Sunday, October 31, 2010

Brooksie Way Half Marathon

So it has almost been a month since my Half and I am just getting the motivation to do my write up. Life has been crazy lately so I would love to blame it all on that, but for some reason I have lost a little of the momentum I had before the race. I don’t know if is because the race didn’t somehow meet my expectations or if it is because of the sudden stop in running that occurred after. Either way I need to get things back in gear. To start I am going back to the 3rd of October and reliving my first half marathon.

 Since I was part of the official training program I had a lot of opportunities to help out before the race. Many of us stuffed goodie bags and worked the expo. It was a lot of fun and really let me get the full experience. Being the strong introvert that I am, this really put me out of my comfort zone, but I did get a lot of shopping in :) However, unlike other people around me, that were either nervous or excited, I was walking around a little numb. No nerves. No excitement. Nothing. Very different from my last big race and I am not really sure why.

On race day my mom and I got there 2 hours early since I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic like last time. Since it was very cold out we sat in the car for a while and watched everyone roll in. After a while we started making our way to the training tent so I could meet up with my training group. There we did our group pictures and stood around trying to stay warm. Finally around 7:50 we started to get into our pace groups. The wheelers started at 8, the 5kers at 8:10 and then finally we were off at 8:20.

The Full Group 4 Training Team - We split into three sections for the run for slightly different intervals and pace.  I am in the pink and my section's team leader is in the blue and yellow jacket next to me.    Unfortuantly, the others in my section didn't make it so it was just me and the section leader.

It took a few minutes to get to the start and then we were off. The first part of the race was on a two lane road, but after about a quarter of a mile it opened up to the full 5 lanes. Just past the first mile marker I took off my jacket and threw it to the side to be picked up and donated it. This was one of the best parts of the race for me since I was wearing an old jacket from before 90 pounds ago. It was like throwing off the old me and all that meant and finishing the race as the “new” me. It felt wonderful!

Clinton River Trail

About 3.3 miles in we transitioned to the Clinton River Trail – a converted railroad trail. It is a smooth down hill trail covered with trees. The 1.5 mile segment of trail took us across the Clinton River and cut through to the down town area of Rochester where we transitioned back to the roads. At this point (mile 5) we started hitting the hilly portion of the race. Even though this portion is hilly it is relatively fast as there are several steep down hill sections.

Paint Creek Trail
After about a mile on the hilly roads we entered the park and continued to the Paint Creek Trail. Paint Creek is another converted railroad trail and is my favorite part of the race. The 1 mile section we ran was a steady up hill trail, but is wonderful to run – especially in the fall. Once off this trail the fun begins - a 3 mile stretch mostly up hill. I swear whenever anyone talks of this race they talk about this stretch. From what I understand this is what makes this half one of the more challenging ones around. It seems like one unending hill and after a pretty fast start many people are unprepared for the difficultly of this stretch. Luckily after weeks of training on this hill and the other extra hill training I did I was able to pass each person my leader picked out – to her surprise :)

At the 10 mile mark we finally reached the down hill portion – and of course the final 5k. Normally, I love downhill stretches. I can normally push through faster and easier which is great for the last portion. However, with the bad back aches that I have been having this was a lot harder than I ever expected. The easiest part of the race became the hardest. Each transition from run to walk caused pain to shoot through my spine. If I had been able to run continuously at this point I would have, but I knew my legs couldn’t do that either. Towards the end of the race my group leader was trying to speed me up. “There nothing to hold back for at this point” she said, but at this point each step was agony. I was ticked that I couldn’t push through.

Meadow Brook Hall

We finally made the turn on to campus and the thrill of the race finally pushed most of the pain away. I saw my mom at the 13 mile marker and knew that the rest was a quick down hill jog. As I turned the corner I could see Meadow Brook Hall which is where the finish line was. One more turn and a final downhill run and we crossed the finish line with a minute and half to spare on my stretch goal. I grabbed my medal from the finish line official who was playing keep away, hugged the training program leader, grabbed my popsicle, and reveled in the moment.

I felt great – for about 10 seconds. Suddenly, the pain was back and I started the long walk back to the car. Each step hurt and by the time my mom found me I wasn’t in the mood for any photos I just wanted the pain relievers and muscle relaxers the doctor gave me.

