Welcoming 2016 with a shiny new PR

2016 is off to a great start! I’ll take a PR on the first day of the year anytime — a shiny new one clocked at the Hangover Classic 10 Miler Jan. 1.  Jump to the race report.

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A girl, her Recoverite and her new Hammer singlet.

This was my second week of vacation so I had lots and lots of time for workouts. I started off with spin on Monday and a massage after that.

Monday afternoon I had a phone conversation with Coach Matt Ebersole of Personal Best Training. I had been kicking around the idea of hiring a coach for some time … years, really, but I hadn’t found quite the right fit. I wanted to find someone who would understand my running background and goals — having started running in my early 20s and  moving up quickly to the marathon, I’m not your standard post-collegiate runner. Nor am I quite the common “bucket list” type marathoner, either.

I first talked to Matt when finagling my way into the seeded coral for the half at Monumental in 2014. I hadn’t raced a half or full recently, so I didn’t have a qualifying time fast enough. But I was hoping to run right around the qualifying time at the race. Being a curious type, I looked up Matt’s training company after seeing it in his email. I had seen his athletes at other races, including the Carmel Marathon (which I just signed up for), and his training services piqued my interest. For the past year I’ve kicked it around in my head and after two successful years of racing, I decided I it might be time to take the plunge.

Our first conversation, on Monday, went great. We talked about individualizing training plans and how there’s no one perfect training plan — and that we’d shape my training based on what worked best. My own preferences and strengths will shape the plan — the amount of mileage, the types and frequency of workouts — will all be tailored to make me the best runner I can be.

I gave myself some time to think about it after our call, but knew pretty soon that I would be signing on. It makes me nervous — it’s a commitment. Not just because of the money, but because I’m putting it out there that I want to reach certain goals and I’m willing to take some serious steps to reach them. The idea of not reaching those goals is what makes me nervous — I don’t want to look like a fool for paying a coach and not getting there. But that means the onus is on me. I have to do the work so I don’t look like a fool. And that’s the commitment.

Deep breath. Take the plunge.

Tuesday was a great day — an 8 mile run with my friend Chelsea that was zippier than either of us intended, but it just flew by. Then we hit Pilates class for another hour. Two hours of working out before 10:30 a.m.!

On Wednesday I started the day with a Pilates Reformer session — only two of us showed up for the Pilates Strength class, so the instructor gave us a special treat. While I’ve done a lot of Pilates Mat classes over the year, I haven’t done many equipment classes. It presents a different challenge and really forces you to maintain good form. I got in an easy — but still quick — 6 miles after that. I talked to Coach Matt again that afternoon and we got my training plan up and rolling. We discussed different workout types and purposes along with ways to measure performance/effort, so that we’ll be on the same page discussing the workouts. He loaded in all my training for January, but it’s kind of intimidating to look at so I haven’t focused on much more than the week ahead.

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Scenes from the trails.

New Year’s Eve was a challenging day. It would’ve been my grandpa’s 74th birthday. I took to the trails because I wanted to do something he would’ve enjoyed. The weather was great and the trails were in surprisingly good shape considering all the rain we’ve had. I also wanted to take it easy because I was signed up to race on Friday. I got in a third Pilates session after the run and enjoyed a quiet night at home for NYE.

Friday was the annual Hangover Classic, a 10 mile race in Louisville.

Race Report: Hangover Classic 10 Miler

 

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Pretty clutch race outfit.

A flat 10 miler? Tell me it’s true! I’ve only raced two 10 mile courses in my life: the Papa Johns 10 Miler, which goes through Iroquois Park, and one at Cades Cove in the Smokey Mountains. Both are really hilly. Despite the fact the Hangover Classic has been around forever, I’ve never run it. Usually I’m in terrible shape this time of year — recovering from the fall season and not yet training for spring. But this year I’ve been running well post-Monumental and started adding back some speed and longer runs about a month ago. I figured this would be a good way to get in my long run AND my speed work in one shot!

The race is on New Year’s Day but doesn’t start until 10 a.m. I slept until about 8, had a long conversation with my foam roller, had breakfast … I also enrolled to become a Spencer Pilates certified instructor through the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association. Super excited about this opportunity!

I was having some GI issues that morning — not the best feeling with an hour-plus of hard running ahead. I ended up leaving a little later than planned because of that.

Unfortunately, parking at the race start is pretty limited. I was parked about .6 mi away, which was okay but posed challenges for swapping clothes/shoes before and after as well as getting my Recoverite.

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New Balance Rush

I jogged down to get my packet and then back to my car. I ended up sticking to my Boracays — I had also taken my new New Balance Rush lightweight trainers, but I’ve only run in them once. I swapped out a warmup thermal top for arm warmers and a singlet, plus Mizuno gloves under mittens. And a headband. It was about 30 degrees but also windy along the river, which the course would follow.

