Friday, May 24, 2013

Speedwork Works and Memorial Weekend Running!

Say what????
You get faster... (wait for it) by training faster. Gather the pieces of your mind up off the ground. You would be surprised by the number of people that complain "I'm just not getting any faster" or "I hit a wall in my marathon time" then when I ask what speedwork they do, they side-head-tilt Scooby me. Hhhhh? Speedwork? Why would somebody need this? Well I figure the name in itself is enough to explain, but hey-- let's be blunt here...

Why Speedwork Helps: (Yeah there are articles that tell you day-by-day what to do and why it works. But, take it from a runner that has tried just about every "school" of running there is)...
1) Muscle Memory- You get your legs turning over at (around) the same speeds every time you run. To build gears, you need to get them used to moving faster and holding through the pain (more information on that in this article). Speaking of pain...

2) Blocking the Pain- I honestly believe that every runner goes out and experiences the same (relative) amount of pain. The difference is, runners are used to blocking it out. Half of training is (unknowingly) learning to block out what hurts. Don't believe me? The next time you're in a race and hurting-- just general soreness, not injuries-- kick it up. Seriously, speed up 10-15 seconds per mile and hold. It won't hurt ANY more than it already did. And I guarantee slowing down 10-15 seconds per mile won't hurt any less. So next time, kick it up and your body may respond in a surprising way!

3) Confidence- Holding faster paces for substantial training runs-- be it track sessions or tempo runs-- will leave you feeling much more confident when you slow down a bit at race time.

Speeding it Up...
Now the article referenced above tells you how to "ease" into speedwork. That's all well and good, but we all know I don't ease into anything. The best feeling in the world is walking (because you no longer CAN run) away from a speedwork session feeling incredibly sore and worn out. You've gone as hard as you could for as long as you could that day and you have pushed your threshold just a little bit more!

Yesterday I did my 3:20 yassos x 5!!! That's my speedwork of choice! Why? It's scheduled (1 time a week, starting at 3-4 yassos and moving up one every week), it's easy to follow and understand, you can do them anywhere (with a distance calc watch, a track, or a death-mill), it's goal oriented (3m 20s intervals for a 3h 20m marathon), and it works. Preach!!! Below is Bart Yasso. Remember his face-- he'll be the one you're cursing at around the 8-interval week.
Meet'll curse him later
For the past few weeks I've struggled mentally though these. I'm not too surprised since I'm NOWHERE near running a 3h 20m marathon right now. But hey! B***s to the walls, right? To supplement my speedy, speedwork I've done at least one tempo run and another (semi) tempo run as part of my weekly routine. Every time I go out, I can run faster for a longer period of time and I'm getting back to my comfort zone doing it. Word.
Completely "borrowed" for the betterrment of runners :)
It also helps to shed some of the extra winter time lbs. So far I've lost 6 lbs-- over about 6-7 weeks. Healthy but very much needed. I'm running lighter and faster and feeling much better! And I'm 4 lbs off my best racing weight. #sexy-fide.

Memorial Weekend Plan!
What do people do on memorial day weekend? Drinking? Pool time? Baseball games? Tim McGraw concert? Well yeah all of those will happen. But my goal is to do 3 days of 10+ mile runs. Why? 1) I have a marathon in 2 weeks and need to get some high mileage in. 2) I like to give myself random goals just to do it and 3) All of those other things are going to cost me calories and I need to work them off! Woohoo- wish me luck! Today it's an easy workout with some cross training to get ready for my long weekend.

One more note- The "Race Ratings" page (at the top) is up and running! Check it out for the race ratings (2) since this blog started (a month ago). More to be added in no time!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! What races are you using to celebrate?

"Run to Win" -Meb

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Marathons... Better than a Root Canal!

Warning: The following message is rated P for Painful tooth extraction and contains self-medicating NSAID abuse. 

I've heard a lot of comments from non runners about how "crazy" I am for all my running. The first time I tell them about my marathoning (and the many, many subsequent times I talk about running in general), they make that 'I just smelled a crop duster' face and say things like "How can you enjoy it???" As if I told them I like to spend my weekends torturing bunnies and chewing on light bulbs. Well this weekend I was able to personally prove that the old cliche "I'd rather have a root canal than..." does not apply to marathon running.

