Fairfield Half unofficial: 1:49:40

Official: 1:49:39

I had a decent run today considering I wasn’t going for a PR (although I was hoping for a course PR, which I did by over 7 minutes). My splits were really consistent, with just a kind of disappointing mile 12 (no idea what happened there) and not as much kick at the end as I’d have liked. But this isn’t an easy course, and it is my second best half marathon time and my third time going sub-1:50. I ran with my Garmin covered again, and I thought I’d be wheeling in at around a 1:52 or so based on my perceived effort. It’s nice to have done better than expected. 

We got lucky with overcast skies, temps in the 60s and none of the forecast rain. It was, however, very humid. This race was quite hot my first time and only slightly less hot last year, so it was a welcome change. I was also glad to not have to deal with soggy feet. 

I finally got to see my prodigal son this weekend. It’s been about 6 months. Holy mackerel, did he need a haircut. Which we took care of yesterday and now he’s grumbling that the stylist did a crummy job (can’t really argue with him there — it’s not the best haircut he’s had). I missed my boy terribly. We played the board game Pandemic the last couple nights with my husband and my mother-in-law. It’s actually pretty fun, although we messed up a few of the rules both times. It definitely beats the game Settlers of Cattan, which we all thought was incredibly awful. We haven’t dismissed the idea that we maybe just didn’t get it, but we unanimously hated it, so there’s that. 

It’s so peaceful here by the beach. It’ll be hard to leave my kiddo again, but I hope we’ll see him again sooner next time. 

So, half marathon #7 for 2015 is done.

Huzzah!

This morning I found out that I passed my NAASFP Coaching Case Study with a 97%. So now I’m down to doing the client practical as the last step in my certification. 

This step will take awhile. I will be taking a volunteer client through a training cycle to her first marathon at the end of November. Bethany, the awesome athlete I mentioned in previous posts, has agreed to be my volunteer. She had already signed up for the Space Coast Marathon, and so I shyly asked her if she would be interested in being coached by me. We will have a Master Trainer overseeing the process. 

I’m really excited about this step. Bethany is already a joy to run with, and I hope I can help make her first marathon be the best experience possible. 

This is maybe a good time to mention my longer term coaching plans. I’m not planning on being a running coach as a job per se, but instead I am going to use the certification for charity fundraising. I want to set up things with a few charities for runners to make donations in exchange for training plans and/or coaching. I also hope to be able to work with some local races to provide training plans for participants if they donate a little extra to the race’s cause. I’ve done a little preliminary work talking to people in the fitness industry here in my town, and it feels like I’ll have some pretty good support for getting things established. I’ve got a few other ideas that aren’t yet fully formed, but I’m super excited to be able to use my love for running to give back. 

My own running is going well. I’m dealing with a mild case of plantar fasciitis in my left foot, but (knock on wood) it’s manageable and I’m getting it worked on with my trainer and chiropractor. I’ve got a half marathon in Connecticut on Sunday, but my only goals are to not get injured, beat my previous course PR (shouldn’t be an issue unless I have a bad day) and have fun. I used my poor foot as an excuse to finally try the famous Roosevelt Spa Baths here in town. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to soak in one of those amazing baths. 

In July, I’m going for metabolic testing. I’m sort of nervous about it, but can’t wait to see what it’s all about. 

Oh, and I’ve been switching over to Hoka One One shoes. Ohmigod, these shoes are amazing. I have the Clifton, the Clifton 2 and today I ran for the first time in the Challenger ATR shoes. The latter I purchased so I could go on and off trails during some of my runs in the park. I wore the Cliftons when I paced Bethany in her half marathon, and I finished that race with my legs feeling fresh. I highly recommend these shoes 

My Friend, the Rockstar (plus Katherine Switzer and Bill Rogers)

Bethany at the finish. That smile says it all!

I want to start my race recap post by reintroducing my friend, Bethany, who I paced through her first half marathon at the Crowley Road Race on Sunday.

I first became aware of Bethany a few years ago when my husband swam (and won!) a ten mile open water swimming race in Newport, Vermont. We were hanging around for the awards ceremony when people on the beach began to get excited; one last race participant was coming in. Bethany has since joked about the fanfare she got for being last in the race, but really, I was super impressed with her fortitude. It took her some time to finish, and frankly, most people would have thrown in the towel hours sooner than Bethany did. Me? I’m not even brave enough to get in the cold-ass water.

A castle on the course. Bethany says they do a big haunted house here at Halloween. I want to check it out!