I was so disappointed. I mean I finished a half marathon and that felt great. I not only finished, but I finished almost 32 minutes faster than my goal time. I beat my practice time and my stretch goal. I ran under a 16 minute mile pace – which is something I wanted to be able to do eventually so I could run Disney. But I didn’t even realize that I hit that milestone until 3 weeks later.

I think part of my disappointment was due to the lack of excitement which I mentioned earlier. The lack of entertainment on the route (a bunch of people canceled) didn’t help. Plus there weren’t as many people running at my pace so a few parts were a little lonely (I didn’t pass many people, but then I didn’t get passed much either). Granted my team leader was with me, but I just didn’t get the same race excitement as I have in other races. It was more like a practice run.

The rest is that I knew I could have done even better than I did – if my back didn’t act up. It had been bothering me for a few weeks, but typically when I was sitting or laying down. I fact, the only time it didn’t hurt is when I was running. But of course, running 13 miles isn’t the norm so I wasn’t surprised. I wanted to actually participate in the post-race activities this time, but I just couldn’t do it.

All in all it was truly a great race. A great race. I would do it again in a heart beat. A couple days after the race, it hit me that I actually ran and completed a half marathon. *I* ran a half marathon. A year ago this was nothing but a dream. A very faint dream that someday I might run a half. Even when I started the training I wasn’t really sure that I would be able to do it. I told myself that I would do the training and then if I couldn’t complete it before the course closed I would just do the 5k. The fact that I not only finished but exceeded my goals is something I will always value.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I did it! Ok, it wasn’t official, but I ran a half marathon!!

As part of my training program they stress doing the full distance before race day. To help facilitate this they open the course 2 weeks before the race for anyone to run. The roads are not closed, but they fully mark the trail and have water stations. It was great!!

I am very happy that Galloway’s program has you do the full distance before race day (technically he says run a little more). I know many programs don’t do that. They believe that the momentum of the race will push you farther than you have gone before. That is probably true, but there is just something about having done the distance that makes race day more exciting.

I now know I can finish before the course officially opens up to traffic. They have no sweeper vehicle since they have a large number of walkers, but I really wanted to finish within the official time. Even having to go a lot slower and adding in some extra walks due to an injured running mate, our group finished over 20 minutes early. It is no longer about just finishing. I know I can do that now. I now have a time to beat. Like I said this practice run has made race day more exciting.

Now on to my two weeks of taper!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day 10k

Although I was hesitant to do another race the week after the Crim 10 mile I decided to take advantage of the last free race that was part of my training package. I had heard from others that the course was difficult so on Friday I decided to go pick up my race packet and check on the course.

Holey Moley… The hills were much more difficult than I expected. I was very close to changing my mind, but after talking to my training director (who was working a booth at the expo) I found out that the people that told me about the course actually ran the 30k – which was a much more difficult course. Although the 10k course still had hard hills (noticeable even when driving) I figured that it would be a great way to get some great hill work done in preparation for the Half in Oct.

I am so glad I decided to run! The hills were hard, but I kept my pace pretty steady even on the longest hill. Or at least I think I did. Unfortunately, the mile markers were not correct. Grrrrrr…. We knew that they were off since there were two mile three markers, but it seemed that things had been corrected. I realized that was not corrected during mile 6.

That was one really long mile! At that point I also realized that I had no real concept of what my pace was. I thought I was blowing away my goal pace - which I have done in shorter runs, but as my pace for mile 6 got longer and longer I realized that something was really wrong with the markers. 

Since the course was harder than any other I have done before, my goal was simply to be under my 5k pace from May.  Around mile 4 I realize that I was easily beating that pace (or so I thought) so I "secretly" changed my goal to be 1:30.  I kept thinking how wonderful that would feel.  By the time I realized how bad the mile markers were I gave up on that goal.   Had I realized how close I was to hitting that goal I would have sped up during that last mile. As it was I got very close at an official time 1:30:33!!

Even though I didn’t hit my stretch goal I take a lot of pride that I completed when I did. I had my best race pace to date at 14:36. That puts me in a great place to finish my half within goal. It also gets me very excited for next year. This year, as I mentioned before, isn’t really about speed. It is about finishing. About doing something that I couldn’t do before. Next year is about improvements to pace.  But with that said I have already improved my pace so much this year. I have gone from almost a 16 minute mile pace to a 14:36 mile pace (at twice the distance) since May.  My single mile pace has gone from 20+ minutes to 13:10.  I may not hit my goal of doing a single 10 minute mile this year, but I know now I can really do it.  I can’t wait to do a 5k in the spring actually see what a year of training has done!

