ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2016-10-28 04:14 pm

The Other Half 2016

Me cresting a hill in The Other HalfThe last time I ran The Other Half I was light, strong, had just turned fifty; and not only did I set a PR, I was the first female Masters (40+) finisher. That was three years ago, and a lot has happened since then. After herniating a disc in late 2014, I had to stop running for a while, and though I've been clawing my way back to fitness I'm a lot slower and running much lower volume than I was then. Also - and I'm beginning to think this is more of a factor than I originally expected - I've hit menopause head-on, though it's not strictly official yet (the medical definition is one year without periods; I'm now at six months). By contrast, in 2013 I still had a more or less monthly cycle, though not long after I started getting hot flashes and ever more widely-spaced periods.

In my previous post I said "While I'd like to run under 1:40 again...I'm okay with not hitting that goal, which is arbitrary anyway. I mostly want to improve on my last half time of 1:43:46, and if possible, beat the time of 1:41:44 which I ran my first time on this course." Well, I managed those last goals by the skin of my teeth!

I drove out to Moab on Saturday afternoon, stopping in Cortez (about an hour from here) to ride a quick loop at Phil's World on my mountain bike. I met my friends Kevin and Nora for dinner at Miguel's, which is a venerable pre-Moab-race tradition, and then went back to my motel to lay out my clothes, take a soak in the hot tub, and then get to bed early to rest up before my 5:50am alarm. It was a great plan, but alas my sleep has been terrible lately (another consequence of menopause) and I did not get nearly as much sleep as I really would have liked.

I walked the few blocks to the Moab Valley Inn to catch the 6:30 shuttle to the start. A tall young man with a shaved head slid in next to me, and as the bus turned up the canyon and the predawn darkness began to lighten, he commented on how beautiful it was, with a distinctly non-US accent. His name was Kees ("Case"), and he was from the Netherlands. He had just finished the first week of a three-week vacation around the US southwest with his wife, at the end of which he would run the New York City Marathon. "My wife saw there was this race while we were here, so I signed up for it," he told me. We ended up chatting the rest of the way up the canyon, and also hanging out together in the starting area. He would be taking it relatively easy since he'd be running the NYCM, though as a much faster runner his "relatively easy" was still faster than my "all-out"!

At the start, I drank some coffee and attempted to eat the Clif bar that had been in my packet. (Usually I have something with me for breakfast but I didn't manage to get anything this year!) Unfortunately, it tasted terrible to me - it was the new "nut butter filled" and I am not a fan, as it turns out. So I only ate a few bites and then threw it out, but I wasn't really that hungry, and there would be Clif shots at mile 6.

I started just in front of the 1:40 pacer, which was more an accident than anything else. I have noticed that the pace team the Moab races use seem to be fairly bad more often than not - once I was on pace for 1:35 when the 1:40 pacer passed me - so I wasn't planning on running with him. But as it happened I ran pretty much alongside him (either in front of - I could hear him talking - or next to him) until just after the big hill at mile 8, at which point he seemingly accelerated away from me.

What really happened, of course, is that I slowed way down. It wasn't a horrible fade or anything, just that the hills took it out of me, which has certainly happened before. Also, it was a very hot day, or at least, hot for me. I overheat very easily, which is why I'd made the last-minute decision to wear only a sportsbra and shorts. I drank at every aid station, but I still felt as though I wasn't getting enough fluids. I took a Clif shot as planned from the people handing them out at mile 6, but I only managed a little squeeze of it because I was just too thirsty. In retrospect I should have stopped taking water and gone for the sports drink instead.

toh16d

Here are the splits. I set my Garmin to manual split, as I almost always do in races, but for some reason my watch was misbehaving and frequently when I poked the button as I passed the mile marker, nothing happened, and I had to re-poke it a few times before it actually registered. I also missed the mile 7 marker somehow. So instead of reporting the actual splits I'm reporting the pace per split, which might be .99 miles or might be 1.01 (or 2.01).

mile  pace  Average HR      Max HR    Elev chg
 1   07:37.36	139 (68%)	151 (78%)	65
 2   07:28.61	151 (78%)	155 (81%)	-52
 3   07:27.11	152 (78%)	155 (81%)	57
 4   07:34.76	154 (80%)	157 (83%)	-54
 5   07:33.63	154 (80%)	156 (82%)	-4
 6   07:41.24	156 (82%)	159 (84%)	-20
7-8  08:20.85	156 (82%)	165 (89%)	210
 9   07:27.91	157 (83%)	165 (89%)	-107
10   07:57.92	157 (83%)	165 (89%)	5
11   07:34.99	157 (83%)	160 (85%)	-60
12   08:01.73	156 (82%)	160 (86%)	-9
13   07:18.58	158 (84%)	162 (87%)	-82
13.1 06:56.10	161 (86%)	162 (87%)	-1

A couple of things. First, the elevation change is just the difference between the start and finish, and can mask a lot of up-and-down in between. (Here is a map and elevation chart.) Second, the HR is given in both beats per minute (bpm) and % of HR reserve, which is the difference between resting and max HR. However, I'm pretty sure that what I'm using for my max is wrong and should be lower. This is supported by my max readings being only 165, when in previous Moab half marathons they have been in the lower 170s, and my average reading has been in the lower 160s. Finally, as usual my Garmin read more than 13.1 at the end, though with a Garmin distance of only 13.17 this was one of my shorter half marathons - I guess I'm getting better at running tangents!

toh16f

My final chip time was 1:41:32, just 12 seconds faster than my first time on this course and my nominal goal. This was good enough for first in my age group (50-54F) out of 42 as well as placing me 16th woman (out of 526) and 57th person (out of 845). Though also, I came in 6 seconds behind the 55-59 winner - and both of us beat all the 40-44 and 45-59 women except for two, one of who came in second overall, the other who came in first Master's female (with a slower time than my win 3 years ago la la la!)

