Thursday, November 24, 2016

Every Second Counts: Turkey Trot 5K Report

This morning I ran my 11th consecutive Virginia Run Turkey Trot 5K. That's right, I have an eleven-year streak, which is impressive, considering I have never been ill or injured on Thanksgiving. Knock on wood! I discovered the race in 2006, and have been back every year since. I met Greg in 2009, so this was Turkey Trot #7 for him.

Virginia Run Turkey Trot 5K

If you've been reading this blog, you know that I spent 12 weeks over the summer with mono. Zero running, zero exercise. I started running again on September 20, but I didn't resume speed work until about four weeks ago. And even at that, it wasn't very intense.

On November 13, I ran the Veteran's Day 5K, where I smashed by goal by nearly a full minute, finishing in 21:31 on a hilly course. There wasn't too much time for speed work between that race and this one, but on Thursday, I ran road intervals of 2 x (1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 2:00, 1:00), all with 90-second recovery jogs. I was pleased with how the run felt, and it seemed as if I was getting close to hitting the paces I was last spring. The follow Saturday (last Saturday) I ran for 80 minutes, with the first 70 minutes being easy, and the last 10 minutes "hard." The hard minutes averaged a pace of 6:51, which helped boost my confidence. And then on Monday of this week, I did a little tune-up workout with 4:00, 3:00, 2:00, 1:00, 1:00. So now that I think about it, my coach was able to squeeze in a decent amount of speed between the Veteran's Day race and today.

Going into this race, I made the following assumptions:
  • I would be fitter than I was for Veteran's Day, because when you are coming back, you make gains quickly
  • The course would be slightly easier, with the last mile being a net downhill instead of up a huge hill
  • The course would measure shorter on my Garmin
Garmin distance is important because when I am trying to project a finish time, I know that my Garmin will read something longer than the official race distance. I like comparing apples to apples, and I use my Garmin to pace myself when running. For Veteran's Day, my Garmin showed an average pace of 6:46. I knew that if I ran the exact same pace today, I'd end up with a 21:14 (or thereabouts) instead of a 21:31. I also got a FitBit for my birthday that tracks my resting heart rate, and in the past 10 days, my resting heart rate had gone down from 51 to 47. Not surprising, given that you make gains quickly when coming back from downtime.

So given these three elements of being fitter, having an easier course and having a shorter course, I thought I would land somewhere around 20:55. And that got me thinking. My all-time 5K PR was 20:51, set on this course last year. So, why not try to push it a little and go for a modest PR this morning? Which is exactly what I did.

My pacing strategy was to take the first mile at 6:38, which was 4 seconds faster than last year, and then try to run around the same paces I did last year for the rest of the race. Another important aspect of my plan was the tangents. Usually when I run this course, my Garmin measures 3.13. But last year it was 3.14. I know I am thinking about seemingly insignificant things here, but hey-- when you are trying to PR by a matter of seconds, it all matters! So this year, I told myself to pay very close attention to the tangents and to not waste energy weaving around kids during the first mile.

Before the Race
Greg and I arrived at the race, parked in our usual spot at a nearby church, and went to the bathroom in the church. There was a man standing outside the church who seemed very happy to let us in and use the bathroom. He kept emphasizing to us where the bathrooms were and he gave us a huge smile. I think he was literally there that day for the sole purpose of letting use the bathroom. He even said "that's what I'm here for." It was really awesome.

We warmed up, with a plan to be in the start corral about 5 minutes before the race started. A little bit of panic set in when the course marshal told us we couldn't cross the street to get into the corral-- we had to walk all the way around, which meant weaving through a huge crowd. And when we finally crossed the street, we were at the very back of the corral, so we had to weave through another crowd to get up to the front. This happened to other people who wanted to be close to the front and they were annoyed as well. This race has over 2,000 people, and many of them are small children, so getting stuck in the back was not an attractive option!

The weather was perfect. Low 40's and overcast with just a very slight breeze. I had actually debated between wearing CW-X compression capris and shorts. I feel like the compression helps my legs move quickly when it's cold out. But ultimately I settled on shorts because they weighed less! I needed every possible advantage if I wanted a shot at a PR.

