Getting Schooled Race Recaps

This racing season has been so fun! I have a shiny new half marathon PR and got reminded of how to properly race–cuz I seem to have forgotten in the past 2 years how to actually RACE.

Silly Abby.

So what happened in Jersey?

It was good. But I got schooled.

  • I was not at the race early enough. I took the special race train but they had LOST MY BIB so I had to track down someone to get my a freaking bib before the race started so I missed my usual 1-2 mile warm-up.
  • The weather was perfect for racing hard…until the end (or for those poor marathoners who got the sunshine). Overcast and cool.
  • I went out too fast (7:15 min/miles) and I felt great but didn’t have the miles under my belt to maintain that pace. Good news is, I can totally do that this Fall.
Up and over the only "hill" on the course. I'll be back for you, Jersey.

Up and over the only “hill” on the course. I’ll be back for you, Jersey.

  • I slowed down to my normal pace (7:40) but was exhausted by mile 9. Stupid mile 9. My nemesis. By mile 10.5, I had no gas left in the tank.
  • I maintained that pace until the last mile and a half when we turned into a headwind straightaway along the beaches along the Shore. Brutal. Ended with an 8:05 min/mile and was DONE. Like, dry-heaving done.

Lesson learned: Get to race earlier to warm-up and NEVER, EVER go out faster than your training miles.

You’d think I would have remembered this but I was just so excited to be out there racing that I didn’t want to hold back. Still, I managed to PR by 2 minutes!

PR City!

PR City!

Chicago was a completely different beast.

In the 6 weeks I spent at the hospital, my training times didn’t suffer but my legs felt tired ALL THE TIME. Day and night, short or long run, track or tempo, I felt tired every single moment of every single day.

When I got to Chicago, I knew my race was going to be slower than Jersey.

  1. It was hot.
  2. My legs were toast.
  3. I couldn’t figure out my watch.
Feeling great at mile 9 (woohoo!) but totally crapped out at mile 11.

Feeling great at mile 9 (woohoo!) but totally crapped out at mile 11.

Thank goodness JB, Ginger, and Hillary were out there to cheer me on. I’m pretty sure I would have just grabbed a cab and headed back to my hotel at mile 6.5 if they weren’t meeting me at the finish.

My splits were even (7:42-ish) and going negative until mile 11 when I was done with a capital “D”. But my legs felt like they were torn apart at mile 7. SEVEN!!! So I knew early on it would be a battle.

Good thing was, I had someone else to run for that day.

Yo, buddy. #SweatingForAli

Yo, buddy. #SweatingForAli

Those last 2 miles just beat me down. I was SO hot and my legs were SO tired and I was SO cranky. Good news is, I didn’t slow down all that much and still finished with a respectable time.

Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 4.37.35 PM

Hooray for finishing!

Lesson learned: Going from sitting on my butt in class all day to standing and walking all day every day does not make for speedier times.

On the bright side, I was the 2nd female finisher for Team Challenge in Chicago!

Janella was the 1st. We became buddies at the starting line in the B Corral. Such a lovely lady!

Janella was the 1st. We became buddies at the starting line in the B Corral. Such a lovely lady!

I’m glad I ran both of these races. The PR in Jersey felt like the welcome back to running I needed after all the surgeries and illness and drugs. I had a ball with my friends and family in Chicago and wouldn’t trade getting to run as a member of Team Challenge for anything in the world.

Team Challenge New York City!

Team Challenge New York City!

If you ever get the chance to run with Team Challenge, I highly recommend you do it. There wasn’t a mile on the course that didn’t have a TC coach, mentor, or fan cheering for me and all the other TC runners.

The best part about the course was that it was an out-and-back loop and I could give a thumbs up to my teammates as we went by each other on the course. It was a sea of orange along the lake.

For Boston. For Ali. For me.

For Boston. For Ali. For me.

All in all, a successful return to running. I’m so happy. I know it’s hot and sweaty and gross out there right now and I’m complaining about it just as much as the next runner. But I’m so happy to be running again.

I’m back.

How is your racing going? Are you struggling with tired legs like I was or are you rocking it hard on the racing circuit? I know some of you are Age Group placing/winning these days. Tell me all about it!

Now go out and run.

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Philly

Philadelphia is a cool town. I like the little streets and the architecture is truly beautiful. It was even cooler at daybreak as me and 25,000 of my closest running buddies headed to the start line of the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon.

I ran. I finished.

But first, I met Bart Yasso, Editor-at-large for Runner’s World Magazine and creator of my favorite marathon workout, Yasso 800s. Yes, THAT Bart Yasso.

Hey, Bart!

He’s only the most friendly guy in the world. He’s also very gracious. He signed my book, took a picture with me and chatted with me about our mutual love for lululemon run apparel. His favorites are the Run: Response shorts. He also promised to join us for a Wednesday night run club next time he’s in the city. We’ll be ready for you, Bart!

I spent Saturday afternoon napping at our hotel before we hit up our dinner reservation for some good ‘ol fashioned pasta. Thanks, Maggiano’s Little Italy for making a special dish just for me and my stupid colitis tummy.

