State 22: B.A.A. Half Marathon

When I was looking for a race to choose for Massachusetts, I knew I wanted it to be in Boston.  I stumbled across the B.A.A. Half Marathon in 2015 but had missed registration for it.  As I read about the race, I learned that it’s part of a distance challenge and the best way to guarantee entry is to sign up for the medley of a 5k, 10k and half spread across the year.   In 2016 I paid special attention to registration deadlines, set an alarm on my phone and registered for the medley right on time.  I never had any intention of doing the first two races, just wanted a guaranteed entry to the half.

When I learned the 5k race shared weekends with THE Boston Marathon, I decided to run that as well.  Chap and I used my companion pass to both get out there, and made a weekend of the 5k race, my first trip to Boston and spectating the marathon.  (Side note: Before we left for this trip, I had just signed up for the Jack and Jill Marathon with Michelle.  This is the trip that inspired me to train to qualify. )  This post isn’t about that weekend so I’m not going to write much about it here, but enjoy the pictures!

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State 22: Massachusetts

I loved Boston so much in April and was thrilled to revisit it this fall.  I was looking forward to colored leaves and crisp temperatures.  Unfortunately we didn’t get either of those.  Chap has been a reliable and wonderful travel and race companion but he didn’t get invited on this trip.   I wanted to share my companion pass with a long time soul sister and so invited one of my very oldest and best friends Katie (also the one who got me to Tulsa!) to come run with me.

We had a mediocre training cycle.  Honestly the summer and early fall just kind of disappeared in front of our eyes.  We’re both small business owners, Katie has a two year old and while we managed to stay very committed to working out, we just didn’t get the weekend long runs in.  We made it up to 8 miles in training and I knew that would be enough to get us across the line so we called it good.

It also helped us to enjoy our trip – alleviating the pressure of going for a particular time on an unfamiliar course.  I try to plan two or three runs a year where I’ll really go for it and the others are just meant to be enjoyable.  Because of this we were able to eat and drink and walk all over Boston without worrying about it affecting our performance on Sunday.

You can read a play by play of our tour of Boston on the Studio blog here.

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Carb loading.  Not totally justified but still delicious.

I want to recap three pros and three cons of the race on this blog today, more of a review of the event than the trip.

Pros

  1. Boston.  Boston is a historic city on its own.  But there is so much running history too.  One morning Katie and I went to the river to do a few shakeout miles and on our way back to the train stop, I saw a group of girls running through Boston Common who I recognized but couldn’t quite pinpoint.  I later recognized them as the women behind my favorite planner – Believe Training Journal.
  2. Race organization.  Our bibs were mailed to us.  We picked up our shirts at the finish line.  There was no waiting around or messing with an expo and it was awesome.
  3. Race course.  The course was scenic and beautiful.  We ran through the Emerald Necklace park system.  It was pretty full of rolling hills which I wasn’t really prepared for but we handled them (thanks, Tulsa).

Cons

  1. The Weather.  This was out of anyone’s control of course but our plans to just run and then dry shampoo our hair when we got back to the Air BnB (when we thought it would be in the 50s) went out the window in the first mile.  No one’s fault but still.
  2. Race organization.  There were over 6,000 runners and a single start!  On narrow park trails.  That is crazy to me.  Maybe because they’re Boston and they can get away with it.
  3. Race course. Though scenic, it was crowded because of the single start.  Parts of it had us running against later miles of the course and it was especially tight then.  And smelly.  Lots of humid, sweaty runners.

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    Crowded

This was definitely just a checkmark state and more of an excuse to go back to Boston with a best girlfriend.  It’s always better with some company, and not always about setting PRs, breaking 2 hours or running the whole way.

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Pre Race (we’re as tired as we look)

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If you want to be coached to your first or fastest race, email me!  coachsprenkel@gmail.com.  Customized plans, including run workouts, strength workouts and stretching.

 

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4 Week Peek

We’ve finally reached July, and that date that seemed so safely far away when we signed up for this race is now in the current month.  I’m about to go on a complaining rant here with the understanding that this will be the last time I let myself complain about how this training is going, so if you don’t want to hear the whining then just scroll on down to the next section.

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It’s the final grind of the marathon training.  Peak mileage weeks, the longest of the track workouts (2k should NOT get to count as track work) and tempo runs that used to be long run distances are making for one tired and grumpy gal.  Coupled with that is the start of the hot and humid season in Oklahoma where whether you run in the darkness of the night, or just before the dawn, there is absolutely no time in the day when you won’t feel like you’re wading through the air or have lost half of your body weight in water by the end of the run.   Running has become flat out miserable.  I can’t hit my goal times, and sometimes I can’t even hit my goal distances.  Michelle and I are both too busy balancing work and personal lives to match up our schedules so much of our long miles are being done on our lonesomes.  I miss strength training 3 times a week (have been keeping it around 2).  I miss sleeping in on Sundays.  I miss donuts, ice cream and cookie dough.