I ran in the Saucony Fastwitch, a shoe I bought at a fairly large discount not too long ago. Good thing it was cheap:

shoesole

I have a terrible footstrike with my left foot. :-(
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
2016-03-15 02:32 pm

best slowest race: Canyonlands 2016

The Canyonlands race in Moab, UT in March is one of my favorites, a beautiful course along the Colorado River, and I've done it every year since 2010. After running the 5-mile course last year due to injury, I was happy to get back to the half marathon at Canyonlands this year, even though I hadn't trained nearly as much as I would have liked. I paced well and felt good despite the windy, warm weather (not as windy as 2011 or 2012, though), and though this was one of my slower races, it is my "best slowest race" compared to others run on similarly low mileage and little specific training. I hope this means that if I can get back to the kind of miles and workouts I ran in 2012 and 2013, I will be able to get back to similar race times.

Training )

Weather )

The race )

Final stats

My chip time was 1:43:46 (one second less than on my watch which I must have started a little early) for the 13.18 miles I ran by my Garmin. Which means my work on running the tangents paid off, as usually this race comes in at 13.2-13.3. I was 2nd of 85 in AG 50-54F, just 15 seconds behind the winner - darn! - and actually, I also came in faster than every woman in 45-49 and all but one in 40-44, who won the Masters award - with a time over a minute slower than my best time on the course, which got me only a 3rd in AG in 2010! (I also beat all the girls under 20, but that's not as significant.) I was the 48th fastest woman out of 1083, and the 165th fastest person out of 1801. Despite all this, this was my second slowest time of five doing this race; but despite that, I feel good about it.

I do have to admit, though, that the placement is only so good because there were not many fast women running - or many at all. The race has shrunk over the six years I've been running it; in 2010 there was a lottery to get in, and over 3200 runners, but for the last several years all entrants have been welcomed and this year there were only 1800 runners. (According to a friend, the drop, which seems to have been most acute between 2014 and 2015, is because Moab hotels have become too expensive.) It's okay - I don't mind being a medium-big fish in a medium-small pond! Or a medium-fast fish, anyway...hoping to get faster!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2016-02-23 06:35 pm
Entry tags:

managing expectations

I've become wary about registering for races very far in advance, if I don't have to; usually entries are nonrefundable and nontransferable, and in the past five years I've DNS'ed enough races that I could fly to the east coast and back on those lost entry fees. Even though my back is apparently healed (according to the MRI) I still have a sore knot in my glute that makes my hamstring ache, so I was dithering about this spring's Canyonlands Half Marathon, which is on March 12th this year.

Last year I ran the 5-miler instead, as I was still pretty injured, and not running enough weekly volume (or long enough runs) to be able to run the half. Even though I not only won my age group but came in as first masters (over 40) woman, I felt that if I couldn't run the half, I didn't want to go at all. My placement had been due less to my nominal speed than to the fact that other than the top overall racers, it's not a very competitive race. And I just haven't been doing much fast running - I would probably be running only a very slightly faster pace for 5 as for 13.1!

But the Canyonlands race organization kept sending me email, and my running has been solid - 35-40mpw except for the multiple weeks I was traveling and/or sick and didn't run more than 6 miles, which bring down my average, unfortunately, to 32mpw. Finally they lured me with a $15 discount, so I registered both myself and Britt - Britt for the 5M, which he's done for the past several years, and me for the half. I figured, if I can't run the half, I can drop down to the 5M, and we will bring our mountain bikes and have a nice weekend in Moab regardless. (We've got a couple of major mountain bike rides planned in May and June, so need to get in shape for those!)

I have a checkered history with this race, which I've run five times. The first time I ran it, in 2010, I ran 1:37, a PR which stood for years, until I broke it at the Other Half in fall 2013. In 2012, after running a then-PR of 3:29 at the Houston Marathon in January, I couldn't overcome a cold, a calf strain, and a windy, hot day, and ran 1:45:50, my personal worst half ever since I started seriously racing in late 2009. (Race report is here.) Other years have ranged between 1:38:28 and 1:40:25. Obviously, I'm not going to come anywhere close to my usual mark here. But I'm hoping to beat that worst time.

I'd also like to beat my 1:44:33 at the Thirsty Thirteen in August. I was, I think, much less prepared for that race, and I'd been actually expecting to only run about a 1:49, but it's a very downhill course. On the other hand, it's also at or above my home elevation, and Canyonlands is about 2500 ft. below Durango.

