A year in review of when I fell in love with running

About a year ago I fell in love in running.

No..I wasn’t exactly new to running but I’ve never appreciated running… I was one of those girls. B You know the ones you see at the gym daily but for never more than 45 minutes. B I’ve been running for a few years. B By running I mean 3 miles here and there before moving back to the elliptical orB StairMasterB to conclude my gym sessions of burning 500 (I’m short so it takes a while) calories. B Every once in a while I would run 5-6 miles and pride myself in a great workout. B It was never about the run itself, it was mostly about trying to stay in shape. B It became a routine of just what I did… Just like work, I had a 45 minute workout session to complete after completing my 8 billable hours (10 during busy season).

Then a year ago I somehow decided to sign up for a half marathon. B I don’t remember who gave me that bright idea or where I even found out about the race because this was long before the days of my running blog stalking and Running Times magazine subscriptions. B Maybe I hit my head when I got that idea.

Did I have every intention to train for my new brilliant idea? B Yes! B Did I get my shizzle together in order to train for it? No. B I think my longest run was 8 miles and yes when the day came, I learned and paid the price for the difference between 8 and 13 miles.

The race I signed up for was Run to Remember in Boston that was held on May 29th 2011. B It was probably one of the hardest runs I ever did. B You can tell just how thrilled I was with my face of death at the finish line.

Although the first 8 miles weren’t too bad.

It was at my first race where I started to harness my facebooking while running skills.

This was a flat course that ran through Boston’s financial district with a loop along the Charles River. B I somehow finished inB 1:48:51. B I guess I have great first time racer luck. B Although I can tell you that I certainly did not feel that way after finishing. B I remember sitting in a corner with a small pile of Hummus and Stacy’s pita chips. B Hey I might have been tried, but free food is still free food. B So back to sitting and feeling miserable. B Things that I didn’t even know could hurt? B Those hurt for the next 4 days. B The four steps I have to make it down the porch of my house.. those were hell!

Yet somehow I signed up for a second half-marathon in September and moved up to full by March. B I guess all runners areB masochistic! B I got a little ambitious signed up for the Boston Marathon a month later with a 50K two weeks after that and two half marathons the next month. I did get a ahead of myself.

Now I’m paying the price. B My left B piriformis muscleB is irking me to a point that it keeps my speed and distance at bay. B Speed and distance that I spent the first half of 2012 working on is slow leaving me. B It’s hard letting that go. B I know once I heal, rest, relax I can start working back to my achieved endurance. B I know it, but sometimes my eagerness andB stubbornnessB doesn’t want to listen.

But back to the Run to Remember. B I’ll be running the half marathon tomorrow. B Before I ran Boston and angered my piriformis, I really wanted to PR on this course. B I really wanted to see the change in my speed with my new training put to use. B I’m sadly realizing that now I probably won’t be able to PR.

However, when I first fell in love with running, I used to run for fun and not for time. B Okay maybe I had one small goal of just running faster than Tony but it was all in good fun. B Hopefully I can remember to stay in that mentality tomorrow. To rejoice in summer, running, and fun!

Gloucester Twin Lights Half Marathon Recap

On May 12, 2012, Tony & I ran the Gloucester Twin Lights Half Marathon.

The race had two options. B Run the 13.1 miles or walk it. B It was a small race caped at 1,000 participants and just the size I like them. I don’t need crowd support, I just need space for my arm pumping!

I paid $60 to register, but if I signed up early, it would have been only $45. There was no expo, but if you wanted to be extra prepared you could pick up your bib and free tech shirt the night before at a running store in Newburyport. I think most people grabbed their bib day of the race. There might have been a swag bag (I’m not sure) but I didn’t get any when I grabbed my bib. I did manage to grab a shirt which was cool since I’m starting quite the collection now. The shirt was really niceB technicalB wickB one with a cute design. Too bad the size small was more of a large. B I even grabbed one for Tony when I picked up his bib, who’ll probably end up using my shirt as well. B It was kind of cool how the female shirt was different from the male shirt.

Parking was free yay! However, there was a bottleneck of trying to make it into the Good Harbor beach parking lot. Good thing we got there 45 minutes early, which rarely happens. Not sure where the people who got there on time parked since we were pretty much at the end of the lot.

