles (8-11) were all about putting our heads down and getting it done. It was starting to warm up, and he was starting to slow a bit, but we kept shuffling forward. I'd try to encourage him by reminding him that all we had left was a lap around the neighborhood, our usual morning run, etc. to hopefully help him feel like the remaining distance wasn't insurmountable. He didn't yell at me to shut up, so I kept at it.
In the tunnel under the Detroit River, almost back home.
Back in the fresh air!
We made the turn to head back to downtown. He was really starting to struggle and his knee was starting to hurt, but I did the math and realized that if we held a 13:00-ish pace, we could come in under our goal of 2:45. I tried to be encouraging but not too hard. Still no yelling to shut up. The crowd got bigger and bigger and the cheering got louder and louder. The full marathoners turned off and for the first time I've done this race, I didn't follow them. We turned right for the final shot to the finish. We had about 90 seconds to make our goal. More encouraging words. We picked it up a bit to the finish and ... success! We made it with about 35 seconds to spare.

I was so proud. He worked hard, pushed through discomfort, and never gave up. He did it.

We got water and snacks and shuffled back to the car, and headed home for showers and food. After eating pancakes and relaxing for a few hours, I actually got some stuff done in the kitchen, including making sauce with tomatoes from our garden and some cleaning. Afterward, we headed to our friends' house, where they treated us with smoked pork shoulder and macaroni and cheese. It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful day.

We have been reveling in our accomplishment all week. We are officially half marathoners!

And pancake eaters.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Week in review October 10-16: Run often, run long

Since 100% running is a pretty boring chart.
It was a great week for running. Not only did my husband I manage four runs, Sunday was the big day: The Detroit Free Press Half-Marathon (race report coming soon). We finished upright, smiling, and under our goal time!

Through Saturday, however, we didn’t do much else. I didn’t do a single other workout other than those runs. Part of it was because I didn’t want to overdo it and risk a bad race, and the other part was that I had a lot going on: a work conference one evening, a gathering with friends another night, etc. Eh, the important stuff was that we kept the legs warm and fresh for our race.

For posterity, it was:

Run: Four times, all on the road, for 22.6 miles in a bit longer than 4.5 hours. This included three easy runs during the week and the half-marathon on Sunday.

I’m dealing with some random niggles still, so this week will probably be a light week as well. No worries – it’s more than a month until my next tentatively planned race. Tis the season for taking it easy and resting up until I’m ready to dive back in again.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Detroit Free Press half marathon done!

13.1, baby.
We did it!

My husband and I finished the Detroit Free Press half marathon, his first big race. He didn't have to walk and we came in under our goal time of 2:45.

I'll do a full report later, but for now I'm staying off my feet, eating all the things, and laughing at him as he hobbles around the house.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Race review: Run Scream Run 10K

A+ swag.
My husband and I decided to do the Run Scream Run 10K at the last minute. I wanted to run 7-ish miles as our last “long run” before the Freep Half this weekend, and then I got an email reminding me this race was happening. Honestly, what really sold me was the scary-face pumpkin medals. I mean, come on. And they glow in the dark!

We were to bed early Friday and up butt-early to take the dogs out, have a mini-breakfast, and hit the road by 6:45. This was the first time either of us had done the race, and I wanted to leave extra time for parking and picking up our packet. As it turns out, we probably could have slept in a bit. Packet pickup took all of 60 seconds and we headed back to the car to stay warm – it was about 48 degrees, which is actually perfect running weather.

When I looked up our bib numbers the day before I discovered that my sister-in-law was running the race, too. She decided to run with us, having signed up for the day for fun rather than a PR. We chatted, people-watched and admired all the people running in costume (the extent of our costumes was some skeleton gloves I found). I admit I was a bit nervous that we would be dead last in this race, considering the light crowd when we first arrived, but it turned out that everyone else was also keeping warm in their cars.

A few minutes before the start I realized I had left my Garmin in the car. Eeek! I ran back, against the steady flow of people walking to the start line, and grabbed it. THEN my husband decided he wanted to ditch his athletic pants. I told him I wasn’t going to wait for him, but he made it back in plenty of time. The three of us lined up at about the 12:00 minute/mile pace marker and within a few minutes, we were off!

The first mile was pretty slow as we weaved around 5Kers in costume and running four across. I was a bit annoyed, but reminded myself that this was a fun shakeout run, not really a race. We also went through part of a haunted hayride, and after a giant, fake snake jumped out at us, I overheard one little kid ask her dad if they could get one for their house. As we were running by the car my husband decided to ditch his sweatshirt – and ran off the course to throw it on the car! I was annoyed (again) that he didn’t think to do that when he ran his pants back. My sister-in-law and I were feeling generous so we decided to wait for him at the first water stop after the 5Kers and 10Kers split up. He actually wasn’t that far behind us – we lost a minute at most. Plus, he got a better idea of what running clothes are appropriate for what temperature, which will help us next weekend.

After the haunted parts, it was a pretty course going through a park, on some paved trails and some dirt trails. There were a few “hills” (southeast Michigan hills) but nothing that we couldn’t handle. There was a slippery spot or two and one or two scary downhills, but we just took it easy. We chatted and cheered for my husband, who was keeping a good pace. Not many 10Kers were in costume but we cheered for the occasional Ninja Turtle or vampire we passed.