I arrived in NY very late Friday night with a slight tooth ache. I took a handful of ibuprophen (note: Steph's 100 marathon challenge does not promote self medicating behavior... unless you want to share) and went to bed.  In the morning I had a terrible ache in my mouth. My usual ibu/wine combo wasn't even strong enough to kick it. Luckily our local dentist was willing to come in on a weekend and take an X-Ray. As it turns out, that re-worked root canal I had paid an obscene amount of money for a few years ago, was failing. #Awesome. I was given an antibiotic and codeine (SWEET!) in hopes to relieve the pain and bring down the swelling until I could return to OH/KY and have somebody work on it. No such luck... and the antibiotics were making me loopy on top of it.

The night before I was supposed to run the marathon I was up every hour in pain. When I awoke I was exhausted and in more pain than ever. 1,12-hour aleeve, 12 ibuprophen, 2 codeine pills, and 2 tylenol PM and I wasn't able to sleep and was still in a bad way. I made the choice to go back to the dentist and get my tooth extracted rather than fight the good fight... hey! I live in KY, I'm not expected to have all my teeth! 

Rotary Run 5 Miler
...Of course not before racing! We happen to live right on the course of a 5-mile race that was going on that morning. Convenient? I think so! I figured I wouldn't be able to run after the tooth extraction, so I ran down the street and jumped in the Rotary Run 5-mile and won it :) More importantly- I was able to wear my FLOWER!!! That's right, my "Rock Star" flower came in this week! (read more about flowers here). I had won this race in the past, but that was in my prime-- and without a pharmacy in my stomach. 

The first mile has a good downhill portion and the drugs were making me quite trippy-- so I thought going off at a 6:50 was a brilliant idea. I would pay for it later on the uphill. I was able to keep it to 7:28's on a relatively hill course. Not great, but good enough for a W. It also gave me a little practice in short distance running, which (if you read my last post) is something I've been working on, while getting my marathon training in. Yay! 

After the 5-mile race I ran home, showered, and then went outside to cheer on the 5K runners as they went by... then went to get my tooth removed from my mouth. Cody bear and I cheering on the runners ----> 

So I wasn't able to run a marathon this weekend, but there were good point to be focused on...
  • MB was able to catch up a little more in our marathon count. She finished marathon #72 :)
  • Last week I hit 6 lbs in my weight loss progress and now I'm 6 lbs and one tooth lighter!!!
  • I was able to wear my Rock Star flower for the first time
  • I won a race!
All great points if I do say so myself!!! 

While traveling in CT on Monday and Tuesday I was able to get one solid run in and one fantastic "hotel" workout in! More on that later this week!

I'm back from the northeast and ready to get my speed on! Yassos today!
"Run to Win" -Meb

Friday, May 17, 2013

Oh a marathon this weekend? Why not... and Training for Two!

Marathon this Weekend? 
I found out yesterday that I have to be in Hartford early next week for work. Being that it's only an hour and a half from Crazy Lady (my mother and other half of my "mother/daughter first 50 state marathon awesome team"... we need to work on that name) I let her know I would be close by and could visit. What do normal families say when they hear about the sudden return of the prodigal daughter? Here are the options...

Option 1: I will start baking the cookies now!
Option 2: Oh we can go visit Grandma!
Option 3: Oh good you can come run a marathon in Vermont!
Option 4: It's so good to have you home... just relax pool side!

... guess which one my family picks? Let me tell you know, there aren't any cookies coming my way anytime soon and my Grandma is far too busy and popular to try and get anybody squeezed in her schedule last minute. Soooo off to the races I guess. What does that mean? We have a sudden addition to the race schedule: The Shires of Vermont Marathon. Haven't heard of it? Either have I! Let's just say the 3rd female came in just under 4 hours last year. Either this is hilly hilly hilly or it's tiny tiny tiny. My guess is a little bit of both. Are you running this race? Know anybody that is?

More to come on the race...

Training for Two...
No, I'm not gracing the world with a miniature me-- not that you can get much smaller. Training for 2 types of races. I always run into trouble here, but I can't help but take on a challenge. We have a 5K here at work every year. Now I will run marathons and 50-milers and even attempts at 100 miles... in trails, up hills, doesn't matter. But 5Ks??? ARE THE DEVIL. Seriously... the devil. That God awful feeling that your lungs are going to collapse- I just can't do it! Why do I do it then? 1) it's free and 2) people around here know me as "the runner." How can I live up to my name if I'm going to opt out of a running event on our work campus?

If you have done speed training for races before you realize that speedwork for marathons and speedwork for 5Ks are 2 entirely different beasts. Marathons speedwork usually entails holding 7 min/mile pace (at least for me right now) for a half mile or a mile at a time with jogging breaks... but for a considerable distance. Trying to get faster for 5Ks means going much faster for 400m or so.