The race started at 9AM giving me perfect amount of time to sleep til 7 am and the hour drive. B By 8:30 I think the weather hit 65 degrees as you can tell by the grease growing on my forehead. B It was going to be a hot one but not as hot as Boston (and half the distance thank god). B I had no food at home so I ended up fueling with some Kashi granola bar I found in the car (those don’t expire right?) and coconut water. I even forgot my Nuun at home.

We sang the star-spangled banner and at 9AM, we were off!

For the first 1 mile I was awesome… I led the pack (like a retard). I was right behind the motor bike. It was awesome… I felt so cool.. I think I reached a pace of sub 6 minute mile. I knew what I was doing was stupid, I shouldn’t burn myself out in the first mile but it felt awesome everyone cheering me as I was ahead of the guys. People were screaming “Go Girl!” as I blasted past the guys with smarter race strategies than me. I felt like an elite… maybe a little Russian American Jewish version of Shalane Flanagan in training.

But worry not by the end of mile 1 my glory was over. I was ready to revert to my regular speed of 7-7:30 minute miles. But by 2nd mile my shoelace was untied! Rookie! Rookie! Error. I was so angry I wanted to throw my shoes over into the ocean. However running barefoot didn’t seem like an option so I slowed down, tied, cursed myself crazy and continued.

Mile 3-4 were strong but I started getting depressed because I realized unlike the promise I gave Tony, this course is anything but flat! I knew that the hills I was running from mile 1 were going to be there for mile 13. The course was in and back type, so there was no question on whether the finish was going to be easy. I knew from the start it was going to suck.

See that hill, that’s exactly how the WHOLE course was like. B There was no flat parts, you were either going up or down. I also didn’t realize just how much of an elevation of 100 feet is… more than the measly little bumps I run on… more than my pathetic 3 incline on the treadmill. The sad part is, that I stopped training on incline on the treadmill the past two weeks because I thought the course was flat….

Miles 5 through 8 were fun! B Even with a horrible hill, it was still fun to run through Rockport’s center with all these crowd supporters cheering me on, telling me there was only 3 females ahead of me and that I should catch them. However, at some point around 7.5 mile mark my legs started to feel heavy. Luckily we had some cool volunteers.

Mile 9 I started doing my countdown. Only 4 more miles right? That should only be 30 more minutes. Liana you got this!

Mile 10 things turned to being scenic again. B I’m going to use Tony’s photo because most of mine have some guy blocking me! B How dare he! B Also surprisingly unlike every other race Tony and I ran together, there is more photos of him than me.

Mile 11, I screamed only 2 more as the course flattened out. Me and a girl in Vibrams were going head to head as she cheered everyone on. She was awesome! I was just trying not to die, while she was just running and cheering for all the gals out there in the lead of the pack!

Miles 12-13… actually somehow flew by… Maybe because I was no longer running up and down anything.

I started this race with a goal to be top 3 in my age group… That didn’t happen… I probably set my goal too high considering I’m still having trouble with my knee and piriformis muscle or sciatic nerve or something along those lines that causes some muscle in my butt to feel tight. B I’m working on it and trying to stretch more but it really is a pain in the butt…

Considering the issues I had going I can’t be too disappointed with being in 58th place. B Or finishing 15 in my gender and 7 in my age group. Not fast enough to earn a medal (there was no finisher medals in the course) but fast enough to PR. B That’s right. B My new half marathon PR is 1:39:11; 1 minute less than the flat course I ran with 1:40 last September.

Tony Finished in 1:54.. Not bad for a guy who runs once every two weeks and somehow pops half marathons like they’re candy. B I’m still working on trying to convince him he should do a full marathon.

As for the post race food? I really have to say that had I been less hot and more hungry this post race food would have been my favorite. It came with the usual banana, bagel, some Lara bars but also pizza (I think Tony ate like 5 slices and I ate all his crusts), clam chowder, Vita Coco Coconut water, and any cookie, brownie or sweet biscuit you can think of. seriously guys, if you want more bang for your running buck, smaller races is where the good food at!

And if you’re curious where the Clam Chowder came from (best one I have yet to try), it was from Lobsta Land Restaurant.