Mile 1: 6:38
Unlike most years, there were not a ton of 8-years olds lined up right at the front. This meant I didn't have to do a lot of weaving like I usually have to do in the first mile. I got pulled out pretty quickly on a slight downhill and when I looked at my pace halfway through the mile, it said 6:20. Oops! Time to slow down a bit, which was easy because the rest of the mile was a slight incline. I also noticed a tangent in the first mile that I had never noticed before, so I made sure to run to the inside of the curve. When I hit the first mile marker, I was pleased that I had executed according to plan, but I did not feel good. I was already tired. 

Mile 2: 6:49
I didn't have the same "pep in my step" that I did at the Veteran's Day race. I felt tired and a little sluggish. There's a sizable hill in this mile. It's not terribly long, but it's on the steep side, so getting up it is always a challenge. It wasn't this hill, however, that slowed me down. It was the first part of the mile, which was flat-ish. I was just tired and not able to maintain that 6:38 pace. During this mile, someone yelled "Go Elizabeth!" at me and I wondered who it was.

Mile 3: 6:38
As I continued on, people kept yelling "Go Elizabeth" at me, at which point I realized that the girl next to me must have been named Elizabeth. Whatever- I'll take it! I knew this mile was a net downhill, but that it ended on an incline-- the same incline that was a decline and pulled me out too fast. I was hoping to really kill it during the mile like I typically do on this course. Usually my last mile is significantly faster than the first two. But today, I was pushing as hard as possible, but my Garmin pace was stubbornly refusing to budge. During the last half mile, I started to think that I wouldn't get my PR. It would be close, but likely wouldn't happen at this rate. Regardless, I still pushed with everything I had.

Last 0.13: 5:49 pace
Amazingly, I did have another gear in me, which I hit as I passed mile marker 3. I revved and revved and revved. Someone passed me at lightening speed and it motivated me to kick even harder. I saw the clock as I crossed and I stopped my Garmin: 20:50.

I knew this feeling. It was like being at the Columbus Marathon with a Garmin time of 3:40:00 and hoping the official time matched, which would mean a BQ. Greg and I made our way to the results area and typed our bib numbers in the computer. I held my breath. And the official time was. . . 20:50!  I did it! I PR'ed by one second!

Back in 2014, I ran this race in 21:30. I had missed my then-PR of 21:29 by one second. I wasn't terribly disappointed, but it's much better when it goes the other way!

As for Greg, I knew he was in great shape and I had predicted a huge PR for him. Well, he got a 44-
First place AG award: a hat!
second PR, which is massive for the 5K. He clocked in at 20:09, which means sub-20:00 is clearly within his grasp.

I won first place in my age group, which earned me a hat identical to the one I won in 2014.  I was the 13th female out of 1164, which I was thrilled with. Not to look a Gift Turkey in the mouth, but they were giving away Ninja blenders and restaurant gift cards as raffle prizes, but the winners only walked away with hats! That's okay. I'll be back again next year and hopefully keep adding to the hat collection.

Key takeaways
Even though you don't want to over-think things, the small things matter. If I hadn't been as diligent about the tangents, it could have cost me a second or two, and I would not have PR'ed. According to Strava, both this race and last year's race had a 5K effort of 20:41. I was able to run a faster "official" time this year because of the tangents.

I am running yet another 5K next weekend. I think all of these 5K's now will set me up with a nice base speed to begin marathon training. Next weekend we are back to a longer, hillier course, so I don't anticipate a PR. But you never know!

And for fun, here is my Turkey Trot history for the past 7 years:

 Year   Mile 1   Mile 2   Mile 3  Final Kick  Time
 2009  7:25  7:44  7:37 7:1323:40
 2010  7:19 7:197:07  6:1322:33
2011  7:00 7:05 6:42 5:5721:29
 2012 7:127:157:056:1022:18
 2013  7:26 7:30  7:03 6:3822:46
2014  7:01 6:54 6:45 6:1521:30
 2015  6:43 6:43 6:35  6:0320:51
  2016     6:38    6:49   6:38  5:49 20:50 

Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog readers!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

10 Things Runners Remember from 10 Years Ago

I celebrated my 38th birthday on November 11. It seems like just yesterday I was 28 and just starting to get into long distance running.