When you start edging toward the faster end of your marathon spectrum, as a runner, you'll start to realize your pace for any race is about the same. It's a threshold and you are maxing out, my friend. So that I'm not crossing the line at an 8 min/mile pace, I decided to up my Yasso's and try to train for both! I pushed them from a 7:00 pace down to a 6:20 and held on for dear life! After about 4 my legs were SCREAMING. I went to bed last night in more pain than I have after any marathon. Please note, I used to do Yassos at this pace all the time-- clearly somebody has slowed down!

In an attempt to stay positive about my training (at least in word) I'm going to stop my thoughts here. Let's just say-- I'm going to need an ice bath or two before this marathon that I didn't prepare for.

Easy running today and tomorrow... race day on Sunday! Woohoo!

"Run to Win" -Meb

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Quality Runs and ...Flowers?

Quality Running!
There is a big difference between running and quality running. Anybody can go out and shuffle their feet mile after mile, day after day, for years. This past year I've taken a break from "racing" and thus real speed training. What does that mean? Well, becoming slow... obvi. It also means that even though I have a base kept up, it's going to take a little work and a lot of quality training runs to get back where I was. Now I'm not saying every run has to be b***s to the wall, but it's important to get a few key runs in a week. Here is how I've been torturing myself lately...

  • Speed work! I don't care how far you've come, you can get faster by adding one speed-work day a week in. I like to do either Yasso 800's or mile repeats. Yassos get your body used to really pushing hard so that your tempo runs feel like there is a lot less effort...
  • Tempo runs! Who doesn't like a good tempo run? These should be at a comfortable hard effort level. Lately I've been trying to do sub-8:00 /mile tempos to get my body back in the swing. I've started with 6 mile tempo runs and hope to get up to 10 soon. This is also a great chance to run with a faster running buddy or group to push the envelope a little. 
  • Long Run! I prefer my "long runs" to be done in the form of a race... that I get a medal for... and is 26.2 miles. Hmmm. I find it much easier to to use marathons as training runs. 
Flowers... not Just for Girly Girls
Until a few weekends I thought wearing flowers in your hair while running was just for beauty queens (sorry Juli) and girls who were just trying to be "cute"-- not my thing in athletic competitions. That is, until a few friends gave me an edumacation on Fellow Flowers.

This is a pretty cool company that is focused on empowering female (and maybe some male) runners. We all run for different reasons and the flower color is supposed to represent why you run or why you are running that day-- or maybe just reflect what you need a little in your run that day to motivate you (running united, gratitude, courage, embracing a challenge).

During the Kentucky Derby Marathon a couple of wild marathon maniac chicks introduced me to Fellow Flowers. Being just a few weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, we wore shirts designed by fellow flowers as a support of unity. That's exactly the purpose of the flowers-- to connect friends, physically and emotionally. The flowers create a tie between friends while running, while allowing each chick to show their individuality by wearing different colors that show why they run. They're also a fantastic way to find each other in races!!

I've recently ordered the "Fiercely United" shirt and the black "rock star" flower. How perfect is this?

I'm (not so) patiently awaiting the arrival of my Fellow Flowers package with my new running stuff :) Flowers... running skirts... what's next??? Maybe a little girliness CAN find it's way into running. 

"Run to Win" -Meb

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Flying Pig Marathon ~ Race Ratings!

If you followed me on Steph's 50 Marathon Challenge you will be very familiar with my "Race Ratings"-- a full, detailed, review of every aspect of each marathon. I'm eventually going to consolidate the race ratings to one place, but this if the first official second of the new blog! Hopefully more to come-- well at the very least 21 more to go to 100! Enjoy...

Tagline: "Come fly with the pigs in Porkopolis"
Flying Pig Marathon ~ May 5, 2013
Cincinnati, OH ~ Downtown/Northern KY
Type: 100% Road
Year Running:15
Registration Fees: $75 early up to $115 late/at expo
Charity Race?: There are various ways to contribute charitable donations as part of the race and the Flying Pig has a list of (mostly) local charities that it supports, including: Cincinnati symphony, junior achievement  boys and girls club of Cincinnati, etc.
Runners: 4135... 1791 female
Available Races: Marathon, Half, Full Relay, 10k, 5k, 1 mile, kids run
Average Finish Time: 4:31:52
Boston Qualifyer? Yes. BQ%: 8.1%
Course Time Limit: 7 hour time limit and a 16 min mile pace must be maintained

