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Monday, April 24, 2017

Gulf Coast Classic 10k

Slight improvement over on the 10k front this week! 41:53. I registered for the Gulf Coast Classic when I was disappointed in my time at the CCC 10k last week. But of course, I knew it wouldn't be easy. The weather was almost exactly the same as last week - start in the low 70's, close to 80 at the finish - and I'd be running with tired legs. I didn't feel sore after last week's race, but the fartlek workout on Tuesday demonstrated how little bounce was in my step! My legs actually felt a little heavier than I'd expected, but that might have been my shoe choice. I went with my brand-new Kinvara 7's, and I think they were still too soft and bulky (they are also a weird fit - I had to go up a size because my normal men's 8.5 was far too small, but the 9s are a little long). Another factor? An incredibly stressful day at work Friday. A generator test at the facility created a power surge that fried my server. We were out until almost 1 pm, and then swamped after that...until a company-wide system glitch at 4:30pm! I left work late and exhausted, and I really think that kind of overall fatigue works its way into your muscles, too.

I must admit, I woke up not at all ready to race. I wanted to enjoy a lazy morning and a few cups of coffee on the porch, but David was raring to go. He just missed 50 minutes at the CCC 10k, and he was ready for a rematch! So we headed out the door at 7 am for an 8 am start. We arrived at the park where the race was held, and got our bibs in about 2 minutes. That left lots of time to kill. I did some hip exercises and a 2 mile warm up (no strides again, I don't know why).

The course is an out-and-back that's in an upside down "U" shape - so you do that U out and back, for maximum wind exposure...seriously, though, a race on the beach is just always windy. I have yet to discover how to not over-exert in the headwind, so I can make use of the tailwind! When we started, I was running near another woman for about the first mile and a half. I didn't know who else was in front of me because they were too fast, but this girl was sticking with me for sure. I eventually lost her right at the 5k turnaround, and then I was quickly on the beach in a ferocious wind. Alone. Very alone. I could see a lady WITH A STROLLER far ahead, but she was out of range, and I was just fighting the wind by myself. I was trying to keep my pace at 6:45, to get under 42 minutes, a revised goal: as soon as I started my warmup, I knew my legs were not fresh. Initially I'd wanted to run closer to 6:40 pace. Mile one was 6:42 (tailwind), mile two 6:36 (mixed), mile three 6:50 (straight headwind).

As we approached the 10k turnaround, I saw the first woman sailing along, and then the second woman, pushing a baby and looking very fresh. I made the turn myself but couldn't push, even in the tailwind, to catch stroller lady. I couldn't really enjoy the pretty views, either, because the sun was blinding! And it was, indeed, quite hot: 70's at the start, but 80 at the finish. Nonetheless, I had my eye on average pace, and even though my Garmin was continuing to cheerfully chirp WAY before the mile markers, I thought I was pretty close. Mile four was 6:38 with a tailwind; mile five 6:46. I hit the home stretch - and another headwind - very exhausted, and ran my second slowest mile, 6:49, for mile 6. Definitely not my plan. I was nowhere close to ever catching stroller woman, and a full minute and a half behind first place woman, so I think I just got lazy (oh, and as I made the turn, I had determined that fourth place had dropped so far back as to make her catching me basically impossible). I think I need to learn to push myself more for the sake of racing!
Pizza for breakfast, waiting for awards.
Awards took awhile...(there's a mile, 5k, 10k, and racewalking division, plus every age group imaginable!)

David was mocking the huge trophies. And then they gave me one.

I jogged in as third woman, and the finish line volunteers handed me a tag and told me...the wrong time. She said, "41:33", but I knew it was 41:53. I told the race officials, and they said that there was a clock problem, and subtract twenty seconds. Er. "I think it should be added..." I murmured. So some people were adding time; some were subtracting from already shortened time. Luckily the finishing tags are in order, so the time confusion didn't mess up the overall placing. The cool thing about this race was that the top three got gift cards and I took home $75 at Academy! That never happens to me, so I am super thrilled!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Race review: Bursting with Speed 5k

Maybe you want to win $1000 in a race. Maybe you want to run the Bursting with Speed 5k!
Yep, this is a race with serious prize money: $1000, $500, and $250 for the top three men and women. So it gets a deep field. I don't normally review 5ks, but since this one not only has prize money, but is conveniently timed a week before the Crescent City Classic (meaning you could do a week's vacation in New Orleans and hit TWO goal races!), I thought I'd do a review.

Get race info or register here.

Pre-race information, logistics, organization
You can get all the information needed on the New Orleans Track Club's website, plus follow them on Facebook or Instagram. Packet pickup can be morning of or the Thursday before the race. There is plenty of parking on the Lakefront, although I was a tad late and was about half a mile from the start. There is a half-mile for kids before the 5k; both races started on time. 
This race benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and on race day it's $35. But early registration for NOTC members is just $15. 
Swag and prizes: 
Oh, so much! Besides cash to top 3 finishers, top 2 AG and overall kids/grandmasters/masters get awards (which I think were donated items this year). But there are also drawings throughout the afterparty for tons of door prizes, including ten drawings for $300!
Runners get a gender-specific, soft T-shirt and a medal...that's interesting for a 5k, but it looks like a Cowboy boot, so it's going on my Christmas tree at some point (oh, WHEN will I ever do a medal tree?).

It's on the Lakefront, so two things are guaranteed: full sun, and wind. It's also the "hilliest" 5k in New Orleans, with a couple of bridges. If you have real hills where you are, please ignore this comment. You will laugh. Rumor is that the course was short this year, but I have my doubts about that; NOTC has been doing this for a while and I've never run one of there races with a short course. 

Coming through the finish on a beautiful day

Live music, lots of food (barbecue beef or pork sandwiches and red beans, plus the usual fruit, cookies, and Chee Wees), beer (with Abita bock or sweet orange this year, fancy!), and plenty of vendors with give-aways...including Walgreens, so I popped in and volunteered for a bit! 