Here are a few charts from the race:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Crim 10 Mile Race

Sorry I haven’t been around for a while, but if you read my weight loss blog then you heard that life has been getting in the way. It was either find time to blog or find time to run and I picked running :)

This Saturday was my first big race – The Crim 10 mile. It was a great race!  The course ran through downtown Flint and had a good balance of hills and flats.  I was really glad that I have been training on hills since many times I was the only person running up the hills at my pace level.  I made me feel strong and accomplished.  I didn't even realize we were going up hill a few times until the trip back down :)

Me after the finish line.  I felt like I could have done a few more miles - until about a half an hour later!

I was a little worried about completing the course in a timely manner since our 10 mile training run was canceled several miles short due to a tornado warning. The longest run I had done to date was a 8.5 mile run and my time STUNK! Something like a 19 minute mile. I thought my time was because of how hard the trainers were pushing me (I was completely toast at the 6 mile mark), but of course they believed I just wasn't trying hard enough - I even caught them mocking me the next week.  The people that I am paying to help me get through this.  The people who said every week how good I was doing... grrrr.....

Race day I just completely put them out of my mind.  I did the intervals that worked for me and pushed myself, but not to the point that I wouldn't be able to finish - which is the whole point of the Gallaway program, right?  I was was very happy to not only beat my 8.5 mile pace and my personal goal of finishing before the roads open (18 min/mi), but I was also able to pass my "ultimate" goal of a 16 minute mile - ten 16 minute miles. I think my official time was at 15:25 mile, but since I didn’t run the inside track the whole way my gps had my route a little longer and just a few seconds under 15.

Now some of you out there might not be happy with that time. In fact, you might be able to walk that speed, but I am very ecstatic!! This year is not about being the fastest runner out there - or even close - it is about finishing.  About doing something that I have never felt like I could actually do.  It was a wonderful feeling and I loved the fact that I wasn’t last. I wasn’t even close to last! 

My Parents caught up to me at the 2 mile mark. I am on the far left.
The start line - It took me over 8 minutes to get to the start. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

6 Mile Run

Yesterday was the start of week 5 of my training and we kicked off the week with a 6 mile run. 6 miles… I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would run 6 miles. That means that I have run almost half of my half marathon distance and over half of the Crim (10 miles). My dreams of doing both this year don’t seem as far fetched as they used to.

The run itself was pretty close to perfect. We were on a heat advisory, but it started raining right as I arrived at the meeting place. A light steady rain that was just enough to cool you down without making things harder. The only bad part was my cheap waterproof sunblock was running into my eyes. That will teach me to forget my good sunblock next time.

My group was pretty small this time – just me and my trainer. One of the other members moved up a group and the other didn’t show up. We started out with 45/30s which is 45 seconds of running and 30 seconds of walking, but 30 seconds was a little too short of a recovery time for me so we upped it to 45/45s.

I absolutely love running intervals! I can do so much more and actually end up faster than without them. I also find it funny that even though I am slower than everyone else and do the smaller intervals the other groups don’t end up that farther ahead. We started a few minutes earlier than everyone this time, but it took almost 4.5 miles for all the groups to pass us. And even then they were in our sight line for a long time after they went by.

It is a little depressing to be the slowest in the group – so slow they made a special group just for you. However, I keep telling myself that it isn’t the speed that matters but the mileage. I have plenty of years to focus on getting faster, but this year it is all about finishing!

Here are some stats from the run. The total time includes waiting at several lights so I am guessing my pace was closer to 16:25. Also before I modified the GPS path to be more accurate each mile was about the same pace – which is great!


Thursday, July 1, 2010


After my 5 mile run on Thursday I felt absolutely wonderful. I was tired, but didn't have any pain anywhere. Nothing. The next morning still nothing. I couldn’t believe it. About 24 hours later I started feeling a little sore, but not much. The shorter intervals and paying attention to my posture must have made a huge difference.

Or so I thought. I had company over the weekend so I did a lot of walking, but nothing strenuous. On Monday, I met with my personal trainer for a strength workout. Before my appointment I did my 25 minute run and a nice easy 20 minute walk. I felt great. Then my personal torturer trainer came in.