In preparation, I've been increasing my long run (up to about 10.5 miles now - I hope to get it to 13 in two weeks) and have just added in HMP-paced tempo runs. My first tempo wasn't so great, as it's hard to get the body adjusted to the idea of running fast when all it's done is slow, but the second, yesterday, was much better: 6.3 miles with some strides and then two miles at my HM heartrate, "comfortably hard". The two tempo miles averaged 7:46, which is better than I was hoping for. But while when I'm running 50mpw, I can take my 6-mile tempo pace and aim at that for a half, with less mileage and topping off at only a 3-mile tempo next week, I can't make those assumptions. I hope I can hold faster than 8 minute pace, which would be a 1:45. By how much, I don't know. We shall see in a bit less than three weeks!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2015-08-31 08:16 pm

Thirsty Thirteen

I haven't posted much about running over the summer, partly because I haven't been running a whole lot. I spent early summer slowly building up my miles (which were also slow! :-) to about 40mpw - then we left on our roadtrip vacation, and I only ran three times in four weeks. The week we got back I managed 32 miles, last week about the same. Oh, and on Saturday I ran a half marathon. *whistle*

Back in April I mentioned that I was thinking of registering for the Thirsty Thirteen, a local half in its second year (I worked an aid station last year). After an email from the club warning it was likely to sell out (it's limited to 500 racers) I went ahead and registered. It's a point-to-point massively downhill race (though with a few significant uphills), it is on scenic country roads with views to a reservoir, and it ends at SKA Brewing with a free beer - and a ticket for the San Juan Brewfest in the afternoon. What's not to like?

Other than the fact that I was massively unprepared, of course. Granted, massively unprepared means different things for me than it does for most people, or even compared to how I used to approach racing when I started, over ten years ago. I probably ran 2-3 times a week, 15mpw for my first half marathon. My second, I only started running again after a long layoff, and I ran maybe twice a week. (That time remains my Personal Worst.) Once I started getting serious about running, proper preparation for a half became 35mpw...then 40mpw...then 45mpw, at a minimum.

So clearly my 20mpw over the past several months wasn't going to cut it. Also, my last run over 10 miles was six weeks ago. On the other hand, we did a lot of hiking on our Canadian roadtrip, including two hikes of half-marathon distance or longer. My last long run might have been only 9.5 miles, but it was a trail run that took me over two hours, longer than I expected to run in the race. I did a test tempo run with a three-mile section at 8:20, and my heart rate was about where it should be for a half, and the effort felt right, too. Of course, I didn't know how much advantage I could reap from the enormous downhills, nor if I had enough endurance for the distance, but I figured I could reasonably aim under 1:50, which would be an 8:23 pace. Considerably slower than my 1:36 PR, but I was okay with that.

Race report )

Stats and splits )

So, what's next, you ask? Well, as it happens, some friends of mine - some I've met in person, some I only know online - have put together a team for Reach the Beach, a ~200 mile relay from Bretton Woods to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire in mid-September, part of the Ragnar series of relay races. And one of the women had to drop out, so...they invited me. I warned them that I wasn't in my usual shape, but they swore it would be okay, that I wouldn't even be the slowest person on the team.

I was still hesitant, since a) it's on September 18-19, which includes my birthday, and b) Britt isn't generally keen on me larking off to run races without him. But just as I was dithering, he got a phone call inviting him to give a talk at a conference in Grand Junction that weekend. So - I'm going to be on a relay team, woohoo!
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
2014-10-16 02:53 pm

Two halves make a whole (lotta fun): Durango Double race report

This year's Durango Double was vastly changed from the races I ran in 2012 (Saturday trail 25K, Sunday road half marathon), with a new race director (Brendan Trimboli, a local ultratalented ultrarunner), a new distance for the trail race (13.1 rather than 25K), and only a single distance option for each day. The courses, too, had been changed - for the better, in my opinion, as the trail race made a big loop over two ridges with instead of being a lollipop, and the road race finished generally downhill rather than uphill.

I knew I was not quite in the shape I'd been in two years ago, but hoped to have a good showing. I was also excited about two friends from the Midwest who I only knew via the Runner's World Online forums (and Facebook) coming to run the races with me. I'd posted a photo of one of our hikes on Facebook, and Katie, who runs a lot of ultras, commented that she needed to come out and visit Colorado sometime. The conversation then went something like this:

Ilana: Come out and visit me, yes! We can go running!
Katie: I don't know - I'm traveling to a lot of races this fall...
Ilana: The Durango Double is a trail half marathon on October 11th and a road half marathon on October 12th.
[two minutes pass]
Katie: Okay, I've registered.

She and her boyfriend Thom flew out on Thursday, bringing the rain with them. In fact it rained a lot on Friday, too, leaving me a bit worried about Saturday's trail race. The race director had already announced that due to severe erosion on part of the course caused by the flooding we'd had in late September, the trail course would be reversed (which turned out to be a good decision), but I was concerned about mud. (As readers of this journal know, I HATE MUD.)

Fortunately, things dried out overnight and in the morning - the race started at the relatively late hour of 9am - and when the metaphorical gun went off and we hit the trail, there were only a few damp patches. We cruised up the fairly flat trail along the river, cut across the road, and went up Horse Gulch, which had been rearranged by the recent flooding into a rocky mess. Still, going uphill was slow and therefore not too difficult.


Picture from Trails 2000's photo set just after the flood.


Racers near the top of Horse Gulch

I typically get into these trails from a different access point and so don't usually go up or down the Horse Gulch road, but once we turned up onto the Rocky Road trail, we were on familiar territory - but steep territory. The climb from the bottom of Horse Gulch to the high point of Raider Ridge is 870 feet in 2.6 miles, and I was not speedy, averaging 13:35 pace. I got moving a little faster along the top of the ridge, and then bombed down Flame Out back to Horse Gulch.

raiderridge2
View from the top of Raider Ridge, taken with my crappy old cell phone on a training run last summer.

