Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ocean City Half Marathon

I highly recommend this race. Small, great location, and well supported. I registered early for $50 and I know someone who registered two days ago for $60. We recieved a long sleeve tech tee, a visor and a medal for crossing the finish line. My enjoyment was definitely enhanced by the presence of friends but it is a great race even if I had been there alone.

11 of us met for dinner on Saturday evening. We chose Italian. That seemed appropriate for a pre- race meal. We had 6 pm reservations which allowed for some down time back at the hotel before sleep. Both  Dave and I had been up early on Saturday (5:30) - he for hockey, me for Phillyfit - so we were lights out by 9:30. The hotel had breakfast at 6 which was perfect. We had a leisurely breakfast and at 7:30 drove to OC for the 9 am start. Very civilized.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Think I Can

That will be my mantra for the Ocean City Half. 

By now you know my primary goals are to have fun and finish. Having fun is a given. 9 running buddies will be there. Whenever two more of us do a race together a good time is had by all. We will meet before, try to meet after, and as this race is two out and back segments there are two chances for high fives during the race. Add to that, one of the group will be completing his first half marathon! 

I'm confident I will finish. The course is walker friendly so I'm good to go. 

So what about a time goal? I'd like to beat last year's time (2:37:19). It was during this race last year that my hip flexor injury began - although I didn't know that's what it was then - and I struggled a lot. I think I can do better. 

Can I do better than the RNR race two weeks ago? (2:24:24). I THINK I CAN!. I'm going to just tell myself that throughout the race and see what happens. There are a few things that could make a negative difference and derail the train...

First - the bridge. The OC Half is flat with the exception of the bridge and it's a fairly large exception. A long slow climb then down the other side into Longport. Turn around and long slow climb again followed by down the other side back into Ocean City. I've done more hill work this summer than any of my previous training seasons. I have to believe that will help. I also have to relax, run tall and do my best on the upside and make up time on the downside. Managing the first 5 miles of the race - which includes the bridge - is going to be very important. I think I can do that.

Second - the weather. The forecast is waffling daily, in some cases more frequently, between high humidity and rain. I'd prefer the rain. I've had some of my best runs in the rain. Rain will make the boardwalk portion of the race slippery but I'd rather watch my step then have to force myself through the heaviness of 90+% humidity at the shore. 

Third - my health. For the past ten days I've been up and down with some gunk. Not sure if it's allergies, a cold or flu- likely a bit of all three. One day I feel fine, the next I feel like someone ran me over with a truck. I had a good run on Tuesday. Good pace, easy, relaxed. Later that evening I went downhill. So now I'm going to spend any " down" time until race day (Sunday) resting, getting lots of fluids and repeating " I think I can". 

Stay tuned and I'll let you know if I did.:)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Blast From the Past

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away .... or at least it seems that way....

I was an unabashed, crazy, really quite fanatical Flyers fan. My sister KT recently sent this photo to me via email. The editorial comment to the right is written by KT. It appears from my words that I was somewhat of an obnoxious Flyers freak too! .. Oh well..

It says
Flyer are number one.
We beat the NHL
We beat the Russians
Stanley cup 74 & 75
Was there a 76?
I was born in 1959
I am 16 now!
I will live to be a hundred
I love hockey
I'm short

The photo was taken in early 1976. We had just had the wallpaper removed from the hallway of our home in and before painting or papering over it our parents allowed us to write on the wall for posterity? It's interesting to see what was important or relevant to us back then. 36 years later and I'm still short and I'm still convinced I'll live to be 100. I don't sign my name that way anymore and I'm not a Flyers fan anymore but this picture brings back some memories.

It was my dad who got me interested. In 1972 I started watching games with him. I don't think he knew what a monster he was creating. Before Kate Smith could finish singing I was hooked. I really did sign my name that way and rarely missed a game .....on TV. I remember being shocked to learnthat my parents had season tickets in the early years and gave them up! I could give you almost any stat on the players and the game. I was a real dork about it.

My dad got tickets to game 7 (vs. the Rangers) of the 1974 series. He had a student at the time who was a Philly cop and couldn't use them. Game 6 was pure torture for me. With the Flyers up 3 games to 2 they could get to the finals with a win but a win meant I wouldn't get to go to game 7. Talk about conflicted. As it was there was a game 7 and I was in heaven. Almost for real too.. you couldn't much higher than our seats in the Spectrum (remember the Spectrum?) without hanging on the rafters. Dave Schultz had a hat trick and of course they won!