Overall Race Rating: 4.9/5
Average Calculated Race Rating: 4.8
~These race directors know how to put on a marathon and bring the whole city into it! They place spectators, bands, fun "extras" all throughout the race, right when you need it. They reach out to the city so everybody gets into the race and boy has it become QUITE the festival in itself. This is the only marathon I've ever seen that has built up an entire weekend festival around the marathon itself-- and I've been to a lot of marathons! The swag is killer, as is the expo and the downtown area of the Cincinnati gets bigger every year so there is plenty to do in the area. I may be slightly biased because this is my local marathon, but I challenge you to come out and check it out for yourself. You'll want to do it every single year. Don't worry... I'll keep a spare room open for you.
Let's Play Race Director...
~ The biggest downfall of the race is the course distance-- I heard by MANY people, they clocked a much longer distance than 26.2. The second issue is the pricey airport costs to get into Cincinnati, but that really can't be helped by the race directors.

Event Organization: 4.9/5.0 (As far as event organization, this will include things like host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race itself, etc)
Distance from Airport: 12
Rental Car Required: Not necessarily. Getting a hotel downtown or in northern KY with a shuttle is key, but even a tax from the airport is only $20. Everything is within walking distance from the hotel to the race to the festivities and resturants. It IS a little harder to get a hotel at the last minute so plan ahead.

(Plenty to do in Cincinnati  From left to right: meeting a tarahumara runner at the 1-mile race, get a drink at a local brewery, go to the zoo)

~The location is fantastic- another city marathon. Everything is in the small downtown area so you are within walking distance to anything you need. The website has an abundance of information and they send emails all year! There are a number of races put on from Friday through Sunday and during that time there are all kind of events, concerts, etc., going on that make up a kind of festival... all for a marathon! Usually it's the other way around. If you go- take advantage of all the events of the weekend, including the kids "fun run" because you'll get to cheer on some pretty intense little ones! I'm kind of obsessed with this child-- her amazing form is only outdone by the intense look of "IF YOU BEAT ME I'LL KILL YOU" Love her!

Race Organization: 4.9/5.0
Hydration (color and type): Yellow gatorade at 29 fluid stations!
GEL type/flavor/availability: Powerbar Energy gels at miles 18 and 22.
Post Race Food: Every kind of little debbie snack you can imagine! Of course bagels, sun chips, fruits, etc. There is always plenty.
~Overall the organization in this race is phenomenal! It has turned into quite the large race with the full and half, but you never feel overly stressed like you do in typical large races. There were water stations every single mile and the volunteers (or "grunts" as they are called) are very well trained. Regular rest areas and plenty at the start. Complimentary massages are available at the end. This event isn't just a marathon- it's a marathon of races all weekend! The only negative point I would say, are the mile markers (and the distance-- 26.5??).

Course: 4.0/5.0
Marathon Guide Rating: 4.5/5
Garmin Distance: 26.5! ~ Not happy about this. I felt like the course had changed slightly from years past.
Elevation Gain/Loss: 831 ft gain/ 803 ft loss
~This is a challenging course! If you're expecting something fast, you're being unrealistic. If you're looking for a challenge-- this is the place for you! It's extremely hilly with some long stretches of steep inclines. If you go into it with that mentality you'll be ok. The last 4 miles is extremely flat and boring after spending the first 22 with varying elevation and changing neighborhoods constantly. The last 4 is a long stretch with nothing to look at and quite boring.

Spectators: 5/5
~I promise you will never meet a group of spectators at any race like you do at the flying pig. Rain or shine they are out there the entire way giving you support, booze, candy, cookies, balloon animal hats, and a TON of energy. There are whole neighborhoods having parties at 9am, covering their front lawns. You just have to come and experience it for yourself.

Pace Groups: 4.8/5
~There are 17 pace groups for the full and 10 for the half. The full runs from 3:05 up to 5:30 and are composed of the many experienced runners we have in the area. I didn't run with any for any stretch of time, but I spent the second half speeding up, so I was able to run by a lot of them and they were running like clockwork. They were highly visible and seemed to be full of energy.

Runner/Corrals Pig Pens: 4.9/5
~Corrals: The corrals are pretty well structured with 8 groups (A-H). The release of them seemed to go off very well. There weren't a ton of slow people placing themselves ahead, nor were there a lot of people weeving in and out. I attribute that, partly, to this race being a big "first time marathoner" race, so those people don't know better and won't put themselves in the first corral then run a 10 min/mile pace.
~Runners: Runners in the pig are pretty friendly and fun. They get into all the crazy things going on along the course and a TON of people where piggy pink.