Then it was time to cross onto the Meadow Loop trail, which at this point is uphill but not particularly steep, and take it to the Telegraph Trail which is both uphill and steep. My pace, which had gotten back into 10-minute range, started slowing again. My only consolation was that the trail was in the shade of the hill, and as the day had already warmed significantly this was very welcome. (I was wearing a singlet and shorts, but there were quite a few people in tights and long sleeves. In fact, one woman wore not only tights and long sleeves but a jacket and wool hat, and to my surprise and dismay I could not catch her! I have no idea how she managed to run without spontaneously combusting!)

Telegraph
Why it's called Telegraph Trail.

In the 2012 Double's 25K, when we reached the top of Telegraph we went down the other side, down the Carbon Junction trail. We'd be doing that this year - eventually. But first, we had to climb to Patusky Point. This evil little side-trip is basically straight up a tilted rock slab, then back down; not only is it unrunnable unless you're Dakota Jones (a local elite ultrarunner, who won by an entirely ridiculous fourteen minutes), you pretty much want to be on belay the whole time. I scrambled up, went around the tree that marked the turn-around under the watchful eye of the course marshal, and then ran gingerly down. (Most people around me were walking down, so I made up a few places here, but they all passed me later.)

patusky hikers
The white rock slab to Patusky Point. The red circle shows where two people are going up.

Seriously: 170 feet in 0.15 miles, something like 40% grade. My ascent averaged 30 minute pace, but I descended at a blistering 16:42.

That got me to the 8 mile point of the course. Then it was downhill more or less all the way to the finish, which actually was pretty much 13.1 by my Garmin; I only managed about 10:45-11 minute pace here because of the terrain and my fatigue, and I was passed by a lot of people, only managing to pick off a few. I finished in 2:32:39, second in my age group (50-59) out of nineteen, but 16 minutes behind the winner who is seven years older than me, wow. I was 73/197 out of all runners. My average pace by Garmin was 11:50, nearly two minutes slower than in 2012, though this was a slightly harder course.

The next morning it was time to do it all over again, this time on the roads - or rather, on the paved rec trail along the Animas River. I was definitely hurting, particularly in my left hip (which had been bothering me since early in the week) and in my right hamstring (compensation?), but I remembered from my previous double that I had loosened up over the first few miles, and sure enough, this happened again and my run was mostly pain-free.

(Unlike for the trail course, I don't have any photos from the river path other than a few shots taken during a snowy winter. ETA: I have added one of the official photos from the road race!)

The course started with a short climb out of the parking lot and then a gentle descent down a closed road to a trail cut-off that took us to the river path at mile 2. Then it was generally uphill to just past 7, then generally downhill as we looped back through a neighborhood and rejoined the path.

My first two miles were 8:13 and 8:15 pace, but I must have placed myself poorly at the start because a lot of people passed me during this period. My third mile was my second slowest at 8:28 due to substantial uphill, but I passed a few people here, and kept passing people through the rest of the course. In fact nobody passed me after the second mile, other than one woman who zoomed past me in mile 6, then a few hundred yards later turned and ran back, and I realized she wasn't wearing a bib and thus was not in the race.

In contrast to the sunshine we'd had on Saturday, the sky was cloudy, which was awesome for me. I stayed mostly at around 8:20 pace, entirely limited by my legs; my heart rate was in my marathon zone rather than my half-marathon zone, which supports the theory of running the long run after a harder run the day before, to mimic the end of the marathon. (Also, it makes me wonder whether this run implies I'm in about 3:40 marathon shape...)



I felt pretty good coming down the trail in the last miles. I'd passed a good dozen people, and was feeling comfortable, though tired. When I passed the mile 12 marker, though, I started getting nervous. The first several mile markers had appeared well before I was expecting them, and then the mile 4 marker showed up just as my watch buzzed - perfect. After that, as is typical due to imperfect tangents, the mile markers were just a tiny bit late, but not enough to worry about.

But I know this path well, and so when I passed the mile 12 mark I knew that Animas Surgical Hospital, the start/finish staging area, was less than a mile off. Maybe we'd have to run uphill and around the building, which would not be a fun ending. But as soon as I crossed the bridge over the river, I could see the finish just to the right, and I crossed the line at 1:45:31, with 12.74 miles on my Garmin.

Despite the short course, I was pleased with my performance, as based on my average pace of 8:18 I would have finished a complete half in about 1:48:45. I came in 41st of 194 participants, a much better placement than my 73/197 for the trail race, which just goes to show what a lousy trail runner I am. Again, I came in second in AG (behind the same woman, argh, but at least not by as far as in the trail race!) out of 25 runners.

Instead of medals, finishers were given stainless steel logo cups - and those who did two races got one for each. (And we got to fill them with Ska beer afterward!) "Doublers" also received a cute logo hat:

doubler swag

There were 89 people who did both races, and interestingly more women (52) than men (37). I was 15th among the women doublers as measured by total combined time, and 32nd overall.

Whew! Now it's time to rest up...until this weekend's ultra!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2014-06-08 07:11 pm

ten years on

Ten years ago, I ran the Steamworks Half Marathon - my first race of that distance - in 2:01:30. On Saturday, I ran it for the fifth time, in 1:36:28, which though not a PR is my second fastest half time and my fastest on this course, and won my age group.