Fast forward to May 19, 1974. The Flyers needed one more win to win the Stanley Cup. Also, on May 19, 1974 my mother's cousin Donald was being ordained a priest. Seriously? I remember being dressed for church - which back then meant itchy dress, stockings and dress shoes...UGH! - watching the game. It was time to go and the game wasn't over yet! I listened to Gene Hart call the game winner squished between mom and dad on the front seat bench of the family station wagon. I'm really not sure what would have happened had the game not ended before we got to church. More than one relative told me though that Grandmom was really glad that I did not show up with a transitor radio (remember those?) in my ear.

I'm not really a fan anymore. After high school life got more complicated and I didn't have as much time to watch games and I got away from it. Now, my husband is a huge Canucks fan and has a real fan-hate for the Flyers. I am Switzerland when it comes to ice hockey, now. And this season it may not matter to anyone anyway... but I digress.

The only remnant now of my crazy hockey infatuation is this ......

Wannamakers (remember Wannamakers?) sold them after the first Stanley Cup. I wore it everywhere. Even proudly in my high school graduation photo (1977). No, I will not post that picture here.

This post is full of things that don't exist anymore. I'm still here though and I'm going to live to be 100. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

What's Next?

It's been over 24 hours- my self imposed minimum time before thinking about what's next.

I have to be honest. I wrote this yesterday evening around 8 or so but would not publish it until after the 24 hours to make sure I still felt the same. So with a few edits here are my thoughts.

Next on the schedule is Ocean City Half on September 30th. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I believe there is room to improve yesterday's performance - at Ocean City in two weeks. My legs are not crazy sore - even 24 hours later. I feel the effort but I'm not hobbling by any means. My legs were not the limiting factor. My inefficient fueling, electrolyte balance and the mental issues with the clock were much more of an issue.

Over the last month or so leading up to the RNR, I spent a lot of thought and companion Internet searches on how to manage the two races (RNR and OC) effectively. I wanted to do more than just finish them. The source that made the most sense to me was this one by Jenny Hadfield.  To summarize:

Week #1 - she recommends should be rest, massage/foam roller and 20-40 minutes easy cross training (in my case biking)

Week #2 - she recommends alternating cross training (30-40 min) and easy runs (25-30) with continued stretching and massage/rolling.

It will be challenging since the instinct is to keep 'training'. The way she explains it makes sense to me. In the article JH says

 if you are racing a half- or full marathon two weeks apart, the first week is all about recovery, with time off, a massage, and flexibility work. The following week is all about short, easy-effort runs. This is different than the traditional model of rest and easy runs or cross-training the first week, because in that paradigm you won't be racing in two weeks, you'll still be recovering! The goal after your first race is to recover enough to race again, so you have to speed the rate of recovery rather than train. See the difference? Good. 

She also touts cross training heavily for active recovery. So I'm going to go on my gut that says JH makes sense and have a little faith (ok a lot of faith).

What's next longer term?

After OC there will be 6 weeks to the Philly Half. A little more time to build in some harder training for improvement. More research required probably. :)

I'm still waiting until at least after Ocean City to register for Bob Potts and may wait as long as after Philly half. I have made a decision on the Century Ride though.

When I think about Bob Potts - despite my hesitation to register - I think I can do it. When I think about the Century Ride I think I can do that too. But trying to do them together isn't easy to wrap my head around. A friend made some really good observations a few posts back and I see now that it is probably best to put of the Century to after the marathon. So I'm still going to do a century ride but I'm going to postpone it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Half Marathon Completed 2 Miles at a Time (more or less)

Today was race day! It was a perfect day for racing. Cool temperatures, low humidity, little wind.

I had decided a few weeks ago that if conditions (both external and internal) were good I wanted to run this race from water station to water station. They are approximately two miles apart on the course and I was sure I could manage that. I even did a few weekday runs just prior to the race two miles at a time (rather than my usual long run intervals) just to get into the mindset. I brought my Gymboss set to 3 and 1's just in case. If the water stop intevals didn't go well I would switch over to the 3 and 1's. I never touched the timer. :)

I started the race in Corral #18. I couldn't see the clock when we finally crossed so I really had no idea at what point we started. I estimated 20 minutes but really had no clue. As I got to each water station without fading my confidence grew. I think I got a little over confident between 7 and 8 though. I felt my pace was pretty quick then and debated with msyelf whether I should pull back a bit. I was past the early part of the race though and figured I'd just let it go. Unfortunately I paid for this later when in the last mile I thought I was going to have to walk. I did take a longer walk break through and a little beyond the last water stop but pushed on by telling myself that I wasn't going to finish if I didn't keep going. I know my pace slowed considerably in that last mile but I was moving... not smiling so much - but moving.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What Happens on a Sister Vacation....

