In similar fashion to last year, my first race of the season didn’t happen until September. And once again I wasn’t able to run the Boston Marathon due to my running health being compromised. I have been battling a left “shin splint” (medial tibial stress syndrome) off and on for over two years now but am slowly winning the battle. 2013 has been a year of renewal and many positive changes that have enhanced my running and overall wellbeing. I have taken action and set myself up mentally and physically for a good training cycle this year. Firstly, I’m going to share my Charlotte Covered Bridges Half Marathon race report that took place on 9-14-13. Then I’ll layout a few highlights of my year so far and how I found success in 2013.
A 20 mile training run in August on the Charlotte Covered Bridges Half Marathon course.
This was a really great small local race put on by Racevermont.com that took place in Charlotte, Vermont close to Lake Champlain. The race stopped for a few years and started up again this year. It used to take place on the east side of Route 7 which was a hilly course as I have been told. This year it was moved to the other side of Route 7 and started at Shelburne Beach. While it wasn’t pancake flat, it was a very fast course and conducive to achieving a personal record. It was an out-and-back course where you ran through the same covered bridge twice which was right on Lake Champlain. It is a truly beautiful course with mountain views and gorgeous Vermont landscapes. We ran the course back in August as part of a 20 mile training run to see what the course was like. That day it was warm, sunny and absolutely beautiful.
The weather happened to be great that morning for racing with cloudy overcast skies and cool temperatures that might have topped out in the mid 50s F. For me the the cooler the better!! It was a little windy but not enough to really slow us down. When we left our house at 6:00am, it was raining most of the 45 minute drive but was surprisingly dry in the Charlotte area. We lucked out that day!
Views of Lake Champlain from the Start and Finish of the race
Before the race I did my warm up drills and a few stretches. I was able to do a nice easy warm up mile with Scott. Everything was feeling good especially my shin which has had its ups and downs this season. After a couple more stretches we got to the starting line. I was excited to finally race and test my fitness levels after working with a new running coach this year.
The first mile started on a good gradual uphill for a quarter mile and then leveled out a bit. I played this one conservatively with an average pace of 6:58 minutes per mile. My goal that day was to beat my previous PR of 1:31:43 and hopefully run an overall average pace of 6:50 to 6:56 minutes per mile. I wasn’t sure how fast I could run, but knew I could run a little faster than last year. On miles 2-4 I was pleased to be averaging 6:48 to 6:51. Miles 2 and 3 were a nice gradual downhill where I could have gone faster but wanted to play this race wisely. I knew I would have to run back up that gradual incline for a couple miles on the way back! During these miles I was running with another woman around my age and we took turns taking the lead. Another guy joined us for a bit which was fine. I didn’t mind having company but knew I would eventually want to shake this woman. I have to admit that because she was wearing headphones I assumed she wasn’t that serious of a runner. However she did finish up a few minutes behind me with a very speedy time and third place. So “never judge a book” as the old saying goes!
After the first 3 miles or so I took some water at the first water station and ran through the covered bridge. The course started to gradually climb a little bit for the next couple miles. I was still able to maintain a good pace. I did a GU after 31 minutes which was helpful. Mile 5 ended up at a 6:54 pace because I still wanted to be conservative. It was around this time I believe I lost the man and woman who were with me for the beginning of the race. At around mile 6 I crossed the intersection where a lot of spectators were cheering us on. Nick was there and yelled out that I was looking good. (His son finished a minute or so behind me. It was cool to meet him that day.) Mile 6 ended up at a 6:47 and I was still feeling good and strong. I did admire the landscape and was appreciative of the cool weather!
I took more water just before the turnaround and almost didn’t realize it was immediately after the water station that we would head back. Luckily I only lost a couple seconds when someone yelled at me to “turn around now”. I love out-and-back courses for the entertainment factor of seeing all the other runners. After the turnaround I could see that another woman was hot on my trail by about a minute. I could tell she was running strong and might catch me. The headphone woman seemed safely far enough back so I wasn’t worried about her. I honestly wasn’t going for a win that day, but was in the lead for almost 10 miles. After the turnaround there was a good short hill for a bit which slowed mile 7 down to a 6:59. Once I recovered and was on flatter terrain, I picked it up a little and was so pleased at how well I was feeling. It wasn’t easy but it was very feasible to be running so strong. I loved how all the other runners on the way out were cheering me on as the first woman. It felt good and I was humbled by all the support. Runners are really a fantastic bunch of people!
I won a Vermont Teddy bear for the 2nd woman overall
At the intersection I got another boost as Nick told me I was still looking good. Lots of people were still watching and cheering on the runners which was great! My pace for miles 8 and 9 were 6:41 and 6:44. They were flat and gradually downhill which was a nice break. I still wanted to play it safe for the gradual climb later that had me a little concerned as it felt hard back on the training run in August. Before going back through the covered bridge I looked back briefly and the winning woman was just seconds from catching me. I did my second and final GU right before the covered bridge and final water stop.
