Monday, August 15, 2011

A VERY Informative Doctor's Trip

Truth be told, I've been feeling pretty tired/sluggish since I wrapped up training for the disastrous Brooklyn Half Marathon.  First I chalked it up to the rough race experience, and then I figured it was just the increase in my mileage as I was getting ready to segue into marathon training.

When I met with my group for the first week of marathon training, I mentioned it to one of the coaches who is also a registered dietitian, and she urged me to go get my bloodwork tested.

But my fatigue issues got pushed to the back burner soon when I experienced a minor knee injury that put me completely out of commission for about a week.

And soon after getting back on track, I came down with a nasty cold that I had to push through as best as I can. Of course I was exhausted, but hey, I was trying to run through a cold...who wouldn't be exhausted?

Fast forward to the past two weeks. I have been running fairly strong with no injuries and no colds (knock on wood!) I've been getting in all my miles and finished two long runs so I was pretty pleased with myself....but I still just felt pretty wiped.  Sure my pace is slow - but hey, my legs are tired from all of that marathon training, right? And I might have felt very lightheaded after an easy run or two...but it's the summer, no biggie.  But I made an apt to see my doctor anyways to have some blood work done last Friday, just in case.


Well good thing I went in - turns out I am indeed iron deficient! It's very common in female runners, especially as we build up our mileage (apparently we need up to 30 percent more iron than the average person.)  

The doctor recommended some supplements as a short-term solution....
Three cheers for the supplements that will make me feel normal again!
But I plan to work in increasing more iron in my diet (tough because I don't love fish and try to avoid red meat) but there are plenty of other options including eggs, spinach, dark chocolate (who knew?!), sunflower seeds, sundried tomatoes, and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Honestly, I'm just relieved that there is an answer to why I've been feeling the way I have been...and more importantly, an easy solution. Hopefully I can start making these diet changes now, so come marathon day, I can flyyyy.  Watch out New York....I'm coming for you!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Playing Catch Up

I know, I know...once again I have been slacking a bit lately in terms of the blog updating...

But that's because I have been busy running!

The past two weeks I hit all my training runs - including long runs of 15 and then 16 miles. I was a bit nervous since I haven't run anything longer than 13.1 since November 7th (last year's New York marathon.) But both went fairly well.  Even though the course I run is pretty hilly (to put in perspective - I gained about 1200 feet in elevation over 16 miles.  The Big Sur marathon in Cali gains a bit over 1600 feet in elevation over 26.2 miles. New York gains about 880 feet over 26.2) During both runs, I still felt I had a bit more gas left in the tank if I HAD to keep going, which is definitely a good thing.  I'm sure I was aided by...

A mostly shaded course.
The lovely back roads of Wilton, CT

Our amazing coaches leaving a few coolers filled with ice water along the course (hey, a Fuel Belt will only get you so far, especially during the summer!)

Never underestimate the allure of ice cold water on a long run!

And the thought of icy treats at the end

My Gatorade ice pops are a total hit! Really, I'm surprised PepsiCo hasn't thought of this themselves already

Last weekend was also the Nautica New York City Triathlon. I didn't race...but I did earn my spot for next weeks race by volunteering at the Expo Saturday afternoon!
The NYC Tri expo
I was a bit apprehensive about volunteering after running 15 miles that day, but it was actually an enjoyable afternoon.   As soon as I arrived to the expo, I found the volunteer check in area...
Volunteer check in

And I was assigned to help with packet pickup. The athletes all had to attend a briefing before picking up their packets, so they would come in waves - so it wasn't a constant flow, like in a road race. Plus, I somehow ended up at the station with the lowest bib numbers, so I got to scope out some of the elite athletes!

I am a bit overwhelmed by the fact that next year I will be competing in this race - Swimming a mile, biking 26 miles, and then running 6.2 miles all at once does seem a bit daunting. But hey, I never imagined be able to run 26.2 miles and I'm back for round two this year...so I'm fairly sure if I train I will be able to find my way to the finish line one way or the other.

But...I'm not going to stress too much about the tri now.  I have a marathon to run in less than three months!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Queens Half Marathon Race Report: Are We There Yet?

This past Saturday was the Queens Half Marathon - the third half marathon in NYRR's Half Marathon Series.  It was also my second qualifier for the NYC Half Marathon and my fifth qualifier for the NYC Marathon for 2012. But despite all of that, I was a bit less-than-enthusiastic about this particular race after being sick for two weeks beforehand.  I ran a short shakeout run of some sorts on Friday beforehand at what should have been a very easy pace, but instead felt like a tremendous effort...which only confirmed the obvious: my body was not quite yet ready. But ready or not, race day was here...

I ended up crashing at my friend Dahlia's place in the city, since I didn't really feel like driving into Queens at 5 am and dealing with the parking situation.  We grabbed a cab at the wonderful hour at 5:40 in the morning to pick up our friend Wallis, who lived around the corner and was also running. We of course got the only cab driver who didn't seem to his way around the city...but we eventually made it to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of the race.

The Unisphere, presented to the 1964 World's Fair by the US, and the "landmark" for the park

 The park was actually home to site of the 1964 World's Fair, which is actually pretty cool. The race included two full loops of the park with lots of twists and turns to squeeze out the 13.1 mile course - not so cool.

Race start!

The race didn't start until 7 am (and ended up starting closer to 7:15 thanks to some unknown delays) which is very early to get to Queens, but actually kind of late for me to start a long run.  It was also a very bright, sunny day - and barely an ounce of shade on the course. But lucky for me I at least had some company - Wallis was also planning on taking this as a regular training run for the marathon, so we decided to stick together since we have similar paces.

The first few miles went by easy enough - there were actually a few times when I looked down at my watch and realized we were going at a sub 10 min/mile, which is a bit too fast for us for a training run. 

But around mile 3, things started to really heat up for me.  When we passed the water station, I suggested that we should walk through the aid stations - something I normally don't do, but considering the conditions, I thought it would be for the best. 

By mile 5, I was really starting to hurt. By mile 7, I thought I was dying.  So hot. No shade.  Congested.  Hard to breath. Sick of running in circles. No idea where I was. But must. keep. going.

There were a few times I thought about canning it - or at least stop running completely and just walk the rest of the way...but I every time we passed an aid station and it was time to start running again, I just dug a little deeper....and somehow, it was miles 8, 9, 10....and then slowly but surely, we hit mile 12. Only one more to go!

And then finally....ahh, the finish.

We ended up finishing in 2:26, which was a full 23 minutes off my PR. But my Garmin says we averaged a 10:57 mile/pace (accounting for a bit over 13.1 since the course was full of turns), which is right smack in the middle of what McMillan says should be a long training run pace for me (about 10:30-11:30) And I didn't die, which you know, is always a plus.

After the race we met up back up with Dahlia, who finished in amazing 2:05, and our friend Amy, who finished a few minutes behind us (and we actually ran into her a few times on course).  We hung out for a bit to catch our breathes a bit...and then started our long journey home on the subway (three changes thanks to MTA construction work, and almost a 1.5 hour journey!)

Me, Wallis and Dahlia post-race

But the journey back to Manhattan was way worth it, for the post-run reward at the Little Brown Bakery!

mmm, frozen hot chocolate!
All and all, I'm just glad this run was over with.  Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? But it's upward and onward - I have a full schedule this week, including my first 13+ mile run, AND volunteering at the NYC Triathlon expo on Saturday to secure my slot for next year's race!