Expo: 4.9/5
The expo goes on FOR-EV-ER! But it's awesome! They bring in all kind of vendors with a ton of freebies. You could make a meal of just the expo. P&G is also highly involved so there is an entire bath and body give-a-way section.You could also take pictures with a giant toilet! Why? Uhhhh better questions is why not...

Swag: 5/5
~T-Shirts: I love the flying pig shirts. They are always themed each year and this year was "The Hero in all of Us" and was kind of bat-pig themed. The size and cut of the shirts are fantastic. And the front design is cute, but still athletic. Of course the back has a little pig tail toward  the bottom! 4.8

~Medals: Everybody falls in love with the pig medals! Pig on the front, pig butt on the back! This year, for the 15th anniversary they were 15% larger and quite heavy. The lanyards are fantastic! They even give out different medals for the half and full with the half being slightly smaller, and more of a bronze color. 4.8

~Goodies/Others: If you are looking for goodies and extras you have come to the right place! This race always gives out some kind of nice bag and each year it's a little different. I've seen book bags, messenger bags, duffal bags, etc. This year we got a really cool looking soft cooler! They also give out a nice collectible poster. Similar to the KY Derby Marathon from the week prior, the pig also has a virtual goody bag! This includes discounts off local running stores, freebies from local restaurants, coupons for many other types of retailers, as well as discounts off races!

Chip Time: 4:12:42
Place... Overall: 1632/4135, Gender: 497/1791, A/G: 95/314

"Run to Win" -Meb

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Double Marathon Weekends!

This past weekend was The Flying Pig Marathon and my 80th marathon to date! Luckily for me, it's in Cincinnati! This year it was even bigger and better than ever. Some cities have festivals and events that they build a marathon around. In Cincinnati, we have a marathon that we build quite the event around. The expo is huge, there is a pre race(s) festival and the entire city really gets into it. Which includes....
My Crazy Friends!!!
My fantastic squeal team! Christine (far left) ran the half, and my 3 friends came and waited in the rain, dressed up like little biggies, cheering, and texting me encouragement! I, on the other hand, texted them selfies of me doing impressions of animals running a marathon. Normal? mmmm... sure.

This was my first back to back marathon weekends in a while! It went surprisingly very well. I ran the first 9.5 with a friend at a bit of a slower pace (~10.45), then took off for the remainder of the marathon, finishing  with a 4:12:42 chip time. It was fun to do negative splits and play the passing game.

MB came to run too! She ran a 5:08 and appeared to have quite the fun time! We were having a beer (celebrating a little Cinco de Mayo) when we saw this strolling up...
That's my mama!
A few lessons learned from this marathon...
(because even 80x marathon runners have lessons to learn!)
~Running skirts DO stop the chub rub!!!! Ok... I'll admit, they don't actually look that bad either :)
~I've been running 100% over pronated and bought new shoes-- which makes the ankles very weak. Even when changing to a better form, it's important to build up those stability muscles.
~When purposely holding back to do negative splits, it's easy to get caught up in the start of the second split. It's important to hold back a bit and not burn it all.
~Playing "tough guy" and doing a Century Workout the few days before will STILL hurt if you did exercises you're not used to... stupid. My abs still hurt from the 100 V-Ups. Apparently somebody needs to work on their core!

It was a fun race and always a great time seeing old running buddies from all over the city (and beyond). More to come with the race ratings :)

"Run to Win" -Meb

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Sports Punishment and Flying Pig Weekend!!!

WOD as Punishment
You've seen the shirt 'My sport is your sports' punishment.' It's true too. When people ask me about my running, 9 times out of 10 they'll go "UGH! I HATE running... they always made us do it in (insert high school sport)." Since running is my sport, what is my punishment? Crossfit! Or any kind of crazy "WOD"-workout of (the) day- in crossfit language.

On Thursday I did a tough WOD with a couple of guys from work over at a high school. Why a high school you ask? Oh because they have monster truck tires we can flip, stadiums we can run repeatedly, and an itchy turf we can crawl all over with burpees, push-ups, bear crawls, etc. This was the workout we did. It is called "Century." I'm sure you can figure out why...