I ran my first marathon in 2006, and even though running still involves simply putting one foot in front of the other, quite a few things have changed. If you've been running for 10+ years, enjoy this bit of nostalgia. If you haven't, then maybe you'll learn a bit of history!
Stopwatch, white shoes, sports beans!

1. Stopwatches with lap buttons
If I remember correctly, the Garmin GPS watches were just starting to come out in 2005, and it took them a few years to go mainstream. Back in 2006, I was using my trusty Timex stop watch in races and for long runs. I did all of my long runs on the W&OD trail, which has mile markers, so I would press the lap button at each milepost. The same was true for races. I had no idea what pace I was running until I approached the mile marker and hit the lap button on my watch.

2. Mainly white running shoes
If you walked into a running store 10 years ago, all the shoes would be white with small pops of color accents. The more popular models offered a choice of up to 4 color accents, but the shoes looked pretty much the same: all white. Nowadays, the walls of running shoe stores are covered in bright colors and you'll be hard-pressed to find anything that's mainly white. It used to be that runners were cautioned not to buy shoes based on color, but now runners actually have a good range of colors for any given shoe.

3. iPods--not iPhones
10 years ago, many people were running with iPods, myself included. I used the iPod Mini for awhile, but then the shuffle came out and I loved how compact it was. Nowadays, I see some people still using Shuffles (which is what I use on the treadmill) but the majority of runners who run with music seem to be using their phones to do so. Oh, and also using the phones to track their route, take pictures, and a number of other things that could not be done with a simple iPod.

4. The Boston Marathon didn't fill up
You could BQ in February and then run Boston just two months later! What's more, you could BQ in the fall of 2005, and that time would be good for Boston 2006 AND Boston 2007. There were no "cut-off" times because there didn't need to be. 10 years ago, running marathons was not nearly as popular as it is today. It was a lot easier to get into Boston back then because there simply wasn't as much competition as there is today. Part of me wishes it would go back to being the way it used to, but another part of me enjoys the fact that it's more challenging now.

5. The ChampionChip
Back in the day, most all races were timed using a chip that you would affix to your shoe. That chip was replaced by the D-Tag somewhere around 2009, which I absolutely hated because it was so bulky and it had accuracy issues. But then the B-Tag that attaches to the race bib came along in the past 3-4
My ChampionChip collection
years which is both accurate and convenient.

Some races still do use the D-Tag and a shoe chip, but they are few and far between. Also, I'm only familiar with races in the Washington DC metro area and large-scale marathons. There may be races in other parts of the country that still rely heavily on the timing chip. I had my own personal ChampionChip that I purchases from the Rock 'N' Roll Virginia Beach half. I used this to register for local races and it would save me $2 on registration. Some races also provided souvenir chips that would not work for future races. I have these from the Houston Half Marathon, the New Jersey Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon. Before the ChampionChip, there was the ankle strap, and I ran several marathons with that. Super uncomfortable!

6. Social Media wasn't mainstream
Some people were on MySpace, but not nearly as many people were on MySpace talking about running as there are today on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Strava, and numerous forums. So chances are, if you went for a training run, the only person who knew about it was you and maybe the people you lived with. There wan't as much "inspiration" going around so runners had to be more intrinsically motivated to get out there and run.

7. Sports Beans or gels?
Fueling options were limited 10 years ago. There were only a few brands of gels and the alternative to that was Jelly Belly Sports Beans. Today we have plenty of options available: UCAN, Shot Blocks, Tailwind, Honey Stinger Waffles, and probably a bunch of others I don't even know about.

8. Lottery? What Lottery?
Races used to be easy to get into. Chicago, Marine Corps, Houston, Cherry Blossom -- just to name a few. None of these races used to have lotteries and you could register for them as late as a few weeks prior! It was nice because you didn't have to commit to a race so far in advance. You could basically just wait until you felt ready to race and then go for it. Also, if you were injury-prone (like I used to be) it made sense to wait until a month or so before to register.