The gory details )

Here I am after the race with my friend Kevin, who took 1st in his AG and 3rd OA:
Steamworks Half Marathon 2014

And here we are after getting cleaned up a little, with our well-earned post-race libations:
Steamworks Half Marathon 2014

ETA: Also, you can see me crossing the finish line at 1:21 of this video which is also on the website version of the newspaper article about the race): http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20140607/NEWS01/140609615/Fourteen-years-of-13-miles-

Today I didn't hurt at all (other than some epic sportsbra chafing /o\) and I ran a 4-mile recovery run at around 9:30 pace - I felt fatigued, but not sore. Which suggests to me that maybe I didn't run 'all out', perhaps because of the heat. I think I could have run substantially faster in cooler weather. Time to scope out some winter half marathons!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2014-06-04 04:49 pm

race math

I'm running the Steamworks Half Marathon on Saturday, which was actually the first half marathon I ever ran (back in 2004); since then, I've run it three more times and volunteered at it twice (when I was injured and couldn't run). The course is rolling, generally downhill but with an uphill finish (grr). My best time was 1:38:10, the last time I ran it, which was two years ago.

Key workouts and numbers )

So, that's the plan. My A goal is a PR, or sub-1:35:55. My fallback goal is to beat my 1:38:10 from two years ago. My super-stretch goal is sub-1:35, which would be a 7:15 pace and is probably out of reach on this course at this time.
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
2014-03-18 06:35 pm

Canyonlands 2014

Canyonlands 2014

I hardly need to post a report; basically everything I said in my pre-race assessment came to pass just as I predicted. I came in second in AG to a ridiculously-fast 53-year-old (she ran 1:32), in 1:38:28, my second-best time on this course by only three seconds and my fourth-fastest half marathon overall.

But just in case that's not enough for you, more nattering and a few more photos. )

I think my pre-race assessment was right on: I probably could have knocked off ~30-60 seconds if it hadn't been windy, but I was not in PR shape. My execution was solid, with my heart rate over time pretty much identical to that in my PR race (and oddly, quite a bit under what it was at Canyonlands 2013, and above what it was at The Other Half 2013, both races in which I ran 1:38:3x).

I have to reluctantly admit that miles matter. The difference between 50 and 59mpw doesn't look like much, but 9 mpw over 10 weeks is 90 more miles I ran last fall than this spring. I also think the greater number of trail miles made a difference; maybe because trail running is slow and means even more time on my feet, maybe because of the strength developed from climbing and descending. This cycle I had attempted to make up for slightly lower mileage with more intensity, but it didn't work well for me. I couldn't really handle two quality workouts per week plus a long run, with one or two slow hilly trail runs. Maybe I needed to slow my easy runs down even more, but as it was they tend to be on the slow side for people with my race times.

If I want to break 1:35 in the half, and 3:20 in the marathon, I'm going to have to step up my miles even more. I'm not sure I have room in my life for 70+mpw, though. (I'd enjoy it, I think! But Britt wouldn't.) But neither am I ready to give up on my goals. Well, I've got another half in June, and the Lakefront 10-miler in five weeks.

Speaking of, I haven't raced a 10-miler since I was a whole lot slower, and it was on a course that ran up and over the mesa, super hilly. So this half gives me a pacing gauge; using a pace calculator and making a possible allowance for the elevation in Chicago vs Moab, I figure I should be able to run something between 1:11:30 and 1:13:45, or roughly a pace of 7:10-7:20. Yikes!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2014-03-14 12:48 pm
Entry tags:

signs point to uh-oh

As many of you know, I have a race tomorrow: the Canyonlands Half Marathon, which I'm running for the fifth time. The first time, I PRed with a 1:37:01, a time I not only failed to beat but also failed to come within two minutes of at subsequent half marathons, until just this past October when I ran 1:35:55 at The Other Half. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure I will fall well short of both marks this year.

Comparisons, projections, weather and weight. )

So, adding it all up, I'm thinking that I will try to aim at 1:38-1:40. The trick will be to not burn out going into the wind, as that's what got me before. If I can run in a group so we can draft off each other, it will help. And then if the wind really is a tailwind towards the end, I'll have the energy to take advantage of it.

I had been hoping that I would have a good shot at first place in my AG - I've come in third every year but the dismal 2012 - since most of my rivals have been left behind in 45-49, and there haven't been any stellar showings in the 50-54 lately. Alas, when I checked registration status I saw that the woman who came in first in my AG in 2010 is registered, and she's three years older than me - and she blew away the AG at age 49 with a time fully NINE MINUTES faster than mine. So, maybe second place, if I'm lucky.

Ah, well. Britt's coming out again, to run the 5-mile, and we've got some hikes planned for the rest of the weekend. Also a whole lot of my running-forum and Facebook friends who I see only at races (or have never met in person!) will be there. I predict that whatever happens, lots of margaritas and beers will be consumed, lots of conversation will be conversed, and lots of lovely places will be viewed. No matter how the race goes, the weekend overall will be a win.
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
2013-10-22 09:48 am

50 is the new 40: The Other Half race report

I ran my first half marathon in the spring of 2004 in a time of 2:01:30. In 2008 I began to get serious about running (you know, running more than twice a week!) and ran my first sub-4 marathon; in June 2009, hoping for a 1:50 half marathon, I ran an entirely unexpected 1:44. My PR dropped to 1:42 at The Other Half in October, then, at the Canyonlands Half in March 2010, to an astonishing (I was only aiming for sub-1:40) 1:37:01.

