Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Biggest Loser Half Marathon Recap

After 12 weeks of training, I didn't have the race that I was hoping for, but I finished, got a personal record, and added another medal to my collection!  I just started training hard at the start of this cycle, so I wasn't expecting some amazing break-out race.  It's time to keep up my fitness and keep training hard, and I'll eventually hit those goals that I set!

For this race, I broke the distance up into four 5k's, plus a mile at the end.  I'll recap the race by those segments, and also have some overall thoughts on my training and the actual race at the end.  I hope you enjoy my first race recap!

Race Stats:

Official Time: 2:05:59
Pace: 9:37/mile

12/41 Female 20-24
172/638 Overall


Mile 0-3.1

Felt great!  I was right on pace and everything was feeling easy.  My legs were loose and I had no cramping at all from my breakfast (for once).  There were lots of little tree spores flying around the air that would get in my mouth and nose.  Luckily I wore sunglasses, so I didn't have to worry about them getting in my eyes!  It might look like snow in the picture below, but it was really tiny flying cotton balls!
I also stopped at the bathroom during this 5k (mile 3) which took less than a minute from my time.

Splits: 8:54, 8:55, 9:12

Mile 3.1-6.2

Still feeling good and right on pace.  I was starting to get a bit warm and the spores were getting on my nerves, but I still felt confident.  The entire course was really beautiful and I was enjoying the race.
Splits: 8:59, 8:56, 9:28

Mile 6.2-9.3

When we hit the turn-around and headed back everything in my left leg started to ache.  It started with my shin, and worked its way up to my hip.  It just felt like everything was locked up and really tight.  I kept pushing, hoping that it would go away, and took my first walking break at the water stop at mile 7.  From then on, I would just try to make it to the next water stop or mile marker because my leg was hurting so badly, but sometimes stopped in the middle of the mile.  I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish at this point.

Splits: 9:09, 10:06, 9:37

Mile 9.3-12.4

Once I made it to this point and knew I only had one 5K left (not really, but this was my last 5k segment) I knew that I could finish, even if it meant walking the rest of the way.   I began to take shorter walking breaks (only walking for about thirty seconds at the mile marker) but my pace was a lot slower when I was actually running.  My leg was still hurting, but was concentrated in the piriformis muscle (aka pain in the butt).  Running slowly hurt, but so did walking, so I figured I might as well run and get this race over with!

Splits: 9:59, 10:16, 10:29

Mile 12.4-13.1

At this point I saw my mom and pushed it as much as I could to the end.  My entire left leg was on fire and I knew I just had to finish and then I could rest, so I just did it!  I got passed by a TON of people at this point which stunk, but I just wanted to finish in one piece!
Splits: 10:35, :55

Overall thoughts

Training

My training was good, but lacked in longer, quality runs.  My longest run was 10 miles and was pretty tough.  Other than that run, I didn't do many long runs.  This is always my biggest issue with training and something I have to concentrate on in my next training cycle.

I think that cross training definitely helped.  My upper body felt great, and I didn't get sore in my shoulder area like I usually do during longer runs.

I need to do more runs that push me.  Most of my miles are easy runs, so I have to start doing tougher runs that help my mental game.  My next training schedule is a lot more intense and will push me, so I think this will definitely help me in a race.

Next race I need to train on similar elevations!  I live in a very hilly area, and all of my runs were filled with rolling hills.  I never ran a long run in a flat area and that was probably the source of my muscle pain.  Next time, I'll study the elevation map and make sure my long runs mimic the course.

I finally found a breakfast that sat well in my stomach!  I have a really sensitive stomach that can't hold anything down with my race-day nerves, but I didn't have any issues with cramping in this race.  I had water, a banana and a Honey Stinger waffle about 2 hours before the race.  During the race I had a salt tab at mile 6 and a Honey Stinger gel at mile 10.

I saw this post from True Runner and had to share- I love it!

 Race Organization

The race course had a few bathrooms along the route, but they were mostly at the beginning part of the race (I believe the last one was around mile 4).  There were no lines for the bathrooms thankfully, and I was able to make a stop that only took 45 seconds out of my race.

