Winter Classic 5k Recap–new PR (so close!)

I’m back again with one last race recap of 2017 (I promise!) and I have to admit, I did not want to run this one. I definitely overbooked myself this fall on the racing front and was just feeling very blah overall this week–a little bit frustrated professionally, and annoyed I had missed a few runs/workouts due to poor planning. I was excited for a morning with the Oiselle gals but just not geared up for the 5k.

Putting my best foot forward, I started race morning with a light breakfast and then an easy warmup jog, during which I learned my speedy friend Cait and I were feeling equally ambivalent about the race. However, it was a clear and cold morning–similar to last year, which was a great race for me. As Cait and I shed our layers she asked me what I was thinking for pace, and I mentioned maybe trying to run a tempo a bit faster than my half marathon pace (7 min/mile-ish). She asked what I thought about 6:40s, and of course (as I am very susceptible to running peer pressure) I told her I’d give it a whirl.

We started up near-ish to the front of the corrals and took the announcer’s advice to “go go go!” The first mile started a little bit slow as we worked our way around some slower runners to settle into the pack. We hit the first full mile split at 6:34–right on track. I barely looked at my watch during this race, keeping the effort hard but steady and pacing along with Cait. The second mile started to feel pretty tough–there’s a slight but steady uphill at this point, and my nose was pretty stuffed up from the cold. I got a little lift from seeing a friend in the pack and getting some cheers from the girls spectating. Cait and I checked in with each other to make sure the pace was ok, and then pushed through the second mile at a 6:29. I knew at this point I was going to hang on as best I could, gutting it out to the finish. We could tell there weren’t many women ahead of us so we picked off a few in the last quarter mile or so, hitting mile 3 at a 6:22 pace and then sprinting it in at  5:20 pace for the .1.

I wasn’t quite sure where we had ended up, but was THRILLED when both of our watches both said 19:59!! It turns out my official time was 20:01, which is a little bit frustrating, but either way it’s a huge 33 second PR for me–and close enough to a sub-20. Running a 19:XX 5k has been a dream goal of mine for a long time, and considering I wasn’t even going to run hard I’m super proud of my time. I came in as 13th female (out of 934), 75th overall (out of 1766), and 3rd in my age group. Big, huge THANK YOU to Cait for pacing me to a time I didn’t think was possible!! Chase your fast friends, guys–it’s the best way to get faster yourself.

We ended the morning with a quick stop by the post-race party (it was COLD) and then a fun coffee meetup with the team. Big props to the Cambridge Classic folks for a well-organized race, as always! I like that this one brings out both the folks who want to run/race hard and the folks who want to wear funny costumes and party afterwards. And everyone in between 🙂

Back soon with a recap of the first official week of Boston training! I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things.

Seacoast Half Marathon Race Recap (new PR!)

 

Happy Monday, friends! Greetings from the happy end of another training cycle. This past weekend J and I ran the Seacoast Half Marathon in Portsmouth, NH–my 13th and his 1st. This race ticked all the boxes of a goal race for me. It’s on the smaller side, it’s reasonably priced, the scenery is gorgeous, and it’s somewhere new but still within a couple hours of home. We decided to “splurge” and spend credit card points on a hotel the night before–Portsmouth is just over an hour from home, but staying up there made for a much more relaxed race morning. An added bonus was that we got to have dinner with some good friends who live in the area on Saturday night. We ended up at Street, which was awesome. I had my traditional pre-race burger and a side of yucca fries, which were AMAZING. I definitely want to go back to Street some time to try out their cocktails and some of the more interesting dishes 😉

Saturday night I had a fair amount of trouble falling asleep, which is typical for me before races. Luckily I had gotten a great night of sleep on Friday night, so I knew I’d be fine for the race. Saturday morning we had breakfast and coffee in our hotel room before heading just a few miles down the road to Portsmouth High School, where the race starts. We easily parked right by the school and grabbed our race bibs and shirts fairly quickly. There wasn’t a secure bag check for this race, but we were able to leave our coats in the school’s cafeteria and just left our valuables in the car. It was chilly, with temps around 30 degrees at the start of the race, so I opted for tights, a warm base layer, gloves, and a buff. I probably slightly overdressed but I hate being cold at the beginning of races! I ended up taking off my gloves and buff by mile 3 😉

After a couple of rounds waiting in the porto potty lines and a very quick warmup jog, we headed up towards the race start. I wished J good luck and scooted up to the 7:30 pacer. Thanks to my race plan from Coach Laura, I knew race starts downhill and I wanted to make a very concerted effort to hold the pace back. The first two miles were light and easy.

  • Mile 1: 7:20
  • Mile 2: 7:24

By mile 3, I felt good and wanted to pick it up to closer to my goal pace (around 7:10-7:15). My goal was to feel comfortable and steady for the middle miles of the race, while actively conserving energy to be able to pick up the pace near the end.