Overall, I had a nice morning at this race, loved the after-party, and enjoyed the novelty of a race on the lakefront. I recommend!  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Never mind, still slow! CCC 10k

Eh, ignore everything I just said...I'm still slow. A crazy 42:15 at the CCC 10k. You know, 45 seconds slower than my last 10k! All I can do is blame the weather - and it wasn't great. High 70's, humidity in the 90% range, windy. But other than that, it was a good day to run and my muscles felt ready. I just had zero speed.
We parked at my work the morning of the race and jogged to the start. With 20,000+ runners, the start is always a madhouse, and like every single year, I could not find the entrance to the seeded corrals! I ended up walking all the way from the back. Due to the crowds and the heat, I kept my warm up to 2 miles, and couldn't fit in any strides. We were packed in with about ten minutes to go. Finally, we started, and I was boxed in at once. Now, I wanted to go out slow, so a tight first mile isn't so bad, but coupled with the 25mph headwind, I hit mile one in 6:57. Luckily, I'd get some tailwind for the next two miles, before alternating headwinds and side gusts; anyway, it didn't register that I'd run a 6:57, because my Garmin was NUTS again. It read mile one in 6:49! By mile two, I was a full 18 seconds off the clock, and I hit lap to get back on track. Stupid. I struggle with pacing a 10k, as it's not a pace I run often, and I rely (perhaps too much) on my Garmin - this inaccuracy is a huge problem!
A friend sent us highlighted results from
our group. 
Once I realized how off my Garmin was, I settled into a race by feel, and honestly, that gave me pretty good results. Not fast, but consistent: I ran the first half in 21:02 and the second in 21:13, and that's with the benefit of a tailwind for miles 2 and 3. So I was actually remarkably consistent, and my first mile was my slowest. Who knew? I actually CAN pace by feel!

After I hit the 5k point, I passed a local runner who runs a similar pace to me, and when she didn't respond, I realized that everyone was suffering in the humidity. I just had to hang on. A few minutes later, my fast friend Jared surged up to me to offer some encouragement. "Keep going girl," he said. "You're slowing down. Stop that." He was pacing another friend, so dropped back again, but it gave me a good boost and I picked my feet up again. By the time we got around City Park, my head was cooking in the sun, and the wind was a factor again. But I was passing people, so I kept plugging away. I caught up to our running group coach (who is running slow coming back from injury), and committed what is an apparent egregious error. We exchanged greetings and I indicated I was having a poor race with a thumbs-down. And I never heard the end of it. I guess this group of runners wants total positivity...I got yelled at. Lesson learned! No thumbs down from now on! The rest of the race was just me pushing forward and fighting a cramp. Not at all fun.

I was super annoyed not to have a good sprint finish, but I just didn't. I ran 42:15 and was honestly surprised to see that. I thought I'd worked harder than that! But it was 80F at the end, and I was hot and miserable, so I guess it makes sense. I'm still disappointed. I finished 35th female, 5th in my age group - so really, it seems everyone struggled. This is a big, fast race, so those stats point to how much the field slowed.

After getting thoroughly sunburned at the after party (did my sunscreen evaporate?!), I did what any disappointed runner does: I immediately registered for another race. Gulf Coast Classic next week, here I come! Even though it's projected to be even HOTTER next week!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Not in my Econ class. I still hate that class (this is really a first for me; I have managed to get SOMETHING out of every other class I've ever been forced to take, even "football math" - math even the football team could pass - back when I was an art major in undergrad. But the disorganization of this class has me totally disinterested.).
Dead legs. Dead Garmin. Dead shoes (almost. That's 496 miles there. I'm putting them over 500 today). 

But perhaps - perhaps a breakthrough in speed?
After a couple of workouts in which I really struggled to hit paces, mostly missing, I finally had a good workout last Tuesday. The previous week I'd showed up to track in the midst of a stomach infection, and the week before that our workout had been mid-monsoon, so really, almost any workout would have shown improvement.
It helped that our workout was a little shorter: 2 miles at 8k pace, 3 minutes rest, 4x800 at 2 mile - 5k pace with 2 minutes rest each, 6x200 fast with 60-90 seconds rest. The total was a manageable 5 miles, and to make that even better, it was low 70's for a change.

I started the two-miler, and right away I felt better than I had in ages. I wasn't gasping for breath by the first turn, and I almost felt comfortable. My second 1600 was just a second slower than my first. Starting out like that made the rest of the workout fast and easy. I don't love 800s, which were up next, but I got through them, despite almost running a little kid over. Several groups use this track, and one parent lost their pre-schooler - he dashed in front of me, then did that annoying back and forth thing as we both tried to avoid collision. I am proud to say I both managed to stop, and managed to stay upright!

Then I wrapped with fast 200s. The long rests made these easy as pie. While 200s have always been pretty easy for me to complete, I think adding strides in has helped me with them. Two strong runners I follow, Dolly and Cris, both recommended adding strides at the end of my runs, so I just started that. I'll be - they do improve leg turnover!

I hoped to see that workout translate into a speedier race on Saturday, and while most people said the course ran short (my opinion: curvy sections with tangents were measured on one side of the street only, but the course had both sides open), I was still faster: I ran 21:41 last 5k, 19:41 this time. I would have been at about 19:55 on a full course, and that's a good speed for me. I'm not a fast 5k runner anyway! In fact, I remember being elated over a 19:59 a few years ago, when I ran the Crescent City Fall Classic right after hip surgery #1, and before I realized my right hip needed surgery, too. I've been back running for longer now, of course, but that race was an easier race, too. The race plus better workouts have boosted my confidence a little going into the CCC 10k, and despite the 83F temperatures predicted, I'm excited to see how I do!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Interview with the Advocate

Something kind of cool happened last week. The Advocate, the upstart newspaper that entered the New Orleans market when the Times Picayune dropped its publications to just three times a week, contacted me for a story about the Crescent City Classic. *
The reporter wanted to interview some top local women about the Crescent City Classic and the local women's running scene.

Ha! Top local women! I'm not even in the top twenty-five gals in this area. Not even close. But as a new member of the Power Milers, the reporter wanted to interview me for that aspect, since the main story is about the women's running community and the club just opened to women. So on Sunday, I joined some truly fast women at City Park for an interview and a photoshoot.

The interview was, um, interesting. Lots of leading questions. You know how it is. Reporters have a story, and you just fit in it. Hopefully I won't come across as a complete idiot, but the good news is that there was a large enough group of us that I'm sure I'll get one snip of a quote, max.
SUNNY skies over my run
And then, since I was already at City Park and wearing running clothes, I did an afternoon 8-miler with speedster Laura Doody, a D1 athlete from LSU who will be smoking me (and a lot of other people, too!) next Saturday. I haven't done a chatty, easy run in awhile, so that was fun - although her "easy" is not as easy for me! I was ready to be done at the end - the sun was hot and I was really thirsty. I still haven't acclimated yet - and that was without much humidity. Oh, Saturday's race is going to be a killer!
Post-run disgusting sweatiness

I wasn't really comfortable doing the interview, because I felt like an imposter: these other women are truly fast. But I didn't want to say no - I like staying involved in the running community, and am glad the paper is doing a story on women's running in New Orleans. Plus, it was actually kind of fun! I'm always interested in seeing other people ply their trade, including reporters and photographers. The story runs Friday, so I'll see how it all turned out then!