From left to right (shortest on the top of course)
Christine (44), Meg (49), Katie (50) and Paula (52) 

is not for public review. So no blog details about the trip but I will share some photos of our 4 days in Ocean City New Jersey to celebrate KT's 50th.

Kt, Meg and I before we left. Christine joined us down there

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Next Sunday, September 16 is the Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. This will be my 5th entrance to this race. In 2008 when this race was the Philly Distance Run, it was my first ever half marathon. It was a great start to my running life.

My first two goals always will and always have been to have fun and to finish. In that order. If I don't finish for some reason I will be disappointed but if I had fun it was still a good day. Until recently I didn't know what my time goal should be (or if I should have one). On August 29th I ran the Firehouse Pickle Run in the Streets 5k. My mindset that night was to run easy and comfortable and just have fun. I finished in 32:07 in pretty much perfect running weather. When I plug that into a conversion calculator available online the result is a 2:27:45 half marathon: an average pace of 11:16. I have to say I'm not entirely sure that's realistic for me right now. My PR for the half is 2:17  and change (November 2009). However, I've missed 2:30 every half since then. Still 2:27:45 is as good a target as any so I'll leave it out there and we'll see what happens.

If you need to know what happens before I get around to posting it you can look me up on the race website probably. My bib number is 18092.

Before the race though I will be spending Wednesday - Saturday with my sisters in Ocean City New Jersey to celebreat KT;'s 50th. I'm looking forward to this time with them and for some relaxing time in the sun and the sand. The forecast is for goregeous weather. I hope to get in two small runs on the boardwalk while I'm there. Stay tuned for posts and pics.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Value of Running Buddies

Today I decided to run technology free. I hadn't planned on it but my watch was still searching for satelites when I was ready to go and I decided to leave it behind. I knew where I was going and was confident that my route was very close to the 10 I wanted to do. I did use my gymboss though. Heavy humidity I knew I wanted to do intervals.

There were only 4 of us present today going for 10 miles. At first I tried to push John, Mark and Sherry away because I knew I would be slow and didn't want to hold anyone back or (more likely) push too hard to keep up. They said they were heading to the loop so I headed over to the Schuykill River Trail. I was thinking I'd mesage them later today to explain and apologize. But then I hear "Paula, we're stalking you". Ha Ha. Soon though Mark and John were off ahead of us and it was just me and Sherry.

She said she hadn't been running and was happy to do my intervals. If you know Sherry, you know she's awesome at pacing others. We haven't seen each other in forever so we had an enjoyable time catching up. About 5 miles in, on the Betzwood River Trail, we ran into Mark and John. They had run up to Pawlings road and down to the far end of Betzwood trail. By their estimation they needed extra miles and so turned around and we all finished the last 5 together - at my pace :)

We covered a lot of ground not only on the trail but also in talk. We filled Sherry in on all the people she's missed this season, we discussed the value and drawbacks of GPS in the car and comparisons of internet/cable/phone service providers. 

The river trail was a bit overgrown from the days of rain last week. Even though it's likely all weeds it had a very lush feel about it. Of course that meant a few puddles too but nothing we couldn't go around. 

So I thought I was going it alone on a humid 10 miles run. I should have known better. Running friends are awesome. Everyone should have at least one and the more the merrier. I love mine! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Art of Conversation On a Bike

I need to master this skill.

Actually, I need to master the art of just riding with a group. As a kid, we rode to get from point A to point B and I don't recall a lot of chatter until we got where we were going.

Tonight, not for the first time, I went out with a group. I was the slowest rider in this group - by a large margin - and keeping up took a lot of energy. There was also matter of who moves ahead if you are more or less side by side and there is someone ahead or the path narrows. I have no idea what the ettiquitte is - if there is any. But it took a lot of my focus wondering if there was and what I should do. Then there was the challenge of venturing into groundhog territory for the first time since my failure to navigate around one back in early August. I did not want to fall again with these folks - at least not until a more appropriate amount of time has passed. 