Done Complaining

This past weekend I ran back to back doublers within 24 hours of each other.  I wanted to get the 26 mile distance in that time frame, even if not all in a row.  It was a horrible struggle.  Saturday, I did the 10 miler in the heat of the day because I’d put it off and put it off, knowing I would be tired and not on pace.  But so pumped I got it done.  Then, today, Sunday, I got up early to do 15.  I made it a miserable run/walking 10.4 before I just completely threw in the towel and walked the rest back to my car.  As miserable as I was on both runs, I used that time to make some determinations about the remaining 4 weeks.

  1. I’m still in this.  Yes, training might suck right now but I’m going to keep fighting through it and finish the last 4 weeks as strong as I started.  I can’t worry about if I’ll hit that magic 3:30 time, only that I will give what’s left my best shot.
  2. No more complaining.  Period.
  3. Prioritize rest.  I’ve been feeling mentally and physically wiped out the past two weeks.  And while I can’t control the busy, active nature of my schedule, I can make a few improvements to how I handle it.
    • No electronics after 9pm.
    • In bed by 10pm, books only.
    • Up at a consistent time each day – still debating this one but thinking it’s gonna have to be in the mid to late- 4ams.
  4. Prioritize healthier eating.  I’m about an 80% well-rounded eater about 80% of the time.  Recently it’s dropped to maybe 50/50 on both because of travel and socializing.  I am committing to making a conscientious effort for the next four weeks to eat a healthy mix of carbs, fats and proteins and as close to whole foods as possible.
  5. To encourage me to stay excited about the 12 training runs left, I’ve dedicated each run to a person or group of people.  This will help keep each run fresh and motivating to me to run in that person(s) honor.

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Once again running is showing me that just as in relationships and in life, you can’t give up when it gets hard.  Stick with it, tweak your approach and take care of all the areas that are a part of the bigger picture.  In running this means the training, the resting and the nutrition.  In relationships it might mean taking care of communication struggles, or  paying more attention to the needs of your people.  And in life, it means taking care of your whole self, body mind and spirit.

I still love running, I just don’t have to like it all the time.  (But now I’m disliking it without complaining).

Jack + Jill 26.2: Week 14 Recap

I’m going to (try to) start doing a weekly review of the training for the week before.  This will likely be pretty dry for most of you out there (unless Michelle and I continue to have long run adventures like the one this weekend!).  But, I want to highlight the ups and downs of a training cycle this long and intense mostly for myself but also so that those of you who want to go for it can see what it’s like and maybe, hopefully be inspired.

So.  14 weeks to go.  3.5 months.  Seems far away still.

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Monday: Mondays are a circuit day for me.  I also want to make them a yoga day, but I’m not waking up early enough to go to the 6am class at StudiOne.  It’s a weekly struggle.  I did get in 3 rounds of full body circuits, and a little bit of yoga simply from teaching to my class.

Tuesday: Track day!  I ran a descending ladder today with the StudiOne track group.  My target track pace for Boston is really fast (to me).  I aim for under 7 min average on every track interval.  I hit it today and felt really strong!  Tried the Run Fast Eat Slow Beet Smoothie after and almost loved it.

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Track day

Wednesday: More circuits.  And I went to Rachel’s 5:30pm flow class at StudiOne.  I want to make Wednesday a yoga and circuit day too.  Nailed it this week!    I had my first appointment with Dr. Brandon Washatka DC that Michelle recommended to me.  My shoulder has been hurting, feeling a little bit like tendonitis, my low back feels compressed and my left hip is very tight.  I always have to very carefully open up into Warrior 2 from Warrior 1.  I told him all of this and went over other health history things.  He cracked me a few times, and I felt like a completely new person when I left.  My neck and shoulder muscles relaxed, which released some of the pressure on my shoulder, my low back felt like it had space again and my hip is bothering me less.  I’m going to keep going to him on his recommendation throughout the training.

Thursday: This is a buddy run day.  Michelle and I get together around 8:30 after my first two classes to crank through a tempo run.  Sometimes we follow the template and sometimes we just run hard.  Today we went for 1 mile easy, 5 miles hard and 1 mile easy.  We made it but both almost puked at the end of that 5 mile interval.  I could feel a difference from the adjustment and think I ran stronger because of it.

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Tempo

Friday: Rest day for me.

Saturday: Taught yoga class so got a little bit of a stretch.  Ideally we’ll run long on Saturdays but an actual monsoon descended on Tulsa today so we didn’t run.  I did my third circuit in the afternoon at the Studio so that I can practice running long on tired legs.