Bethany won a prize at the event (I believe it was for fundraising), and she chose the distance swimming camp in Ireland, a pre-English Channel attempt training camp that would be completely my idea of hell. She also began contact with my husband for swimming tips.

Flash forward a few years, I got to know Bethany through many other swim events, including Bethany crewing for my husband on his own English Channel event in 2013 (I didn’t swim — I just tagged along). In September 2014, Bethany successfully crossed the English Channel. And I was lucky enough to be there to celebrate it with her.

Over the past couple years, I paced a few races with Bethany — a 5k, a 4.4-miler and then her first 10k last November. One thing I noticed about her is that Bethany is someone with a great deal of determination. Honestly, I wish I were more like her. I often conjure her up when I’m struggling with a race, remembering she spent half of an 18 hour swim vomiting and still managed to complete her mission. She is a true badass.

She signed up for the half marathon shortly after she completed the 10k. Because she keeps a kind of chock-full life, including teaching others to swim, travel for motivational speaking, a full time job and applying to get degrees in engineering and business, she didn’t get time train like she’d hoped. But she was ready to toe the line race morning regardless. Truth be told, she was a hella lot less nervous about running her first half marathon than I was when I ran mine two years ago. 

We decided to take the race out slow and try to maintain pace as long as we could. The race was small, about 86 people in the half (it also has a 10k & 5k), and most of the runners took off en masse. Like always, the first mile was tough getting into a groove, even for me going at a slower pace. I guess warming up is always a challenge.

Mile 1

We saw my husband the first time at around mile one. The sky was overcast and it was a little humid. I think it took just a couple more miles before the sun came out. We hoped for shade along the course, but there wasn’t much. Also, there was some sort of mix up with the water stops, and there was one at mile 2 and another just a quarter mile away… then not another stop until mile 7. Bethany is used to cold water swimming, not sunny, humid running, and she really needed the water to keep her hydrated. I was a little upset as I’d emailed the race to check on the location of water stops. Luckily we’d brought Simple Hydration bottles of our own, but we knew they wouldn’t last the whole race. I fretted that this was a back-of-the-pack thing where the aid stations clean up before all the runners come through, but actually it was just a mistake.

Before we knew there would be a water stop, I texted my husband to please bring us water for the next time we saw him (have I mentioned what a great Sherpa he is?). I’m so glad I brought my phone to take pictures (I normally race without it)!

Mile 4

Bethany kept a nice even pace for the first eight miles of the race. Because she is aerobically fit, we were able to easily carry on a conversation and she served as a terrific tour guide of the area as we ran the course. When we got to the water stop at mile 7, Bethany used the portapotty and I went to get our bottles refilled. When the aid volunteers saw Bethany, they asked if she was the woman who swam the English Channel. They were so excited to see her and actually thanked her for running the race. :) I was running with a celebrity!

marble sidewalk

Right after, we ran through Proctor, Vermont, which is famous for its marble quarry. There was a gorgeous marble bridge to run over and the sidewalks were even marble.

 There was a pretty significant hill around mile 8 (the course was rolling), and it sapped Bethany more than she’d have liked. But fortunately my husband met up with us and brought her more water. Bethany’s dad was also driving along the course to cheer her on, so it was fun to have either my husband or her dad pop in for support.

Mile 10 with my husband

The next water stop was at mile 10. At this point, she began to really feel the cumulative fatigue from the hills. Unfortunately, they didn’t really let up for the next few miles, but she kept at it. There was a phenomenal cheer station/water stop around mile 12.

I noted that Bethany’s breathing sounded harder — her legs were pretty much toast and her feet had gone numb (she’s been having running shoe issues that I hope we can resolve in the next month or so), but she never stopped running. We ran by a steel drum band, a couple fire trucks flanked by some handsome firemen, then finally turned the corner in downtown Rutland to the balloon arch finish. It was so exciting for me to watch Bethany cross the finish line to her first half marathon!

cheer station!

  

fire trucks

   The race medal was a piece of marble from the quarry in Proctor that’s the same quarry they took out stone for the Lincoln Memorial. Perhaps my favorite race medal yet! I really enjoyed this race and course, and except for the water stop mixup, I’d recommend this race.

Bethany & Katherine Switzer

Bill Rogers

Olympian and Boston Marathon champ Bill Rogers was at the post-race event as was running icon Katherine Switzer, the first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon. Katherine was very interested in the whole Channel swimming thing and she gave Bethany a huge hug after the race. 