Everyone was ready to be done at about mile 4.5-5 but we just put our heads down and kept running. After a while we could hear the finish line. We looped back through another part of the haunted hayride with more scary snakes and clowns, and kicked it in for a finish line sprint. We were done, hooray!

We took some fun pictures, enjoyed cider and donuts, and headed home. When times were posted later, we learned my husband took 6 FULL MINUTES off his 10K time, which is amazing! A batch of pancakes and a nap later, and we were as good as new.

Overall, this was a really fun race and I’d definitely do it again as a shakeout for a big fall race. It was great for people watching, the course was a nice mix of trail and paved without being too challenging, and the cider and donuts were a nice touch. It definitely put me in the Halloween spirit and ready for the next race.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Week in review Oct. 3-9: A last-minute 10K but not much else

Eh, not great.
It was another classic week of doing OK training-wise for the first part, then fizzling out by the end. I spent a decent amount of time doing food prep Tuesday night, and had to work late Friday (although for a very fun event!). We went to bed early because we had a RACE SATURDAY MORNING which was super fun (full report coming soon) and all day Sunday was errands, coffee, grocery shopping, gardening, food prep and swearing at watching the debate, with (sadly) no time for training.

Since I am really only doing short, slow runs with my husband right now as we taper for the Freep Half, my running mileage has been pretty low. After our race I plan to pick up the running a bit; I’m still not sure when I’ll get biking and swimming back into the equation. Honestly, I don’t see any reason to rush, as I’m not planning on any big multisport races any time soon.

Anyway, last week’s “training” consisted of:

Run: Three times, all outside and all with my husband, for 12.2 miles in about 2:20. This included two easy evening runs and a 10K race Saturday which also served as a shakeout for his big race next weekend.

Weights: One barre class for about an hour. I didn’t leave this one feeling quite so shaky and exhausted, but we did a lot more arm work than other classes. Gotta shake (heh) it up.

Yoga: One 20-minute session on my own. I really wanted to squeeze in another Sunday night but we were at the garden late, which means I started with my food prep late, which means this got postponed. Boo. Well, at least I did something.

Total: Five sessions in about 3:40. Not great, but I did change it up a bit.

This coming week will probably be another easy one, as it’s technically taper. After that, I plan on putting together a training schedule for the upcoming races I want to do in November and February. I like the easier approach I’m taking to running lately, but I do miss the satisfaction that comes with putting in speed sessions and longer runs. The challenge will be continuing as the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. So, let’s see how it goes.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A last-minute 10K

My husband and I were planning on running 7-ish miles this weekend as a last long run before the Freep Half Marathon next weekend. Then, I got an email about a Halloween-themed 5K and 10K taking place not far from our home. I’m not one to use races as training runs, but this looked really fun AND the medals are glow-in-the-dark scary pumpkin faces!!!

Amazing medals!
After a bit of discussion, we agreed that the fun race atmosphere would help motivate us to get out of bed and get our long run out of the way for the weekend before college football starts. Plus, it’s supposed to be perfect running that morning. Plus plus, there will probably be donuts and cider.

I couldn’t talk him into wearing a costume, but it still should be a good time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Week in review Sept. 26-Oct. 2: Feeling better, training more

Not a bad little week.
Last week was the first in a while I felt relatively human. I’m seeing a new doctor, who changed my medications and started me on new vitamins. A few days later I am already noticing that I’m not falling asleep during the day (ok, not as much) and actually sleeping better at night. Progress! I go back in a few weeks for more blood work and to confirm that we’re moving in the right direction.

I did lose a couple weeknights last week, meaning that I did no training. Monday I did all the food prep I skipped on Sunday in favor of a barbecue (can you blame me?), I ran errands another day, and the third I drove my cousin halfway to my uncle’s so he didn’t have to make an extra-long trip on a weeknight. What can I say, I’m a good niece. I did get up butt-early one of those days to run 4 miles on the treadmill before work and hit my goal of 75 miles for September. Yay!

By discipline, it was:

Bike: Just once on the trainer for 20 minutes to warm up for a weights workout.

Run: Three times, twice on the road with my husband and one solo treadmill run, for 17 miles in about 3:18. Nothing special here – this was all about getting miles in, no matter how slowly. But it did include a 10-miler Saturday morning, which was only my husband’s third-ever double-digit run. Yay! We are ready for the Freep Half.

Weights: Two sessions, one round of my body/heavy moves and one round of plyo moves for the first time in months. Seriously, I had to click backward in my calendar to APRIL to find the last time I’d done my plyo moves! Eeek!

Yoga: Twice, both self-guided sessions in my living room, for 1 hour total. These are almost always bends, twists, pigeons, dogs, etc. – anything to stretch out all those running muscles and the tightness in my back.

Total: Eight sessions in a bit less than 6.5 hours. Not terrible, compared to my totals of late, so I’ll take it. An average of almost an hour a day isn’t bad.

This week is probably going to be the last of the warm-ish weather we’ll see until who knows how long. I want to do a few more enjoyable evening runs before I have to bundle up, and may even squeeze in a fun 10K this weekend. I want to take advantage of these nice days and feeling good for as long as I can.