And there it sat. Over the next several years my times at other distances improved, but not at the half. It took me 5 more half marathons to even get under 1:40 again! Finally in 2012 I ran a 1:38:xx half, and then two more. But I was still a good 90 seconds or so above my old PR, which was seeming more and more like a weird fluke I'd never be able to repeat. And I was getting older - I turned 50 in September. Maybe that old PR would just have to stand.

But going into this year's The Other Half, I felt confident that my training was coming together for me. If I was capable of a PR, this would be my chance - despite the relatively challenging course profile:

The Other Half map and elevation

I had a plan for this race. It basically boiled down to: don't fall, don't poop, and don't go out too fast. The big question in my mind, as I drove out to Moab on a cool, sunny Saturday afternoon, was: could I execute this plan?

Getting ready )

Miles 1-4 )

Miles 5-7 )

Miles 8-12 )

Bringing it home )

Numbers, analysis, and pictures of me grinning like a loon. I guess that's a spoiler. :-) )
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2013-10-18 03:13 pm

hello Moab

I'm kind of afraid to write this post, because the last two races I wrote up my goals and plans for turned out much different (and for 'different', read SLOWER) than I'd expected. But I'd never run those races before, and my expectations were a bit different than reality. And I've run The Other Half four times now - my default profile photo is from that race - and I have a pretty good idea of what I'm getting myself into.

So, what am I getting myself into? Analysis, plan, goals, and other nattering, ahoy! )

No matter how the race shakes out, I am looking forward to it. I enjoy the solo drive out to Moab, listening to audiobooks and NPR; I enjoy meeting my running friends from other cities, who I only ever see at races, for Mexican food and margaritas the night before; I enjoy the after-race party, with many pints of Moab Brewery beer. I will enjoy these things even more, of course, if I'm also celebrating a PR and an AG win, so cross your fingers for me!
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
2013-03-19 08:03 pm

Moab multisport!

Ilana running canyonlands half marathon 2013 Friday afternoon Britt and I drove out to Moab with the bikes in the truck; we had a pleasant dinner at Miguel's with our friends Kevin and Nora (as per tradition) and I drank a margarita (also as per tradition), then went back to the motel (the Gonzo Inn, where Karah and I usually stay) and took a soak in the hot tub (you guessed it). It was a lot more fun to have Britt along, which was not not as per tradition, but I hope it becomes one.

In the morning we got up and had coffee and breakfast cookies with Kevin and Nora (yep), then caught our respective buses for our respective starts. I was running the Canyonlands Half for my fourth time, and Britt would be running the five-miler; he's not really into racing, but he runs four miles with me a couple of times a week, so I figured he'd be fine.

It was a relatively warm but cloudy day, with only a light breeze - welcome weather after the ferocious headwinds of 2011 and 2012. After a quick porta-potty stop, I found Karah and the rest of the Grand Junction girls, and we chatted, resting among the red rocks while waiting to be allowed to move up the canyon to the start.

I lined up a bit in front of the 1:40 pacer; based on my last few tempo runs of around 7:32 pace, and my average mileage of around 44mpw, I figured 1:38-ish would be a good goal. Maybe I had a shot at a PR, under 1:37. My plan was to go no faster than 7:20 for the first mile (it's sharply downhill and oh-so-easy to go too fast - last year I ran 7:20 that mile, and the year before, 7:18) and no faster than 7:24 (1:37 pace) for the next three miles, then play by ear.

The race )

And then we went mountain biking. And eating. And biking again. )

Anyway, it was a fabulous weekend, A+ would run (and bike) again!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2012-10-24 04:02 pm

Quick report on The Other Half

TOH silly pic

I'm about to head out of town for our Grand Canyon raft trip and so I don't have much time for a report. In brief: 1:38:37, not a PR but my best time on this course, 2nd AG (16 seconds behind the winner, who I tried in vain to catch up with over the final 4 miles), 9th OA woman. I was running really well and feeling good, covered the first 6 rolling miles at a 7:16 pace; the next two were a bit slower because of the big uphill, but when I topped out at mile 8, the wind hit, and the last 5.2 miles were into a ferocious headwind that slowed me down and sapped my will to live. I was expecting to give up a little on the uphills but make up most of it on the downhills, but I couldn't even run fast downhill. (The woman who beat me ran a 1:35:xx last year, so obviously she was affected by the wind as well.)

I did have to post the photo above, though, because it makes me giggle. I fell in with this guy in the cheerleader's outfit somewhere in the middle and we chatted for a while. He had a French accent and said that when he discovered how comfortable skirts were, he decided to run all his races in a skirt - and besides, people always cheered for him when he went by. He took off ahead of me on one of the hills, but I caught up with him and passed again near mile 11 and ended up finishing about a minute and a half ahead of him.

As beautiful and well-organized as the Moab races are, I think I'm done with them for a while. The last three half-marathons I've run there were brutally windy (as well as the last 10K, although that wasn't bad since it's not in a canyon), and it's just not fun running into a headwind. Time to move on and find some new races.
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
2012-10-08 03:08 pm

Double your fun (part 2)

...or, taper is overrated. :-)

After running the 25K of the Durango Double on Saturday, I got a quick leg massage, drank a couple of beers, and then went home to rest up for Sunday's half marathon. (I should add that I got to the race start - and home again - by bicycle. Needless to say, I rode home SLOWLY.) I did a little stretching and foam rolling, and I iced my calves.