Pretty much what I look like doing
~Start with 1/2 mile run, then in any order:
~100 yards of tire flips
~3 Sets of stadium bleacher "laps" (6 rows up and down each time)
~100 Burpees (YEAH-- I said One Hundred... don't even get me started)
~100 Yard walking lunge
~100 Yard bear crawl
~100 Pushups
~100 V-Ups
~100 Air squats

This workout took me about 45 minutes in total. Now you may be saying "Stephanie-- Did you vomit?" Very close! You may be also asking "Why would you do this to yourself?" Well it was PUNISHMENT! My speedwork session on Wednesday sucked and I needed to be punished. I didn't have nearly enough to eat and waited until the end of the day to get my workout in. Not only that, but the track I wanted to workout on was being occupied by the high school students that go to that school. Hey now! I pay taxes, not them! I should get dibs :( My "Yassos" I was supposed to do got reduced down to 0.25 mile pick ups. I still got my legs stretched out and moving faster than normal so I'm happy. Next week the Yassos are happening earlier and after a good breakfast.

Post marathon, flying pig hill training, wanna-be speed work, and a Century WOD... I'm freaking exhausted!! I guess I'm officially back in training mode!

Flying Pig Weekend!
This Sunday is the Flying Pig Marathon in my local city, Cincinnati. I'm a big fan of marathons taking over my city and Cincinnati is fully supportive of it. Almost everybody does the half or full at some point so they are understanding when part of downtown/Hyde Park shut down for a day. I've done this race twice before, but I have yet to race it. The first year I didn't train at all (it was my pre-crazy-marathon O' marathon days) and the second I paced a friend. This year I'm pacing a friend in the half, which will split off around mile 10. One of these days I'm going to take on the tough pig course and see how well I can do... maybe next year!

Happy Anniversary!
No I'm not married-- I'm not even dating anybody. Everybody shares their anniversaries between them and their better halves that they devote their lives to. In my case that's my job... so Happy 7 Year Anniversary GE! Annnnd I officially have 0 life. Good job.

May is the start of prime marathon season so this weekend is always chock full of races! What race are you running this weekend?? Good luck to all the racers!!

"Run to Win" -Meb

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kentucky Derby Marathon ~ Race Rating!

If you followed me on Steph's 50 Marathon Challenge you will be very familiar with my "Race Ratings"-- a full, detailed, review of every aspect of each marathon. I'm eventually going to consolidate the race ratings to one place, but this if the first official one of the new blog! Hopefully more to come-- well at the very least 21 more to go to 100! Enjoy...

Tagline: "A simple KY marathon with a lot of energy"
Kentucky Derby Marathon ~ April 27, 2013
Louisville, KY ~ Downtown Louisville/Waterfront Park
Type: 100% Road
Year Running:12 (for the full, 40 for the mini)
Registration Fees: $80 early up to $100 late
Charity Race?: The race is held as part of the Kentucky Derby festival. The race organizers offer 250 charity bibs, with $125 going to the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation
Runners: 2038... 817 female (for seriousness??)
Available Races: Marathon, "Mini" (half), Full Relay
Average Finish Time: 4::22:26
Boston Qualifyer? Yes. BQ%: 8.7%
Course Time Limit: 6 hours

Overall Race Rating: 4.0/5
Average Calculated Race Rating: 3.8
~I really enjoyed this race. It was full of energy from runners to spectators to volunteers. The course was tricky at points but it was still fun and running on Churchill Downs was something different. The swag is fantastic and the location ideal for a race in the area. There is plenty to do and everything is easy to get to. Big props to making more small shirts when the ran out. Overall I'm a fan!
Let's Play Race Director...
~What I would change would focus on the organization a little. There needs to be slightly better signage pre and post race so you could find what you needed (especially to bag check). The mile markers were a little off at points so that could be tightened up. I would also find a way to tie the locals/festival in with the race a bit more. If there was a festival post-race I didn't know about it.

Event Organization: 4.2/5.0 (As far as event organization, this will include things like host hotel, website use, ease of travel to the event and to the actual race itself, etc)
Distance from Airport: 5.6 Miles from SDF
Rental Car Required: Mostly likely not! There are a slew of hotels in the downtown area (walking distance to  the start) and many of the hotels have some sort of shuttle option. Typical parking fees at hotels are around $10/night ($20 if you valet).
Calming the nerves on marathon eve
~The location is ideal with the start being so close to all the hotels which is close to the airport. Hotel prices may be a bit higher than usual due to Derby week and all the festivals going on, but you could still get a decent price.The website is pretty well run and updated. There is also plenty to do around the area. 4th street is the place to stay if you want to be close to food... and beverates...