9. The Philadelphia Distance Run and the National Marathon
The Philadelphia Distance Run 2006

In 2006, the Rock 'n' Roll series had like 4 or 5 races to choose from. I remember San Diego, Arizona, and Virginia Beach. What we know as Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia used to be called the Philadelphia Distance Run. Today's Rock 'n' Roll DC used to be the National Marathon. As part of the Rock 'n' Roll series, these races are now more expensive and commercialized, but you know that the race will be well-organized.

10. Brightroom Event Photography
It used to be that a company called "Brightroom" dominated the race photo industry. You could preview your photos online at a decent size (see photo to the right) without the huge word PROOF over your face. You could buy printed copies of your photos for a reasonable price. At some point, Marathonfoto emerged onto the scene and gained a monopoly over the industry. They are now able to get away with charging and arm and a leg for race photos, while sending horribly-formatted marketing emails. While their prices have gone down ever so slightly over the past two years, I predict that they will soon either need to reduce their prices more or face new competition. Smaller race photography companies exist, they just aren't mainstream yet.

Who knows what running will look like 10 years from now? Overall, I like the technological advances that we've made and the fact that more people are running marathons. But it is nice to reflect on "back in the day" when things were much simpler.

Well, not everything was much simpler! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mono Comeback Race: Crushed It!

Apologies for the spoiler in the headline, but I destroyed my goal for today's 5K race.

After 12 weeks of no running, no cross training, and virtually no physical activity, I finally resumed running 7 weeks ago. The first four weeks of training were boring, with no speed work except for
some strides at the end of my easy runs. The next three weeks incorporated some speed work, but nothing super intense. I was frustrated that I didn't have any sense of how fit I was and what to expect from this 5K, but I was also excited to run it and then have a baseline for my workouts moving forward.

I chose this Veteran's Day 5K race because it's one of the "ranked" races by RunWashington. Last year, I was ranked 6th in my age group and to qualify for the rankings, you have to run 6 races from their list. I only had 3 for the year, so I decided I would run this race, a Turkey Trot and another 5K in December. When I started to run again, I figured I would be happy to break 23:00 on this course. It's one of the more challenging 5K courses in the area and my Garmin always logs 3.18 miles, versus other 5Ks which my Garmin thinks are shorter. As I started getting back into the swing of things, I determined that I wanted to break 22:30, with an average "Garmin pace" of sub-7:10.

In preparation for this race, I looked at my splits from the Run Your Heart out 5K, which I ran last February on the same course. They were: 6:39, 6:47, 7:05 and a 6:36 pace for the last 0.17. This yielded a 21:40. I thought this was a well executed race given that the first mile is almost entirely downhill and the last mile is almost entirely uphill. So, I concocted a pacing strategy of 6:50, 7:05, 7:20 for this morning's race, which I thought was appropriate for my fitness level.

Before the race
I slept pretty well last night and the night before so I went into this race feeling energized. 45 minutes before the race, I drank my UCAN and felt ready to go. The weather was perfect: low 30's and sunny. I warmed up for 2.5 miles and I could feel my lungs burning from the cold air. I wondered how they would feel when I was actually pushing, but I didn't think about it too much. After I warmed up, I
went to the bathroom for a final time and I passed my jacket off to Greg. My father and stepmother had also come out to cheer for me, which was really nice!

Even though it was only 32 degrees, it felt warm at the start line in the sun. I chatted with my friend Lisa, who had just run the Indianapolis Monumental marathon last weekend. I was super impressed that she was able to race a 5K so soon after a marathon! I noticed that my friend ReBecca was also there, who I had met after having run the Boston Marathon.

Mile 1: 6:45
Staring out
The race started, and the first mile felt relatively easy. The downhill is fairly significant and I ran 5 second faster than planned, which I didn't worry about because the race felt effortless. During this mile, my friend Rochelle (who is an elite runner) joined in beside me for encouragement. I had told her my race strategy in advance, and that I didn't need pacing help per se, but that I would be grateful to have her alongside me when the race got tough. Lisa and ReBecca both passed me during this mile, and I figured I would not see them again until after the race.