*We subscribe to The Advocate, because I like to read the paper in the morning, because I'm 70 years old, but I am still heartbroken that we had to drop the TP, which has been published for over 100 years. But they don't deliver on Saturdays, my favorite day to read the paper! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bursting with Speed 5k

Finally, the stars aligned and I actually had a race on a day with gorgeous weather! Not only was the low 59F on Saturday, the humidity was right about the same...59%. Unheard of for April in New Orleans! I ended up racing the Bursting with Speed 5k on a brisk, breezy, sunny morning, temps about 65. Besides the wind - which was not really bad at all, more a factor of running on the lakefront than the weather - it was absolutely ideal.
I had high hopes for a faster race than my last 5k, which felt inexplicably slow. And I did: a full MINUTE faster!
Lake Ponchartrain
The Bursting with Speed 5k is held in honor of a local runner, Benny Burst, who passed away after a battle with acute myeloid leukemia. This race serves as a fundraiser for LLS, the leukemia and lymphoma society. Walgreens is a big supporter of LLS, and I already participate in events and fundraisers for them, so of course I wanted to run this race. I also thought it would be a no-pressure event, and I was right: the race offers substantial prize money for the top three finishers, so the field was crowded. I could run for time and not worry about a place, like I might in a smaller race (by the way, the top two finishers ran under 15:00, so...yeah, it's a fast race!).
The only drawback to this race is that the Lakefront does offer some challenges. As I recall from many painful marathon miles, it is full sun, beating down on you, reflecting off the white pavement; it's always going to have wind; and of course, it's "hilly" for New Orleans and there are a few bridges. But honestly, no biggie. The weather was so nice it made up for all that. I mean, I got a sunburn, but I survived!

This race was run further up but I parked closer to the other end
of the Lakefront due to my late arrival.
I cut it a little close getting to the start, and while I squeezed in a 2 mile warm up, I didn't have time or space for strides or anything. I started nearish to the front, and we headed out into a crosswind/headwind. I'd prefer that to a headwind on the way back, though! I powered through mile one, head down, and hit it in 6:25 - exactly the pace I wanted to run. I assumed I'd run a 6:35 for mile 2, which had two hills and a rather awkward turn-around, so that pace made sense. It seemed like mile one went fast, but mile two was agony. I really can't run on hills at all. So hard for me. And then I got boxed in and had to shorten my stride and felt very uncomfortable for awhile. Even though it was pretty crowded, I never really passed anyone and wasn't really passed by anyone the whole race. I hit mile 2 in 6:32, and ugh, I sort of gave up at that point. I really need to work on keeping my head in the game! I now had a tailwind to the finish, but I was dawdling. Mile 3 was 6:26, suddenly I saw clock still in the 19's, and sped up - 19:40 by Garmin, 19:46 gun time (there were mats at the finish only, not the start - the New Orleans track club chips races, but only reports gun time).
A friend took this picture near the finish

Now of course, there has to be a caveat: some runners, including myself, had Garmin distances that were short of 3.1. I got 3.09, but others got 3.08 or even 3.06. The course might have been short, or our Garmins cut the corners when measuring distance. Not sure. But even if it was a worst-case-scenario of 3.06 miles, my time still extrapolates to 19:55, and I'm OK with that: I'm just really happy to be under 20 minutes again! Yay for speed creeping back!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

French Quarter Fest

My schoolwork was piling up around me this weekend, but I shoved it aside and stayed outdoors all day. It was just too gorgeous to be inside in front of a computer! I'll pay for it later this week, but David and I had a lovely afternoon at French Quarter Fest.

Jazz bands, Abita Strawberry, friends, and sunshine will always win over regression analyses and price forecasting!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Power Miler

I have been officially accepted to the Power Milers!
I ran really hard on Tuesday and all I got was this lousy T-shirt
This is very exciting news, as I have just paid my way into a group of friends. Much like a sorority, only more guys, and faster, of course.
I had to be invited to fill out an application, and then when I was, I was kind of taken aback by the extent of the information requested. The application looked like this:

Power Milers: What is your HS running history?
Me: Er. I didn't even own athletic shoes as a teenager.
Power Milers: And your collegiate records?
Me: Well, I had to run a 2 miler in some stupid required physical education class.
Power Milers: Please list your running accomplishments.
Me: How many runners can boast two hip surgeries by age 32?

Somehow they took me anyway, probably because, well, they're kind of short on girls. Anyway, so far, I'm loving it. I didn't realize how much I'd missed being at the track with a group, and even though I am by far the slowest person there (two other girls have been coming, and both are faster than me; all the guys are about twice my pace - or is it half my pace?!), it's great to have company. They're also all normal people. I didn't want to join an all-male group to be the butt of some bro-group's jokes. It's not like that. They're real, serious runners and they aren't jerks. So that's a perk. And if I'm not getting faster (truth: I've been slower), I must be getting stronger.

Do you run with a group? Do you prefer to run workouts solo, or with others? 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Music under the Oaks

A beautiful Sunday afternoon in Audubon park.

I love this park! I run here nearly every day, but it was a nice change to enjoy live music and dinner with friends in this beautiful setting.
And as a side note? I can't believe how good the audio is on my iPhone!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

In which I skip a race

Last night, I came home to somewhat cooler weather, and I started researching races for the next morning. There were a few options, most notably the Bridge Run in Luling, but alas: it was not to be. I slept right through the race.

Because I was up until 1:30 am. Because I was taking a test. Because of many things!
This was just a really rough week. For starters, I was booked solid at work for multiple meetings, grand rounds, marketing events, and visits. Then, halfway through Monday, I was suddenly hit by waves of nausea. I picked up some kind of GI infection, and it was bad enough that I had to go home. So much for school that night. And thanks to that, I was suddenly behind on school. I'm taking Econ, and this is my least favorite class so far. The professor is just extremely disorganized and confused, and most annoyingly, doesn't open up the online modules on the weekend. So I honestly only have Monday, Thursday, and Friday nights to do all my work (including listen to his lectures, since this class includes two hour-long video lectures: a component that I hate).
On Tuesday, I had to drag my sick and weak self to work because our regions at work consolidated, and our new regional healthcare director was visiting. Wednesday was even busier, with meetings on and offsite booked solid. And Thursday I had four hours of meetings or marketing back to back. I was hoping to get work done on school on Thursday night, but the university's servers went down! Another wasted night!

So that is how I ended up with almost a week's worth of work on a Friday night. I can't work Friday morning, because even though it's my off-day from running, I decided that I didn't have enough on my plate and offered to host a women's Bible study at my house from 7 am to 8:15 am. I'm enjoying the study, the company, and hosting (I like hosting, and it gives me an excuse to bake delicious breakfast breads!), but it's that much less free time. Mentioning baking bread reminds me that I feel practically evil serving it to a group of women. Every week I hear, "Oh, I shouldn't! I can't have carbs! I wish I could! That smells so good, it's torture!" etc. I mean, people eat the bread, but they obviously feel guilty about it. When did BREAD, a staple of our diet for millennia, become forbidden?! Sometimes I want people to just, well, eat the bread. But I digress.