All information, course maps and elevation, is provided and information is sent virtually every day leading up to the race.The Galt House is the hotel hotel for the marathon. I didn't stay there this weekend but I have stayed there before and it's very nice. There was special pricing for runners but that wasn't released on the website. We were able to book a hotel room the day before the race so selling out isn't a huge issue.

Extras: There were no free massage tables and the post-race party was kind of spaced out without much indication of where anything was. I also would have liked to have some tie-in with the actual Derby. Yes we ran on the track for a bit, but that was pretty much it. I didn't feel like the event was really part of a festival.

Race Organization: 3.9/5.0
Hydration (color and type): Red powerade as well as water. Water was every other mile and powerade was about the same. Bonus: cups are eco-friendly with no wax, but they still don't disolve!
GEL type/flavor/availability: Strawberry and Banana powerbar gel (gag) available 3 (maybe 4?) times on the course. Ok this actually wasn't that bad- I'm just a pure vanilla GU kinda girl. I did successfully choke one of these down when I ran out of GU.
Post Race Food: Pretty standard here- bananas, chips, pretzels... oh and free beer. It was supposed to be ticketed one per person, but they weren't even bothering with the tickets.
~Overall I think the organization was pretty well done. Water stops were put in areas with plenty of room for runners to squeeze in and not trip over each other. There were plenty of port-a-johns along the way which was great. The water availability was fantastic. The only downsides I would say are the bag check locations and the mile markers. The bag check at the start was ALL the way behind the last corral and there were no signs telling you where it was. The mile markers were off in a couple of point in the middle (a few hundredths of a mile). There were a ton of port-a-johns at the start as well!

Course: 3.7/5.0
Marathon Guide Rating: 4/5
Garmin Distance: 26.28 ~ There were a ton of turns in the beginning of the race and with all the halfies it made it very difficult to stay on the tangents.
Elevation Gain/Loss: 331.36 climb

~Oh that little guy? Don't worry about that little guy.... ok do because it takes a lot out of you. The hill in the middle is actually a series of very share uphills with shorter, flatter downhills. It's killer on the quads and hams, but if you're a hill runner (like Heather Z) you're all set. You definitely come out of there feeling like you lost a little something. That hill around mile 23 is pretty rough as well. I hear that the course
Shannon, myself, and Heather at Churchill Downs
used to be FAR worse but this was a little challenging. The good news is that it sticks to the 2 rough points to mentally it's a little easier to get through than some other courses. The first couple of miles have a lot of turns. Keep a close eye on your tangents and get ahead of the pack of halfies if possible or you'll be wasting extra mileage. The roads are very wide and there is only a small section of out and back, so you get the whole road for most of the trip. After the fulls split off you have all the room you could possibly need. I should note, you get to run on Churchill Downs- Giddyup!

Spectators: 3.0/5
~Spectators were pretty good. I was surprised they weren't out more as this is an event that is part of the overall Derby Festival. They were set at some key areas, but none could get in and out of the really hill climb section, as it's part of this windy park. None of the spectators had any extra goodies or anything :(

Pace Groups: NA/5
~I know there WERE pace groups (ASICS) that ran from 3:10 to 5:45, but I cannot recall seeing a single one. There weren't a lot of out and back points for opportunity to see many and we stayed within a 10 sec/mile window the whole time so we could have been between groups.

Runner/Corrals: 4.7/5
~Corrals: These were pretty open, but assigned. I don't think anybody checked the bibs so it was kind of a free for all. Surprisingly people seemed to stick to their areas better than I've seen in a while. I didn't feel like we were tripping over people.
~Runners: I don't know if it was just my group or post-Boston Marathon event, or a mix but it felt like there was a lot more solidarity than usual. People said good job to each other, they chatted a lot more (even just a few sentences). It was a very support-filled group and I was happy to see that!

Expo: 3.2/5
Hmmm I would say a pretty basic expo- nothing crazy, but a lot of other races advertising. There was, however, an absurd amount of candy... which we took full advantage of because we were starving. You could pick up any extras that you needed/were missing- GU, water bottles, etc.

