Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bayshore marathon recap

The Bayshore marathon was my 9th marathon and it still never ceases to amaze me what a beast the marathon is.  But this was my best experience yet and definitely the smartest marathon I've ever raced.  I feel as if things clicked a little more with this race and it made me excited to take what I learned from this training cycle and race and apply it to the future.

The race was a huge success for me and I crossed with an official time of 3:49:13.  I ran this race 2 years ago with a final time of 4:37:42, I finished with a 10 minute PR from Memphis in December, and I accomplished my biggest goal of running a smart race.  This race was about more than my final time or a PR.  In my mind, a marathon doesn't really start until miles 18-20 and, for me, this marathon was about being ready to fight and to stay in the game when things got real.  It was the most consistent race I've ever run and I was mentally stronger and more present than ever before.

The course

I think the Bayshore marathon is one of the best kept secrets out there.  It has so much going for it: it's small, it's flat, it's mostly waterfront, it offers gorgeous views, and there is a high likelihood of ideal running temps on race day.  The lay-out is great too.  The full is an out-and-back route with a few turns in the beginning and end, but mostly a straight stretch on a road that runs along the water and the half marathon starts at the turn-around for the full.  I love this because you will clock a shorter marathon distance on your GPS and come closer to the actual race distance without worrying about tangents.  I also really enjoy seeing the half marathoners coming through and then seeing everyone else in the full.

The elevation map:

And the course map (the red line is the out-and-back-route):

The weather was nearly perfect - it started in the upper 30s and was in the 50s (I think) by the end.  The sun did come out and it warmed up a tad, but not significantly.  You are susceptible to wind and we did get hit with some wind in the second half.  There is also limited access for spectators; however it is easy for them to jump along to multiple places along the course and you'll get big crowds of people at the access points.  The only negative I can think of for the course is the grade in the road.  I learned my lesson the first time I ran this race and consciously ran as close to the center of the road as I could this time and didn't have any problems.  But if you aren't aware of it and run along the sides, you could have some unexpected soreness.  


My in-laws were up in Michigan with us and took the baby monitor the night before the race (meaning we actually got a good night's sleep the night before a race!) and watched the boys that morning.  We woke up at 4:00, had breakfast, got ready, and were out the door at 5:15.  We wanted to give ourselves extra time because we still had to pick up our packets (I tried to pick up our packets the night before, but was unable to get down some stairs that led to the packet pick-up area with the stroller, couldn't find a handicap entrance, and didn't have anyone with me to watch the I drove back home sans race packets...womp womp).  We got to the start area with plenty of time, picked up our packets (so easy, especially considering it was race morning), went to the bathroom, went back to the car to keep warm, got all of our gear and fuel ready, went to the bathroom again, got rid of our throw-away sweats, and hopped in our corral.  Everything was easy peasy.  

The race

My plan was to start with a conservative pace and maintain that for at least the first half, but likely until I hit 20 miles and then inch my pace up if I had it in me.  I clocked miles that were faster than where I wanted to be (my goal was 8:39-8:43) for the first half, but I felt good and I felt like I settled into a comfortable pace.

I loved seeing the half marathoners coming through.  First I saw a local friend of ours, Karen, and then I saw Corey.   Once they passed, there was a little bit of time before the marathoners started coming in and I couldn't wait to see Brian.  Brian was going for a BQ (sub-3:10).  His PR is a 3:15 from this race two years ago and I had a really good feeling that this would be his day.  He gave me an indication that it was dicey and things were going so-so.  I saw Elizabeth a bit later and could tell she was having an awesome day.

Miles 1-13: 8:28, 8:33, 8:38, 8:36, 8:43, 8:39, 8:37, 8:40, 8:37, 8:37, 8:37 8:33, 8:38

The only race photo I could find
Once we hit the turn-around, we got hit with some wind.  I didn't notice the impact at first, but realized I had to pay more attention when I saw my mile split.  I still felt good overall, but definitely wasn't ready to drop my pace yet.

My water bottle was empty and I debated whether to fill it up or just use the aid stations.  Right or wrong, I stopped in mile 19 to refill my bottle and it kind of turned into a 'thing' with the guy (he didn't mind, it just did not go as smoothly and as quickly as I had it going in my head).  The good thing was that I used my bottle for the rest of the race and didn't have to worry about using aid stations.

Things got real around mile 20 and everything was harder.  I felt mentally and physically stronger than I had in any other marathon and was prepared.  I was confident I could hold it together, but didn't think I could drop my pace.  I ended up having to stop for the bathroom in mile 22 and it cost me about a minute....and irritated the bejeezus out of me.