There were NO GUs or other gels given out during the race (even though the website said that the water stops would have them).  Luckily I brought my own, but I think this is a huge problem for a race like this.  There may have only been a few that were given out to the leading runners, but I didn't even see any wrappers on the ground.



There were also no clocks along the route.  The mile markers were clearly marked, but I was surprised that there were no clocks at all, even at major milestones like 5k and 10k.

At the start, it was a "wave start" and they released about 50 runners every minute.  I lined up towards the front, but was in the front of the third wave.  As soon as I started, I had to dodge lots of walkers, so I think it should have been better communicated how the waves were.  I've seen other races that have predicted finish times or paces so you knew where to lineup, but this race didn't have any signs or anything for you to know where to start.


30 comments:

  1. Great write-up! That's not a lot of pre-race fuel but it sounds like anything that you can keep down is a bonus, so I'm glad you found something. You're definitely making progress (congrats on that PR!) but it also sounds like you're learning so much for next time, too! I always take something away from a race. It always teaches me something. You're right about getting in a longer training run next time and it sounds like your next training cycle will get you ready for your next half. Looking forward to watching you get it done! Congrats again!

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    1. Thank you Suzy! I agree that it's not as much as I should have, but unfortunately when I have more I get horrible stomach cramps and sometimes have to throw up (sorry for the TMI!). Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  2. Great job documenting! Definitely agree with Suzy above that it seems like you've learned a ton for next time. And that's a good thing! Running wouldn't push us, challenge us, or teach us if we all had the perfect race each time :) ALSO I REALLY HOPE YOUR LEG IS OKAY NOW IN THE AFTERMATH!

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    1. I love what you said - running definitely challenges me and teaches me something new every time! My leg is feeling a lot better! I walked dogs yesterday after work and that helped loosen it up a lot! Another day of rest and I'll be back to normal :) Thanks for reading!

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  3. Awesome job hanging in and finishing. I love how you broke up your recap because it was really easy to follow and I get a great feel for where you were at during each segment. You did really well and know what the areas where you feel you need some work which is awesome! Long runs are totally key. Build them up slowly and aim for one longish run each week, it will totally help you, over time, to feel comfortable with the distance. However, as a few of my blog running friends say, we may run long all of the time but the race distance, which may be the same as our long run distance, is a whole other beast! Races are hard! Be really proud :)

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    1. I'm so glad you liked the recap like this! I saw someone else do it and really liked it in bigger chunks. I can't remember how each mile felt, but a 5K was plenty to remember :) Thanks for the advice, and thanks for stopping by Meredith!

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  4. Ouch! I felt your leg pain through this recap! And you had to run half of the race like that! You did such an awesome job--hello, PR!--especially considering that. Congratulations! It also sounds like you learned some valuable lessons you can use in the future. I think that once you get used to training on rolling hills, a flat trail is so tough because it can be boring, for me anyway. But my next half will be a flat course, so I think I'm going to alternate a long run on a hilly course with a long run on a flat trail every other week.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! I think that would definitely help you. My next half is pretty flat as well and is mostly on trails, so I'll be doing a lot of my long runs on the North Shore trail! I'm sure I'll be seeing you a lot :)

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  5. Great job with that race. I had my right leg blow up on me two years ago in a race so I know the frustration.

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    1. Thank you! It's not fun at all and super frustrating! Time to train harder :)

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  6. So sorry to hear about your leg injury but you still had a really solid race in spite of it! I'm the opposite of you - I'm used to running pretty flat and have to adjust to races with rolling hills! Your medal is so nice, congrats!

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    1. Thanks Janelle! Either way it's a big adjustment to run a race on terrain you're not used to. I thought the hills would make this easy, but apparently not!!

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  7. Sounds like a rough day between the muscle pain and the pollen stuff (I am super allergic to those trees, this time of year is the worst!). Great job sticking with it through those last few miles.

    Also sounds like the race organization could use a bit work. No Gus after the website said there would be. No bathrooms in the later miles. And a bit of a mess at the start. Yikes.