  • Mile 3: 7:06
  • Mile 4: 7:08
  • Mile 5: 7:18
  • Mile 6: 7:08
  • Mile 7: 7:04
  • Mile 8: 6:56
  • Mile 9: 7:11
  • Mile 10: 7:10

I had accidentally set my watch with the automatic mile split setting off, so I could only see my overall average pace for the race. This turned out to be super helpful–my focus was just on pushing hard enough to inch my average pace slowly down instead of re-calibrating my effort every mile. I had tucked into a fairly steady group and I decided to stick with them through mile 10. The scenery during this section was gorgeous–lots of quaint old houses and sweeping views of the coastline. I made sure to grab a cup at each water stop and slowly sipped a Gu starting around mile 7.5. At mile 10, I could tell I still had some juice left in my legs, so I started picking folks off as I nudged the pace up.

  • Mile 11: 7:00
  • Mile 12: 6:51
  • Mile 13: 6:55
  • .2: 6:15

At mile 13 I was feeling strong, having picked off a couple of other female runners–at that point I knew there weren’t many more ahead of me. I hit the steepest hill of the race at this point, but I gritted my teeth and pushed my way up, knowing the finish line was around the corner. I totally channeled my inner Shalene Flanagan and let loose a “F*$& yeah!” as I crossed the finish line with the pace clock still at 1:34:XX. My official finish time was 1:34:19, which was good for 11th female finisher, 4th in my age group, and 52nd overall. My goals for the race were:

  • A Goal: Sub-1:35
  • B Goal: PR (Sub-1:36:55)
  • C Goal: Sub 1:40

So, I was pretty happy with where I ended up. Jeremy ran an incredible first sub 2 hour half, and is already talking about signing up for his next one. I’ve created a monster!! It was really fun to get to watch him finish for once.

After taking the requisite photos we grabbed some post-race snacks (there was everything from pizza to a Mexican rice dish to squash soup and apple cider!) and then went back to our hotel for a hot tub dip and shower before tucking in at one of our favorite brunch spots, The Friendly Toast. Pro tip–they have an app you can use to skip the wait–our table was ready less than 10 minutes after we arrived! SO necessary.

Overall, this was a fantastic race for me–I felt well-trained, I raced hard and smart, and the course and weather were perfect. I also LOVE the half distance–it’s absolutely where I excel and I think where I still have the most room to grow (looking you, NYC marathon qualifying times!) I have a lot more to say about this training cycle but I’m incredibly happy to have PRed the 5k, 10k, and half this fall! I owe a big debt of gratitude to Coach Laura, who wrote the custom training plan that got me to my goals. More to come on what went well and what’s next–for now, I’m ready for a few sweet weeks of easy running and lots of yoga before Boston training kicks into gear.

Why I hired a running coach (and you should too)

I’m probably not your typical candidate for needing a coach. I brought my half marathon time from 2:13 in 2012 down to 1:36 in 2016 all by myself. I cut 29 minutes off between my first and second marathons sans assistance. I really enjoy reading about training strategies, researching training plans, and listening to running podcasts. I’m fairly type-A and I thrive off of being busy–accountability is not a problem for me. That all said, after coming frustratingly close to a BQ in Chicago, I knew a few things had to change. I could pinpoint specific components of training that could have gone better, but I had an inkling that an outside perspective would be the thing that pushed it over the edge for me.

I honestly didn’t do a ton of research into different coaches. Coach Laura had been on my radar for a long time because of her fantastic blog. I really liked that she and I are similar runners–a lot of coaches are super speedsters and probably can’t even remember a time when they were gunning for a 3:30 marathon. I also knew, as a blog reader, that she was thoughtful, methodical, and eager to learn new things–all important aspects of coaching.

I actually entered a giveaway for a free month of coaching from Laura and when I didn’t win, she reached out anyway and offered a free two week trial of her services. From then on, I was 100% in. After starting with an in-depth evaluation of my background and goals, Laura and I got on the phone to hash out a plan of how to get me to my BQ. In case you’re curious, here’s what came with my one-on-one coaching package:

  1. Detailed daily workouts with specific goal paces based on both time and effort delivered daily to your inbox and via the Final Surge app (see a sample to the right)
  2. Built-in plans for fueling, nutrition, recovery, and dynamic warm-ups
  3. Individualized feedback on every workout (sent on a weekly basis)
  4. Bi-weekly 30 minute phone calls
  5. Unlimited online communication via Slack
  6. Specific strength training routines utilizing whatever equipment you have available (I ended up buying a set of resistance bands but otherwise everything was at-home and equipment-free)
  7. Incredible flexibility in terms of switching long-run days, tailoring the plan due to travel or work commitments, or change-ups due to weather

I’m planning to put together a full post on the specific training tweaks that I think made the difference for me, but for now I’ll just say that I had the race of my life and blew my goals out of the water, thanks in no small part to Laura’s guidance and support.

Also! Just so it’s out in the open, coaching isn’t cheap. I saw this as a major investment in my running goals–for me, it was worth it to pay for coaching instead of a gym or yoga studio membership. Coach Laura is more affordable than many other coaches out there, luckily, but this isn’t a financial decision to be taken lightly. Think and do your background research before you sign on the dotted line. Full disclosure: if you end up signing up for Coach Laura’s services and tell her I referred you, you get my undying love + you earn me a discount on future services I get from her as well. It’s a win-win 😀

Please feel free to comment below or reach out directly if you have ANY questions about coaching! This was a big decision for me and I’m more than happy to do what I can to help.

Linking up with Amanda for Thinking out Loud Thursday!