I really started to fade during mile 25 and could feel things slipping away.  I knew Brian was (hopefully) finished and wanted so badly to know how the race went for him.  Our friend Karen (the one who ran the half) is normally somewhere in the last mile cheering for people and I hoped to see her so I could ask how Brian did.  I pulled it together for mile 26 and was able to finish strong while keeping my eyes glued for Karen.  I saw her somewhere in the final stretch and she jumped in to run me in.  It was awesome and she gave me the push I needed to really pick it up.  She had also run Brian in for the final few miles and I found out then that he didn't qualify and that he finished in 3:26.  I knew he would be devastated and I wanted to finish more than anything just so I could see him.   I saw the clock was 3:49:XX and knew I would get in under 3:50.  I had a mix of emotions - I was so happy with my race and time, but so surprised by how Brian's race went and was worried about him.  I felt like I had already processed my race and knew I hit my main goals and I was just focused on finding Brian to check in on him.

Miles 14-26.2:  8:50, 8:39, 8:41, 8:36, 8:45,  9:17 (stopped to refill my water bottle), 8:39, 8:45, 9:44 (bathroom stop), 8:47, 8:46, 9:05, 8:38, 2:09 (7:36 pace)


Race stats:

Garmin stats:


I saw Brian as soon as I finished, he was just on the other side of the gates.  My heart broke for him.  This was supposed to be his race.  He trained so hard and did so during a time that was personally difficult for him because of his work schedule and family demands.  All of his training data indicated he was ready for a sub 3:10 and I really didn't have a doubt in my mind that he would get it.  He was on pace for most of the race, but the wind got the best of him in the second half and then he had some form of leg cramp or his hamstring gave out and he went down (literally) at the very end.  He recovered and finished strong, but it wasn't the race he wanted.  I was so proud of his fight and, as always, his resiliency, perseverance, and determination are so impressive.

We got ice cream from a local shop (chocolate peanut butter for the win!) that had a stand in the post-race area.  I saw Elizabeth walking by and got to chat with her - she had an awesome day.   After that, it was time to go get back home.

We got back home right before the boys went down for their nap, which was perfect timing - we got to see their smiling faces, got tackled with hugs, played with them for a minute, and then got to rest and recover while they napped.  Brian and I dropped a not-so-subtle hint about how amazing sandwiches from our favorite local place would be (they have pretzel bread, people) and my in-laws promptly picked up on the hint and were out the door to get them.  We got showered, ate an awesome lunch, and then Brian's parents offered to get the boys up from their nap and let us take a nap of our own.  Uh...yes please!

We ordered pizza for dinner and then got a second wind to meet up with our friend Karen who ran the half (the one who ran both of us in), she was at a bar down the street.   My in-laws took the cake when they offered to keep the baby monitor again that night and let us sleep in on Sunday morning.  It's literally been about a year since we slept later than 7:00am.  No lie.  They did return the baby monitor to us on Sunday :)

What I did differently

My watch settings
I have always kept my watch displays and settings the same for races as I do for training.  That meant I could view my distance, average pace, lap pace, and time and that I would get mile alerts.  However this always played with me in the later miles of a full when my lack of ability to run tangents would highlight itself and I would get mile alerts well before the mile markers along the course.

For this race I switched my primary screen to average pace, lap pace, and timer (instead of distance) and I turned off all alerts (tones and vibrations).  I had my distance on my second screen if I wanted to scroll to it (which I did a few times).  It is hard to over-state how well this worked for me.  It allowed me to focus more on my pace and how I felt without being so cognizant of what the distance was.

I had a bagel with butter and half a cup of coffee about 3 hours before the start.  Then I sipped water until about an hour before the start and had a chocolate Honey Stinger waffle 30 minutes before the start.  During the race I started with two Honey Stinger chews at 2.5 miles, had a PowerGel at 5 miles, 2 chews at 7.5 miles, a gel at 10 miles, and continued with that pattern.  I also carried my handheld, refilled it during the race (still not sure that was a good decision), and finished with my handheld (first time ever not ditching my handheld mid-race....cha-ching, I saved $20!).

I feel as if fueling is an ever-evolving topic for most runners and I changed a lot during this training cycle.  I am getting close, but have yet to really nail my fueling strategy.  Towards the end of this training cycle, I started experimenting with alternating chews and gels.  I feel as if gels are a good fuel source for me, but taking too many gels results in bathroom stops.   I didn't have too much time to play around with this and mainly wanted to ensure that chews wouldn't result in something worse.  Obviously it still needs to be perfected since I had to stop for the bathroom, but I feel as if I am getting closer.

I also experimented with different types of gels.  I have always used Gu and never really had a problem with it....unless Gu was my problem?  In this cycle, I experimented with Huma gels and PowerGels.  Regarding chews, I tried Honey Stinger chews and Clif Shot Blocks.  After trying everything, I found I like PowerGels, Gu, and Honey Stinger chews the best.