My body just stopped working. Some things, like squats, I physically couldn’t do. My legs refused. My upper body also went on strike. Things that I normally do with 12 pound barbells, I had to do with a 3 pound barbell. Even then my muscles quivered like jello and I had to put in extra rests. The worst part – I am STILL sore. Still. After 4 days. You would have thought my trainer went all out and tried to kill me I am so sore.

That of course made my Tuesday run very interesting. I felt every muscle. I considered skipping the workout since I was traveling and so sore, but I figured in the long run I would be worse off if I didn’t keep my muscles working. The strange part was even though I was incredibly sore, I had more stamina and endurance than normal. I did a few 1 minute intervals and a even a few 30 second 6 mph intervals. Considering the fact that the last time I did 6 mph I almost fell off the treadmill, I consider this a huge win. I finished up the day with a short and easy session on the recumbent bike to cool down. I could have done much more (and the hotel gym was great!), but I didn’t want to regret it in the morning.

Today is the beginning of week 4 of my training. Our group run is only three miles tonight and I can’t wait. It is strange to think of three miles being an easy run. I wasn’t that long ago that 3 miles was my goal distance. It will be interesting to see how I do. Even though we are supposed to do these long runs slower than normal I am thinking that since this is “only” three miles we will up the pace some. My goal is to beat my 5k pace – hopefully by 30 sec/m. Since it has been 5-6 weeks since that race I am guessing that goal is very doable.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Week Three - Five Miles!

Last night was the beginning of week three of my training program and our group run. This week we were scheduled to do 5 miles. I have never run five miles in my entire life. Never even wanted to – until now. For some strange reason I wasn’t worried about completing the run anymore. When I finished the four miles last week something clicked into my mind that if I could do this I can do anything – with the right training :)

Luckily when I got there they had divided the slow group into 2 sections. Last week I just about killed myself with the pace and was blown by the last mile. The faster 15 started out with 2-1s (run 2 min/walk 1 min) while the slower group did 1-1s. According to Galloway’s method for my pace I am supposed to do even smaller intervals so I was a little concerned about keeping up, but luckily one of the trainers started a small group of us out in 30-30s.

Now you would think that doing such smaller intervals would have really slowed us down, but for the first mile we were within a few hundred feet of us. It was probably about 2.5 miles before they got completely out of sight, but they still only finished a few minutes ahead of us. But doing the 30-30s was so much easier. Well not easy – it was still hard, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to puke after so I consider it much better.

The best part of the run – I didn’t finish last! Only because the other runners with me took a bathroom break, but still it was nice not to finish last for once.

Here are a couple snapshots of my run – from a numbers point of view. The first is my stats from I logged every mile in around 16:30 – except the last, but I forgot to turn it off right away. The second is my calorie burn for the day. The long high peak is the run of course. You can see that I did 80 minutes of vigorous activity (I have defined at >4.8 mets). That is almost my entire run. Even though I am walking during part of the run, the way it happens (frequent but short) allows my burn to stay steady.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Story

7 months ago when I began my journey to lose weight, I never thought my life would change so much. I knew I could only dream about how different I would feel. One of those dreams was to be a runner and to run a half marathon. It was one of those things that I didn’t really think would happen, but I knew that if I got there I would have overcome every one of my self imposed fears and limitations.

Fast forward to mid March and I my dream of becoming a runner was starting to get real traction in my mind. I was half way to my first goal weight and had started to love my long walks (with a little jogging thrown in). I signed up to do a 5k in May and began looking at half marathon training programs. I had begun to love running and wanted to see how far I go.

In May I ran my first 5k. It was a wonderful experience and even though I ended up walking a good portion of it I hit a personal best. It was a great experience and I finished knowing I wanted to do it again and that I could do even better next time.

Today, I am starting week three of my half marathon training. I am still obese (I HATE that word) and am the slowest runner in the class, but I am there and doing my best. Last week we ran 4 miles and there were a few points when I thought I had made a big mistake. I finished last, but I made it through and by the time I got home I was looking forward to the next run. Secretly, I wonder what alien took over my body, but honestly the feeling of accomplishment is so wonderful that it is very addicting. Tonight we run 5 miles. I know I will be last, I will finish.

Tonight I will remember the woman who 7 months ago had deep dark secret desire to run a half marathon. I will remember the woman who couldn’t run mile if she had to. I will remember and I will finish – for her and for me.