Grapefruit and lemon infusion
Anyway, I got my school done, but I really needed my sleep. I didn't get in bed until about 1:30 am, and I turned my alarm off and didn't wake up until the race would be finishing. Sleeping in meant that my long run ended at 10 am, but it was worth it!

Beet hummus eaten outside on a lovely day
Since I can't do school on the weekends, I've mostly been cooking up a storm. Or brewing up a storm. My house has been overtaken by bottles of limoncello and bowls of alcohol; I'm also not only brewing kombucha, I'm growing baby SCOBYs for friends (David is positive that the SCOBYs are going to stage a revolt and attack us at some point. It's true that I pay more attention to what I feed my babies than I do to what I feed him, so maybe he's just jealous). Last week I made some incredibly bright beet hummus.
This week, I might do some caramelized onion spread to use up some leftover wine. What's on your schedule for this weekendend?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Al Briede 5k. Yikes.

From NOTC's instagram
As my track workouts have been predicting, I am slooooow. So slow, in fact, that I just ran a 5k at about the 10k pace I ran in January. Ouch.
I jogged over to the start of the Al Briede 5k. It was moderately warm - mid-70's, humid, and breezy. But not bad, as Louisiana races go. But I had just a bad race. If you plug my recent race times into any pace calculator, no way should I be running over 20 minutes, let alone a 20:38. But that's what I did, and it was hard work, too.

So what's going on?! The race was tough from the start, and slowed drastically in mile 2 (where I was passed, and then stayed - small race meant I was second). I was out of breath and had shin splints (either the wrong shoes - my flats for track - or tied too tightly).
Contributing factors could be:

  • First week with warmer, humid weather
  • Tough time at track on Tuesday
  • Overall increased volume of hard running is tiring me out and I need time to adjust. 
  • Tempo on Thursday - although it was purposefully an easier pace to avoid exhaustion before the race
  • Bad shoe choice: calf pain was definitely an issue, although certainly not the cause of all my slowness!

So what's the plan? I think stick with my general mileage and track for a little bit to see if I just adjust to harder track workouts. If I keep slowing down, I'll cut out some volume and slow down my easy days even more. And then, of course, we will hopefully also be doing some faster stuff on the track as the weather keeps warming up: after three marathons and precious little else for almost a year, I'm in dire need of some speed!

Friday, March 24, 2017

A farewell

It's with a heavy heart that I share that our long-time friend and landlord, Dr. Harvey Bricker, passed away. While he died this January, circumstances prevented a celebration of his life here in New Orleans until this week. And until his memorial made the sad news public, I didn't want to post lest some friend or neighbor stumbled on the news in this way. Dr. Bricker passed away suddenly in January, and I received the call from his wife right after returning home from the Louisiana Marathon. The distraction and grief that followed were contributors to my poor appetite and recovery (but so was a stomach infection, I believe), although I didn't feel comfortable explaining that here at the time.

Thursday, Dr. Bricker's colleagues and students from Tulane University, where he taught for decades, remembered him. They remembered a warm and witty scholar, an author and researcher whose work stretched from France to Mexico. I remember a caring neighbor who often treated us to dinner, who could order an excellent bottle of wine, and who told the most fascinating stories I've ever heard. The last time we shared dinner with our landlords, the week before Harvey died, he told the story of winters at Harvard. His California girlfriend - later, his wife! - had no winter clothes and no money to buy any, so they would each wear one of his gloves on their outside hand, and hold hands in his pocket with their inside hands. I will always associate long and lively dinners with him, and always remember his charming stories.

It's rare that landlords become close friends, but the Brickers are near and dear to us. Dr. Bricker always treated us with the utmost generosity and kindness. He wasn't just a prompt and caring landlord: he invited us to dinners, checked in on our health, shared jokes, exchanged Christmas gifts, and could easily drink us under the table! More than once I remarked to David that it was a good thing our "commute" home was just across the porch to our side of the house! While I remember so many late evenings with fondness, I can't help but continue to grieve that such a charming and brilliant friend is no longer just a door away. For almost fifteen years, we shared a wall with Dr. Bricker, and we'll miss hearing his tread on the stairs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Track struggles

I'm loving track workouts with the Powermilers, but I'm not going to lie, I'm struggling. I just can't flip the switch to speed! Last night our workout called for 2x2 miles to start the workout off. I hit the first 2 milers easily, right on target, but the second rep was immediately hard. It was 82 degrees, the sun was beating down on me, and I suddenly felt terribly sluggish.
Why, New Orleans? 
One of the awesome things about working out with this group is that when some of the fast guys have races on the weekend, or are just taking it easy, they'll run with me or another girl to pace us (which is super easy pace for them). Jimmi, who writes the workouts, was with me for the second repeat, and at a mile and a half he told me, "Shut it down." I was breathing too hard and running too slow. "You're not gaining any benefit from this," he explained, "And you want to be able to do the rest of the workout." So I did what he said. I took my rest, then ran 6x400 at 5k pace (400 jog) followed by 4x200 hard (1 min rest). He was right - I hit all my paces for the rest of the workout, especially easier since the sun started to go down, and I was glad I'd done what he told me to do.

That's one of the benefits of working with a group - those who know more than you do can help you train smarter! I would NEVER have cut part of a workout short by myself. I would have pushed through it, and then all my subsequent paces would suffer.

I hope my track workouts eventually get me to a faster pace, but for now, they're just slogging. I can barely get a mile under 6:40 at this point. I'm not exactly sure why. Something about my training is boosting my endurance, but not speed, I think; it's like I've developed a small, narrow window of paces I can run. For example, 6:50 feels hard, but 7:50 feels easy. I easily hit 7:30's in regular easy runs and don't even feel like it's an exertion. But if I tried to run 6:30, I'd be dying.

Any suggestions to tweak my training? Ideas to improve my track performance? Do you ever modify track workouts? 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Shamrockin' and volunteering

Sunday was the Shamrockin' Run 8k here in New Orleans. It's a road race that includes an option to complete the Guinness challenge, drinking five beers along the way. In the past, it's been billed as an elite race, a place to set 8k records, probably to compete with the CCC 10k here in April. But I saw no mention of an elite field this year, so I think that plan was dropped.

I signed up to volunteer at the 3-mile Guinness stop for set-up duty. I ran over there to arrive at 7:30 am (the water stop was less than 2 miles from my house, and I detoured through the park to see the finish line set up as well and to get about five miles in). I reached my corner about ten minutes early, but the race officials were already there, waiting for me. They can't leave cases of beer alone in the street, so they just had to sit until I arrived. Good thing I was early! More volunteers joined as time passed, and we waited until the street closed to set up our beer tables.

