Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon!

This may very well be the fastest anyone has ever put a race report down on paper (or internet or whatever...).  Anyhow. The Chickamauga Marathon was great! Well, for the most part. I am pretty sure there were some middle parts where I might have been like that video that goes through the various stages of marathoning. ('this is the best race ever'and then a mile later WTH was I thinking signing up for more than one of these...excitement to despair to elation in 26.2 miles).  Luckily the despair didn't last long.

I think I mentioned that I did this race in 2010 which goes to show how my memory works these days because it was hillier than I remembered. For some reason I remembered very light rolling hills like maybe 10 feet up and down. I have since decided that particular memory of the lightly rolling hills was another race at another park. It isn't crazy hilly but there are some longer grades on the course to be sure.

Back to today. One of the things I love about this race is that it is small.  As in park 10 feet from the start line small. This comes in handy when the temperature at start time is 30 degrees, a temperature I had not experienced since last year. #Brrrrr. I knew it was going to be cold at the start so I had purchased a $9 pink hoodie at Walmart for the purpose of tossing at the start. When the start cannon was fired (an actual cannon!), most runners opted to keep their coats. I decided to toss mine anyhow and threw it next to a tree where someone else had tossed a red jacket. The first part of the race is a half mile loop around this park so about 5 minutes after you start you come back through the start area again and out on the course. When I came back through again, I saw the red jacket but my pink hoodie was gone. I scanned the immediate area to see if anyone was wearing it. It made me wonder if someone had been eyeing my sweet $9 hoodie and was hoping I would toss it. LOL. It probably was still warm from my body heat when they picked it up. Not to mention they got a bonus pack of hand warmers! Obviously I was giving it away so if someone got it and can use it - great - but the way it was picked up so quickly just made me laugh.

Back to the race. Again. So I am working with a coach this time around. After taking close to a year off, I needed some accountability and really just prefer not to piece together my own training plan. Leave it to the experts and all...  The plan for the race was to run by HR zone. X miles in zone 1, x in zone 2 and then finish it out in zone 3. My normal way to "pace" previously would have been run as hard as you can maintain for about 4 hours and then stop when you get to the finish stopping to walk as needed to keep from dying.  Very professional strategy. I am sure there must be a book on it somewhere. In the past, I would blast out at the start and try to break free of the crowd then settle in to a pace. I was a little bit worried about being stuck in a crowd from the start running in zone one but what I have noticed (in smaller races anyhow) is that the crowd kind of breaks up on its own anyhow so I don't need to bob and weave to get around people in the beginning anymore. Score one for zone 1!

I won't bore you with a mile by mile account of how it all went but will say in my mind I knew I wanted my finish time to be somewhere below 4:30. (I had nothing to base that on other than my last race was around 4:10 and 4:30 sounded like a good number). Now that I am running by HR, I have almost no clue of my pace because I don't  look at it. I really had no idea how I was doing time wise until halfway through the race and did the math in my head. About halfway, the 4:30 pacers and I started trading off back and forth. In my mind it was a little like the balloon ladies at Disney (the ones that scoop up the runners who aren't making the time cut off the course). I knew I wanted to be ahead of them so seeing them wasn't great. They were running by themselves and not actually pacing anyone so I decided that they *must be* ahead of pace and I wasn't going to worry about them. I was with them until mile 19.5 when I somehow managed to shake free of them.

When I got to the zone three segment of my race, it was amazing. I had my doubts that I would feel like kicking it up a notch at that point in the race but decided I was going to run it as prescribed despite my doubts. Once I picked up my HR a little, I really felt pretty good.  The miles ticked by, I felt strong and before I knew it, I was making the final circle to the finish line. There might be something to this HR thing. :)

Ended up with a time of 4:25 and 5th place AG (of course it was a small race but 5 out of 17 - I will take top third of the group!)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Countdown to Chickamauga...

In the spirit of my once a month blogging habit (despite my best intention), here is the current state of affairs.

The Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon is this weekend. #woot  At this specific moment I am feeling unprepared but if I am being honest, it is my normal pre-race ritual to completely forget every long run I have done in preparation and wonder if that one 30 minute run I might have missed a month ago would somehow cause the whole plan to unravel.  LOL.  Seriously though, I can honestly say I have done more running in preparation for this race than I did for my races last year (and possibly any previous marathon). To date, I have logged almost 100 more miles in 2015 than I did in 2014 which is saying a lot considering in 2014 I did the Dopey Challenge, a 70.3 and a full ironman among a bunch of other smaller races as compared to the four 5ks, one 10k and a half marathon I did in 2015. Let's hope all that training adds up to some good racing on Saturday!

Fun fact - this will be my 10th stand alone marathon!

Another fun fact, Rick has been battling the flu since last Wednesday. I have been avoiding him like the plague. I slept downstairs for several nights and basically stopped short of wearing a hazmat suit at home. He is feeling much better - that tamiflu stuff works! I am hoping I avoided getting it, everything I read said it would show up about 4 days after being exposed to it and I think I am past that right now. KNOCK ON WOOD.

 It has been raining here for the past three weeks. I am starting to feel like I might have moved to Seattle and not realized it. I probably wouldn't mind it so much except that three weeks is a bit excessive and we *might* have put off getting a new roof a little too long and every day that it keeps raining makes me nervous for future home repairs. We are on the schedule for a new roof but it keeps getting put off because.... well, rain.  On the bright side, it would seem the sun is coming back this week just in time for race day! Temps are supposed to be a high of 55 and a low of 38 which sounds pretty much perfect to me.

and that is the way it is...  looking forward to a sunny race on Saturday! #letsdothis

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The mental battle of FOMO...

FOMO. The fear of missing out. That fear has been strong this week. Whenever IM Chattanooga opened up for registration, there was a flurry of people who asked me if I was going to do it. I held strong to my thinking and gave it a resounding NO. Another group of friends signed up earlier this week and again, the call was strong. I ran into one of them at the gym and he mentioned I should do it with them. Again, NO. Not because of how it went down last time but really it is such a time commitment and I kind of like the balance I have going on right now.

Not that signing up for another full hasn't been tempting. I have several friends I am tracking at IM LOU right now. The urge to register for IM CHOO today has been hard to resist. Maybe that is why I needed to blog it out...  Right now, the plan is to do a few 70.3 races next year. Which considering I took a sabbatical from anything swim/bike/run this year is quite the jump, I suppose. I am actually looking forward to ramping it up a bit. So for now, I will have to resist the urge to jump back into the 140.6 waters. :)

Since my last update, I did a sprint tri!  It felt pretty great and sort of solidified that I am over the burn out from last year. I could probably write a whole post on the subject but looking back now, I never really gave myself an off season. I trained was either training for a 140.6 or various marathons non stop for the last 5 years. Had I taken some time to crank the training down a notch, I don't think I would have crashed and burned so hard.

I am 5 weeks out from the Battlefield Marathon. Training has been very solid and much different from my usual approach. I have a coach helping me this time. I asked him to help me mostly for the moral support since this is my first race back in a while. It has been a good change for me. In the past, I would have pulled a marathon plan from the internet and made sure I got the key distances in each week and maybe would run 3-4x a week. This time around, there is speed work and HR based runs and pretty much something every day.  I am thinking it will all add up to a good race day.  :)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ramping up the miles...

Last week the long run was 14 miles. In my mind that one didn't seem like such a big deal as I had done a half marathon the week before so just a bit longer. This week was 16 and was the first week on the schedule where I felt like things are really ramping up and maybe a little bit of 'what was I thinking...' crept into my mind too.

I have been doing A LOT more running this time around than I have in previous marathon training plans. Good or bad - who knows, I guess we will see some race day!  The runs I have been doing are also more focused. Hills, tempo, and even working on paces within my long runs to end with a negative split.  I am definitely enjoying the change even though it is a harder training plan.