Swag: 4.2/5
~T-Shirts: Apparently they ran out of womens' small shirts BUT instead of just sticking us with mediums they actually went out, bought new shirts, and had them printed. Granted, the color (BRIGHT yellow) was a little off from the original (a muted yellow) but I was impressed that they had extras printed and who would ever know?? The fit is nice and cut for a woman (yay!). 4.2

~Medals: I liked the medals. They pulled in the horse racing side of the festival and had a nice lanyard. 3.9
~Goodies/Others: You were also given a pretty nice running hat with the marathon logo- surprisingly not at all dorky! The goody bag didn't have anything great, BUT there was kind of a cool feature- a virtual goody bag!You could print off and connect to free offers. There was a free admission to Churhill Downs as well as discounts on compression socks, watches, running sunglasses. What a GREAT idea... and so much greener!

Chip Time: 3:47:41
Place... Overall: 450/2038, Gender: 98/817, A/G: 22/145

That's it! If you get a chance to run this race... I absolutely recommend it.

"Run to Win" -Meb

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How to Train Like a Maniac!

I know I promised to do the race rating today, but I've posted about nothing but the Derby Marathon so far. If you're saying "NO! I want to see MORE of the Derby Marathon!" well you're in lucky my friend. After this weekend we have about 1000 photos- this is what happens when you have 6 people with cameras. Shannon was kind enough to pull the best of them and put it to some music. Check it out: Video!

The rating will be up tomorrow, however, in the meantime let's talk about training... Marathon Maniac Style!

Yesterday's Training!
Yesterday was a hill day. Not just any hill day- it was the flying pig marathon hill day. I took a newbie half-marathoner-in-training (Chris A.) on the flying pig half course so he could get ready for the race this weekend.

How did it feel? The first few steps were a little tough but the legs got into it eventually. Normally Chris does around a 10 min/mile pace and that's with no hills. I expected yesterday to be par for the course but I was wrong. He decided to show up a little hyper, pulling a buddy the elf and pointing out every single thing he saw on the course "oooh look a castle! A bunny! A homeless man!"

If you know anything about the pig course we were in Eden Park. This is the section that keeps banking and going uphill right when you think the current hill your on is about to stop. We had a surprisingly good pace going up and then it was time to go down. Downhill running is killer on the quads when they're already sore. Chris seemed to be enjoying himself. I had stopped listening to him a mile before but suddenly I hear him say to himself "I LOVE this downhill... I wanna make LOVE to this downhill." Annnnd that is how Chris got prohibited from eating chocolate chip pancakes before our runs ever again.

So why did I run hills when I'm still a bit sore from this past weekend's marathon? It's how you have to train if you want to get faster! Read on my little chick-a-dees...

Training between Marathons
If you followed my 50-state marathon blog you may already know this but I honestly believe (and have proven) that you can get faster while running many marathons! The key is treating each week like you didn't just race. Let me explain further....

Day After Marathon: Complete your Monday (or Sunday) runs as if the marathons was just another long training run. In fact, treat your whole week as if it's just part of a normal training week. Get in your speed work and hills and tempo runs. Is it going to hurt? Uhh... duh! More than usual? Yeah- probably! Get over it! Nobody said (maniacal) marathon running was gonna tickle! Now the exception are hard race weeks (or injury)...

Race Weeks (the mini taper): If I'm coming up on a race that I'm hoping to run pretty hard at (which is not ALL of them) I'll do a mini taper throughout the week before. I'll keep my speedwork to Monday or skip it all together and I'll limit the hill training to keep my legs fresh(er). How do I pick which marathons to race? Well it depends on my goal for that particular race. Some marathons just can't be run fast (high elevation, extremely challenging courses, trails, pacing others, etc) and I can write those off as training runs.

Racing: I also like to pick 1 or 2 marathons per season to be "race" marathons... during these I'll try and go for a PR or fast time (for my current condition). Why 1 or 2 per season? S**T HAPPENS! You could wake up to bad weather, bad mood, bad body aches, or even a bad hangover! You can't control everything and some  days just aren't your day. I've seen marathoners put so much pressure on themselves to hit a PR at a particular race that they have been training for and they ignore these challenges and still try to push the race, usually leading to disappointment.

Strength Training: I'm a HUGE supporter of strength training. I can do a longer post on this but it needs to be done and can add a ton of speed and prevent injury. I personally like, walking lunges, 1-leg squats, and anything that really works the tiny support muscles that we rely on so heavily at the end of marathons. Using any kind of balance ball can be a huge help with these! Luckily I have a few posts on my old blog on strength training tips: Weekly Strength Training and Strength Training for Knees

Much much more to come in these adventures. Today's run is going to involve a little speed session as I make my way back to Yasso's!!! I'll let you know how those go tomorrow. Wish me luck!

"Run to Win" -Meb