Each runner drinks four ounces of Guinness at each stop for five drinks total (that's so weird to me - like, not enough beer to even make it worth being a beer run). The cans of Guinness were 14 ounces each, but I think we managed to estimate four-ounce pours pretty well. We had three tables with about 700 cups of beer, stacked with cardboard, by the time we were done.

And then I ran back home, showered and changed as fast as I could, and headed to church! As I passed the park on the way home, I saw the lead man making his way through the park, but besides that, I left too early to see any racers.

Today reminded me that I REALLY need to volunteer at races more. I haven't volunteered in two years! And that's a shame, because as a member of the running community, I should do my part to allow everyone to enjoy races. I'm really going to try to volunteer at races more often in the future, especially ones I wouldn't plan on running, anyway.

Have you volunteered at a race before? What's your favorite way to volunteer? I must say, set-up was way less stressful than actually manning a water stop - making sure every runner got water was a high-pressure job!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I tried all the shoes

This winter, in a quest to find a good backup shoe to my Kinvaras, I bought enough pairs to shod the Roman army and ended up returning most of them.

1. New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo

Type: Cushioned stability
Rating:NO, NO, NO, NO, NO
Well, this is NOT THE SHOE FOR ME.
In my endless search for shoes that fit well, I'd hit on the Fresh Foam Zante, which felt great on but didn't provide quite enough support. The Vongo was surely a similar fit, being in the same line, and the next-level of support up, so I bought it. Less than half a mile into my run, my calves were so painful I had to walk home. The shoe has too little flexibility for me. They went back.

2. New Balance Vazee Rush

Type: I could never figure out what NB was marketing this now-discontinued shoe as.
Rating: NO, NO, NO
There is no cushion in this shoe at all. None. It's kind of stiff and cardboard-like, and flat as a pancake. Back they went.

3. Nike LunarGlide

Type: Cushioned, light stability
Rating: I'll never know
I tried to order these from Jack Rabbit. Remind me: never again. They never sent the shoe, although they charged me; I had to contact them ten days after my order and they were like, "Oh, yeah. I guess we ran out of that shoe. We'll reverse the charge." I had to email again to have them actually reverse it, though!

4. Altra Instinct 3.5

Type: Moderate cushioning
Rating: Meh
I got these at the expo for the RnR marathon. It was a risky purchase: they were out-of-the-box and non-returnable, but at $59, a bargain. But far be it from me to take just "a bargain". I wanted a BARGAIN, capital letters, almost free, so I talked them down to $49 (no one wants to leave an expo with unsold merchandise. If I buy at expos, I buy on the last day, and I always bargain). I don't hate the shoe. It's a heavier shoe than I like, but for easy runs, that's ok. There are two problems with the Instinct: one, I developed top-of-foot-pain while wearing them. Perhaps they weren't the cause - I had other potential causes that week - but that makes me nervous. Two, I just don't love the shoe. I find myself skipping over them and grabbing other shoes. I'm not sure of their fate just yet. I may keep them specifically for rainy and muddy runs, because they're really good for slippery surfaces. Or I may sell them on Ebay, since I only got a few miles on them.

5. Nike Free RN Distance

Type: Cushioned - soft, flexible
So, who am I? I, who swore off Nike shoes after a pricey pair didn't last at all? In love with a Nike shoe? I just can't help myself! The squishy luxury is just too wonderful to resist! Now, I think a lot of runners would dislike the thick, soft soles on these shoes, but I love cushion. The first time I wore these I slept through my morning run and decided to do a quick 3-miler in the afternoon. But the shoes felt so good that I ran almost nine. That never happens to me. I can't remember ever extending my run because I felt great!

My go-to shoe is still the Saucony Kinvara, and probably always will be, but I think having a solid back-up shoe is important. It extends the life of both pairs of shoes, since the foam has time to bounce back before the next use, and allows you to use different muscles a little bit. Despite some fit issues with the Nike Free RN Distance (I went up half  a size for greater width, but they're still a little narrow and yes, a little long now), I am very happy with my new shoes, and hope they become a standby!

What's your primary, everyday shoe? Do you wear a backup pair? Are you loyal to one brand, or do you shop around?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Powermilers St. Patrick's Day pub crawl

I am really enjoying joining the Powermilers for weekly workouts. I need someone to push me, and they're fast...and pushy. But I enjoyed this Tuesday even more: instead of a track workout, we ran an uptown pub crawl route in celebration of St. Patrick's day.
Pre-crawl. My head growing out of Red's shoulder

We started from Jimmi's beautiful house uptown, and after a starter beer, ran to bar #1: Le Bon Temps Rouler. A couple of guys got the first round, we lingered and talked, then headed off to St. Joe's. And thus it went. As we progressed back up Magazine, conversation turned from recent PRs, race plans, questions about kids, and commentary on block development to bathroom humor, lame insults, sudden silences followed by sudden sprints and ALL OUT HILARITY, and "Yo' Mama" jokes.
We wrapped up back at Jimmi's with pizza. Two people were thrown into the hot tub. One person lost their keys in the same hot tub. No one threw up. Everyone bonded. All in all? A successful crawl!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Power Miler Track Club, #2

After a week's break for Mardi Gras, we were back at City Park for the Power Milers workout. After the first week, when a bunch of girls were invited, most of the group emailed around that they had enjoyed it, they'd be back, etc.
Two of us girls (the other one, Kate, is engaged to another runner, so she has little choice!) showed up to meet the guys at the track. No wonder turnout was low, though: it was POURING rain and storming. Band after band rolled over us, and we were soaked in no time.
We started out with an easy two mile warm-up, then some drills on the track. When I've run with other groups, we all did drills together: line up, A-skips, B-skips (it took me years to figure out what those were...I just thought some people skipped weirdly), high knees, etc. But these guys just all do their own thing, whatever warm up or drills they like, then regroup to run. So I did my Myrtles, then a few form drills, then got into the workout.
Naturally, I was running totally alone, since Kate wasn't doing the full workout (and I suspect I can't keep up with her!) and the guys were all, "What's your pace? 5:50? 6:05?" etc. Please. Those time sound suspiciously like my 1200 pace... not my 10k pace!
Waterlogged feet for hours.
We started with 2 miles at 10k pace, and my first mile was just fine. Then the sky opened up. The light rain became pouring, driving rain. The track immediately filled with water, and despite the drains, it stayed flooded - drainage just couldn't keep up. My second mile was a struggle. I huddled down for 5 minutes rest, then started on the 1000 meters at 10k pace, with 200 meter jog. The weather got worse! At one point, luckily during a jog, the wind was blowing sheets of rain and was actually blowing ME around. I got off the track and behind a tree for shelter before my contacts blew right out of my eyes. I have no idea what my paces were...bad. Nothing even close to 10k pace. Water splashed around my ankles, and I was straight up miserable. After five 1000 meter reps, I got three minutes rest before "800 hard". Uh, yeah, right. I was so tired! But the good thing about having a group to run with is that the guys finished it with me: one runner did my first 400 with me, and the other jumped in for the second half. I finished in 2:59, which is hilarious, but hey. It's all I had that night.