Do you set your watch differently when you are racing and training?  What are your watch go-to settings?

What are your fueling strategy go-tos and what are you still playing with?   Do you race with your own bottle and fill it up or do you take what is available on the course?

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Goals for Bayshore

It's race week!  I'm really excited and can't wait for Saturday.   This training cycle has been the best I have ever had.  I have felt better and stronger than at any other time while simultaneously having a more challenging training cycle than ever before.  At this point, I am just ready to run already!

We got up to Michigan late Monday night after lots of packing and last minute things around the house.  Packing for three months and getting through the travel with two little ones felt like a marathon all on its own :)

So what are my goals?

I would love to say I hope to get a BQ and there were times when I thought I might go after it, but I have ultimately decided this isn't the race for that.   It's possible that there could be a slim chance I could get a 3:3x if all the stars were aligned and I had my best running day ever.  But in my heart, I don't think I'm there (yet) and I don't want to be so focused on what may be an unrealistic goal that I miss the excitement of a strong race and a PR.

I have started every marathon too fast and have always fall apart a bit around mile 18.  My biggest goal for Saturday is to run a strong race where I start conservatively and pick up my pace during the last half.  I think learning how to race a marathon wisely will be a big step in helping me get that BQ in a future race and I would rather save the real BQ attempt for when I know I'm ready and when I'm confident I can do it.

So what does all of this mean?  My 'A' goal is something in the 3:42-3:45, my 'B' goal would be to cross in 3:45-3:48 range (the pace range where I will start), and my 'C' goal would be to PR (sub 3:59).

You can track me here (bib #768) or follow me on Instagram to see how it goes!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bayshore marathon: week 15

I could definitely feel the effects of the taper period this week - my legs felt light and it was a huge contrast to running so much on tired legs during the training cycle!

Monday:  rest day

We were heading out for a short stay at a lake-front resort a couple of hours away and it was a good day for a rest day because getting packed up and out of the house with the boys is not a small task.

We got some pool time before dinner and it made all the packing and hustle of the morning worth it :)

Tuesday: 9 total: w/u, 9 x 800, c/d

The plan for this workout was to negative split my 800s to work on controlling the pace and not starting too fast - the 1st 3 @ 3:45, the 2nd 3 @3:40, and the last 3 @ 3:35.  I was excited for this workout.  I felt confident about the paces, I went to bed early, I slept well, and the temperatures had dropped so it was really cool.  I was excited about this workout and was looking forward to it.  They started okay, but I got really frustrated during the fourth and fifth one when I couldn't get my time down and felt like the workout was really slipping away from me:  3:49, 3:40, 3:46, 3:48, 3:56.  After I saw the 3:56, I thought about just calling it off and not finishing, but decided to just run, dial in my focus, and not pay attention to my watch.  Something about that clicked because the next four went a lot better: 3:26, 3:25, 3:25, 3:26.

We spent the rest of the day in the water with the boys and they had a blast!

Wednesday:  rest day

This rest day was going to be later in the week, but it was easier to use today as a rest day because of the travel.

Thursday: 6 total: 2 easy, 8 x 1 min hard & 1 in easy, 2 easy

Brian and I got up early and he did his run on the treadmill at home and I went out early so I could be back by the time the boys woke up.  I felt light on my feet, enjoyed the pick-ups, and the run was over before I knew it!

Friday: 4 easy @ 8:56 avg pace

I got this one done before the boys woke up again.  The combination of Brian not having 6:00am hockey practice and it getting light so early has made it so much easier to run outside and be done before the boys wake up.   I felt light on my feet again and had to hold back to keep it easy and not go further.

Saturday: 5 total: 2 easy, 6 x strides, 2 easy

My plan was to do this run before the boys woke up while Brian did weights in the gym....but the boys woke up an hour early, just as I was about to leave.  So Brian got his lift and I got the boys up and then we traded places when he was done.

The rest of the day was spent packing.  We get to split our summers between Michigan and the Jersey shore and this was our last weekend in town.

Sunday: 10 w/ the last two @ 8:20-8:30.

Brian and I both had a lot to do in order to get packed up and get some things done around the house before we left, so I got a sitter to watch the boys.  My sitters are college students, so I can't always get them to come over as early as I would want to run :)  By the time I started this one, the sun was out and it was humid.  I ran a route with lots of rolling hills for the added challenge.  I hit the last two miles at 8:22 and 8:19 and the weather and course were both more challenging than the race will be.

Total mileage = 34

Do you have any regular summer get-aways?

Do you like the taper period or do you get restless?

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