My legs were starting to ache by evening, and when I woke the next morning DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) had set in. Oddly, the part of my body that hurt the most was my butt! Walking around the house in the morning helped loosen up my muscles, as did the hike to the start, about 3/4 of a mile - and 350 feet vertical - at the college on top of the mesa behind my house. It was quite cold, and I wore a jacket and gloves along with my short-sleeve top and running skirt, intending to send them to the finish in my drop bag. I ended up keeping the gloves on, and in fact didn't take them off until mile 9 or so.

I said hello to several of the people I'd run with the day before, and other local runners I knew, and we all jockeyed for position at the start. Both the half and full marathon were starting together, as had the 25K and 50K on Saturday. And we were off! )

plate
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
2012-06-09 05:34 pm

the double fist of victory!

Short version: I ran the Steamworks Half Marathon this morning and made most of the goals I listed in my last post - not only did I come in under 1:40, I ran a 1:38:10, my second-best time ever, on a hillier course at higher elevation than my PR from 2+ years ago, so I'm happy. I did not win my age group, but I came in second - this small race (300 runners) has 10-year AGs, and the woman who beat me by a little more than one minute just turned 40; I'm 48. So there. And I got this cool trophy:

Trophy

The one on the left is the finisher's glass everyone gets when they cross the finish line, and the one on the right is my trophy. So now I can drink twice as much! Speaking of, I also got a $10 gift card to one of the local coffee shops. Not that I'm planning on drinking coffee out of these. (Hint: Steamworks, the title sponsor of this race, is a brewpub.)

Not too gory details )

I wasn't expecting a PR, so I'm not disappointed I didn't get one. This is still my second fastest half time by two minutes, and more than six minutes faster than the last time I ran this course three years ago. I think with more training and/or a flatter, lower-elevation course I can get down to the 1:35 range.

Ilana with Kevin O'Brien after the Steamworks Half 2012

Here I am with Kevin, a friend who lives in Paonia and came down for the race. He has run this race three times now, and ran a 1:28, good for first place in his age group!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2012-06-07 01:54 pm
Entry tags:

half-fast

One of my favorite races is coming up again on Saturday, the Steamworks Animas Valley Half Marathon. It's a beautiful rolling course along the edge of the valley north of town, and the race finishes at a sports club with a pool, massage therapists, and free burgers and beers from one of our excellent local brewpubs. This will be my fourth time running it; for the last two years I have been injured and volunteered instead (I worked the finish line in 2010 and directed traffic in 2011), so I am really looking forward to racing it again!

This was my first race in Durango, in 2004; I ran a 2:01 on fairly casual training. Four years later, in 2008, I ran it again, but I had had back problems over the winter and didn't start running again until only 6 weeks before the race, and I clung desperately to my entirely unrealistic sub-2-hour goal until it was too late. I finished in 2:03, feeling miserable.

But I trained carefully that summer, and in October I ran the Baltimore Marathon in 3:54, which the discerning person will note is equal to two sub-2-hour half marathons back-to-back. So in 2009 I hoped to come in under 1:50 at the Steamworks Half...and entirely shocked myself by running a 1:44:19, which got me third place among over-40 women.

I've run other half marathons since then, all but one of them faster than this time, but that was the last time I ran this course. It's at my local elevation (as opposed to the Moab races, which are about 2500 ft lower) and it's a rolling course with a rather rude uphill finish, so I'm not expecting to PR - but I am hoping to improve my "course PR".

I had been training fairly well and consistently this spring after rebuilding from my January marathon, averaging 45mpw and incorporating some speed and tempo runs, but I hit a setback a couple weeks ago when suddenly running just felt wrong and things were hurting. I took a week mostly off, and then ramped up again last week but only got about 32 miles in, and I didn't run anything fast at all. I was worried I'd lost a lot of fitness. But then this week I tossed in a short tempo run - and felt great! In fact, all my runs this week have been fast, with low HR, and I've felt really good. So I am starting to believe I might have a decent race after all. Cross your fingers for me!

My big goal is sub-1:40. Well, I'd also like to win my age group (40-49F, as it's a small race), but there are at least two other strong contenders running. But 1:39:xx will delight me, and 1:38:xx will put me OVER THE MOON. I will be content with something under 1:42. And then I will drink lots of beer.
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
2012-03-18 04:54 pm

win some, completely blow some.

Or get blown. And not in a good way.

My original plan was that after a week of total rest and a couple of weeks of ramping my mileage up again after the Houston Marathon, I would have five or six weeks at 60mpw and some good tempo runs under my belt as preparation for the Canyonlands Half. But between a persistent calf strain and a very bad cold that still hasn't cleared my system, this did not come even close to happening. I averaged 30mpw and the only speedwork I did was one 5K race.

And then there was the weather. In a way I was happy that the forecast was for a reprise of last year's horrific headwind, as it meant that my lack of preparation wasn't going to be the only factor costing me a PR. As it happened, the weather was even worse. The wind was probably about the same (NOAA says 22 gusting to 32) but it was warmer, 64F by the thermometer but feeling even hotter due to the bright sunshine. I was feeling nauseous before we started, and pretty much ran the whole race feeling like I was going to throw up, pass out, or both. (I ended up going straight to the med tent at the finish, where they gave me an anti-nausea pill.)