I joined in for the 1 mile cool-down, but I passed on the post-workout beer: I was soaked to the skin and still had to go shopping! Yes, I threw some extra clothes over my saturated workout wear and went to the dollar store. Luckily, that super seedy dollar store is already the most bizarre place in the world (and it's open until midnight, which I find intriguing - what $1 emergency arises at 11:50 pm?) and I looked like the most normal person in there.

Power Miler track workout #2: done!
How do you warm up for track? Drills? Jogs? What are your go-to form drills? 
I always like butt kicks and high knees to limber up my quads and hamstrings.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Strava? Dailymile? Excel? Tracking your run

Many years ago, when I was in my running infancy, I kept track of my mileage on an Excel spreadsheet I downloaded from some ultrarunner's blog. I can't remember where I got it now, but it was a good tool that could hold plenty of data - elevation, weather, feel, gear - or just the basics. It automatically calculated pace and total miles, monthly miles, weekly miles, and miles per shoe pair (here's a Google docs similar version I found, although it is simplified). I mostly just used it to keep up with shoe mileage, and eventually I moved over to Dailymile.

Me on Dailymile

I'm still on Dailymile, although I'm not really very sociable there. I really just use Dailymile because it's very easy to use. You can save routes that you run often, and it takes just a second to add your run and attach your shoes to the run. I keep up with my cumulative mileage and my shoes on the site, and I like its simplicity.
Me on Strava

Recently, I joined Strava for a test run, if you will. I can't say I am in love. I know Strava has gotten very popular, but while it does the same things Dailymile does, it is a little clunkier. I guess if you want more social interactions and enjoy the various challenges offered, it's much better, but as just a tracking tool, it seems like it's more time consuming, mostly because I feel obligated to go into an uploaded run and edit the name and details. Otherwise, entering manual runs is very similar to the Dailymile process.
One drawback to me is that Strava requires you to enter time for every run. Your GPS watch syncs with Strava, so you don't have to manually enter runs, but I rarely run with my Garmin. I'm trying to use it all week while I test Strava out, but I prefer to run watchless and be guided less by pace. I always feel like simply being aware of my pace makes me run too fast! Even if I don't wear my watch, I can't enter the run manually without adding a time. For someone who runs untimed at least 50% of the time, that's a pain.
Another negative is that when I entered my shoes into Strava, it didn't allow me to put existing miles on them. Plus, when I synced my Garmin, it uploaded a bunch of older runs, automatically applying those miles to my default shoes.  So for now I'm using Dailymile and Strava to make sure I am keeping track of shoe mileage. I definitely like the option of being able to enter miles already on shoes when you add them - both for this situation, and the occasional situation in which I resurrect formerly retired shoes (it happens).

What's your favorite way to keep track? Do you value the social aspect, or are you mostly tracking for yourself?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What cost a marathon?

The other day I saw a post on Facebook about a half marathon in nearby Bay St. Louis. I was interested, because the race would allow me to stay at my in law's, and I haven't actually raced a half marathon in over a year. A quick glance at the Facebook page illustrated how small-town this race was: tough course, open to traffic, the sign-up link was broken, the url for the race was being offered for sale by GoDaddy, and the date of the race was posted differently in several places. So kind of a mess - that must mean cheap, right?

Well, it was $70!
That's not cheap to me - especially not when I might show up on the wrong day. I really can't believe how expensive some of these races are these days!

Take marathons, for example. The big ones are well over $200, and you can be assured that you'll never get a discount on them. The cheapest marathon I've run is the Mississippi Gulf Coast at $35, but the Rock N Roll New Orleans fee is just $59 if you sign up early. That's not bad at all.

Half marathons can be less of a value. I was appalled that the Louisiana Marathon half is now $140 at the expo. One hundred and forty! For a half! I don't run that many half marathons, but I remember feeling like $60 or $70 was a lot for some races. An early sign-up special got me into the Ole Man River half for $35 this year, which is an excellent deal.

I pay $25 on average for a 5k, $35 for 10ks, and I resent both of those enormously. But they're often assisting a charity, so I suck it up.

What do you pay for a marathon? A half? A 5k? What's the most you've ever spent on a race?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Transitioning to 10k training

With the Crescent City Classic scheduled as my next race, it's high time to shake off my flats and get some speed work in. Doing nothing but marathon training and resting for nine months has sapped my speed!
I kicked off the transition to the 10k with the Power Milers' workout last week, but I don't have a specific 10k training plan in mind. I will continue to complete Tuesday speed work, do a short long run on Saturdays (probably ten miles; maybe twelve on days with a lot of free time), and perhaps one more hard day. Suggestions? I can't do hill repeats; there are no hills here. Perhaps a fartlek or tempo? I've never done tempos for anything but Hanson's, so I am not sure what pace I should run for 10k training (your advice is welcome!).
A wrench in my plans? It's also really hot for this time of year! 

I've had some scares returning to running after my unwise pair of marathons this winter. First, my pes anserine tendon was terribly irritated, and while time off, scraping, and quad work helped, I can still feel that it is not 100%. I have to be careful to stretch and strengthen.
Then, I started to have some foot pain. I'm 99% sure the cause is not running related: I've never had a running-related foot injury, and I'm not prone to foot pain. I may have wide feet and bunions, but I also have strong, high arches that protect my feet to an extent. However, there are two culprits that could have caused pain in the front of my foot:
1. I had to do a ton of walking in wedges all day Thursday. I'd originally planned to be quite sedentary that day, but unfortunately I had to do a lot of walking around the hospital all day (long story, but a tech called in, and I basically ended up taking her place because we were so short-staffed). My top front of my foot started to hurt that night.
2. It's the Altras I just bought. Any time I have a weird pain and I just started running in new shoes, I assume the shoes are a factor. So the Altras stay off for a few days, then I'll make sure to reintroduce them slowly. Just in case!

Otherwise, I'm feeling good, a little heavy right now (thanks, king cake) but otherwise fairly fit. I just need that speed back. Any suggestions for good 10k training plans would be most appreciated!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Power Milers Track Club

Last month, I got an invitation from the Power Milers Track Club. They are a group of fast guys who run in New Orleans, and they had voted to begin including women. The email suggested that we - the group of women invited - join them this week for an introduction to the team and a workout.