Sunday: Long run.  Went 17 miles!  This is the farthest I’ve run in over 4 years.  I was surprised how easy it felt not only to go that far but to maintain our pace.  We strategically drove to southwest Tulsa so we could have the northeast wind at our back most of the way.  It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed adventuring along the river and on the backroads of Jenks.  We encountered flooded roads to wade through, 20+mph winds and a little sleet storm on our cooldown.  All kinds of crazy weather.  And then, we brunched.

Overall, this was a great week for me.  I feel healthy and strong in my bones and muscles and we hit all our target pace times.  Maybe I can do this after all…..

Boston Distance Medley

Back when I was researching specific races to check some more states off, I came across the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) half marathon, hosted in October.  I stumbled across this race last summer and it was already too late to register for it, but I made a point to pay attention to registration this year.

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Boston bound!

As I was double checking the registration date, I stumbled across a series of events called the Boston Distance Medley.  This race series includes a 5k, 10k and the half marathon.  Registration for the series opened up before all of the others and it guarantees your entry into each race.  I figured the little bit of extra money for all three was worth it to make sure I got into both the 5k and half, my two target races.

As excited as I am to cross the state off in October for the half marathon, I’m actually more excited for the 5k in April (I’ll probably skip the 10k.  Three trips to Boston is a little much for me in one year, when there are other states to cross off!)  The race is Saturday, April 15 which is 13 weeks away. That gives me the Sweetheart Race and the St. Patricks Day Run to practice breaking that 22 mark, and then I can really go for it on a historic course!  And the best part?  Marathon Monday is the Monday right after the 5k so of course I’ll stick around to see one of the (if not THE) most historic runs in the world.  Not sure if I’m more excited for my race, or that race.

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Nothing motivates like a race deadline

I’m hoping to find someone to go with me, either to run the race or just to go watch the marathon but this is one trip I’m so excited about I’d do it solo if I had to!

Any suggestions for things to do in Boston?!

Recent Inspiration

I’m back! It’s been a while since I put my fingers to work over these black keys for the purpose of a blog post…they’ve been doing plenty of typing of masters reports and grade updates for students though!  Now that graduate school is officially over I am beyond thrilled to have more time to write, build, run and interact with y’all.  Miley, too.

I must say, I’m quite impressed with my efforts to maintain a running schedule through the end of the school year.  I had no specific races on the calendar (not since the epic mess of Arkansas in February!) and was mostly just trying to remember to run in between teaching anatomy and writing that report.  I managed to maintain a running streak and just today surpassed 100 miles since April 14.

I did sneak off to Tulsa last weekend and ran an impromptu 5k on Friday night.  It was the Cinco de Mayo 5k hosted by Fleet Feet Tulsa.  My running friend Ryan (we met at the Route 66 Half last November, and ran NOLA together in February) was there and convinced me to jump in at the last minute.  I had no expectations, especially since I had just hopped out of a seven hour car ride, but wanted to keep up with him.  I stayed close and managed to finish in 23:40 which for me, is pretty darn fast!  I was surprised and pleased with my time and when he texted me later to tell me I won a first place age group medal I thought he was kidding!  I’ve run faster times than that and not placed at all!

My Surprise Hardware

My Surprise Hardware

This recent success has me thinking (always dangerous).  First, I need some goals.  Second, how fast could I be if I really trained?  Third, maybe it’s time to consider Boston.  I’d like to address each of those thoughts here.

1.  Goals – My goal is to spend the summer training under the tutelage of Gilbert of Gilbert’s Gazelles here in Austin.  By the start of August I will try to complete a half in 1:42:20 (PR) and a 5k in 22:05.  To reach these times I will attend Gilbert’s workouts at least twice per week and supplement the other days with my own design.

2. Trained – Really training to me means several things.  Running fast.  In order to be fast, you gotta train fast.  Hydration, rest, nutrition.  I’m all in.

3. Boston – I have never had a desire to run Boston.  Mostly because it would entail TWO more marathons – the qualifier and Boston itself.  But now I do.  I have that desire.  It crept up on me this year watching the live stream of the race and seeing a few friends complete it.  I want those stripes.  I want the blue and yellow.  I want Boston.

Here’s the thing about #3 though.  I have to be fast.  So fast.  My qualifying time is 3:35 (<8:12 per mile) and my fastest marathon time is about 45 minutes slower than that.  I have big doubts.  And big fears of failure.  So my approach is thoughtful.  I will spend the summer training session to target the half distance (1:42:20 or 7:47 per mile) and if I can hit that time come August, I’ll start ramping up for marathon training.

I should go back to school, all this free time is making me have crazy ideas!

What are you training for?  Do you have summer goals?  I’d love to hear about them!