Nutrition-wise on the run, I have used my Orange Mud HydraQuiver the last two runs and really love it. I have used it in the past when I was trail running but haven't used it for road runs.  Since I tend to run the same route every time, I don't always need to carry water with me as there are fountains. The last two times, I decided to try out some new routes and really loved having the HydraQuiver with me (such a strange name...). The bottle is easy to reach and replace without having to take the pack off and it does not chafe at all.  Love it!

I don't know if you remember but at the end of last year I swore off of triathlon forever  Anyhow. So maybe forever was a little too long. I signed up for a local sprint tri over the weekend. It is on the 27th so basically I am now on a two week training plan for it which in all likelihood will amount to a couple of swims and a couple of bike rides before race day. At least I am ready for the run :)

In other news, I took an advanced motorcycle skills class this weekend. I learned a lot and stepped outside of my comfort zone. I don't know if I will be ready to perform any fancy maneuvers anytime soon but maybe with a little practice.  ha ha.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The week that was...

I admire the people who title their blogs "week xx of xx" and so forth. I have no idea what week this is in my training plan. The reality is, I barely know what day of the week it is half of the time. Retail life does that to you, I suppose. After years and years of working Monday through Friday, switching to a schedule that lacks that structure does a number on you. Don't get me wrong, I love having the random days off when everyone else is working but it really does make you pause from time to time to figure out the day of the week.  (or perhaps that is just old age setting in...).

According the calendar I am 10 weeks out from the Battlefield Marathon. I guess that might make this week 10 with 10 to go. There you have it. I am sure I will forget this in about 5 minutes...  (that old age thing).   :)

I am back in the swing of things this week as far as running goes. The plan for Saturday called for a 60 minute run split between zone 1 and zone 2.  My Dad had mentioned that he and my stepmom were volunteering at a race not too far from me so I made plans to go. In my head, I figured I would get there early, run 30 minutes as a warm up and then do my zone 2 for the race. ...and then I realized there weren't many people in this race. I may or may not have mentioned that I excel in low participation races.  I rarely (never) would get a podium in a large race but this middle of the pack girl has a fighting chance when there aren't many others in my age group. :)   so with that realization, the zone 2 plan went out the window and I "raced" the race.

Having never really paid that much attention to my heart rate zones before it is kind of interesting to see where they fall when you aren't trying to maintain a certain zone. I kept glancing at my watch as the race went on and I was pretty much zone 5 the whole way and it felt like it! I was seriously glad to cross that finish line.  Whew.

I ended up 1st in my AG and 4th overall female. I am pretty sure that is the highest I will ever place overall in a race.  There did end up being 7 people in my AG so I felt pretty good about that when I realized there was more than one person in my AG.  LOL.

In other news, Rick and I went riding on the motorcycles today. My helmet is easily 10 years old so we stopped in for a new one.

I had a long run on the schedule for today and planned to do it after our ride. I actually went out, ready to take it on, got to mile 3 and felt lightheaded and not right (read not fueled up) so called it a day. On the walk back to the car, I realized that Rick and I had only eaten breakfast that morning and no lunch. Considering I started my run at 5:00 PM, we could call that a big ole DUH why did that not occur to me?  Oh well.  Going to tackle the big run again tomorrow!

This weeks eats include some black bean chili. Pretty tasty and super easy. We ate out for lunch more than I would have liked last week ($$$) so going to try and bring our lunches to work this week.  I also made some Granola from Mark Bittman's book, How to Cook Everything (the basics). So good!

Hope you all have a good week!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Swimming and biking and things that happened last week...

After the half marathon last week, this week was mostly recovery of sorts. I have to say the recovery weeks go by way too quickly....  I hit the pool on Monday. I was trying to remember the last time I swam. I think this was only the second time I have put on my goggles since Beach2Battleship last year. I swam in masters groups for years before I ever even considered running or biking (and can distinctly remember being in awe of those ladies who ran and/or biked after our early morning swims).  Given that, it was a little humbling how much my shoulders were burning during my swim Monday. I mean, obviously you are going to lose fitness but there is that part of you that wants to believe you can just jump right back in where you ended. So to speak.