Now, don't get me wrong, I was quite excited to receive this invitation. I have sort of been floundering between running groups for years. Some don't fit my schedule, others are too small to have a true sense of camaraderie, and several meet too sporadically to rely on. I run much better with a group, especially a track group: I credit Varsity Sports with a fast few months of workouts that got me from a 3:35 marathon in September to a 3:06 in March, also hitting a 1:30 half in December, down from a 1:36 in October. So was I thrilled with the prospect of a new group? Indeed, but I was also a little unsure. The Power Milers are FAST. Disproportionately fast to me. It's hard to compare men's and women's race times, but I can easily tell you that this group is on a whole 'nother level than I am. However, I hoped that there would be other women within my pace range who would share the mediocrity with me!

Timing of the Tuesday workouts actually fits my work schedule to a T, and I got to the park minutes before the warm up started. We did some quick hello's, but started to jog with little fanfare. I knew almost everyone there already. We did a 2 mile jog, then split up into two workout groups: one on the track, the other a fartlek for runners just getting back into speed work. I joined the track group for a 10k pace workout. The workout was 2x2 miles with 5 minute rest followed by 2x1 mile with 3 minute rest. I was unsure about so much rest, but I'm a rule follower, so far be it from me to question the experts! I didn't have anyone exactly at my pace; I ran near my friend Kim for awhile, but she is just off my pace enough for it to be tough for us to run together (either I won't get a workout in, or she'll be exhausted after one rep). However, the track was crowded with the rest of the group, so it still felt like we were pushing each other. Guys going 5:50 pace swept past me, or during my ample rests I cheered on the large 6 minute group. I liked the workout, rest and all, but I was a little rusty. It's been a long time since I've done a non-Hanson's track workout - months and months and months - and I really only just got back to short, easy running after the marathon. However, my pace was pretty consistently 6:35, which I was happy with (my first 1-mile rep was faster than my second, but otherwise consistent).

After the workout, we cooled down for a total of 9 miles for the day, then met back for beer. Never tasted better, people. It is already warm and humid here, and that hit the spot! I was happy I came out to join these guys, and I hope I can continue to work out with them in the future. I need someone to whip me into shape, and I need a group to keep me company while I do it!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

MBA update: Seven down, four to go.

Really, three and a half to go. I'm halfway through Finance already.

Starting my MBA a little off-schedule left me with four classes left, spread over four sessions. So while I had been doubling classes up, now I'm just taking one per seven-week session, and it is certainly easier! I'll finish up at the end of summer, so it won't take too long - less than a year and a half from start to finish.

Figuring out my work, school, and life schedule can be slightly complicated, but I've been able to juggle it so far. Two weeks ago, the worst scenario presented itself: a test scheduled for the day of my marathon! Now, I would have time to complete it - it didn't close until later that weekend - but there is nothing worse than a test hanging over you, especially during a marathon. And then taking it later, while all exhausted, sounded horrible. Luckily, my professor posted on Saturday that he'd be opening the test up early - that night, in fact! - so I crammed and took the test that evening.

Even though his tests are all essay/math combination scenarios, this professor is a very fast grader. When I got up for the marathon early the next morning, I had a grade - and it was a 100, which was blissful, because you know I think a 99 is an "F" and I didn't want to stress about THAT during the race, either! So I got to run my race with no thoughts of school on my mind at all.

In a few weeks, I have another math-heavy class, then just two summer classes to wrap this MBA up!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New Balance FreshFoam Zante: follow-up review

I've put 400 miles on the FreshFoam Zantes that I bought this summer. They have been my secondary shoe, rotated in once or twice a week as a break from my main shoe, the Saucony Kinvara. Well, at 400 miles, it's time to call it quits and do a follow-up review of the shoe.
Zantes with 400 miles

Durability: I have mixed views on the durability of these shoes. On the one hand, the foam broke down on these rather quickly, and my knees started to ache long before I hit 400 miles. In defense of the shoes, I did wash them twice, and they were summer shoes - I don't think shoes last as long in the summer. They get saturated with sweat and stay damp, which degrades the foam, and the soles wear easily on hot asphalt. But anyway, the "fresh foam" just felt flat very early in the life of the shoe - maybe 250 miles.

Slight balding on the forefoot 

Some wear on the insole
No tear over the bunion

On the other hand, the Zante is well-constructed. In fact, in the pictures above, I find it hard to believe they have 400 miles on them! The upper didn't tear along the side where my bunion places pressure, like almost all shoes do, and the sole shows pretty minimal wear. The insole wore away under my bunion, but only a little. So I think the shoe is put together well, but the foam wears quickly.

Fit: I liked the fit immediately and still do: wide toe box (wider in the 2E I bought), more snug at heel and midfoot. In fact, although my pair are retired from running, they'll become gym shoes.

Function: Here's where my affection for the Zante wore thin. They are, as advertised, a cushioned, neutral shoe. But, although I have high arches, I do tend to over-pronate just a tad. The sock-like upper offers no support whatsoever, and I found that for me, that allowed too much movement in the foot and ankle, which led to soreness along my inner calf and the inside of my knee. I would also feel a stretching, burning feeling along my plantar fascia at the end of mid-distance runs. I think they would be excellent shoes for a very efficient runner with a very good gait, but I need just a smidge more shoe.

Since I felt like I was toying with injury wearing these shoes, I won't be buying another pair, which is too bad, since it's so hard for me to find shoes that fit my foot well. I do think they would be excellent race or everyday shoes for a light-weight, efficient neutral runner who likes a flexible shoe - so if that's you, try the Zantes!

Monday, February 13, 2017

It's Carnival time!

The season is upon us! With a rare race-free weekend, we spent three days partying.
First, my plans to study Friday night were canned when I got an unexpected text that an old friend was in town. We immediately drove out to meet him and got drinks at Mimi's in the Marigny. We planned to meet at Bacchanal, but they had a line to enter -  a line. To get into a bar. Please. This is New Orleans. I will just go to, oh, one of a thousand other venues with drinks and live music!
Then, as we were saying our goodbyes, who should walk by but - my brother? It was his birthday, so...we stayed out even later!
I know it might seem odd that a brother of mine just happens to walk by and it just happens to be his birthday, but remember, there are seven of them. So odds are actually pretty high.

I made up for missed studying on Saturday, but I had to finish up in time to steam my dress for the Thoth ball. I re-wore one of my favorite dresses, a gray one-shoulder column embellished with feathers. Its unique neckline and subtle shimmer always get compliments.

The ball made me question everything about New Orleans as usual. I am just not sure I get Mardi Gras. Sorry, folks.
Here's the part where you bow to royalty, except it's all fake.

With my handsome date

But I do get king cake! Sunday was a potluck of the sweetest sort - all king cakes!
I brought a homemade one, and we had a total of twenty to taste. I didn't try them all, but I did sample a few old favorites (Manny Randazzo's) and new specialties (Sucre salted caramel; Cake Cafe's apple and goat cheese).
And then I basically rolled out of there! King cake is delicious, but a few slivers will put you in a sugar coma.