Mile 2: 6:49
I didn't look at my Garmin too much during this mile, which was probably a good thing. I had "planned" it to be a 7:05 and if I had seen my actual pace I might have made myself slow down. But instead I just focused on keeping the effort level hard. Rochelle knows this course really well, and even though I knew it too, it was good to have her remind me of when the hills were so I could focus on the process of running, and not on the pain. This mile is net flat, but it actually starts off with a large uphill, followed by a down. I typically run downhills very quickly and I'm slower on the ups. So when this downhill came, I surged and passed ReBecca. Lisa was coming closer into view as well. When my Garmin beeped 6:49 I could hardly believe it, but I contained my excitement and focused on pushing hard.

Mile 3: 6:51
My coach had told me that when this mile came, I was supposed to repeat something rhythmic in my head and tell myself that it would only last 7 minutes. I ran past my family cheering squad about
Rochelle and me in the third mile
halfway through this mile and that totally pumped me up. Rochelle yelled out "go zebra" and that made me smile. The final hill hurt, but having Rochelle talk to me made me focus less on the pain and more on the effort. ReBecca passed me initially, but then I passed her again. Rochelle peeled off the course shortly before the end of that mile and it was up to me alone to bring it home.

Last 0.18: 6:02 pace
I came upon Lisa right before mile marker 3 and she was surprised to see me. I had told her I was hoping to average a 7:05 pace, and clearly I was way ahead of that. I started to pass her and she surged, which motivated me to surge as well. Ultimately, she finished 4 seconds ahead of me, winning our age group, but it was great that we both finished in the same ballpark to be able to push each other to our best!

 My official time was 21:31, which was a course PR of 9 seconds.

After the race, Lisa, ReBecca, and Rochelle and I cooled down together. We accidentally took a wrong turn and the cool down ended up being close to two miles! I ended up having to walk with Rochelle back to the race while ReBecca ran to get her car, drove to us, and took us back-- just in time for awards.

I was the 6th overall female finisher and 2nd in my age group.

This result was totally unexpected on a number of levels:

  • I did not think it would be possible to break 22:00 on this course with my fitness level
  • I was even more shocked to run this course faster than I did in February
  • I would never have imagined that I could take that final hill at a 6:51 pace. 
  • My splits were really close to each other, and the course lends itself to a massive positive split, not even splits.

I'm excited to have a baseline for future workouts and races, and it's also great to see my fitness come back so quickly. There was a time when I was worried that I'd never be as fit/fast as I used to be, and now I think I will be, if not even faster at some point.

It was also great to spend the morning with Rochelle, Lisa and ReBecca. My friend Chad was also there, and my family came out to support me. After the race, my dad and step mom took Greg and me to a birthday breakfast. I could not have asked for a better morning.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Monumental Day in Indianapolis

Yesterday, I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon as a training run. I had originally registered for the full marathon last spring, before I came down with mono. But due to the nasty virus, I missed the entire summer of training so I was lucky to be able to run the half marathon as a training run. Greg ran the full marathon, and I cheered for him as he approached the finish line.

Amy and I post-race, cheering for marathoners
This race had been on "my list" for years and since quite a few of my friends were running it this year, I figured now would be a good time. It's just a short flight from DC, it's logistically easy with many hotels right next to the start/finish/expo, the weather is typically great for racing, and the course is flat. But before I write about my experience, I'll recap my past two weeks of training.

I've been making a smooth comeback from my 12-week training hiatus. For the past two weeks, I've been running seven days a week and feeling really good. There has been no sign of the illness returning.

Week of Oct. 24
This week was relatively boring, with easy runs every day except for Thursday, when I ran 12 x 30-second intervals with 1-minute recovery jogs. It felt really good to run fast again and most of the interval paces were between 5:55-6:30

My long run was prescribed at 80 minutes, and I surprised myself by running 9.1 miles at a pace of 8:51. The run felt wonderful. The weather was perfect and I had loads of energy. Based on this run, I knew I would be able to run the Indy Monumental half at my easy pace.  My total mileage for the week was 39.3, which is almost as high as it was right before I got sick. I think my coach's plan is to get my base mileage up before adding a significant amount of speed work. In June, my mileage was relatively low, but the speed was intense.

Week of Oct. 31
I was happy that my coach "approved" of my idea to run Indy as a training run, and I was looking
forward to it all week. I didn't have any kind of taper, though, since Indy would not be a race and my coach told me that I was supposed to take the whole thing easy- no speed whatsoever.