So.  Monday was a shoulder burning session.

The rest of the week was normal recovery type runs, my Alpha group (think crossfit but not "official" crossfit) and drumroll... a return to the bike after 10 months off. Yes, I retired. I suppose I am back which would then make the retirement more of a sabbatical. Right.  Anyhow, it was indoors but a bike is a bike...

 I discovered that because I work in retail I am able to get Hokas at a reduced rate. Ummm, yes please. These Odysseys arrived mid-week. Surprisingly lighter than the model I am currently running in (I don't even know what model that is... probably whatever was on clearance at Running Warehouse). Anyhow. Love the Odysseys. #swoon

Nutrition-wise this week I am at the tail end of the 21 day fix. As crazy as it seems to think you need color coded boxes to show you how to eat right, it has helped me. Could I have looked up the measurements of those boxes online and did it myself? Absolutely. For me, it was exactly what I needed to track what I was taking in and help me get back on track. I have a very odd schedule and those days where I don't plan ahead, any clean eating goes out the window because I will find myself starving and in a drive through window somewhere...  Interesting enough, there have been a few days in my food tracking where I actually did not eat enough food. That honestly shocked me as I would have told you I always ate plenty and then some. So, long story short, the colored boxes, the tracking and the shakeology have all been a big help to me.

Y'all.  I made this last week. So good. I had to thumb past all the delicious looking pumpkin and apple breads in Southern Living magazine and this little jewel jumped out of the pages at me.  Try it!

Hope you all have a good week!  BTW, if you need another instagram account to follow, check me out @karenwhitlo.  :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back in the distance game...

I ran the Hotlanta Half Marathon today.  The first long distance race I have done in 9 months! I did a couple of 5ks and a 10k earlier this year but all that was before March which made this race feel even more like I was starting all over.

Massive medal!

I ran HOTlanta last year. It was hilly as is typical of Atlanta races and was HOT as advertised. I mean, it is August after all...  This year they changed the start location which seemed to be a much better set up for all concerned (last year was a steep uphill finish, this year it was downhill and the vendors had a much better set up).

New start location this year! Much improved.

The plan for the race was to start in zone one, then spend some time in zone two and finish up in zone three. Normally, once a race starts I kind of take off. Not like a sprint but a fast start just to kind of find some free space and get out from the crowd. Since I am going faster than I probably should, I end up passing a lot of people in the beginning. Today was kind of the opposite. I felt like everyone was blasting by me and my zone 1 running right out of the gate. Interestingly enough, if you go slow enough from the start and everyone passes you, you also find some free space from the crowd it is just at the back of the pack. It worked. :)

The run felt really good, once I got into zone 2 I was starting to feel like I was running closer to my normal speed. Dark clouds had been brewing in the area since the start of the race and the bottom finally dropped out somewhere around mile 9 and continued through the finish.  Buckets of rain were coming down and there was lightening in the area. I kept thinking they were going to stop the race. It felt like we were running through a creek in places; the water was deep enough to completely submerge our feet so they were completely soaked.  I don't think I would run in that much of a downpour on purpose but once I got used to it, I kind of enjoyed it. To me, the rain was 1000x better than running in 90+ degree temps that I had been expecting.

My race time was somewhere in the 2:14 range. Not a PR but I am happy with the result. I felt strong at the end so I think focusing on the zones versus pace will work well for me

A little avocado heavy but sometimes you just go with it :)

In nutrition news, I am on day 14 of the 21 day fix. I haven't been doing the Beachbody work outs but have been following the nutrition part of it and I feel like it has really helped me eat healthier.  The funny thing is, I have tried shakeology in the past and really didn't have an opinion on it one way or the other but now it feels like it is something that works for me. I think I mostly like the fact that it gives me a serving of protein and contains all the vitamins I need for the day without having to take a separate multivitamin. (because while I have vitamins at home I might remember to take them once every two weeks which really doesn't do much good...) Anyhow. So I am on board with the shakes. Don't worry, I won't try to sell them to you.  :)

shake, shake, shake...