It was an incredibly horrible race. I felt awful from about mile 2 on. I know it wasn't just the conditions, because my placement within my AG (9/160)was much worse than it was the previous year. I was the person everyone was passing at the end. The splits tell the dreadful story )

Total time 1:46:04 1:45:50 (I guess the official results were different!), my worst half marathon since I started seriously racing (I went from a 2:03 to a 1:44 when I started running more than twice a week) and a slower average pace than my marathon in January, and a thoroughly miserable experience.

Next half marathon is in June. I hope I can get my mojo (and fitness) back by then.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2011-10-18 03:11 pm

give it what you got: The Other Half 2011

[pre-race report]

Cliff notes version: 1:43:54, my worst time on this course and only 23 seconds faster than my spring 2009 half, my first race after getting serious about running, but I'm happy with it as a comeback considering I only started running again after my stress fracture ten weeks ago. (Also, it barely qualifies me for the NY Marathon for the last year before they tighten their standards considerably. I might have to run it next year.) 6th in my AG (out of 123), 30th woman out of 1144, 127th human being out of 1733.

The play-by-play )

This was my third Other Half, my sixth race put on by the Moab Half Marathon organization, and the first in which I did not take home a trophy or medal[*]. And I'm okay with that. Comparing my run this year with the previous two years, I don't see anything I could have done differently. I paced reasonably. I worked at an appropriate effort level. I raced with what I had on the day, and that is all I could do.

The post-game analysis )

So I know that this year's racing season is a work in progress, and it's barely begun. The Winter Sun 10K is in seven weeks. We'll see what happens.

[*] Well, actually, I did get a medal, as The Other Half gives finisher's medals to everyone who runs. This year's medal is not only attractive but useful, as it's a combination race medal/bottle opener! (Photo courtesy of my friend Paul, [livejournal.com profile] paulbe.)

Took me a while to realize that The Other Half finisher's medal has a built-in bottle opener.

And that reminds me that in fact I DID get a PR this year. One reason I love this race is because the Moab Brewery supplies free beer (in souvenir pint glasses) at the end. I learned last year that all Utah beer is 3.2 (that is, relatively weak) due to Utah's bizarre alcohol regulations. But I don't mind, because that means I can drink a whole lot! I had three pints direct from the tap, plus two other people decided they didn't want to drink and I got half of each of their beers, for a total of four. That is a post-race Beer PR! (And I still felt entirely sober driving home.)
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2011-10-14 04:47 pm
Entry tags:

blowing off the dust, cleaning the cobwebs

From my legs, that is. Tomorrow morning I'm driving to Moab, Utah, and on Sunday morning I'll be lining up at the start of my first race since...the last time I was in Moab, in March. Yikes.

I almost didn't sign up for The Other Half this year, as you, O Constant Reader, know. But in the last few weeks I have gone from "just finish it, and enjoy it" to "okay, maybe I can run it at MP as a workout" to "RACE THAT PUPPY!!!1!one!" I mean, I know I'm not going to PR; I'm definitely not in PR shape. But I am going to run it as fast as I can.

The past three weeks I have averaged 41mpw, and I'll match that this week after the half. My easy pace has floated down to the 9 minute range, and I even ran a "hard end of easy" run at 8:42, which is the sort of run I was doing just before I was injured. I have run a tiny amount of speedwork - a threshold run of 2x1.5 miles at 8 minute pace (which gratifyingly did not hit my LT heartrate, so I am pretty sure I can run faster than that for a half) and 6x half miles with 2 minute jog recoveries, which averaged 7:25 pace. Now, last spring before I was injured I did a similar workout in 7 minute pace, so clearly I'm not in that kind of shape yet, but it's really encouraging to see that I seem to be getting back more quickly than I had hoped.

It's really hard to talk about goals for this one, though. Race-day magic nearly always surprises me, with paces better than I ever run in training; I guess I need the adrenaline of actually being in a race to run my best. Moab's lower, so I get the altitude advantage, but on the other hand this is a rather hilly race. I know I said I was looking for 1:52-1:58, but I think I can do better. So I'm going to say: stretch goal is sub-1:41:44 (my slowest time on this course, from 2009), A goal is sub-1:44:18 (my slowest half since getting serious about running), B goal is sub-1:46, C goal is sub-1:50. And of course, overriding goal is don't hurt myself.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
2011-03-21 03:48 pm

canyonlands race report; or, bite me, Bob Seger.

After 13.1 miles of it, I can now report that "running against the wind" really sucks. I was feeling good, well-trained, at a good weight, and healthy; in other words, I was ready for a PR, but the weather had other ideas. Strong south winds that funneled up the Colorado River canyon made the race a lot harder than it was last year. Still, I ran 1:40:25, which exactly ties my Other Half time from October (2 weeks after a marathon and a hillier course), and as the wind indiscriminately affected everyone, I ended up with 3rd in my age group, same as I did last year with a 3+ minute faster time.

Gory details )

It was still a great weekend. Dee, an imaginary friend from RWOL, flew in from the midwest to run this race, and ended up taking first place Masters female even though she was disappointed in her time. I had margaritas at Miguel's the night before the race, and beers at the Moab Brewery after, with a bunch of other RWOL friends, including my usual race roomie Karah and our friend Kevin. (Karah's report has lots of great photos - I stole the one above from her - and is here on her blog.) The next day Dee and I visited Arches National Park despite the continued miserable windy weather, and it was fun hiking to the pretty arches even though the sky was cold and gray and the air hazy.

Despite the lack of PR, I still feel fairly confident about my upcoming marathon on May 1st. And I'll be running another half marathon, the local Steamworks Half, in June, giving me another chance at a PR.