After a 2 mile warmup I figured I was good to go. I did a couple striders but not many. I also forgot to take the Hammer Gel I had intended to eat before the race because I was in a hurry. In the end, my stomach was probably happier without it.

A lot of runners I know were there, so there was a lot of chatting at the start line. There were two other girls, April and Katie, who I knew would be running fast. I really had no idea how fast I could run 10 miles — I haven’t done any races or workouts to give me a great idea of that kind of fitness. So I figured I’d got out around 6:45-6:50 pace, which would be about the pace from my half-marathon PR in 2014. I had looked at some prediction calculators and figured 66-68 would be really good but 68-70 was probably more likely.

April and Katie were thinking more like 6:30s and they went out fast. My first mile was fast, too — 6:26 — so I eased off. The course loops up to the gorgeous Louisville Water Tower, so you get a slight uphill and downhill in the first mile (and last). Back on the flat, I slowed down and clicked off a 6:53 and 6:45. Those miles were straight and flat and there were still a lot of racers together.

There was a second aid station at mile 3, which was the start of a double-loop portion of the course. Due to all the rain we had, the Ohio had flooded and they had to modify the course. So, you ran from mile 3 to 4, did a tight U-turn, hit mile 5 at the 3 mile aid station, then ran that U again. The first loop wasn’t too bad. The turnaround was tight, but you run enough road races and you’ll encounter your share. It was situated on a path only about 4 feet wide, so you had to be careful.

I wasn’t paying attention to my watch at this point, in part because the path wove a lot and I had to pay attention, and because there were runners coming both ways on the loop. As I started the second loop, I caught Katie for second place. The second loop  was crazy because you had slower people on their first loop, faster people on their second, and going both directions on a 4-foot-wide path. But, you did get to see a lot of runners on those two loops and cheer for people (and be cheered for), so the atmosphere was fun. On the two loops I split 6:35, 6:25, 6:33, 6:29.

Somewhere in there I knew I was running around 6:30s, so as I headed back to the finish, I just tried to keep it up. The pack had really thinned out and spread out. I caught one person around 7.5 but nobody else was in sight the rest of the way.

My hamstring got a little tight after mile 7 and my legs didn’t feel very smooth or comfortable, but I was still running well. Coming back down boring River Road I split 6:36 and 6:39, and I knew I needed to hold on and push the last mile. I had checked the time with a mile to go and was way ahead of my goals. Coming up the hill to the Water Tower I saw April in first, but on her way down and out of reach. On my way down, I saw Katie and knew she was about the same distance behind so I couldn’t let up. My last mile was 6:32, and I had it just a smidge over.

Official time was 66:03, 6:35 pace, for second female. That was an almost 3-minute PR! My previous best was 68:51 from Papa John’s this year.

A big shoutout to the Louisville West End School for providing the aid stations — they were super. Headfirst Performance did a great job modifying the course to deal with the rain. I wish the course was a little different with less twisting through Waterfront Park, but it does cut down on the police and road closings so they can keep entry fees down. Before and after the race you could hang out in a large, heated gymnasium, which is a nice perk. After they had tons of food — hot chocolate, oatmeal, sandwiches, fruit — and it was fun catching up with people in the gym before the awards. I am sure way more people stuck around for the awards because it was warm inside (and our cars were far away).

I got in a total of 14 for the day. I texted Coach Matt, who had told me my 10 mile PR was the weakest of my PRs. He voiced suspicion that just a couple of days after telling me that, I went and smashed it. Now my 5k and marathon are my two worst …

I am very happy with my performance and think I raced well. I tried to not pay attention to my watch and just run by effort — not get psyched out by the faster splits. It was a good debut race for my Hammer Nutrition singlet!

Saturday was supposed to be a recovery run with my friend Amanda but I felt way better than I anticipated and we ran pretty quick. I forgot to set my alarm — or set it wrong — and woke up when Amanda texted me asking if I was at the park yet. YIKES. After we ran, I went to my sister-in-law’s Barre Tabata class. I’m still sore. If you think barre is a fluffy, easy workout … well, try it and then let me know. Traditional barre is more similar to Pilates, but this class was more focused on cardio. My heart rate averaged about 145 and I saw it get up to anaerobic a few times. We did a ton of squat jumps, burpees, lunges to front kicks … a lot of plyometric-style exercises that I don’t usually do. And definitely don’t do after racing 10 miles the day before. I was hurting all day Sunday (and Monday).

I spent several hours Friday and Saturday getting through the first two lessons of my Pilates instructor course, too.

I had a short recovery run on Sunday and took it easy. (Ignore the heart rate monitor. No idea what’s going on with that so I ordered a new one.) Total was 45.34 for the week plus 15 miles of spin and 3:45 of Pilates/barre.

Back to work on Monday but no break in training!

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