I really couldn’t be more proud of her and grateful that she let me take that journey with her. It truly was like running a half marathon for the first time again (but certainly less painful for me this go around), and it was extremely rewarding to me to be there to see it happen.

Up next for Bethany: the marathon! You can read a little more about her decision to tackle the marathon and taking a break from marathon swimming by clicking on her blog here. She is such an inspiration, and I can’t wait to see her cross the finish line of the Space Coast Marathon in November.

If you’ve never paced a runner, I highly recommend it. I was a really wonderful experience, from the views to the camaraderie. It’s such a great way to support another runner with the added bonus of running a race just for the joy of running.

I Passed Steps 1&2 of my Coaching Certification!

What feels like eons ago, I mentioned I was studying for the NAASFP Marathon/Running Coach Certification. For some reason, I signed up to take the exam in May despite that I got the text and manuals around Christmastime. 

I promptly got to work, getting through 80% of the manual, only to stall studying around mid-February when I realized how long away the exam was. I probably would’ve been better off requesting an earlier exam date, but hindsight is 50/50. Anyway, the exam was trickier than I’d hoped, what with so much time lag between initial coursework and the actual exam date, but I still passed! I also passed the Red Cross 1st Aid/CPR/AED course in April, so parts one and two are now complete. 

Next up is the case study, which I’ve been mulling over and done some preliminary work on as I went through the course materials. I think this will be a challenging, and hopefully fun, exercise. 

  On Saturday, I ran the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5k, and thought it was a really nice event. Technically, I was supposed to take the day off from running, but I’d never run this race and have heard it was something of a “must”. It was a bit further from home than I’d normally do for a 5k. The drive there was twice the time it took me to run the darn thing, and I had to go for packet pick up the day before too, so the total travel time was hilariously long relative to the race. My husband came to the expo with me and “convinced” me to buy a tank from Athleta. It was a good purchase and I wore it to the race with some Skirt Sports Redemption Fitness shorts. 

I ran into fellow blogger and awesome age-grouper Darlene at the start. Talking to her made the time go by quickly. I’ve run into her at a bunch of races this season. We both are Skirt Sports ambassadors as well as participants in irun4. 

  Race morning was warmer than I’d like, in the upper 70s, sunny and fairly humid. I’ve been training in the heat to acclimatize, and I think it did pay off some on Saturday. My plan was to have a fun run and not worry about pace. I needed to be able to run 16 miles on Sunday, so that was in the back of my mind when I started. 

I saw a young woman running with a selfie stick :(  Kind of a hazard, but marginally better than trying to selfie without one? Undecided. I pretty much think it was stupid either way. 

I was fairly chill and just ran by effort. I’m pretty happy with my splits. I still haven’t raced a 5k in over a year. One of these days, I’ll stop being chicken about it. Maybe. 

 

My next race is a half in Vermont and I’m pacing a friend through her first half marathon! I can’t wait. Then a couple weeks later I’m going to run the Fairfield Half for the third time. I haven’t decided my strategy on that one except to at least beat my previous course time, which isn’t all that fast considering I was nursing a hip injury last year when I ran it. 

I’m also volunteering for our local 4th of July race. I’ve run it twice before, and they used to not have a start mat, which caused chaos the first mile or so with people lining up in the front who had no business being there. It’s a large race, about 5000 people, and there’d be people with strollers and people dead-stopping early on. I just didn’t enjoy it all that much, what with the dodging and weaving. However, I do believe in giving back, so I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to volunteer instead. 

Ironically, I just found out they added a start mat this year. Oh well. 

Scenes from the Runs

Ok, that title sounds kind of gross. I’m too beat to come up with a better one.

Here’s a little aside: you know you’re obsessed with running when you start critiquing the form of actors running in film. We went to see the latest Mad Max last night, and Tom Hardy does not appear to be a runner. Not that he doesn’t try for pure physicality. The man is a sexy beast.

The past week was a lot of getting outdoors. Next week looks to be fraught with possible thunderstorms. I’m hoping the forecast will ease up at least a few days. I am grateful that I had such nice weather while traveling and yesterday couldn’t have been nicer.

Today seemed kind of pollen-y and kind of warm for a 14-miler. I was also ridiculously thirsty. It was just about 80 degrees, and I’ve run in worse, but my body felt a bit in shock.

The first four pics are from my run on Thursday in Iowa. The rest are photos from my usual training park.

John Deere