On Tuesday, I did the same workout that I had done the previous Thursday (30-second intervals) but this time I did 18 of them instead of 12, which yielded 3.3 miles worth of intervals. These were slightly faster than the previous week's intervals, with my last four intervals being sub-6:00 pace.

I started to get really frustrated with the monotony of the training again on Thursday. The plan called for 60-75 minutes, with 15 minutes at steady state in the middle of the run. Steady state is somewhere between your marathon and half marathon pace. I looked up my steady pace from January, and saw that I had run 8 miles at a pace of 7:26 for a steady state. Wow. I know that I am not in the same shape now that I was in January, but I figured I could pull off a pace close to that for two miles, and hope that it felt like steady state effort.

Well, as luck would have it, it was 60 degrees and very humid that morning. Usually when this happens I run by effort and dial back the pace. But because I had not run fast for more than 30 seconds at a time since June, I decided I was not going to back off the pace. I wasn't going to let the unseasonably warm and humid weather slow me down! So stubborn Elizabeth came out and over-ran the workout. The two miles averaged 7:28, but it felt like a tempo run instead of a steady state one. Usually I don't do this, but I was just super frustrated by the weather and my situation. Plus, I am running a 5K next weekend I have no baseline for what my pace might be. These 30-second intervals in no way predict what I can do for a 5K, so I used the steady state to test out what 7:28 would feel like!

Pre-race in Indianapolis
We arrived in Indy on Thursday night and went to the expo on Friday morning. I loved how logistically smooth this race was. It was a big race but with a small race feel. Our hotel was literally a 4 minute walk to the expo, and we could even use a skywalk to walk indoors.

Throughout the day, I was able to meet up with several people who had read my book. It was so
Meeting up with a Boston Bound reader
wonderful to hear them tell me about how much the book helped them. I was glowing from knowing that my book had made a difference not only in their running, but in their overall outlook.

Meanwhile, I was experiencing some ROMO: Resentment Of Missing Out. The weather outlook was perfect: low 40's and sunny with no wind. The course would be mainly flat. Many people would set PRs and qualify for Boston. I would not be. I had already resolved to come back to Indianapolis next year and run this race, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I would be getting the freakishly warm weather that Indy experienced just two days prior to this year's race. This was the year I had planned to run it, and I was a little upset that I was missing out on a perfect PR opportunity. So close- but so far away.

I was also trying to figure out how I would approach the half marathon training run. I felt like I wanted more of a purpose than just for it to be a training run. More excitement. More meaning. Of course I was going to abide by my coach's guidance and take it easy, but how could I do that and still feel excited? I thought it would be cool to pace another runner to a sub-2:00. Sub-2:00 is a huge milestone for many runners and I knew that my easy pace would get me in just under two hours.

The night before the race, I met up with two friends who I had known virtually for over eight years. We had met years ago on the Runner's World forums and kept in touch through Facebook. One of these runners, Sara, had a friend with her, Amy, who was running the half marathon. I asked Amy if she was, by any chance, trying to run sub-2:00. And she said she would love to run sub-2:00, but didn't think her training supported it. She had been dealing with a nagging injury and her training runs didn't lead her to believe that a sub-2:00 was possible right now, even though she had done it in the past.  I offered to pace her and she accepted, so we agreed to meet in the hotel lobby before the race to run together.

The next morning, Greg and I woke up, did our pre-race routine and left the hotel 30 minutes before the start of the race. I met up with Amy and we walked to the corrals together. She said that it takes her a few miles to warmup, so she wanted to start at around a 9:40 pace and then speed up from there. I was totally on board because it takes me awhile to warm up as well.

Miles 1-4
The race started and excitement was in the air. It was really crowded at first, especially since I was
Amy and I at the start of the race
farther back in the pack than I typically am during races. Amy and I got into a groove. I told her that if she wanted to pass people, I would just follow her path through. A lot of passing happened, but even more would happen later in the race. I was really happy to be running with Amy because the pace felt too easy for me, and if I was on my own, I would have been sub-9:00 from the get-go, and I think I would have regretted that later on.