Success #1. Drugs. On that note, I was completely hopped up on the ‘roids on race day. Whatever. Thanks to my fabulous drugs, the quick thinking of my awesome PA and last-minute freak-out emails with Ali when I fully should have been listening in Physics class, I was basically bathroom problem-free on Sunday morning. Basically.

Success #2. Corral starts were staggered and awesome. I was put in the perfect corral pace for me and enjoyed a fairly spread-out start. I was also dressed perfectly, thanks to  my favorite lululemon apparel: Energy BraCool Racerback Tank TopRun: Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve (which I ditched at mile 5), Run: Mind Over Matter Pullover (from Spring ’11 line), Run: For Your Life Crops (from Summer/Fall ’11 line) and Run: Brisk Gloves at the start.

Ready to run!

Oh, but I totally bit it in the middle of the road at mile 5.5. Me and two other people all fell in the exact same spot, which made me feel a little better that I wasn’t he only klutz on the course. Super-cool part of it all is that I was fine and hardly spent any time on the pavement, as I was almost immediately drawn to my feet by three rather large male runners, each of whom grabbed my arms and promptly put me back on my feet. Thanks, guys!

I held myself back in the first 10 miles, which kept me at an 8:11-8:30 pace. I wanted to maintain an 8:30 as long as I could, knowing I’d probably end up slowing down in the last 6 miles even if I pushed harder. It felt slow to begin with and maybe I’ll tinker with going out a little faster on training run in the future, but I was really very ok with it yesterday. Saw JB at mile 7 (he looked pretty content with a coffee in one hand, waving at me with the other) and kept on truckin’.

Success #3. Only one POJ stop at mile 13.1. I’ll take it. I am sad that I missed seeing JB jumping up and down, waving his arms looking for me but I was probably too distracted and looking for the nearest POJ to notice a 6’2” Marine-looking dude jumping up and down, which he swears he was doing (for the record, I have NEVER seen him do this in my life so if anyone caught this on film/camera, pleeeeease email it to me so that I might see my husband cheering like a wild animal).

The scenery was really beautiful past mile 13. I know a lot of people hate an out and back and I’m normally with ya’ll on that, but this out and back was gorgeous! It was a beautiful run along the cliff-lined river on our way to Manayunk. Once in Manayunk, we were greeted by hundreds of cheering fans and a DJ nearly every mile. There was that point where they had beer shots out for runners and I almost gagged on the smell of stale beer being heated up on the pavement, but other than that it was lovely!

Success #4. Seeing my friends. I almost cried several times during this marathon. I blame my hormones. And my family. And my friends who came all the way from New York just to cheer for me at mile 24.5. And they made me my very own sign that was “3D”. They were cheering “Ab-by! Ab-by! Ab-by!” as I blew kisses and shuffled on by them and then met me at the finish with JB. I mean, seriously.

Best gals in the world. You shall remain nameless, but not faceless because you're too pretty for that. I hope ya'll don't mind.

Success #5. I did not lose it and cry. Phew. I damn near broke down when I heard several songs: “My Life Would Suck Without You” at mile 16 (weird, but there’s a reason), “Born To Run” at mile 18, “Gonna Fly Now” at mile 24, “Learning To Fly” at mile 25. When I got to mile 22, I knew I was going to finish and be just fine. This also made me want to cry, but I didn’t. No crying = success!

And then I was almost done. Since my name was written on my number as “Abigail” and not Abby, if I ever heard anyone yell “Go Abby!” I knew that they actually knew me! This was the case at the finish when I saw a friendly face from the city who had run the half marathon and stuck around to cheer us marathoners on. Thanks, AH!

I wish my Garmin hadn’t died at mile 24.7 so that I knew where I was in the last few miles, but whatever. Apparently, my computer has to be on in order for the silly gadget to charge. Whatever. It did it’s job for most of the race so I guess it’s ok. The finish line was around a corner and I didn’t see it until I was on top of it. This is a good mental note for the next time I do Philly: Finish line is around that big corner.

Success #6. I did it. Official finish time-3:56. Yippeee!

See? Told you I'd have this photo to show ya'll! Wow, JB, I really DO turn blue when I finish a race.

JB was there at the finish line (he tells me I looked great when I was finishing. Isn’t he kind? I know I probably had “the face” happening) where he helped me break the law and hop the corrals and whisked me back to the hotel where he promptly dropped my very cold body into a very warm tub. I know, I know, COLD water bath. Well, I was turning blue so hypothermia > muscular edema. Warm bath wins.

Success #7. We made our train and were home by 3:30 that afternoon. I was asleep on the couch by 8pm with a tummy full of (cheeseless) pizza and breadsticks. Mmmmmm…

All in all, a really great weekend. Thank you all who have cheered me on both near and far for the past few weeks, months and years as I truck along on this crazy journey we call life. I appreciate all the Tweets and Facebook comments of encouragement more than you will probably ever realize. I’m looking forward to lots of great races in the near future and maybe even a Spring marathon (any takers?).

Congratulations to everyone who ran the inaugural Brooklyn Marathon in Prospect Park on Sunday. I do not envy you on that course. Ouch.

Stay classy, Philly. And thanks for the memories.

Now go out and run!