Overall I think this was a great race! Registration for 2013 opens up in June on their website.  I’m going to sign up… $45 for 13 miles of fun is great! Sure there were no finisher medals, but instead see all those photos I’m posting? B Notice how none of them say “PROOF”?  That is because registration fee includes unlimited photo downloads!! /i love unlimited race photos of myself!

I do have one criticism and that was that exiting the parking lot took hours, literally. I don’t have a solution other than going to the beach and waiting out a few hours; but had I been in a hurry to leave that would have sucked. Luckily Good Harbor beach is a cool place to chill in 75 degree weather. If you’re curious how Tony and I spent the rest of our day in Gloucester and Rockport, you can check out this post.

TARC Spring Classic Review

I ran the TARC Spring Classic race on April 28th 2012.

The race had several options 10K, Half Marathon (which Tony did), Marathon & 50K. I got very ambitious and signed up for the 50K. Due to recent knee pain and being completely unprepared I DNFed the race. I’ll go more into the reason why later. However, this won’t stop me from reviewing and mentioning how awesome the race was!

The four races are hosted by a group called the Trail Animal Running Club. The races were very low-key with amazing volunteers. There was a total of 300-400 runners. Because there was no chip system in place the registration fee was only $20. No race expo, no selling you crap you don’t need but want, just pure simple running.

The 10K started at 8AM and the other races at 8:15. The race was held in Weston, MA. A place I haven’t visited before but was in awe how pretty all the houses are. Tony and I got there at 7:45AM to get our bib numbers. We then hid in the car trying to stay warm as it was about 45 degrees outside.

The Hobo hat came back from my closet for a visit. You may laugh but it’s so warm!

Neither of us have ever done a trail race before. We haven’t even taken a trail run; even though we’re two miles away from Middlesex Fells Reservation, before. Needless to say we were nervous and excited to start.

We originally planned on staying together. I was running with a gimp leg and figured running with Tony would be a smart pacing strategy vs. me trying to compete with everyone around me. However that did not work out.

The course was a 10K loop. You do 5 loops to complete a 50K. In order for the half marathoner and marathoners to get their exact distance they had a small little mini loop in the beginning of the trail. The full marathon people did this mini loop twice. So within 1 minute Tony and I said our goodbyes and went on our separate ways.

The course was a mix of fire roads (30%) and single track trails (70%).  What I thought was going to be an easy flat trail was anything but flat. While there were no switchbacks and miles upon miles of decent, the single tracks were a constant up and down experience. Lots of rocks, lots of twigs, and a few muddy creeks.

The first loop (10K) went by great! I felt strong, I felt awesome! I felt like a movie star running through the woods of a zombie scene.

All the photography was done by the creek or on the fire roads so needless to say I have real photos for the single track trail part.

I saw the clock said either 50-55 minutes when I finished the first loop. I grabbed two Gu chumps from the fuel table and ran on my way. More on how awesome the fuel/water station was later.

The second loop I think was my fastest. I knew what to expect, I knew where to go and I felt more confident about myself. Well almost. Me and the creeks… Well..

I was running in new shoes and really did not want to get them too muddy!

I hit my second loop/ 20K at about 1:50. I looked around for Tony but he was busy being a beast of his own so I grabbed two more Gu Chumps and made my way.

Somewhere in the middle of my third loop, my gimp leg/knee woke up and decided its time to stop running. I slowed my pace and did a half run half walk type of thing. I finished my 30K somewhere around 3:20 where I found Tony waiting for me.

This guy finished the half in 2:21!

Looking back, I probably should have signed up for just the half. I don’t think my body was ready for the complexity of trail running to that distance. I should not have run in Asics that are half a size too big on me. While it’s okay to wear shoes a little big for road running to prevent some toenail losses, such was not the case with trails. I have the blisters to prove it.

The course had a single aid/fuel station that you passed by each time you completed a loop. The volunteers were super cool and refilled all your water bottles for you and gave you anything you needed. Because it was a 10K trail with no water stops people were strongly encouraged to run with a water bottle. I ran the first loop without mine but grabbed it off the grass on the second loop. I’m used to running 15 miles without water so given the cold weather I wasn’t too concerned for just 6 miles. I mixed water with a nuun hydration tab and mostly relied on that for hydration.