It was after the water station and at the end of mile 10 where the winner caught me. We ran together for a little bit and exchanged a few friendly words of support. I told her she was doing great and she complimented me on a good pace. She was in her late 20s and running stronger than me that day. Then I let her go as I knew that I needed to run my own race that day. I was on my way to a personal record and didn’t want to risk injury or blowing up by trying to stay with her. Mile 11 and part of mile 12 were my hardest part of the race. This is where it hurt the most and started to feel like a “sufferfest” going back up the gradual hill. However I still managed a pace of 6:58 for mile 11. I thought that mile would be worse but the GU really helped! I seemed to recover well and ran a strong mile 12 with a pace of 6:42 which was so pleasantly surprising! The winner was only about 20 seconds ahead of me and I was fine with that. She ended up 30 seconds ahead of me as she kicked it in the last mile.
I was more thrilled about winning a Vermont Teddy bear than my PR!
Mile 13 was a good mile! For the first half I noticed I was averaging a pace of 6:38 and knew I would soon be going downhill for the last part of the race. This still felt very hard and I couldn’t wait to be done at this point. But I still picked it up a little on the downhill so my average pace for mile 13 would be faster and it ended up at a 6:35. The small downhill portion was harder than I thought it would be, but still nice to have that break at the end. The last 1/10 of a mile was fast for me at a 5:35 which I didn’t think I could even move that speedily. I finished with a time of 1:29:00 which was a truly great feeling. I was thrilled about my performance and fitness levels. I had been working so hard all summer and it truly paid off. On thing that I was also happy about was the fact that my legs weren’t devastated like in the past. I did a nice 1 mile cool down right after I finished. This was a great training race for the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, MA which I will run on October 20, 2013.
Scott had a very good run too! He decided to run part of the course at his planned marathon pace and use the race a tempo training run. He did run faster on the way back and still ended up with a good time of just under 1 hour and 40 minutes! He was only 2 minutes slower than his personal best and he wasn’t really racing! He was second in his age group without trying! He has been training very hard for his first marathon. He has lost weight and is turning into quite the endurance athlete! Go Scott! You are doing awesome and I’m so proud of you! I love you!!
Post race with my husband Scott
How I found success in 2013:
Firstly, we decided to take our first ski vacation out West to Utah in February which was a most amazing experience and adventure. We both needed this time in the mountains and I’m so glad we made the decision to finally treat ourselves! When we returned to Vermont we were ready to start running again and continue skiing on our own mountains. Our batteries were recharged!
Scott is the king at Sugarbush, Vermont – March 2013
In June of 2013 we decided to do a weekend workshop at Karmê Chöling which is Shambhala Meditation Center in Barnet, Vermont. I have read the book Running with the Mind of Meditation twice and was very excited to learn that a workshop based on the book would be happening this spring. I believe meditation is very helpful as a holistic way of taking care of myself physically, spiritually and mentally. So the weekend was a true gift for both Scott and myself. We learned a lot and enjoyed the weekend so much.
Evening walk at Karmê Chöling
I decided to work with a new coach with a different approach and background this year. While I do miss Jack, it has been so helpful to experience new training methods. My new coach worked with my shin problems and eventually we had to change my track workouts into slower but longer intervals which still made me very strong. She taught me a lot of great ways to properly recover which I wasn’t doing in the past. While my daily routine consumes more time with extensive core work, warm-up drills, dynamic as well as very specific static stretching, this has been keeping me healthy week after week. Even the few extra recovery tricks after a long run or speed workout are working great!
Swimming in the Indian Brook Reservoir with Scott and Chris 9-28-13
Cross training has also been an important component of my marathon training this spring and summer. We spent the past winter going to Swim Clinic week after week from December to April with our running friends. We then bought full wetsuits for open water swimming which we did all summer in the Waterbury Reservoir and the Indian Brook Reservoir. This was the first summer of real open water swimming and we loved it! We even did 1 mile group swims which were hard and fast, but really satisfying. And we are still swimming in the cooler fall waters! This Saturday was a little chilly in the water, but it was still amazing to be out there swimming in late September. And swimming does make you a stronger athlete! I love to swim!!
Swim Clinic dinner with our amazing and super fun triathlete friends
My new Soma Cyclocross bike set up as a bad-ass commuter bike for work
One the best things I did for myself this summer was have a commuter bike built for myself by a local bike guru, Gene Bell. This has been another major cross training activity. I absolutely love my Soma Cyclocross bike and riding to work on the quiet back roads through Duxbury and Waterbury. I have a rack and panniers and carry everything I need with me. With disc brakes and fat knobby tires, I can handle the dirt roads with ease. Not only has this enhanced my happiness during the week but it has also made me stronger as a runner! Cycling has always been near and dear to my heart so I’m thrilled to be including it as part of my training. And with all this extra cross training, we have decided to sign up for a half iron distance (70.3 miles) triathlon next September. We are paving our way towards a full Ironman triathlon in 2015!
Yearling moose on my bike commute to work one summer morning in 2013
More cross training on my racing bike as we had to Bristol, VT on a 51 mile ride during the summer
Tomorrow morning I continue my marathon training with a 26 mile run and then it’s time to taper for the Baystate marathon in 3 weeks! I look forward to writing a post about a great marathon for me and a successful first marathon Scott. We have been working so hard this season and I feel it’s going to be a special day for us both. Until then……
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” ~Audrey Hepburn