Mile 1: 9:42
Mile 2: 9:25
Mile 3: 9:18
Mile 4: 9:05

Miles 5-9
Amy told me she was starting to "feel it" during mile six, and I assured her that she was supposed to feel it at mile six of a half marathon. I asked her if the pace was okay or if she wanted to slow down and she said she was fine to continue at that pace. We got into a rhythm where, at each mile marker, I would tell her what the mile split was and what our average race pace was. I think she had a different display on her Garmin and she appreciated having this info.

The cool thing was watching the average race pace slowly tick down from 9:20 to 9:09 by the end of mile 9. We were chipping away at the average race by by 1-2 seconds with every mile we ran, so it was super exciting. At one point, a guy around us asked me what the pace was for sub-2:00 and I told him he should try for 9:03-9:04 on his Garmin, just to be safe, as many Garmins measure a long course.

The course was not at all hilly, but whenever we had slight ups and downs, she totally surged on the uphills and I was extremely impressed. I tend to slow down on hills but speed up on the way down. I was really impressed with her effort level and how she just powered through the miles.

Mile 5: 9:07
Mile 6: 8:53
Mile 7: 8:54
Mile 8: 8:58
Mile 9: 8:58

Miles 10-13.1
Before I asked my coach if I could run this race as a training run, he had prescribed a 90-minute easy run. This would equate to slightly more than 10 miles. Interestingly, just after mile marker 10, my legs started to tire and ache a little. I guess my coach knows his stuff!

So my legs were not all that happy about the extra distance, but the pace still felt really relaxed and easy. I guess it takes the muscles awhile to catch back up to where the cardiovascular system is.

At this point, Amy and I started to pass a bunch of people. I brought to her attention that we were passing people so that she'd get a nice confidence boost and continue to push. By mile 10, we knew that we were going to go sub-2:00, it was just a matter of by how much. The last three miles of this race are a slight downhill and we could see a long stretch of downhill so we used it to our advantage. Our average race pace dropped from 9:09 down to 9:00 flat as we pushed our way to the finish line. We were elated to cross it 1:58:41.

Mile 10: 8:54
Mile 11: 8:44
Mile 12: 8:50
Mile 13: 8:26
Last 0.19: (7:54 pace)

We executed the plan exactly as intended, and it felt amazing!

Cheering for Marathoners
Amy and I high-fived each other a bunch of times and walked back to the hotel which was only one block away. We didn't have much time to go back to the hotel, quickly change clothes, get our cell phones, and come back to cheer. But 20 minutes later, we were headed back out to the course,
Greg at mile 26
looking for our mutual friend Sara. But first, I was expecting my friend Rochelle to come in at around 2:52. And she did! Slightly under, in fact. She looked amazing and I was so happy for her to run so strong in her first marathon. I cheered loudly for her and snapped a bunch of photos.

Next came Sara, and after that, Amy went to go meet her at the finish line.

I had some other friends running, only one of whom I saw next, and then Greg. He was ahead of the 3:30 pace group and I was so excited to see that. I was thinking he would run between 3:25-3:30 and he finished in 3:28:47, which is a PR by five minutes. He ran a really smart race, and attributed it partially to the race strategy I prescribed.

It was an ideal day for racing, with many of my friends setting huge PRs. I was really glad I met Amy and that I helped her do something she didn't think she could do. It made the day so much more special to me.

I decided to take a rest day today and end my 17-day running streak.  Prior to yesterday, my longest run since June was 9.1 miles the weekend prior, so my legs really weren't happy about doing 13.1, even though I ran at my easy pace. I logged 40.1 miles for the week, which I'm pleased with.

Up Next
I'm running a 5K next weekend, which I am super excited about. My coach prescribed a progression run for Tuesday so hopefully the last two miles of that will give me some sense of how it feels to run "hard" and what my "hard" pace actually is. Then I will run a 5K Turkey Trot, followed by another 5K in early December.

My coach still hasn't given me the green light to finalize a spring marathon, but I think I will be ready to run strong by early March at the rate I am going. Thinking about my next marathon makes the ROMO of this weekend easier to cope with, so I'm looking forward to nailing it down!