The parades are already rolling, so we're close to being in the thick of the season. Happy carnival!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Recovery plans

Following Sunday's race, I've been really tired: not fatigued, just tired. I want to sleep! I've slept in every morning, in fact. Of course, I did run the race completely sleep deprived. One of the drawbacks to living in a college neighborhood is that the kids sometimes stay up all night in the house right behind you, huge bonfire blazing and music pumping into your house...Somehow I managed to get to sleep at midnight, but they woke me up again at 3:00 am and the noise and smoke prevented me from falling back asleep. Then by 5:00 I was getting up for the race anyway! (True story: there was so much smoke in my house that I could smell smoke in my hair all the way through the race, and someone near me at the start said they smelled fire!)

By the time I finished racing and Super Bowling, I was exhausted, and I've slept in every morning since then.

I'm taking time off running for a few weeks to recover. I did nothing on Monday, some stretching on Tuesday, and maybe today I'll do some body-weight strength stuff. I am really not sore at all, surprisingly. I was so beat up the week after Louisiana, which really goes to show how much eating after a race matters. I think my excruciating quad pain was thanks to eating nothing for a whole day while my stomach was upset! I didn't have any major stomach problems this race, and while I didn't have an appetite at first, I ate about a football field of chips and chicken wings that evening.

My recovery concern right now is my right knee. I overworked the pes anserine tendon, and while obviously I can run on it, I'm sure I should let it heal. The condition seems to be linked to tight hamstrings, which you know plague me. I mean, look at those things. I look like I have Mr. Universe hamstrings. I guess I don't really understand how to develop long, lean, strong runner muscles instead of bunchy chunky weight lifter muscles!

So, a week or three off, maybe a PT visit if my knee still hurts, and then a slow return to running, followed by training for the Crescent City Classic 10k in April. I definitely want to be back running, even a little or sporadically, by the 21st: I have exciting plans with a group that night, more about that later...but for now, the plan is keep resting, and ignore the beautiful spring weather I could be enjoying!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Race Report: RnR New Orleans 2017

I ran this race three weeks after the Louisiana Marathon and one week after the Run the Bayou 10k. I've run this race many times, and although the course has changed a little over time, I knew what to expect: a beautiful first half with a lot of tree cover, and a tough and lonely second half with full sun and wind. I also knew that I was not well-prepared. I didn't really do any kind of marathon build up for Louisiana, and so for this race, my long runs were basically two 16 milers I ran in previous training, plus the Louisiana marathon. Kind of a hot mess of training. Plus, my knee was bothering me.
Another issue: My garmin has proven itself insanely inaccurate: not only is the distance totally off, but the readouts are not even close to what the watch registers. When I view average pace or lap average (and I rely on lap average a lot in races), it will show a stable number - say, 7:14, maybe jump around to 7:15 or something. But then when I hit lap or it auto-laps, it reads 7:03. Like, I can still see the "7:14" average pace AS IT POPS UP WITH A 7:03 MILE. Nuts. It makes the garmin useless in races, basically just a stopwatch. 

Prerace, back when I was smiling
Getting to the start was a breeze - David and I are pros at this now, since I've run this race seven times - and I used a port-a-potty and did some Myrtles. I ran a block or two in warm up and decided to go to the bathroom again, ducking into a hotel instead of waiting in line outside. I saw two elite women using, of all things, the men's room, which annoyed the men in line immensely! I got in my corral, saw a couple of people I knew, and then we were off.

Miles 1- 8: All these miles get lumped together. They're basically an out and back on St. Charles Ave, and it was crowded. Most of the runners were half-marathoners, and there are a lot of them. Mile after mile I'd adjust my pace, hit the lap key at the mile marker, and be astonished at what it said. I am not such a great pacer in a crowd, especially a crowd that's speeding up to finish a half-marathon, and my "slow start" was too fast. I kept my Garmin average pace right where it should be, but it was totally off the actual laps. So confusing, especially since I was already feeling a little off and couldn't appropriately gauge my effort.

By mile three, I felt terrible and knew this would be a hard race. I just felt tired, unprepared, not ready. I didn't have any pep in my step! I was hot already, and I could tell by my breathing that I was working way too hard.
I saw David by the St. Charles Avenue turnaround, and he got some good pictures (then he walked straight to church!). I *almost* dropped and went home with him.
Passing David

Miles 9-16: The race runs down Elysian Fields, and then the half splits off. Here's where I could bail. I didn't go with the half, but at mile 14 or 15 we were back near the park and I could hear the finish line. I was tempted to drop out there, really tempted, but I talked myself out of it. I just felt bad. Now that we were on the full marathon course, it was empty. There were few spectators, few runners, and precious little shade. The majority of the second half is full sun, with a brisk wind off the lakefront. Mile 16 seems to be where I fall apart lately, and sure enough - I started to slow and felt even worse.

Still early, on St. Charles Ave. 
Miles 17 - 20: Oh, the Lakefront. We headed up Marconi, cut across Robert E. Lee boulevard, and got up on the lakefront. And like always, it was hot hot hot, sunny, and windy. I prepared for the struggle, but this time I was a little more prepared than just mentally: I had grabbed a Glukos at mile 18 and hung onto it, taking it during the hot portion on the lake. This was an additional gel, beyond the four I'd brought with me (because Glukos is crap. It has too few calories and negligible sodium. But any calories are good during a marathon!). It helped, but so did seeing other runners I knew at the turnaround. At mile 20, I did the math and realized that if I continued running with the same gradual slowing pace I was running now, I'd run a 3:15. I didn't want that. I had to try to get under 3:12! I was so sick of running 3:12!

Miles 21 - 26.2: As I turned around on the lakefront, I decided to cheer for every single runner coming the other way. It was an excellent distraction! I started passing people, all guys. Finally we got off the lake and onto Wisner. While still warm, at least you get a tailwind off the lake for a mile before the course turns. I was totally alone, but I saw a woman ahead of me, and I slowly crept up behind her. I passed her at mile 22, and I was shocked to see that she was one of the elite woman I'd run into in the bathroom line! Passing another woman was a boost, and I was still chugging away. Almost there! I could finish! At every mile I calculated the pace I'd need to squeeze under 3:12, but as I got closer to the finish, I realized that it was possible to even get a 3:10:xx, close to my goal of 3:10. It wasn't until mile 25 - a solid 7:17! - that I knew I could definitely hit it, though. But I just didn't have a sprint in me. Wayne, a local runner for the PowerMiler track club, passed me at mile 25. I really tried to hang onto him, but he eased ahead. Still, he drew me along and finally I could see the finish line. I crossed in 3:10:14 as sixth female!

Goal met? Not quite. Am I still thrilled? Yes! I just didn't want another 3:12, and I just didn't want to give up at the end of this race.