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    1. Oh and I almost forgot: Congratulations on your new PR!

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    2. Eek that would stink to be allergic! Luckily pollen doesn't bother me too much, but this stuff was insane and was flying around everywhere! Thanks for the comments :)

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  8. Congratulations on your new PR! You did so well considering having to run through a leg cramp that got progressively worse. Interesting that you think training on hills made it harder to run on the flat - I'm so used to training in flat areas and searching for hills to add to my route because I think they'll make me faster. But maybe that's not the case, and I do think I've heard somewhere that you really need to train for the course you're running. Hope you are enjoying recovery and looking forward to following along with your next season of training when you're ready to get back at it. :)

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    1. Thank you!! I thought it would help as well, but I guess my body wasn't used to the same muscles being used over and over for 13 miles- they're used to always switching it up! I'm so ready to move forward from this and keep my base up, so I'm sure you'll be hearing about my next goals soon :) Thanks for all the support!

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  9. Congrats on your new PR (with the leg cramp too). I am surprised they did not have any running clocks (esp for a half).

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    1. Thanks Jenny! I was really surprised too! I guess I'm so used to seeing them now, and I suppose most runners run with a watch or clock now. Luckily I had one but if I relied on course timers I'd be mad!!

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  10. I've done a few BL races. I was disappointed at the direction at the last one. There was Gu but it was given out very early. Mile 4? And no Gatorade between mile 6 and 12. I had cramps and needed it badly. You still had a great finish time. I hope your leg/hip is OK!

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    1. I've seen your recaps on the BL races! Super surprised it didn't seem well-organized. Usually a big, national race has their stuff together but not this one, sadly. It was a fun race though so I can't complain too much!

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  11. Great recap and I think you have a lot to be proud of! Sometimes the flat courses are harder than hilly ones! At least the alternating elevation gives our body a break. I also live in a hilly(er) area and running the Chicago marathon which is totally flat was an absolute struggle. Congratulations on your PR and a great race!!

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    1. Thank you so much! I ran a half in Chicago and had the same problem. It really is a challenge for us hill girls! I can't imagine doing a full marathon on that...good for you!!

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  12. Good recap, it looks like you learned a lot from this race. I agree with you that you need to train on same elevation and terrain as the course you doing, it makes it so much easier on race day. I can't believe they didn't have clocks on the course, usually they have at least one or 2. Well you still had a great race and even though you didn't hit your goal you should be proud

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    1. Thanks Shaun! I know you also had a problem at the Pittsburgh Half so you can definitely sympathize. I'll move on from this and come out stronger next time! Thanks for all the support!

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  13. Congratulations on your race! Even though it wasn't what you were hoping for,. I thk we are our own biggest critique. Way to push thru when you were not feeling the greatest. Cool medal! I have always wanted to do one of the Biggest Loser races.

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    1. Thank you!! Runners are definitely really hard on themselves, no matter if they're the best in the world or one of the slowest. That's one thing we all have in common! I would recommend doing BL races if you're looking for a cheap half (this was only $50), but be prepared to bring your own fuel and watch!

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  14. Congratulations again on your PR! I'm glad I finally got to read this! I'm sorry your leg/piriformis went haywire on you and slowed you down. Is it better now? I know you'll crush your goal soon. You train very hard and it's nice to see how you evaluated yourself and figured out what to do for next time. Well done! :)

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    1. Thanks Nichole! I'm feeling much better. Taking it easy this week and hoping that'll help out :) Thanks for all of your support throughout this whole journey!

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  15. I'm sorry I'm such a slacker and am only reading this now :-/ BUT it was worth the wait!!!

    CONGRATS on a PR!! That is awesome, especially when you were in so much pain! You are hard.core!
    I used to think that training on hilly routes would be good for any type of race, until I read an interview with Shalane Flanagan last year as she was going for the American marathon record in Berlin. It's also a super flat course and she said that those courses are a whole different beast because essentially you are working the same muscles over and over and over and not giving them a break. On hills, you are working different muscles at different times. My next half is Buffalo Creek (and FLAT) so I'll be on the river trail a lot this summer!!

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