In addition to water & Gu Brew the race provided, everyone was asked to bring one snack from one type as designated by the last letter of your last name. This created an almost trail running pot luck picnic! After I DNFed, I munched on delicious brownies, pretzels, sweet potato chips and s’mores. I wanted to make sure that for every calorie I burned, I took in 3x as much back into my body.

Could I have finished the race? Yes, I think I could have finished in between 5 to 6 hours. Although the pace would have been slow for me, it was a pace that more than half the people finished at. However, poor Tony forgot to bring his school books so I felt bad making him wait for me as I hiked/ran 20K more. I think judging by the blisters I got from my half-size too big shoes, it was a good idea to stop as well or at least to change my socks. As much as it hurt my pride, I walked away and went home. I did end up doing a small hike by my house with a friend so maybe I could mentally add that to my mileage towards the 50K.

Also how could I not forget, I got to meet two of my Daily Mile friends! I think this was one of my favorite parts of the race. Putting faces to people who support and motivate me on a daily basis. I think I seem a little dazed in my internal struggle to want to run, but I really did enjoy meeting people in real life and wish I had time to stick around more.

Aside from a bruised ego I walked away with a new love for trail running. I love the support and spirit of all the runners. Instead of a competition, I felt as I was part of a community. The cool part is that TARC often has small group runs in the Blue Hills (south of Boston) and the Fells (North of Boston by me) on weekends. I intend to try to make as many of those as possible. That way, by the time the Summer TARC classic 50K comes I’ll be ready!

Races, Races, Races

Aside from loving to run, I love racing. B None of my friends are runner, runners so the only time I get to test my speed is during races. B Problem, races cost money. B When you try to explain to people that you are paying to run you get a few funny looks. B I guess those funny looks make you doubt your spending. B Then again how is $60 on a race any different then spending $60 on dinner and drinks. B Are my morning excursions any worse than your evening ones? B Do I really warrant that look?

None the less, I still registered. B Twin Lights Half MarathonB 5/12/2012 inB GloucesterB Massachusetts! B Two weeks before Boston’s run to remember; another half marathon. I love the half marathon distance. B Its long enough to warm up and still speed up. B Another reason why I’m excited for the Twin Light Half is because its a small race. B The race is capped at 1,000 runners. B That means no corrals, no waiting half an hour for a potty, no 10:40 AM start, no hour long bus ride several hours before the race. B Score!

This evening I did a post work run. B 10.49 miles in 1hr26min for an 8:11 Pace. B The weather was perfect! B Perfect evening before our predicted snowstorm. B Why we’re getting a snowstorm after 70 degree weather? B Because its New England.

MyB splits (look at me getting technical)B are a bit all over the place because some parts were on a trail, some had street lights, some I ran with Tony, some I ran with myself

Races – Past, Present, Future

I created this as a separate page but figured I’d share it on my home page as a post as well.

Goals for 2012

10K PR under 0:50

Half Marathon under 1:40

Full Marathon under 4 hours!

Upcoming Races

Mar. 17, 2012 – Washington DC – Full Marathon

Mar. 24, 2012 – Boston – 10K

Apr. 15, 2012 – Boston Marathon!!!!

May 27, 2012 – Boston Run to Remember – Half marathon

Aug. 19, 2012 – Providence, RI – Half Marathon

I feel quite excited for my new attempted PRs for 2012… I know I’ll achieve a marathon one since it will be my first. B Hopefully, there is no DNF in my 2012 future and I can finish with my goal time of 4 hours or less. B I hope that’s reasonable. B I have little faith in beating my half marathon time. B To this day I still have no idea how I managed that. B My training runs were at 8 miles and I only got in a few 10 milers before the big day. B I was freezing cold during that whole race and I think I kept running to try to warm up. B I have a small goal time of less than 1:37 just so I can qualify for the NYC half, but I am not getting my hopes up on this. My 10K PR goal is more of a side project. B My local town (city) has this one race every year and I always participate because I try to support as many local races as I can, being that there’s only one race, that’s not too hard. B It’ll be my post DC Marathon recovery run with hopefully improved speed from the year before.

I don’t see much 5Ks in my future, because I’m cheap, they’re slightly pricey. B Races fees already have a higher portion of my budget than even clothes (okay that’s a lie) so I should monitor it a little more prudently and focus on races I can really work on.