So, I didn't want to be rude to my friends who were chatting away but my limit for multi tasking while riding a bike was being tested.

It was a fun ride though and my longest distance to date. My Garmin battery died but Lyn said it was 21 miles. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy New Year!

The day after labor day - the first day of school - always feels like more of the New Year to me than January 1st. Even thought I haven't been in school since 1980 (pause while you all do the I'm 52 deal with it) I still think of this time of year as the cleaning of the slate the time.

I'm not a resolution maker so I won't be making any of those. As I get older I've learned that I can start over whenever I feel like it or whenever I don't like the way something is going. This is highly evidenced in my fitness routines. If I don't like the schedule I'm following I change it up.... as long as I keep doing something I'm good.

So Happy New Year everyone. Make it a Keep Smiling and Keep Moving kind of year!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bob Potts Marathon Registration Open

Registration opened yesterday (Sept 1) for Bob Potts Marathon. (click here for my previous post on why) I still want to do this one but I've decided to wait until completing RNR (9/16) and OCNJ half Marathons (9/30). At least. I may even just take my chances and wait for the Philly Half.

I'm nervous about committing to the full marathon again. Not completing 15 miles on Saturday was a good decision for that day ( and my week ) but it does leave me concerned. I was having some good long runs before vacation but I have taken a few steps back now.  I don't plan on going over 15 between now and Philly half but I feel that if my races feel good and the two 15 's I do have planned go well, I'll have some more confidence.

I found the schedule I'll follow for Bob Potts.

It's 24 weeks (I'd have to start December 10 which is perfect); three 20 milers; works on three days a week running; a drop back week every three weeks and recommends biking twice a week (Wed and Sat). I could keep my Monday and Friday rest days. The weekday runs get up as high as 10 miles but if I go out immediately after work I should be able to get most of them in before dark. It might be close a few times but I have night running gear.

Obviously I really want to do the race or I wouldn't have picked out the schedule already. There's still a niggling voice saying " Are you sure?"
Mood update: I had a very relaxing day yesterday including a nice family gathering with my sister, her two girls, my dad, stepmom, Dave and one niece's boyfriend. Last night I took allergy meds and had a drug induced 10 hour night sleep. Unfortunately that leaves me groggy for the day but it rained most of it so I was ok skipping the bike ride. I'm fidgety now but I definitely feel myself coming back.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

And Sometimes You Just Have to Stop and Think

This week was a rough one. At first I thought it was just post vacation blues. Although I don't usually have issues with that anything is posssible. All week I've felt anxious, a little bit stressed. I couldn't determine any reason why and that of course made it worse. I wasn't sleeping well either. My job - that I truly love - was getting on my nerves. "Keep smiling and keep moving" was the only thing that kept me from chopping off the heads of innocent bystanders. Ugh. By Friday after lunch I was a mess. I finally just stopped everything and put my head down on my desk and forced myself to try to figure it out. (and not fall asleep while doing that).

Basically I resolved that it is a kind of domino effect breakdown. Already I feel better just having identified it.

I've been back for 11 days. Upon our return the Ragweed pollen hit it's stride. Fighting it takes a lot out of me. And it is likely the reason for the unsatisfying sleep. In the mornings I opted to sleep a little extra and skip breakfast at least 4 of those 11 days. I'm one of those people for whom breakfast really IS an important meal. I've been drinking more coffee - because I feel tired - but not increasing my water intake to match. My excercise routine since returning has been uneven. I've been getting out but different things - mostly the fatigue - have gotten in the way of a full routine.

My allergy - which the doctor originally wanted me to take shots for - is more or less manageable if I hydrate, eat and sleep better. Yet I was skipping breakfast, not sleeping and not hydrating well because of the allergy. How's that for chicken and the egg syndrome! Excercise also helps manage the ragweed reaction but I haven't been consistent.

Top it off I was trying to schedule too much for today. I wanted to run 15 miles (even though I knew deep down that wasn't going to happen) I wanted to bike ride and I wanted to do my strenght excercises....but I'm tired!!!!

So the first thing I did was let me off the hook for today. I figured that 11 good miles would be sufficient and I did it. I had a decent breakfast after the run and now that I'm home and cleaned up I'm I'm going to continue hydrating and take a nap and go to my dad's to celebrate my niece's 22nd birthday.

Assuming this reboot helps I'll think about bike miles tomorrow.